FORT WORTH, Texas – Hendrick Motorsports' four drivers earned spots inside the top 11 during Friday's NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying session at Texas Motor Speedway.
Jimmie Johnson earned the third spot after posting a 27.559-second lap at roughly 195.943 mph. He was joined inside the top 11 by his Hendrick Motorsports teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr. (seventh), Jeff Gordon (eighth) and Kasey Kahne (11th).
In 25 races (101 starts) at Texas, Hendrick Motorsports has four wins, 23 top-five finishes and 43 top-10s. Johnson most recently went to Victory Lane for the organization in November 2012 after starting from the pole position. Johnson ranks tied for first with 15 top-10s and second with nine top-five finishes. His 9.1 average finish ranks second. Gordon and Earnhardt rank tied for first all-time with two pole positions.
Coverage of Sunday’s race is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN and PRN. Check local listings.
Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 5 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet SS
Most recently: Kahne finished 27th in the Sprint Cup race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on Oct. 27 after being involved in an incident early in the event that put him a couple laps down. With the result, Kahne remained 13th in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings and trails 10th-place driver Carl Edwards by 48 points with three races remaining in the 2013 season.
At Texas: Kahne went to Victory Lane at Texas on April 9, 2006, after starting from the pole position and leading 63 laps. The driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet SS also has four top-five finishes and five top-10s in 18 Cup starts at the Fort Worth, Texas, oval. Most recently, Kahne scored an 11th-place result in April at the 1.5-mile track and spent 89.5 percent of laps inside the top 15 while having the most quality passes (64).
Kahne (On how the Gen-6 car races on 1.5-mile tracks.): “As a driver, it just gives you more overall grip so you can just push harder. You can push harder on entry, pick the throttle up, be underneath another car and not be so worried about losing it, getting loose, sliding, spinning out any of that stuff. I think it just gives you just a little bit more security with what you are doing.”
Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet SS
Most recently: Gordon led 78 laps and earned the 88th victory of his Sprint Cup career at Martinsville on Oct. 27. Gordon, who started from the ninth position, now has eight wins at the .526-mile short track and is tied with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Johnson for first among active drivers on the track’s all-time wins list. With the result, the driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet SS ranks third in the championship standings and trails leader Matt Kenseth by 27 points with three races remaining in the Chase.
At Texas: In 25 Cup starts at Texas Motor Speedway, Gordon has recorded one win, eight top-five finishes, 11 top-10s and has led 599 laps. Gordon’s lone victory at the 1.5-mile track came in April 2009 after starting from the second position and leading 105 laps.
Gordon (On Texas.): "We've had sort of a love-hate relationship with this track. This has always been a very challenging track and there were some years when we struggled. The last few times, though, we've been competitive and the last time we were here we were very competitive but had a failure. It's been a bit of love and hate. But with a lot more love recently."
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS
Most recently: Johnson earned a fifth-place finish in the Oct. 27 event at Martinsville and left ranked second in the championship standings. With three races remaining in the Chase, Johnson has same number of points as Kenseth, but ranks second because Kenseth has seven wins and Johnson has five.
At Texas: In 20 Cup starts at Texas Motor Speedway, Johnson has recorded two wins, nine top-five finishes, 15 top-10s and has led 443 laps. Johnson is the defending winner of the fall race at the 1.5-mile oval, going to Victory Lane in November 2012 after starting from the pole position and leading 168 laps.
Johnson (On what to expect this weekend at Texas following the testing session recently held there.): “Expect the cars that were there to lead the way on the practice sheets and be toward the top of the qualifying order when all that comes down. That’s all very important stuff but, what I’m really excited about after the test session is how much the line has moved around on the racetrack. If we have sunny conditions for the race, we’ll have a very, very exciting race.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 AMP Energy Gold/7-Eleven Chevrolet SS
Most recently: Earnhardt ranks seventh in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings after finishing eighth at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway last weekend. With three races remaining in the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, Earnhardt trails leader Kenseth by 56 points.
At Texas: In 22 Sprint Cup starts at Texas Motor Speedway, Earnhardt has scored one win, two pole positions, three top-five finishes and 12 top-10s. He has an average starting position of 11.5, which is his second-best at all tracks, and he has led 448 laps total at the 1.5-mile oval. Earnhardt earned his first career Cup and NASCAR Nationwide Series wins in the Lone Star State. He was just seven races into his rookie season when he recorded his first Cup win on April 2, 2000, at the Fort Worth racetrack. Then age 25, Earnhardt started the race fourth and led 106 laps on his way to Victory Lane. He recorded his first career win in the Nationwide Series on April 4, 1998.
Earnhardt (On Texas.): “I really enjoy racing at Texas, but it can be a challenge. It has got a pretty big bump in the middle of (Turns) 1 and 2 and 3 and 4, where the tunnels are. We had a good test there last week, and we are looking forward to having a good weekend, hopefully getting a win.”