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Earnhardt, Johnson in top 11 after rain cancels Talladega qualifying

TALLADEGA, Ala. – Rainfall prompted NASCAR officials to cancel Saturday’s qualifying session at Talladega Superspeedway, and as a result, the field was set based upon speeds from Friday’s first practice session.  Dale Earnhardt Jr. will roll off the grid eighth, and Jimmie Johnson will start 11th, while their Hendrick Motorsports teammates round out the top 29. Jeff Gordon will line up 20th, and Kasey Kahne will start 29th.

In 59 events (190 starts) at Talladega, Hendrick Motorsports has 11 wins, 48 top-five finishes and 71 top-10s. The organization’s 11 victories rank second all-time behind Richard Childress Racing (12). In Hendrick Motorsports’ most recent Talladega win, Earnhardt pushed Johnson to Victory Lane in April 2011. Johnson, the outside pole sitter, matched the closest margin of victory recorded—.002 seconds—since the use of electronic scoring.

Coverage of Sunday’s race is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. ET on ESPN and MRN. Check local listings.

Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS
Qualified: 29th.
Most recently: Kahne finished second in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway on Oct. 12 and recorded his fifth runner-up result of the season, a Series-best. With the result, Kahne remains 13th in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings and trails leader Matt Kenseth by 81 points with five races remaining in the 2013 season.
At Talladega: In 19 Sprint Cup Series starts at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, Kahne has recorded three top-five finishes, four top-10s and has led 49 laps at the high-banked oval. In the October 2012 event, Kahne won his first pole position at the 2.66-mile track.
Kahne (On carrying momentum after last weekend’s finish second-place finish at Charlotte.): “It was nice having a great race at Charlotte. That track always gives us a good boost, and we always leave there with such confidence. Hopefully we can run pretty strong the rest of the year because I don’t want to finish last in the (Chase) point standings.”

Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Axalta Coating Systems Chevrolet SS
Qualified: 20th.
Most recently: Gordon earned his second pole position of the 2013 season and finished seventh in the Oct. 12 event at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. With the result, Gordon remained fourth in the championship standings and trails leader Matt Kenseth by 36 points with five races remaining in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. 
At Talladega: In 41 starts at Talladega Superspeedway, Gordon has recorded six wins, 15 top-five finishes, 19 top-10s and has led 840 laps. Gordon’s six victories rank him first among active drivers at the 2.66-mile oval. The driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet SS most recently visited Victory Lane at Talladega in the Oct. 2007 event at the Alabama superspeedway. 
Gordon (On Talladega): “You have to go into this race with a positive attitude. With the big-pack racing, there is always the chance of the ‘big one.’ But you have to approach this race with a positive attitude, fight to avoid whatever may occur and hope that you come out of it with a race car. A lot can and will happen during the race this Sunday and it could very well shake up the standings.”

Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS
Qualified: 11th.
Most recently: Johnson earned his Series-leading 20th top-10 finish after scoring the fourth position in the Oct. 12 event at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. With the result, Johnson remained second in the championship standings and trails leader Matt Kenseth by four points with five races remaining in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. 
At Talladega: In 23 career starts at Talladega Superspeedway, Johnson has recorded two wins, six top-five finishes, 10 top-10s and has led 250 laps. Johnson finished fifth in the May 2013 event at the 2.66-mile oval and most recently visited Victory Lane at the Alabama superspeedway in April 2011. 
Johnson (On the intensity of racing at Talladega.): “Yeah, it’s tough. With this rules package, riding is not the thing to do. You’ll never get back to the front. So, you’ve just got to go race and cross your fingers and go for it. You just hope that Lady Luck is on your side and that you make it through. The guys we’re racing with right now in the championship historically go and race there. They don’t ride. So, we’re just going to show up and race. I’ve been able to finish all three (restrictor-plate races) so far this year, and I think all three in the top-five. Hopefully, we can keep this streak alive.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 Mountain Dew/Xbox One Chevrolet SS
Qualified: Eighth.
Most recently: Earnhardt ranks ninth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings after finishing 15th at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway last weekend. With five races remaining in the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, Earnhardt trails leader Matt Kenseth by 66 points.
At Talladega: In 27 Cup starts at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, Earnhardt has recorded five wins, nine top-five finishes and 13 top-10s. He scored a record-setting four consecutive wins at the 2.66-mile superspeedway from October 2001 to April 2003. Earnhardt’s five victories at Talladega are the most for him at any track and rank him third all-time among drivers at the Alabama superspeedway. Earnhardt’s father Dale Earnhardt Sr. earned 10 wins at the track, while Hendrick Motorsports teammate Gordon has recorded six.
Earnhardt (On Talladega.): “I’ve really have had a lot of success at Talladega, a lot of great runs. I feel confident when we go there that we are going to have a good car, going to know how to use it. Hendrick Motorsports has done a great job with this car at Daytona and Talladega. Our confidence level is real good, real high. Hopefully, we get an opportunity to have a good race on Sunday and go to Victory Lane. We really feel like we have a good shot at it and feel like it is about that time for us to win one at Talladega.”

 

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