Johnson, Kahne and Gordon qualify inside top 11 at New Hampshire
LOUDON, N.H – After pacing the field in Friday’s practice session, Jimmie Johnson advanced to the final round of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and qualified second for Sunday’s race. Teammates Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon also advanced to the final round and will start 10th and 11th, respectively. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. will take the green flag starting from the 28th position.
Heading into this weekend’s race at the 1.058-mile race track, Hendrick Motorsports owns nine wins, 40 top-five finishes, 64 top-10s and has led 2,505 laps. Kahne most recently led the team to Victory Lane in July 2012, when he started from the outside pole and led 66 laps en route to the organization’s ninth victory at New Hampshire.
Sunday's Cup race will be televised at 1 p.m. ET on TNT and PRN. Check local listings.
Below is a rundown of how the Hendrick Motorsports teams have fared at the New England oval.
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 GREAT CLIPS/SHARK WEEK CHEVROLET SS
SEASON-TO-DATE: In 18 Sprint Cup Series races this season, Kahne is fourth in fastest speed in traffic (10.556) and fifth in quality passes (1,142). The driver of the No. 5 Great Clips/Shark Week Chevrolet SS also ranks seventh in fastest drivers late in a run (10.615), eighth in green-flag speed (10.692), ninth in fastest laps run (141), ninth in fastest drivers early in a run (11.154) and ninth in driver rating (87.9).
NEW HAMPSHIRE TEST: In early June, Kahne tested at New Hampshire with his Hendrick Motorsports teammates in preparation for this weekend’s race at the 1.058-mile track.
NEW HAMPSHIRE WINNER: In July 2012, Kahne collected his first New Hampshire win after leading 66 of 301 laps. Kahne’s first-place result that weekend also marked Hendrick Motorsports’ most recent win at “The Granite State” track.
KAHNE AT NEW HAMPSHIRE: In 20 Sprint Cup Series starts at New Hampshire, Kahne has collected one win, three top-five finishes, eight top-10s and has led 305 laps. He has started from the outside pole position five times at the 1.058-mile oval, including three of the last five events there.
NEW HAMPSHIRE LOOP STATISTICS: According to NASCAR loop data, Kahne has ranked inside the top 10 in several categories in the last 18 races at New Hampshire: fourth in fastest laps run (331), sixth in green-flag passes (948), sixth in fastest drivers late in a run (124.109 mph), seventh in green-flag speed (124.697 mph), seventh in fastest drivers early in a run (125.462 mph), seventh in laps led (274) and ninth in fastest on restarts (120.858 mph). He also ranks 10th in the following categories: driver rating (92.4), quality passes (487), laps in top 15 (3,411) and speed in traffic (123.785 mph) and tied in closers (15 positions moved up).
INTERMEDIATE 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 181 starts on these tracks, he has posted 43 top-five finishes and 73 top-10s.
NEW HAMPSHIRE CHASSIS CHOICE: Crew chief Kenny Francis unloaded Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 5-815 for Sunday’s race at New Hampshire. Kahne has driven this chassis five times—thrice in 2013 and twice so far in 2014. Notably, Kahne has raced this car in his last two outings at Phoenix International Raceway’s one-mile oval, where he recorded an average finish of 6.5. Most recently, he drove this car at Richmond International Raceway in April, where he started fourth and finished 14th.
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET SS
POINTS LEADER: On Sunday in the rain-delayed, rain-shortened event at Daytona International Speedway, Jeff Gordon finished 12th to remain atop the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings. He holds a 27-point lead on Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. Overall, Gordon has scored top-15 finishes in 17 of the 18 races in 2014.
TOP-10 AVERAGE FINISH: Gordon’s 13 top-10s in 2014 are a series-best and he is the only driver to have a top-10 average finishing position (8.7) through the first 18 races. Only twice during his 22-year career has Gordon completed a season with a better average finish (5.7 in 1998 and 7.3 in 2007).
AT NEW HAMPSHIRE: In 38 Cup starts at New Hampshire, the driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet SS has three wins and four pole positions, while his 16 top-five finishes and 22 top-10s are the most all-time at “The Granite State” track.
110 LAPS LED SHY OF 24,000: Gordon ranks sixth all-time with 23,890 laps led on Cup circuit tracks and is currently the leading active driver in the category. He also is the all-time leader in laps led at New Hampshire with 1,352, and has paced the field for 110 or more laps on five separate occasions.
NEW HAMPSHIRE CHASSIS: No. 24 crew chief Alan Gustafson unloaded Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 24-881 for this Sunday’s race. This chassis is new and has never been raced.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, No. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET SS
SEASON-TO-DATE: After 18 NASCAR Sprint Cup races this season, Johnson owns the second-highest driver rating with a score of 105.5. The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS has led the most laps with 1,008, which accounts for 19.4 percent of all laps run this season.
NEW HAMPSHIRE TEST: In early June, Johnson tested at New Hampshire with his Hendrick Motorsports teammates in preparation for this weekend’s race at the 1.058-mile track.
AT NEW HAMPSHIRE: In 24 starts at New Hampshire, Johnson has three wins, nine top-five finishes and 17 top-10s. While Johnson has never scored a pole at New Hampshire, he has compensated with his finishes, posting top-nine results in 12 of the last 14 races at the 1.058-mile oval. The three-time New Hampshire winner recorded his first two victories at “The Granite State” track in 2003, sweeping both sanctioned events that season. He last visited New Hampshire’s Victory Lane in 2010, when he started from the 10th position to take the checkered flag.
DRIVER RATING AT NEW HAMPSHIRE: Johnson has the third-highest driver rating at New Hampshire with a score of 105.8 in the last 18 races. The driver rating is a formula that combines wins, top-15 finishes, average running position while on the lead lap, average speed under green, fastest lap, most laps led and lead-lap finishes. The maximum a driver can earn in each race is 150 points. The driver rating number is used pre-race as a prediction tool and post-race as a performance evaluator.
CHASSIS CHOICE: Crew chief Chad Knaus unloaded Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 48-832 for this weekend’s race, which Johnson most recently raced at Richmond earlier this season. The backup car is Chassis No. 48-806, which Johnson cruised to a fourth-place finish in September 2013 at New Hampshire.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET SS
2014 STATISTICS: After 18 races in the 2014 season, Earnhardt has earned two wins, nine top-five finishes and 12 top-10s. The driver of the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS has scored more top-five results this season than any other Cup competitor.
NEW HAMPSHIRE TEST: In early June, Earnhardt tested at New Hampshire with his Hendrick Motorsports teammates in preparation for this weekend’s race at the 1.058-mile track.
AT NEW HAMPSHIRE: In 29 Cup starts at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Earnhardt has led 368 laps en route to seven top-five finishes and 12 top-10s. He has an average start of 16.0 at the 1.058-mile oval and an average finish of 15.7.
LAPS IN THE TOP 15: Earnhardt ranks fourth among drivers for laps run in the top 15 at New Hampshire, according to NASCAR's loop data statistics. During the last 18 races at the 1.058-mile oval, the Kannapolis, North Carolina, native has spent 74 percent of his laps (3,976 of 5,370 total) running in the top 15.
DRIVER RATING: According to NASCAR's loop data statistics, Earnhardt is ranked fifth in the driver rating category at New Hampshire with a score of 97.3 during the past 18 races at the track. The driver rating is a formula that combines wins, top-15 finishes, average running position while on the lead lap, average speed under green, fastest lap, most laps led and lead-lap finishes. The maximum a driver can earn in each race is 150 points. The driver rating number is used pre-race as a prediction tool and post-race as a performance evaluator.
NEW HAMPSHIRE CHASSIS: Crew chief Steve Letarte and the No. 88 team unloaded Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-857 this weekend at New Hampshire. Earnhardt most recently raced this chassis to a seventh-place finish at Richmond International Raceway in April. Earnhardt also tested this chassis at New Hampshire in June during the team test.