FORT WORTH, Texas – Dale Earnhardt Jr. was the second-fastest Chevrolet SS during Friday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying session at Texas Motor Speedway and scored the sixth starting spot for Saturday’s race, which will air at 7:30 p.m. ET on FOX. The driver of the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS is joined in the top 14 by his Hendrick Motorsports teammates. Jimmie Johnson will start seventh, while Jeff Gordon will roll off the grid in eighth. Kasey Kahne will line up 14th.
NEW LEADER: Following his eighth career victory at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, Johnson moved atop the driver standings for the second time this season. The five-time champion holds a six-point advantage over Brad Keselowski and a 12-point advantage over Hendrick Motorsports teammate Earnhardt.
RACE AFTER A WIN: Johnson has recorded 30 top-five finishes, 41 top-10s and an average finish of 9.89 in the race that immediately follows a victory. He also has tallied 12 additional victories, winning consecutive races nine times during his career; including a career-best four straight in 2007.
FIRST WINS: Earnhardt, driver of the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS, earned his first career Cup and NASCAR Nationwide Series wins at Texas Motor Speedway. 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.
GORDON AT TEXAS: In 24 starts, Gordon has recorded one win, eight top-five finishes, 11 top-10s, has an average finish of 12.5 and has led 584 laps. His lone win in the “Lone Star State” came on April 5, 2009 where he started second and led 105 laps.
SEASON-TO-DATE: In the first six races this season, Kahne ranks first among Cup drivers with a 5.8 average starting position and 187 of the fastest laps posted, as well as a first-place average ranking of 4.400 for green-flag speed. He also ranks second in fastest drivers late in a run (6.400), has the third-fastest speed in traffic (7.667) and is the third-fastest among drivers early in a run with a 5.800 ranking. Kahne has started five of the first six events inside the top six, including two outside pole positions.
HENDRICK AT TEXAS: In 24 races (97 starts) at Texas, Hendrick Motorsports has four wins, 23 top-five finishes and 42 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 second with nine top-five finishes, 14 top-10s and a 9.3 average finish among drivers all-time at Texas. Jeff Gordon and Earnhardt rank tied for first all-time with two pole positions.
SEASON-TO-DATE: Hendrick Motorsports’ quartet of drivers ranks inside the top 10 in several season-to-date categories, notably including average running position, driver rating and laps led. Johnson leads all three categories with a 6.296 average running position; 116.5 driver rating and 430 laps led. Earnhardt has the fifth-best average running position (11.099), while Kasey Kahne’s ranks seventh (11.686). Gordon’s average running position of 12.451 is eighth-best among Cup competitors this season.
LAP LEADERS: Hendrick Motorsports drivers have led 40 percent of the 1,983 laps run this season with Johnson tallying the most (430 laps led). Kahne ranks fourth with 223 laps led, while Gordon is eighth after pacing the field for 97 circuits in the first six Cup races this season. Earnhardt’s 47 laps led rank him 10th.