Hendrick Motorsports teammates to start in top seven for All-Star event
CONCORD, N.C.—Swift lap times combined with a sage driver approach and flawless pit crew execution translated into a top-seven starting lineup for Hendrick Motorsports in Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. Jeff Gordon scored the fourth spot, while Jimmie Johnson earned the fifth one. Their Hendrick Motorsports teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne won the sixth and seventh starting spots, respectively.
During the qualifying session, teams were required to complete a four-tire stop, but weren’t restricted in their pit road speed. That created problems for some drivers who overshot their pit boxes. Gordon and his teammates exercised caution when approaching the pit stall and the pit crews rattled off penalty-free stops.
In 29 All-Star races (83 entries), Hendrick Motorsports has scored eight wins, 31 top-five finishes and 46 top-10s. Most recently, Johnson won the 2013 event after leading 10 laps to earn a record-setting fourth All-Star victory. If Johnson wins this year, he will become the first driver to three-peat in the exhibition event.
Here is a look at Hendrick Motorsports going into tonight's race:
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 TIME WARNER CABLE CHEVROLET SS
STARTING SPOT: Seventh.
ALL-STAR WINNER: In 10 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Races at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Kasey Kahne has one win, one pole position, two top-five finishes, four top 10s and led a total of 38 laps. In 2008, Kahne became the first driver to get into the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race by the Sprint Fan Vote and go on to win the event. The 34-year-old driver has competed in the race every year since joining the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit in 2004.
BACK-TO-BACK WINS: Kahne is one of seven drivers who have swept the All-Star race and the 600-mile event in the same season. The drivers include: Darrell Waltrip (1985), Davey Allison (1991), Dale Earnhardt Sr. (1993), Jeff Gordon (1997), Jimmie Johnson (2003), Kahne (2008) and Kurt Busch (2010).
CHASSIS CHOICE: Crew chief Kenny Francis has selected Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 5-820 for Saturday’s event. Kahne raced this car twice last year, finishing 15th at Kansas Speedway in October and then 13th at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November. Most recently, Kahne drove this chassis at Fontana, California in March.
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET SS
STARTING SPOT: Fourth.
NO. 89 FOR NO. 24 AT KANSAS: On Saturday night at Kansas Speedway, Jeff Gordon led the final eight laps to capture his first win of the 2014 campaign. It was his third victory at the 1.5-mile track and 89th career win in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Following his win last weekend, Gordon remained the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points leader and is 15 points ahead of Matt Kenseth. Both drivers are tied for the most top-10s in 2014 with eight apiece.
ALL-STAR EVENT SUCCESS: In 20 starts in this annual non-points event, Gordon has three wins, one pole position, six top-five finishes and nine top-10s. He first earned a berth in 1994 by winning the preliminary race and has gained automatic entry into the NASCAR All-Star Race every year since.
MEMORABLE WINS IN ALL-STAR RACE: In 1995, Gordon won all three segments en route to his first victory in the All-Star race. Two years later, he drove the infamous “T-Rex” car to the race win, and, in 2001, Gordon secured his third victory in the non-points event. In that race, rain hit the speedway as the green flag waved and Gordon was one of several drivers that wrecked in Turn 2 on the first lap. NASCAR allowed those drivers to race their backup cars, and Gordon went on to collect his third victory in the event.
CHAMPIONSHIP YEARS: In each year that Gordon has won the All-Star race (1995, 1997 and 2001), he also has won the Series title that same season.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET SS
STARTING SPOT: Fifth.
SEASON-TO-DATE: After 11 NASCAR Sprint Cup races this season, Jimmie Johnson owns the fourth-highest driver rating with a score of 102.9 and ranks seventh in the driver standings. His 527 laps led rank second just behind Kevin Harvick (672 laps led).
ALL-STAR RECORD: Johnson won a record-setting fourth NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race last year after leading the final 10 laps of the exhibition event. Johnson's 2013 win marked his second straight in the event and broke a tie with Dale Earnhardt Sr. and teammate Jeff Gordon for the most wins in the annual non-points classic.
PATRIOTIC ALL-STAR SCHEME: Each year since 2001, Lowe’s has designed a patriotic-themed car for Johnson to drive in an event. The No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS scheme for this weekend is a throwback to the 2010 Memorial Day car, which was heralded as a fan-favorite through a recent social media poll.
CHASSIS CHOICES: Crew chief Chad Knaus has selected Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 48-784 for this weekend’s non-points event. Johnson last raced this car in June of 2013 at Michigan International Speedway. The backup car is Chassis No. 48-728, which Johnson most recently at Bristol (Tennessee) Motor Speedway.
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET SS
STARTING SPOT: Sixth.
SPRINT ALL-STAR RACE: Dale Earnhardt Jr. qualified for the Sprint All-Star Race by winning a NASCAR Sprint Cup event during the 2013-2014 seasons. Earnhardt led 54 laps to win the Daytona 500 on Feb. 23, 2014.
ALL-STAR VICTORY: Earnhardt made history on May 20, 2000, when he became the first rookie to win the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Earnhardt led two laps and beat veteran Dale Jarrett to the finish line by 1.295 seconds.
ALL-STAR STATS: In 14 appearances in the non-points All-Star event, Earnhardt has scored one win, four top-five finishes and 11 top-10s. His average finish in the exhibition race is 8.3. Last year, Earnhardt earned a spot in the May exhibition race by winning at Michigan International Speedway in June 2012. He lined up 15th for the 90-lap shootout and crossed the finish line seventh.
CHASSIS CHOICE: This weekend, crew chief Steve Letarte has unloaded Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-716. Earnhardt most recently tested this chassis at the Goodyear Tire test in April at Michigan International Speedway. Prior to that, Earnhardt raced this chassis to a second-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway last November.