Hendrick Motorsports qualifying report from Talladega
TALLADEGA, ALA. – Jeff Gordon advanced to the final round of Saturday's NASCAR Sprint Cup knockout qualifying at Talladega Superspeedway and ultimately scored the 11th spot.
His Hendrick Motorsports teammates Kasey Kahne and Jimmie Johnson made it to the second round on Saturday, qualifying 17th and 21st, respectively. However, Kahne's qualifying effort was nullified after he did not pass post-qualifying inspection. He will start at the rear of the field on Sunday. Dale Earnhardt Jr. qualified 31st.
Race coverage of Sunday's 188-lap event will begin at 12:30 p.m. ET on FOX and 12 p.m. on MRN. Check local listings.
In 60 events (194 starts) at Talladega, Hendrick Motorsports has 11 wins, 49 top-five finishes and 72 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.
Here is a look at Hendrick Motorsports going into Sunday’s race:
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 FARMERS INSURANCE “THANK A MILLION TEACHERS” CHEVROLET SS
QUALIFIED: 17th; will start at the rear of the field after failing post-qualifying technical inspection.
RICHMOND RECAP: Most recently, Kasey Kahne averaged a running place of 8.178 during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond (Virginia) International Raceway on April 26. Kahne ultimately finished 14th after a missing lugnut late in the race cost him position. Kahne ranks 22nd in the driver standings.
KAHNE AT TALLADEGA: In 20 Sprint Cup Series starts at Talladega, Kahne has recorded three top-five finishes, four top-10s and has led 50 laps at the high-banked oval. In the October 2012 event, Kahne won his first pole position at the 2.66-mile track.
THANK A MILLION TEACHERS: Kahne will debut his special No. 5 Farmers Insurance “Thank A Million Teachers” Chevrolet SS paint scheme this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway. He will drive this special paint scheme two more times during the month of May, which is National Teacher Appreciation Month: Kansas Speedway on May 10 and Charlotte (North Carolina) Motor Speedway on May 25. As part of the “Thank A Million Teachers” program, Farmers is urging America to thank teachers, past and present, on www.ThankAMillionTeachers.com for the positive impact they have had in communities across the nation.
CHASSIS CHOICE: Crew chief Kenny Francis has unloaded Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 5-856 for this weekend's race activity at Talladega. This is a new chassis.
KAHNE (ON HELPING TO PROMOTE FARMERS INSURANCE ‘THANK A MILLION TEACHERS’ PROGRAM.): “Teachers play such an important role in helping students pursue their dreams so I’m proud to be a part of the Farmers Insurance ‘Thank A Million Teachers’ program. It’s great being able to show our appreciation towards these amazing teachers who have positively influenced our lives.”
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET SS
2014 SEASON: Jeff Gordon has finished 13th or better in each of the season’s first nine races with a series-best 6.8 average finishing position. He leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver standings by five points over Matt Kenseth with both drivers tied for the most top-10s in 2014 with seven apiece.
AT TALLADEGA: Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet SS, has six wins, three pole positions, 15 top-five finishes and 19 top-10s in 42 Cup starts at Talladega. The four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion leads active, full-time drivers at Talladega in the following statistical categories: starts (42), wins (six), top-five finishes (15), top-10s (19) and laps led (843).
RESTRICTOR-PLATE LEADER: Gordon is the all-time leader in restrictor-plate victories with 12. Dale Earnhardt Sr. ranks second with 11 while Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. is third with eight. Among active, full-time drivers in restrictor-plate races, Gordon tops these statistical categories: wins (12), poles (6), top-five finishes (28), top-10s (40) and laps led (1,464).
TALLADEGA CHASSIS: No. 24 crew chief Alan Gustafson has selected Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 24-855 for this Sunday’s race. This chassis has been raced previously only one time with Gordon starting sixth and finishing fourth in the 2014 season-opening Daytona 500.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S/VALSPAR RESERVE CHEVROLET SS
SEASON-TO-DATE: After nine NASCAR Sprint Cup races this season, Jimmie Johnson owns the fourth-highest driver rating with a score of 103.5 and ranks eighth in the driver standings. His 501 laps led rank second just behind Kevin Harvick (538 laps led).
AT TALLADEGA: In 24 Cup starts at Talladega, Johnson has two wins, six top-five finishes and 10 top-10s. He has an average finish of 17th and has led 297 laps. Johnson has earned one pole position at the 2.66-mile superspeedway.
VALSPAR RESERVE: Johnson is driving the Lowe’s/Valspar Reserve Chevrolet SS this weekend. Valspar Reserve, available exclusively at Lowe’s starting May 1, is a new interior and exterior paint with HydroChroma™ Technology that is stain resistant and fade resistant - so the colors you love stay the colors you love.
CHASSIS CHOICES: Crew chief Chad Knaus has selected Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 48-871 for this weekend at Talladega which is a new car. The backup car is Chassis No. 48-853, which Johnson most recently raced to a fifth-place result at Daytona (Florida) International Speedway in February.
JOHNSON (ON TALLADEGA.): "The spring Talladega race is always a great race. Granted, things can happen out of your control and you can be taken out in heartbeat, but for the most part, to me it’s a lot of fun. With the rules package as it is, it encourages racing from the drop of the green flag to the checkered so you have to have strategy throughout the race. Qualifying is going to be pretty interesting – I’d say it’s one for the fans to watch. It’s going to be fun.”
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET SS
POINTS REPORT: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS, earned his sixth top-10 finish of the season after finishing seventh at Richmond International Raceway on April 26. He now ranks fifth in the driver standings and trails leader and teammate Jeff Gordon by 32 points. Nine races into the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, Earnhardt has one win, five top-five finishes and owns the fifth-best average finishing position (10.7).
AT TALLADEGA: In 28 Cup starts at Talladega Superspeedway, Earnhardt has recorded five wins, 10 top-five finishes and 14 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 wins at Talladega are the most for him at any track and rank him third all-time among drivers at the Alabama oval. Earnhardt's father Dale Earnhardt Sr. earned 10 wins at the track, while Hendrick teammate Gordon has recorded six.
CHASSIS CHOICE: This weekend at Talladega, crew chief Steve Letarte and the No. 88 team have unloaded Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-872. This is a new chassis that has not been raced.
EARNHARDT (ON TALLADEGA SUPERSPEEDWAY.): “Talladega is really a special racetrack to the sport with the history of it and how it was conceived. The track eventually turned into one of the most impressive and unique, concerning speed, and how the style of racing that you have is so unique, it’s just amazing what it has been able to deliver year after year. I enjoy going to Talladega, and I remember it was one of my favorites as a kid. When I was young, out of all the tracks that I had the chance to go to, this was definitely one of my favorites to come to. Milling around in the garage during the race and just how big the place was and the cars looked different because of the superspeedway bodies—it was just a really fun experience for me.”