Johnson, Gordon qualify in the top six at Dover
DOVER, Del. - After posting the second-fastest lap time on Friday during the first round of qualifying, Jimmie Johnson held on in the final round to qualify inside the top four for Sunday's race at Dover (Delaware) International Speedway. Teammate Jeff Gordon joined Johnson inside the top six, while Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne will start from the 13th and 17th positions, respectively. Earnhardt missed the second round of qualifying by 0.002 seconds.
In 191 starts at Dover, Hendrick Motorsports has 15 wins, 51 top-five finishes and 84 top-10s. Most recently, Johnson led 243 laps to take the checkered flag at Dover in September 2013. The win gave Johnson his eighth career win at the one-mile oval, breaking a tie with Hall of Famers Bobby Allison and Richard Petty for the most all-time wins at Dover. Gordon has contributed another four wins to Hendrick Motorsports’ total and ranks first among active drivers in top-five finishes (17) and top-10s (24) at Dover.
Sunday's Cup race will be televised at 1 p.m. ET on FOX. Check local listings.
Here is a look at how the Hendrick Motorsports teams have fared at the Monster Mile.
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 FARMERS INSURANCE CHEVROLET SS
SEASON-TO-DATE: In the first 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup races this season, Kahne ranks second in the closers category, with 29 improved positions in the last 10 percent of each race. He also ranks eighth for fastest speed in traffic with an average running position of 10.833, eighth in fastest drivers early in a run (11.000), ninth in green-flag speed (11.222), ninth in quality passes (816) and 10th in fastest laps run (104).
AT DOVER: Kahne, driver of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS, has one top-five finish, five top-10s and has led 90 laps in 20 Sprint Cup starts at Dover International Speedway. He earned his best finish of fourth at the track in October 2011, after starting from the ninth position. Overall, Kahne has eight starts inside the top 10 at the one-mile oval.
DOVER LOOP DATA: According to NASCAR loop data, Kahne ranks sixth in fastest laps (296) and seventh for green flag passes (744) in the last 18 races at Dover.
INTERMEDIATE TRACK STATS: Kahne has collected nine of his 16 career Cup wins and 15 of his 26 pole positions at tracks one-to-two miles in length. In 179 starts on these tracks, he has posted 43 top-five finishes and 72 top-10s.
CHASSIS CHOICE: Crew chief Kenny Francis selected Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 5-809 for Sunday’s race at Dover. Kahne last drove this chassis to a third-place finish at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July 2013.
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET SS
POINTS LEADER: Following his seventh-place finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday, Gordon remains the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points leader and is 11 points ahead of Matt Kenseth. Both drivers are tied for the most top-10s in 2014 with nine apiece.
AVERAGE TOP-10 FINISH: Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet SS, has a 9.0 average finishing position through the first 12 races of the 2014 season. Kenseth is the only other competitor with a top-10 average finish (9.8) in 2014.
AT DOVER: Gordon has four wins and four poles in 42 starts at Dover. The 42-year-old driver’s 17 top-five finishes and 24 top-10s are the most among active drivers at the concrete track.
UP FRONT AT DOVER: Gordon has led 200 or more laps on five occasions at Dover. In September of 1995, he led 400 of 500 laps en route to his first victory at the high-banked track, and he paced the field for 381 of 400 laps in June of 2001 to capture his fourth victory. In May of 1998, Gordon led 375 of 400 laps but finished third after a late-race pit stop for fuel.
20TH ANNIVERSARY OF FIRST WIN: On May 29, 1994, Gordon led the final nine laps at Charlotte Motor Speedway to capture his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory.
CHASSIS CHOICE: No. 24 crew chief Alan Gustafson selected Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 24-819 for this Sunday’s race. This chassis has been raced three times previously – all in 2013 – with finishes of 38th at Texas Motor Speedway, seventh at Charlotte Motor Speedway and sixth at Chicagoland Speedway.
GORDON ON HIS QUALIFYING RUN: “It was a pretty solid effort. Our car was good all day and the first run out was a little bit better lap time. But I knew that we were going to be pretty tight. We made a big adjustment and it helped, just not enough to put that lap down that we really needed to compete for the pole. All in all, I’m very excited about this race on Sunday – the car is really excellent.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S/KOBALT TOOLS CHEVROLET SS
CHARLOTTE RECAP: Johnson ended his ‘13-race winless drought’ on Sunday when he passed a fellow competitor in the final nine laps of the 600-mile race to take the checkered flag at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He led a race-high 164 laps en route to his eighth career win at Charlotte and 67th career victory. Johnson’s victory on Sunday broke a tie with Hall of Famers Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip for the most victories at the 1.5-mile track in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
SEASON-TO-DATE: After 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup races this season, Johnson owns the third-highest driver rating with a score of 106.1 and ranks sixth in the driver standings. His 691 laps led rank second to Kevin Harvick (772 laps led).
JOHNSON VS. THE MONSTER: In 24 NASCAR Sprint Cup starts at Dover, Johnson has eight wins, 12 top-five finishes and 17 top-10s. The driver of the No. 48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS has an average finish of 8.7 and an average start of 10.2 prior to today's qualifying session, including five pole positions. Overall, he has led 2,704 laps at the one-mile oval, completing 98.1 percent of all laps run.
LAP LEADERS AT DOVER: Johnson currently leads active drivers with 2,704 laps led at Dover, while Gordon ranks second with 2,295. With 400 scheduled laps for Sunday’s race, Johnson would need to lead 98 laps to pass Dover’s all-time lap leader Allison (2,801 laps led).
CHASSIS CHOICE: Crew chief Chad Knaus selected Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 48-879 for this weekend’s 400-mile event. This is a brand new chassis that has never been raced prior to this weekend. The backup car is Chassis No. 48-728, which Johnson most recently raced in March at Bristol Motor Speedway.
JOHNSON ON HIS QUALIFYING RUN: “It was a good lap and we did have a moment off of Turn 4. We certainly drug some speed out of the car with that. I think we could have been a little bit better. I’m not sure where it would have put us, but it was a strong day. We unloaded fast and we made it through each round and had a lot of speed in the car. I’m excited about the weekend.”
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET SS
2014 STATISTICS: After 12 races in the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, Earnhardt has earned one win, six top-five finishes and seven top-10s. His six top-five finishes tie him for first overall this season. He currently ranks fifth in the championship standings.
LAPS IN THE TOP 15: According to NASCAR’s loop data statistics, Earnhardt ran all 400 laps in the top 15 at Dover last September. His lowest position in the race was ninth.
AT DOVER: In 28 Cup starts at Dover International Speedway, Earnhardt has one win, one pole position, six top-five finishes and 10 top-10s. He has led 448 laps and completed 99.1 percent of all laps he's attempted (11,105 of 11,204 total) at the Monster Mile. Last September, Earnhardt started from the pole position and finished second to teammate Jimmie Johnson.
CHASSIS CHOICE: Crew chief Steve Letarte and the No. 88 team unloaded Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-745 for this weekend’s race at Dover. Earnhardt most recently raced this chassis to a second-place finish at Darlington Raceway in April.
EARNHARDT ON HIS QUALIFYING RUN: “We made some good adjustments in practice and freed the car up a good amount. But it was just not enough. I was happy with the car earlier in race trim today. It’s not too bad of a qualifying spot. It’s a little bit of an improvement for us. So, we’ll see what we’ve got tomorrow when we get into race trim and have a shot to work on it.”