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Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne qualify in top 13 at Homestead

HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne earned starting spots inside the top 13 during Friday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying session at Homestead-Miami Speedway, while their Hendrick Motorsports teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon rounded out the top 26.

Coverage of Sunday’s race is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN and MRN. Check local listings.

Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS
Qualified:
13th.
Most recently: Kahne led 41 laps and finished second in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway on Nov. 10. This marked his 11th top-five result of the 2013 season – six of those were runner-up finishes. With the Phoenix result, Kahne moved up one position and now ranks 12th in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship standings with one race to go.
At Homestead: In nine Sprint Cup Series starts at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Kahne has earned two pole positions, one top-five finish, four top-10s and led a total of 107 laps at the 1.5-mile track. He also has completed 2,326 of 2,408 laps there (96.6 percent). Kahne is the only driver with nine starts or more at Homestead to have an average starting position inside the top-10 (7.8).
Kahne (On ending the 2013 season strong at Homestead.): “We've had a lot of things happen to us this year, but we've battled back the last two weeks. We ran pretty good—fifth at Texas and second at Phoenix—so I'm happy about that. We'll try to finish off strong at Homestead with another top five. During the offseason, we’ll prepare better for next year and try to have a little more consistent and stronger season from start to finish.”

Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Axalta Coating Systems Chevrolet SS
Qualified:
26th.
Most recently:  Gordon finished in the 14th position in the Nov. 10 event at Phoenix International Raceway after leading 49 laps. With the result, the driver of the No. 24 Axalta Coating Systems Chevrolet SS remained sixth in the championship standings and trails teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. by 17 points for fifth with one race remaining in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. 
At Homestead: In 14 Cup starts at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Gordon has recorded one win, seven top-five finishes, 11 top-10s and has led 83 laps. Gordon earned the victory in the 2012 season finale at the 1.5-mile oval after starting from the 15th position and leading 14 laps.  
Gordon (On what it means to win the last race of the season.): "It's really cool to win before an off-weekend because you get to enjoy the victory a little bit longer before your attention turns toward the next race. A win going into the off-season? Even better because you are the most recent race winner for a few months. It was great to finally get a Sprint Cup victory here (at Homestead). It also was cool to call into the office at Hendrick Motorsports during the off-season and be placed on hold. While on hold, the closing laps of that race is what you heard. And I didn't tire of hearing that radio call."

Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS
Qualified:
Seventh.
Most recently:  Johnson finished the Nov. 10 event at Phoenix International Raceway in the third position and increased his lead in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship standings to 28 points over second-place Matt Kenseth.  With one race remaining in the Chase, Johnson can win his sixth Cup title through one of the following performances on Sunday: finish 23rd or better; finish 24th or better and lead one lap; finish 25th or better and lead the most laps.
At Homestead:  In 12 Cup starts at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Johnson has earned four top-five finishes, seven top-10s and has led 99 laps. Homestead is one of only five tracks on the Sprint Cup schedule where the driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS has yet to visit Victory Lane.
Johnson (On his approach heading into Homestead.): “We’re going to go down there and race as hard as we can. I think the safest place on the racetrack is up front and, if I look back to our Texas performance, we found a way to race smart, stay out of trouble and still get the race won. I would love to win the race and win the championship, but we’ll just have to see how things develop in the race and where we are relative to the 20 (Matt Kenseth). The big prize at the end of the day is what we’re focused on, it’s not so much that individual win, but we need to go down there and be prepared and treat Friday and Saturday like we need to win the race so we can make the car as comfortable and as fast as possible to give us all our options on Sunday.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS
Qualified:
21st.
Most recently:  Earnhardt ranks fifth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings on the strength of two pole positions, nine top-five finishes and 21 top-10s. With one race remaining in the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, Earnhardt trails leader and teammate Jimmie Johnson by 63 points.
At Homestead: In 13 Sprint Cup starts at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Earnhardt has led 93 laps and recorded one top-10 finish and four top-15 results. He scored his best finish—10th—at Homestead in the 2012 season finale.
Earnhardt (On Homestead-Miami Speedway.): “We tested Homestead last month, and we are hoping that it will pay off. I thought the test went a little better than our Texas one, and we finished good at Texas. We’ve had a lot of momentum these last races. We’re going to carry that to Homestead and hope to finish strong there.”

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