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Kahne, Earnhardt, Johnson and Gordon qualify in top 14 at Charlotte

Kahne, Earnhardt, Johnson and Gordon qualify in top 14 at Charlotte

CONCORD, N.C. –  Kasey Kahne posted the fastest time of his Hendrick Motorsports teammates during Friday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying session at Charlotte Motor Speedway.  The driver of the No. 5 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet SS will roll off the grid sixth for Sunday’s 400-lap event at the 1.5-mile speedway while his teammates will round out the top SS. Dale Earnhardt Jr. will line up 11th ahead of Jimmie Johnson in 12th. Jeff Gordon will start the season’s longest event 14th.

Coverage of Sunday’s race is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET on FOX and PRN. Check local listings.

TEAMMATES: Five soldiers from the North Carolina National Guard will be on hand this weekend to help the No. 88 team push the specially designed camouflage No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS to the starting grid for Sunday’s 600-mile race. Last Saturday, five additional North Carolina National Guard soldiers helped push out the No. 88 car when Earnhardt was introduced at the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race.

THREE’S COMPANY: The Hendrick Motorsports trio of Johnson, Gordon and Kahne all rank inside the top three on Charlotte Motor Speedway’s all-time wins list for active, full-time drivers. Johnson ranks first (six victories), Gordon second (five) and Kahne third (four). To go along with that, Gordon, Johnson and Kahne have all gone to Victory Lane three times in the 600-mile event. 

KAHNE AT CHARLOTTE: Nearly every statistical category at Charlotte Motor Speedway ranks as a personal best for Kahne, who has competed in 18 Cup events at the 1.5-mile oval. Kahne’s four wins are a personal best, while his seven top-five finishes are tied for first with Michigan International Speedway and his 10 top-10s are tied for first with Fontana, Calif. Kahne has completed 96.8 percent of the laps he has attempted at Charlotte and has led a personal-best 807 laps at the track. His 12.4 average finish at Charlotte ranks as his second-best among current tracks.

CUP DEBUT: Earnhardt made his Cup career debut on May 30, 1999, at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Then 24 years old, Earnhardt started the event eighth and finished 16th. Overall, he has made a total of 26 starts at the 1.5-mile oval, recording five top-five finishes, 11 top-10s, one pole position and 324 laps led. 

JOHNSON ON THE MILE-AND-A-HALF: In 94 starts on 1.5-mile tracks; Johnson has recorded 14 wins, 42 top-five finishes, 67 top-10s, 12 pole positions and led 3,516 laps. Johnson’s 14 wins and 3,516 laps led rank him first on both the all-time wins list and all-time lap leaders list for mile and a half tracks. 

GORDON IN CHARLOTTE: Charlotte Motor Speedway has been the site of several firsts for Gordon. In October 1993, he qualified the No. 24 Chevrolet on the pole position for the first time in his Cup career.  The following May, he scored his first career Cup victory after starting from the pole and leading 16 laps. Overall, Gordon has recorded five wins, 16 top-five finishes, 21 top-10s and eight pole positions in Charlotte, his most at any track on the Cup schedule. 

HENDRICK AT CHARLOTTE: In 58 events (195 starts) at Charlotte, Hendrick Motorsports has 17 wins, which ranks as best all-time among teams at the 1.5-mile oval. Kahne most recently won the 600-mile event there in May 2012 and has four career victories at Charlotte. His Hendrick Motorsports teammates Johnson (six victories) and Jeff Gordon (five) rank first and second, respectively, among active drivers in wins at the 1.5-mile track. Johnson, recent winner of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, needs one more victory there to break a three-way tie for first all time with NASCAR Hall of Famers Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip. Hendrick Motorsports has 51 top-five finishes and 80 top-10s and has led 3,985 laps at Charlotte since 1984. 

TEAM STATS: Hendrick Motorsports’ 17 victories at Charlotte rank second for the organization behind Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, where it has recorded a team-best 20 wins. Its 15 pole positions at Charlotte rank third for the team, behind Martinsville (17 poles) and Richmond (Va.) International Raceway (16).

HELMET OF HOPE: For the last time this weekend, Johnson will be drawing for two charities that will be included on his helmet for the Helmet of Hope campaign.  The program runs through May 26 and at the completion, 13 charities will find their names on Johnson’s helmet. Beginning in 2008, Helmet of Hope awards a selected charity with a $10,000 grant and more. To date, the program has contributed more than $430,000 to 61 different charities. Click here for more information.