RICHMOND, Va. – Three Hendrick Motorsports drivers are officially in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon clinched berths in NASCAR’s postseason, which begins next weekend at Chicago. Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne narrowly missed making the Chase.
With four wins, Johnson sits atop the 16-driver field as the No. 1 seed. Earning his 12th Chase berth, Johnson is the only driver to have made the Chase every year since its implementation in 2004.
Each of the 16 drivers who qualify for the Chase Grid starts with 2,000 points, adding three points for each win from the regular season.
In other words, Johnson will take a 12-point advantage over the winless drivers into the Chase.
“We're getting ready to go to a lot of tracks that are the bread and butter for our race team,” Johnson said of the 10-race Chase schedule. “I think our team is really bonded, united and ready to go racing."
Earnhardt is next as the sixth seed, and his two wins mean he will have 2,006 points entering Chicago.
"We're going to try to do it this year -- we've got a lot of confidence and I think our cars are getting better," Earnhardt said. "Real proud of the effort and hopefully it's going to pay off for us in this Chase."
Gordon, who used a seventh-place finish at Richmond to officially secure his playoff berth, will enter the Chase as the 13 seed with the base 2,000 points.
"I'm just so excited we finally had a solid night on pit road, on the racetrack with the race car, communication -- everything was just really solid, so that certainly gives us something to be excited about for these next 10 races,” Gordon said. “It's nice to be in the Chase and take that relief and take that breath and now go reset and see what we can do over the next 10."
The 16 drivers in the Chase will now take on the Challenger Round, which features Chicagoland Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Dover International Speedway before the field is trimmed to 12.
A win in any of the three races in the round means an automatic advancement to the 12-driver Contender Round.
All three Hendrick Motorsports teammates will now have their eyes on making it to the final race of the Chase with a championship on the line.
"(Earnhardt) Jr. is probably the best in our stable right now and he proved that again tonight. But we work hard together to try to improve for each of us,” Gordon said. “There's a lot of ways to make it to Homestead."