Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon qualify inside top five at Martinsville
MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon qualified inside the top five on Friday at Martinsville Speedway. Their Hendrick Motorsports teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne earned the 26th and 27th starting spots, respectively.
Race coverage of Sunday's event will begin at 12:30 p.m. ET on FOX and MRN. Check local listings.
Martinsville has been a kind place to Hendrick Motorsports, which owns several team-bests there. The organization has its most wins (21), top-five finishes (70) and top-10s (110) at the paper-clip oval. Gordon most recently reaching Victory Lane at the short track in October 2013.
Here is a look at how Hendrick Motorsports drivers stack up going into Sunday’s race:
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 FARMERS INSURANCE CHEVROLET SS
MOST RECENTLY: Kasey Kahne opened last Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event in Fontana, Calif., from the 26th position and immediately started his forward march, running eighth by Lap 50. Misfortune struck for the driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet SS, though, at the midway point, and Kahne reported to the garage for his team to address an issue with the right-rear tire area. He returned to finish 41st.
KAHNE AT MARTINSVILLE: In 20 Sprint Cup Series starts at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, the driver of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS has recorded three top-five finishes and four top-10s. He scored his best result at the short track in April 2005 when he rallied from a 35th-place starting spot to finish second. Kahne scored the pole position at the half-mile oval in April 2012 and has qualified sixth or better seven times at the Virginia short track. In this race a year ago, Kahne started fifth and scored a fourth-place finish in April 2013.
CHASSIS CHOICE: Crew chief Kenny Francis has selected Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 5-787 for this weekend’s race activity at Martinsville. Kahne drove this chassis twice at Martinsville last year, notably recording a fourth-place result at the paper-clip oval in April 2013.
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 AXALTA CHEVROLET SS
MOST RECENTLY: Jeff Gordon has posted four top-10s in the season’s first five races and is third in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings. Gordon trails leader Carl Edwards by two points entering the second short track event of the 2014 season.
AT MARTINSVILLE: Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, has eight wins, seven poles, 27 top-five finishes and 34 top-10s in 42 Cup starts at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. The 42-year old driver has an average starting position of 7.2 and average finishing position of 6.8. Gordon leads active drivers in several statistical categories at the paper-clip track. Gordon has the most pole positions (seven – four more than any active competitor), top-five finishes (27; 10 more than second), top-10s (34), laps led (3,593) and best average start (7.2). The driver of the No. 24 Chevy SS is tied for most wins (eight) with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson.
CHASSIS CHOICE: No. 24 crew chief Alan Gustafson has selected Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 24-788 for this Sunday's race. This chassis has been used in competition twice with both occurring at Martinsville in 2013. Last October, Gordon qualified the car ninth and won the event, while he started sixth and finished third in the April race.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S SPRING IS CALLING CHEVROLET SS
MOST RECENTLY: Jimmie Johnson led a race-high 104 laps last Sunday at Auto Club Speedway and was pacing the field with seven laps to go when he sustained a tire issue. Forced to make an unscheduled pit stop, Johnson returned to finish the fifth NASCAR Sprint Cup event of the year in 24th. He now ranks sixth in the driver standings.
AT MARTINSVILLE: With eight Cup wins at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, Johnson ranks tied for first with teammate Jeff Gordon among active drivers at the short track. Johnson also leads active drivers there with an average finish of 5.3. Overall, Johnson has three pole positions, eight wins, 17 top-five finishes and 21 top-10s in 24 Cup starts at the paper-clip oval.
CHASSIS CHOICES: Crew chief Chad Knaus has selected Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 48-749 which Johnson drove to Victory Lane last April at Martinsville. Johnson also raced this chassis to a fifth-place finish at the paper-clip shaped oval in October 2013. The backup car is Chassis No. 48-806 which Johnson raced last season at both events in New Hampshire.
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 DIET MOUNTAIN DEW CHEVROLET SS
MOST RECENTLY: Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 12th last weekend at Auto Club Speedway and currently ranks second in the driver standings. After five NASCAR Sprint Cup events this season, Earnhardt has one win, three top-five finishes and three top-10s. He trails leader Carl Edwards by one point.
AT MARTINSVILLE: In 28 Sprint Cup starts at Martinsville Speedway, Earnhardt has scored 10 top-five finishes, 15 top-10s and has led 868 laps. He recorded a career-best runner-up finish at the Virginia short track behind the wheel of the No. 88 Chevrolet in October 2008 and again in April 2011.
CHASSIS CHOICE: Crew chief Steve Letarte has unloaded Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-789 for this weekend's race at Martinsville Speedway. Earnhardt most recently raced this chassis to an eighth-place finish at Martinsville last October.