RICHMOND, Va. – Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start inside the top 10 on Saturday at Richmond International Raceway, while Jimmie Johnson will roll off the grid 27th.
In 56 Sprint Cup races (174 starts) at Richmond, Hendrick Motorsports has 10 wins, 48 top-five finishes and 84 top-10s at Richmond. A Hendrick Motorsports driver ranks first in several categories among the active field at the Virginia short track: Earnhardt and Johnson rank tied for first with three other competitors in the win category with three apiece. Gordon leads all drivers with five pole positions and 1,413 laps led.
Saturday’s race at Richmond International Raceway will be broadcast on television (7 p.m. ET on FOX) and radio (6:30 p.m. on MRN). Check local listings.
Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet
At Richmond: In 16 starts at Richmond, Kahne has earned one win, three top-five finishes and six top-10s. He won in 2005 after starting from the pole position. In this race last year, Kahne started fourth and finished third. He has led 278 laps at the oval during the last seven years, ranking him sixth among drivers in that timeframe.
Most recently: Kahne scored his seventh consecutive top-10 start when he lined up ninth during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Kansas Speedway last weekend. The driver of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet recorded his second top-10 finish of the season after he overcame a handling issue to take eighth at the Kansas track. Kahne now ranks 26th in the driver standings.
Kahne says: “The team has a lot of momentum right now, but we can get better. We have to keep working on our communication so we make the right adjustments, and we all have to hit our marks every time. The top-10s are big, but we can do better than that.”
Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet
At Richmond: Gordon has earned two wins, 15 top-five finishes, 24 top-10s and five pole positions in 38 starts at Richmond. His driver rating of 98.5 ranks him fourth among active drivers in the last 14 races at the short track. The driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet also is ranked fourth in fastest laps run (295) and laps led (659) among drivers during the same time period.
Most recently: Gordon started 20th last weekend at Kansas Speedway. The driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet overcame handling issues to run inside the top-15 for the majority of the race at the 1.5-mile oval, but ultimately took home a 21st-place finish. Gordon now ranks 18th in the driver standings.
Gordon says: "I love night races - I always have. But they are a little tricky because we don't normally practice at night. To really 'dial in' the car to the track conditions that we will experience during the race, there is a little bit more guessing that goes on."
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet
At Richmond: In 20 starts at Richmond, Johnson has three wins, five top-five finishes, seven top-10s and one pole position. With three Cup victories at the short track, the driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet is one of five ranked first in wins. Johnson ranks fifth for laps led (290) among drivers in the last 14 races at Richmond, according to NASCAR loop data.
Most recently: Johnson claimed his top-five finish of the season after placing third at Kansas Speedway last weekend. The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet improved from 15th to lead twice and battled in the top five for the majority of the race. Johnson finished third at the Kansas track and now ranks seventh in the driver standings.
Johnson says: “They (short tracks) are so different. I love short tracks, first of all, and think we need more. Although Richmond has been a challenging track for me over the years, it’s a place I love to watch a race at. Hopefully, I’ve got the right stuff working. I can go there and be successful. Short tracks, I think, really draw the fans and create the excitement we need in the sport. Although the tracks drive totally differently, they are still both a lot of fun.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet
At Richmond: In 25 Sprint Cup starts at Richmond, Earnhardt has recorded three wins, eight top-five finishes and 10 top-10s. The driver of the No. 88 National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet ranks sixth in fastest laps run (265) among drivers in the last 14 races at Richmond. He has led a total of 427 laps and completed 99.1 percent of all laps he's attempted at the short track (9,908 laps of 10,003 total).
Most recently: Earnhardt earned his sixth top-10 finish of the season when he finished seventh last weekend at Kansas Speedway. The driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet ran consistently inside the top 10, and overcame handling issues to finish seventh. He now ranks fourth in the driver standings.
Earnhardt says: “Richmond is a good track. It’s a little bit bigger than most short tracks we race on but the racing is always fun. The shape of the track is quite unique, which makes it pretty interesting. She’s getting a little bit slick, and the last couple trips here it has become more slick but it’s a fun track. I’m looking forward to the weekend and getting in the car and seeing what we got.”