Nascar News

NASCAR News

NOVEMBER

11.18.2013

Johnson Earns Sixth Cup Title, Earnhardt Finishes Third at Homestead

Jimmie Johnson Wins Sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship

HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Jimmie Johnson clinched his sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup championship with a ninth-place finish, while Dale Earnhardt Jr. concluded Sunday's season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway in third place at the 1.5-mile oval. Johnson now trails Hall of Famers Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Sr., who have seven titles apiece. Sunday’s Cup championship win marks the 11th for Hendrick Motorsports and car owner Rick Hendrick. Hendrick is the all-time leader in Sprint Cup owner championships and remains the only owner to win titles with three different drivers: Johnson (6), Gordon (4) and Terry Labonte. On Sunday, Earnhardt was joined inside the top 13 by his Hendrick Motorsports teammates Johnson (ninth), Gordon (11th) and Kasey Kahne (13th).

Here is the race recap by team: Kasey Kahne opened Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup finale from the 13th position and encouraged his team to finish the season strong. Kahne spent the majority of the race chasing the handling of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS with crew chief Kenny Francis. Initially, Kahne reported a tight-handling condition that Francis addressed when the caution flag was waved a second time on Lap 23. During the ensuing pit stop, Francis ordered four fresh tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. Kahne restarted 20th and climbed to 13th before reporting a loose-handling concern. Francis ordered more adjustments, which helped, but then the No. 5 Chevy SS swung to the tight side as the sun set over the 1.5-mile South Florida oval. Kahne climbed as high as 11th, which is where he was running when he reported a vibration with just under 100 laps to go. He made an unscheduled pit stop for Francis and the No. 5 team to check it out. He returned to the track with fresh left-side tires running 26th and improved to finish 13th.

Jeff Gordon rolled off the grid 26th on Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway and had improved to 19th before the first caution flag was waved on Lap 11. The driver of the No. 24 Axalta Coating Systems Chevrolet SS reported a loose-handling condition that crew chief Alan Gustafson addressed during the ensuing four-tire and fuel stop under caution. As the race unfolded, Gustafson told Gordon he was posting lap times two-tenths faster than the competition, and Gordon cracked the top five by Lap 43. When the caution flag waved on Lap 67, Gordon, running fourth, radioed Gustafson that he couldn’t afford to lose any more drive-off. “Don’t change much,” Gordon said. “But let’s be ready when the sun goes down.” Gustafson obliged and Gordon held steady inside the top 10. Approaching 100 laps to go, Gordon passed teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. to take the fourth position. Gordon improved to run second before falling into third with 85 laps to go. The No. 24 team turned in a solid four-tire stop during the Lap 189 caution period, and Gordon lined up second for the restart. He was shuffled back to eighth after a wild restart. Gordon improved to fifth, which is where he pitted during the Lap 231 caution period for four tires, fuel and adjustments. He returned to the field running fourth and lined up sixth for the restart. He ultimately crossed the finish line 11th.

Chad Knaus had a simple set of instructions for Jimmie Johnson to start Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Homestead-Miami Speedway – “Let’s go have some fun.” That’s exactly what the No. 48 team set out to do as Johnson wheeled the Lowe’s Chevrolet SS to his sixth Sprint Cup title. Johnson lined up seventh for the start of the 267-lap event and was immediately took the field three-wide within the first three laps to challenge for fifth. Johnson and Knaus worked through an initial snug-handling condition on the No. 48 Chevy SS, and Johnson remained inside the top 10 as the first half of the race played out. He exited pit road in fifth after a stop under caution on Lap 154 for four tires, fuel and adjustments and was holding steady there 20 laps later. With 91 laps remaining, Knaus asked Johnson to save fuel if it didn’t affect his speed. Johnson obliged and was still running fifth when the caution flag was waved on Lap 189 for debris. The No. 48 team executed a cautious stop under caution, and Johnson returned to the field running eighth. On the restart, Johnson was shuffled back to 23rd – cutoff for him to win the championship without winning any laps. Johnson was running 16th when the caution flag was waved on Lap 206. He reported a tight-handling condition, and Knaus instructed the No. 48 team to pull the fender, which was affected during the recent mashup on the restart. Johnson returned to line up 17th for the restart and improved to crack the top 10 by Lap 231 when the yellow flag was waved. Johnson stopped for four tires, fuel and returned running 12th. A long green-flag run unfolded during the final laps, and Johnson crossed the finish line ninth to record his sixth Cup title.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. lined up 21st for Sunday’s season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He worked his way into 12th by Lap 27 and held steady there despite a loose-handling condition. The driver of the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS improved to run ninth by Lap 60 and when the caution flag was waved seven laps later, he requested crew chief Steve Letarte tighten up the No. 88 Chevy SS. The adjustments, plus four tires and fuel helped, and Earnhardt restarted seventh on Lap 72. He remained inside the top 10, and told Letarte during a pit stop under caution on Lap 91 that if the No. 88 team could tighten up the car, he would show them some lap times. Earnhardt delivered on that promise and with four more tires, fuel and extra adjustments, he restarted sixth before rocketing to second. He led Lap 140 when green-flag stops were underway and resumed to lead the field after stops had cycled through completely. Earnhardt led another 11 laps before the caution flag was waved for debris. This time, the No. 88 team opted for a two-tire stop and lined up second for the restart. He hovered inside the top six as the green-flag run unfolded and restarted third after a solid four-tire and fuel stop under caution on Lap 189. Earnhardt improved to second and continued to gain on the leader with 62 laps left. Earnhardt returned to lead the field until a pit road incident triggered the yellow flag on Lap 231. The No. 88 team anticipated running short of fuel if the race played out under green-flag conditions, so Earnhardt took advantage of the caution period to stop for four tires and fuel. He lined up second for the restart and immediately took the lead. Earnhardt slipped to third after pacing the field a few laps and returned to fight for second in the closing green-flag laps. He finished third.

11.4.2013

Jimmie Johnson Wins and Dale Earnhardt Jr. is Second at Texas

FORT WORTH, Texas – Jimmie Johnson led a race-high 255 laps en route to winning Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway and recording his second victory in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS now is ranked first in the championship standings and has an unofficial seven-point advantage with two races remaining in NASCAR’s postseason.

The victory marks the first of the season at a 1.5-mile track for Johnson, who ranks first all-time with 15 wins at tracks this size. Johnson, who now has 66 career Cup wins and moves into a tie for first with three Texas victories, gives Hendrick Motorsports its 218th Cup win.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. took runner-up honors to mark the third time this season in which the two Hendrick Motorsports teammates have achieved a one-two result. They also finished one-two in the Daytona 500 and at Dover (Del.) International Speedway in September.

Kasey Kahne joined his teammates inside the top five with a fifth-place result. Jeff Gordon, who entered Sunday’s race ranked third in the Chase, was sidelined early after making contact with the wall and returned to finish 38th.

Kasey Kahne opened Sunday’s Sprint Cup event at Texas Motor Speedway from the 11th position and took advantage of an early caution period for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. He lined up ninth for the Lap 18 restart and improved two spots in two laps. The driver of the No. 5 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet SS worked through a tight-handling condition to move into eighth by Lap 33. When the caution flag waved a third time on Lap 73, Kahne was running sixth and stopped again for four tires, fuel and chassis adjustments. The No. 5 Chevy was slightly loose, but ultimately felt good, Kahne told crew chief Kenny Francis prior to green-flag stops. The No. 5 team changed four tires, added fuel and made an additional chassis adjustment during the ensuing pit stop to alleviate that loose-handling condition. Kahne followed up that stop with another one 40 laps later because he was suspicious of his right-front tire. The No. 5 team used the opportunity to give Kahne four fresh tires, fuel and another chassis adjustment. Kahne remained inside the top 10 and worked with his team on a loose-handling condition as the sun set over the 1.5-mile Fort Worth oval. By Lap 255, Kahne was running seventh and reported that his No. 5 Chevy SS felt good. He picked up a spot during the ensuing caution period and remained sixth with 54 laps to go. Kahne improved one more position to finish fifth when the race concluded.

Jeff Gordon started Sunday’s 500-mile event at Texas from the eighth position and only 27 points behind in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. At the drop of the green flag, he rather quickly reported to crew chief Alan Gustafson that the outside lane wasn’t the best place to gain track position. He immediately dropped to 11th, but climbed to ninth by Lap 16, when the caution flag was waved. The No. 24 team opted for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment, and Gordon lined up on the outside for the restart. He was shuffled through the field to 15th and began his march forward. By Lap 45, Gordon was running 10th. Tire concerns permeated Sunday’s race, and Gustafson assured Gordon after the caution flag was waved on Lap 56 that his looked good. But misfortune struck the No. 24 team on Lap 73, when Gordon made hard contact with the wall. Gordon reported to the garage, where his team addressed the damage. “This is going to hurt,” Gordon told ESPN while his team worked hard in the garage. “We’ll just get what we can out of this day and go on to Phoenix.” Gordon finished 38th.

Jimmie Johnson entered Sunday’s race tied in points with Matt Kenseth, but ranked second thanks to a tiebreaker for victories. The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS lined up third for the 500-mile Texas event and immediately surged to take the lead by Lap 10. He had relatively few complaints about his car during the early stages of the race, and heeded the advice of crew chief Chad Knaus to run “straight and smooth.” Johnson led 129 laps by the time the fourth caution flag was waved on Lap 189 for oil on the track and retained the top spot after a stop for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment to alleviate the car’s “edgy” condition. Johnson zipped past Kyle Busch on the restart and continued to pace the field. The No. 48 team appeared unflappable, and save a minor pit miscue during a green-flag stop on Lap 248. Johnson recovered and was leading when the caution flag was waved nine laps later. The No. 48 team stretched out a lead of more than three seconds as the late-race green-flag run unfolded and pitted during green-flag conditions on Lap 299 for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment for a free-handling condition. Johnson held on to record his second win in the Chase.

Sporting a specially painted No. 88 AMP Energy Gold/7-Eleven Chevrolet SS, Dale Earnhardt Jr. lined up seventh at Texas Motor Speedway, site of his first career Sprint Cup victory. Earnhardt improved to fourth by Lap 69, despite reporting to crew chief Steve Letarte that the No. 88 Chevy SS was difficult to drive. Earnhardt worked through the loose-handling condition, slipping only to sixth before the caution flag was waved on Lap 57. The No. 88 team helped Earnhardt pick up three spots after a swift four-tire and fuel stop that included a chassis adjustment. As the race wore on, tires became more and more of a concern. Earnhardt told Letarte the “tires were wearing worse than Rockingham (N.C.).” Letarte agreed that two-tire stops weren’t the answer at the 1.5-mile Fort Worth oval, but planned to keep an eye on teams that opted for that strategy. The driver of the No. 88 Chevy SS reported the adjustments were helping as the track transitioned into nighttime, and he remained inside the top 10. Earnhardt was running third when the caution flag was waved on Lap 257. Letarte radioed his driver, “Your times look great compared to everyone but the (No.) 48.” Earnhardt responded, “The (No.) 48 is something special.” The No. 88 team opted for another four-tire and fuel stop before returning to the track in fifth. The two-tire strategy didn’t suit Letarte and Earnhardt, so during green-flag conditions on Lap 295, the team again took four tires and fuel. Earnhardt climbed to second, but was unable to narrow Johnson’s four-second lead as the race concluded.

OCTOBER

10.22.2013

Jimmie Johnson takes points lead, Dale Earnhardt Jr. finishes second at Talladega

TALLADEGA, Ala. – Jimmie Johnson became the new points leader in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup after posting a 13th-place finish at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday. The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS avoided being collected in a last-lap incident to take a four-point lead on Matt Kenseth with four races remaining in NASCAR’s postseason.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. led his Hendrick Motorsports teammates with a runner-up result. He now ranks tied for first all-time with Tony Stewart with eight career second-place finishes at the restrictor-plate tracks of Talladega and Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. Jeff Gordon finished 16th, while Kasey Kahne took 36th on Sunday.

Kasey Kahne lined up 29th after rain showers canceled Saturday’s qualifying session for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Talladega Superspeedway. NASCAR officials set Sunday’s starting lineup based upon the speeds from the first practice session. The driver of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS was mostly quiet on the radio as spotter Kevin Hamlin guided him around Talladega’s 2.66-mile superspeedway. While the 188-lap event unfolded, Kahne ran as low as 40th and as high as first depending upon where he found himself in the draft. Kahne led Lap 47 during green-flag pit stops and subsequently found himself one lap down 25 laps later. He continued to race for the Lucky Dog position during the second green-flag stretch. But the lead lap battle was stalled for Kahne when he was caught speeding on pit road during green-flag stops. He had to complete a pass-through penalty before returning to the field. Kahne spent the remainder of the race rallying back through the field and crossed the finish line 36th.

Jeff Gordon started 20th on Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway after Saturday’s qualifying session was nullified thanks to rain. The starting lineup for the sixth race of the Chase was set according to speeds set during the first practice session. Gordon initially was shuffled back to 33rd and opted to pit during the first caution for fuel. The driver of the No. 24 Axalta Coating Systems Chevrolet SS improved to lead the field once before making his green-flag pit stop on Lap 46. Gordon’s strategy was to hang back after leading a lap, so he made his stop for four tires and fuel, and retreated to the second pack. During the Lap 79 caution period, Gordon and crew chief Alan Gustafson decided to pit with one to go. The strategy helped Gordon from a fuel perspective, and he led another lap when green-flag stops began some time later. Toward the end of the race, Gordon joined in a pack and charged to the front. With 11 laps to go, the driver of the No. 24 Chevy SS was leading the middle pack of a three-wide charge. But track position was dicey, and Gordon was shuffled back to 23rd with nine laps left. Gordon improved to finish 16th.

Jimmie Johnson lined up 11th after Saturday’s practice session was canceled because of rain. The starting lineup was set according to speeds from the first practice session. Johnson improved to seventh by Lap 28, and he told crew chief Chad Knaus his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS was running well. Johnson continued to run strong as the 188-lap event unfolded and finally took the lead on Lap 50, pacing the field for five circuits before shuffling with teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. Johnson pitted again during a Lap 79 caution period and again told Knaus he was having no issues with the No. 48 Chevy SS. On the Lap 84 restart, Johnson rolled off first with a push from teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. The Hendrick Motorsports teammates contended with Matt Kenseth for a few laps before they were able to push by and take the top two spots. Johnson told Knaus the bottom line seemed to be stronger, and he tried to take advantage of that during the latter stages of the race. He 43 laps before pitting during the second green-flag stretch – Lap 118—for four tires and fuel. By Lap 132, Johnson was pacing the field once more. Yet as the race progressed, track position became trickier and Johnson was shuffled from among the leaders to within the top 20. The driver of the No. 48 Chevy SS rallied to finish 13th and take the lead in the postseason hunt.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was the fastest of his Hendrick Motorsports teammates during NASCAR Sprint Cup practice on Friday at Talladega Superspeedway and that translated into an eighth-place starting spot for the driver of the No. 88 Mountain Dew/Xbox One Chevrolet SS when ran canceled qualifying. Earnhardt remained inside the top 10 as the race unfolded and first took the lead on Lap 48 during green-flag stops. After green-flag stops, Earnhardt continued to run among the leaders, pacing the field three times for eight circuits before the caution flag was waved on Lap 79. He stopped for four tires and fuel before returning to run second and help teammate Jimmie Johnson take the lead on the ensuing restart. Earnhardt was shuffled out once during the second green-flag stretch, but recovered and took the lead yet again on Lap 135. Earnhardt ran inside the top 15 for the remainder of the race and was tracking leader Jamie McMurray as the white-flag was waved. He held on to finish second and record his eighth career runner-up result at a restrictor-plate track. Earnhardt now ranks tied for first all-time with Tony Stewart with second-place finishes at the plate tracks of Daytona and Talladega.

10.14.2013

Kahne finishes second, teammates Johnson and Gordon in top seven at Charlotte

CONCORD, N.C. – Kasey Kahne finished second after leading a race-high 138 laps on Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The driver of the No. 5 Quaker State Chevrolet SS took two tires during a late-race pit stop and was unable to hold off eventual winner Brad Keselowski in the Bank of America 500. Kahne was joined inside the top 15 by his Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson (fourth), Jeff Gordon (seventh) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (15th). The quartet combined to lead 313 of the race’s 334 laps.

Kasey Kahne opened Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Charlotte Motor Speedway from the fifth position and was running third by Lap 25, when the first caution flag was waved. Kahne reported that his No. 5 Quaker State Chevrolet SS was slightly loose in the center, so crew chief Kenny Francis called for the necessary chassis adjustments. Kahne won the race off pit road after a swift right-side tire and fuel stop. He lined up beside teammate Jimmie Johnson for the Lap 28 restart and led two circuits before losing the No. 1 spot to teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. Kahne reclaimed the lead on Lap 44 and paced the field for 30 more laps before making his green-flag stop on Lap 74. Kahne resumed the lead back on-track and eclipsed the 1,000 laps led mark at the 1.5-mile oval – a track-best for the driver of the No. 5 Chevy SS. Kahne spent the first half of the race running in the top five with his Hendrick Motorsports teammates and the second half atop the leaderboard. He decided to give the outside line a try for the Lap 177 restart and lost ground to teammate Jimmie Johnson. Kahne initially reported he seemed to be on the splitter during the green-flag run, but as the race progressed, the car started to come to him. With 100 laps to go, Francis encouraged Kahne to start saving fuel. He told Kahne the No. 5 Chevy SS would be three to four laps shy of making it on one more stop. The fuel issue was erased when the caution flag was waved on Lap 307. Kahne, running second, stopped for right-side tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. He won the race off pit road, and lined up next to teammate Jeff Gordon for the restart. Kahne edged him on the ensuing lap, but was unable to hold off eventual winner Brad Keselowski, who took four tires during the stop. Kahne finished second.

Polesitter Jeff Gordon led the first 26 laps at Charlotte Motor Speedway before the first caution flag was issued. During the yellow-flag period, Gordon opted for four tires instead of two, which appeared to be the more popular call. Gordon told crew chief Alan Gustafson four tires was the right move to keep the car from getting so tight. Gordon was running fifth by Lap 53 and, 20 laps later, was closing the gap on teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. for fourth prior to green-flag pit stops. Gordon made a four-tire, fuel stop during the green flag and remained fifth through a subsequent caution period. During the Lap 92 restart, Gordon sped past teammate Jimmie Johnson to take third. Gordon remained inside the top five as the race unfolded and lined up third behind Johnson for a Lap 177 restart. Gordon was bounced around some on the restart and ultimately finished seventh.

Jimmie Johnson rolled off the grid fourth on Saturday at Charlotte and took advantage of a right-side tire, fuel stop under caution on Lap 25 to move into second. The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Dover White Chevrolet SS remained with his Hendrick Motorsports teammates inside the top five – sometimes running 1-2-3-4 – as the race unfolded. When green-flag pit stops began around Lap 73, Johnson led Lap 74 before making his stop. He returned to the track in fourth and on Lap 83, his windshield was sprayed with oil from the No. 14 car. Undaunted, Johnson assured crew chief Chad Knaus visibility wasn’t an issue and said this was “just like my dirt days.” Johnson maintained his position inside the top five and lined up second beside teammate Kasey Kahne for the Lap 177 restart. The driver of the No. 48 Chevy SS sped out to take the lead and stretched it out to two-plus seconds ahead of Kahne during the ensuing long green-flag run. On Lap 227, Johnson made a 12.7-second pit stop for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment. He returned to pace the field. Johnson led 130 laps, eclipsing Dale Earnhardt Sr. for fifth on the track’s all-time list, and made a pit stop when the caution flag was waved on Lap 307. Johnson stopped for four tires and fuel and returned to line up third for the restart. He initially was shuffled back to seventh, but climbed to fourth within 10 laps. He made it to fourth by the time the checkered flag was displayed. Johnson now trails Chase leader Matt Kenseth by four points.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., making his 500th Cup start on Saturday, lined up sixth at Charlotte and used the outside lane to make up ground. After a strong two-tire, fuel stop under caution on Lap 25, he was pacing the field by Lap 30. The driver of the No. 88 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet SS led 14 laps before trash on his grille caused his temperatures to rise. To save his car, Earnhardt gave up the lead to teammate Kasey Kahne and slid into fourth behind teammate Jimmie Johnson to remove the debris. He remained inside the top five with his Hendrick Motorsports teammates as the race unfolded and made his green-flag stop on Lap 74. With four tires and fuel, Earnhardt was in good shape when the caution flag was waved 10 laps later for oil on the track. Earnhardt lined up second beside Johnson for the restart and sped out to take the lead on Lap 91. Earnhardt led five laps before Kahne slipped by. Earnhardt remained inside the top eight as the race unfolded, but a tight-handling condition emerged as the nighttime temperatures cooled. He slipped in the running order while looking for a better spot to run his No. 88 Chevy SS. Earnhardt struggled to get his No. 88 Chevy SS dialed in and slipped off the lead lap later in the race. He was running 14th when the Lap 307 caution flag was issued and stopped for four tires, fuel and another chassis adjustment. Earnhardt held on to finish 15th.

10.8.2013

Gordon, Johnson, Earnhardt Finish in Top 10 at Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. posted strong runs on Sunday at Kansas Speedway to improve their chances in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Gordon, who finished third, climbed one spot in the standings and now ranks fourth (32 points behind leader Matt Kenseth). Johnson, ranked second, took sixth on Sunday and narrowed Kenseth’s lead to just three points with five races remaining in the championship hunt. Earnhardt picks up two spots and now ranks eighth (54 points behind Kenseth). Kasey Kahne remains 13th in the driver standings after finishing 15th on Sunday.

Kasey Kahne started Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event from the 15th position and reported a loose-handling condition as the race opened. Running 19th by the second caution period on Lap 41, crew chief Kenny Francis told Kahne he was clocking some good lap times. Francis called for four tires, fuel and chassis adjustment during the yellow-flag period, and Kahne began to make up ground around Kansas Speedway’s 1.5-mile oval. Kahne cracked the top 10 by Lap 96. Francis the No. 5 crew continually tweaked the handling of the Time Warner Cable Chevrolet SS, and Kahne reported that his race car was driving better. Kahne held steady and restarted fifth after the 12th caution period of the race. The yellow flag was waved immediately after a spin on track to signal 13 caution periods – a season- and track-high – and Kahne lined up sixth this time. He was stalled slightly when his teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. spun his tires from the fourth spot. Kahne dropped to 11th and picked up a spot before hitting pit road during green-flag stops on Lap 220. The persistent caution periods made it hard for Kahne to make up track position, and he crossed the finish line 15th.

Jeff Gordon rolled off the grid 14th on Sunday at Kansas Speedway, and by Lap 30, he had moved into 12th. Gordon worked with crew chief Alan Gustafson on the handling of the No. 24 Axalta Coating Systems Chevrolet SS and continually picked up spots on pit road. When the caution flag was waved on Lap 41, Gordon was running 12th. He left pit road running fourth with fresh right-side tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. Throughout the course of the race, Gordon and Gustafson learned that four tires made the No. 24 Chevy SS tighter so they primarily opted for right-sides. Gordon moved into third on the restart, but settled into fourth and held steady with teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson inside the top five. Misfortune struck for the No. 24 team when Gordon was making a green-flag pit stop, and NASCAR officials waved the yellow flag for debris on the track on Lap 87. Gordon took the ensuing wave-around, but restarted 28th. He quietly began working his way through the field and improved to run seventh by Lap 156, when NASCAR waved the yellow flag for smoke outside the racetrack. Back on track, Gordon was racing for position when he received contact from the No. 78 car, and he dropped to 11th. Gordon, running 13th, narrowly avoided a spin on Lap 197 and opted against pitting during the 12th caution period of the race. The 13th caution flag was waved immediately after the next restart at Lap 200. Gordon took advantage of this yellow-flag period for four tires, fuel and adjustments. He made one more stop for fuel before returning to the track and restarting 29th with 61 laps to go. Gordon improved to 12th by the time the 14th caution flag was waved, and he stopped for right-side tires and fuel. The No. 24 team picked up eight spots on pit road, and Gordon lined up fourth for the restart. He improved to second with 35 laps to go and held on for the third-place finish.

Jimmie Johnson, a two-time Kansas winner, started Sunday’s race in third and improved to battle for the lead by Lap 80. He finally won the top spot on Lap 83 and paced the field for five laps before attempting to make his green-flag stop. As he committed to pit road, NASCAR officials waved the yellow flag for debris, and Johnson rolled through pit road to keep from getting penalized. The ill-timed stop cost Johnson track position, and he restarted in 17th. By Lap 103, Johnson had cracked the top 10. He was running sixth when the caution flag was waved on Lap 112, and reported to crew chief Chad Knaus that his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS was tight in the center of Turns 1 and 2. During the yellow-flag period, Johnson made a 6.3-second stop for right-side tires, fuel and adjustments. He restarted seventh, but struggled to get much further initially thanks to a plethora of caution flags. He climbed to fourth by Lap 170, when the caution flag was waved yet again. This time, Johnson stopped for four tires, fuel and adjustments. With two tires being the popular call, Johnson restarted 25th. He improved to 10th fewer than 10 laps later by the time the yellow flag was waved for debris. By Lap 200, the caution flag had waved a record 13 times, and Johnson was struggling for track position on restarts. Johnson restarted 10th on Lap 207 and improved to run fifth 14 laps later when green-flag stops began. But the 14th caution flag preempted his green-flag stop, and Johnson toured pit road during the yellow flag. Knaus made sure the No. 48 Chevy SS was full of fuel, which meant Johnson restarted 14th. Johnson cracked the top 10 with 32 laps left and improved to finish sixth.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. qualified sixth for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Kansas Speedway and was running fourth by Lap 9. The driver of the No. 88 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet SS moved into second after pitting during the Lap 42 caution period. Eight laps later, he told crew chief Steve Letarte the race car was tight entering the corners, but he continued to reel in leader Kevin Harvick. A piece of trash on Earnhardt’s grille slowed his chase, though, and Earnhardt slipped to third before rallying to take the lead on Lap 87. He inherited the lead as his teammate and previous leader Jimmie Johnson hit pit road and NASCAR officials waved the yellow flag. Earnhardt maintained the top spot after a four-tire and fuel stop, but couldn’t hold onto the No. 1 position coming to the green. He ran in second and utilized a subsequent pit stop under caution to reclaim the lead. He led three times for eight laps during the next 30 circuits. Letarte and the No. 88 team continually tinkered on the No. 88 Chevy SS, while Earnhardt maintained footing inside the top 10 as the race unfolded. A series of caution periods made it difficult for the No. 88 team to make up substantial ground quickly, but Earnhardt had climbed to third by Lap 194. After the 13th caution flag was waved – a season-best and a track-high – Earnhardt lined up fourth for the restart. He slowed for the front-runners, wound up spinning his tires and dropping to 12th. He climbed through the field to finish eighth.

SEPTEMBER

9.30.2013

Jimmie Johnson Wins Record Eighth Victory at Dover

DOVER, Del. - Jimmie Johnson led a race-high 243 laps and held off a hard-charging Dale Earnhardt Jr. on Sunday to win a record eighth NASCAR Sprint Cup victory at Dover International Speedway. The driver of the No. 48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS now ranks first among drivers all-time at the one-mile concrete oval, breaking a former tie with seven-time winners and Hall of Famers Richard Petty and Bobby Allison.

With the victory, Johnson improves to second in the 2013 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings. He also becomes the all-time leader in wins at four tracks – Dover, Fontana, Calif., Las Vegas and Phoenix. He is tied for first with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Kansas Speedway.

Johnson’s win also marks the 15th for Hendrick Motorsports at Dover and gives the organization four tracks now where it has 15 or more victories. The organization has 15 or more wins at four tracks on the Sprint Cup circuit – Martinsville (Va.) Speedway (20 wins); Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway (17 wins); Pocono Raceway (15 wins) and Dover.

Earnhardt couldn’t close the gap on Johnson, but held on for the runner-up result. Hendrick Motorsports now has 35 one-two Cup finishes, including four at Dover. Gordon followed his teammates on Sunday in fourth, while Kasey Kahne finished 13th.

Kasey Kahne lined up 20th on Sunday at Dover International Speedway and overcame an initial tight-handling condition to run 17th by Lap 35, when the first caution flag waved. Kahne stopped for four tires, fuel and a quick chassis adjustment and restarted 18th on Lap 42. A long green-flag period unfolded, and Kahne climbed to 12th by Lap 121. Crew chief Kenny Francis radioed that Kahne was clocking fast lap times, and despite the reoccurrence of the tight-handling condition, Kahne held steady in the top 14. He took advantage of a Lap 164 caution period for four tires, fuel and another chassis adjustment. Kahne improved two spots to 12th before a Lap 226 caution period afforded another opportunity for tweaks to the No. 5 Chevy SS. With another set of Goodyear tires, fuel and adjustments, Kahne returned to the track in 14th and reported his No. 5 Chevy SS felt good. Kahne ran inside the top 15 but wasn’t able to make up substantial ground. With nine laps remaining in Sunday’s race, he reported a possible engine issue but held on to finish 13th.

Jeff Gordon rolled off the grid 16th on Sunday at Dover International Speedway and used the inside line to close in on the 11th spot by Lap 30. Seven laps later, Gordon pitted from 11th for four tires, fuel and a small adjustment to help the handling of the No. 24 Axalta Coating systems Chevrolet SS. He left running 12th and improved to ninth within the first two laps of the restart. The tight-handling condition soon resumed, but Gordon kept climbing, running seventh by Lap 100. He led two laps before making his green-flag stop on Lap 120 for four tires, fuel and further adjustments. Running eighth back on the track, Gordon reported that his No. 24 Chevy SS had shifted to loose. The No. 24 team took advantage of a Lap 164 caution period to further tweak the No. 24 Chevy SS, and Gordon was happier with the changes. He restarted seventh. One caution period, some more changes and 100 laps later, Gordon was running third behind teammates Jimmie Johnson (first) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (second). Gordon cycled through green-flag pit stops with the field and remained third. Crew chief Alan Gustafson reassured Gordon their fuel situation wasn’t dire as the four-time Dover victor circled the one-mile concrete oval. Gordon held on to finish fourth.

Jimmie Johnson, previously seven-time victor at Dover International Speedway, opened Sunday’s 400-lap contest from the eighth spot. The driver of the No. 48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS cracked the top five on Lap 32 and opted to hit pit road when the caution flag was waved on Lap 37 for debris. With four fresh tires and fuel, Johnson gave up four spots and restarted 11th on Lap 42. He was running second 50 laps later and chasing teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. Johnson shuffled into the lead on Lap 120 after green-flag stops and paced the field for 46 circuits before the caution flag was waved on Lap 166 for debris. Undaunted, Johnson overcame an issue with his splitter to take the lead back from Matt Kenseth on Lap 198. Johnson held the top spot again, even through an ensuing green-flag pit stop thanks to swift work by the No. 48 team. He continued to set the pace as the No. 48 team helped address continually evolving handling conditions. On Lap 319, Johnson radioed to his team that he didn’t “have it on the short run.” His runs around Dover would begin on the free side before becoming tighter. When the caution flag waved on Lap 370, the No. 48 team opted for two tires and fuel. Johnson returned to pace the field and tried to stretch out his lead at the drop of the green flag. He held off a hard-charging Earnhardt to win his eighth victory at the one-mile concrete oval.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. opened Sunday’s Sprint Cup event from the pole position and immediately paced the field for the first 25 circuits at Dover. The driver of the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS began lapping the field by Lap 18. Six circuits later, Earnhardt gave up the lead while negotiating lapped traffic and working with a tight-handling condition. Still, Earnhardt remained within reach of the top spot and reclaimed it on Lap 31. Seven laps later, the caution flag was waved for debris and Earnhardt told his crew his car was handling good. He hit pit road for four tires and a chassis adjustment to help the handling in traffic and dropped to fifth as a result. The stall was temporary, though, and Earnhardt resumed leading on Lap 76. He paced the field for another 42 circuits before attempting to make his green-flag stop. Earnhardt missed pit road, which cost him some time, but he hit pit lane the next time by for four tires, fuel and adjustments. He remained inside the top five and benefited from a caution period on Lap 164 for further adjustments. This time, after taking four tires, fuel and a round of wedge, Earnhardt left in fourth. Earnhardt stayed inside the top five as the race unfolded and was battling for second by Lap 237. He won that spot and stayed out to lead Lap 312 before making a green-flag pit stop for four tires, fuel and further adjustments. When the caution flag waved on Lap 370, Earnhardt made his way down pit road for four tires and fuel and left running in fourth. Most of the field opted for two tires and fuel, but Earnhardt, took advantage of the No. 1 pit stall, to get a little extra boost from four fresh tires. He restarted fourth and immediately moved into second behind Johnson. Earnhardt narrowed Johnson’s lead in the closing laps but was unable to catch him and took runner-up honors.

9.23.2013

Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Finish in Top Six at New Hampshire

LOUDON, N.H. – Jimmie Johnson scored his second straight top-five result in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup after finishing fourth on Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS and was joined in the top 10 by his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. (sixth). Jeff Gordon finished 15th, after a late-race pit miscue cost him track position, and Kahne took 37th after returning from a late-race incident on-track.

Kasey Kahne opened Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway from the outside pole position and was leading the field by Lap 3. An on-track caution period superseded the planned competition yellow at Lap 29, and Kahne benefited from a 6.1-second stop that included fuel, a round of wedge and right-side tires. The driver of the No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet SS led the field to the Lap 35 restart, but slipped to second and stayed there through the next caution period. On the Lap 59 restart, Kahne battled Ryan Newman for second before winning the spot and beginning to chase leader Martin Truex Jr. Kahne held second until Lap 107, when he slipped to third. On the next circuit, he made his green-flag pit stop for four tires and fuel. The driver of the No. 5 Chevy SS was running sixth when green-flag stops had cycled through completely and improved to fourth on Lap 131. Eleven laps later, Kahne reported a loose-handling condition in the corners. He slipped to fifth by Lap 165, when the caution flag was waved, and the No. 5 team opted to hit pit road for fuel, right-side tires and a chassis adjustment. He restarted ninth and was running seventh by Lap 211. Kahne remained inside the top eight during an ensuing caution period, but was involved in an incident on Lap 252. His No. 5 Chevy SS came to a rest after spinning on the front stretch. Kahne returned to finish the race and was scored 37th.

Jeff Gordon lined up third for Sunday’s Sprint Cup event at New Hampshire and was running second within three circuits. The caution flag was waved on Lap 29 for a spin in Turn 4, and Gordon brought his No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet SS down pit road for four tires, fuel and an adjustment. The 6.5-second stop was marred slightly when another competitor made contact with Gordon as he was exiting his pit stall. Gordon returned to line up fifth for the Lap 35 restart and was shuffled to seventh when the green flag was waved. He stayed in that position through the next caution period 20 laps later. Gordon improved two spots on the Lap 59 restart and climbed into fourth by Lap 100, when green-flag stops began. Gordon made his four-tire, fuel stop and returned to run seventh when green-flag stops cycled through completely. “It feels like we’ve made the initial throttle tighter and the entry/exit (of corner) looser,” Gordon told his team, as he improved to run fifth – just six seconds behind the leader – on Lap 136. Twenty-nine laps later, Gordon hit pit road during a yellow-flag period and picked up three spots, thanks to a two-tire call, to line up second for the ensuing restart. When the green flag dropped, Gordon claimed the No. 1 spot after the leader spun his tires. Gordon stretched out a two car-lengths lead as green-flag racing continued. He paced the field until the caution flag was waved with 100 laps to go and opted to hit pit road. During his stop, Gordon slid through the pit box and had to back up. Gordon, with four fresh tires and fuel, lined up 22nd for the restart and began his march toward the front. He improved to 13th by Lap 252 when a spin by teammate Kasey Kahne brought out the caution flag. Gordon restarted 18th and improved three spots to finish 15th.

Jimmie Johnson rolled off the grid 11th on Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and was running ninth by the time the caution flag was waved on Lap 29. The yellow flag replaced the planned competition caution period, and Johnson pulled the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS down pit road for right-side tires and fuel. He lined up 10th for the Lap 35 restart and improved two spots before the caution flag was waved five laps later. The No. 48 team opted to stay on-track during two subsequent pit periods and moved into the seventh position. On Lap 96, crew chief Chad Knaus told Johnson, “Settle in. Get in a rhythm.” Two laps later, Johnson posted the fastest lap on the track. Green-flag stops began on Lap 111, and Johnson stopped for four tires and fuel. Johnson was running seventh by the time green-flag stops cycled through completely, and the driver of the No. 48 Chevy SS had improved to sixth by Lap 138. Twenty-seven laps later, Johnson hit pit road for four tires and fuel during a yellow-flag period for debris. He restarted behind cars that took two tires, but was running fifth by Lap 173 and fourth by Lap 192. Johnson hit pit road when the caution flag waved with 100 laps to go and restarted third five laps later after taking left-side tires and fuel. He moved into second on Lap 213, and one lap later, Knaus encouraged Johnson to use the high groove and save his tires. On Lap 247, Johnson took advantage of a caution period to get right-side tires and fuel before returning to the track to line up third for the restart. He lined up behind Truex, who spun the tires, and mired Johnson in the top 10. Johnson recovered to run fourth by Lap 271 and held that position as the laps ticked down. He has now finished the first two Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup events fifth or better.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. started 17th on Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and was running 14th by the time the first caution period occurred on Lap 29. The yellow-flag period replaced the scheduled competition caution, and Earnhardt brought the No. 88 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet SS down pit road for right-side tires and fuel. He restarted 33rd after having to come back down pit road to tighten up the right-rear tire. He stayed on track during a subsequent caution period and improved to 24th on Lap 51 when the third yellow flag was waved. Crew chief Steve Letarte opted to gamble with the No. 88 team’s pit sequence and called Earnhardt down pit road for fuel. Earnhardt restarted 25th on Lap 59 and the gamble paid off when green-flag stops began 55 laps later. Earnhardt, on a different pit sequence, led the field on Lap 114. Letarte stretched out Earnhardt’s fuel window and called the No. 88 Chevy SS down pit road on Lap 130. With four fresh tires and fuel, Earnhardt returned to run 25th and quickly drove his way back onto the lead lap. He cracked the top 20 on Lap 145 and was running 18th when the caution flag was waved on Lap 165. Letarte made a call for right-side tires and fuel only during the yellow flag, and that translated into a 14-spot advantage for Earnhardt. The driver of the No. 88 Chevy SS lined up fourth for the restart and was running second behind Jeff Gordon on Lap 174. The caution flag was waved 26 laps later, and Earnhardt stopped for left-side tires and fuel before lining up fifth for the Lap 205 restart. He made contact with a competitor back on track, but held steady inside the top eight. Earnhardt lined up fourth next to teammate Jimmie Johnson for the restart with less than 45 laps to go, and followed leader Matt Kenseth across the stripe. Earnhardt slipped to fourth, which is where he lined up for a subsequent restart, and held his position inside the top 10 to score the sixth-place result in the 300-lap event.

9.16.2013

Hendrick Motorsports trio finishes in top 12 under lights at Chicagoland

JOLIET, Ill. – Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne scored finishes inside the top 12 during Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Chicagoland Speedway. The race, which signaled the opening for the 2013 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, stretched over nearly 10 hours through two rain delays and various caution periods.

Kasey Kahne opened Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Chicagoland Speedway from the fourth position and an immediate tight-handling condition cost him track position. Kahne slipped to eighth before hitting pit road for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment during NASCAR’s Lap 31 competition caution. A slight drizzle delayed the restart, but when the field resumed green-flag racing on Lap 37, Kahne was running 13th. Kahne notified crew chief Kenny Francis that he needed the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS to turn better, like it did during Saturday’s final practice, which he led. Kahne climbed to fourth when green-flag pit stops began on Lap 75. He stopped shortly after for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. The tweaks helped, and Kahne was running ninth back on track at Lap 85. Kahne focused on improving his track position as rain threatened outside the 1.5-mile oval. On Lap 108, the caution flag was waved for rain on the track. The yellow flag was exchanged for a red one, and NASCAR stopped competitors on pit road. Prior to the rain delay, Kahne and his Hendrick Motorsports teammates were running inside the top nine. When the red flag was lifted, Kahne picked up four spots with a two-tire stop. He restarted fourth, and within two laps, Kahne was contending for the third spot. When the caution flag was waved on Lap 122, Kahne told Francis that his No. 5 Chevy SS felt a little tight, but seemed to be running well. Kahne restarted fourth on Lap 128 and was running seventh when the caution flag waved again on Lap 167. While making his stop for right-side tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment, Kahne sustained contact on pit road that required a subsequent pit stop. The No. 5 team worked to get Kahne back on the track, and he returned to run 30th to race for valuable Chase points. Kahne swiftly toured the 1.5-mile speedway, improving to 11th by Lap 200. He cracked the top 10 within 12 circuits and was running seventh by Lap 219. With 47 laps to go, he made a green-flag stop for fuel and four tires. Kahne lined up 10th for the Lap 230 restart and improved to seventh before stopping during a Lap 240 caution period for right-side tires and fuel. Kahne lined up 10th for the Lap 243 restart and was battling Gordon for eighth within one lap. He held on to finish Sunday’s race 12th.

Jeff Gordon, a recent addition to the Chase field, lined up sixth on Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway. He slipped to eighth when a tight-handling condition emerged, but held on to pass teammate Kasey Kahne for seventh just before NASCAR issued the competition caution on Lap 31. During the yellow-flag stop, the No. 24 team gave up four positions on pit road when it opted for four tires instead of two. Gordon lined up for the restart in 11th and cracked the top 10 within one lap. The adjustments paid off, and the driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet SS continued working his way through the field. He ran as high as fifth before green-flag stops began on Lap 75 and led one lap at the 1.5-mile oval before making his stop for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment. Gordon was running sixth on Lap 85 when green-flag stops cycled through. Back on track, Gordon radioed that the No. 24 Chevy SS was running better. On Lap 108, the caution flag was waved for rain on the track. The yellow flag was exchanged for a red one, and the NASCAR competitors stopped on pit road. Prior to the rain delay, Gordon and his Hendrick Motorsports teammates were running inside the top nine. Gordon hit pit road when the red flag was lifted and took four tires, which meant he lined up 11th for the restart. By Lap 120, Gordon was running 10th. The No. 24 team opted not to pit when the caution flag was waved two laps later, so Gordon stayed in 10th for the Lap 128 restart. He improved to seventh within four laps, quietly slipping by Kahne for sixth just past halfway – Lap 134 – and continued his forward march to take fifth a few laps later. On Lap 148, the caution flag was waved and Gordon moved into the lead after a 6.9-second stop for right-side tires and fuel. Gordon jumped to the lead before the caution flag was waved again on Lap 153. He stayed on the track and held the top spot through the next caution period 14 laps later. Gordon took fuel only during the yellow flag, but traffic on pit road stalled his exit and he followed Kyle Busch. The two competitors lined up behind Greg Biffle and Casey Mears, who opted not to pit. Gordon restarted fourth and at the drop of the green flag, encountered a flat left-rear tire that prompted an unscheduled pit stop. Gordon stopped for left-side tires and fuel before returning to the 1.5-mile oval running one lap down. With 84 laps to go, he moved into the Lucky Dog position. The green-flag run continued, and Gordon soon didn’t need to worry about the free pass. He moved into the lead as competitors began green-flag stops and was pacing the field when his teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. brought out a caution flag on Lap 226. Gordon stopped for four tires and fuel during the yellow-flag period and lined up 18th for the restart. Gordon clicked off eight spots before a Lap 240 caution period, and he opted to stay out and restarted seventh. Gordon dove to the bottom on the Lap 243 restart but couldn’t make up much track position. He held on to finish sixth.

Jimmie Johnson started ninth on Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway and quickly worked his way through the field. By Lap 13, Johnson cracked the top five, and 15 laps later, he was running third. Johnson told crew chief Chad Knaus that the car was pushy and needed more grip so the No. 48 team obliged during the competition caution period on Lap 31. With right-side tires, fuel and adjustments, Johnson was the first car off pit road. Johnson chose to line up from the outside for the restart and took the lead when the green flag dropped. Within six circuits, Johnson surpassed 15,000 career laps lead. He remains ranked ninth all-time and second behind teammate Jeff Gordon. The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS stretched out his lead on Sunday until Lap 75, when he made a green-flag pit stop. During the four-tire, fuel stop, there was some confusion over the number of lugnuts on the right-rear tire, which delayed the stop to roughly 20 seconds. The miscue slightly affected Johnson’s run for the lead, and he returned to the track running fifth. By the time the yellow flag was displayed for rain, Johnson had improved to fourth and was clocking lap times as fast as the leaders. The NASCAR officials exchanged the yellow flag for a red one on Lap 110. Prior to the rain delay, Johnson and his Hendrick Motorsports teammates were running inside the top nine. Johnson picked up two spots with a two-tire stop after the red flag was lifted. He restarted in second from the outside line and battled with Matt Kenseth for the lead under the lights at Chicagoland. When the caution flag was waved on Lap 122, Knaus encouraged Johnson to save fuel. Johnson lined up again in second on the outside line for the Lap 128 restart. He slipped into third as the green-flag run unfolded. On Lap 149, Johnson hit pit road during a caution period for four tires and fuel. An issue with the jack – it broke – stalled the stop and meant Johnson restarted 22nd. Undaunted, Johnson began his charge through the field and was running 15th by Lap 167, when another caution flag was thrown. The No. 48 team took four tires during the stop, which put them back in traffic again, but Johnson reported the car was running great. The only thing the team needed was track position, which he got during a restart with 83 laps to go. He improved to run 13th. By Lap 210, Johnson was third, and nine laps later, he made a green-flag stop for four tires and fuel. Johnson lined up third for the Lap 230 restart and opted to stay on-track when the caution flag was waved 10 laps later. He restarted fifth and held on to finish fifth.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. lined up 18th in his No. 88 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet SS on Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway. By Lap 13, Earnhardt had improved five spots and told crew chief Steve Letarte the car was loose off the corners and tight on the entrance of the corners. During the competition caution, Earnhardt took right-side tires and fuel and picked up nine spots on pit road thanks to swift work by his No. 88 team. He restarted third on Lap 35 and slipped to seventh 30 laps later when the loose-handling condition crept up again. Letarte called for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment during the ensuing green-flag stop on Lap 77, and Earnhardt held his seventh-place running position. As the race continued, so did Earnhardt’s appreciation for how the No. 88 Chevy SS was handling. Unfortunately, the green-flag run was cut short when rain showers pummeled the 1.5-mile track. Running seventh, Earnhardt hit pit road when NASCAR officials exchanged the yellow flag for a red one and suspended racing action for the rain. Prior to the rain delay, Earnhardt and his Hendrick Motorsports teammates were running inside the top nine. Earnhardt picked up three spots with a two-tire stop after the red flag was lifted. Running fifth shortly after the restart, Earnhardt improved to contend with teammate Kasey Kahne for the fourth position. The No. 88 team opted against pitting during a Lap 122 yellow-flag period, and Letarte told Earnhardt, who lined up fifth for the restart, to save fuel. Earnhardt hovered inside the top 10 as the green-flag period unfolded, and he reported around Lap 140 that he was having trouble hearing spotter TJ Majors over the radio. He expressed further frustration with his car after he received contact from the No. 29 on track. The No. 88 team pulled out the fender to prevent tire rub on the ensuing Lap 148 pit stop. Earnhardt restarted 17th, survived another caution period and improved seven spots before the yellow flag was waved on Lap 167. Earnhardt sustained contact on pit road that required a subsequent pit stop to address the damage. The time on pit road hurt his run, and Earnhardt returned to the track running 23rd. Earnhardt worked to gain valuable Chase points by making up track position, but struggled because of the damage to the nose. Letarte told Earnhardt the No. 88 team needed to make further repairs, and they hoped for another caution period. When that didn’t happen, the No. 88 team took advantage of green-flag stops to lead some laps around the 1.5-mile speedway. With 44 laps to go, he stopped for four tires and fuel. But misfortune struck back on track, when Earnhardt’s No. 88 Chevy SS encountered an engine issue. Earnhardt left Chicagoland scored in 35th.

9.9.2013

Earnhardt Joins Johnson, Kahne in Chase After Richmond Run

RICHMOND, Va. – Dale Earnhardt Jr. earned a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup after taking 13th on Saturday at Richmond International Raceway. The driver of the No. 88 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet SS joins his Hendrick Motorsports teammates Kasey Kahne and Jimmie Johnson, who previously secured spots in the 10-race postseason play. With the points reseeded for the Chase, Johnson will start second with 2,012 points, while Earnhardt will rank ninth with 2,000 points. Kahne, a Wild Card entrant, also has 2,000 points, but will rank 11th for the Chase-opening race at Chicagoland Speedway next Sunday. Jeff Gordon opened Saturday’s regular season-finale from the pole position, but missed making the Chase by one point after a late-race pit stop cost the No. 24 team track position.

Kasey Kahne opened Saturday night’s race at Richmond International Raceway from the 18th position and with a spot already guaranteed in the upcoming Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Kahne, with two victories this season, had a least a Wild Card spot going into the 400-lap event at Richmond. On Saturday, Kahne cracked the top 10 by Lap 70. The driver of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS reported a lack of forward grip 13 circuits later and slipped to 11th. His team took advantage of two ensuring pit stops – one during green-flag conditions and a second during a Lap 135 caution period – to address the handling of the No. 5 Chevy SS. Kahne restarted 20th on Lap 141 and hovered around that position during the next 122 laps as his team continued to work on the car’s handling. By Lap 276, Kahne had improved to 15th and within 64 circuits, Kahne was running ninth. Misfortune struck for the driver of the No. 5 Chevy SS during a subsequent green-flag pit stop. Teammate Jimmie Johnson encountered an issue on-track and brought out the caution flag, which put Kahne and others a lap down. Kahne restarted 19th on Lap 351 and held on to finish 14th.

Jeff Gordon led the first 49 laps on Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway after starting the 400-lap event from the pole position, the 72nd of his NASCAR Sprint Cup career. Gordon initially stretched out his lead to five car-lengths before a handling issue occurred that made the car loose off the corners and tight in the center of them. Gordon slipped in the running order to 10th, while crew chief Alan Gustafson prepared for adjustments during the ensuing green-flag pit stop. After taking the track bar down two rounds on a stop around Lap 90, the No. 24 team attempted once more to restore the handling of the Drive to End Hunger Chevy SS on a subsequent pit stop under caution on Lap 135. Gordon picked up three spots on pit road during the stop and improved to run eighth for the restart. Back on track, handling continued to be an issue for Gordon, who insisted the car was tight. When the caution flag was waved on Lap 207, Gordon stopped again for further adjustments. He restarted in 16th and improved one spot before reporting a vibration to his team. Gordon told Gustafson he had to hit pit road, and he made an unscheduled stop for four tires and fuel. Upon further inspection, it was determined Gordon had a loose front-right wheel. Gordon returned to the track running 25th to battle for the Lucky Dog position. Gordon improved to 22nd and was in the Lucky Dog position when the caution flag finally waved on Lap 266. He continued to fight for track position, but slipped off the lead lap again as the race progressed. With around 50 laps to go, Gordon was making a scheduled green-flag pit stop when the caution flag was waved. He rolled through his stop, maintained his Lucky Dog status and returned to the lead lap. As a result, Gordon restarted 12th – the tail end of the lead-lap party. He cracked the top 10 with 36 laps to go and was running eighth six laps later. Gordon held steady in the closing laps, but made a pit stop under caution with four laps to go that cost him track position. Another competitor opted to stay on-track during the yellow-flag period, and Gordon missed making the Chase by one point. Gordon finished the Richmond event in eighth.

Jimmie Johnson started Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Richmond International Raceway from the rear of the field after missing qualifying due to the birth of his daughter. Green-flag conditions dominated the opening of the 400-lap event, yet Johnson climbed as high as 26th before a tight-handling condition arose on Lap 54. The tight handling and lack of lateral grip cost Johnson track position. He went down a lap 17 circuits later. On Lap 89, Johnson reported a soft right-front tire and made an unscheduled stop for four tires, fuel and further adjustments. During the green-flag stop, Johnson was clocked too fast exiting pit road and had to complete a pass-through penalty. As the race continued, the No. 48 team continued to tweak on the Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS, and Johnson kept fighting to make up ground. But the persistent green-flag conditions made that difficult, and misfortune struck again on Lap 220 when a 36th-running Johnson reported an electrical issue. With no power on either battery, he had to report to garage so his team could address the issue. The No. 48 team installed a new battery and sent Johnson back onto the track, where he continued to fight for position. He worked through a subsequent flat right-front tire and finished 40th.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. lined up 14th on Saturday at Richmond International Raceway and quietly improved a spot within the first five circuits at the short track. A long green-flag run opened the 400-lap event, and Earnhardt settled in to run 14th by Lap 102 when the field cycled through green-flag stops. He reported to crew chief Steve Letarte that the car was a bit too comfortable and too tight. When the caution flag waved on Lap 135, Earnhardt was running 15th and stopped for four tires and fuel as well as chassis and air pressure adjustments. A swift stop netted the No. 88 team two spots on pit road, and Earnhardt returned to the track running 13th on Lap 141. As the race unfolded, Earnhardt steadily continued his bid for a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Going into Saturday’s race, Earnhardt had to accomplish one of the following scenarios: a finish of 32nd or better; a finish of 33rd with at least one lap led; or a finish of 34th with the most laps led. He seemed headed that way as laps ticked down under mostly green-flag conditions. Earnhardt improved to run 12th on Lap 327 and was making a scheduled green-flag pit stop when the caution flag was waved with about 50 laps to go. He restarted 17th on Lap 351 and held on to finish seventh.

9.3.2013

Gordon, Earnhardt earn top-10s in Atlanta

HAMPTON, Ga. – Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet SS, earned his third consecutive top-10 finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday evening, coming home with a sixth-place finish. Gordon, who started fifth, scored the 26th top-10 result of his career at the 1.54-mile oval. Joining Gordon inside the top 10 was Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. who finished in the eighth position. Teammates Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne came home 28th and 36th, respectively.

Here are the race recaps by driver:

Kasey Kahne started Sunday’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway from the 18th position and immediately began charging towards the front. The driver of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS improved eight positions in the early stages, running as high as 10th just prior to a Lap 25 competition caution for rain earlier in the afternoon. After pitting for four-tires and adjustments, Kahne returned to the track in the 12th position but received damage to the front and rear bumpers on the ensuing restart. After surveying the damage on pit road crew chief Kenny Francis told Kahne to take the No. 5 Chevy SS behind the wall for repairs. After rejoining the field in 42nd on Lap 63, Kahne reported that he liked the way the car was driving after the repairs were made. At the end of the day, Kahne was able to gain six positions on track, earning valuable championship points. When the checkered flag waved, Kahne crossed the finish line 36th.

Jeff Gordon rolled off the grid in the fifth position on Sunday evening at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Gordon quickly began working his way towards the front, going three-wide on the opening lap before settling into the third position. The driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet SS would then move into the second position just prior to the Lap 25 competition caution. While under yellow, crew chief Alan Gustafson called Gordon to pit road for four tires and adjustments. After spinning his tires on the Lap 31 restart, Gordon was shuffled back to the fifth position but wasted little time maneuvering his way back towards the top three. He would remain inside the top three until a Lap 58 caution period saw the No. 24 Chevy SS come to pit road for four-tires and adjustments. Winning the race off pit road, Gordon would assume the race lead for the first time in the 325-lap event. He would continue to pace the field until the fourth caution of the evening came out for debris on Lap 76. After pitting for four-tires and fuel, Gordon would return to the track in the third position and remain inside the top five for much of the middle portion of the race. After pitting for four tires during a Lap 206 caution Gordon re-entered the track in the ninth position. He would continue to battle for position inside the top 10 throughout the remainder of the race, ultimately taking the checkered flag in the sixth position.

Jimmie Johnson started from the 10th position on Sunday evening at Atlanta Motor Speedway. From the drop of the green flag, Johnson steadily moved his No. 48 Lowe’s Dover White Chevrolet SS towards the front, improving three positions before the Lap 25 competition caution. During the caution crew chief Chad Knaus called Johnson to pit road for four-tires and adjustments. Returning to the track in the 10th position, Johnson sustained damage on the ensuing restart, sending the No. 48 Chevy SS to pit road for repairs. After returning to the track in the 34th position, Johnson would fight an ill-handling condition and ultimately lose a lap to the race leaders. Despite the early issues, Johnson would not give up, improving 11 positions into the top 25 throughout the middle portion of the 325-lap event. Then, as green flag pit stops were approaching, Johnson had to use an evasive maneuver to dodge the slowing car of Jeff Burton, causing the No. 48 Chevy SS to get sideways coming off of Turn 4. After pitting for four-tires as a result of the spin, Johnson returned to the track in the 30th position. Johnson would continue to battle throughout the remainder of the race, ending the night with a 28th-place finish.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. rolled off from the eighth position on Sunday evening at Atlanta Motor Speedway. After battling for a position inside the top five throughout the early stages of the 500-mile event, the driver of the No. 88 National Guard “Race 2 Achieve” Chevrolet SS would take the Lap 25 competition caution in the ninth position. After pitting for four tires and adjustments, Earnhardt returned to the track in the eighth position but reported to crew chief Steve Letarte that he had a vibration as soon the race went back to green. Earnhardt was able to get the problem rectified during a Lap 58 caution period for debris. After restarting in the 19th position, Earnhardt quickly drove his way back into the top 15. Earnhardt would maintain his position inside the top 15 throughout the the middle portion of the 325-lap event, moving back into the top 10 following a Lap 193 caution. Earnhardt would remain inside the top 10 until coming to pit road during green flag pit stops on Lap 252. Upon returning to the track, Earnhardt was able to maneuver the No. 88 Chevy SS into the top five, taking the fifth position with 60 laps remaining. Earnhardt would continue to battle for position inside the top five until returning to pit road with 38 laps remaining. Upon returning to the track, Earnhardt would battle with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon for position inside the top 10, coming home with an eighth-place finish.

AUGUST

8.26.2013

Kahne, Gordon, Earnhardt finish in top 10 at Bristol

BRISTOL, Tenn. – Kasey Kahne closed in on leader Matt Kenseth in the final 14 laps of Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Bristol Motor Speedway and appeared poised for his second straight victory at the historic short track. The driver of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS continually and cleanly fought for the lead, but time wasn’t on his side. He left the 500-lap event with a runner-up result, his third straight top-10 finish at the .533-mile track. Kahne was joined in the top 10 by teammates Jeff Gordon (seventh) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (10th). Jimmie Johnson was involved in a late-race incident and was scored 36th. The strong runs were beneficial for Kahne and Gordon, both of whom improved their chances for a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Kahne improved to eighth in the standings, while Gordon is 13th and 11 points outside the top 10, which is the cutoff for automatic Chase qualifiers. There are two races left before the field is determined for NASCAR’s postseason.

Kasey Kahne was the top qualifier among his Hendrick Motorsports teammates and rolled off the grid seventh in Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Bristol Motor Speedway. During the early stages of the race, the handling of Kahne’s No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS varied from tight to loose as he maintained his position inside the top 10. Crew chief Kenny Francis addressed Kahne’s comments with several chassis adjustments during the first 100 laps. A call for four tires during a pit stop under caution on Lap 89 cost Kahne track position. He restarted 22nd and slipped another four spots by the time the next yellow flag was waved nine laps later. Kahne’s No. 5 Chevy SS received contact during the restart, but the damage was minor and the team addressed it during a subsequent pit stop. Back on track, Kahne had made significant gains, climbing to ninth, and he told Francis the No. 5 Chevy SS was handling better. Kahne appeared committed to the bottom lane at Bristol’s .533-mile oval and continued to work with Francis on the handling of the car. Francis alternated the tire strategy for the No. 5 team and opted for four tires during a stop under caution on Lap 333. Kahne remained inside the top 10 after the stop and improved to run sixth on Lap 347, five laps after the restart. Kahne climbed to third by the time the caution flag was waved on Lap 439 for a multi-car incident that ultimately brought out the red flag. When NASCAR officials opened pit road, Kahne stopped for fuel and right-side tires. He returned to the track ninth for the restart and was battling for second with 30 laps to go. By Lap 473, Kahne had won the second spot and was eyeing his second straight victory at the historic short track. He chased leader Matt Kenseth and slipped by him briefly with 14 laps to go, but couldn’t hold onto the lead. Kahne crossed the line second.

Jeff Gordon lined up 32nd in the No. 24 Axalta Coating Systems Chevrolet SS and quietly worked his way through the field. He was running 19th when the caution flag was waved on Lap 41, and crew chief Alan Gustafson decided to forego a pit stop in favor of track position. As a result, Gordon lined up eighth for the restart. Gordon improved to run third by Lap 54 and was battling for the lead 29 laps later. The nose of the No. 24 Chevy SS sustained some damage when an incident unfolded in Turn 4 on Lap 176. Gordon slid slightly into the back of the No. 47 car, but Gustafson assured Gordon the car was fine. Subsequently, Gordon was running third when he reported climbing water and oil temperatures. He opted to pit during a Lap 202 caution so Gustafson could address, which he did with a combination of a spring rubber and tape on the grille. Gordon, who also took right-side tires and fuel during the stop, restarted 20th and climbed five spots by Lap 225. “This is the most fun I’ve had in a long time,” Gordon told his team after the restart. He called the car “excellent” as he notched out a spot in the top 10 by Lap 250. Momentum started swinging Gordon’s way as the race unfolded. A solid presence on pit road combined with improved water and oil temperatures made for a fun night for the five-time Bristol victor. He was running third and stayed on track following a caution/red-flag period for a multi-car incident on Lap 439. On the Lap 453 restart, Gordon was shuffled outside and slipped to fifth before settling into ninth on older tires. Gordon rallied as the laps ticked down and crossed the finish line seventh.

Jimmie Johnson lined up 14th for Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Bristol Motor Speedway and improved two spots within the first six circuits. The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Dover White Chevrolet SS reported a tight-handling condition that he and crew chief Chad Knaus spent the early stages of the race discussing. Pit road adjustments helped some, but Johnson struggled to crack the top 10 at Bristol’s .533-mile oval. During a caution period on Lap 179, Knaus decided to take a big swing at freeing up the No. 48 Chevy SS, while also making minor repairs because the car received some contact from the No. 33 car prior to the yellow flag. The lengthy stop initially cost Johnson track position, and his report wasn’t promising back on track. Johnson told Knaus he was still tight while driving in traffic, so Knaus ordered more changes during the ensuing pit stop. Johnson restarted 26th on Lap 265 and survived several following caution periods to run 18th on Lap 345. Johnson was making forward progress and attempted to clear an incident in Turn 4 when he was trapped by a wrecking competitor. The contact, Johnson said, “knocked the radiator” out of the No. 48 Chevy SS, and he had to report to the garage where his team could make repairs. Johnson returned to the track and finished 36th.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. opened Saturday’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway from the 19th position and quietly improved to 11th by Lap 7. When the caution flag was waved on Lap 40, Earnhardt and crew chief Steve Letarte opted to pit and address the loose-handling condition that had developed in the corners. The adjustments helped, and Earnhardt cracked the top 10 by Lap 52. The second caution flag was issued on Lap 90, and this time, Letarte instructed then seventh-place Earnhardt to stay on track. As a result, Earnhardt took the lead and paced the field for the next 32 laps before a tight-handling condition emerged in the turns. Earnhardt hovered inside the top 12 as the race unfolded, working with Letarte through various handling issues – mostly tight in the center of the corners and loose on exit. Letarte also didn’t miss an opportunity to remind Earnhardt to save fuel as the race wound down. With 73 laps to go, Letarte informed Earnhardt that they would be about four laps shy on fuel; keep saving. A multi-car incident brought out the red flag temporarily on Lap 439, and when NASCAR officials opened pit road, Letarte told Earnhardt to stop for four tires and fuel. Earnhardt restarted 15th on fresh tires and improved to finish 10th when the checkered flag was waved.

8.19.2013

Kasey Kahne leads teammates with seventh-place result at Michigan

BROOKLYN, Mich. – Kasey Kahne drove his No. 5 Pepsi MAX Chevrolet SS through the field to secure the seventh-place result on Sunday at Michigan International Speedway. He was joined in the top 20 by Jeff Gordon, who finished the NASCAR Sprint Cup event 17th. Their Hendrick Motorsports teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson were affected by different incidents on-track and scored the 36th- and 40th-place finishes, respectively.

Here is the rundown by team:

Driving the No. 5 Pepsi MAX Chevrolet SS, Kasey Kahne rolled off the grid 31st on Sunday at Michigan International Speedway. Kahne radioed his team prior to the green flag that he knew his car was fast and he was ready to drive it to the front of the field. He didn’t disappoint. Despite reports of a slippery Michigan track, Kahne improved to run 24th by the time the third caution flag was waved on Lap 13. Kahne told crew chief Kenny Francis that his car was loose in the turns, so the duo took advantage of the yellow-flag period to pit for four tires, fuel and adjustments. The lengthy pit stop cost Kahne some track position, but he made up the eight spots back on the track to run 26th by Lap 23. He ran as high as 12th before making a green-flag pit stop for four tires, fuel and more adjustments to the No. 5 Chevy SS. Back on Michigan’s two-mile oval, Kahne was clocking times as fast as the leaders. He was running 13th when the caution flag was waved on Lap 80. A loose-handling condition persisted for Kahne, who cracked the top 10 by Lap 123, and Francis informed him the track was getting slicker. Running 11th, Kahne made a stop during a Lap 156 caution period for right-side tires, fuel and adjustments. He lined up 20th for the Lap 161 restart and improved to 13th within seven circuits. Kahne was running seventh with three laps to go and crossed the finish line there.

Jeff Gordon rolled off the grid 13th in his specially painted No. 24 Axalta Standox Chevrolet SS on Sunday at Michigan International Speedway. Gordon picked up track position during the first two laps when the caution flag was waved. He moved into 11th for the Lap 4 restart, but told crew chief Alan Gustafson that his No. 24 Chevy SS wasn’t running well in traffic and had a loose-handling condition in the turns. Gordon hovered around 13th, while the No. 24 team prepared for its green-flag stop around Lap 55. Gordon reported that the track bar adjustment helped some, and when the caution flag was waved on Lap 70, he noted again the improvements had helped. Still, Gordon said the car was “edgy.” Gustafson and the No. 24 team continued to tweak on the Axalta Standox Chevy SS as the race unfolded, and Gordon reported that his biggest issue was carrying speed through Turns 3 and 4. After a caution period on Lap 135 for Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr., the No. 24 team made further adjustments during a two-tire and fuel stop. Gustafson told Gordon, who was running 14th at the time, to save fuel. Gordon improved two spots on the restart and reported he felt like he had a rear-tire going down just as a spin occurred on-track at Lap 149. Gordon dodged the spin and hit pit road during the caution period for four tires, fuel and adjustments. Gordon and Gustafson continued to work on the handling of the No. 24 Chevy SS, but Gordon struggled for track position. He crossed the finish line 17th.

Jimmie Johnson scored the third-place starting spot for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Michigan International Speedway, but was relegated to the back of the field after an incident during Saturday’s practice session. During the incident, Johnson spun and required his team to unload his backup No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS. The deep starting spot didn’t hurt Johnson. Crew chief Chad Knaus told the team prior to the drop of the green flag that the first goal would be to crack the top 10; then they’d reassess. Within the second circuit Sunday, the caution flag was waved and Johnson had improved to 34th. He made a four-tire, fuel stop during the yellow flag and restarted 39th. The opening of Sunday’s race featured three caution periods on Laps 2, 8 and 13. Johnson made another stop for four tires and fuel during the second yellow flag and was running 28th by the time the Lap 13 caution flag was issued. This time, Johnson opted to stay on-track. He cracked the top 20 on Lap 20. Johnson was clocking lap times as fast as the leaders and continued his forward march as green-flag pit stops were underway around Lap 45. Johnson led Laps 43-45 before making his pit stop, this time for two tires. Back on track, Johnson radioed to Knaus that his No. 48 Chevy SS was experiencing an engine issue. Johnson reported to pit road and then the garage. “We were just putting ourselves in position for later in the race with those early stops,” said Johnson, who already has clinched a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. “Then we had an issue there with the engine as I came out of the pits and got back up to speed dropped a couple of cylinders. We were trying to get it figured out and see what would happen. On my way into the pits it finally locked up and that’s the end of it. Unfortunate day, but I’m happy that we have had such a strong opening part of the season and we have points on our side and some wins on side so we are not in jeopardy of anything going into the Chase.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. lined up seventh for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Michigan International Speedway. The driver of the No. 88 National Guard Youth Foundation Chevrolet SS was off to a strong start when the green flag dropped at the two-mile oval, the site of Earnhardt’s most recent Sprint Cup win (2012). He stayed out during two early caution periods on Laps 2 and 8 to gain track position. Earnhardt told crew chief Steve Letarte his No. 88 Chevy SS was comfortable and lined up fourth for the Lap 11 restart. Earnhardt picked up another spot when the caution flag was issued two laps later, and this time, he reported the car was loose off Turn 2 and tight entering Turn 3. Still, the No. 88 team opted against pitting, and Earnhardt lined up third for the Lap 30 restart. Three laps later, Earnhardt was in a three-way battle for the lead. He settled into second as green-flag stops began, and took the lead for one circuit on Lap 42. Once green-flag stops cycled through, Earnhardt was the leader. He paced the field from Laps 54-72, when the caution flag was waved for an incident on-track. The No. 88 team delivered a swift stop under yellow, giving Earnhardt’s Chevy SS right-side tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment. Earnhardt lined up as the leader for the Lap 75 restart, but was shuffled to seventh. He held steady inside the top 10 and tried to take advantage of a four-tire, fuel pit stop during a Lap 104 caution period. He ran as high as eighth before cutting a right-front tire and making contact with the wall. Earnhardt reported to the garage, where the No. 88 team made necessary repairs and sent Earnhardt back onto the track for valuable points. Earnhardt returned to finish 36th.

8.12.2013

Jimmie Johnson clinches spot in Chase with eighth-place finish at Watkins Glen

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Jimmie Johnson survived several late-race caution periods at Watkins Glen International on Sunday to finish eighth and clinch a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS leads the championship standings and clinches at least a wild card spot in NASCAR’s playoffs. At this point, according to NASCAR, even if Johnson were to fall out of the top 10, there aren’t any scenarios where two more drivers outside the top 10 could have four or more victories.

Sunday’s race at the 2.45-mile road course wasn’t as fortuitous for Johnson’s Hendrick Motorsports teammates. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon were involved in various incidents during the 90-lap NASCAR Sprint Cup event at the 2.45-mile road course and finished inside the top 36.

Kasey Kahne started Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Watkins Glen International from the 19th position and picked up a spot within the first four laps. When the caution flag was waved on Lap 7, crew chief Kenny Francis told Kahne to save fuel. The driver of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS restarted 18th and collected another position by the time the caution flag was waved on Lap 14. Francis reminded Kahne to save fuel, while Kahne told Francis the car’s handling was good all over the 2.45-mile road course. Kahne cracked the top 15 on Lap 27 and was running 13th one lap later as green-flag pit stops were underway. He stopped for four tires and fuel just before the third caution flag of the day was waved on Lap 35. Kahne restarted 16th behind teammate Jimmie Johnson on Lap 38 and held that position when the caution flag was issued one lap later for a spin on-track. NASCAR officials exchanged the yellow flag for a red one on Lap 40 because of the amount of oil and water on the track. After a 22-minute cleanup period, the field returned to green-flag racing. Kahne improved to run sixth by Lap 60, when the yellow flag was displayed. He reported that his No. 5 Chevy SS had developed a loose-handling condition, and Francis made plans to address that during a four-tire, fuel stop on Lap 61. The stop cost Kahne track position, and he restarted 15th on Lap 64. He began his march forward and was racing hard for position on the Lap 80 restart when he was collected in a multi-car incident. Running 13th at the time, Kahne ultimately was scored with the 34th-place finish.

Jeff Gordon lined up 28th in his No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet SS for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Watkins Glen International. Gordon initially reported a tight-handling condition that crew chief Alan Gustafson attempted to address during the first caution period on Lap 7. Most of the field stayed out during this early yellow-flag period, so Gordon restarted 36th and began to work his way forward. On the restart, Gordon improved five positions with four fresh tires and a full tank of fuel. Gordon was running 26th on Lap 14 and looking for his next pass when his No. 24 Chevy SS was forced outside. He spun across the track and came to a rest after a hard hit on the inside guard rail. “I had a big run on the (No.) 11, and I got up on him and the nose completely took off,” Gordon said after the incident. “It put me in the wall and put me in the grass, and from that point, I was just a passenger. We’ll get it fixed and go out there and ride around.” Gordon crossed the finish line 36th.

Jimmie Johnson rolled off the grid 18th on Sunday at Watkins Glen International and improved one spot by Lap 7, when the caution flag was waved. The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS continued to improve his position, despite reporting a tight-handling condition, through the next two caution periods. Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus opted to stay on-track during the first two caution periods, and Johnson cracked the top 15 on Lap 21. Nine laps later, he made a four-tire stop during green-flag conditions. Johnson reported no major issues with his No. 48 Chevy SS and said the biggest problem was setting up to pass. Shortly after the green-flag stop, Johnson was running 15th when the caution flag was waved on Lap 39 for a spin on the track. NASCAR officials exchanged the yellow flag for a red one on Lap 40 because of the amount of oil and water on the track. After a 22-minute cleanup period, the field returned to green-flag racing. Johnson restarted 15th on Lap 42 and was running 10th within one lap. He climbed to third by Lap 59, when an untimely caution period interrupted green-flag stops. Johnson had to give up track position to make a four-tire, fuel stop on Lap 61. He lined up 15th for the Lap 64 restart and was running 10th when a late-race caution reset the field. Johnson told Knaus he had saved his tires and lined up 12th for the Lap 80 restart. A multi-car incident unfolded during the restart, and Johnson reported that he sustained some right-side door contact. The damage was minimal, but Knaus encouraged Johnson that he would roll off 11th for the next restart. The inside lane, Knaus said, should be “less exciting.” Predictably, another caution flag was waved within the next circuit. Johnson lined up 10th for the restart and held on for the eighth-place finish.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. lined up 15th in his No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS and improved four spots within the first four laps. He picked up another spot by the time the caution flag was waved three laps later. Crew chief Steve Letarte told Earnhardt to stay out and save fuel around Watkins Glen’s 2.45-mile road course. Earnhardt restarted 20th and held that position when the caution flag was waved again on Lap 14. Earnhardt radioed to Letarte that the car was a little loose in Turns 1 and 11. Letarte began to work on a plan, and the duo opted to wait for a green-flag stop on Lap 30 to give the No. 88 Chevy four tires, fuel and make adjustments for more grip in Turns 1 and 11. Earnhardt improved to 17th by Lap 39, when the caution flag was displayed for a spin on the track. NASCAR officials exchanged the yellow flag for a red one on Lap 40 because of the amount of oil and water on the track. After a 22-minute cleanup period, the field returned to green-flag racing. Green-flag stops were underway and Earnhardt was running fifth when the caution flag was waved on Lap 59. The untimely yellow flag cost Earnhardt track position as he had to pit afterward for four tires and fuel on Lap 61. Back on track, Earnhardt improved to 14th with 25 laps to go. He lined up 13th for the restart with 10 laps to go and was racing hard for position when he was collected in a multi-car incident. Earnhardt was able to return to the track and finished 30th.

8.5.2013

Kasey Kahne wins in one-two finish at Pocono

LONG POND, Pa. – Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS, earned his second career victory at Pocono Raceway on Sunday afternoon in a one-two finish with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon. Kahne, who started 18th, scored the 15th Pocono victory and 34th one-two finish for Hendrick Motorsports with the win. Joining Kahne and Gordon inside the top five was teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jimmie Johnson came home in 13th.

Kasey Kahne started Sunday’s race at Pocono Raceway from the 18th position and immediately began charging towards the front. The driver of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS improved seven positions in the early stages, running as high as 11th just prior to a Lap 15 caution for an incident in Turn 3. After pitting for two-tires and adjustments, Kahne returned to the track in the 12th position and quickly made his way into the top 10 on the ensuing restart. Kahne then moved into the top five for the first time in the 400-mile event on Lap 34. He would remained inside the top five and utilized strategy during the third caution period of the afternoon – a Lap 54 incident – to take the lead for the first time. Kahne would remain in the top spot until crew chief Kenny Francis called the No. 5 Chevy SS to pit road for four-tires just shy of the halfway point. Kahne returned to the track in the 10th position but chose to stay during the fourth caution of the afternoon to move back into second. He quickly re-assumed the lead on the restart and pulled away to a five-second lead over the rest of the field in the ensuing 25 laps. Kahne then came to pit road for the final time with just 31 laps remaining for four-tires and fuel. Kahne would regain the race lead as the final round of pit stops were completed and hold off a hard-charging Jeff Gordon and a late race restart to earn his second career victory at Pocono Raceway.

Jeff Gordon rolled off the grid in the 22nd position on Sunday afternoon at Pocono Raceway. Gordon quickly began working his way toward the front, improving nine positions by the Lap 15 competition caution. After pitting for two-tires during the first caution period, the driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet SS continued his charge toward the front, moving into the top 10 for the first time on Lap 29. Five laps later, Gordon worked his way into the top five and ultimately to the race lead as other teams were on a different pit sequence. After pitting for four-tires and adjustments on Lap 42, Gordon returned to the track in the sixth position and was consistently turning some of the fastest lap times. While running inside the top 10, crew chief Alan Gustafson made the decision to keep the No. 24 Chevy SS on the racetrack during a Lap 54 caution to move Gordon up to the third position. Gordon would remain inside the top five throughout the next 70 laps, moving into the second position following the final round of green flag pit stops. Then, following a Lap 148 caution for debris, Gordon was able to move past Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne to take the race lead with seven laps to go. Gordon continued to battle with Kahne on the final restart with two laps remaining, ultimately coming home with a second-place finish.

Jimmie Johnson started from the pole position on Sunday afternoon at Pocono Raceway after setting a new track record in qualifying on Friday afternoon. From the drop of the green flag, Johnson had the No. 48 Lowe’s Planes Chevrolet SS out front, pacing the field for the first 34 circuits before coming to pit road for the first round of green-flag pit stops. Following the stop for four-tires and adjustments, Johnson returned to the track in the 14th position but resumed the race lead 14 laps later as cars on a different pit-sequence made their way onto pit road. He remained out front until a flat right-front tire caused the No. 48 Chevy SS to make contact with the Turn 1 wall. Johnson pitted for repairs and remained on the lead lap. Battling a tight condition throughout the remainder of the race, crew chief Chad Knaus continued to work on the No. 48 Chevy SS, making gains as the race went on. In the end, Johnson was able to utilize two late race restarts to come home with a 13th-place finish.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. rolled off from the 25th position on Sunday afternoon at Pocono Raceway and utilized a two-tire change during a Lap 15 caution period to move into the top 20 for the first time. On the ensuing restart, the driver of the No. 88 National Guard Youth Foundation Chevrolet SS was able to maneuver his way into the top 15, battling with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon for the 14th position. Continuing his push toward the front, Earnhardt moved into the top 10 for the first time in the 400-mile event on Lap 34 and then into the race lead as the first round of green-flag pit stops began. Following the stop for four-tires and adjustments, the No. 88 Chevy SS crew sent Earnhardt back out in the 11th position. Earnhardt would quickly work his way back into the top 10 and then back into the top five after staying out during the fourth caution period of the afternoon. Earnhardt continued to battle for position inside the top five with teammate Gordon until the final round of green flag pit stops moved the No. 88 Chevy SS into the second position with an 11.8 second pit stop. Earnhardt then battled through two late race restarts and getting shuffled outside of the top five to come home with a fifth-place finish, his fifth top-five finish of the 2013 season.

JULY

7.29.2013

Hendrick Motorsports drivers finish in top 10 at Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS, came home with a second-place finish on Sunday afternoon at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Johnson, who started second, scored his league leading 14th top-10 finish of the 2013 season with the result. Joining Johnson inside the top 10 were Hendrick Motorsports teammates Kasey Kahne who finished third, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon, who finished sixth and seventh, respectively.

Kasey Kahne started Sunday’s race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway from the seventh position and kept his No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet SS inside the top 10 throughout the first run of the 400-mile event. Following the first round of green flag pit stops on Lap 27, Kahne returned to the track in the sixth position, battling with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon. Kahne would remain inside the top 10 until the first caution period of the afternoon came out on Lap 59. On the ensuing restart, Kahne would maneuver the No. 5 Chevy SS into the top five for the first time and would run there until a four-tire pit stop during the second caution on Lap 80 shuffled him back to 16th position. When the race restarted, Kahne methodically worked his way back towards the front, moving his way back into the top five just 12 laps after the race went back to green. Kahne would continue his charge towards the front, moving up to the third position just prior to the completion of the third round of green flag pit stops. Following the pit stops, Kahne would keep the No. 5 Chevy SS inside the top 10, battling with teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Gordon. In the end, Kahne was able to come home with a third-place finish, utilizing a four-tire change on the final round of green-flag pit stops. This is the sixth top-five finish for Kahne in the 2013 season.

Jeff Gordon rolled off the grid in the ninth position on Sunday afternoon at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Gordon maintained his top-10 position throughout the first run of the race, battling with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne. Gordon remained inside the top 10 following the first round of green flag pit stops and was able to move into the lead for the first time during the second round of green flag pit stops. Gordon would hold onto the lead until the first caution period of the afternoon came out on Lap 59. During the yellow, Gordon came to pit road for four-tires and adjustments, returning to the track in the eighth position. On the ensuing restart, Gordon would battle with teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. for position inside the top 15. Gordon remained in the top 15 until the second caution of the afternoon came out on Lap 80. While under caution, crew chief Alan Gustafson made the call to keep the driver of the No. 24 Pepsi MAX Chevrolet SS out on the track in order to gain track position. Gordon was able to maintain that track position inside the top 10 until having to pit for an overheating issue with 60 laps remaining. Following the stop, Gordon returned to the track in the 14th position and quickly worked his way back into the top 10. At the end of the day, Gordon was able to remain inside the top 10 and come home with a seventh-place finish, his 16th top-10 finish at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Jimmie Johnson lined up from the second position on Sunday afternoon at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and kept the No. 48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS inside the top three throughout the first run of the 200-lap event. Following the first round of green flag pit stops, Johnson was able to erase a 2.9 second deficit and take the lead for the first time on Lap 31. Johnson would hold on to the top spot until the second round of green flag pit stops took place on Lap 55. He would then regain the lead following the first caution period of the afternoon on Lap 59. Johnson remained the race leader until the second caution came out on Lap 80. When the race went back green, Johnson sat in the fourth position but only needed 11 laps to make his way back to the front of the field. He would remain in the lead until the final round of green flag pit stops. During the final stops, crew chief Chad Knaus called for a four-tire change while other teams chose to take two for track position. In the end, Johnson charged back towards the front and was able to earn a second-place finish. With the finish, Johnson now leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in top 10 finishes with 14.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. rolled off from the 14th position on Sunday afternoon at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the 20th annual 400-mile event. While maintaining his position inside the top 15, the driver of the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS reported to crew chief Steve Letarte that he had a loose wheel and decided to come to pit road at the completion of Lap 12. Despite falling off of the lead lap, Letarte praised Earnhardt for the decision to pit: “great call. We had a right-rear that was a little loose there. Ride it out. It’s a long race.” During the following fuel run, Earnhardt was able to make his way back into the top 15 as the race leaders on a different pit strategy came to pit road. Earnhardt would remain on the track while the leaders pitted and was able to earn his way back onto the lead lap following the first caution period of the afternoon on Lap 59. Earnhardt would remain inside the top 15 until a Lap 80 caution allowed crew chief Letarte to make the call to keep the No. 88 Chevy SS out on the track for track position. Earnhardt took the restart in fourth position but quickly moved his way into the top three before coming to pit road for four-tires on Lap 98. When the pit stops cycled back around Earnhardt was able to maintain his track position inside the top five. In the end, Earnhardt was able to hold off a charge from Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon to come home with a sixth-place finish.

7.15.2013

Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon finish in top 10 at Loudon

LOUDON, N.H. – Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS, came home with a sixth-place finish on Sunday afternoon at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Johnson improved 37 positions throughout the course of the 301-lap event to score his league leading 13th top-10 finish of the 2013 season. Joining Johnson inside the top 10 was Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon who finished 10th. Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 11th and 14th, respectively.

Kasey Kahne started Sunday’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway from the eighth position and kept his No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS inside the top 10 throughout the first run of the 301-lap event. Following the third caution period of the afternoon – a lap 79 debris caution- Kahne was able to move into the seventh position after battling with teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. Kahne maintained his position inside the top 10 throughout the remainder of the green flag run before coming to pit road during the fourth caution period of the afternoon on Lap 122. During the pit stop, crew chief Kenny Francis made the call for four tires and adjustments, sending Kahne back out on the track in the 10th position. Then, during a Lap 156 caution for debris, Kahne utilized a two-tire change to move the No. 5 Chevy SS into the top five, where he remained through the following two runs, moving as high as the second position before pitting for fuel only during the eighth caution of the afternoon on Lap 218. After restarting from the eighth position, Kahne was shuffled back to 20th following contact with another car. Crew chief Francis then called Kahne to pit road for four tires three laps later during the 10th caution period on Lap 237. Kahne was able to maneuver his way back into the top 15, overcoming several late race caution periods and a green-white-checkered finish to come home with an 11th-place finish.

Jeff Gordon rolled off the grid in the fifth position on Sunday afternoon at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Gordon maintained his top-five position throughout the first run of the race, battling with teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the fourth position. As the track conditions continued to change, Gordon reported a loose condition to crew chief Alan Gustafson. Following the first round of green flag pit stops on Lap 77, for four tires and adjustments, Gordon returned to the track in the sixth and gained two positions on the ensuing restart to move back into the top five. He remained inside the top five until the fourth caution of the afternoon came out on Lap 122. During the caution period, Gordon came to pit road for a four-tire change and adjustments, returning to the track in the 10th position and immediately improving two eighth on the restart. Gordon maintained his eighth position throughout the following green flag run and following a Lap 156 debris caution. Gordon was then able to move his way back into the top five following a two-tire change during a Lap 201 debris caution, but came back to pit road during the eighth caution period of the day on Lap 218 for fuel only, returning to the track in the 19th position. Gordon continued to hover around the top 20 until contact knocked the No. 24 Chevy SS sideways for the 11th caution of the day. After pitting for four fresh tires, Gordon charged back towards the top 10, moving into the 11th position just prior to a caution on Lap 297. On the ensuing green-white-checkered restart, Gordon was able to move his way into the top 10, bringing the No. 24 Chevy SS home with a 10th-place finish, his fifth consecutive top-10 finish at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Jimmie Johnson lined up from the 43rd position on Sunday afternoon at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and wasted little time gaining positions, improving eight positions before the first caution period on Lap four. On the ensuing restart, Johnson moved his way into the top 25 but came to pit road for four fresh tires following a the second caution of the afternoon on Lap 14. When the green flag came back into the air, the driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS continued his charge to the front, improving 29 positions in just over 50 laps to the 14th position. Johnson maintained his position inside the top 15 until the fourth caution period of the afternoon came out on Lap 122. Crew chief Chad Knaus called Johnson to pit road during the caution period for four tires and adjustments, retuning the No. 48 Chevy SS to the track in the 16th position. Johnson improved to the 12th position during the following green flag run and utilized a two-tire change to move into the top 10 for the first time, moving into seventh. Johnson maintained his position inside the top 10 until a Lap 201 debris caution saw the No. 48 Chevy SS move into the top five for the first time all afternoon, leaving pit road in fifth. Johnson remained in the fifth position until a fuel only stop during the Lap 218 caution period moved him back to the 10th position. Johnson then survived four more caution periods and a green-white-checkered restart to finish in the sixth position, improving 37 positions from the start of the race.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. rolled off from the third position on Sunday afternoon at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and maintained his position inside the top 10 for much of the early portion of the 301-lap event. Just prior to the first round of green flag pit stops, the driver of the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS reported to crew chief Steve Letarte that the car was a little loose on entry and exit. 20 laps later, On the ensuing pit stop, Letarte called for four tires and adjustments, sending the No. 88 Chevy SS back out on track in the fifth position. Earnhardt then battled with teammate Jeff Gordon for position inside the top five until the fourth caution of afternoon was displayed. During the caution period, Earnhardt came to pit road for a two-tire change and a chassis adjustment, returning to the track in the second position. After riding in the top five throughout the following green flag run, a lap 156 debris caution saw the No. 88 Chevy SS come to pit road for four tires and adjustments, moving him back to the 16th position as several drivers in front of him utilized a two-tire strategy. Earnhardt gained five positions during the subsequent green flag run before taking making another four-tire change on a pit stop during a Lap 201 debris caution. Restarting from the 16th position, Earnhardt utilized a three-wide move on the outside to maneuver his way into 12th just prior to a debris caution on Lap 210. After moving his way back into the top 10, Earnhardt came to pit road for fuel only during a Lap 218 caution. After restarting from the 18th position, Earnhardt was able to move his way back into the top 15, running as high as 11th. In the end, Earnhardt was able to bring the No. 88 Chevy SS home with a 14th-place finish, his fourth consecutive top-15 finish in New Hampshire.

7.8.2013

Johnson Wins Second Straight at Daytona, Earnhardt Finishes Eighth

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Jimmie Johnson recorded his second straight NASCAR Sprint Cup victory at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday after leading a race-high 94 laps. The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Dover White Chevrolet SS is the second to complete the Daytona sweep since NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison did in 1982 and the fifth all-time. Johnson also gives Hendrick Motorsports its first season sweep at the 2.5-mile superspeedway since 1986 when Geoff Bodine and Tim Richmond scored victories in the Daytona 500 and summer event, respectively. Johnson was joined inside the top 10 by Dale Earnhardt Jr. Their Hendrick Motorsports teammates Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon were involved in late-race incidents and were scored 32nd and 34th, respectively.

Kasey Kahne opened Saturday’s race from the fourth position and was running second within the first 14 circuits. The driver of the No. 5 Hendrickcars.com Chevrolet SS maintained his footing inside the top 10 during the early going and helped push Jimmie Johnson to the lead by Lap 31. The Hendrick Motorsports teammates paced the pack for 38 of the next 39 laps. When the caution flag was waved on Lap 68, Kahne and crew chief Kenny Francis opted for right-side tires and fuel during their pit stop. The decision meant the No. 5 Chevy SS lined up 20th for the restart, and Kahne began his march forward at the drop of the green flag at Lap 74. Despite the perils of pack racing, Kahne held steady once he cracked the top 10 on Lap 92. Kahne noted a tight-handling condition as the race unfolded, and Francis worked with the No. 5 team to address the issue. Kahne restarted seventh on Lap 132 and was running second three circuits later behind Johnson. The driver of the No. 5 Chevy SS continued his run in second until Lap 156 when a competitor moved suddenly to the bottom line and sent Kahne off the track and into the infield retaining wall. Kahne, who walked away from the incident, was scored with the 32nd-place result.

Jeff Gordon rolled off the grid 23rd on Saturday at Daytona International Speedway and experimented with the bottom line early. Within 14 laps, the driver of the No. 24 Axalta Coating Systems Chevrolet SS had picked up two spots and improved another four during a two-tire, fuel stop under caution on Lap 22. Gordon continued to work with the various lines on the 2.5-mile superspeedway and was running ninth when the caution flag was waved on Lap 69. Crew chief Alan Gustafson called Gordon down pit road during the yellow-flag period, and the No. 24 team picked up a spot on pit road to leave in eighth. Gordon shuffled around the running order as pack racing played out and attempted to make the middle line work with his Hendrick Motorsports teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson after restarting on Lap 77. Gordon joined his Hendrick Motorsports teammates inside the top 10 on Lap 94 and climbed as high as third when the caution flag was waved again on Lap 98. Gustafson called for right-side tires and fuel. Gordon was forced to the grass while leaving pit road during the late-race caution, but Gustafson told the driver of the No. 24 Chevy SS that his grille appeared clean, and he returned to the track to maintain third. With 11 laps to go, Gordon’s No. 24 Chevy SS sustained some contact. Damage from the incident proved to be too much for the No. 24 team to fix on pit road, and Gordon reported to the garage for a further assessment. He was scored 34th.

Jimmie Johnson, winner of the season-opening Daytona 500, started Saturday’s race eighth and survived the first eight laps of three-wide racing to maintain that position. The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Dover White Chevrolet SS marched his way to the front and took the lead, with help from Kasey Kahne, on Lap 31. Johnson reported that he preferred his car to run in clean air, noting that it would become tight and chatter on the bottom in traffic. Crew chief Chad Knaus worked with Johnson as the race unfolded, and Johnson appeared to be able to use whatever line he wanted, successfully defending his lead. When the caution flag was waved on Lap 69, Johnson was leading, followed by Kahne in second and their Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon in ninth. By Lap 94, all four Hendrick Motorsports teammates were running inside the top 10. Johnson took right-side tires and fuel during a caution period on Lap 98 and resumed leading the field when the green flag dropped at Lap 104. With 31 laps to go, the caution flag was waved again, and this time the No. 48 team opted for fuel only. Johnson remained the leader through the ensuing restart, but his run was stalled when a multi-car incident with 11 laps to go ultimately brought out the red flag. When the field returned to green-flag racing, Johnson sped out to the lead followed by Kahne. Five laps later, the caution flag was waved for a spin by Kahne. Johnson once again took the lead on the restart and survived a late-race caution period to win his second straight points-paying event and third overall at the 2.5-mile superspeedway.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. shook off some debris early on the grille of the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS as he rolled off the grid 16th. By the time the first caution flag was waved on Lap 23, Earnhardt had improved five positions although he reported he thought he had run over some debris. The report didn’t seem to affect Earnhardt, who cracked the top 10 by Lap 46 and the top five three laps later. With pack racing a strong suit for the seven-time restrictor-plate winner, Earnhardt attempted to make a middle line work with help from his teammates Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon after a Lap 77 restart. Pit strategy also played a role in Earnhardt’s position, and during a late-race caution period, crew chief Steve Letarte opted for four tires instead of none, which appeared to be the popular decision. Earnhardt lined up 17th for the Lap 132 restart and survived a multi-car incident with 11 laps to go to run ninth when NASCAR officials displayed the red flag. Earnhardt held steady when green-flag racing resumed and finished eighth.

7.1.2013

Hendrick Motorsports drivers finish in top 12 at Kentucky

SPARTA, Ky. – Hendrick Motorsports quartet of drivers overcame various issues on Sunday to record finishes inside the top 12 at Kentucky Speedway. Jeff Gordon led his teammates with an eighth-place result, while Jimmie Johnson was ninth. Kasey Kahne was scored 11th and Dale Earnhardt Jr., the pole winner for the 267-lap event, was 12th. The race, originally scheduled for Saturday night, was postponed to Sunday due to persistent rainfall.

Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 5 Quaker State Chevrolet SS, opened Sunday’s race from the 21st position and improved to run 14th by the time the competition caution flag was waved on Lap 30. Swift work by the No. 5 team helped Kahne pick up six spots on pit road. Kahne lined up eighth for the Lap 43 restart and improved to run seventh during several caution periods in 11 laps. Two laps later, the fourth caution flag was waved for a multi-car incident. Unaffected, Kahne was running ninth at the time of the Lap 48 incident that ultimately brought out the red flag. After the Lap 51 restart, Kahne was running eighth and climbed to third 25 green-flag laps later. Kahne held steady in the top 10 as the race unfolded and worked with crew chief Kenny Francis to address a tight-handling condition. Kahne’s strong run took a hit during a pit stop under caution on Lap 147 when he inadvertently slid through the pit box. He had to back up before the No. 5 team could give the Quaker State Chevrolet SS four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. Kahne lined up 19th for the restart and cracked the top 10 on Lap 186. Running fifth with 20 laps to go, Kahne hit pit road during caution for right-side tires and a splash of fuel. Unfortunately, during the stop, Kahne was clocked too fast on pit road and had to report to the tail end of the longest line on the restart. Kahne ultimately improved to finish 11th.

Jeff Gordon rolled off the grid 12th on Sunday and climbed to ninth by the time the competition caution flag waved on Lap 30. Gordon picked up two spots during a right-side tire, fuel stop and restarted seventh in his No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet SS. Back on track, Gordon navigated his way through four restarts, including one where a neighboring competitor spun out next to him, to maintain his footing inside the top 10. The No. 24 Chevy SS sustained slight left-rear damage as the competitor made contact with him before spinning, but it didn’t impact the car’s strength. Gordon climbed to third before a multi-car incident unfolded on Lap 48. After the caution period, which briefly turned into a red-flag period, crew chief Alan Gustafson opted against pitting and told Gordon to keep his tires clean. Gordon lined up third and ran inside the top five despite a tight-handling condition. On Lap 88, Gordon made his way down pit road for a green-flag stop when the caution flag was waved. Trapped on pit road, Gordon took the wave-around during the caution period to stay on the lead lap. He restarted 21st, but used a subsequent caution on Lap 107 to stay out and move into ninth. Gordon was shuffled back into 18th on the restart. An ill-timed caution flag on Lap 149 again put Gordon a lap down, but Gustafson updated the call from four tires to right-sides only, and the No. 24 Chevy SS became the first car a lap down as a result. Gordon used the Lucky Dog pass to remain on the lead lap and in 25th for the restart on Lap 154. On Lap 180, Gordon cracked the top 15 while recording some of the fastest laps on track. “When you get clean air,” spotter Eddie D’Hondt radioed Gordon, “you’re as good as the leader.” Running sixth with 20 laps to go, Gordon pitted under caution for right-side tires and fuel. He survived the ensuing restart despite an almost immediate spin by teammate Johnson and lined up third for the next green flag that was waved with 16 laps to go. He was shuffled back slightly to eighth and ultimately finished eighth.

Jimmie Johnson started Sunday’s 267-lap event at Kentucky Speedway from the third position and held steady in the top five until Lap 30 when a competition caution was issued. He took right-side tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment during the caution period before racing off pit road behind teammate and leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. Johnson lined up next to Earnhardt for the Lap 35 restart and was contending for the lead, when the right-front tire casing came off a pitting competitor and bounced off the front of both Hendrick Motorsports teammates. Earnhardt sustained the majority of damage, while Johnson’s ride showed just minor damage to the right-front of the hood. Both drivers stayed on track, and one lap after the Lap 42 restart, Johnson moved in to take the lead. The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Dover White Chevrolet SS held the top spot through the next three caution periods, including the one on Lap 48 that brought out the red flag, to pace the field for 52 straight circuits. Johnson maintained his pace inside the top five and focused on saving fuel during the following caution periods as crew chief Chad Knaus and the No. 48 team gambled with pit strategy. Johnson lined up on the inside for the Lap 154 restart and quickly battled for the lead. Johnson had led a race-high 182 laps when the caution flag was waved with 20 laps to go. The No. 48 team opted for right-side tires and left the pits in second behind the No. 20 car that opted for a fuel-only stop. Johnson, who lined up on the inside for the green flag, did not get a good restart and spun on track. He restarted outside the top 20, after pitting for four tires and fuel, and climbed to 12th by Lap 255. Johnson kept clocking fast lap times and finished ninth.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the pole position for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Kentucky Speedway, his first at the 1.5-mile tri-oval and the 12th of his career. Earnhardt initially reported to crew chief Steve Letarte that the No. 88 National Guard Youth Challenge Chevrolet SS was tight, and the issue was addressed during the Lap 30 competition caution. Earnhardt won the race off pit road and lined up next to teammate Jimmie Johnson for the Lap 35 restart. The driver of the No. 88 Chevy SS paced the field for the next nine laps before being encountering debris on the racetrack. Earnhardt was leading when a piece of tire casing struck the front of his car and then struck Johnson. Letarte inspected the damage with binoculars and the temperatures appeared level, so Earnhardt remained on-track for the Lap 43 restart. Further driving showed a deeper issue, so the No. 88 team began to contemplate a strategy. The No. 88 team caught somewhat of a break when the red flag was displayed on Lap 49 for a multi-car incident. Letarte and his crew used the time to formulate a plan to fix the nose of the No. 88 Chevy SS. When pit road was opened, Earnhardt made a stop for substantial, but swift repairs. Earnhardt restarted in 30th on Lap 51 and began his climb forward. By Lap 113, Earnhardt had cracked the top 10. His team continued to add tape during pit stops and address a tight-handling issue as the race unfolded. Earnhardt had improved to run 10th with 11 laps to go and held on for a 12th-place finish.

JUNE

6.24.2013

Jeff Gordon finishes second, Hendrick Motorsports teammates in top 12 at Sonoma

SONOMA, Calif. – Jeff Gordon recovered from an early race penalty on Sunday at Sonoma Raceway to record runner-up honors in the first road course event of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. With 302 career top-five finishes, Gordon now moves into sole possession of third on that all-time list. On Sunday, Gordon was joined inside the top 12 by his Hendrick Motorsports teammates Kasey Kahne (sixth), Jimmie Johnson (ninth) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (12th), all of whom overcame relatively deep starting spots for the West Coast race.

Kasey Kahne lined up 15th for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Sonoma Raceway, the first road course race of the 2013 season. He held that position and told crew chief Kenny Francis that he liked his No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS. The feedback prompted Francis to keep Kahne on-track when the caution flag was waved on Lap 6. Kahne improved one spot to run 14th by the time the caution flag was waved for rainfall on Lap 23. During the yellow-flag period, the No. 5 team addressed a loose-handling condition Kahne had reported previously on Turn 2. He lined up 16th for the Lap 30 restart with four fresh tires, fuel as well as air pressure and wedge adjustments. The caution flag waved again one lap later, and this time Kahne opted to remain on-track, which put Kahne in the fifth position for the restart on Lap 33. Within two circuits, Kahne was running second. He remained inside the top three by the halfway point and took advantage of a Lap 68 caution period for a fuel-only stop. Pit strategy remained a focal point for teams, and Kahne’s restart position wavered from 20th to inside the top 10 as the race wound down. With 10 laps left in Sunday’s race, Kahne was running eighth and fighting for an extra spot. He picked up two spots to finish sixth.

Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet SS, was the top qualifier among his Hendrick Motorsports teammates and rolled off the grid 10th on Sunday at Sonoma Raceway. A nine-time road course winner, Gordon listened to advice from spotter Eddie D’Hondt and found some extra speed in Turn 11. Gordon and crew chief Alan Gustafson opted to pit right as the rain was picking up, but unfortunately hit pit road right as NASCAR officials waved the yellow flag. As a result, Gordon was penalized for pitting before pit road was open and had to report to the tail end of the longest line for the restart. Gordon was set to line up 36th, but ultimately restarted 39th on Lap 29 after topping off on fuel several times during the caution period. Starting deep in the field didn’t bother Gordon, who survived two ensuing caution periods to run 26th by Lap 40. Gordon and Gustafson worked on the handling of the No. 24 Chevy SS and used pit strategy to get Gordon into the top two by Lap 77. Two laps later, Gordon led the field for four circuits before the caution flag was waved. As the race wound down, Gordon remained inside the top 15, but climbed to third with 10 laps left. Gordon was clocking lap times faster than then-second-place Juan Pablo Montoya and continued to try and close the gap for his 10th road course trophy. Gordon slid past Montoya, but couldn’t reach the leader and finished second, recording his eighth straight top-10 result at Sonoma.

Jimmie Johnson started Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Sonoma Raceway from the 19th position and posted what crew chief Chad Knaus called “decent” lap times to improve three spots within the first six circuits. Johnson continued to make his march forward, climbing to 12th by Lap 20. Knaus complimented Johnson on his progress, and told the driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS to save his rear tires as much as possible. Twenty-two laps and two caution periods later, Johnson was running eighth. On Lap 49, fuel strategy became a factor, and Knaus encouraged Johnson, running sixth at the time, to start saving just a bit. Saving fuel didn’t mean slowing down, though, and Johnson cracked the top five in five circuits. Johnson improved to second on Lap 61 during green-flag stops, but the positioning was fortuitous for the driver of the No. 48 Chevy SS, as the caution flag was waved one lap later. The caution flag gave teams an opportunity to reset the pit strategy, and Knaus called for four tires, fuel and chassis adjustments. Johnson restarted 12th and weathered a series of cautions to restart 16th after a yellow-flag period on Lap 85. Johnson charged through the field, improving to 10th by Lap 92 and was chasing teammate Jeff Gordon for eighth two laps later. Traffic made navigating the road course difficult, and Johnson took care to protect the No. 48 Chevy SS while maintaining position inside the top 15. With five laps to go, Johnson was holding on in the 12th spot. He crossed the finish line ninth to record his fifth straight top-10 result at Sonoma.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. rolled off the grid 26th on Sunday at Sonoma Raceway, but improved eight spots by Lap 6 when the first caution flag was waved. Crew chief Steve Letarte opted to keep Earnhardt on-track during this yellow-flag period, and Earnhardt quietly drove the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS to 15th by Lap 21. Earnhardt initially liked the handling of the No. 88 Chevrolet SS and worked with Letarte during the ensuing laps on various pit strategy to restart eighth for the Lap 33 restart. The duo continued to use pit strategy to improve Earnhardt’s position, and when the caution flag waved 34 laps later, the driver of the No. 88 Chevy SS opted against pitting and moved into the second position. Earnhardt chased leader Joey Logano at the drop of the green flag with teammate Jeff Gordon in his rear-view mirror. Earnhardt slipped into third when the yellow flag was waved again 10 laps later. During this caution period, Letarte called for four tires and fuel for the No. 88 Chevy SS. Back on the track, Earnhardt encountered a spin in Turn 7 that forced him to navigate the course on the dirt rather than the paved track. He held on and saved the No. 88 Chevy SS to remain inside the top 18. With three laps to go, Earnhardt had climbed back into the top 13. He crossed the finish line 12th.

6.17.2013

Misfortune at Michigan affects strong Hendrick Motorsports run

BROOKLYN, Mich. – Jimmie Johnson chased leader Greg Biffle as the laps wound down on Sunday at Michigan International Speedway, but the driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS wasn’t able to check another track off his NASCAR Sprint Cup resume. With three laps remaining, Johnson slid into the wall after cutting a left-front tire. He had to report to pit road for repair and became the fourth installment in a series of misfortunes for Hendrick Motorsports on Sunday at Michigan’s two-mile oval. His Hendrick Motorsports teammates Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. each were affected by separate issues during the 200-lap event. Gordon, involved in an early-race incident, was scored 39th, while Kahne cut a tire and took 38th. Earnhardt, who sustained an engine issue, was scored 37th, and Johnson, the final Hendrick Motorsports contender on Sunday, left in 28th-place.

Kasey Kahne, the top qualifier among his Hendrick Motorsports teammates, rolled off the grid third for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Michigan International Speedway. The driver of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS held steady in the top seven during the first 50 laps, using the competition caution on Lap 20 for a track bar adjustment. As the race unfolded, the field encountered five caution flags. The abrupt start wasn’t a positive thing for Kahne, who reported to crew chief Kenny Francis that his car was tight on those initial restarts but improved during the longer green-flag runs. During a Lap 80 restart, Kahne lined up third behind teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson, who held the front row. Kahne chased then-leader Earnhardt and took the No. 1 spot from him 10 laps later. The driver of the No. 5 Chevy SS stretched out his lead until he blew his right-front tire and made contact with the Turn 2 wall. The caution flag was waved, and Kahne climbed out of his car – finished for the day. “I had no indication (that was going to happen),” Kahne said afterward. “We were just cruising. We had a really good No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet.”

Jeff Gordon lined up 29th for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Michigan International Speedway thanks to an early qualifying draw on Friday. Six laps into his forward march, Gordon was collected in a two-car incident that sent the No. 24 Chevy SS to the garage for repairs. “We had such a good car, man I’m sorry guys,” Gordon radioed his team. After extensive repairs, crew chief Alan Gustafson sent Gordon back onto the track for a test lap on Lap 113. The No. 24 team kept after it to give Gordon track time so he could gain valuable points toward his position in the driver standings. “For years I’ve always said I don’t believe in good luck or bad luck that you make it,” Gordon said afterward. “Just in that instance right there I call that being at the wrong place at the wrong time, but I also know that we contribute to where we started. We started back there, and we were moving forward, which I’m proud of, but the fact that we are back there I put as much blame on myself. I really struggled this weekend when we went into qualifying trim. We have to get it better. Starting back there, you are only putting yourself into those positions to have those kinds of things happen. I have a lot of fight in me and so does this team. I’m looking forward to going to Sonoma (Calif).”

Jimmie Johnson qualified 17th for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Michigan International Speedway and improved to run ninth within the first 28 circuits at the two-mile oval. The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS cracked the top five on Lap 47, but struggled some with the restarts, particularly Lap 80 when he lined up second next to then-leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. and slipped to 12th. Undaunted, Johnson continued his forward march and became the leader on Lap 64. Johnson reported to crew chief Chad Knaus that his No. 48 Chevy SS was good, but a little free in Turns 3 and 4. As the laps wound down, Knaus and Johnson worked to find the right combination for the No. 48 Chevy SS, and during a late-race pit stop, Knaus instructed the crew members to add another can of fuel to the tank. The bonus fuel translated into a four-plus second delay, but Johnson erased that gap back on the track. By Lap 190, Johnson was running third and gaining 0.3 second per lap on the leader. On Lap 191, Johnson moved into the second spot, continuing to close the gap on leader Greg Biffle. Misfortune struck for Johnson on Lap 197, when he cut a tire and had to report to pit road for service.

Driving the No. 88 National Guard “Man of Steel” Chevrolet SS, Dale Earnhardt Jr. started 12th at Michigan International Speedway – site of his most recent NASCAR Sprint Cup victory. Earnhardt was complimentary of his specially painted ride early in the 400-mile event, and as he improved two spots, he told crew chief Steve Letarte that it was “driving good.” Through the first four caution periods, Earnhardt and Letarte perfected the handling of the No. 88 Chevy SS, and Earnhardt held his position inside the top 10. Running third when the caution flag was waved on Lap 75, Earnhardt hit pit road behind teammates Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne. Swift work by the No. 88 pit crew sent Earnhardt back onto the track in first. Earnhardt lined up next to Johnson for the restart and held onto the top spot to lead Lap 80. Earnhardt, who now has led in the last three Michigan events, led 10 segments before Kahne and Johnson slipped by. On Lap 104, Kahne’s No. 5 Chevy blew a right-front tire, and Earnhardt moved back to the front, taking the lead again on Lap 105. Earnhardt led 23 laps for a then-race-high 34, before noting an issue with his engine. He slipped off the pace and ultimately was sidelined on Lap 131. “I’m real proud of the car,” Earnhardt said afterward. “We were really struggling in practice, and I’m just real proud of (crew chief) Steve (Letarte) and the whole team. They made a lot of great changes. And that car was just flying at the end there. I’m just real proud of my team. Hendrick Motorsports, they work harder than anyone in the business. They’re the best company in the business, and we ought to be out there running up front still, but we’ll get it eventually.”

6.10.2013

Jimmie Johnson wins, Earnhardt finishes third at Pocono

LONG POND, Pa. – Jimmie Johnson, the driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS, scored his third career victory at Pocono Raceway on Sunday afternoon, leading 128 laps. With today’s win, Johnson becomes the fourth active driver to score three or more victories at the Tricky Triangle; joining Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon (six wins), Denny Hamlin (four wins) and Bobby Labonte (three wins). Joining Johnson inside the top five was Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. who finished third. Teammates Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne finished 12th and 36th, respectively.

Kasey Kahne rolled off from the seventh position on Sunday afternoon at Pocono Raceway. Within the first lap, Kahne reported to crew chief Kenny Francis that he felt something vibrating and it was hindering his ability to get up to speed. As a result, Kahne was forced to drive the No. 5 Hendrickcars.com Chevrolet SS into the garage area on Lap 4 so the crew could inspect the car and determine the problem. After spending more than 20 laps behind the wall, the Hendrickcars.com team did not find anything wrong with the No. 5 Chevrolet SS and Kahne was able to rejoin the field at Lap 25, trailing teammate and race leader Jimmie Johnson by 21 laps. From that point on, Kahne reported that the vibration problem had disappeared and for the remainder of the race, he was consistently clocking in lap times faster than the rest of the field. After rejoining the field in 43rd at Lap 25, Kahne was able to gain seven positions on track, earning valuable positions and championship points. When the checkered flag waved, Kahne crossed the finish line 36th.

Jeff Gordon started the 400-mile event at Pocono Raceway from the 11th position on Sunday afternoon. The driver of the No. 24 Axalta Coating Systems Chevrolet SS battled a loose-handling condition on the slick 2.5-mile triangular track while maintaining his position inside the top 15 just prior to the first round of green-flag pit stops. Following the first caution period of the afternoon – a Lap 65 debris caution- crew chief Alan Gustafson called the No. 24 Chevy SS into the pits for four tires and adjustments that seemed to improve the overall handling of the car. Gordon would remain inside the top 15 throughout much of the remainder of the event, running as high as 11th. At the end of the day, Gordon was able to overcome three restarts within the final 20 laps to bring the No. 24 Chevy SS home with a 12th place finish.

Jimmie Johnson started from the pole position on Sunday afternoon at Pocono Raceway after rain washed out qualifying on Friday. From the drop of the green flag, Johnson had the No. 48 Lowe’s Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS out front in the lead, pulling out to more than a four second lead just prior to the first round of green flag pit stops. Following the first caution period of the 400-mile event – a Lap 65 debris caution – crew chief Chad Knaus called Johnson into the pits for a two-tire change. Lining up second on the ensuing restart, Johnson wasted little time regaining the lead, moving out to a margin of seven seconds over Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. Johnson would remain out front throughout the following green flag run and after a two-tire change during the second caution period of the afternoon for fluid on the racetrack at Lap 124. In the end, Johnson was able to overcome a flurry of late race restarts to score his third career victory at Pocono Raceway and his first at the 2.5-mile triangular track since 2004. With the win, Johnson becomes the fourth active driver to score three or more victories at Pocono and ties Matt Kenseth for the league lead in wins with three apiece.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. lined up sixth on Sunday afternoon and was running inside the top five by the completion of the first lap. The driver of the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS battled a both a tight- and loose-handling condition for the majority of the 400-mile event, but crew chief Steve Letarte continually worked with Earnhardt to get the car’s handling consistent with the slick track throughout the afternoon. Earnhardt kept the No. 88 Chevy SS inside the top five for much of the middle portion of the race, running as high as second behind teammate Jimmie Johnson. Following a Lap 124 caution for fluid on the racetrack, Earnhardt came to pit road for a four-tire change and adjustments. On the ensuing restart, the No. 88 Chevy SS had moved into the third position and remained there until the caution came back out on Lap 132. Following back-to-back caution flags, Earnhardt was able to maneuver his way into the second position after a three-wide move into turn one. He would remain inside of the top three for the rest of the race, coming home with a third place finish. With the finish, Pocono Raceway becomes the 11th track on the Cup schedule where Earnhardt has scored 10 or more top-10 finishes.

6.3.2013

Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. finish inside the top 10 at Dover

DOVER, Del. – Jeff Gordon, the driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet SS, came home with a third-place finish Sunday afternoon at Dover International Speedway. He is now tied with Hall of Famer David Pearson for third all-time in top-five finishes in NASCAR history. This is also the second-consecutive top-five finish for Gordon at the Monster Mile as he finished second in the most recent race at the one-mile oval in September 2012. Joining Gordon inside the top 10 was Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr., who finished 10th. Teammates Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne finished 17th and 23rd, respectively.

Kasey Kahne lined up 11th on Sunday afternoon at Dover International Speedway and quickly maneuvered his No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS inside the top 10, clicking off some of the fastest lap times early in the race. By Lap 33, Kahne was sitting inside the top five, a position where he remained throughout the ensuing green-flag run. Then, after discussing the handling of his car with crew chief Kenny Francis, Kahne came to pit road for the first time on Lap 74 for fresh tires and adjustments. Five laps later, the first caution of the day came out for debris on Lap 79, moving Kahne into the fourth position. He remained inside the top five throughout the middle portion of the 400-mile event while battling a loose condition as the weather began to change from overcast to sunlight. Utilizing every opportunity to pit for adjustments, Kahne was able to move the No. 5 Chevy SS into the top three just shy of the halfway mark. He would continue to battle inside the top five throughout the next 100 laps until an incident sent Kahne into the wall with damage to the rear end. Kahne hit pit road during the ensuing caution period for fresh tires and repairs, returning to the track one lap down in 20th. He finished 23rd.

Jeff Gordon started the 400-mile event at Dover International Speedway from the 20th position on Sunday afternoon. The driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet SS battled both a tight- and loose-handling condition while gaining five positions into the top 15 just prior to the first round of green-flag pit stops. Crew chief Alan Gustafson encouraged Gordon about his lap times, and kept reminding him that he was better than the cars in front of him. Following a two-tire change during the first caution period of the afternoon – a Lap 79 debris caution- Gordon reported a tight condition while maintaining his positioning inside the top 15. Throughout the ensuing green-flag run, Gordon would battle with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. for position inside the top 15, running as high as 13th. Then, when the caution came out just past the three-quarter mark for an incident involving teammate Kasey Kahne, the No. 24 Chevy SS made a strategy call to stay out. As a result, Gordon moved into the third position behind teammate Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch. Gordon remained inside the top five for the rest of the afternoon, coming home with a third-place finish. The result ties Gordon with Hall of Famer David Pearson for third on the all-time list with 301 top-five finishes.

Jimmie Johnson started from the 24th position and worked with crew chief Chad Knaus to address a loose-handling condition. Knaus reassured Johnson that they had a game plan for making the car better and called the No. 48 Lowe’s Monsters University Chevrolet SS to pit road just after being put a lap down by leader Kyle Busch on Lap 70, three laps sooner than the rest of the field. The call to short-pit worked out, as Johnson was able to get himself back on the lead lap just prior to the first caution period of the afternoon on Lap 79. On the ensuing restart, the driver of the No. 48 Chevy SS maneuvered his way back towards the front, moving into the top 10 for the first time on Lap 120 and into the top five on Lap 158. As the handling continued to improve, Johnson was able to take the lead for the first time on Lap 207, pulling out to over a four-second lead on the rest of the field. Johnson remained in the top spot for much of the afternoon until he was penalized for jumping the restart with 20 laps to go. After serving a stop and go penalty, Johnson returned to the track one lap down outside of the top 15. In the end, Johnson came home with a 17th-place finish.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. lined up 12th on Sunday afternoon and was running 10th within the first 20 laps. The driver of the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS battled a tight-handling condition for the majority of the 400-mile event, but crew chief Steve Letarte continually worked with Earnhardt to adjust the handling throughout the afternoon. Earnhardt kept the No. 88 Chevy SS inside the top 15 for much of the middle portion of the race, battling with teammate Jeff Gordon. Following a caution just past the 300-lap mark, Letarte made a two-tire call, moving Earnhardt up to the seventh position. From there, Earnhardt raced inside the top 10, overcoming a late-race restart to score a 10th-place finish and his fourth top-12 finish in his last five races at the Monster Mile.

MAY

5.28.2013

Kasey Kahne Records Runner-Up Honors in 600-Mile Charlotte Event

CONCORD, N.C. - Kasey Kahne dominated Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Charlotte Motor Speedway and forwent a late-race pit stop to line up on the outside of the front row for the Lap 389 restart. When the green flag dropped, Kahne slipped behind the drivers on fresher tires and settled into second as the race wound down. The defending race winner, Kahne chased leader Kevin Harvick, but was unable to make up the 1.5-second deficit.

Kahne recorded runner-up honors ahead of his Hendrick Motorsports teammates who were involved in incidents. Jimmie Johnson finished 23rd. Jeff Gordon was scored 35th, while Dale Earnhardt Jr. took 39th.

Kasey Kahne consistently was a threat during Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Driving a patriotic No. 5 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet SS, Kahne lined up sixth and improved to third by the sixth lap. He moved into second three laps later and captured the lead on Lap 24. Kahne, the defending winner of the 600-mile event, led four times during the next 84 laps. A quarter into the race, Kahne and his Hendrick Motorsports teammates were running inside the top 10. Kahne struggled some on restarts, but maintained his running position inside the top five as the race unfolded. He fortuitously missed being collected in a bizarre incident on the frontstretch when a cable on the CamCat camera system used by FOX Sports failed. The interrupted resulted in a 10 minute, 41 second red-flag period during which teams were allowed to repair damage that resulted from the failure. With no damage, Kahne returned to the track and continued to run strong, barely wavering from the top three even as the track transitioned from day to night conditions. At Lap 202, Kahne reported to crew chief Kenny Francis that his No. 5 Chevy SS was rotating better, and by Lap 274 he moved into the lead once more. Eyeing a record-tying fourth victory in the 600-mile event, Kahne continued to pace the field. With 95 laps to go, he hit pit road during yellow-flag conditions for a four-tire stop. Kahne and Francis opted against changes during the stop because they anticipated they’d be making at least one more. Kahne slipped to run third after starting second for the Lap 324 restart and wasn’t involved in a caution period one lap later that sidelined teammate Jeff Gordon. The incident prompted a second red-flag period for the season’s longest race. Back on the track, Kahne maintained his position inside the top four and opted to stay out during a Lap 333 caution involving teammate Jimmie Johnson. On the Lap 339 restart, Kahne improved from fourth to second to first with 60 laps left in the race. With 36 laps to go, Kahne made a green-flag stop and returned to race behind two drivers who pushed their pit window as far as possible. The fresh tires and fuel put Kahne in position to take the lead with 19 laps to go. The caution flag was waved three laps later for debris, and Kahne opted to stay on track. On the restart, Kahne was unable to get the jump and settled for a runner-up finish, despite leading a race-high 161 laps.

Jeff Gordon started Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Charlotte Motor Speedway 14th and improved to 12th by Lap 10. The driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet SS climbed to eighth by Lap 100 and was running inside the top 10 with his Hendrick Motorsports teammates. As the race unfolded, Gordon worked with crew chief Alan Gustafson to find the right treatment for the No. 24 Chevy that initially had a tight-handling condition. Gordon was running inside the top five when he slightly brushed the wall on Lap 155. The yellow flag was waved one lap later when his teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. sustained an engine issue, and the No. 24 team was able to address the damage. Gordon remained inside the top five and raced as high as third before trash on the grille affected his run. As the green-flag run unfolded, Gordon made a pit stop just prior to the Lap 303 caution flag. The No. 24 team hustled through a right-side tire stop, and Gordon beat leader Kasey Kahne back onto the track. But the driver of the patriotic-themed No. 24 Chevy SS used another pit stop and returned to line up 15th and still one lap down for the Lap 309 restart. With 75 laps to go, Gordon was trying to make up ground when he was collected in a race-ending, multi-car incident on the front straightaway. “I just hate we were even back there,” Gordon told the media afterward. “We had an awesome Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet SS. I loved the patriotic colors on our car this weekend, and it’s just a shame we were even back there. We couldn’t win – Kasey Kahne is unbelievable. But we had a top-five car.”

Jimmie Johnson opened Sunday’s 600-mile event at Charlotte Motor Speedway from the 12th position, and by Lap 25, crew chief Chad Knaus reported the No. 48 Lowe’s Patriotic Chevrolet SS was the second-fastest car on the track. The only car faster, Knaus said, was then-leader and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne. Johnson continued his climb, reaching 10th by Lap 31. By Lap 100, Johnson was running sixth with his Hendrick Motorsports teammates inside the top 10. Twenty-two laps later, FOX Sports experienced issues with its CamCat after a cable failed. Johnson thought his No. 48 Chevy sustained some right-rear damage, and the No. 48 team was permitted along with other NASCAR competitors to address related issues during a 15-minute period under the red flag. Back on the track, Johnson remained inside the top six by Lap 200. A loose-handling condition arose for Johnson around Lap 219 and persisted throughout the middle stages of the race. During a yellow-flag stop on Lap 243, Johnson told Knaus that his first battery was dead, but his second one appeared to be working. He made it to another caution period 15 laps later, when running eighth, he asked Knaus for more stability. Knaus ordered up right-side tires and sent Johnson back onto the track in the top five. The caution flag waved on Lap 303 in the middle of green-flag stops, and Johnson was awarded the Lucky Dog pass. Back on the lead lap, the No. 48 team opted to use the ensuing yellow-flag period to replace the battery, a process that took roughly 20 seconds but came with a penalty after Johnson was clocked too fast leaving pit road. Johnson struggled to catch a break and was involved in an incident on Lap 333. “Hold onto it,” spotter Earl Barban coached Johnson, who locked up the brakes trying to save the No. 48 Chevy SS. “Hold onto it.” But contact from another competitor caused damage to the rear of the No. 48 Chevy SS. Knaus and Johnson started to plan for multiple stops so he could remain on the lead lap. The damage didn’t end his night, although a subsequent flat tire knocked him off the lead lap. He returned to finish 22nd.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. lined up 11th for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Charlotte Motor Speedway and improved to join his Hendrick Motorsports teammates inside the top 10 by Lap 78. The driver of the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS immediately reported a tight-handling condition that affected his ability to get through the turns. Crew chief Steve Letarte formulated a plan, while reminding his driver to continually hydrate for the season’s longest race. Solid stops by the No. 88 team helped Earnhardt pick up spots on pit road, but as the race progressed, a loose-handling condition developed and he slipped to 17th, one lap down on Lap 193. Around Lap 255, Earnhardt started to notice smoke in the cockpit. His fears were confirmed several laps later when the No. 88 Chevy SS sustained an engine issue. Earnhardt made contact with the wall, triggering the caution period. Sidelined in the garage for the remainder of the event, Earnhardt talked with members of the media. “We know we can go back and rebound from this as far as being more competitive,” Earnhardt said during a television interview in the Cup garage. “I just hope everybody’s OK from the accident in the stands, and I wish everybody a Happy Memorial Day weekend. I take a lot of pride in representing the National Guard, and I hope everybody shakes a soldier’s hand this weekend and thanks them for what they do.”

5.20.2013

Jimmie Johnson Makes History by Winning Fourth All-Star Race

CONCORD, N.C. – Jimmie Johnson etched his name into NASCAR Sprint All-Star history on Saturday night after winning the 90-lap shootout at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Patriotic Chevrolet SS now ranks first among drivers all-time with four victories in the exhibition event and edges three-time winners Jeff Gordon and Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt Sr. Johnson, winner of the 2012 event, becomes just the second driver all-time to claim the race in back-to-back seasons.

Johnson had to climb from the back of the field to win Saturday’s race after a subpar qualifying effort on Friday. Then, Johnson overshot his pit stall during the mandatory four-tire stop and was credited with the 18th-place starting spot. But on Saturday, his pit crew turned out an 11.8-second four-tire stop to put Johnson on the front row alongside teammate Kasey Kahne. Johnson stormed out to pace the field all 10 laps and win his fourth All-Star Race.

Kahne finished fourth, while his Hendrick Motorsports teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon were scored seventh and 12th, respectively.

Here is the breakdown by segment:

FIRST SEGMENT: The first 20-lap segment opened with a small rain shower threatening in the area. Kahne and Gordon rolled off the grid ninth and 10th, respectively, while their Hendrick Motorsports teammates Earnhardt and Johnson rounded out the top 18.

Kahne and Gordon improved their track position to seventh and ninth, respectively. They opted to stay on the track when NASCAR officials displayed the yellow flag for rain on Lap 8. Earnhardt and Johnson, meanwhile, hit pit road for four fresh tires and fuel. Earnhardt reported that his No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS was running tight in traffic. Within five laps, the caution flag was replaced with a red one as the rain intensified. On pit road, the teams were allowed the opportunity to work on their cars and prepare for the remainder of the first segment.

After a 41 minute red-flag delay, the cars rolled back on track with Kahne in seventh, Gordon ninth, Earnhardt 11th and Johnson in 17th. Gordon picked up a spot on the Lap 16 restart, moving into eighth, and Kahne moved into sixth two circuits later. The driver of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS used the bottom lane to inch his way through the field, ticking off one more spot by the time the first segment concluded. At the end of the first 20-lap segment, Kahne was running fifth, Gordon in seventh, Earnhardt in 10th and Johnson in 15th. Results: Kahne fifth, Gordon seventh, Earnhardt 10th and Johnson 15th.

SECOND SEGMENT: Johnson lined up 11th for the next 20-lap segment, but climbed to eighth within the first circuit to join his Hendrick Motorsports teammates Kahne (sixth), Gordon (seventh) and Earnhardt (10th).

Gordon and Earnhardt took advantage of the caution period on Lap 25 for fresh tires, fuel and adjustments. Earnhardt, running ninth prior to the yellow flag, reiterated that his No. 88 Chevy SS was still tight on entry all the way through to the corner so crew chief Steve Letarte called for a trackbar adjustment. Gordon, who hit pit road from the 12th position, told crew chief Alan Gustafson that his No. 24 Cromax Pro Chevrolet SS was turning better, but still felt somewhat loose.

Johnson and Kahne opted not to pit during the caution period and lined up sixth and seventh, respectively, for the restart. Prior to the Lap 29 restart, Johnson had told crew chief Chad Knaus that the snug-handling condition was helping his No. 48 Lowe’s Patriotic Chevrolet SS. That appeared to remain the case for Johnson, who moved into fifth within two circuits.

But Kahne wasn’t going to let his teammate get the best of him and moved in to fight for the top-five spot. The Hendrick Motorsports duo battled as the segment unfolded. Johnson ultimately won the spot, finishing in fifth. Kahne took sixth.

The earlier adjustments somewhat helped Earnhardt and Gordon. Earnhardt improved to 10th with four laps remaining in the second segment, while Gordon climbed to 11th. Still reporting a tight-handling condition, Earnhardt held on to claim 10th in the second 20-lap feature. Gordon finished 11th. Results: Johnson fifth, Kahne sixth, Earnhardt 10th and Gordon 11th.

THIRD SEGMENT: All four Hendrick Motorsports teammates made pit stops during the yellow-flag period between segments, and their pit strategies were quite varied. Earnhardt opted for right-side tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment, which put the driver of the No. 88 Chevy SS in fifth for the restart.

Johnson restarted the third segment in sixth after a four-tire stop. Kahne lined up 10th after stopping for four tires and fuel as well as air pressure and wedge adjustments. Gordon lined up 14th, voicing frustration with the traffic on the 1.5-mile speedway.

Earnhardt and Johnson were on the move at the drop of the green flag. Earnhardt, on two tires, rocketed into third before settling into fifth. Johnson, running on four fresh tires, moved into third by Lap 43 and was fighting for second three laps later. Gordon sustained some damage to the right side of his No. 24 Chevy SS after making contact with the wall on Lap 48.

By Lap 54, Johnson was holding steady in third and Earnhardt had moved into fourth. Kahne, still trying to use the bottom lane, was running sixth. Gordon had climbed into the top 10 four laps earlier and was holding there. The Hendrick Motorsports teammates concluded the third segments in these same spots. Results: Johnson third, Earnhardt fourth, Kahne sixth, Gordon 10th.

FOURTH SEGMENT: Kahne beat the competition off pit road during the pre-segment stop by taking two tires, a chassis adjustment and a tank fuel of fuel. His teammates took four tires and various chassis adjustments. Earnhardt and Gordon reported tight-handling conditions, although Gordon noted that his car turned better once he could pick up the throttle. Gordon was clocked too fast entering pit road and had to complete a pass-through penalty. The penalty wasn’t an issue for Gordon, who required another pit road stop anyway to address fender rub on the right-side of the No. 24 Chevy SS.

Kahne lined up on the outside of the front row for the restart for the final segment, while Earnhardt started sixth. Johnson rolled off the grid in ninth. Kahne led the first circuit, which unfolded in wild style around Charlotte’s 1.5-mile oval. By Lap 62, Kahne was in command of the field, with Johnson fourth and Earnhardt in sixth. Gordon had climbed to 18th within the first five laps.

The caution flag was waved for debris on Lap 66 after Earnhardt and another competitor made contact on-track. At the time of the yellow flag, Kahne was leading, Johnson was fifth, Earnhardt was eighth and Gordon 16th. The No. 5 team decided against pitting, but Earnhardt led a trend for the remainder of the field. Earnhardt told Letarte the balance was off in his No. 88 Chevy SS, so Letarte offered up right-side tires, fuel and adjustments.

Prior to stopping, Gordon told Gustafson that the track bar adjustment helped the No. 24 Chevy SS, but had “totally disconnected” the car. Gustafson ordered new adjustments and Gordon took right-side tires before returning to the track.

Kahne lined up on the outside of the front row for the Lap 71 restart ahead of teammate Johnson in third. Kahne battled with Kurt Busch for the lead before settling into second three laps later.

FIFTH SEGMENT: After nine laps, the yellow flag was displayed to set the field for the final 10-lap shootout. NASCAR realigned drivers for the final segment based on their average finishes in the first four segments. A photo-finish between Kahne and Johnson ultimately put Kahne in third and Johnson in fourth. Earnhardt was set in eighth and Gordon in 10th. Once aligned, the drivers prepared for their mandatory four-tire stops that would then reset the field for the final 10-lap shootout.

Kahne and Johnson were the first two cars off pit road, with Kahne edging his Hendrick Motorsports teammate by a nose. Earnhardt left in ninth, and Gordon was 15th.

Kahne opted for the outside of the front row and used a push from Joey Logano to take the lead briefly before Johnson powered his way into contention. The Hendrick Motorsports teammates battled fiercely around the 1.5-mile speedway, Kahne running the high line and Johnson on the bottom. Within the first circuit, Johnson took the lead and appeared headed toward history – his fourth career all-star victory. Results: Johnson first, Kahne fourth, Earnhardt seventh and Gordon 12th.

5.12.2013

Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Finish Inside Top-nine at Darlington

DARLINGTON, S.C. – Jeff Gordon started Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Darlington Raceway by making one milestone – his 700th career start – and ended the 367-lap event inching closer to another one. The driver of the No. 24 Cromax Pro Chevrolet SS scored the third-place result on Saturday to record his 300th career top-five finish. He needs one more top-five result to match Hall of Famer David Pearson for third on the all-time list.

Gordon was joined inside the top 10 by his Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson (fourth) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (ninth). Kasey Kahne finished 17th after a late-race incident dashed his grip on the lead.

Kasey Kahne lined up fourth on Saturday night at Darlington Raceway and kept his No. 5 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet SS inside the top 10 for the majority of the race. He worked with crew chief Kenny Francis to address an early handling condition that varied from slightly tight to loose in the corners. The 367-lap event unfolded with one caution period – a Lap 124 pause for debris – and Kahne’s No. 5 team was spot-on with pit stops throughout the evening. The caution flag was waved twice more later in the race, for nearly back-to-back spins on Lap 302 and 309. After pitting for the first caution period and staying out during the second one, Kahne lined up third for the restart with 50 laps to go. He climbed to second within three circuits, chasing leader Kyle Busch and keeping an eye on teammate Jimmie Johnson in his rear-view mirror. Yet another caution flag gave Kahne another opportunity to take fresh tires and an extra splash of fuel. He left pit road and lined up next to Busch for the restart, which he immediately won. Kahne paced the field with Busch making up ground, and within a couple circuits, Busch appeared to have made contact with the left-rear of the No. 5 Chevy SS, sending Kahne into the wall. Kahne hit pit road during the ensuing caution period for fresh tires and returned to the track running 16th. He finished 17th.

Jeff Gordon became the 16th driver to make his 700th NASCAR Sprint Cup start when he lined up sixth on Saturday at Darlington Raceway. The driver of the No. 24 Cromax Pro Chevrolet SS vacillated between tight- and loose-handling conditions like his Hendrick Motorsports teammates as the 1.366-mile oval transitioned from the evening to nighttime conditions. Crew chief Alan Gustafson encouraged Gordon about his lap times, and Gordon kept the No. 24 Chevy SS within the top 10. After a quick caution period for debris on Lap 124, Gordon resumed control and maintained his position inside the top 10, improving to run fifth by Lap 151 and take the lead 35 laps later during green-flag pit stops. As the race unfolded, Gordon and Gustafson worked through various adjustment attempts, including more wedge and air pressure adjustments. A spin on Lap 302 brought out a late-race caution that gave Gordon the opportunity to make a much-needed pit stop – this time for a track bar adjustment. Gordon was running fifth at the time of the yellow flag and left sixth after a four-tire stop. He lined up sixth – one of 10 cars on the lead lap – for the restart. Gordon held steady and survived another three caution periods, including one that affected teammate Kasey Kahne, and lined up fourth for the restart with 30 laps to go. Gordon improved to run third with three laps to go and was battling for second when the white flag was waved. Gordon, a seven-time winner at Darlington – tops among active drivers – could not complete the pass and achieved the third-place result. Gordon now has 300 career top-five finishes and needs one more to match Hall of Famer David Pearson for third on the all-time list.

Jimmie Johnson started from the outside pole position – the third of his career at Darlington Raceway – and maintained his spot in the top four within the first 45 laps. By Lap 90, he was running third and planned to run the top groove to see if that impacted his lap times. Johnson kept searching different lines and working with crew chief Chad Knaus on the handling of his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS. By the time the second round of green-flag stops concluded on Lap 186, Johnson was running second. Four laps later, Johnson reported that he felt like he was running on three wheels, but Knaus told a then-third-place Johnson that he was the second-fastest car on the track. “Keep digging,” Knaus radioed to Johnson, “We got some magic in here for ya.” Kyle Busch, then the leader, was the only car faster, so Johnson began his chase and overcame a loose-handling condition to improve to second by the time the caution flag waved on Lap 302 for a spin. Johnson made a stop for four tires and fuel before returning to line up second for the restart. At the drop of the green flag, Johnson chased Busch off the line and slipped into third within the first two green-flag circuits. Four laps later, the yellow flag waved once again for an incident on the front straightaway. Knaus brought Johnson down pit road for four more tires and fuel. Johnson lined up fifth for the restart with 50 laps to go and climbed to third within three circuits. During an ensuing stop, Johnson lost five spots on pit road while his team made an adjustment. He returned to line up eighth and improved to fifth with 23 laps to go. He picked up one more position and crossed the line fourth.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. lined up 16th on Saturday night at Darlington and was running 10th within the first 44 laps. The driver of the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS benefited from an early air pressure adjustment during a green-flag stop to continue his forward march into eighth by Lap 56. Crew chief Steve Letarte continually worked with Earnhardt to tinker the handling of the No. 88 Chevy SS, and Earnhardt maintained his position inside the top 10 for the majority of the race. He lined up eighth for the restart with 50 laps to go with fresh tires and fuel. He was bogged down by traffic in the initial blast and settled into 10th temporarily before ascending to seventh. Earnhardt used two more pit stops during two subsequent caution periods for four tires and fuel. Swift work by the No. 88 team kept Earnhardt inside the top 10, and he held on to finish ninth, his eighth career top-10 result at Darlington.

5.6.2013

Johnson, Gordon and Earnhardt Finish in Top-17 at Talladega

TALLADEGA, Ala. – Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished inside the top 17 on Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway, despite two major on-track incidents and a lengthy rain delay that pushed the close of the 188-lap event well into dusk. Johnson finished fifth, Gordon 11th and Earnhardt 17th, while their Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne was scored 42nd after being involved in the first multi-car incident.

Kasey Kahne posted the 10th-fastest speed during the first NASCAR Sprint Cup practice session on Friday, and as a result earned that starting spot for Sunday’s event after qualifying was canceled for rainfall on Saturday. After starting 10th on Sunday, Kahne improved to run eighth within the first two laps. Spotter Kevin Hamlin coached Kahne through the field, and by Lap 8 Kahne was running third behind teammate Jimmie Johnson. When the first caution flag waved on Lap 23, Kahne reported his No. 5 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet SS was strong so crew chief Kenny Francis called for a new set of right-side tires and fuel during the ensuing pit stop. Kahne lined up second for the Lap 29 restart ahead of third-place Johnson and fourth-place Jeff Gordon. As the race unfolded, Kahne maintained his position inside the top five and was running third when he received contact from behind. He was collected in a 16-car incident and sidelined for the remainder of the 188-lap event. Uninjured, Kahne talked with the media afterward, “Yeah, I’m all right. I felt like I had a really fast Time Warner Cable Chevrolet SS. I just kind of got shot through the center there, just a lot of momentum coming from behind. I felt the No. 18 pushing me, and next thing I know I was spinning. You just can’t push with these cars.”

Jeff Gordon lined up ninth for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race after rainfall canceled Saturday’s qualifying session and the starting grid was set according to the first practice on Friday. Rain loomed on the horizon on Sunday, and crew chief Alan Gustafson radioed to Gordon, “All right bud, that rain’s close. Won’t be long before it gets us. Let’s do it today.” Gordon was happy with his No. 24 IMRON Elite Chevrolet SS, so Gustafson opted for right-side tires and fuel during the Lap 23 caution period. When the field restarted on Lap 29, Gordon was running fourth and held his position inside the top 10 despite three-wide racing action around the 2.66-mile superspeedway. The racing intensified on Lap 43, when a multi-car incident unfolded in Turn 1. Gordon’s No. 24 Chevy SS sustained damage to the front outer fenders. Within a lap, Gordon reported he had blown a tire. Gustafson utilized multiple stops during the caution period to address the damage and keep Gordon on the lead lap. On the Lap 51 restart, Gordon was 32nd and opted to hang in the back initially. Gordon debated working with Clint Bowyer in the No. 15 car to work his way to the front when the time arose. Near the halfway point, green-flag stops began and Gordon, a six-time Talladega race winner, led one lap before hitting pit road himself on Lap 93. After green-flag stops, Gordon returned to run 30th with the skies darkening overhead. He improved to 28th, but still one lap down, when NASCAR officials waved the yellow flag for rainfall on the racetrack. On Lap 126, the red flag replaced the yellow one and teams waited for racing action to resume. Engines fired at 6:52 p.m. ET after a three hour, 36 minute rain delay. After quick pit stops under the caution flag, Gordon restarted 29th for the restart with 50 laps to go. Teams kept one eye on the radar as the race progressed, and Gordon continued his fight for the Lucky Dog position. The caution flag with 15 laps to go was a welcome sign for Gordon, who was the Lucky Dog recipient. Low on fuel, he stopped for a quick splash during the yellow flag and lined up 24th for the restart with 10 laps to go. He was trying to make up ground when he was collected in a multi-car incident four laps later. He lined up 15th for the only scheduled green-white-checkered flag attempt after pitting for fresh tires, fuel and an overall clean-up of his No. 24 Chevy SS. He improved during the final three laps to finish 11th.

Jimmie Johnson opened Sunday’s race inside the top 10 after posting the eighth-fastest time during Friday’s first practice session. Qualifying was canceled due to rainfall on Saturday so the driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS was slotted in the eighth starting spot. After the green flag first dropped on Sunday, Johnson steered his Chevy into second by Lap 5 with teammate Kasey Kahne in tow. Twenty laps later, Johnson hit pit road for right-side tires, fuel and a slight chassis adjustment to alleviate a loose-handling condition. He lined up third for the Lap 29 restart and moved into second, which is where Johnson was running when the multi-car incident unfolded on Lap 43. Johnson restarted on the outside line in second for the Lap 52 restart and held that position for four circuits when he lost momentum and slipped to seventh. The driver of the No. 48 Chevy SS held steady inside the top 10, running most of the ensuing laps from that second spot. Johnson took the lead on Lap 117 and paced the field for four laps before getting caught outside the draft. He slipped to eighth when NASCAR officials waved the caution flag on Lap 122 for rainfall on the racetrack. On Lap 126, the red flag replaced the yellow one and teams waited for racing action to resume. Engines fired at 6:52 p.m. ET after a three hour, 36 minute rain delay. Johnson stopped for two tires and fuel when pit road opened after the rain delay and lined up 11th for the restart after those stops cycled through. The threat of rain still wasn’t gone so Johnson immediately began his forward march, climbing to third within 10 laps. As the laps ticked down, Johnson raced within the top 10, sometimes losing the momentum and sometimes benefiting from it. He moved into the lead when the caution flag was waved with 15 laps to go. “I didn’t realize how dark it was out here till the pace car turned its lights on,” Johnson radioed to his team during the yellow flag period. Coming to the green flag with 10 laps to go, Johnson led the field from the inside lane. Johnson paced the field for two laps before having to contend with the momentum from the pack. A second multi-car incident unfolded with six laps to go, and Johnson was running third. He lined up third when the field reset for the only scheduled green-white-checkered flag attempt. On the drop of the green flag, Johnson pursued the bottom line and chased then-leader Matt Kenseth, but was unable to get that momentum to win at the 2.66-mile racetrack. He crossed the line fifth.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. started Sunday’s race from 12th – a position he earned by posting the 12th-fastest time during the first practice session on Friday after qualifying on Saturday was canceled for rainfall. After the green flag dropped on Sunday, the driver of the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS raced within the pack, improving to 10th on Lap 8 and then slipping to 16th by Lap 19. On Lap 20, Earnhardt received contact from another competitor and sustained damage to the left-rear quarter panel so he made an unscheduled pit stop. On pit road, Earnhardt went one lap down, and used an ensuing caution period on Lap 22 to further address the damage. He returned to race at the back of the pack when the field reset on Lap 29, but was in Lucky Dog position when a multi-car incident unfolded 12 laps later. Earnhardt drove through the scuffle unscathed and restarted 23rd when the field went green again on Lap 52. Listening to spotter TJ Majors, Earnhardt marched his way through the field and was running third by Lap 94, the halfway point. Earnhardt was running ninth when NASCAR officials waved the caution flag on Lap 122 for rainfall on the racetrack. Crew chief Steve Letarte had scheduled the next pit stop for fuel around Lap 136, so Earnhardt feathered the throttle during the yellow-flag period. On Lap 126, the red flag replaced the yellow one and teams waited for racing action to resume. Engines fired at 6:52 p.m. ET after a three hour, 36 minute rain delay. When it was permitted, Earnhardt made a pit stop for four tires and fuel under the yellow flag with 61 laps to go. He lined up 16th when the field went back to green-flag racing. Rain remained a threat in the area, and Earnhardt hovered around 16th as the race continued. He climbed to 10th by Lap 173 when the caution flag was waved. The driver of the No. 88 Chevy SS lined up 10th when the green flag dropped with 10 laps to go and moved into ninth within the first lap. He lined up seventh for the only scheduled green-white-checkered flag attempt. Momentum wasn’t on Earnhardt’s side as the final three laps ticked down, and he crossed the finish line 17th.

APRIL

4.29.2013

Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson Finish in Top-12 at Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. – Dale Earnhardt Jr. recorded his 12th top-10 finish at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday night. The driver of the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS posted a 10th-place result, while his Hendrick Motorsports teammates finished inside the top 21. Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson finished 11th and 12th, respectively, while Kasey Kahne was involved in a late-race incident and crossed the finish line 21st.

Kasey Kahne opened Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Richmond International Raceway from the fourth position and immediately noted a tight-handling condition in the turns. The driver of the No. 5 Quaker State Chevrolet SS slipped to fifth by Lap 14, but rallied to run third within the next five circuits. After a four-tire and fuel stop under caution on Lap 41, Kahne was running eighth after 21 laps. He reported the car was loose in Turn 1 and tight everywhere else, so crew chief Kenny Francis formulated a plan of attack for the ensuing stop. Meanwhile, Kahne improved his position by two spots and was running sixth when the caution flag was waved on Lap 109. During the yellow-flag period, Francis called for a chassis adjustment, four tires and fuel. The adjustments didn’t provide relief immediately, and the No. 5 team kept working on the handling of the Quaker State Chevrolet SS through several pit stops throughout the course of the race. As the race unfolded, Kahne and Ryan Newman made contact around the Lap 246 mark. The contact didn’t appear to cause much damage to Kahne, who pushed his way past Newman and into the top 15 on the following circuits. With 92 laps to go, Kahne was running 17th when the caution flag was waved. Kahne told Francis that his No. 5 Chevy was all over the place, so he hit pit road during the yellow-flag period for four tires, fuel and adjustments. He restarted from the 17th position on Lap 333, but was collected in an incident four laps later. Kahne returned to the track after his pit crew assessed and fixed the damage. He finished 21st.

Jeff Gordon seemed to have a lot going for him at the beginning of Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Richmond International Raceway. The driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet SS had led the final practice on Friday and had qualified third for the 400-lap event. When the green flag first dropped on Saturday, Gordon immediately climbed into the second position. But within the first several circuits, he reported a handling condition that the No. 24 team would spend the majority of the night chasing. The predominant theme for Gordon seemed to be a loose-handling condition in the corners, offset by a tight-handling one in the middle. The combination, Gordon told crew chief Alan Gustafson, made it difficult for him to effectively brake around the .75-mile short track. The duo continued to work on the handling, and with 80 laps to go, Gordon lined up 13th for the restart. Six laps later, he successfully maneuvered his No. 24 Chevy SS through a spin on the track, climbing into 10th before pitting for four tires and fuel during the ensuing caution period. He restarted 13th behind several cars that either opted not to pit or stopped for two tires only. But within four laps, the yellow flag was waved again, and Gordon lined up ninth for this restart. Gordon and Gustafson opted to pit during a late-race caution period and lined up 14th for the green-white-checkered flag restart with fresh tires. Gordon improved to finished 11th.

Jimmie Johnson was the biggest mover earlier in Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Richmond International Raceway. The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Dover White Chevrolet SS improved from 26th to 12th within the first 75 laps, clocking times that rivaled those of the leaders. Thirteen laps later, Johnson had cracked the top 10. “Guess you’ve been saving your tires,” spotter Earl Barban radioed. “Good work.” Johnson continued to move through the field, ticking off three more spots by Lap 105. The No. 48 team turned in a solid four-tire pit stop during caution on Lap 110 to give Johnson another two spots, and he lined up fourth for the ensuing restart. Johnson maintained his position inside the top 10 as the race unfolded, laying down fast laps and benefiting from swift pit stops to hold steady on the raucous .75-mile short track. Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus made a last-minute decision to pit with 92 laps to go under caution for right-side tires and fuel. Johnson was the first car off pit road and he lined up fifth behind cars that opted not to pit. Almost 20 laps later, Johnson was running ninth—a bit further back in the pack after getting shuffled around some on the restart – when he was involved in a pin. Nearby, Tony Stewart’s Chevrolet SS became loose and made contact with Johnson. The collision cost Johnson track position, but didn’t appear to injure No. 48 Chevrolet SS. Back on the track, Johnson was running 16th when another spin happened on Lap 333. This time, the No. 48 team wasn’t as fortunate and sustained damage as teammate Kasey Kahne also was collected in the incident. Johnson returned to the track and crossed the finish line 12th.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. lined up 19th on Saturday at Richmond International Raceway and improved two spots by Lap 8, despite noting a tight-handling condition. When the caution flag waved on Lap 41, Earnhardt hit pit road for four tires and fuel as well as air and chassis adjustments to help the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS. Earnhardt restarted 16th and within five laps radioed that the tight-handling condition had returned. Crew chief Steve Letarte worked with Earnhardt and the No. 88 team to address the continual handling issue as the race unfolded. Letarte used subsequent pit stops to make the minor changes, and by Lap 158, Earnhardt had improved to run 12th when the caution flag waved. Letarte told Earnhardt to stay out, and the driver of the No. 88 Chevy SS managed to stay inside the top 16 by the halfway point of the 400-lap event. He took advantage of a Lap 233 caution flag for fresh tires, fuel and another chassis adjustment. Earnhardt stayed midpack, and with 120 laps to go, reported a lack of forward bite. Letarte’s group continued to tweak on the No. 88 Chevy SS, but Earnhardt slipped to 24th with 80 laps to go. He climbed a couple spots on the track, but got his biggest boost during an ensuing stop under caution. It was then that Earnhardt picked up 12 spots on pit road with a two-tire and fuel stop. He lined up 10th for the Lap 333 restart and was running 13th with 20 laps left. Letarte called a 12th-place Earnhardt down pit road during a late-race caution period and sent him back onto the track in 13th with fresh tires. He improved to finish 10th.

4.22.2013

Kasey Kahne Second, Jimmie Johnson Third at Kansas Speedway

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Kasey Kahne chased leader Matt Kenseth as the laps wound down on Sunday at Kansas Speedway and narrowed the gap to a fraction of a second. But the driver of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance 85th Anniversary Chevrolet SS was unable to find a successful line and took runner-up honors in the 267-lap NASCAR Sprint Cup event.

He was joined in the top 16 by his Hendrick Motorsports teammates – Jimmie Johnson finished third, while Jeff Gordon took 13th and Dale Earnhardt Jr. was scored 16th.

Kasey Kahne opened Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Kansas Speedway from the 27th position and improved to 14th after the field had cycled through two early caution periods. By Lap 62, Kahne reported to crew chief Kenny Francis that the No. 5 Farmers Insurance 85th Anniversary Chevrolet SS was experiencing a free-handling condition. But Francis reported the good news that Kahne’s lap times were fast, and he improved one position to 13th. The No. 5 pit crew was critical to Kahne’s success and helped him pick up four positions during a stop under caution on Lap 72. Kahne was running 12th when he stopped for fuel, right-side tires and a track bar adjustment and restarted eighth when the green flag waved for the restart five laps later. Kahne held his position in the top 10 through an ensuing caution period and lined up ninth for the Lap 90 restart. As the race unfolded, Kahne once again told Francis his No. 5 Chevy was running loose, but the handling wasn’t affecting his lap times. Kahne improved to sixth by Lap 133. Kahne was running fifth when the caution flag was waved on Lap 173, and he planned with Francis to pit for fuel and a wedge adjustment. He followed teammate Jimmie Johnson off pit road in third, but lined up 10th for the Lap 178 restart behind Cup competitors that didn’t pit. With 46 laps to go and the yellow-flag displayed, Kahne stopped for right-side tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. He left running third and lined up next to Johnson for the restart with 43 laps to go. Kahne moved into third and chased leader Matt Kenseth and second-place Martin Truex Jr. Within three laps, Kahne had taken second away from Truex. As the final laps ticked off, Kahne closed the gap on Kenseth and was trying every line possible to score his first victory at the 1.5-mile Kansas oval. On the white-flag lap, Kahne tried once more to slip by Kenseth, but ultimately took second, matching his best result at Kansas.

Jeff Gordon lined up 43rd for Sunday’s Cup event at Kansas Speedway after wrecking during his qualifying lap on Friday at the 1.5-mile speedway. Within five circuits, Gordon picked up 10 spots when he opted not to pit during a caution period on Lap 4. He continued his climb, moving into 23rd with laps times that rivaled that of the leaders. By Lap 27, the driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet SS had slipped slightly to 26th and was reporting a loose-handling condition to crew chief Alan Gustafson. When the caution flag was waved on Lap 37, Gordon made his way down pit road for tires, fuel and adjustments, which subsequently helped the handling of the No. 24 Chevy. Gordon improved to 14th on the Lap 44 restart and was running 13th by Lap 53. “You’re doing a real good job,” spotter Eddie D’Hondt radioed to Gordon, who improved 30 spots in the first 53 circuits. “Keep it up.” Gordon and Gustafson employed a bit of pit strategy during a stop under caution on Lap 72. Gordon opted for fuel, adjustments and four tires, rather than the popular two-tire strategy and restarted 18th. Fresh tires and adjustments made a difference, and Gordon radioed to his team, “that thing was good right there.” Gordon and the No. 24 team continued to work through various handling conditions, including a splitter that was hitting the track. Running inside the top 15 with 50 laps to go, Gordon hit pit road for a scheduled green-flag stop when the caution flag was displayed, trapping the driver of the No. 24 Chevy on pit road. Gordon took the wave-around and stayed on the lead lap, but struggled to make up much ground. As the race wound down, he worked to pick up positions despite reporting that his car was “falling off.” Gordon crossed the finish line 13th.

Jimmie Johnson started 21st in his No. 48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS and immediately reported a vibration to crew chief Chad Knaus. The No. 48 team took advantage of a Lap 4 caution to restore the balance and address a slight loose-handling condition. By Lap 15, Johnson was running 31st, but reported the vibration was gone and began his climb to the front of the pack. Fourteen laps later, Johnson reported his No. 48 Chevy was running better and in the 27th position. Johnson hit pit road again during a caution period on Lap 40 for two right-side tires and fuel. A swift stop by the No. 48 pit crew improved Johnson to 14th, and he immediately picked up another position after the Lap 45 restart. Johnson cracked the top 10 on Lap 60 and improved to fifth after a pit stop under caution on Lap 74. Four laps later, Johnson was running third after the restart. A slightly tight-handling condition developed on the No. 48 Chevy, and Knaus’ group addressed that during an ensuing stop under caution on Lap 111. Knaus quickly called off Johnson from exiting the stall after a right-side tire stop so he could avoid a competitor moving into his pit. Unscathed, Johnson lost a few spots, but restarted inside the top five and took the lead by Lap 148. He led until Lap 155, when he made a scheduled green-flag stop for four tires, adjustments and fuel. He was running third after green-flag stops cycled through. The No. 48 team employed pit strategy and took fuel only during a late-race caution period to restart 10th. With 46 laps to go and the yellow-flag displayed, Johnson stopped for right-side tires, slight adjustments and fuel. He left running third and lined up next to teammate Kasey Kahne for the restart with 43 laps to go. With a few circuits, Johnson settled into the fourth position and moved into third with 24 laps remaining. Johnson ultimately finished third.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. rolled off the grid 23rd on Sunday at Kansas Speedway and was running 20th by Lap 4 under caution. Earnhardt, who stayed out during the early caution period and moved into 19th, reported to crew chief Steve Letarte that his No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS Was experiencing a loose-handling condition from the center of the corners through the exit. When the caution flag waved on Lap 37, Earnhardt stopped for fuel and right-side tires to tighten up the handling of the car. He restarted 13th for the Lap 43 restart and improved to 11th on the ensuing laps. As the race unfolded, a tight-handling condition developed and the No. 88 team took advantage of another caution period to address the issue with a track bar adjustment. By Lap 101, Earnhardt moved past a competitor to take the seventh position and was running fifth 18 circuits later. Earnhardt led Lap 160 when green-flag stops were cycling through before hitting pit road himself. After green-flag stops, Earnhardt was running eighth and managed to move into second by skipping a subsequent pit stop. Running third with 57 laps to go, Earnhardt decided to hit pit road when an untimely yellow flag was waved, trapping Earnhardt on pit road. But the driver of the No. 88 Chevy was able to stay on the lead lap by taking the wave around and was battling for 17th with 20 laps to go. Earnhardt improved to finish 16th.

4.15.2013

Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne Finish in Top-11 at Texas

FORT WORTH, Texas – Jimmie Johnson recorded the sixth-place result in Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Texas Motor Speedway and retains the lead in the driver standings. Kasey Kahne joined Johnson in the top 11, while their Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were impacted by different issues during the 334-lap event.

Johnson scored his fifth top-10 result of the 2013 season. Kahne crossed the line 11th, while Earnhardt was scored 29th, and Gordon was 38th.

Kasey Kahne opened Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Texas Motor Speedway from the 14th position and hovered inside the top 15 during the first 21 laps. The driver of the No. 5 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet SS was quiet on the radio as the sun set on the 1.5-mile Texas oval. Kahne reported that his Chevrolet was experiencing a loose-handling condition, and he worked with crew chief Kenny Francis to address the issue. As the race unfolded, Kahne improved his running position to 12th by Lap 75 and then cracked the top 10 by Lap 182. Kahne reported that the car was getting better as the race continued, and he was running seventh when the caution flag was waved on Lap 223. He lined up sixth for the restart with 106 laps to go. Kahne held his position and improved to run fifth when the caution flag was waved 57 laps later. Green-flag stops began just prior to that yellow flag, and Kahne committed to pit road just after the caution flag was displayed. Afraid of running out of fuel, the No. 5 team went ahead and stopped and accepted the penalty NASCAR subsequently issued – pitting when pit road was closed. When the field reset, Kahne had to line up at the end of the longest line; in this case 16th. He improved to 12th when the caution flag was waved again and stopped with 20 circuits to go. He lined up 12th for the restart with 16 laps left and picked up one position to cross the finish line 11th.

Jeff Gordon rolled off the grid eighth on Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway and improved to sixth within the first seven circuits. Crew chief Alan Gustafson radioed to Gordon that his lap times were looking good, and despite a tight-handling condition, the driver of the No. 24 Cromax Pro Chevrolet SS continued to hold his position inside the top six. Gordon, who climbed into fourth by the time the caution flag was waved on Lap 38, picked up another spot on pit road thanks to a swift four-tire and fuel stop. Gustafson told Gordon the tires were showing small cracks, and Gordon restarted the race being mindful of his tire wear. By the time the caution flag was waved on Lap 81, he had climbed into third. Yet again, the No. 24 team benefited from another solid pit stop and Gordon improved to second after getting tires, fuel and a slight adjustment. By Lap 179, Gordon was chasing then-leader Kyle Busch, and he took over the top spot by Lap 188. Gordon paced the field for 13 circuits before stopping under green-flag conditions for four tires, fuel and an adjustment to loosen up the No. 24 Chevy SS. He was running third by Lap 207 when green-flag stops had cycled through. Despite a difficult-turning car, Gordon was back in the leader position with 54 laps to go when the caution flag was waved at Texas. Gordon stopped for four tires, fuel and returned to line up third for the restart with 47 laps to go. When the green flag dropped, Gordon started chasing first-place Martin Truex Jr. and second-place Kyle Busch. With 25 laps remaining, the driver of the No. 24 Chevy SS was notified of a burnt left-front hub and had to give up his bid for a second Texas victory as he reported to the garage. “That’s unfortunate guys,” Gordon told his team over the radio. “Great job today.” Gordon was scored with a 38th-place finish.

Jimmie Johnson began Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Texas in seventh and was running fourth within the first two laps. He told crew chief Chad Knaus that the No. 48 Lowe’s Dover White Chevrolet SS was running a little loose during the opening stretch and hit pit road when the caution flag was waved on Lap 38. After a four-tire stop, Johnson improved to second. By Lap 57, he reported a big improvement on the rear grip up off the corner. Sixteen laps later, Johnson was running third on an almost completely shaded Texas Motor Speedway. He improved to second as the caution flag was waved on Lap 80 and discussed chassis adjustments with Knaus. As the sun set on the 1.5-mile Texas track, Johnson noted that the handling was shifting from loose to tight. He encountered a slight setback during a four-tire pit stop under caution on Lap 151, and he slipped to eighth on the board. Johnson picked up a spot on the restart and continued his climb again through the field. By Lap 206, he was running fourth and reported to Knaus that the No. 48 Chevy SS appeared better on the long run, but admitted he was confused why he couldn’t catch the leaders when his car felt “pretty efficient.” As the race wound down, Johnson, Knaus and the No. 48 team were unable to find more speed at the 1.5-mile speedway, but pitted just ahead of a late-race caution period. Johnson held his position inside the top 11 and pitted when the caution flag was waved with 20 laps remaining. He lined up seventh for the restart with 16 laps left and picked up one position to cross the finish line sixth.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was the second-fastest Chevrolet SS during Friday’s qualifying session and lined up sixth for Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint cup event at Texas Motor Speedway. On Lap 10, Earnhardt reported that his No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS was “sliding the nose off the corner,” and two laps later was “loose in and off” yet “tight in the center.” Crew chief Steve Letarte planned for adjustments and when the caution flag waved on Lap 38, Earnhardt hit pit road for four tires, fuel and wedge. Earnhardt picked up five spots during the stop, restarting eighth when the track returned to green-flag conditions. A tight-handling condition returned, but Earnhardt held steady in the top 11 and once again under caution, his team helped him pick up three spots on pit road. As the race unfolded, Earnhardt climbed his way into third when misfortune struck on Lap 188. Earnhardt was battling for third on Lap 190 when he told Letarte that he was heading for pit road. “I think the battery is dead or something,” Earnhardt radioed as he approached his stall. The No. 88 team confirmed the issue, addressed the alternator and battery and sent Earnhardt back onto the track off the lead lap. To further add to the frustration, NASCAR alerted the No. 88 team that Earnhardt was too fast entering pit road and would have to serve a pass-through penalty. By Lap 200, Earnhardt was running four laps down. Still Earnhardt remained on track for valuable points in the driver standings. He finished 29th.

4.8.2013

Jimmie Johnson Wins Martinsville From Pole; Gordon, Kahne in Top Four

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Jimmie Johnson led a race-high 346 laps on Sunday at Martinsville Speedway to record his eighth NASCAR Sprint Cup victory at the historic short track and move into first among active drivers there. With the victory, Johnson becomes the new points leader in the driver standings.

Johnson also moves into sole possession of third on the all-time win list at Martinsville, breaking a tie with Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace and teammate Jeff Gordon, both of whom have seven wins apiece. The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS now trails Hall of Famers Richard Petty (15 wins) and Darrell Waltrip (11) all-time at the .526-mile track.

Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne tried to narrow the gap on Johnson during the last 150 circuits, but ultimately crossed the finish line third and fourth, respectively. Dale Earnhardt Jr., who entered Sunday’s race as the Cup points leader, sustained damage throughout the race and crossed the finish line 24th.

Kasey Kahne rolled off the grid fifth for Sunday’s Sprint Cup event at Martinsville and opted to pit during the first caution period for fuel and four tires. During the Lap 10 caution flag, Kahne also alerted crew chief Kenny Francis that he felt his No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS was hitting the curb during runs. Kahne restarted 27th on the Lap 22 restart and rocketed into the top eight within 28 laps, proving the benefit of new tires at the .526-mile oval. Kahne held steady in the top 10 with his Hendrick Motorsports teammates until Lap 151, when he reported a vibration to Francis. “I got a pretty good vibration under throttle,” Kahne said over the radio. “It’s like my rear tires; they’re off-balanced or something.” Kahne improved to run seventh, but Francis used the feedback to improve Kahne’s No. 5 Chevy under caution on Lap 172, when the No. 5 team put a right-rear rubber in. He continued his forward march and claimed the No. 2 spot on Lap 379. Kahne chased leader and teammate Jimmie Johnson for roughly 70 laps until Jeff Gordon passed him for the second spot. Within two circuits, the yellow flag was waved for a spin on the track, and Kahne stopped for an adjustment, fuel and four tires. He lined up fourth for the restart with 42 laps to go and found himself there again when the field reset for the Lap 492 restart. Kahne chased third-place Gordon as the laps wound down at Martinsville and crossed the finish line fourth.

Crew chief Alan Gustafson reminded Jeff Gordon to flip brake switches after the start of the race, and one the green flag waved, the driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet SS rolled off the grid in sixth. Despite an initial tight-handling condition, Gordon reported that the No. 24 Chevy became easier to drive during the green-flag runs. Gordon spent the majority of the day running inside the top 15 as his team attempted to help a tight-handling issue with the throttle. The condition appeared to be resolved on Lap 347 when a ninth-place Gordon was clocking some of the fastest laps on the track. Within 101 circuits, Gordon slipped by teammate Kasey Kahne and was chasing leader and teammate Jimmie Johnson. The driver of the No. 24 Chevy chased Johnson for two circuits, when his momentum was stalled by a caution flag. Gordon stopped with his teammates for a chassis adjustment, four tires and fuel and returned to the track to battle for his eighth victory at the .526-mile track. The red flag was waved with 13 laps left, and Gordon lined up fourth for the Lap 492 restart. He improved to third, chasing second-place Clint Bowyer and first-place Johnson as the laps ticked down. Ultimately, Gordon finished third, recording his first top-five result of the season.

Jimmie Johnson opened Sunday’s race from the pole position – his first of the 2013 Sprint Cup season and the third of his career at Martinsville. The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS won the pole with a track record lap of 19.244 seconds (roughly 98.400 mph) and appeared to have speed on his side entering Sunday’s 500-lap event. Within the first two circuits, Johnson was leading the field, and by Lap 61, he had recorded a personal milestone (14,000 career laps led). Johnson paid attention to the corners and his team continued to address minor handling issues on the No. 48 Chevy, as he tallied a race-high 336 laps led going into the final 11 circuits at Martinsville Speedway. Johnson lined up on the inside for the Lap 492 restart, just ahead of third-place Gordon and fifth-place Kasey Kahne. When the green flag waved, Johnson held his position and pushed by Clint Bowyer on the outside, cruising to his eighth career victory at Martinsville.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. lined up 17th for Sunday’s race at Martinsville, and opted not to pit during a Lap 10 caution to help climb his way through the field. By Lap 26, the driver of the No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet SS had cracked the top 10 and was told by spotter T.J. Majors that he was “driving away.” Fifty laps into the race, Earnhardt improved another four spots and was running sixth before he made a pit stop under caution on Lap 72 for four tires, fuel and adjustments to alleviate a tight-handling condition. Back under green-flag racing, Earnhardt started slipping through the field and reported that the competition was just running a bit faster. Crew chief Steve Letarte immediately started planning adjustments for the next pit stop, which happened under caution on Lap 172. The No. 88 team addressed the tight-handling issue and attempted to improve the drive off, but before Earnhardt could really test the adjustments, he was impacted by an incident on the Lap 179 restart. Earnhardt’s No. 88 Chevy sustained damage to the left-rear, which the No. 88 team had to address subsequently on pit road. Competitors seemed drawn to Earnhardt’s No. 88 Chevy and he sustained significant impact from the No. 11 car with 128 laps to go and then received contact from the No. 10 with 35 circuits remaining. The No. 88 team patched up the Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet SS and Earnhardt held on to finish 24th.

MARCH

3.25.2013

Earnhardt Second, Becomes New Points Leader; Teammates in Top-12 at Fontana

FONTANA, Calif.— Dale Earnhardt Jr. lined up 19th for the Lap 189 restart and battled his way into second as Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event concluded at Auto Club Speedway. The driver of the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS picks up his fifth straight top-10 result of the 2013 season to maintain his best season on record and take the lead in the driver standings.

Earnhardt, who crossed the finish line second, was joined in the top 12 by his Hendrick Motorsports teammates Kasey Kahne (ninth), Jeff Gordon (11th) and Jimmie Johnson (12th).

Patience was thematic for the Hendrick Motorsports teammates, as they experienced various handling issues during the 200-lap event at Auto Club Speedway. Here is the race recap by team:

Kasey Kahne opened the 200-lap event in Fontana, Calif., from the 15th position and reported a tight-handling condition during the opening six laps. But patience seemed to be the key, as Kahne improved to 14th and told crew chief Kenny Francis that his No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS was feeling better by Lap 12. When the caution flag was waved on Lap 29, Kahne hit pit road for fuel, four tires and an air pressure adjustment to alleviate an alternating tight- and loose-handling condition. On Lap 37, the caution flag was waved again – this time for fluid on the track – but it was too late for Kahne, who sustained right-side damage after slipping in the oil and making contact with the wall. During the yellow-flag period, the No. 5 team addressed the damage, while fueling and providing four new tires for the Chevy SS. Kahne made three stops, including one for a left-front shock adjustment, during this caution period and lined up 35th – still on the lead lap – for the Lap 42 restart. By Lap 64, Kahne had improved to run 11th, despite a tight-handling condition, and he cracked the top 10 on Lap 80. Francis and the No. 5 team addressed a loose-handling condition under caution on Lap 90, as Kahne made a stop while running seventh. The No. 5 team decided against pitting during a late-race caution and lined up fourth for the Lap 174 restart. Kahne improved to second before the caution flag was thrown again within two circuits. Running 10th, Kahne made one final stop under caution with 15 laps to go for fuel, four tires and an air pressure adjustment. He lined up 13th for the Lap 189 restart and held on to finish eighth.

Jeff Gordon opened Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Fontana from the 19th position and immediately reported a tight-handling condition to crew chief Alan Gustafson. Gordon’s patience was rewarded as he passed teammate Kasey Kahne to move into 16th on Lap 6. The tight-handling condition reappeared for Gordon when he got into the throttle, but he experienced a loose-handling condition in the corner. As a result, he couldn’t run the top line and slipped some in the field to 17th. He stopped on pit road during the Lap 29 caution period and, despite losing three positions on pit road, he returned to run inside the top 15 during the Lap 35 restart. Two laps later, the caution flag was waved again – this time for fluid on the track – and Gordon slipped in the oil, hitting the wall and sustaining damage to the right-side of his No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet SS. The car appeared fine, at first, so Gordon opted to stay on the track and pick up track position. He restarted ninth for the Lap 40 restart, but slipped to 27th, and ultimately learned from teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. that he had significant damage on the right-front of the No. 24 Chevy SS. When the caution flag waved on Lap 90, the No. 24 team used two stops under caution to address the damage. On Lap 117, Gustafson and Gordon used another stop under caution to improve the No. 24 Chevrolet. Gordon rallied from 23rd to line up 14th on the Lap 189 restart. Gordon rocketed to the front and held on to cross the finish line 11th.

Crew chief Chad Knaus reminded Jimmie Johnson to drink plenty of fluids as Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event opened in Fontana, Calif., nearby Johnson’s hometown of El Cajon. Starting 19th, Johnson improved to 12th within the first six laps and cracked the top 10 by running a lower line during the next eight laps. He was running ninth when the caution flag was waved for an incident on Lap 29, and he restarted 11th after a trip down pit road. Johnson was shuffled to 13th during the restart and reported under caution on Lap 36 that he thought he was losing positions because he couldn’t get in line to draft. The No. 48 Lowe’s/Jimmie Johnson Foundation Chevrolet SS felt good to the five-time California winner, and he opted to stay off pit road during the yellow-flag period. By Lap 62, Johnson had slipped to 15th and was frustrated that cars seemed to be passing him easily on the straightaway. He discussed changes with Knaus, and after Johnson tried new lines unsuccessfully, they planned for major changes during the ensuing stop. On Lap 117, the No. 48 team made those adjustments and sent Johnson back onto the track in 24th. He quietly improved to 19th and eventually reported the No. 48 Chevy was tight. With 17 laps to go, Johnson was running 18th and improved to 15th when the caution flag was waved with 15 laps to go. Johnson held to finish 12th.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. lined up 15th for Sunday’s race at Auto Club Speedway and was holding steady by Lap 5, while reporting a loose-handling condition entering and exiting the turns. The loose-handling condition didn’t fade for Earnhardt, and by Lap 18, he had slipped to 21st. On Lap 30, the driver of the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS made a pit stop under yellow-flag conditions for four tires and fuel as well as wedge and chassis adjustments. When the caution flag was waved on Lap 36, Earnhardt told crew chief Steve Letarte his car was running much better, so Letarte made the decision for Earnhardt to remain on track during the yellow flag period. Earnhardt lined up 11th for the Lap 42 restart and improved to ninth by Lap 50. During a Lap 67 green-flag pit stop, Earnhardt’s No. 88 Chevy SS took four tires, fuel and an air-pressure adjustment. The continual tweaks helped, and Earnhardt was running fourth by Lap 82. Seventeen laps later, Earnhardt reported to Letarte that the No. 88 Chevy was experiencing a tight-handling condition, but within five laps, the issue resolved itself. The No. 88 Chevy seemed to be getting better and better, and Earnhardt, running third with 85 laps to go, even radioed to his team that he was comfortable entering Turns 1 and 2. He hit pit road for routine service under caution with 84 laps to go, but a lengthy stop spelled misfortune for the No. 88 team. An issue with the right-rear tire led to a 22-second stop, and Earnhardt slipped from third to line up 22nd for the restart. Undaunted, Earnhardt encouraged his team over the radio and was running 17th by Lap 139. But a handling issue crept up on Earnhardt during the closing stages of the race, and he slipped to run 24th with 17 laps to go. The No. 88 team made a pit stop under caution with 15 laps to go for four tires and a chassis adjustment to help the tight-handling condition. Earnhardt lined up 19th for the Lap 189 restart and was running eighth with nine laps to go. He dove to the apron of the track to avoid being turned and survived a last-lap crash to finish second and record his fifth straight top 10 of the 2013 season.

3.18.2013

Quaker State/Hendrick Motorsports Driver Kasey Kahne Scores First Bristol Win

BRISTOL, Tenn. – Quaker State driver Kasey Kahne earned his first career victory at Bristol Motor Speedway and the 15th of his NASCAR Sprint Cup career on Sunday at the .533-mile oval.

Hendrick Motorsports now has 10 career victories at Bristol, making the track its 10th with double-digit wins.

The driver of the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet SS lined up on the front row after a caution period on Lap 455 and took the lead on the Lap 460 restart. He held off hard-charging competitors and successfully maneuvered lapped traffic to lead 109 total laps and win his first Bristol trophy.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. joined Kahne in the top 10 with a sixth-place finish, his fourth straight of the season. Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon sustained late-race incidents and finished 22nd and 34th, respectively.

Kasey Kahne opened Sunday’s race from the outside pole position, his second of the 2013 Cup season and third of his career at Bristol Motor Speedway. The driver of the No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet SS struggled to find the right groove, but remained within the top five as the race unfolded. After a two-tire pit stop, Kahne returned to the front row for a Lap 63 restart and was leading the race within the following circuit. Kahne worked with crew chief Kenny Francis, and the No. 5 team made the necessary adjustments as his Great Clips Chevy occasionally developed experienced tight-handling conditions throughout the race. Happy with the handling of his No. 5 Chevy, Kahne lined up fourth for the Lap 353 restart and was running second within two circuits. Kahne chased teammate Jeff Gordon as the laps ticked down at Bristol’s .533-mile oval. Roughly 35 laps later, Gordon blew a right-front tire and made contact with the wall, bringing out the caution flag and sending him behind the wall for repairs. Kahne moved into the leader spot and began battling with front-runner Brad Keselowski during the ensuing green flag period. Lapped traffic affected the leaders’ positions, and Kahne alternated leading with Keselowski until the caution flag was waved again – this time for teammate Jimmie Johnson, who blew a tire on Lap 455. Lining up from the inside of the front row, Kahne sped to the lead as Keselowski spun his tires. Kahne attempted to stretch out his lead, but had to battle a hard-charging Kyle Busch and recovering Keselowski. Kahne held onto the top spot through a caution-free finale and won his first Cup race at Bristol.

Jeff Gordon rolled off the grid 11th on Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway and remained inside the top 15 as the race unfolded. He utilized pit strategy with crew chief Alan Gustafson and moved into third on Lap 145. Running lap times similar to the leaders, Gordon put himself in position to take the lead. He finally secured the top spot after a swift stop by his No. 24 pit crew. During the caution period on Lap 321, Gordon hit pit road for left-side tires and fuel. The left-side tires seemed to help the handling of the No. 24 Chevy, and Gordon was able to speed out to the lead on Lap 324 restart next to teammate Kasey Kahne. Gordon stretched out an .8-second lead, but when he started to navigate lapped traffic and attempted a move to the bottom, he blew the right-front tire and that momentum carried his No. 24 Chevy into the wall. Gordon also sustained contact from behind from a competitor. The collision sent Gordon and his No. 24 Chevy behind the wall, where the No. 24 team attempted to make repairs to send him back onto the track for much-needed points. He was scored with the 34th-place finish.

Jimmie Johnson started 13th on Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway and moved into 11th by Lap 40. The driver of the No. 48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS continued to work his way through traffic and by Lap 122 was running sixth contending with a tight-handling condition exiting the corner and in the center. Crew chief Chad Knaus directed the No. 48 team to address the handling condition, and Johnson moved into fourth on Lap 147. He continued to search for the best line and gambled with tire strategy as the race unfolded, taking two tires instead of four on various pit stops. With the car operating where he liked it, Johnson continued to run inside the top 10. He lined up sixth for the Lap 258 restart, but was held up as the inside line stalled. Knaus coached Johnson to find his rhythm, and the driver of the No. 48 Chevy was running fourth behind teammate Jeff Gordon (first) and Kasey Kahne (third) when the caution flag was waved on Lap 390 because Gordon blew a tire. “That was close,” Spotter Earl Barban told Johnson, who pitted for left-side tires and lined up sixth for the Lap 405 restart. Misfortune struck on Lap 455, when Johnson blew a tire and made contact with the wall. Nursing the No. 48 Chevy was a priority after the collision, and Johnson crossed the finish line 22nd.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. lined up 32nd for Sunday’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway and worked his way into 11th by Lap 70. He cracked the top 10 on Lap 136 and hovered inside the top 15 as crew chief Steve Letarte addressed various handling conditions. Earnhardt and Letarte opted to gamble during the caution period on Lap 351 and hit pit road for four tires, fuel and adjustments. The stop shuffled Earnhardt’s Chevy back into the field, but Letarte was banking on historically promising late-race cautions that would give Earnhardt the advantage in the closing stages of the 500-lap event. History in fact repeated itself, although the next caution flag was waved for teammate Jeff Gordon After the Lap 455 caution flag, Earnhardt returned to pit road for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment. The fuel would ensure Earnhardt could reach the finish line. Earnhardt restarted 17th on Lap 402 and climbed his way into the top 10 to finish the 500-lap event sixth. Earnhardt now has four straight top-10 results to start the 2013 Cup season; his best career start in the Cup series.

3.11.2013

Kahne, Johnson and Earnhardt Finish in Top-seven at Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS - Kasey Kahne rebounded from a late-race stall on pit road to chase down leader Matt Kenseth, but was unable to complete the pass and scored his third career runner-up result at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday. The driver of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS led a race-high 114 laps in Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 400 and edged Kenseth’s lead to a fraction of a second on the final lap before the race concluded.

Kahne was joined in the top 10 by teammates Jimmie Johnson (sixth) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (seventh). Jeff Gordon crossed the line 25th.

Kasey Kahne lined up fourth for Sunday’s race after Friday’s qualifying session was canceled due to rainfall, and the starting lineup was determined by the 2012 owner points. The driver of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet was contesting for the lead within the first eight laps and used a move to the bottom to win the top spot from Brad Keselowski on Lap 10. Kahne led the next 34 laps before pitting under green-flag conditions and returning to the track to climb back into the No. 1 spot on Lap 49. Kahne led twice for another 25 laps before teammate Jimmie Johnson slipped by to claim the top spot on Lap 75. At Lap 100, Kahne was running second when he reported to his team the No. 5 Chevy was experiencing a loose-handling condition in Turns 3 and 4. He slipped to third, but the issue resolved itself and Kahne was leading the field again on Lap 138. He reported the car felt balanced as he hit pit road with 106 laps to go. Kahne exited pit road just seconds behind Johnson, and the Hendrick Motorsports teammates lined up on the front row for the restart. When the green-flag dropped, third-place Kyle Busch dove to the apron and slipped by Kahne, who was lined up on the inside. Once again, Kahne dropped to third, but he steered the No. 5 Chevy back into the lead. Kahne held the top spot until the caution flag was waved on Lap 223. During his ensuing pit stop, Kahne was stalled slightly when he was trying to leave pit road at the same time Tony Stewart was entering his pit stall. The delay put previous leader Kahne in sixth for the restart. Kahne sustained contact on the restart after the front-running cars stalled slightly. Undaunted, Kahne climbed his way through the field and lined up fourth for a restart with 26 laps to go. Kahne drove the No. 5 Chevy into second within the next lap and was challenging then-leader Matt Kenseth for the top spot. Kahne ultimately crossed the finish line second.

Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet SS, rolled off the grid 10th after qualifying was washed out and the lineup determined by 2012 owner points. Within 12 circuits, Gordon reported to crew chief Alan Gustafson that his No. 24 Chevy lacked grip. He said it wasn’t a loose-handling condition; it was a lack of grip. Chassis adjustments during a green-flag pit stop on Lap 46 didn’t appear to help, and back on the track, Gordon stressed that he now was experiencing a loose-handling condition. While other competitors were finding speed on the higher lines, Gordon reported that he was too loose to approach the top of the track. “Just feels like the car is leaning over,” Gordon told Gustafson over the radio. Adjustments throughout the race offered minimal support, and Gordon said the No. 24 Chevy would handle well for three laps and then fade away. Gordon, Gustafson and the No. 24 team continued to work on the Drive to End Hunger Chevy and Gordon ultimately crossed the finish line 25th.

Jimmie Johnson started third in his No. 48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS after Sunday’s lineup was determined by 2012 owner points. Johnson held steady in the third position after the green flag dropped, working his way into second to chase then-leader and teammate Kasey Kahne. A debris caution on Lap 66 gave the No. 48 team a chance to hit pit road for four tires, fuel and slight adjustments. After the Lap 71 restart, Johnson was racing Kahne for the lead within three laps and moved into the top spot on Lap 74. Johnson reported to crew chief Chad Knaus that the No. 48 Chevy was “tight getting into (Turn) 1, landing and getting on the throttle.” Still, speed wasn’t an issue, and Johnson paced the field for 43 laps before green-flag pit stops began. He took four tires, fuel and reclaimed the lead one lap later to lead for another 19 circuits before fading to second on Lap 138. Swift pit work by the No. 48 team during an ensuing stop under caution put Johnson back in the lead on Lap 162. Johnson held steady inside the top three as the race wound down, taking right-side tires only during late-race caution periods. With 27 laps to go, Johnson lined up third for the restart next to teammate Kahne and ahead of Earnhardt. Johnson held his position inside the top 10 and crossed the finish line sixth to record his third top-10 result of the season.

Driving the No. 88 AMP Energy Orange Chevrolet SS, Dale Earnhardt Jr. lined up 12th for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The third race of the Cup season was determined by 2012 owner points after Friday’s qualifying session was rained out. Within the first 23 laps, crew chief Steve Letarte called Earnhardt’s speeds spectacular, and the driver of the No. 88 Chevy was running ninth. On Lap 45, Earnhardt came down pit road for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment. Five laps later, he had improved to fifth. As the race unfolded, Letarte told a sixth-place running Earnhardt he was posting faster times on the top groove. Earnhardt hovered around the top six and let Letarte make the appropriate calls based upon Earnhardt’s feedback. At one point, after entering and exiting pit road in fifth, Earnhardt joked with Letarte, “If you changed anything, I don’t want to know.” With 27 laps to go, Earnhardt lined up for the restart running fifth behind teammates Johnson (third) and Kahne (fourth). Earnhardt crossed the finish line seventh to record his third top-10 result of the season.

3.4.2013

Race Recap: Johnson, Earnhardt and Gordon in Top-10 at Phoenix

AVONDALE, Ariz. – Jimmie Johnson lined up on the outside of the front row for the green-white-checkered flag restart on Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway. But the driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS was unable to snag his second win of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season as Carl Edwards got an incredible boost from then-third-place Brad Kesewloski and went on to Victory Lane.

Johnson recorded runner-up honors, scoring his second straight top-two finish of the season, and led teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr. (fifth) and Jeff Gordon (ninth) in the top 10. Kasey Kahne, who experienced a late-race issue, finished 19th.

Kasey Kahne rolled off the grid Sunday in second – his best career starting spot at Phoenix International Raceway. The driver of the No. 5 Quaker State Chevrolet SS maintained his second running position through the first caution period of the race on Lap 21. Kahne skipped an early pit road stop and several laps later reported a loose-handling condition. He slipped from the front row after the Lap 28 restart, giving up the second spot to teammate Jimmie Johnson, and asked his team for more grip during the next stop. The No. 5 team delivered during a two-tire pit stop under caution on Lap 48, and Kahne left with the lead among pitting cars. He lined up seventh for the restart behind drivers who didn’t pit. Kahne continued to battle a loose-handling condition as the second event of the season unfolded and the sun played peek-a-boo with the racetrack. On Lap 180, Kahne was running eighth when he radioed crew chief Kenny Francis that he was “dirt-tracking sideways” around the one-mile desert oval. One lap later, Kahne’s Quaker State Chevrolet SS made contact with the wall and he slipped slightly off the pace. The sixth caution flag was waved at a good time for Kahne, who had slipped to 11th, and his team tended to the damaged right-rear fender. He returned to the track running 20th and improved to finish 19th.

“Alright bud, let’s do this,” crew chief Alan Gustafson radioed Jeff Gordon to start Sunday’s race. “We got a good car.” Gordon agreed about his No. 24 PepsiMAX Chevrolet SS, which immediately showed speed as Gordon climbed from his fifth-place starting spot to fourth within several circuits. Gordon continued to chase teammates Jimmie Johnson, who then was running third, and Kasey Kahne in second. The driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet maintained his footing inside the top five as various caution flags were issued and despite minor contact from a competitor on Lap 31. Seven laps later, Gustafson radioed to a quiet Gordon that he was turning “real good laps.” As the race progressed, Gordon negotiated through handling issues and reported a vibration to Gustafson that the No. 24 team was able to address on an ensuing caution period. With less than 100 laps to go, Gordon fought his way back into the top 10. Running ninth, Gordon said his car began the segment with a tight-handling condition but improved during green-flag conditions. Gustafson encouraged Gordon to save fuel as the laps ticked down at Phoenix, and he crossed the finish line ninth.

Jimmie Johnson started Sunday’s 312-lap event at Phoenix in third, but was running second within the first 28 laps of the event. The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS negotiated the one-mile desert oval and spent most of his time running inside the top five, although he encountered a slight setback on Lap 53. Then, Johnson took four tires during a pit stop and restarted 18th after the majority of the field took two tires. But by Lap 125, Johnson was running fifth and reported a tight-handling condition when exiting the corners. Still, Johnson continued to battle through and coming to the green-flag on the outside row for the Lap 147 restart, Johnson rolled off in second following then-leader Carl Edwards. On Lap 232, running second behind teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr., Johnson told crew chief Chad Knaus that his No. 48 Chevrolet SS was mostly tight. During a caution period five laps later, the No. 48 team addressed the handling and gave the car a full tank of fuel in anticipation for a fuel-mileage finish. On the Lap 242 restart, Johnson lined up third and followed then-leader Carl Edwards through the green flag and into second. Knaus told Johnson seven laps later that his No. 48 Chevy should be good on fuel, and second-place Johnson continued to work on leader Edwards. With three laps to go, the caution flag was thrown, putting Johnson back on equal footing with Edwards. The leaders stayed out during the yellow-flag segment, and Johnson lined up on the outside of the front row, but couldn’t push past Edwards, who was being pushed by third-place Brad Keselowski. Johnson crossed the finish line second.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. lined up 21st for Sunday’s race at Phoenix, but climbed to eighth within the first 104 circuits of the one-mile desert oval thanks to smooth driving and pit strategy. The driver of the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS worked his way through several initial handling issues and even improved 11 spots early during 18 laps. On Lap 100, he cracked the top 10 after a two-tire, fuel stop on pit road that put him in eighth. Earnhardt continued his forward march and was running third behind Johnson on Lap 154. After pit stops during a caution period on Lap 185, Earnhardt took the lead on Lap 191. On the restart, Earnhardt held onto the top spot for 47 circuits. Earnhardt, who was blocked leaving pit road, settled into second for the Lap 242 restart. He lined up on the outside, but spun his tires coming to the green flag and slipped into second, then third behind Johnson, who had lined up behind then-leader Carl Edwards. As the 312-lap race unfolded under green-flag conditions, crew chief Steve Letarte encouraged Earnhardt to save fuel. Earnhardt lined up fifth for the green-white-checkered flag restart and held on to finish there, recording his second straight top-10 result of the season.

FEBRUARY

2.26.2013

Quaker State Technology Helps Jimmie Johnson Win Second Career Daytona 500

HOUSTON, TX – FEBRUARY 25, 2013 – The Quaker State race oil under the hood of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet helped Jimmie Johnson earn his first victory of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. By taking the checkered flag at the 55th Daytona 500, Johnson has captured his second career victory at ‘The Great American Race’ and 61st career win in his 400th Cup start. The win was the seventh Daytona 500 crown for team owner Rick Hendrick and Hendrick Motorsports.

“Taking the checkered flag at this year’s Daytona 500 demonstrates what a great group of people we have at Hendrick Motorsports and what this organization is capable of,” says Jeff Andrews, director of engine operations for Hendrick Motorsports. “With Quaker State motor oil technology under the hood, we can do our absolute best, and knowing the motor oil will hold up in the most stressful conditions allows us to push the motor oil as far as we can.”

The Quaker State-Hendrick Motorsports relationship has grown over the years into a championship-winning technical team, which has helped Johnson start 2013 with tremendous confidence as he eyes his sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title. Quaker State engineers work diligently with Hendrick Motorsports throughout the season to analyze and adjust the motor oil formulations provided in order to maximize on-track success.

Quaker State has enjoyed an unprecedented level of success under the hood of the Hendrick Motorsports’ race cars. With 17 years and more than 7 million on track miles, the technical relationship with Hendrick Motorsports has resulted in an unparalleled number of racing triumphs, including 210 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins and 10 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships.

“The No. 48 crew never ceases to amaze us, and the entire Quaker State team is honored to be a part of another momentous victory,” said Gita Gidwani, Quaker State Global Brand Manager. “All of us at Quaker State would like to congratulate Jimmie Johnson and everyone who was a part of the No. 48 car’s success in capturing Jimmie’s second career victory at the Daytona 500.”

The complete lineup of durable Quaker State motor oils are formulated to deliver outstanding friction-related wear protection to help engines deliver optimal performance in any driving condition. For additional information, please visit www.QuakerState.com.

2.25.2013

Johnson wins, Earnhardt second in Daytona 500

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Jimmie Johnson captured his second career Daytona 500 victory on Sunday at Daytona International Speedway and scored the first points victory for the newly unveiled Chevrolet SS race car making its NASCAR Sprint Cup debut.

Johnson, who was making his 400th Sprint Cup start Sunday, becomes just the sixth driver to win at that milestone. The victory is Rick Hendrick’s seventh Daytona 500 win as a team owner.

As Johnson raced for the finish line and ultimately Victory Lane, Dale Earnhardt Jr. improved his position to score the runner-up result and give Hendrick Motorsports its fourth one-two finish at the 2.5-mile superspeedway. This is the organization’s third one-two result in the Daytona 500 (February 1989 and February 1997).

Earnhardt’s runner-up finish also gives the driver of the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS his seventh second-place result at a restrictor-plate track. That mark ties Earnhardt for first all-time with Tony Stewart in that category.

Here is a look at how each Hendrick Motorsports team fared in the season-opening Daytona 500:

Kasey Kahne opened Sunday’s Daytona 500 – his 10th career start in The Great American Race – from the sixth position. Kahne quietly navigated the 2.5-mile superspeedway, listening to spotter Kevin Hamlin, and improved to run fourth within the first 11 circuits. When the caution flag was waved for debris on Lap 27, Kahne stopped for right-side tires, fuel and adjustments and picked up another spot exiting pit road to line up third for the restart. The driver of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS followed teammate Jeff Gordon to the ensuing restart, but was caught up in a multi-car incident eight laps later. Kahne reported to pit road where the No. 5 team made initial repairs to the Farmers Insurance Chevy and sent him to the track running one lap down in 35th. Unfortunately, further damage surfaced as a result of the incident, and Kahne headed for the garage on Lap 38 so crew chief Kenny Francis and the No. 5 team could make additional repairs. Kahne was able to return to the track and was scored 36th.

Making his eighth front-row start, Jeff Gordon rolled off the grid Sunday from the outside pole position – his third in the Daytona 500. The driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet SS led the first 31 laps to move into ninth in the all-time laps led category at Daytona International Speedway. He held onto the lead despite gathering debris on the grille and reporting varied water temperatures. The caution flag was a welcome sign on Lap 27, and the driver of the No. 24 Chevy stopped for right-side tires, fuel and a grille cleaning. He left pit road in first, but couldn’t hold that position as the restart began. Gordon was running fourth when the multi-car incident unfolded on Lap 33 that collected teammate Kahne. Despite reporting a loose-handling condition in traffic, Gordon remained fourth 10 laps later. Another debris caution allowed Gordon to hit pit road for an extra splash of fuel, and he returned running seventh for the Lap 90 restart. At the halfway point, Gordon was stuck in traffic and reported that his water pressure crept up but he didn’t lose water. Traffic and being trapped on the bottom lane were frequent issues for Gordon as the laps ticked down under green-flag conditions at Daytona. With 33 laps to go, Gordon was running fifth behind teammate Jimmie Johnson in fourth. Six laps later and still under the green flag, Gordon stopped for fuel only. The fifth caution flag was waved on Lap 177, and Gordon lined up eighth for the restart. He survived another caution flag, but ultimately was collected in a last-lap incident and finished 20th.

Chatter filled the radio as Jimmie Johnson started Sunday’s Daytona 500 in the ninth position and climbed into sixth after a two-tire pit stop under caution on Lap 27. Johnson, who was making his 400th Cup start, improved five more positions after the restart to take the lead on Lap 32. He paced the field for five circuits before a multi-car incident happened behind him in the tri-oval. After the incident, the driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS remained inside the top five, even through a second debris caution period on Lap 84. He enthusiastically reported to his team on Lap 95, “Think we’ve got a horse here guys; she’s running good!” Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus kept fuel mileage in mind as the race continued under green-flag conditions and were running 10th when a multi-car incident happened behind the No. 48 Chevy on Lap 138. With 33 laps to go, Johnson was running fourth, just ahead of teammate Jeff Gordon in fifth. Johnson opted to make a green-flag stop with 27 laps to go for fuel only. The fifth caution flag was waved on Lap 177, and Johnson lined up on the inside row for the Lap 181 restart at Daytona International Speedway and fell back without help as the outside pack built momentum. He battled his way into the lead, but struck the piece of debris that prompted NASCAR officials to issue a caution with eight laps remaining. The debris didn’t affect Johnson, and he lined up from the front row for the final restart, holding on to cross the finish line and record his second Daytona 500 crown.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. rolled off the grid 19th in Sunday’s Daytona 500 and picked up six spots within the first five laps with spotter TJ Majors guiding the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS. Earnhardt reported a tight-handling condition on Lap 17 that his team had an opportunity to address when the caution flag was waved for debris on Lap 27. Earnhardt’s No. 88 Chevy took right-side tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment during the stop. When the field went back to green-flag racing, Earnhardt continued his forward march, cracking the top nine on Lap 79. The caution flag was waved for debris five laps later, and Earnhardt took more fuel and another wedge adjustment. The race ran under green-flag conditions until another multicar incident occurred on Lap 138. Prior to lining up seventh for the Lap 146 restart, Earnhardt discussed his late-race strategy with crew chief Steve Letarte. Earnhardt said he probably would try to run the bottom groove in an attempt to finish strong.

Earnhardt opted to stay out when green-flag stops began with 27 laps to go. He moved into second, chasing then-leader Regan Smith, before heading for pit road himself for a fuel stop. Earnhardt survived two more restarts and was running fourth with five laps to go, chasing then-leader and teammate Johnson. Earnhardt ultimately crossed the finish line second, marking his seventh career runner-up result at restrictor-plate tracks of Daytona and Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.

2.18.2013

Recap: Kahne seventh, Earnhardt eighth in Sprint Unlimited

The 2013 Sprint Unlimited featured a return to the roots of the season-opening exhibition event. For starters, the race featured just previous winners and drivers who earned a 2012 pole position. NASCAR added a twist when fans were able to vote on several aspects, including the starting lineup.

As a result of the fan vote, the Hendrick Motorsports teammates were slated to start inside the top 16: Kasey Kahne in third; Jeff Gordon in seventh; Jimmie Johnson in 11th and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 16th. Kahne was moved up to the front row for the start of the Sprint Unlimited after pole sitter Carl Edwards and outside pole sitter Mark Martin were sent to the back of the pack with new cars.

Despite two preseason test sessions at Daytona, the Hendrick Motorsports teammates weren't entirely sure what to expect from the 2013 Chevy SS until the 75-lap Sprint Unlimited event began. Prior to the race, fans determined the race would run in three phases with lap increments of 30, 25 and 20.

The 20-lap third segment ran without incident, and both Kahne and Earnhardt hovered inside the top 10, ultimately finishing seventh and eighth, respectively. Johnson was scored 14th, and Gordon was scored 17th.

NOVEMBER

11.19.2012

Gordon Wins at Homestead - A Hendrick Motorsports' First

HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Jeff Gordon checked another NASCAR Sprint Cup track off Hendrick Motorsports’ resume by winning on Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. With Gordon’s victory, Hendrick Motorsports now has reached Victory Lane at all but one active Sprint Cup racetrack (Kentucky Speedway). The performance also gives Hendrick Motorsports 10 total wins in 2012, marking the ninth time the organization has recorded double-digit Cup victories in a single season.

All four Hendrick Motorsports teams won at least one Sprint Cup race in 2012, marking the third time that has happened since the organization expanded to a four-car operation in 2002. Hendrick Motorsports also put four teams in Victory Lane in 2006 (nine combined wins) and 2007 (18 victories).

Gordon was joined in the top 10 on Sunday by teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. Kasey Kahne finished 21st and Jimmie Johnson was scored 36th.

Kasey Kahne lined up 12th in his No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet on Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway and cracked the top 10 nearly immediately. Within the first 30 circuits, Kahne improved his position to seventh. The driver of the No. 5 Chevy maintained his position inside the top 10 throughout the race and assumed the lead on Lap 159 when teammate Jimmie Johnson stopped during the caution period. Kahne kept the lead off the Lap 162 restart and battled Kyle Busch for several circuits before slipping into the second position. With 67 laps to go, Kahne again inherited the lead during green-flag pit stops. But Kahne encountered misfortune when he eventually made his way down pit road. The No. 5 Chevy was clocked too fast entering, and Kahne had to complete a pass-through penalty. Kahne spent the remainder of the race working to get back on the lead lap. He finished 21st and ranks fourth in the standings.

Jeff Gordon opened Sunday’s race from the 15th position and cracked the top 10 by Lap 25. Maneuvering his speedy No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, Gordon held the seventh position after an early pit stop for four tires and fuel. “Nice work,” spotter Eddie D’Hondt encouraged Gordon. “You’re faster than these guys ahead of you.” Gordon continued his forward march, picking up the sixth position on Lap 88 and moving into third 19 laps later. During a mid-race pit stop, Gordon took four tires, although several cars on the lead lap opted for two. The decision didn’t hurt Gordon, and he climbed from his 11th starting spot back into the top five quickly. As the race unfolded, Gordon took the lead twice more during green-flag stops to move into sixth on the all-time list. Gordon entered Sunday’s race with 23,133 laps led for his career and trailed Darrell Waltrip (23,134 laps) by one lap. The driver of the No. 24 Chevy moved into the lead with 10 laps left in the 267-lap event and held on to win the first Cup event at Homestead for Hendrick Motorsports. Gordon ultimately led 14 laps at the 1.5-mile oval and wrapped up the season ranked 10th in the standings.

Jimmie Johnson navigated the partially-shaded Homestead-Miami Speedway to climb into seventh by Lap 60. Johnson frequently raced against Chase leader Brad Keselowski during the outset of the 267-lap event and passed Keselowski on Lap 47 for the sixth spot. Johnson held the sixth position after a stop under caution and cracked the top five by Lap 87. Johnson overcame wind gusts and benefited from several great stops by the No. 48 team, including an early two-tire stop on Lap 145 that gave Johnson the lead. He restarted from the outside with a two-point deficit on Keselowski and took the lead on the Lap 149 restart. Johnson claimed the points lead a couple times during the next several circuits and kept the Chase battle close. With 66 laps to go, Johnson inherited the lead again during green-flag stops and again took the points lead while Keselowski stopped for fuel. Johnson decided to make his stop 11 laps later when he was running one-two with teammate Jeff Gordon. During the stop, crew chief Chad Knaus called for four tires, minor adjustments and lots of fuel. The No. 48 team was preparing for a fuel-mileage race. But a miscue on pit road changed the gameplan and Johnson’s quest for a sixth Cup championship. Johnson had to return to pit road for a missing lug nut. Upon returning to the track in 25th and one lap down, Johnson’s No. 48 Chevy began to emit smoke and he returned to pit road. Johnson spent the remainder of the race in the garage, where the No. 48 team attempted to repair an issue with the rear gear. Johnson finished 36th and ranked third in the standings.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. rolled off the grid in 16th Sunday, sporting his 2013 paint scheme on his current No. 88 National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet. Earnhardt grabbed another position within the first 24 laps at Homestead-Miami Speedway and reported to crew chief Steve Letarte that his car seemed to be slicker up against the fence. By Lap 75, Earnhardt was running 17th. Earnhardt spent most of the race running inside the top 15 and improved to finish the race 10th, nabbing his first top-10 result at the 1.5-mile oval.

11.14.2012

Kahne Earns Top Five at Phoenix, Takes Third in the Standings

AVONDALE, Ariz. – Kasey Kahne scored a top-five finish in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Phoenix International Raceway and improved to third in the standings, while his Hendrick Motorsports teammates weren’t as fortunate. Jeff Gordon cut a tire late in the race to erase his top-five run, while Dale Earnhardt Jr. struggled to find the perfect handling for his No. 88 Chevrolet. Jimmie Johnson was involved in a late-race incident that affected his lead in the championship standings.

Kasey Kahne rolled off the grid fourth on Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway. The driver of the No. 5 Farmers insurance Chevrolet immediately charged toward the front, picking up a spot within the first 11 circuits around the one-mile oval. Six laps later, the caution flag was waved and the No. 5 team opted to stay on-track. Kahne continued his forward progress, taking away the runner-up spot from the No. 11 driver shortly after the field reset. Almost 30 laps later, Kahne hit pit road during a yellow-flag period and lost seven spots during the four-tire stop to return running 10th. But he wasn’t outside the top five for long and was quietly running fourth by Lap 106. As the race unfolded, Kahne encountered a loose-handling condition that dropped him to 11th. Kahne overcame the issue to return to the top 10 with 122 laps left in the 312-lap affair. He maintained his position inside the top 10 and was running fourth when the field restarted with 36 laps left. Within three laps, Kahne was running second behind leader Kyle Busch when a caution flag slowed his run. Kahne held third 10 laps later when the field reset once more. After a late-race caution, Kahne restarted fifth for the green-white-checkered flag finish. He crossed the line fourth. Kahne now ranks third in the championship standings with one race remaining in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Jeff Gordon lined up 11th for Sunday’s race at Phoenix International Raceway, and by Lap 100, he was running sixth. As the race unfolded, Gordon continued to make up considerable time, turning faster lap times than the five cars ahead of him and closing the gap on the leader to 7.2 seconds. He cracked the top five on Lap 151, despite battling lapped traffic. Gordon and crew chief Alan Gustafson worked with the various handling conditions the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet encountered as the sun set on the desert one-mile oval. During a yellow-flag period on Lap 168, Gordon stopped for four tires, while some of the leaders opted for two. Gordon restarted 12th and encountered a slight traffic problem when his No. 24 Chevy was taken three-wide into the corner. He lost four spots, dropping to 17th on Lap 177. Within seven laps, Gordon was running 12th again, this time quietly on the radio. Gordon improved to run eighth with 88 laps left in the 312-lap event. With 75 laps left, the caution flag was waved for Jimmie Johnson’s incident, and Gordon stopped for fresh tires and fuel. Gustafson told Gordon he could make it on fuel after that stop. But misfortune struck Gordon, who was running fifth with seven laps left in the race. Gordon made contact with a competitor, cut a tire and then made contact with the wall. He was scored 30th as the final laps ticked off. Gordon ranks 10th in the championship standings.

Despite a deep starting position for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Phoenix International Raceway, Jimmie Johnson improved 10 spots to run 14th by Lap 62 at the one-mile desert oval. The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Kobalt Tools Chevrolet ran as high as seventh when green-flag pit stops were underway on Lap 126. Johnson made his stop eight circuits later to address a tight-handling issue as well as pick up four fresh tires and fuel. Five laps later, Johnson was running 10th when green-flag stops had cycled through. Pit strategy played a role in track position, and Johnson slipped to 14th after his No. 48 team opted for four tires instead of two during a Lap 169 pit stop. But Johnson just drove his way back through the field, cracking the top 10 once more by Lap 184 and nabbing ninth two circuits later. As the race reached halfway, crew chief Chad Knaus instructed Johnson to start searching for different lines, and Knaus reported that the competition appeared to have better luck on the higher lines. Five laps later, Johnson gave up the seventh running position to teammate Kasey Kahne on Lap 227 to see which line he preferred. On Lap 234, misfortune struck Johnson. He reported a lack of brakes after his Chevy made hard contact with the outside wall. Johnson reported to the garage, where his No. 48 team began extensive repair on the right-front suspension. Shortly after the Lap 235 caution, Goodyear discovered the beading on the right-front tire had melted due to excessive braking heat. Johnson returned to the track with 36 laps to go, running 33rd and benefited from the green-white-checkered flag finish to take 32nd. He now ranks second in the driver standings.

Within the first six laps, Earnhardt reported his No. 88 Chevy was experiencing a tight-rolling condition in the center. During the ensuing pit stop, crew chief Steve Letarte called for right-side tires and a chassis adjustment to help the handling issue. As the race unfolded, a loose-handling issue persisted that made it difficult for Earnhardt to gain track position on the competition. Earnhardt restarted 25th and was the fourth car one lap down when the field reset for the green flag on Lap 173. The No. 88 team played with some pit strategy with 85 laps to go, as Earnhardt hit pit road for tires, fuel and adjustments. Earnhardt remained inside the top 25 as the race wound down, and he continued to work with Letarte to find the appropriate handling response. When Johnson encountered an issue late in the race, the members of the No. 88 team stepped up to help their teammate repair the right-front suspension. Earnhardt crossed the finish line 21st and ranks 12th in the championship standings.

11.5.2012

Johnson Wins at Texas, Scores Win No. 700 for Chevy

FORT WORTH, Texas – Jimmie Johnson finished Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Texas Motor Speedway in the same place he started – first.

The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet started from the pole position and was in contention as the field reset for a green-white-checkered flag run at the 1.5-mile oval. Johnson lined up from the outside and ran away with the victory, his second straight in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and the 700th for manufacturer Chevrolet.

Hendrick Motorsports has recorded the last several milestone victories for Chevy, including the 400th, 500th and 600th wins. Click here to see more from the organization’s storied history.

Johnson was joined inside the top 10 by Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jeff Gordon finished 14th and Kasey Kahne took 25th.

Kasey Kahne rolled off the grid 13th in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Texas Motor Speedway with the words from team owner Rick Hendrick ringing in his ears, “This is your kind of track,” Hendrick told Kahne. “Let’s get ‘er done.” The driver of the No. 5 Great Clips/Hendrickcars.com Chevrolet obliged and jumped to 10th in the opening laps, reporting the car was handling a tick loose. Handling was a continual issue for the field as the 1.5-mile Texas track conditions changed under the moving sun. Crew chief Kenny Francis addressed the often loose-handling issue, while Kahne tried to navigate the track despite the glare the sun created midrace. Kahne, who won previously this year at 1.5-mile Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, held steady in the top 10 throughout the race. On the Lap 280 restart, the right-front tire on Kahne’s Chevrolet rubbed and smoked slightly as he was avoiding traffic. Kahne, who had restarted 14th, maintained his position inside the top 10 despite this slight issue. Kahne was running 10th when another tire issue occurred with 14 laps to go. Kahne made some contact with teammate Jeff Gordon, sustaining some sheet metal damage and a flat right-rear tire. Kahne reported to pit road for fresh tires and finished the race 25th.

Jeff Gordon opened Sunday’s race from 16th in his No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet. By Lap 20, Gordon was finding success running a slightly higher line, and he had improved to 13th. Forty-eight laps later, Gordon cracked the top 10, with spotter Eddie D’Hondt telling the driver of the No. 24 Chevy, “Good work. The No. 20 ahead is P8.” Gordon continued to run lap times similar to the leaders and ran as high as second as the race unfolded. But a sluggish tire late in the race prompted Gordon to make an unscheduled pit stop. The No. 24 team discovered the tire was in fact going down and replaced it, sending Gordon back onto the track a lap down. A timely caution several laps later gave Gordon the opportunity to return to the lead lap on Lap 275. Gordon lined up inside the top 30 for the Lap 280 restart and improved to 20th with 30 laps to go. The driver of the No. 24 Chevy skipped a late-race pit stop to improve further on the field and run 13th with 15 laps left. But after late-race contact with Kahne, Gordon decided to hit pit road during a yellow-flag period one lap later. The No. 24 team replaced Gordon’s tires and repaired the sheet metal, sending Gordon back onto the track where he finished 14th.

Jimmie Johnson earned the pole position for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event, his first at the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway. After lining up from the top spot, the driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet never fell from the top five. He led the first 48 laps until he made his green-flag pit stop and returned to pace the field after his scheduled stop. Johnson led the next 51 circuits, when the caution flag was waved on Lap 101 for debris. After this caution period, Johnson rotated inside the top three for the middle part of the race as his No. 48 team continually addressed the handling of the Lowe’s Chevrolet. Johnson hit pit road during the Lap 275 caution period for four fresh tires and more fuel. The No. 48 team sent him back out in second, whereupon Knaus told Johnson he would be four laps short on fuel if the race finished under green-flag conditions. When the green flag waved for the Lap 280 restart, Johnson slipped into second and began to save fuel. With 26 laps to go, Knaus asked Johnson to save more fuel. “We were going faster when you were saving,” Knaus told Johnson over the radio. Johnson made a pit stop on Lap 311 during a late-race caution period and left with four tires, fuel and in second for the restart. With 19 laps left, Johnson lined up third for the restart and battled Brad Keselowski, the leader, when the green flag waved. The duo fought for the lead for several laps before the caution flag was waved again, resetting the field. Johnson lined up second on the outside for the first attempt at the green-white-checkered flag restart. When the green flag waved, Johnson cleared Keselowski without a problem and ran away with his second straight Cup win.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. started 19th in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Texas Motor Speedway and improved to 13th by Lap 6, despite reporting a tight-handling condition. Earnhardt kept trying lines on the 1.5-mile racetrack, and ultimately found speed on the bottom line early in the race. Crew chief Steve Letarte worked with Earnhardt to finetune the handling of the No. 88 National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet, and after the first pit stop, Earnhardt was turning much faster lap times. Letarte also employed pit strategy, as Earnhardt picked up five spots during a green-flag stop mid-race. The No. 88 team continued to pick up spots on the track and on pit road, and Earnhardt was running fifth with 30 laps to go. Earnhardt lined up fourth for the green-white-checkered flag restart, behind teammate Jimmie Johnson and finished seventh.

OCTOBER

10.29.2012

Johnson Wins From the Pole at Martinsville Speedway

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Jimmie Johnson started from the pole position and led 191 laps en route to his seventh victory at Martinsville Speedway. Johnson’s strong performance at the short track moved him into the points lead in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

His Hendrick Motorsports teammates Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished third, seventh and 21st, respectively.

Kasey Kahne opened Sunday’s 500-lap event at Martinsville from 15th and quickly climbed through the field to run in the top 10 by the first caution on Lap 46. Kahne reported the No. 5 Hendrickcars.com Chevrolet was tight in the corners, an issue crew chief Kenny Francis addressed during pit stops under the first two cautions. The No. 5 team added a spring rubber which seemed to fix the issue and Kahne resumed his march through the field, racing to eighth. Kahne and Francis continued to work on the handling of the No. 5 Chevy as the race unfolded and maintained footing in the top ten. At Lap 371, Kahne picked up an extra point when he took the lead for 12 laps as pit stops cycled through. He started to lose grip on the track as the race wound down, but held on to finish third.

Jeff Gordon quickly rose through the field in the opening laps on Sunday at Martinsville Speedway, running second by Lap 35. The No. 24 team executed quick pit stops during the first two cautions at the short track to keep Gordon running at the front of the pack. Gordon passed teammate Jimmie Johnson to charge to the lead on Lap 67. Gordon began to struggle with a loose handling condition on his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet. He worked with crew chief Alan Gustafson to get the Chevy back to peak handling. Despite the loose conditions, Gordon ran in the top five during the last 120 laps. The driver of the No. 24 Chevy was in a position to race for the win after the final restart with four laps to go, but ultimately finished seventh.

Jimmie Johnson lined up from the pole position for Sunday’s Cup race at Martinsville and led the first 67 laps of the 500-lap event. Johnson maintained his footing in the top ten, often battling teammate Jeff Gordon for the lead. Around Lap 200, the driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet reported he was having trouble hearing crew chief Chad Knaus and spotter Earl Barban on the radio, losing all radio communication for a handful of laps. Despite the communication issues, Johnson continued to have a strong run and took advantage of his pit stall location at the end of pit road to maintain his track position during pit stops. He took the lead with 14 laps to go and held on to first-place through the final restart. Johnson led 191 laps en route to his seventh trip to Victory Lane at Martinsville and now leads the championship standings.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was a quiet presence in the top 10 throughout his return to the Chase during the Cup event at Martinsville Speedway. The driver of the No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard Chevrolet improved from a 20th-place starting position to crack the top 10 by Lap 27. When the caution flag waved on Lap 45, Earnhardt and the No. 88 team addressed a tight handling condition and returned to the track to restart 10th. Earnhardt ran as high as 3rd during the 500-lap event at Martinsville and maintained his footing in the top 10 as the event unfolded. The No. 88 team made the call to stay out during what looked to be the final caution of the race while the other leaders pitted. The move helped him gain four positions during the restart before he was involved in a late-race incident with another competitor that caused him to lose track position. Earnhardt was ultimately scored 21st.

10.22.2012

Hendrick Motorsports Quartet Finishes Inside Top 10 at Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Hendrick Motorsports’ four drivers held steady during Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event to finish inside the top 10 at the newly repaved Kansas Speedway. Kasey Kahne led his teammates with a fourth-place finish, while Regan Smith scored seventh, Jimmie Johnson rallied to ninth and Jeff Gordon took 10th.

Kasey Kahne opened Sunday’s 267-lap event at Kansas from the pole position – his first at the 1.5-mile track – and almost immediately reported a handling issue. The No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet appeared to be tight on the left-front splitter, and by Lap 7, Kahne was running fifth. As the race unfolded, Kahne and crew chief Kenny Francis worked through various handling issues. Notably, Kahne reported a vibration on Lap 90 after giving up six positions on a restart three laps prior. He held steady, and after restarting 13th on a Lap 147 restart, Kahne had a chance to find his rhythm with some green-flag racing. He improved to eighth by the time the eighth caution flag of the race was waved on Lap 156. During the ensuing yellow-flag period, Kahne proceeded to pick up three spots on pit road with a two-tire stop to improve to fifth among drivers who pitted. Kahne continued to run inside the top 15, avoiding incidents as they unfolded. With 46 laps to go, Kahne lined up third for the restart on fresh right-side tires. He continued to fight inside the top 10 as the race wound down, despite losing some track position by shutting off his engine in an attempt to save fuel. Kahne benefited from 23 laps of green-flag racing to record a fourth-place result at Kansas.

Jeff Gordon improved five spots in the opening six laps on Sunday at Kansas Speedway, quietly climbing to 14th at the newly repaved 1.5-mile track. He reported a vibration 12 laps later to crew chief Alan Gustafson that his No. 24 team addressed on a subsequent pit stop with two fresh tires. Gordon continued to improve his track position, but several circuits later, Gordon told Gustafson he thought he had hit something and requested the team check the front of the No. 24 Chevy. On the ensuing pit stop, the No. 24 team discovered that Gordon actually had cut a tire and loaded up a new set at just the right time. As the race unfolded, Gordon maintained his position inside the top 15 despite a plethora of yellow-flag periods for wrecks and took the lead on Lap 124 and 157. Gordon lined up on row four for the restart with 88 laps to go and navigated the final stretch of racing to score a 10th-place finish.

Jimmie Johnson lined up seventh for Sunday’s Cup event at Kansas and told crew chief Chad Knaus that his No. 48 Chevrolet was loose in the center of Turns 3 and 4. On Lap 28, Knaus told Johnson that he was turning lap times second only to the leader. Johnson continued his forward march, working with Knaus and the No. 48 team on the handling of his Lowe’s Chevrolet. He took second on Lap 45, and 32 laps later, he was lining up on the inside of the front row for the restart after a swift two-tire stop. The driver of the No. 48 Chevy immediately took the lead and maintained it through another caution period and restart. He held this position until he made a green-flag stop on Lap 119. The scheduled pit stop turned into an ill-timed one because the caution flag was waved toward the end of the stop. Johnson took the wave around to remain on the lead lap and restarted in 23rd for the Lap 127 restart. Nine laps later, Johnson’s No. 48 Chevy spun in the center of Turn 4 and he hit the wall. Johnson reported to pit road, where Knaus assessed the damage and the No. 48 team began repairs. The No. 48 team replaced the decklid and made various other repairs to the rear of the Lowe’s Chevy, but managed to keep Johnson on the lead lap. He restarted from the tail end of the field and was back in the hunt on Lap 163, when he restarted fourth after skipping a pit stop during the previous yellow-flag period. But completely refueling the No. 48 Chevy was a persistent issue because of the damage sustained, and Johnson took advantage of caution periods for new tires and more fuel as the race wound down. During the final 23 laps, Johnson rallied to a top-10 result.

Regan Smith, filling in for Dale Earnhardt Jr., rolled off the grid 39th on Sunday at Kansas Speedway. Driving the No. 88 National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet, Smith continually ticked off positions around the 1.5-mile track and was running 30th by Lap 5. When the caution flag waved on Lap 41, Smith had improved another five positions to 25th. Smith worked with crew chief Steve Letarte through adjustments on pit road and managed to avoid the wrecks that almost routinely unfolded on the 1.5-mile speedway. He was running eighth by Lap 87 and held his position inside the top 15 for the next 92 laps. When the field reset with 88 laps to go, Smith lined up on the third row and in the sixth position for the restart. Fifty-eight laps later, the driver of the No. 88 Chevy was third, preparing for another restart. Smith held on to record his first top-10 result in the No. 88 Chevy and the first of his career at Kansas.

10.15.2012

Johnson, Kahne Finish in Top Eight at Charlotte

CONCORD, N.C. – Fuel mileage became the focus as Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event wound down at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne managed to hold on and record finishes inside the top eight in the fifth race of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Jeff Gordon finished 18th, and Regan Smith took 38th.

Kasey Kahne opened Saturday night’s 334-lap event at Charlotte from the fifth position. By Lap 74, the driver of the No. 5 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet was running third and requesting his team consider adjustments to help keep the car off the splitter. During green-flag stops on Lap 134, the No. 5 team addressed Kahne’s concern, adding some packer to the car while also giving it four tires and fuel. Nearly 60 laps later, Kahne pitted once more and asked his team to go in the other direction with the packer. During this ensuing green-flag stop, Kahne stopped for four tires, fuel and the packer adjustment in the left-front tire. The adjustments continued on the next pit stop, and Kahne continued to work with his team and crew chief Kenny Francis. When the checkered flag waved, he took eighth and now ranks fifth in the standings.

Jeff Gordon rolled off the grid 13th in his No. 24 Drive to End Hunger and immediately tackled the handling of his No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet with crew chief Alan Gustafson. The duo opted for a four-tire pit stop—rather than the two-tire strategy employed by competing teams—after the caution flag waved on Lap 11 in an attempt to solve some of those handling issues. Gordon restarted 17th and battled with traffic to run as high as 11th before additional handling issues set in. While the No. 24 team made various adjustments and even led once for two laps. But an unfortunate setback occurred during green-flag stops on Lap 219 when Gordon was clocked too fast on pit road. The pass-through penalty put Gordon one lap down, and Gustafson instructed him to stay out during a subsequent debris caution so Gordon could race for the Lucky Dog position. Gordon continued to fight as the race unfolded, and he finished 18th.

Just 11 laps into Saturday’s 500-mile race at Charlotte, crew chief Chad Knaus was telling driver Jimmie Johnson to save fuel, and the focus didn’t change throughout the Cup event. The No. 48 team had the biggest gain during the caution period on Lap 36 when Johnson entered pit road fourth and left in first among pitting competitors by taking two tires instead of four. This two-tire decision didn’t hurt Johnson, and he maintained his presence in second tracking then-leader Brad Keselowski, who didn’t pit previously. On Lap 70, Johnson took the lead when Keselowski made a green-flag pit stop. The driver of the No. 48 mylowes Chevrolet maintained this position until Lap 83 when he pitted for four tires and fuel, returning to trail Keselowski again, finally taking the top spot from the competitor on Lap 99. When the caution flag waved on Lap 166, Johnson benefited again from pit strategy with two tires instead of four and took the No. 1 spot for the restart on Lap 171. But he couldn’t fend off the cars with four tires and settled into seventh about 10 laps later. He charged back toward the front and began to play the fuel mileage game, cutting it close once when he ran out of fuel on pit road during a Lap 178 stop. With one more green-flag stop, Johnson held on to cross the finish line third. He led three times for 53 laps and maintains his second-place running in the championship standings.

Filling in for Dale Earnhardt Jr., Regan Smith opened up Saturday’s race at Charlotte from the 26th position and immediately began his forward march. Smith, who posted the second-fastest time during Friday’s final practice, improved five spots by staying out when the caution flag waved on Lap 11. He restarted 17th, despite a snug handling condition in the middle of the turns. When the caution flag waved again 16 laps later, Smith was running 14th and he made his way down pit road for two tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. The driver of the No. 88 Chevy picked up six spots among pitting teams, thanks to a swift stop, and restarted ninth for the ensuing restart. On Lap 62, misfortune struck the No. 88 team when Smith, who was running 10th at the time, reported an engine issue. Crew chief Steve Letarte instructed Smith to report to the garage.

Smith says: “We had a really fast race car. We had a good first adjustment there, went just a little too far with it and got a little too free. Needed one more stop, and I think we would have had it dialed in and then just chased the weather from that point on. It’s disappointing. It’s a good team, it’s a good car and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports does a great job. I’m looking forward to next week. We get three days to test when we get there to Kansas, and we will see if we can get the AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet up front there. I feel confident we will have the same speed we had here.”

10.8.2012

Gordon Evades Last-lap Incident to Earn Runner-up Jonors at Talladega

TALLADEGA, Ala.—Jeff Gordon held on to claim his second straight runner-up result in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup as a 25-car incident unfolded on Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway. The driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet somehow avoided the last-lap wreck that collected the rest of his Hendrick Motorsports teammates.

After winning his first pole position at Talladega Superspeedway, Kasey Kahne led the first seven laps in Sunday’s race at the 2.66-mile restrictor-plate track. He hung with the leaders during green-flag racing and climbed six spots after stopping for fuel only on pit road during the first caution period on Lap 17. On the Lap 21 restart, Kahne was third, ahead of teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr. (fourth) and Jeff Gordon (ninth). Kahne bounced in and out of the draft, sometimes connecting with Gordon for a tandem push, but consistently running with the leaders until Lap 100. At that point, his No. 5 Hendrickcars.com Chevrolet had run out of fuel, so Kahne hit pit road just as the caution flag was waving for an incident. Kahne took fuel and returned to the track before the leaders lapped him. Just to be safe, Kahne pitted once, this time with the leaders, to top off with a bit more fuel. When the field returned to green-flag racing, Kahne was running 29th, ahead of Earnhardt, who was racing for the Lucky Dog position. Kahne maintained this position after a caution period on Lap 138 when he stopped for right-side tires, fuel and water. Kahne considered partnering with Denny Hamlin as the laps wound down at Talladega. When the caution flag waved on Lap 183 for a single-car spin, Kahne opted to stay on track and climbed to 10th in the running order. As the final three laps ticked down, Kahne was collected in a multi-car incident that affected most of the field.

Jeff Gordon, a six-time Cup winner at Talladega, rolled off the grid sixth at the 2.66-mile speedway on Sunday. The driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet held with the main pack and took the lead on Lap 72 for seven circuits. During that timeframe, Gordon put teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. and a couple other competitors one lap down. Gordon held his position among the leading pack, and hit pit road after the caution flag was waved on Lap 100. The No. 24 team pulled off a solid four-tire stop that inspired crew chief Alan Gustafson to climb down from the pit box and give each crew member a fist bump. Gordon returned to the track and held steady. With 28 laps to go, Gordon was running 17th and instructed by spotter Eddie D’Hondt to save just a bit of fuel. Around five laps later, D’Hondt told Gordon he should be good to go, to “let ‘er rip.” Gordon obliged, hooking up with Earnhardt with 15 laps to go and the teammates headed for the front. On Lap 175, Gordon settled into the second position with leader Jamie McMurray. Gordon, running fourth, opted to stop for a quick splash of fuel when the caution flag was waved on Lap 183. Gordon maintained his position inside the top 15 and navigated his way through the multi-car incident that unfolded on the final lap to claim runner-up honors.

Jimmie Johnson’s race-opening strategy at Talladega Superspeedway was to hang in the back of the pack and wait for the right moment. After starting 17th, Johnson held his position, stopping as needed during caution periods on Lap 17 and 100 for fuel and tires. When green-flag pit stops cycled through around Lap 60, Johnson took the lead for 10 laps on Lap 62 before making his own pit road stop. But at Lap 115, crew chief Chad Knaus instructed Johnson to start making his move. The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet immediately started his forward march, running 13th by Lap 148 thanks to an outside move. Johnson ran as high as 12th as the field continually shuffled around. On Lap 175, Knaus informed Johnson that his No. 48 Chevy would run out of fuel between Turns 3 and 4 on the final lap, and he should be ready because the majority of the field likely would encounter the same thing. Johnson, now fuel-conscious, slid to 18th as the final laps ticked down. Knaus reiterated for Johnson to save fuel when the caution flag waved on Lap 183 for a single-car spin. The driver of the No. 48 Chevy pitted for a quick splash of fuel. Johnson held on during the final three laps of total beating and banging and was collected in a multi-car incident.

After starting 12th at Talladega, Dale Earnhardt Jr. brought the fans to their feet when he took the lead on Lap 13 at the 2.66-mile restrictor-plate track. The driver of the No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew “Paint the 88”/National Guard Chevrolet stopped for fuel only during a caution period for an accident on Lap 17. Eleven laps later, Earnhardt was battling for the lead again, and he finally won that battle on Lap 33. But during subsequent green-flag stops, the driver of the No. 88 was clocked too fast exiting the pit lane and was required to complete a pass-through penalty. Crew chief Steve Letarte encouraged Earnhardt, saying, “We’ll be fine. We’ve got a lot of racing here.” The miscue didn’t cost Earnhardt a lap, but it pinned the driver of the No. 88 Chevy deep in the field. Within several circuits, then-leader Gordon caught up with Earnhardt and passed his teammate, putting him a lap down on Lap 76. Earnhardt maintained his position as the first car one lap down, and he earned the Lucky Dog pass when the caution flag was waved on Lap 138 for debris. With 28 laps to go, Earnhardt was running sixth and chasing the lead. Earnhardt opted to stop for a quick splash of fuel when the caution flag waved on Lap 183. During the final three laps of racing action, Earnhardt was collected in a multi-car incident that involved most of the field. When he refired his No. 88 Chevy, Earnhardt gave Johnson a lift back to the garage.

10.1.2012

Gordon Second, Hendrick Motorsports Teammates in Top 15 at Dover

DOVER, Del.—Jeff Gordon didn’t worry about fuel strategy as Sunday’s race wound down at Dover International Speedway. Instead, the driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet narrowed the gap on then-leader Brad Keselowski and kept fighting for his sixth career victory at the one-mile concrete oval.

Despite improving four positions in the closing laps, Gordon couldn’t nab that final spot and took runner-up honors in the third race of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Gordon was joined in the top 15 by teammates Jimmie Johnson (fourth), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (11th) and Kasey Kahne (15th).

Kasey Kahne opened Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Dover from the ninth position and within the first 50 laps of green-flag racing was reporting a loose-handling condition with his No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet. Kahne maintained his position inside the top 10, but encountered misfortune when the yellow flag was waved on Lap 69 for debris. At that point, Kahne was on pit road for four tires, fuel and adjustments. The caution period put Kahne one lap down, and the driver of the No. 5 Chevy spent the next 175 laps battling the Lucky Dog position. On Lap 245, the yellow flag was waved again for debris, and this time, Kahne was in the right position. With the free pass, he returned as one of nine cars on the lead lap. Kahne was chasing teammate Jeff Gordon for the seventh spot when the caution flag was waved on Lap 308. The No. 5 team picked up a position during the ensuing pit stop to return to the field in seventh. Kahne pitted during a caution period on Lap 317 for an extra touch before the sprint to the finish at the one-mile oval. On Lap 346, crew chief Kenny Francis instructed Kahne that he likely will be one lap short on fuel and that he should save whenever possible. But saving fuel became a distant concern as Kahne noticed a shaking condition in his No. 5 Chevy, and he pitted so his team could change the loose tire with 46 laps to go. The pit stop put Kahne three laps down, and he returned to the track to finish 15th.

Jeff Gordon entered Sunday’s race with the same No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet he used to nearly win the June NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Dover. Gordon began this weekend’s 400-mile event from the sixth position and posted some of the fastest lap times as the race unfolded, climbing to run fourth by Lap 46. Gordon, who at first noted that his No. 24 Chevy was turning really well, worked with crew chief Alan Gustafson throughout the race to improve the car’s overall handling. Traffic seemed to really affect Gordon’s Chevy, and Gustafson maintained that the team just needed to find a tenth of a second more to be able to contend. On Lap 245 during a caution period, Gustafson instructed the No. 24 team to make significant adjustments, including with the track bar and spring rubber, to tune in the Chevy. Gordon was running fifth on the Lap 253 restart and held his position inside the top 10. He stopped during a subsequent caution period on Lap 317. As the race unfolded, most of the leaders went into fuel conservation mode, and Gordon, sufficient on fuel, began to post some of the fastest times on the track. Gordon moved into second with six laps left and held onto finish in that position, improving two spots in the championship standings to 10th.

Jimmie Johnson started Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Dover from 11th – his deepest starting spot at the one-mile oval since 2008 – and rallied through the field to lead late in the race. Johnson never was unhappy with the handling of his No. 48 Lowe’s Kobalt Tools Chevrolet during Sunday’s race with the exception of a few “snug” spots here and there. Crew chief Chad Knaus addressed the initially tight-handling issue, but also encouraged Johnson to try different lines.

Johnson, who maintained his position inside the top five for the majority of the race, was battling with Kyle Busch for the lead by Lap 278. After a Lap 308 caution period, Johnson’s pit crew put him position to line up on the front row with Busch for the restart. When the green flag waved, Johnson took the lead, but another, nearly immediate yellow flag halted the field once more. This time, Johnson opted to stay on the track and reclaimed the lead once more when the green flag waved on Lap 322. The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Kobalt Tools Chevrolet started to observe fuel mileage after two late-race caution flags gave him the opportunity to save a bit of fuel. With roughly 40 laps left, Knaus instructed Johnson to give up the lead and run 80 percent throttle in the interest of fuel strategy. This meant a loss of two positions as the race wound down, but with each passing lap, Knaus improved his optimism on the No. 48 team’s ability to make it to the end without stopping. Johnson held on and finished fourth and move into second in the championship rankings – just five points behind leader Keselowski.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was relatively quiet on the radio at the outset of Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Dover. During the first 30 laps, Earnhardt reported that his No. 88 National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet was experiencing some handling issues in the corners, but overall it was running well. Within the first 46 laps, Earnhardt climbed from 23rd to 17th. Earnhardt was knocked off the lead lap when the caution flag was waved on Lap 46. The driver of the No. 88 Chevy just happened to be heading for his pit stall at the time the yellow flag was waved, putting him one lap down. To avoid being another lap down, Earnhardt skipped the stop and returned to the field. He instead made his pit stop during the caution period. Earnhardt spent the remainder of the race fighting for the Lucky Dog position so he could return to the lead lap. Running 12th with 46 laps to go, Earnhardt was chasing 11th-place Joey Logano, the first car one-lap down. Crew chief Steve Letarte called Earnhardt down pit road for a scheduled stop with 13 laps to go for fuel to reach the finish line. Earnhardt crossed the line 11th.

SEPTEMBER

9.24.2012

Johnson Takes Points Lead; Hendrick Quartet Finishes in Top 13 at Loudon

LOUDON, N.H. – Jimmie Johnson used a runner-up performance in Sunday’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway to become the new points leader in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Johnson, a five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, leads the standings by one point.

“This track here, we have a few wins, but we kind of average like a top 10,” Johnson said. “So to beat our average here is very important and helpful in the Chase. We’ve got to go to Dover (Del.) next weekend, and that’s a place I love.”

The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet finished second on Sunday in the second race of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. He lead his Hendrick Motorsports teammates—and fellow Chase contenders—who rounded out the top 13: Jeff Gordon (third), Kasey Kahne (fifth) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (13th).

Kahne opened Sunday’s race from the sixth position and climbed to take second on Lap 71. Kahne led Lap 109 before entering pit road for his green-flag stop on the ensuing lap. After green-flag stops cycled through completely, Kahne was running fourth, ahead of teammates Jeff Gordon (fifth) and Jimmie Johnson (sixth). Nineteen laps later, Kahne took advantage of a yellow-flag pit stop, when caution was called on Lap 128 for debris. The two-tire change didn’t work in the No. 5 team’s favor and Kahne slipped from running inside the top five to running seventh. But within several circuits, the handling of Kahne’s No. 5 Chevy returned, and he was running fourth by Lap 170. Kahne maintained his presence in the top 10 through ensuing pit stops. When the fourth caution flag was waved with 28 laps, crew chief Kenny Francis decided that Kahne was sufficient on fuel and tires, remained on track. On the restart, Kahne kept steering his No. 5 Chevy in the top five, climbing as high as fourth, before finishing fifth at the 1.058-mile oval.

Jeff Gordon opened from the pole position and immediately took the lead around the 1.058-mile oval. But within a few circuits, Gordon, commented to crew chief Alan Gustafson that his car was loose on entry and he slipped to second on Lap 4. Turning laps as far as the leaders, handling remained an issue for the driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet. He hit pit road on Lap 40, when the yellow flag was waved for a competition caution, and benefited from a solid pit stop plus pit stall location. After picking up right-side tires, he returned to the field on the front row. On the Lap 46 restart, Gordon lined up from the inside and slipped to second as the field went green.

After green-flag stops cycled through on Lap 111, Gordon was running fifth alongside teammates Kasey Kahne (fourth) and Jimmie Johnson (sixth). Gordon stopped for tires after the yellow flag was waved on Lap 128 for a debris caution. The driver of the No. 24 Chevy experienced a handling issue on the ensuing restart and slipped to 10th. The caution flag was waved with 28 laps to go for debris on the racetrack, and Gordon stayed on the track with the rest of the leaders. On the restart, fourth-place Gordon made a quick move to seize third. He followed teammate Johnson and leader Hamlin as the front of the field stretched out some. He crossed the finish line third.

Jimmie Johnson started 20th and improved to 11th by Lap 33. When the yellow flag was waved on Lap 40 for a competition caution, Johnson stopped for right-side tires and picked up two spots, returning to the field in ninth. He cracked the top five by Lap 105, which is when green-flag stops began, and Johnson led Lap 110 after his teammate Kasey Kahne hit pit road for his stop. Johnson led the lap and then hit pit road for his four-tire stop. The driver of the No. 48 Chevy returned to the track running sixth. On Lap 128, the yellow flag was waved for debris on the track, and crew chief Chad Knaus called Johnson onto pit road for four tires, fuel and adjustments. The stop put Johnson back in ninth, but he cracked the top five on Lap 144 and was fighting for second just 20 laps later. The driver of the No. 48 Chevy set his sights on leader Denny Hamlin by Lap 165.

With 55 laps left, Johnson pitted for the final time for tires, fuel and adjustments. The caution flag was waved with 28 laps to go for debris on the racetrack, and Knaus instructed Johnson to stay on the track with the rest of the leaders. The late-race yellow flag leveled the playing field for Johnson, who had trailed leader Hamlin by five seconds. On the restart, Johnson lined up from the outside and immediately locked into second behind Hamlin. Johnson crossed the line second and became the new leader in the championship standings.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. climbed from his 14th starting spot to run ninth when the yellow flag was waved for a competition caution on Lap 40. Crew chief Steve Letarte called Earnhardt into the pits for two right-side tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment, but the 37-year-old driver drove into the stall too deep and rolled over the tire changer gun hose which delayed the stop. A lengthy pit stop for the No. 88 team meant Earnhardt returned to the track running 20th. Earnhardt struggled to gain track position at the 1.058-mile track, and was about to be lapped when the caution flag fortuitously waved for debris on Lap 128. After a quick stop for tires, fuel and adjustments, Earnhardt was running 16th.

At Lap 161, Earnhardt reported to crew chief Steve Letarte that his car lacked forward bite. Through further adjustments, Earnhardt was able to maintain his position on the track and cracked the top 10 when green-flag stops were cycling through with 45 laps to go. The driver of the No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard Chevrolet was one of the drivers who pitted after a late-race caution reset the field. He used the fresh tires and fuel to nab a 13th-place finish at New Hampshire.

9.17.2012

Hendrick Motorsports Trio Finishes Chase Opener in Top Eight

JOLIET, Ill. – Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished inside the top 10 as Hendrick Motorsports opened the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup in a promising way on Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway.

Misfortune struck Jeff Gordon, as his No. 24 Chevrolet was sidelined after a late-race incident.

Within the first nine laps of Sunday’s race at Chicagoland, Gordon improved from 19th to run 14th. The driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet climbed into the top 10 well before green-flag stops began at the 1.5-mile speedway and was running seventh by Lap 62. Gordon also found track position through solid pit stops and improved two spots early by taking two tires. He was battling for fifth place on Lap 73 and took fourth five laps later thanks to adjustments made by crew chief Alan Gustafson during the previous pit stop. An early developing loose-handling condition was quickly fixed when the No. 24 team wiped debris off Gordon’s grille. The driver of the No. 24 Chevy stayed inside the top 10, but encountered an unfortunate setback on Lap 187. At that point, Gordon reported that the throttle on his No. 24 Chevy stuck slightly and prompted him to collide with the wall in Turn 1. Gordon reported to his team that was he was OK, but his run was finished for the day, and he brought the No. 24 Chevrolet to the garage. He returned to the track later in the race and finished 35th.

Johnson, driving the same chassis he used to win twice this year, opened the 267-lap event from the No. 1 spot and claimed the lead on Lap 4. Throughout green-flag pit stops and caution period, Johnson spent the majority of the race pacing the field. As the race unfolded, fuel mileage and a piece of trash on the grille became concerns for the No. 48 team. Both issues were resolved quickly, as Johnson managed to clean the grille and then a Lap 187 caution period gave Johnson the chance to hit pit road. With two tires and fuel, Johnson filed off pit road alongside Brad Keselowski, who became competition for the lead in the final third of the race. On the restart, Johnson lined up on the inside and immediately sped out to take the lead yet again. Johnson pitted once more with 38 laps to go for four tires and fuel and returned to the track, where he encountered Keselowski once more. Keselowski made a debatable exit from pit road and eventual pass that he used to take the lead. Johnson, who led 172 laps, finished second. “Great way to start the Chase for us. It’s 10 long races, and a lot can happen. To come out of here second is a great day,” stated Johnson.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. qualified fourth for Sunday’s 267-lap event at Chicagoland Speedway, but was required to start from the rear of the field after an engine change on Saturday. The driver of the No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet thought he had a right-rear tire going down early, but realized quickly that wasn’t the case and was the biggest mover early in the race, cracking the top 13 by Lap 51. He subsequently gained five spots on pit road during green-flag stops. By Lap 76, Earnhardt cracked the top 10 and all four Hendrick Motorsports drivers – and Chase contenders – were running inside the top 10 at Chicagoland. Earnhardt had just made a pit stop when the caution flag was waved on Lap 148 and decided to take the wave-around during the ensuing yellow-flag period to stay on the lead lap. Earnhardt steered his No. 88 Chevy back into the top 10 as the race unfolded and finished eighth. “We had a great car at the start to the first half of the race. We made a couple of adjustments; they just really didn’t help us out. We sort of made the car ordinary and just kind of had to maintain track position. Some guys had some trouble, and we’re still in the fight. So we’ll go into the next one still with a shot," said Earnhardt Jr.

JULY

7.9.2012

Kahne, Gordon, Earnhardt in Top 15 After Wild Daytona Finish

But by the final lap, the plan changed and both teammates were just holding on as a final multi-car incident unfolded in Turn 4. Jeff Gordon, who lined up 19th for the final restart, survived the melee and crossed the finish line 12th behind Kahne, who took seventh. Earnhardt was scored 15th, and Jimmie Johnson, who was involved in an earlier incident, was scored 36th.

The early stages of Saturday’s race were relatively quiet as drivers experimented with different drafting partners and took it easy while navigating the 2.5-mile superspeedway. Kahne and Gordon both started the 400-mile event within the top six and attempted to partner up early, while their Hendrick Motorsports teammates Johnson and Earnhardt also tried to run tandem around the track.

All four Hendrick Motorsports teammates were running inside the top 10 by the time the first caution period of the race. The yellow flag was waved on Lap 81, and the teammates hit pit road for tires, fuel and adjustments. After the stop, Kahne encountered an issue exiting his stall. The driver of the No. 5 Hendrickcars.com Chevrolet was affected by an incident that also involved Gordon, who already had made his pit stop. Johnson wasn’t near the incident, but Earnhardt had to drive in the grass to slip by unaffected.

Gordon reported that he was concerned with the left-front of his No. 24 Pepsi MAX Chevrolet, but Earnhardt reported to his team that the impacted area appeared fine. Kahne wasn’t so fortunate, and he had to make another stop so his No. 5 team could address the damage to the right-front quarter panel. Kahne returned to the track running 30th and still on the lead lap.

Ten laps later, another caution flag was waved. Earnhardt opted to stay on the track during the caution period, but Kahne took the opportunity to have his team add water to his No. 5 Chevrolet. Kahne reported that his car had good speed, but the car was blowing water under the green flag. Johnson, happy with the way his car was running, made a basic stop for tires and fuel. Gordon, also happy with his car, returned to the track in third for the Lap 96 restart.

With 45 laps to go, Johnson was running 10th and radioed to his team that his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet was much more comfortable than earlier. Gordon, meanwhile, told crew chief Alan Gustafson that his water gauges were all over the place.

Gordon and Johnson began their approach to pit road under green-flag conditions on Lap 126 when another multi-car incident occurred. Gordon, running third, was collected by another competitor as he attempted to make his way onto pit road.

“Coming to pit road, I don’t know what happened behind me, but they just started wrecking, and we got caught up in that,” Gordon said. “That definitely changed our day. We were in great position, great car. At that point, it was trying to fix the damage and get track position, and with the damage, they did a great job with that. The car had a lot of speed. It was getting the track position that was hard.”

Kahne and Earnhardt made it through unscathed, but Johnson sustained a hard hit when he, too, tried to make his way onto pit road.

“We’re just not having the best of luck on these plate tracks,” Johnson said. “It’s unfortunate. “I waved coming down the back straightaway and motioned I was coming to pit road. And as soon as I checked up and hit the brakes, someone got me from behind and around I went.”

Gordon’s team used four pit stops during the caution period to quickly address the damage to his No. 24 Pepsi MAX Chevrolet. On the final stop, Gustafson radioed to Gordon, “OK, man. You’re good.” Gordon returned in 30th and still on the lead lap, following Kahne, who was fifth, and Earnhardt in seventh in his No. 88 National Guard-An American Salute/Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet.

Kahne and Earnhardt still were running inside the top 10 when the third multi-car incident unfolded with 15 laps to go. Gordon, meanwhile, had improved seven spots and managed to drive through the accident, sustaining just a flat left-front tire.

After clean-up, the field reset for the first attempt at a green-white-checkered flag finish. Kahne, who lined up fourth, planned to team up with Earnhardt, who was lined up sixth, for the final go around the 2.5-mile superspeedway. Gordon lined up 19th.

When the green flag waved, the field made one complete circuit without incident. But coming to the checkered flag, the final multi-car incident of the race unfolded in Turn 4, affecting both Kahne and Earnhardt. Kahne, who finished seventh, managed to hold on to push Tony Stewart to the win. But Earnhardt was completely collected and scored 15th in his No. 88 Chevy.

“I was trying all I could,” Kahne said. “Another Hendrick Motorsports engine, and as good as our Hendrick engines were all night, I wanted to see (Tony) Stewart win over those other two.”

“It was pretty wild,” Earnhardt said. “We were all running into each other. It was crazy at the end.”

7.1.2012

Kahne, No. 5 Quaker State Chevrolet Post Runner-Up Finish in Kentucky

SPARTA, Ky. – Kasey Kahne rallied from running one lap down in Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Kentucky Speedway to battle for second as the laps ticked down at the 1.5-mile racetrack. Kahne tracked leader Brad Keselowski in the final four laps of the Quaker State 400, and ultimately crossed the finish line second in his No. 5 Quaker State Chevrolet.

“We had a really good Quaker State Chevrolet,” said Kahne, who now ranks 14th in the driver standings. “We had to pass a ton of cars and came up a little short, but the team did a great job. Kenny (Francis, crew chief) called a great race.

“The track was pretty similar the whole race for me. We had to adjust on our car a bit, but not as much as I would have expected. Today, my car was pretty good. They did a really good job. I wish we could have gotten (race winner Brad) Keselowski because we need those wins, but we still had a great car, and we came really close.”

His Hendrick Motorsports teammates joined him inside the top six, marking the first time since April 2011 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway that all four teammates have finished inside the top 10. Dale Earnhardt Jr. took fourth in Saturday’s 400-mile event, while Jeff Gordon finished fifth and Jimmie Johnson claimed sixth.

Johnson opened Saturday’s 267-lap event from the pole position – a first for him and Hendrick Motorsports at the 1.5-mile speedway. He elected for the outside line to start the race and immediately settled into the third running position as the race got underway. In the initial going, his teammates also encountered a variety of handling issues. Gordon, running inside the top 10, reported a splitter issue, while Kahne told his team that his No. 5 Chevrolet was running a bit tight. The first 30 laps ran without incident, and Earnhardt remained equally calm on his radio, climbing three spots to sixth within that timeframe.

The Hendrick Motorsports teammates worked on their cars during green-flag pit stops around Lap 44, but Kahne sustained an issue almost immediately after the work on pit road. The driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet suspected a loose right-front wheel and returned to pit road for fresh tires. When he returned to the 1.5-mile speedway, Kahne was running 31st and began his climb from one lap down.

Meanwhile, his teammates had varying reports based on their adjustments. Earnhardt remained quiet on the radio, and Johnson was pleased with how his No. 48 Chevy was turning. Gordon told crew chief Alan Gustafson he still was having issues turning in Turns 3 and 4.

By Lap 87, Gordon’s car had improved to the point where the driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet was turning laps as fast as then-leader Kyle Busch. Earnhardt, running sixth at the time, asked crew chief Steve Letarte to plan to free-up the No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard Chevrolet during the next pit stop.

Kahne continued his ascent through the field and captured “Lucky Dog” spot to return to the lead lap on Lap 148 when the caution flag was waved. During the yellow-flag period, the Hendrick Motorsports teammates addressed their handling issues on pit road, although Earnhardt’s team had a lengthy pit stop that only temporarily delayed the driver of the No. 88 Chevy back on the track.

By Lap 160, Johnson was stalking then-leader Denny Hamlin and Gordon was breaking his way into the top five. Gordon continued to post lap times faster than the leaders. Twenty-nine laps later, Johnson slipped by Hamlin on the inside. Johnson led for 16 laps before pitting on Lap 205. An ensuing slow stop put Johnson back on the track in third, ahead of teammates Earnhardt (fourth), Gordon (sixth) and Kahne (14th).

“The track cooled down, and it seemed like everybody got a little bit looser, especially getting in the corner,” said Gordon, who ranks 18th in the driver standings. “It was a pretty flawless effort for our Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, and I’m pretty excited that we came home with a fifth-place finish and battle up front like we did.”

The caution flag was waved on Lap 210, and all four Hendrick Motorsports drivers stopped for fuel. Earnhardt and Johnson lined up on the third row for the Lap 220 restart with the same advice from their crew chiefs ringing in their ears – “Save fuel.” Earnhardt had a solid restart, but Johnson immediately noted debris on his tires that made navigating the 1.5-mile racetrack difficult. Johnson was shuffled to 11th, while his teammates continued their forward march. Kahne notably improved from 19th to run inside the top 10 on this stretch.

“I really think in that restart I got into some oil, and I got loose a couple of times and lost a bunch of track position,” said Johnson, who led a total of 21 laps and ranks third in the driver standings. “From there, I really think it was a track position deal. Certainly up front in clean air, that thing was blistering fast. But I got back in traffic and couldn’t go anywhere.”

With 20 laps to go, all four Hendrick Motorsports drivers were running comfortably inside the top 10 – Earnhardt fourth, Kahne sixth, Gordon seventh and Johnson eighth. Kahne rocketed four spots in the final 20 laps and took runner-up honors at the 1.5-mile racetrack.

Earnhardt, who recently went to Victory Lane at Michigan International Speedway on June 18, followed Kahne in fourth. Gordon earned fifth, while Johnson battled back to finish sixth and rank third in the standings. “It was a good night,” said Earnhardt, who ranks second in the standings. “We were fast and good all weekend; just a good weekend of us. We would have loved to have had a better shot at the end. We had a good race car with the run before last. It was really fast. It got loose there at the end getting in the corner. I’m proud of the team. I want to thank Diet Mountain Dew, National Guard, Sprint— I just hope we can keep it up. We’re real proud of how we’re doing so far, and we’d like to win another race.”

JUNE

6.25.2012

Johnson, Gordon Finish Inside Top Six, Keep Top-10 Streaks Intact at Sonoma

SONOMA, Calif. – Jimmie Johnson crossed the finish line fifth on Sunday to pick up his fourth straight top-10 finish at Sonoma, while teammate Jeff Gordon rallied from a mid-race fuel issue to capture sixth, his seventh straight top-10 result at the 1.99-mile road course.

Their Hendrick Motorsports teammates Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 14th and 23rd, respectively, in a race that featured just two caution periods – a new track record. In the driver standings, Earnhardt is ranked third, while Johnson is fourth, Kahne is 17th and Gordon is 18th.

Gordon opened Sunday’s race from second and chased leader Marcos Ambrose until Lap 12, when Gordon slipped by the pole sitter. The driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet paced the field for 13 laps to record 23,000 career laps led, most among active drivers and seventh all-time.

While Gordon led the pack, Johnson and Kahne improved their running positions. Johnson, who started third, climbed as high as second, while Kahne quietly maneuvered his way into the top 10 within the first 25 laps. Earnhardt, who started 19th on the 11-turn road course, fervently worked to improve his track position, despite the backlog of traffic and a handling issue that crept up during the early stages of the race.

Gordon’s lead began to dissipate midway into his run, and the driver of the No. 24 Chevy radioed to crew chief Alan Gustafson that the grip in his rear tires was fading. On Lap 25, Gordon gave up the lead and slipped into the top five as Johnson drove by.

Sunday’s race continued under green-flag conditions, and the Hendrick Motorsports’ quartet made its pit stops around Lap 35. Kahne drove his No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet into the top 10 as the green-flag stops began. Gordon picked up four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment – all of which helped the handling of his No. 24 Chevrolet.

Johnson got four tires and a chassis adjustment to his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet and returned to the track inside the top five. Earnhardt and Kahne also made swift stops for tires and fuel without sacrificing track position.

At the halfway point of the race, most of the teams went into fuel conservation mode. On Lap 68, Johnson heeded the advice of crew chief Chad Knaus gave into a battle for third with Gordon so he could save fuel. Several laps later, the No. 48 team, running fourth, stopped for tires and fuel.

On Lap 71, Gordon’s No. 24 Chevrolet sputtered while running third, and he tried to get around traffic to make his way down pit road. Once on pit road, Gordon slid to the right to let Kahne pass for his scheduled stop. Gordon managed to coast into his pit box, where his team gave the No. 24 Chevy four tires and plenty of fuel. He returned to the track running 15th.

Kahne, meanwhile, took four tires and fuel and returned immediately to the 1.99-mile road course running inside the top 10. Crew chief Kenny Francis radioed to Kahne that he could make it the remaining 30 laps, if necessary, on fuel.

The first caution flag of the race was waved on Lap 82 for a spin on the track. At that point, Johnson was running third, Kahne sixth, Gordon 13th and Earnhardt 22nd. During the yellow-flag period, crew chief Steve Letarte radioed to Earnhardt that he should plan to hit pit road because his No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard Chevrolet would be a few laps short on fuel. Gordon, also conscious of fuel-mileage, hit pit road for fresh tires and a splash of gas. Meanwhile, Johnson and Kahne remained on track to maintain their positions inside the top six for the restart.

The field restarted on Lap 87, and Johnson took the green-light from Knaus to forego fuel concerns and nudged his way past Kyle Busch to maintain third, while Kahne improved to fifth. Earnhardt climbed three spots to take 16th on the restart, but Kahne’s No. 5 Chevy began to suffer on older tires.

With 18 laps left, Johnson was running third, and Kahne had dropped to 11th. Gordon continued his forward charge and moved past Kahne on the following lap, narrowly missing a spin by the No. 11 car. Earnhardt, running 17th, followed Gordon and swung wide to miss the spun-out No. 11.

With 14 laps to go, Gordon was racing hard for eighth position. As the battle for first continued to play out, Francis called Kahne onto pit road for fresh tires on his No. 5 Chevrolet. He returned to the track 22nd, just in time for the second caution period of the day, which would set up a green-white-checkered flag finish.

During the yellow-flag laps, the drivers inside the top 10, including Johnson and Gordon and 11th-place Kahne, remained on track, while Earnhardt joined the remainder of the field in pitting.

In the field’s first attempt at a green-white-checkered flag, the Hendrick Motorsports teammates lined up inside the top 13 – Johnson in fourth, Gordon seventh, Kahne 11th and Earnhardt 13th. Johnson lost one spot to finish fifth, and Gordon improved to score sixth. Kahne slipped to 14th, and Earnhardt took 23rd after his No. 88 Chevrolet sustained some damage to the left-rear during a collision on the last lap.

6.18.2012

Earnhardt Returns to Victory Lane at Michigan

BROOKLYN, Mich. – Dale Earnhardt Jr. found Victory Lane for the first time in four years after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday. This is his 19th career Cup win, and second for team owner Rick Hendrick.

A two hour rain delay stalled the long awaited Earnhardt victory, but once the green flag dropped the No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew/The Dark Knight Rises/National Guard Chevrolet rose through the field to recreate his first win as a Hendrick Motorsports driver and bring the stands to their feet. His first win behind the wheel of the No. 88 Chevrolet came on June 15, 2008 when he led 14 laps at the Michigan track.

“It’s pretty amazing,” Earnhardt said. “The last 15 laps were the longest laps ever. It’s great to do it for my fans. They stuck behind me for all these years. I know exactly what they’ve been thinking about and how long they’ve wanted to get back to Victory Lane. This is for them. Thanks to them and their support.”

Earnhardt was joined in the top 10 by his Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon, who finished fifth and sixth, respectively. Kasey Kahne encountered a late-race issue and scored with a 33rd-place finish.

Kahne opened the 200-lap race from the second row, leading his teammates and starting fourth. While Johnson qualified 10th, the No. 48 team chose to replace the engine of the Lowe’s Chevrolet and started the race from the rear of the field. Earnhardt and Gordon lined up 17th and 28th, respectively.

The Hendrick Motorsports teammates battled a slick track during the first Cup race at the newly repaved Michigan oval. As the day progressed, the drivers reported loose handling and took advantage of early-race cautions to make adjustments.

On Lap 25, NASCAR called for a competition caution where Earnhardt, Gordon and Johnson made gains coming off pit road. Kahne continued to address a loose No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet, dropping outside of the top 15.

Earnhardt’s Batman-themed No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew/The Dark Knight Rises/National Guard Chevrolet began to rise through the pack after the Lap 25 caution. He gained 15 positions to run 11th before the second competition caution on Lap 50. The crowd jumped to its feet as the winner of the June 2008 event at Michigan charged to the lead just 20 laps later.

Gordon cracked the top five for the first time during the 400-mile event shortly after his teammate took the lead. The No. 24 team executed a quick two-tire pit stop to climb into fourth position during a caution for debris on Lap 81. While Earnhardt and Gordon restarted in the top five, Johnson was 16th and Kahne sat in 21st.

After the sixth caution of the race, Gordon lined up to lead on the restart, followed by Earnhardt in the Batman-themed Chevrolet. Before the drivers could complete a circuit around the two-mile track, Kahne was collected in a multi-car incident when a competitor got loose on the backstretch. The No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet was taken to the garage where the team put a new front end on the racecar. Kahne returned to the track with roughly 40 laps to go and was ultimately scored 33rd.

With 50 laps to go, the remaining Hendrick Motorsports teammates ran together in the top 10. Led by Earnhardt and the No. 88 Chevrolet, Gordon ran in third while Johnson climbed to seventh. The driver of the Batman-themed Chevrolet never looked back.

Johnson continued to work his way up in the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet to earn his eighth top-five finish of the season, while Gordon maintained his footing in the top 10 to finish sixth.

Team owner Rick Hendrick was not physically in attendance at Michigan, but anxiously watched the laps wind down from his home in North Carolina.

“I was doing laps around my couch, trying to end this race,” Hendrick said. “Man, Batman was in a hurry. I was too nervous to stand still. Linda and I were just watching it, come on, no problems. I was so afraid there was going to be a caution, or something was going to happen.”

Hendrick’s fears were unnecessary. The race ended without further incident and Earnhardt safely made his way to Victory Lane, continuing his strong season.

“Dale is just—he’s just switched on,” Hendrick said about the race winner. “He’s got the confidence, Stevie has got the touch and every week they’re the best by far. I think he’s sitting in the cat bird seat to win his first championship.”

After the event in Michigan, Earnhardt holds steady at second in the driver standings. Johnson improved one position to take fourth, Kahne held at 16th and Gordon moved to 20th.

6.11.2012

Johnson Fourth, Earnhardt Eighth at Pocono

LONG POND, Pa. – Jimmie Johnson battled his way up from a 24th-place starting position to cross the finish line fourth in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Pocono Raceway.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. followed Johnson by crossing the line in his No. 88 National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet. This is Earnhardt’s 11th top-10 finish of the season. Earnhardt improved to second in the driver standings. Their Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne were scored 19th and 29th, respectively.

Earnhardt and Kahne opened Sunday’s race in the top 10, and were quickly able to gain positions before the first caution of the event flew on the first lap. Gordon joined his teammates and ran in ninth by Lap 8, while Johnson continued to climb through the field working his way from 24th to 14th by the second caution of the race.

On Lap 33, Earnhardt surged to the lead in his No. 88 National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet. Gordon in his No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet joined Earnhardt as they ran first and second at the Tricky Triangle. Johnson and his No. 48 Lowe’s Kobalt Tools Chevrolet joined the race leaders in the top five, while Kahne followed in 14th.

Soon after, Gordon and Johnson were both hit with pit road speeding penalties that set the drivers back. Gordon restarted in 23rd, maintaining his position on the lead lap. Johnson fell to 27th and one lap down after he was hit with a second penalty on pit road. There were a record 18 speeding penalties during the 160-lap event at Pocono.

Earnhardt regained the lead on Lap 60, while Johnson got the wave around to rejoin the lead lap after the third caution of the race on Lap 66.

Despite the setback earlier in the race, the Hendrick Motorsports teammates were all running in the top 10 with 40 laps to go. Earnhardt led the field, followed by Johnson in sixth, Gordon in seventh and Kahne in eighth.

A late race caution came on Lap 138, when Kahne made contact with the wall while running in fifth. The hit retired the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet for the day. He was ultimately scored 29th.

The final restart of the 400-mile event came with eight laps to go after a caution on Lap 149. Johnson gained positions over the final laps to finish fourth, his seventh top-five finish of the season.

“We had a long day, we had a lot of issues, speeding on pit road,” Johnson said after the race. “We’ll look into it and see what happened. But either way, we still came back. We had a very fast race car, and I had a shot at the win. I got real loose in turn one, and I still rallied back from that to fourth and catch the leaders.”

6.4.2012

Johnson Wins at Dover, Teammates in Top 13

DOVER, Del. – Jimmie Johnson continued his winning ways by picking up his second NASCAR Sprint Cup win of the 2012 season after he drove his No. 48 Lowe’s Madagascar Chevrolet to Victory Lane on Sunday at Dover International Speedway.

Sunday’s win at Dover marks the third straight Cup win for Hendrick Motorsports this season. Johnson nabbed the organization’s 200th win at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway on May 12, while Kasey Kahne earned his first victory as the driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet during the 600-mile event at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway on May 27.

“It was a team effort. Obviously, I had an amazing Lowe’s Madagascar Chevrolet to drive today,” Johnson said. “I think the way we protected the win was pit road. Last week was hard on us, but this week these guys stepped up and did it every time I was on pit road. Awesome day for this No. 48 Lowe’s Madagascar Chevrolet.”

Johnson, who holds at fifth in the driver standings, was joined in the top 13 by teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr. (fourth), Kasey Kahne (ninth) and Jeff Gordon (13th). Earnhardt now ranks third in the driver standings, Kahne moves into 14th and Gordon improved to 21st.

Johnson lined up from the the outside pole position and charged to take the lead on the first lap. The first caution of the race was thrown eight short laps later and resulted in a red-flag halt to action on the Monster Mile. Approximately 19 minutes later, the Hendrick Motorsports teammates lined up in the top 15 for the restart on Lap 12.

Gordon was the biggest mover early in the race, cracking the top-five on Lap 58 after starting 14th. Earnhardt and Kahne also had strong runs and the four Hendrick Motorsports teammates were running in the top 10 by Lap 116.

Gordon continued his strong run in the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, taking the lead from Johnson on Lap 142. The drivers ran one and two followed closely by Earnhardt in eighth and Kahne in ninth in his No. 5 Hendrickcars.com Chevrolet. Earnhardt used pit strategy to improve his No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet and continued was able to crack the top-five by the halfway point in the 400-mile race.

Johnson resumed the lead when Gordon experienced trouble on Lap 243 and was forced to complete a green-flag pit stop for issues with his No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, pushing him two laps down.

Earnhardt moved into second with Gordon’s unscheduled green-flag stop and followed Johnson, who remained in the lead. After the final restart on Lap 369, Earnhardt settled into fourth for his fifth top-five finish of the season while Kahne earned his seventh consecutive top-10 with his ninth-place finish. Smart pit strategy enabled Gordon to rejoin his teammates on the lead lap for his ultimate 13th-place finish.

Johnson led a race-high 289 laps on his way to his seventh win at Dover, tying him with NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Petty and Bobby Allison for the most victories at the Monster Mile.

“It’s just a huge honor,” Johnson said of the career milestone. “I’m never one that paid attention to stats. I truthfully never thought I would be a guy that would build up any cool stats and here I am with some pretty cool stats. With legends of our sport and guys that I’ve looked up to. I’m very proud of the seven wins here and to be in that very elite company.”

MAY

5.31.2012

QUAKER STATE® POWERS KASEY KAHNE TO MILESTONE VICTORY IN THE MOST DEMANDING NASCAR RACE

HOUSTON, TX – May 29, 2012 – Sunday was a night filled with milestones as Kasey Kahne lined up for his 300th start in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and came away with his third win in the 600-mile event at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It was the first win for Kahne and crew chief Kenny Francis since joining Hendrick Motorsports in 2012. The win in the longest, most grueling and demanding race on both drivers and their equipment was also the 201st points-paying Cup win for Hendrick as an organization with 153 of those coming with Quaker State motor oil under the hood.

“It feels really good. It’s so special and awesome to drive for Rick and Linda Hendrick,” Kahne said following his 13th career Sprint Cup win. “This is unbelievable to drive for Hendrick Motorsports and be part of everything they do there. Our Hendrick engine was awesome tonight. Thanks to Quaker State and the durability of the oil because we did 600 miles no problem, with tons of power.”

The victory at the Coke-Cola 600 adds to the already dynamic racing history between Quaker State and Hendrick Motorsports. The Quaker State-Hendrick relationship has grown over the years into a championship-winning technical team. With more than 16 years and 7 million on-track miles, the technical relationship between Quaker State and Hendrick Motorsports has resulted in an unparalleled number of racing triumphs, including 153 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins and nine Sprint Cup Series championships.

“It was a great night to have Quaker State on the hood as well as under the hood in the most demanding race of the year,” said Chris Hayek, Global Brand Manager. “All of us at Quaker State would like to congratulate Kasey, Kenny, Rick and everyone at Hendrick Motorsports for sweeping race weeks at Charlotte Motor Speedway and wish them much more success the rest of the season.”

The complete lineup of durable Quaker State motor oils are formulated to deliver outstanding friction-related wear protection to help engines deliver optimal performance in any driving condition. For additional information, please visit www.QuakerState.com .

5.29.2012

Kasey Kahne, Quaker State Captures Coca-Cola 600 Win at Charlotte

You are missing some Flash content that should appear here! Perhaps your browser cannot display it, or maybe it did not initialize correctly.

Charlotte, N.C. - Kasey Kahne continued to build Hendrick Motorsports’ momentum during Sunday night’s 600-mile event at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. Kahne earned the organization’s second straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory of the 2012 season and his first as a Hendrick Motorsports driver.

“It feels good to get a win for Hendrick Motorsports,” Kahne said. “It's something I've been looking forward to, for a year and a half, to drive for Hendrick Motorsports, to be teammates with Jimmie, Dale and Jeff. To put it all together tonight and get the win, it feels good.”

Kahne lined up seventh for his 300th career Cup start and quickly began working with crew chief Kenny Francis to improve the handling of the No. 5 Quaker State Chevrolet during green-flag pit stops. By the midway point of the 400-lap race, Kahne reported the Quaker State Chevrolet felt good. He secured the lead for the first time shortly after.

Francis continued to employ careful pit strategy through the night, making the final adjustment to the car during a green-flag stop on Lap 306. Kahne’s lap times continued to improve as he passed the No. 11 to recapture the lead on Lap 333.

Kahne led 65 of the final 68 laps in the 600-mile event, breezing to a 4.295-second victory over the nearest competitor.

“It felt really good to put the entire race together and have speed all night long,” Kahne said. “Our Quaker State Chevrolet was really fast. The pit stops were great. The adjustments that Kenny and Keith came up with throughout the race were awesome. It’s so special and awesome to drive for Rick and Linda Hendrick. For them to make me part of their company this is an unbelievable to drive for Hendrick Motorsports and be part of everything they do there. Our Hendrick engine was awesome tonight, brand new car that so many people put a lot of effort into. Thanks to Quaker State and the durability of the oil we did 600 miles no problem with tons of power. Farmers Insurance, Hendrickcars.com, Chevrolet they have all been a huge part of our season and it feels good to get a win tonight.”

Kahne’s strong performance on Sunday moved him to 15th in the driver standings. He next will pilot the Hendrickcars.com Chevrolet at Dover (Del.) International Speedway on Sunday, June 3.

5.21.2012

Jimmie Johnson Wins All Star Race

CONCORD, N.C. – Jimmie Johnson earned a record-tying third NASCAR Sprint All-Star victory on Saturday after leading the entire final 10-lap shootout. Team owner Rick Hendrick greeted Johnson after his celebratory burnout and joined the driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Patriotic Chevrolet on his trip to Victory Lane at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“He said, ‘Come pick me up,’ said Johnson, whose three wins now rank him tied for first all-time with teammate Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Sr. “But once I got there, he didn’t want the ride anymore. I told him, ‘No, you’ve got to get on.’”

And just like that, Hendrick climbed halfway in the No. 48 Chevrolet and caught a ride to Victory Lane, where Johnson admitted he didn’t want this magical week to stop. The victory marks the fourth straight “win” for Hendrick Motorsports. Since recording its 200th NASCAR Sprint Cup win on May 12 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, Hendrick Motorsports has rattled off three more victories in non-points events.

On Thursday, the No. 48 team earned the first NASCAR Sprint Pit Crew Championship for Hendrick Motorsports. Dale Earnhardt Jr. led every lap in the preliminary Sprint Showdown to earn a spot in Saturday’s All-Star Race, and Johnson cruised to the exhibition win after dominating the final 10-lap segment.

“From winning last weekend, getting that 200th win at Darlington, to taking this Lowe’s team down to win the Pit Crew competition on Thursday to coming out here tonight – we had a strategy,” Johnson said. “The race car was so amazing. I just let it rip around the top, and we made sure we worked on the car and got it right so we could be good at the end.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr., winner of the fourth segment, joined Johnson in the top 10 with a fifth-place finish, while Kasey Kahne took ninth. Jeff Gordon drove his No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet to a 13th-place finish.

Johnson climbed from his sixth-place starting spot to run third within the first five laps. On Lap 10, he was chasing then-leader Kyle Busch, and by Lap 15, the driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet was the new race leader. Johnson checked out for the remainder of the circuit and spent the next three 20-lap segments running in the back of the pack to conserve his car.

Kahne, who lined up from the outside pole position during the third segment, made his presence known in the ensuing 20-lap circuit. The driver of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet battled for the lead and used a strong run off Turns 3 and 4 in the final lap to race with Brad Keselowski. NASCAR reported that Keselowski won the segment by .006 seconds.

Earnhardt followed Kahne’s strong run by posting one of his own. The driver of the No. 88 The Dale Jr. Foundation/Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard Chevrolet lined up third for the final 20-lap segment and took the lead on Lap 64, bringing the crowd to its feet at Charlotte. Earnhardt maintained the lead after a brief caution period and prepared to line up fourth for the pit stop and final 10-lap shootout.

Johnson won the opening segment, while Earnhardt captured the fourth 20-lap feature. But Johnson also benefited from having the best pit stall after his crew won the NASCAR Sprint Pit Crew Challenge on Thursday. The prime pit location helped Johnson maintain his position as the leader for the restart with 10 laps to go.

During the stop, drivers were just required to stop briefly in their pit boxes. Johnson and Earnhardt stopped without incident and made it back out for the restart in their same positions – Johnson lined up first, while Earnhardt took fourth.

Coming to the green flag, Johnson made a clean restart and immediately distanced himself from the field. Earnhardt restarted on older tires and struggled to maintain his footing with the leaders. Earnhardt’s fifth-place finish gives the driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet optimism looking ahead to next weekend’s 600-mile NASCAR Sprint Cup event.

“The car was good,” Earnhardt said. “I want to thank all the people that donated to The Dale Jr. Foundation. Thanks to my sponsors Diet Mountain Dew and National Guard – they donated the hood so we could raise awareness for the Foundation. I want to thank Chevrolet and Sprint and NASCAR for putting on this thing. It’s a lot of fun. We had an awesome crowd here, but the race was good.

“The car was pretty quick all night and all day yesterday. I’m proud of our effort tonight, and I’m looking forward to next weekend.”

The Sprint Cup Series next will run in the 600-mile event at Charlotte on May 27.

MARCH

3.19.2012

Johnson Second, Hendrick Teammates in top 19 at Las Vegas

Johnson Second, Hendrick Teammates in top 19 at Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS – Jimmie Johnson overcame starting from the back of the pack on Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to run second and track leader Tony Stewart in the closing laps. Despite a solid restart with four laps to go, and an aggressive chase, the driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet wasn’t able to catch Stewart. Johnson took runner-up honors and continued his ascent in the driver standings.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. followed Johnson in 10th to collect his second top-10 finish of the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, while Jeff Gordon took 12th. Kasey Kahne, who started from the pole position, crossed the finish line 19th after being involved in an incident on the last lap.

Johnson opened Sunday’s race from a challenging position. After wrecking during Saturday’s practice session, he had to go to his backup No. 48 Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet. The swap meant Johnson had to start the 267-lap event from the rear of the field, but the position appeared to be a minor stall for Johnson, who was in the leader’s rear-view mirror by Lap 83. Sixteen laps later, Johnson was the new race leader.

The driver of the No. 48 Chevy led 35 laps and mostly held his footing among the leaders. He slipped slightly during a pit stop under caution on Lap 205, when the No. 48 team took four tires and fuel while the majority of the field settled for two. The decision meant a loss of five spots for Johnson, who returned to the track in the eighth position. But within a few laps, the driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet had returned to the top five, and he picked up another spot after a stop on pit road a few laps later. Then, Johnson took three seconds of fuel and restarted the race fourth.

With five laps to go, Johnson lined up in second on the outside of the front row, and when the green flag dropped, the driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet mashed the gas. He followed leader Stewart onto the track. While another competitor was wrecking on the restart, Johnson continued to track Tony Stewart for the lead and crossed the finish line second. Johnson improves 14 spots to 23rd in the driver standings.

“With everything we went through this weekend, we will take it. Man, I wanted to win,” Johnson said. “We were close. I think we had maybe a little bit more speed, but Tony (Stewart) could really get away on those restarts through the gears a lot better than I could. I will have to look into that and see if I was doing something wrong or something else is going on there.

“Solid performance. I have to stop and make mention of what Lowe’s is doing with the disaster relief fund (Racing for Relief) and the fact we finished so well means they are going to put up a bunch of money for all the tornado victims. Myself and Hendrick Motorsports are going to match that as well. Great day in a lot of ways, wish we could have this Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet in Victory Lane, but just didn’t happen.”

Earnhardt opened the 267-lap event on a promising note, climbing from his fourth-place starting spot to lead on the first lap. The driver of the No. 88 National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet led the first 43 laps before cycling back among the leaders three laps later. Earnhardt led a combined 70 laps during the opening of the race, which is more than he led during the 2011 season, and he even caught a break early on pit road, which helped him maintain his spot as the leader. On Lap 45, he made a green-flag stop right as the caution flag was thrown for an accident in Turn 2. The No. 88 team hustled, and Earnhardt managed to get back onto the track before the lead car passed.

But pit strategy proved to be a dicey element on Sunday, and during a caution period on Lap 74, the No. 88 team opted for four tires instead of two. The call meant Earnhardt restarted in the middle of the pack, where he had to work his way back up. By Lap 229, Earnhardt had improved to fifth when the caution flag was thrown for debris on the front stretch. With 38 laps left, Earnhardt and crew chief Steve Letarte opted for right-side tires and fuel, and he returned to the track running eighth. As the race wound down, Earnhardt encountered a tight-handling condition on the No. 88 Chevy that made touring the 1.5-mile racetrack challenging. He finished the event 10th, and improves to fourth in the driver standings.

“The track just went past us as far as our handling goes,” Earnhardt said. “I didn’t keep up with the track enough, and it cost us a handful of spots there at the end of the race. The car was really, really tight. I should have given Steve (Letarte, crew chief) a little more heads up on what was happening. But we had a good weekend. The No. 88 National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet was fast all weekend. If we keep doing that every week, we’re going to be there when it counts. We’ll just keep trying.”

Kahne earned the pole position after laying down a new qualifying record at the track on Friday. Kahne toured the 1.5-mile oval in 28.35 seconds at roughly 190.456 mph to pick up his third career pole there. When the green flag dropped Sunday, Kahne maintained his position inside the top 10, which is where the driver of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet spent most of the day. On Lap 205, Kahne was running sixth when he made a pit stop under caution. During the stop, his team experienced a lugnut issue on the right-rear tire, which delayed Kahne’s return to the track. He lined up 15th for the Lap 208 restart, and continued his climb into the top 10.

On the final lap, Kahne was running seventh when he was affected by a wrecking competitor and made contact with the wall. Kahne steered the No. 5 Chevrolet to the 19th-place finish and now ranks 26th in the driver standings.

Gordon lined up 16th to start Sunday’s race and almost immediately experienced a handling issue with his No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet. Gordon worked with crew chief Alan Gustafson and his team to dial in the No. 24 Chevrolet, and he was running seventh by Lap 67. But during an ensuing caution period, Gordon opted for four tires, which meant he restarted behind other teams that opted for two. Gordon restarted deeper in the field, and on Lap 115, he was running 25th when he reported to his team that he wasn’t happy with the handling of the car.

The No. 24 team continued to assess Gordon’s concerns, and as the race unfolded, he took the lead on Lap 178 and paced the field for two circuits. Gordon held on to finish 12th, and he ranks 17th in the driver standings.

3.5.2012

Johnson, Gordon, Earnhardt finish in top 14 at Phoenix

Johnson, Gordon, Earnhardt finish in top 14 at Phoenix

AVONDALE, Ariz. – While Victory Lane was just out of reach for Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon on Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway, the duo used solid top-10 finishes to improve their positions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup driver standings. Johnson finished fourth, while Gordon took eighth. Their Hendrick Motorsports teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne finished 14th and 34th, respectively.

Johnson opened Sunday’s 312-mile event from the fourth position and spent most of the day running among the leaders. The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet was running second by Lap 49 and claimed the lead 11 laps later after his team made an efficient stop under caution. With four fresh tires and fuel, Johnson paced the field. He ultimately led four times for 55 laps before encountered a loose-handling condition during the race. But once the No. 48 team addressed the issue, Johnson was able to return among the leaders and pick up the fourth-place result. With the top-five finish, Johnson gained 11 spots in the driver standings and he ranks 38th.

“I’m very proud of the effort,” Johnson said. “We had a very fast Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet. Unfortunately we had a little hiccup on pit road and it kept us from really racing for the win, but we still fought back and got into it. So I’m very proud of the effort and very proud of our race team.”

Gordon rallied quickly in his No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet on Sunday. Within the first 50 laps, he improved from his 30th starting spot to run eighth. Gordon held his position inside the top 15 for the majority of the race and crossed the finish line eighth to pick up his first top-10 result of the season. Gordon improved 13 spots in the driver standings and now is ranked 22nd.

“It was a solid day for us,” Gordon said. “I was very happy with some of the calls that we made to get track position. There at the end our car just wouldn’t take off, so we really struggled being real loose getting into the corner. Once it came to us we were pretty good. There was a middle part of the race where I thought we were one of the better cars. It just didn’t work out that way at the end. All in all, we were solid. We needed a solid day like this after last week.”

Earnhardt, who started the race 30th, ran inside the top 10 before sustaining damage to his No. 88 National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet. His pit crew addressed the issue to the left-front corner, but Earnhardt slipped through the field some. As the race wound down, Earnhardt posted lap times that rivaled those of competitors inside the top 10. But navigating traffic on the one-mile oval was tricky and Earnhardt improved to finish 14th. He is ranked fifth in the driver standings.

Kahne opened his day from the 10th position and improved to take the runner-up position within the first 20 laps. But Kahne’s run was stalled on Lap 24 when his No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet got loose and made contact with the wall on the right front side. Kahne reported to pit road, and his team spent some time addressing a broken suspension component. Kahne finished his day in the 34th position and now ranks 32nd in the driver standings.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series next will compete at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The Kobalt Tools 400 is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. ET on FOX.

3.5.2012

EARNHARDT FINISHES SECOND IN DAYTONA 500

EARNHARDT FINISHES SECOND IN DAYTONA 500

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – It came down to a final green-white-checkered flag restart at Daytona International Speedway, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. was ready.

The driver of the No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard Chevrolet lined up fourth for the restart, and at the drop of the green flag, he began pushing front-runner Greg Biffle. Using the momentum from the draft, Earnhardt clawed his way past Biffle, but didn’t have enough to catch leader Matt Kenseth in the closing stretch. Earnhardt crossed the finish line second, picking up his third career runner-up finish at the 2.5-mile superspeedway.

“I told Greg that I was going to push him on that last restart, and I pushed him,” said Earnhardt, who now ranks second in the driver standings. “I thought he was waiting and waiting, and he looked like he might have been trying to make a move on that last straightaway. But I kind of waited until the last minute, and nothing was happening so I just pulled out and went around him.

“Matt (Kenseth, winner) had a strong car. The Roush guys were really quick all week. I was proud of the horsepower we had in our Hendrick cars. We had g reat speed all week dwon here. Our car performed well all week. I want to thank everybody. This car is so good every time it comes down here. The craftsmanhip inside and out is amazing.”

Earnhardt’s Hendrick Motorsports teammates weren’t as fortunate during the rescheduled Daytona 500. Kasey Kahne finished 23rd, Jeff Gordon was 39th, and Jimmie Johnson took 42nd.

The 500-mile event was postponed from Sunday afternoon to Monday night after rain showers persisted in the Daytona Beach area. Ultimately, NASCAR officials decided Monday night offered the best window of opportunity.

Earnhardt opened Monday’s race from fifth, while Johnson started from the eighth position. Johnson had improved to seventh when he received a tap from behind that inspired a five-car incident on the frontstretch. The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet ricocheted off the outside wall and back across the field, resting in the middle of the track, where he was struck again.

“I’m OK,” Johnson said. “I’m just really bummed-out for this whole Lowe’s team. To work as hard as everyone did at Hendrick Motorsports to get this Lowe’s Chevrolet and to have it barely complete two-and-a-half miles of green-flag racing is pretty sad. Disappointed, but nothing I can do about it now. We’ll just go on and go to Phoenix (International Raceway) and set our marks on winning that race.”

Gordon started 16th in his No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet and started making his charge toward the front, leading on Lap 58. But 23 laps later, the three-time Daytona 500 winner was experiencing an engine issue that prompted him to stick his hand out the window and signal to the competition. Gordon reported to his team that his gauges didn’t appear to be working properly, and he was forced to retire the No. 24 Chevrolet.

“There has been so much reliability testing that if we had seen some high temps or some high water pressure, then I would have kind of expected some of this to happen,” Gordon said. “But I was actually seeing some surprising low temps and low pressures. I don’t know, maybe something was off there."

“Boy, it is a shame. Our Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet was really strong. We were just biding our time and being patient and working with guys. Every once in a while we could get up there to the front. But, we weren’t even really trying at that time.”

When the field restarted on Lap 90, Kahne and Earnhardt were running sixth and eighth, respectively. The duo tested the waters on the ensuing lap, and Kahne forced his No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet into the top five with Earnhardt pushing closely behind. As Kahne made his way through the field, Earnhardt used the momentum to sling his No. 88 Chevrolet by and move among the leaders.

As the race unfolded and green-flag stops began, Earnhardt and Kahne hit pit road for tires and fuel. On pit road, Kahne sustained minor damage to his fenders after he and Elliott Sadler made contact. Kahne reported to his team that he braked as hard as he could, but he still felt the impact. He returned to pit road, where his team quickly fixed the damage and sent the No. 5 Chevy back onto the track on the lead lap.

On Lap 157, the caution flag was waved at Daytona International Speedway, and Earnhardt, who had been mindful of fuel conservation, took the opportunity to hit pit road. Earnhardt stopped for fuel and right-side tires before lining up sixth in his No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard Chevrolet. Before the field could restart, Juan Pablo Montoya sustained an issue in Turn 3 and made contact with the service truck, igniting a blaze that red-flagged the 2.5-mile superspeedway.

After a red-flag period, which stretched more than two hours, the drivers fired up their engines to race the last 36 laps of the 2012 Daytona 500. Earnhardt returned to his spot among the leaders, which proved to be the safest place to be. As the race wound down, he avoided several late-race, multi-car incidents, including one with less than 10 to go that collected Kahne.

FEBRUARY

2.20.2012

HENDRICK TRIO FINISHES IN TOP 15 IN DAYTONA SHOOTOUT

HENDRICK TRIO FINISHES IN TOP 15 IN DAYTONA SHOOTOUT

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson were running among the leaders with one lap to go in Saturday’s Budweiser Shootout, when the teammates were collected in a multi-car incident that sent Gordon flipping in his No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet.

Gordon emerged from his car uninjured to the thunderous applause from those watching the exhibition event at the 2.5-mile superspeedway. Meanwhile, Johnson’s No. 48 team loaded up the Lowe’s Chevrolet, and Johnson was scored behind teammate Kasey Kahne, who was making his Hendrick Motorsports debut in the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet. Kahne held on to finish 13th, while Johnson was 14th. Gordon was scored 15th, and Dale Earnhardt Jr., who was collected the second major incident of the night, took 20th.

Earnhardt opened Saturday’s 75-lap event from the eighth position and quickly took the lead within the first lap, bringing the crowd to its feet at Daytona. He held onto the top spot for three circuits before being shuffled back among the top three. Meanwhile, Gordon improved four spots to 10th, but reported that he was experiencing some overheating.

Six laps later, a nine-car incident happened in Turn 1 that collected Gordon and Kahne. Both teams reported to pit road with varying degrees of damage. Gordon’s crew made swift repairs to the left rear of the No. 24 Chevrolet, and sent Gordon back onto the track. Kahne sustained greater damage, and his No. 5 Chevrolet required more body work. He returned to the track one lap down.

On the restart, Earnhardt held the lead, but couldn’t thwart the hard-charging field. By the end of the first 25-lap segment, Gordon had improved to third, despite reporting issues with his front shocks, and Johnson was running fourth. Earnhardt was scored 12th, while Kahne was in 22nd.

The Hendrick Motorsports teammates spent the 10-minute break making necessary repairs and preparing for the final 50-lap segment. Gordon’s pit crew took advantage of the time to repair a broken right-front shock as well as complete some body work. When the race resumed, the driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet lined up from the outside pole position and immediately took the lead. Gordon’s grip on the lead slipped as the race unfolded and within the first six laps, the third caution flag was issued for a spin.

Earnhardt, Gordon and Johnson opted to pit under the yellow flag, while Kahne decided to stay on-track and improve his position. Earnhardt restarted the race in second, but on the inside of the front row, while his teammates rounded out the top 22. The driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet alternated as the race leader, frequently contesting with tandem packs.

With 28 laps to go, Earnhardt joined up with Gordon, and the teammates made their way to the front. But holding position was tricky, and they were shuffled into the pack. Nine laps later, Earnhardt’s night was cut short when the No. 88 Chevy was involved in a multi-car incident in Turn 2. While the incident initially unfolded high on the track, Gordon stayed on the bottom, slipping by unscathed. The driver of the No. 24 Chevy joined teammate Jimmie Johnson, who was running just in front of the incident. Kahne also was unaffected by the crash.

“All right,” Earnhardt radioed his team as he headed to the garage. “Let’s get this one loaded up. We’ve got a good car. We’ll work on it and be ready for next week.”

Johnson pitted during the ensuing yellow-flag period, taking right-side tires on his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet. His teammates stayed on the track, and Gordon lined up on the front row for the restart with 14 laps to go. Johnson lined up behind his teammate and pushed Gordon into the lead. The duo maintained their presence among the leaders until the final major crash unfolded with one lap to go.

NOVEMBER

11.21.2011

GORDON FIFTH, EARNHARDT 11TH IN SEASON-FINALE AT HOMESTEAD

GORDON FIFTH, EARNHARDT 11TH IN SEASON-FINALE AT HOMESTEAD

HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Jeff Gordon finished fifth as Hendrick Motorsports wrapped up the NASCAR Sprint Cup season Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet was joined inside the top 11 by teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. Mark Martin finished 24th and Jimmie Johnson took 32nd in the season-finale event.

Sunday’s 400-mile event opened on a positive note for Hendrick Motorsports. All four drivers were running inside the top 13 by Lap 22. Gordon lined up seventh and consistently battled among the top runners on Sunday and after a nearly hour-long red flag for rain finally took the lead at the 1.5-mile oval. Gordon led seven laps but couldn’t hold off a hard-charging, title contending Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards. Still, Gordon remained inside the top five as the race continued. He crossed the finish line fifth and ends the season ranked eighth in the championship standings.

“I just want to take this moment to thank Drive to End Hunger for being on board this year,” Gordon said. “All the fans and all the different corporations that supported this great program, one in 9 million old Americans going hungry every day in this country, but we are making a big impact, over 4 million meals served this year and don’t forget to text hunger to 5055. Hopefully we can get this Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet back in Victory Lane next year.”

Earnhardt opened the race in 11th and maintained his position there during the majority of Sunday’s event. The driver of the No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet ran as high as second on Lap 161 after staying out during the previous caution period for a spin on the racetrack.Earnhardt crossed the finish line 11th and ranks seventh in the standings.

“(Crew chief) Steve Letarte builds good race cars and that team put together great cars, these are great engines by Hendrick and everybody at that shop they work their guts out—they have all year long,” Earnhardt said. “I feel real fortunate and lucky to be able to drive the car because they are really nice. I want to thank all those guys that are watching, for all their work all year long. It has been an up-and-down season, but we hope that we can really improve and have more success going forward.”

Martin started 25th on Sunday and was running seventh by Lap 201. The driver of the No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet worked diligently during his last race with Hendrick Motorsports and employed pit strategy after a Lap 134 caution. Martin took right-side tires only and gained 13 spots on pit road to move into the third starting spot. Martin finished 24th and ranks 22nd in the final standings.

Johnson, who started Sunday’s race ninth, raced hard inside the top 10, trying to climb up into the leader spot during the first 100 laps at Homestead. But an engine issue arose, and on Lap 105, Johnson was sitting on pit road with the hood of the No. 48 Chevrolet up and his team working feverishly to replace an ignition box. The change wasn’t the answer, but four laps later, the race was halted due to rain.

“We are trying everything we can here,” Johnson said during the red-flag period. “When the race returns to yellow, we are going to change the plugs, change the carburetor, and then see from there. I think I started getting some warning signs on the way into the pits that it was an internal situation and those internal parts were trying to find a way out, so we are out of the points trying to finish in the top-five it looks like but if we can get on the track and get going, other guys have some trouble maybe we can get something going there. Just disappointed, we had a fast car.

“It was running great,” Johnson added. “It was really tough to pass and guys who just block the top and protect the top and you could not get by, I worked my way up there pretty good and was having some fun, sad way to end the season but it is racing, we will come back next year.”

The red-flag period lasted nearly an hour, and once it was over, the No. 48 team continued its work. Johnson returned to the track five laps down and encountered a spin on Lap 142. He ultimately finished 32nd and ranks sixth in the final championship standings.

11.14.2011

JOHNSON, MARTIN FINISH IN TOP 16 AT PHOENIX

JOHNSON, MARTIN FINISH IN TOP 16 AT PHOENIX

AVONDALE, Ariz. – Jimmie Johnson and Mark Martin held on to finish inside the top 16 in Sunday’s KOBALT Tools 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. The Hendrick Motorsports duo, along with teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon, encountered handling issues as they raced the 312-lap event on the newly repaved oval.

Promise was high for the Hendrick Motorsports teammates when the green flag dropped on Sunday. Martin was the top starter and rolled off the grid fourth. But it was Gordon who initially was the biggest mover, improving from his 23rd starting spot to run as high as 11th by Lap 91. But handling issues further surfaced as the race unfolded, and by Lap 200, brake issues arose. Gordon spent the remainder of the event carefully touring Phoenix in his No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet. He finished 32nd and slipped to 11th in the championship standings.

Johnson started 16th and used pit strategy to climb as high as eighth within the first 100 laps. Unfortunately, that early pit stop proved that taking two tires wasn’t as effective as the No. 48 team had hoped on the newly repaved oval, and Johnson quickly told his crew that the No. 48 Lowe’s/KOBALT Tools Chevrolet was “scary loose.” The team worked throughout the remainder of the race to address the issue, and Johnson was able to 14th. Johnson improves to fifth in the driver standings.

Martin rolled off the grid fourth and held steady within the top 20 as his team continually tweaked the No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet. He crossed the finish line 16th and now ranks 20th in the standings.

Earnhardt lined up 22nd at Phoenix and hovered inside the top 25 on Sunday. The No. 88 team made every adjustment possible, and the driver of the No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew/AMP Energy Chevrolet persistently looked for track position on the one-mile oval. Earnhardt finished 24th and now ranks seventh in the standings.

11.14.2011

JOHNSON, MARTIN FINISH IN TOP 16 AT PHOENIX

JOHNSON, MARTIN FINISH IN TOP 16 AT PHOENIX

AVONDALE, Ariz. – Jimmie Johnson and Mark Martin held on to finish inside the top 16 in Sunday’s KOBALT Tools 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. The Hendrick Motorsports duo, along with teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon, encountered handling issues as they raced the 312-lap event on the newly repaved oval.

Promise was high for the Hendrick Motorsports teammates when the green flag dropped on Sunday. Martin was the top starter and rolled off the grid fourth. But it was Gordon who initially was the biggest mover, improving from his 23rd starting spot to run as high as 11th by Lap 91. But handling issues further surfaced as the race unfolded, and by Lap 200, brake issues arose. Gordon spent the remainder of the event carefully touring Phoenix in his No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet. He finished 32nd and slipped to 11th in the championship standings.

Johnson started 16th and used pit strategy to climb as high as eighth within the first 100 laps. Unfortunately, that early pit stop proved that taking two tires wasn’t as effective as the No. 48 team had hoped on the newly repaved oval, and Johnson quickly told his crew that the No. 48 Lowe’s/KOBALT Tools Chevrolet was “scary loose.” The team worked throughout the remainder of the race to address the issue, and Johnson was able to 14th. Johnson improves to fifth in the driver standings.

Martin rolled off the grid fourth and held steady within the top 20 as his team continually tweaked the No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet. He crossed the finish line 16th and now ranks 20th in the standings.

Earnhardt lined up 22nd at Phoenix and hovered inside the top 25 on Sunday. The No. 88 team made every adjustment possible, and the driver of the No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew/AMP Energy Chevrolet persistently looked for track position on the one-mile oval. Earnhardt finished 24th and now ranks seventh in the standings.

11.7.2011

GORDON, EARNHARDT FINISH IN TOP SEVEN AT TEXAS

GORDON, EARNHARDT FINISH IN TOP SEVEN AT TEXAS

FORT WORTH, Texas – Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished inside the top seven on Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway. Their Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson and Mark Martin finished 14th and 19th, respectively, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event.

Gordon spent most of Sunday’s 334-lap race running inside the top 10, despite starting 23rd. He cracked the top 10 by Lap 69 and held steady as his team made varying adjustments to counter the Chevrolet’s tight-handling condition mid-race. With 38 laps to go, the driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet started a trend by pitting under the green flag. With four tires and fuel, Gordon returned to the track running inside the top 20. Track position wasn’t a problem for Gordon, and he improved to finish sixth, picking up his third top-10 finish in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Gordon ranks eighth in the driver standings.

“I’m real proud of everybody,” Gordon said. “We didn’t qualify well, had to start in the middle of the field and this place can be tough to move up there. We moved up there right away. At times, I thought we had a car that could compete for the win. When that sun went down, it changed everything for us. We couldn’t keep up with track position. But compared to the way we ran here earlier in the year, this is almost like a win for us.”

Earnhardt started 16th and was running 11th by Lap 155. The driver of the No. 88 National Guard “Trained by Tradition”/AMP Energy Chevrolet worked diligently with his team to find the right answer for the car’s handling, as he maintained his presence among the top 15. The No. 88 team plugged away, and Earnhardt crossed the finish line seventh. He climbs to seventh in the driver standings with two races left in the Chase.

Johnson, who started 11th, ran as high as fourth and rallied from a spin on Lap 240 that sent him to pit road for fresh tires. The five-time defending champion hustled to his pit stall, where his team put on four fresh tires and sent the No. 48 Chevrolet back onto the racetrack ahead of leader Tony Stewart. Despite a commitment cone violation, Johnson managed to stay on the leap lap. Within nine laps, he was running 19th. Not too many laps later, he cracked the top 15. Johnson finished 14th and ranked sixth in the driver standings.

Martin encountered some handling issues, but ultimately was in the mix as the race wound down. He improved to ninth as the leaders began their late-race pit stops under the green-flag. The driver of the No. 5 CARQUEST Auto Parts/GoDaddy.com Chevrolet was running third with 31 laps to go, hoping for the caution flag. At that time, his teammates who had pitted were running inside the top 19: Gordon was 14th, Earnhardt was 16th and Johnson was 19th. Martin held off as long as he could, but without a yellow flag, he was forced to make his way down pit road. He finished 19th and ranks 21st in the driver standings.

Up next on the Cup schedule is Phoenix International Raceway. That race will be televised Sunday at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN.

OCTOBER

10.31.2011

JOHNSON, GORDON AND EARNHARDT FINISH IN TOP SEVEN AT MARTINSVILLE

JOHNSON, GORDON AND EARNHARDT FINISH IN TOP SEVEN AT MARTINSVILLE

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon contended fiercely for the lead, but crossed the finish line second and third, respectively behind Tony Stewart during Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Martinsville Speedway. Johnson and Gordon were joined in the top 10 by teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr., who finished seventh. Mark Martin finished the day in 28th-place.

The trio of top-10s at Martinsville gives Hendrick Motorsports 100 total at the short track. This is more top-10s than any other team has at any other track in the Cup Series.

The day started with the caution flag waving on Lap 7 when Earnhardt collected Gordon in an incident involving Kurt Busch, damaging the front right side of Gordon’s No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet. Adjustments were made by crew chief Alan Gustafson on pit road that helped Gordon remain a race contender. After dodging several more instances in the field, Gordon worked his way to lead on Lap 235.

Gordon battled to stay at the front of the pack all day and led 113 laps, pushing his laps led total 3,094 at the historic racetrack. The 15th caution of the day came out with 73 laps to go and Gordon and Johnson lined up second and third, respectively with 68 laps to go on the restart.

After navigating lapped traffic Johnson pushed to the lead with 60 laps to go. The final caution was brought out on Lap 493. The driver of the No. 48 myLowes Chevrolet kept the lead, with Gordon and Earnhardt lined up fourth and seventh behind him, respectively. The field went to green with three laps to go and a hard-fighting No. 48 team battling for the lead. Johnson finished the day second behind Tony Stewart and moved to sixth in the driver standings. Gordon maintained his 10th-place Cup ranking.

“We had a great race car all day long,” Johnson said. “Chad (Knaus, crew chief) made a great call. I thought it was going to bite us, staying out like we did; and with all the cautions that gave us an opportunity to win the race. And Tony (Stewart) hung-on tough on the outside there and I just couldn’t bring myself to leaning on him and moving him out of the way with where he is in the points. I just kind of raced him clean and then he got around on the outside and got in front of us.”

Earnhardt’s day was filled with some contact with his competitors, but he remained unscathed. The driver of the No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Paint the 88/National Guard Chevrolet came back from his earlier incident to break into the top 10 on Lap 207. Earnhardt worked his way up to his seventh place finish and remains ranked ninth in the driver standings.

Martin rolled off the grid in 19th and struggled for track position at the paper clip oval. Thanks to pit strategy, the driver of the No. 5 CARQUEST Auto Parts/GoDaddy.com Chevrolet rallied from being two laps down to run in the top 10, but was collected in a late race incident and was sent to the garage for repairs by the team. He finished 28th and now ranks 20th in the driver standings.

10.27.2011

MARTIN TOP FINISHER AT TALLADEGA, JOHNSON AND GORDON IMPROVE CHASE POSITIONS

MARTIN TOP FINISHER AT TALLADEGA, JOHNSON AND GORDON IMPROVE CHASE POSITIONS

TALLADEGA, Ala. – Hendrick Motorsports opened Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Talladega Superspeedway on a promising note. All four of its drivers started the 188-lap event inside the top six, and each driver led a lap.

 Mark Martin was the pole sitter for Sunday’s race, and he started alongside teammate Jimmie Johnson, marking the second time this season Hendrick Motorsports started from the front row at Talladega and the fourth straight time the organization has nabbed the top starting spot in a 2011 superspeedway event.

When the green flag dropped, Martin paired up with Jeff Gordon, while Dale Earnhardt Jr. lined up with Johnson. By Lap 123, all four drivers had led at least one lap around the 2.66-mile superspeedway.

The tandem pairings patiently circled Talladega as the race unfolded, waiting for just the right moment to make their forward charge. The timing didn’t work in Hendrick Motorsports’ favor, though. On Lap 163, Johnson’s No. 48 myLowes Chevrolet suffered right-front damage after being involved in an incident in Turn 3. After the incident, Earnhardt and Johnson discussed their late-race strategy and decided to hover near the leaders so they could attempt their charge when the time was right.

However, another caution period roughly 10 laps later stalled the tandem’s attempt after Earnhardt thought he ran over debris from the incident in his No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Paint the 88/National Guard Chevrolet. He told his team he needed to pit during the yellow-flag period, so both he and Johnson made the stop. The teammates returned to the track unable to make any serious advancements during the closing laps. Earnhardt finished 25th and followed in 26th. Johnson improves to seventh in the championship standings, while Earnhardt remains ninth with four races left in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Martin and Gordon made their latest forward charge with less than 10 laps to go. Martin drove his No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet to push Gordon back toward the top 10. The duo, which led a combined three laps during Sunday’s race, was running inside the top 12 when the five-car incident unraveled on Lap 181. Gordon managed to escape in his No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, but Martin was collected and required a trip to pit road for repairs. With his drafting partner off the track, Gordon struggled to find help. Martin managed to cross the finish line 20th, while Gordon finished 27th. Chase-contender Gordon improves one spot to 10th in the driver standings, and Martin now ranks 19th.

10.24.2011

EARNHARDT 19TH IN SATURDAY NIGHT CHASE RACE

EARNHARDT 19TH IN SATURDAY NIGHT CHASE RACE

CONCORD, N.C. – Dale Earnhardt Jr. was the top finisher among his Hendrick Motorsports teammates in Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The driver of the No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard/Chevy 100 Year Anniversary Chevrolet crossed the finish line 19th, and his teammates rounded out the top 37.

Handling was a constant focus for the four Hendrick teammates after the green flag dropped for Saturday’s race. The teams worked diligently to adjust the Chevrolets as the cooling temperatures affected the 1.5-mile speedway.

Once dialed in, Earnhardt was able to navigate the speedway and hold on for the 19th-place finish. He survived multiple late-race incidents to remain ranked ninth in the driver standings. Earnhardt trails leader Carl Edwards by 60 points.

Earnhardt’s teammates weren’t as fortunate during Saturday’s race. Mark Martin discovered an issue early with the front of his No. 5 GoDaddy.com/Chevy 100 Year Anniversary Chevrolet. Around Lap 150, Martin reported to the garage, where his team worked to repair the front wheel assembly on his car. He returned to the track on Lap 216, and he finished the race running 37th.

Jeff Gordon rallied from a midrace incident, which temporarily sidelined his No. 24 Drive to End Hunger/Chevy 100 Year Anniversary Chevrolet on Saturday. On Lap 293, Gordon was racing David Ragan and Kasey Kahne for the fifth, sixth and seventh positions when the incident unraveled. Gordon’s crew worked quickly to make the necessary repairs, and he was able to salvage a 21st-place finish. Gordon now ranks 11th in the driver standings.

Jimmie Johnson was running seventh with fewer than 20 laps to go when the driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s/Chevy 100 Year Anniversary Chevrolet was involved in an incident. He had been racing with Ryan Newman and Kevin Harvick for position. Johnson was scored 34th and now ranks eighth in the driver standings.

“That one stung for sure,” Johnson said. “I’m just thankful to have such safe race cars, safe walls. Everything did its job. That was a pretty big impact. It’s just unfortunate that we wrecked. We got into Turn 1, and the (No.) 39 was real tight on my outside, and it pulled me around the corner. From there on, I was just kind of hanging on.”

“We just gotta go racing,” added Johnson, who is chasing his sixth straight championship. “That’s all there is to it. There’s still five races left and a lot can happen in those last five races. This is not going to help us win a sixth championship, but my team and myself, we just won’t quit. We’ll keep after it, and hopefully we’re still champions at the end of the year.”

10.24.2011

JOHNSON WINS AT KANSAS, HENDRICK NEARS MILESTONE

JOHNSON WINS AT KANSAS, HENDRICK NEARS MILESTONE

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Jimmie Johnson won Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Kansas Speedway to improve to third in the driver standings and put Hendrick Motorsports within one victory of a major milestone.

The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet led a race-high 197 laps on his way to his 55th career Cup victory. With the win, Johnson ranks tied for eighth on the all-time list with Rusty Wallace. For Hendrick Motorsports, Johnson’s victory marked the 199th in the Sprint Cup Series. The organization ranks first in wins in the modern era and second all-time behind Petty Enterprises, which owns 268 victories.

Johnson lined up 19th for Sunday’s 267-lap event and took the lead shortly after the first caution-flag period on Lap 21. During the stop, Johnson took right-side tires and improved his position to pace the field. After a 20-lap segment, Johnson slipped to third, but maintained his presence in the top five. As the race unfolded, he stayed with the leaders, but had to survive several late-race restarts, including a final battle with Kasey Kahne. Johnson got a good restart and held off Kahne for the final lap to win.

“We’ve got a very strong group of guys, and we’ve been knocking on the door all year long,” said Johnson, who now has two wins this season and his first as he chases his sixth straight Cup championship. “We’ve gotten beaten some, and we’ve beaten ourselves. I’ve got to thank Lowe’s for their support and congratulate Mr. Hendrick on his 199th Cup win, as well as Chevy on winning the Manufacturer Cup. We did our part today, and we’ll just see if we can do it six more times.”

Johnson’s win is one of five that Hendrick Motorsports has contributed to the 14 that Chevrolet has recorded this season. This is the 35th season in which Chevy has won the Manufacturer’s Cup.

Mark Martin joined Johnson inside the top 10 after a day in which he worked with his team to finetune the handling of the No. 5 CARQUEST Auto Parts/GoDaddy.com Chevrolet. Martin lined up ninth, but struggled to find the right balance early for his No. 5 Chevy. He improved his running position early in the race thanks to pit strategy. He took two tires only during the second caution period on Lap 85, and he improved 13 spots after the pit stop to line up inside the top 10 with his teammates Johnson and Gordon. But handling remained an issue, and Martin worked with his team for the fix. He crossed the finish line 10th and ranks 17th in the standings.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. drove his No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet from his 18th starting position to run inside the top 10 within the first 100 laps of the race. Earnhardt, who ran inside the top 15, was 12th on Lap 263. When the field lined up for the green-white-checkered flag restart, Earnhardt held on for the 14th-place finish. He improves one spot in the driver standings to ninth with six races remaining in the postseason.

“We had a pretty tight car when the race started,” Earnhardt said. “And then there was a run in the middle of the race where I couldn’t have asked for the car to be any better. It was really fast. And near the end there we just had a lot of cautions and a lot of traffic and my car was real tight. In that dirty air, we just couldn’t get anything done. But I was better than we were last time here. We’ve just got to gain a little bit more on it. We’re getting there.”

Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, lined up 10th and ran as high as second during Sunday’s race. Gordon led once for two laps and appeared poised for a solid top-five finish and a boost in the championship standings when engine issues arose. Gordon’s engine expired with just three laps remaining, setting up a green-white-checkered finish for the field. He was scored with a 34th-place finish and now ranks 10th in the standings.

“It was a sequence of crazy events for us,” Gordon said. “The day was going really well. I’m really proud of this team, and I’ve got to thank DuPont, Drive to End Hunger and all of our other partners on board. It was a heck of a performance for Quaker State motor oil today because I didn’t think it would last as long as it did. I knew it was just a matter of time, but to last that long is pretty amazing. On the restart, Tony Stewart took me three-wide down the apron and we were on old tires, and that ruined out day right there. But he had to do what he had to do. It messed us up, but right after that we started to get smoke. We thought it was tire smoke, but it wasn’t. It was under the hood, and that obviously ended our day.”

10.24.2011

JOHNSON SECOND AT DOVER, IMPROVES TO FIFTH IN STANDINGS

JOHNSON SECOND AT DOVER, IMPROVES TO FIFTH IN STANDINGS

DOVER, Del. – Spinning his tires on the final restart might have cost Jimmie Johnson his seventh victory at Dover International Speedway, but it didn’t hurt his run for a sixth straight NASCAR Sprint Cup championship.

The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s/KOBALT Tools Chevrolet had led a race-high 157 laps coming into the final restart at Dover’s one-mile concrete oval. He lined up on the front row with Kurt Busch and spun the tires slightly, giving Busch the edge. Johnson crossed the finish line second, improving five spots in the championship standings to fifth.

“I just got a poor restart when I was the leader, and for the last restart, I didn’t get a good one again,” Johnson said. “I couldn’t race (Busch) through Turns 1 and 2. The cars were very equal. We saw that.

“This finish gets us right back in the thick of things,” Johnson added. “I think a lot of people overreacted last week about an 18th place finish (at New Hampshire). But this is a great race team. We proved that today.” Johnson’s teammates rounded out the top 24 and worked to overcome issues of their own during the 400-lap event.

Jeff Gordon improved from his 34th starting spot to run 19th within the first 33 laps. His team continually addressed handling issues that Gordon experienced with his No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet. While navigating the rubber buildup on the track was tricky, restarts also proved difficult. Gordon held on to finish 12th and now ranks ninth in the driver standings.

Restarts have “been a struggle for us here at this track this year,” Gordon said. “It’s like there’s no air in the front tires for the first eight laps so we don’t have any speed to take off. Once we get going, we have a great race car. We started off good and worked our way forward pretty quick from that 34th position, but once we got up there, I made some mistakes today and we just didn’t have it on the restarts. But other than that, we had great fight in this race team. I’m proud of that. But we’ve got to do better.

“I can’t wait to get (to Kansas). If we can run the way we ran there earlier in the year, we’ll make up a lot of positions we lost today.”

Mark Martin, driver of the No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, crossed the finish line 19th. Martin ran as high as ninth after starting the race in 17th, but maneuvering around the rubber buildup was tough, especially in traffic, and Martin battled for position. He remains 16th in the standings.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 24th in his No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet after a day filled with rare mechanical issues. With help from his No. 88 team, Earnhardt rallied early from a roll bar issue and then a broken right sway bar arm. As the race progressed, Earnhardt’s No. 88 Chevrolet developed a vibration that his team would address throughout the remainder of the race. Earnhardt now ranks 10th in the driver standings.

SEPTEMBER

9.30.2011

GORDON FINISHES FOURTH AT NEW HAMPSHIRE

GORDON FINISHES FOURTH AT NEW HAMPSHIRE

LOUDON, N.H. – Jeff Gordon led a race-high 78 laps during Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and held on for the fourth-place finish. Fuel and tire issues came into play as his teammates followed inside the top 24 - Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 17th, while Jimmie Johnson took 18th and Mark Martin was scored 24th.

 The Hendrick Motorsports teammates spent most of Sunday’s race running inside the top 15. Gordon, Martin and Johnson led at least one lap during the race.

Gordon, who started seventh in his No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, claimed the top spot by Lap 63 and ultimately led three times for a race-high 78 laps. Gordon was leading the field when his teammate Earnhardt encountered a flat tire on Lap 228. Gordon coasted onto pit road, and experienced an issue when his No. 24 Chevy wouldn’t restart after running out of fuel. With fresh tires and fuel, he returned to the track and began his forward march. The lengthy stop didn’t appear to hurt Gordon, and he ran as high as third before crew chief Alan Gustafson alerted his driver that he should save fuel. Gustafson informed Gordon that the team wasn’t able to put as much fuel in as hoped during the stop. Gordon held on and crossed the finish line fourth. Gordon now ranks fifth in championship standings.

“We got back out there and once I got behind guys like Tony (Stewart, race winner), I was really just too tight to pass them anyway,” Gordon said. “But I wasn’t expecting to have to conserve as much fuel as we did. We didn’t need to take any chances like we did last week at Chicago. All we can do is look at the good side and that is we made gains in the points.”

Earnhardt’s flat tire affected an otherwise strong day for the driver of the No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard Chevrolet. Earnhardt, who started 12th, already had rallied from being a lap down during the early part of the race. Earnhardt was caught on pit road when the caution flag was waved on Lap 156. Earnhardt improved to run 13th by Lap 184 and was doing his best to pass on the New Hampshire short track. But with 72 laps left in Sunday’s event, the front-right tire on the No. 88 Chevy went flat. Earnhardt made his way down pit road for fresh tires and fuel. He returned to the track and improved from his spot deep in the field to cross the finish line 17th, albeit with another flat right-front tire.

“We had a great car,” said Earnhardt, who ranks eighth in the driver standings. “We just had a flat tire with about 100 laps to go and then we had another flat tire right there at the end – just too much camber. We had a little too much camber, getting a little too much travel, and the track did tighten up there at the end. It’s a shame. I’m frustrated because I want to win a race. I’d like to win the Chase (for the NASCAR Sprint Cup), but I want to win a race, and we had a good enough car to do that today.”

Track position also affected Johnson during Sunday’s race. The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet started 10th, but hovered around 15th for the majority of the day, encountering contact with several competitors during the day. Johnson picked up a bonus point by leading one lap – Lap 238 – when the field was pitting under green-flag conditions. The five-time defending Cup champion now ranks 10th in the standings.

“Today we just didn’t have the speed, and track position was so important,” Johnson said. “We’ll take this one on the chin and go on to the next one. You gotta take every race as they come. Anything can happen, but days like today aren’t what you hope for, that’s for sure.”

Martin, driver of the No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, paced some of the fastest laps on Sunday and improved from his 21st starting spot to take the lead after some realy pit strategy. The caution flag waved on Lap 87, and the No. 5 team opted not to pit to improve its track position. Martin maintained the lead for 46 laps before slipping through the field. He crossed the finish line 24th and ranks 16th in the driver standings.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series next will compete at Dover (Del.) International Speedway on Sunday.

9.30.2011

EARNHARDT THIRD, TEAMMATES IN TOP 24 AT CHICAGOLAND

EARNHARDT THIRD, TEAMMATES IN TOP 24 AT CHICAGOLAND

JOLIET, Ill. – Dale Earnhardt Jr. managed fuel use in his No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet and claimed a third-place finish in the opening race of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup on Monday at Chicagoland Speedway. Earnhardt was followed across the finish line by Mark Martin in ninth, Jimmie Johnson in 10th and Jeff Gordon in 24th.

Earnhardt, who started the day 19th in the lineup, pitted for fuel only when the last caution of the day was brought out on Lap 213. With just 50 laps to go on the restart, the driver of the No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet began his charge to the front of the field. Earnhardt climbed into the top-10 with 37 laps to go in the 400-mile event and still was able to conserve enough fuel to take third-place as most of the front-runners ran out of fuel on the final lap. Earnhardt’s strong finish moved him to fifth in the driver standings.

“We worked real hard all weekend trying to be smart,” Earnhardt said. “The car was a bit of a struggle in the middle part of the race, but in that last run we were one of the best cars on the track. My guys had great pit stops and worked really hard trying to get better so I really have to thank those guys for what they got us today. We had a good car, and we were just real smart all weekend and did a good job. I am real happy with the team.”

Martin took ninth-place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup event after starting the day 25th on the grid. The driver of the No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet called for more grip, a tighter car and an air pressure adjustment early on to help him gain track position. After the pit crew made adjustments during the first few pit stops, Martin was posting the fastest speeds on the track. Martin broke into the top 10 on Lap 185 and held on to cross the finish line just ahead of Johnson as the driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s/KOBALT Tools Chevrolet began slowing down on the final lap.

Johnson started 12th and was running fifth by Lap 80. Johnson closed in on then-leader Ryan Newman to take first-place on Lap 163 and create a 3.6 second lead on second-place. Johnson led 39 laps before the final caution. Johnson was fourth on the final restart, but was unable to conserve enough fuel and slowed down for a 10th-place finish on the final lap. Johnson currently ranks eighth in the driver standings.

Gordon battled handling issues throughout the day but managed to come back from being two laps down early in the Cup event. The driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet was urged by crew chief Alan Gustafson to conserve fuel after Gordon restarted 12th with 50 laps to go, but on the last half of the final lap ran out of gas to cross the finish line 24th. Gordon moved to 11th in the driver standings.

Hendrick Motorsports team heads to New Hampshire International Speedway next Sunday for the second Chase event.

9.8.2011

GORDON WINS AT ATLANTA

GORDON WINS AT ATLANTA

Jeff Gordon Earns 85th Career Cup Victory
HAMPTON, Ga. – Jeff Gordon overcame a late-race tire vibration and held off a hard-charging Jimmie Johnson to score the win on Tuesday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. With the victory, Gordon now owns 85 career NASCAR Sprint Cup victories and ranks third on the all-time win list.
Gordon’s victory – his third of the 2011 Cup season –assures his spot in the top-10 for the upcoming Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and moves Hendrick Motorsports closer to the 200-win milestone. The organization now owns 198 Cup victories and ranks first in NASCAR’s modern era for wins and second all-time behind Petty Enterprises, which has 268 victories.
“I think this is turning out to be a great year,” said Gordon, who led a race-high 146 laps on Tuesday and now ranks fifth in the driver standings. “Alan (Gustafson, crew chief), all our engineers and the guys that work so hard, the awesome pit crew—those last two stops were just money, and we’re having a lot of fun right now. When you can drive a race car that drives like that one, it makes me look like a hero, but they’re the heroes in my mind.
“Eighty-five (wins). Wow. That is unbelievable. I’m just blown away at the kind of day we had, the kind of year we’re having. I just feel rejuvenated in such a big way because of this race team, and these race cars I get to drive. Man. Eighty-five. I can’t wait to get home and celebrate with these guys.”
The Cup event at Atlanta was rescheduled from Sunday to Tuesday after inclement weather permeated the area. When the green flag finally fell, all four Hendrick Motorsports teams went through various handling adjustments to perfect their Chevrolets and each ultimately finished inside the top 19. Gordon went to Victory Lane, while his teammates Johnson took second, Mark Martin 17th and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 19th.
Gordon opened Tuesday’s race from the fifth position and claimed the lead within the first 46 laps. He led five times for 98 laps within the first 162 circuits. But as the race unfolded, the handling of Gordon’s Chevy went away and the team worked to make the proper adjustments. He lined up next to Johnson during the final 85 laps on the second row and battled fiercely inside the top five. Gordon rattled off some of the fastest lap times during the closing segments of the race and eventually took the lead back from Johnson with 50 laps to go when he developed a vibration in his No. 24 Chevy.
Gustafson negotiated with Gordon when he reported the issue and asked his driver to wait 10 laps before pitting. While Gordon was battling his vibration, Johnson opted to hit pit road and take four tires and fuel. Gordon followed suit on the next circuit, getting his No. 24 Chevrolet serviced for the final green-flag run. Gordon barely slipped by Johnson after the pit stop and returned among the leaders. Within the next laps, Gordon was leading the field. He held on coming to the white flag with Johnson fast approaching.
Johnson took runner-up honors and now becomes the leader in the driver standings, but he was shaking from the adrenaline rush when he exited his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet on Tuesday.
“I’m so glad I grew up racing in the dirt,” Johnson said. “If I didn’t grow up racing around all these deserts and dirt tracks, I think I would have spun out four or five times at the end. Great effort for this Lowe’s team. We started off the race really bad, but we kept working on it. I’m very happy for Hendrick Motorsports.”
Martin and Earnhardt’s teams also worked on their Chevrolets throughout the race, improving dramatically from their starting spots. Martin lined up his No. 5 CARQUEST Auto Parts/GoDaddy.com Chevrolet in 32nd and improved to cross the finish line 17th. He ranks 19th in the driver standings.
Earnhardt, driver of the No. 88 National Guard Military Intelligence/AMP Energy Chevrolet, scored 19th after lining up 29th for Tuesday’s race. He remains ninth in the standings, poised for a spot inside this year’s Chase. One race remains—Saturday night’s run at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway—before the field is finally set. 

9.8.2011

JEFF GORDON BRINGS HOME A THIRD-PLACE FINISH IN BRISTOL

JEFF GORDON BRINGS HOME A THIRD-PLACE FINISH IN BRISTOL

Fellow Hendrick Driver Jimmie Johnson finishes Fourth on Saturday Night
BRISTOL, Tenn. – Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson finished inside the top four during Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Bristol Motor Speedway, while Dale Earnhardt Jr. crossed the finish line 16th. Mark Martin was scored with the 38th-place finish.
With the fourth-place finish, Johnson, the five-time defending champion, locks up his spot inside the upcoming Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Gordon lined up his No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet from the fourth position and held steady among the leaders for the majority of the race. Gordon led a race-high 206 laps and was in a position to pick up his sixth career victory at the short track when the caution flag was issued with just 87 laps to go. Despite an efficient four-tire stop, Gordon lost spots on pit road and wound up battling Johnson inside the top five on the ensuing restart. Gordon finished third.
“Man, me and Matt (Kenseth) and Jimmie (Johnson) fought for third and fourth position, and we used up a lot of our stuff,” Gordon said. “Brad (Keselowski, race winner) was able to go out there and cruise.
“We just didn’t get it done on the racetrack. We had a great battle, heck of a race car, led a lot of laps. Brad did a great job, and Matt did a great job to hold me off there. We had a great Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, I’m proud of our guys, and I can’t wait to go to Atlanta (Motor Speedway).”
Johnson, who quickly improved from his 13th-starting spot, ran among the top five and led 76 laps early in the race. He maintained his position within the top 10 and battled with Gordon and Kenseth in the closing laps to finish fourth. He is tied with Kyle Busch for first in points, and ranks second currently in the standings.
“We had a very solid night all night long,” Johnson said. “I’m just proud of the effort and the way we’ve been building all season long to get ourselves ready for the Chase (for the NASCAR Sprint Cup). We’re getting close.
“Very excited to be locked up there with Kyle (Busch) in the points. We’ll go to these next two (races) and see if we can’t get the W.”
Earnhardt, driver of the No. 88 AMP Energy/Bristol 50th Anniversary/National Guard Chevrolet, remains ninth in the standings after finishing Saturday’s race in 16th. There are two races before the final field is set for the 2011 Chase. During Saturday’s race, Earnhardt improved from his 22nd starting spot to run inside the top 15 as his team worked out a handling issue on the No. 88 Chevy.
“Well, we struggled all night, really, trying to get a good car,” Earnhardt said. “Trying to get a good car; trying to get the car to drive. We just couldn’t really get a good balance all night. The balance was decent on the car, but we were just slow, we didn’t have enough grip. Just sliding around a whole lot. Thankful to finish where we finished.”
Martin lined up his No. 5 Farmers Insurance/GoDaddy.com Chevrolet in the fifth position, but struggled to maintain that track position. On Lap 360, though, Martin was racing for position when he slipped up the racetrack and made contact with the No. 83. Martin’s No. 5 Chevrolet ricocheted off the infield wall, and his team worked hard to repair the damage. Martin finished 38th and now ranks 19th in the standings. He is 10th in the wild card standings, 77 points outside of 10th-place.
“I just want to thank all my crew guys, they gave me a really good race car tonight,” Martin said. “Our Farmers Insurance Chevrolet was better than we looked out there. We got stuck in the field without track position and tried to make our way back through. Unfortunately, when we were making our come back, we got tagged from behind. Once you make contact with that inside wall, it is hard to recover from. Good job by all the guys tonight and we’ll just go on from here.”

9.8.2011

MARTIN SCORES A TOP-10 FINISH AT MICHIGAN

MARTIN SCORES A TOP-10 FINISH AT MICHIGAN

Gordon and Earnhardt finish in the top 21
BROOKLYN, Mich. (June 19, 2011) – Mark Martin was the top finisher among his Hendrick Motorsports teammates with a ninth-place finish for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Michigan International Speedway. 
Martin, driver of the No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, started the Cup event in the 19th position and battled his way in to the top-10 by Lap 100. With his ninth-place finish at Michigan, Martin now owns the most top-10s (30) at the two-mile track. He currently is ranked 14th in the championship standings.
“Our car was much better today,” Martin said. “We had a pretty good run. I think we can take it and kind of build on that going forward. It was a good day for us after what we have been having happen.”
Jeff Gordon, who rolled off the grid 31st, worked his way inside the top-10 by Lap 163. When the race saw its last caution at Lap 192, Gordon came in for four tires and fuel. Gordon was 12th at the restart on Lap 195, but he fell back a couple positions in the final laps and finished 17th. The driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet now is ranked 12th in the championship standings.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet, finished 21st at Michigan. With 15 laps to go, Earnhardt was attempting to pass teammate Martin when the No. 5 Chevrolet became loose. In an effort to avoid contact with Martin, Earnhardt was forced to slow down, thus, causing him to brush the wall. Several laps later, Earnhardt’s No. 88 Chevrolet made contact with the wall once again after a tire cut. As a result, this brought out the last caution on Lap 192. Crew chief Steve Letarte called him in to the pits for fuel and four tires. Earnhardt, who was 19th at the restart, went on to finish the event 21st. He remains third in the championship standings.
“I never gave up,” Earnhardt said. “Even at the end when the car was beat, we still wanted to try to get what we could at the end of the race. We tried to get as many spots as we can. Every point is a big deal out there.”
Jimmie Johnson, who started the race 21st, brought out the first caution on Lap 9 when he spun on the backstretch. The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s/KOBALT Tools Chevrolet battled hard all day to work his way through the field. When the checkered flag waved on Lap 200, Johnson was 27th. He now is fifth in the championship standings.
“It was a tough day,” Johnson said. “We got turned around early and ground the sway bar off the right front. We lost a couple laps from that, and we were just kind of in a hole at that point and couldn’t get caught back up. It’s just part of it.”

AUGUST

8.17.2011

JIMMIE JOHNSON SCORED A TOP-10 FINISH AT WATKINS GLEN

JIMMIE JOHNSON SCORED A TOP-10 FINISH AT WATKINS GLEN

Hendrick teammates survive last-lap incidents, finish in top 25
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. Hendrick Motorsports teammates slipped by several hard-wrecking competitors during the final lap of Monday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event to post finishes inside the top 25. The race was rescheduled for Monday after rain showers permeated the 2.45-mile road course on Sunday.
Jimmie Johnson finished 10th, while Jeff Gordon was scored 13th. Dale Earnhardt Jr. took 15th and Mark Martin crossed the line in 25th.
When the green flag dropped, Johnson was lined up fourth in front of his Hendrick Motorsports teammates Gordon (17th), Martin (22nd) and Earnhardt (25th). The four teams worked through various handling issues as the early part of the race unfolded. Gordon led twice for six laps, and Johnson paced the field for one lap during the first 67 circuits.
Earnhardt dramatically improved his track position after pitting under green-flag conditions on Lap 28. Just as Earnhardt drove his No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet down pit road, the caution flag was issued for a stalled No. 16 car on the racetrack. Earnhardt made his stop and was able to rejoin the field without being penalized. He was running fifth when the race resumed.
Martin dealt with a loose-handling condition during Monday’s race. He ran as high as 16th, but required a lengthy pit stop with only 28 laps to go that cost him track position. He earned the Lucky Dog pass and returned to the lead lap three circuits later after the No. 11 slammed into the tire barrier, bringing out the third caution of the afternoon.
Johnson had the fortune of pitting just prior to that incident, but the ensuing caution flag also affected Gordon, who was scheduled to stop for tires and fuel during that time. While the move affected Gordon’s running position, and dropped him in the field, it didn’t affect his momentum. Gordon told his team during the stop that his No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet was handling well and he was having fun.
“We had an awesome race car right from the beginning,” said Gordon, who ranks seventh in the driver standings. “We drove up through there a little bit and then we got some track position, and we were able to stay up there with the leaders. I feel like we were a few adjustments away, I don’t know from a winning car, but definitely from a really good race car. Then the caution came out and caught us. We fell back to 21st and drove our way back up.”
Within 10 laps of the restart, Gordon had improved eight positions and was running inside the top 13 with Johnson, who kept his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet inside the top 10 for the majority of the day. As the race wound down,  Johnson and Gordon were focused on solid finishes when an accident occurred in Turn 2. The Hendrick Motorsports teammates narrowly missed the Nos. 6 as it made contact with the No. 00. Johnson held on to earn the 10th-place finish, his 14th top-10 of the season. He ranks third in the driver standings.
Gordon crossed the line behind him in 13th.
Earnhardt picked up eight positions during the last three laps, driving his No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet into the 14th position for the final lap. He side-stepped a spinning No. 14 car to ultimately take the 15th-place finish and improve to ninth in the driver standings.
“I had a really good car today, and the guys just send great race cars down the road, and I try to take care of them,” Earnhardt said. “I think we’re a good enough team to make the Chase.”
Martin encountered another wreck that involved the No. 51 car as he was entering the final lap. Martin steered his No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet as cleanly as he could, but couldn’t escape the competitor that made contact with his right-rear quarter panel. Martin finished 25th and ranks 18th in the driver standings.

8.8.2011

JIMMIE JOHNSON SCORES FOURTH-PLACE FINISH AT POCONO

JIMMIE JOHNSON SCORES FOURTH-PLACE FINISH AT POCONO

Hendrick teammates finish inside top 13
LONG POND, Pa. – With another NASCAR Sprint Cup victory in sight, Jimmie Johnson lined up fourth for the final restart at Pocono Raceway on Sunday and powered his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet to the front of the field with 16 laps to go. But Johnson was unable to improve his position, and he went on to pick up his eighth top-five finish of the season.
Johnson was joined inside the top 13 by his teammates Jeff Gordon (sixth), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (ninth) and Mark Martin (13th) at the 2.5-mile Tricky Triangle. As Sunday’s race unfolded, the Hendrick drivers worked with their teams to overcome deep starting spots and various handling issues.
Improving as many as 22 spots during that first segment, the quartet was running inside the top 10 when rain showers briefly halted racing action on Lap 125. When rain settled into the area, Johnson was running second, Earnhardt was fifth, Gordon was sixth and Martin was holding steady in the ninth position. After a 100-minute red-flag period, the Hendrick teammates returned to racing action.
Johnson, who improved from his 19th starting spot to run third by Lap 106, debated shifting strategy with crew chief Chad Knaus throughout Sunday’s event. After the red flag was lifted and racing resumed on Lap 132, Johnson encountered a vibration that his team appeared to correct during the final pit stop roughly 50 laps laps later. He returned for the final restart and battled for the lead, ultimately crossing the finish line fourth after battling with Kurt Busch down the stretch. Johnson remains second in the driver standings.
Gordon started 31st in Sunday’s 500-mile event at Pocono and worked with his team to overcome a handling issue early on the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet. Once the issue was resolved, Gordon slipped through the field, improving 22 spots inside the first 110 laps. Gordon, a five-time race winner at Pocono, moved into sixth and maintained that position after racing action resumed on Lap 132. Gordon remains seventh in the driver standings.
Earnhardt steered his No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet into the sixth spot within the first 27 laps, improving 11 spots from his starting position. He worked with his No. 88 team to overcome a loose-handling issue during the first 100 laps, and was running relatively issue-free during the final 72-lap segment. Earnhardt finished ninth, picking up his ninth top-10 finish of the season. He remains 10th in the driver standings.
Martin improved 10 positions during the first 99 laps to run 15th in his No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet. Two laps later, Martin was running 14th on his way to joining his teammates inside the top 10. He was scored ninth when the red flag was issued 24 laps later. Martin battled through the field during the final 72 laps, and slipped by the No. 31 during the final four laps to finish 13th and improve three spots in the championship standings. He now ranks 15th.
 

8.1.2011

MENARD MAKES HISTORY WITH WIN IN FAMED BRICKYARD 400

MENARD MAKES HISTORY WITH WIN IN FAMED BRICKYARD 400

INDIANAPOLIS - Paul Menard made history following the No. 27 Nibco/Menards Chevrolet team's gutsy call to gamble on fuel mileage, becoming the first driver to earn his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career win at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
 After starting from the 15th position in the famed Brickyard 400, the Richard Childress Racing driver went to work, remaining in and around the top 15 until a tire got loose during a lap-51 pit stop and he was assessed a penalty that sent him to the end of the longest line on the ensuing restart.
Never giving up, Menard worked his way to the front, leading lap 83 before coming in for service as the field cycled through green-flag pit stops. The Slugger Labbe-led team performed flawlessly, changing four tires and making chassis adjustments to combat the loose-off and tight in the center conditions, and packing the Chevrolet Impala full of Sunoco fuel.
Buried in the back of the field, Labbe made the call to stay out during the lap-94 caution period for debris. With most cars behind the No. 27 Chevrolet only taking two tires, Labbe was confident that Menard could remain up front. Restarting from the cat bird seat, he kept the Nibco/Menards Chevrolet in the top five until the next caution period on lap 114.
With the car well-balanced, Labbe called for four tires and no adjustments when Menard returned to pit road. Shortly after restarting 13th, a scary moment occurred on lap 120 as a car in front of the bright yellow machine spun on the track, causing the Eau Claire, Wisc., native to drive through the grass to avoid contact. While under caution once again, Labbe and Menard discussed their options and ultimately decided, "in some cases, you have to gamble to win." On lap 123, Menard brought the No. 27 Impala to pit road for two tires and fuel, and with one lap to go before the restart, Labbe called him to pit road for a final visit to top off the tank on lap 125.
Menard restarted 16th and as the field cycled through green-flag pit stops, he remained on the track and took the lead with 15 laps remaining in the 160-lap event. Carefully conserving fuel, the 30-year-old driver forfeited the top spot on lap 151, but when Labbe gave him the go ahead to make the charge, Menard regained the lead and took the checkered flag to claim his first career NSCS victory.
It was an emotional victory for Menard, whose family has had a presence at the famed Indianapolis, Ind.-based facility for 35 years. Despite a number of IndyCar championships as a team owner, it was son Paul who delivered John Menard his first trip to kneel and kiss the famous yard of bricks.
With his win, the younger Menard moves to 14th in the NSCS championship point standings, where he is in contention for a wild-card berth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, while also becoming the first driver to be eligible for the Sprint Summer Showdown $3 million payout. 
"I'm just running through a lot of emotions right now,” said Menard. “You know, I've been coming here (to Indianapolis Motor Speedway) since I was a kid and my Dad has been trying to win here for 35 years, so this is for my Dad. Slugger Labbe (crew chief) and all of these guys just do a hell of a job. I can't believe we won Indy. This is the one I wanted to win. My family, my Dad has had IndyCars here since the late 70s, 35 years or so. For 35 years he's been trying, so giving him his first win here after all those years of trying is pretty special. I can't wait to get out there and kiss the bricks. We're the inaugural Sprint Summer Shootout winner, too, which is cool. Man, its Indy!
 "I was saving a little bit (of fuel) and maintaining with the Nos. 5 and 1 cars and I started backing up a little bit more and they kind of kept backing up with me,” continued Menard. “I knew that we saved plenty of fuel and was more worried about the guys that pitted for fuel and coming hard. Slugger had told me where Jeff (Gordon) was and how fast he was coming. I was afraid he would catch me, but I knew there was no way I was going to let him pass me. The Menards Chevrolet was really good and clean air was so important.
"I didn't even see the checkered flag because I was hoping we weren't going to run out of fuel and kept checking the fuel pressure gauge,” the first-time Sprint Cup Series winner added. “ECR gave us great horsepower and great mileage. Everybody at RCR builds awesome race cars. It is a thrill to drive for Richard Childress."

8.1.2011

GORDON FINISHES SECOND AT THE BRICKYARD

GORDON FINISHES SECOND AT THE BRICKYARD

Hendrick Teammates in top 19 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

INDIANAPOLIS – Jeff Gordon earned his second runner-up finish of the 2011 season during Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. All four Hendrick Motorsports drivers ran up front during the 160-lap event, but in the end it came down to Gordon and Mark Martin, who were running in the top three.

Gordon, who now owns 10 top-five finishes at the 2.5-mile track, spent the majority of the day running in the front of the pack. Just six laps into the 400-mile event, the driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet started his charge for the lead. Gordon jumped between the first and second position throughout the majority of the race and led a total of 36 laps.

On Lap 135, Gordon pitted for two tires and fuel as the race came down to fuel-mileage strategy. With five laps to go Gordon again made his charge to the front, passing teammate Mark Martin and finishing second behind Paul Menard. Gordon, who holds the records for most wins (four), most top-five finishes and most top-10s (14) at Indianapolis, remains seventh in the championship standings. 

Mark Martin, driver of the No. 5 Quaker State/GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, started 12th and finished eighth during Sunday’s Cup event. Martin, who currently owns 11 top-10 finishes at the super speedway, was running fifth with 25 laps to go; 10 laps later the veteran driver made it to third-place and battled for the lead. Martin, the only Hendrick Motorsports driver who elected to not pit under green flag, was passed by Gordon and ran out of fuel coming into turn three on the final lap.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson came down pit road with less than 30 laps to go. Both drivers received fuel; Johnson took four tires and Earnhardt took only two. The Hendrick Motorsports drivers were held off by the front of the field that did not pit and were unable to advance to the front of the pack where they had spent the majority of the day. 

Earnhardt, who led seven laps, finished 16th in his No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet. Earnhardt struggled to regain track position after pitting on Lap 130 and moves to 10th in the championship standings. 

Johnson started the day third and led one lap at the legendary track, but finished the day 19th after he was held off by traffic leaving his last pit stop. The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s/KOBALT Tools Chevrolet remains second in the championship standings after his 10th start at Indianapolis.

 

JULY

7.18.2011

JIMMIE JOHNSON TAKES FIFTH PLACE IN NEW HAMPSHIRE

JIMMIE JOHNSON TAKES FIFTH PLACE IN NEW HAMPSHIRE

Hendrick Teammates Finish in the Top 22
LOUDON, N.H. – Hendrick Motorsports teammates overcame several setbacks during Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway to finish inside the top 22. Jimmie Johnson recorded the highest finish with a fifth-place result – his seventh of the season – and improves to second in the driver standings.
Johnson drove his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet from his 28th starting spot to take the lead within the first 110 laps. He led 19 laps at this time. Johnson held steady throughout the race, but suffered a spin on Lap 240, when he saved his No. 48 Chevy from hitting the wall. The No. 48 team replaced Johnson’s tires and sent him back onto the track, where he climbed back into the top-five.
Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, challenged for the lead in the closing laps and crossed the finish line 11th. Midway through the race, Gordon picked up the lead and paced the field for 19 laps before a battery issue arose. He pitted and the No. 24 team quickly made the switch. Gordon returned to the field and returned to the lead lap shortly thereafter. As the race wound down, Gordon improved to run inside the top three and he crossed the finish line 11th. He ranks seventh in the driver standings.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. suffered a tire issue within the first 50 laps and his team worked to fix the damage during an ensuing pit stop. Throughout the race, the driver of the No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet, improved into the top 12 by Lap 225. Almost 20 laps later, Earnhardt pitted under the caution period thrown for Johnson’s spin. His team suffered a tire violation during the stop, and he was required to complete a pass-through penalty that sent him to the end of the field. Earnhardt worked his way through the field to finish 15th. He ranks ninth in the driver standings.
Martin lined up 24th for Sunday’s race and took the lead within the first 62 laps. He led three laps before competitors with fresher tires slipped by him. Martin was running around the top 10 when he was involved in a spin in Turn 2 on Lap 184. After his team worked on the No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, Martin returned to the field, where he improved to finish 22nd. He ranks 20th in the driver standings.
 

7.11.2011

JOHNSON, GORDON FINISH IN TOP 10 AT KENTUCKY

JOHNSON, GORDON FINISH IN TOP 10 AT KENTUCKY

Earnhardt Suffers Blown Tire Late in Race
SPARTA, Ky. - There were three laps left in Saturday’s inaugural Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway when Jimmie Johnson lined up next to Kyle Busch on the front row for the final restart. The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet had a strong restart, but couldn’t pick up enough speed to get past eventual winner Busch. Johnson crossed the finish line third to pick up his sixth top-five finish of the year and lead his Hendrick Motorsports teammates, who rounded out the top 30.
“It was a great night for the Lowe’s Chevrolet,” said Johnson, who improves to fifth in the driver standings. “We had a solid race car, drove up through the field a few times and raced for the win. The (No.) 18 was a bit better than us when we were on similar tires. The restart went good for me. If I could have stayed next to him coming off (Turn) 3 and going into (Turn) 4, I think I would have had a better shot at the win.”
Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event marked the first for the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway, and the Hendrick teammates entered the race with notes from Thursday’s test session and Friday’s solo practice run. That practice session also turned out to be the one that determined Saturday’s starting lineup after rain showers canceled Friday’s qualifying.
Jeff Gordon joined Johnson in the top 10 on Saturday with a 10th-place finish. Capitalizing on pit strategy, Gordon and the No. 24 team improved from running a lap down early in the race to return to the top 15. Gordon improved his position in the closing laps to pick up his eighth top-10 finish of the season. He now ranks seventh in the driver standings.
Like Gordon, Mark Martin recovered from running a lap down early in the race to finish 22nd. He lined up 28th and worked with his team on the No. 5 Quaker State/GoDaddy.com Chevrolet throughout the race. Martin now ranks 19th in the driver standings.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s day was going well as he rallied from his 29th-place starting spot to run inside the top 10 in the final 20 laps. Earnhardt drove his No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard Chevrolet onto pit road with 15 laps left in the race for a splash of fuel. Disappointment struck when he left pit road, though, and he blew his left-front tire. Earnhardt returned to pit road for new tires and finished the race 30th. He now ranks eighth in the driver standings.

7.4.2011

GORDON SCORES SIXTH AMIDST DAYTONA FIREWORKS

GORDON SCORES SIXTH AMIDST DAYTONA FIREWORKS

Other Hendrick Cars Find Trouble in the Closing Laps
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Teamwork yet again was the theme for Hendrick Motorsports as the organization attempted to collect its second straight superspeedway victory of the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, this time at Daytona International Speedway.
Saturday’s Cup event at Daytona opened in similar fashion to the team’s success on April 17 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. At Talladega, the Hendrick teammates lined up inside the top four and went on to finish inside the top eight. Jimmie Johnson was the winner that day, thanks to Dale Earnhardt Jr., who gave him a push in the final laps.
On Saturday, the Hendrick teammates again were sitting in good position. Mark Martin opened the race from the pole position, while his teammates rounded out the top eight. Within the first 25 laps, Martin, Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon combined to lead 17 laps. When the second caution period occurred on Lap 24, the Hendrick teammates opted to slip through the field where they could ride around patiently as the race unfolded. During this time, the crew chiefs and drivers worked out their strategy for the final push.
In a move reminiscent of the April 17 Cup event at Talladega, the Hendrick teammates began their strike with fewer than 30 laps remaining in the race. Drafting partners Martin and Gordon, Johnson and Earnhardt pitted for fresh tires, adjustments and fuel for the final charge. Each tandem set was ready for the late-race charge when they returned to the field.
With 10 laps left on the board, the Hendrick quartet went for it. Steadily they rallied their way around the track. On Lap 152, Gordon and Martin made a move for the bottom that improved their position into the top 14. One lap later, they were running inside the top 12. The tandem pair continually ticked through positions on the racetrack with each closing lap.
On Lap 157, Gordon and Martin moved to the outside and picked up ground to improve to the seventh and eighth positions, respectively. The duo continually battled their way through the field and was going three-wide into the corner when an incident unfolded. Contact with another competitor in Turn 4 sent Gordon spinning down the racetrack and jumbled up the field. Gordon’s crew repaired the No. 24 Pepsi MAX Chevrolet, and he returned to the track, where he eventually picked up the sixth-place finish.
After the caution period, the field reset for its first attempt at a green-white-checkered flag finish. Once the green flag was dropped, the field raced into action. Martin was running 10th at the time and was collected in a multi-car incident in Turn 1. Fifteen cars were involved in the accident that set up the field for a second attempt at a green-white checker.
This time, Earnhardt was running 11th. He improved to fourth, but couldn’t hold on when another 15-car wreck occurred in the tri-oval coming to the checkered flag. Earnhardt was collected along with Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Summer Salute Chevrolet. Earnhardt was scored 19th, and Johnson was given the 20th-place finish. Martin, driver of the No. 5 CARQUEST Auto Parts/GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, was credited with the 33rd-place finish.
After the race, Johnson ranks sixth in the driver standings, Earnhardt is seventh, Gordon is eighth and Martin is 18th.
 

JUNE

6.27.2011

GORDON TAKES THE RUNNER-UP SPOT IN SONOMA

GORDON TAKES THE RUNNER-UP SPOT IN SONOMA

Five-Time Champ Johnson also Finishes in Top 10 at the Road Course
SONOMA, Calif. – As the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event wound down Sunday afternoon at Infineon Raceway, Jeff Gordon was working his way through the field. Gordon improved 21 positions in the closing 40 laps to finish second at the 11-turn, 1.99-mile road course. Jimmie Johnson joined Gordon in the top 10 with a seventh-place finish, while Mark Martin took 19th and Dale Earnhardt Jr. was scored 41st.
Gordon, the all-time winner at the 1.99-mile road course, opened Sunday’s event from 13th in his No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet. He maintained his position inside the top 10 for the majority of the 110-lap race, occasionally slipping through the field during green-flag pit stops. His team continued to work on the No. 24 Chevy and propel Gordon through the field.
“It was as much a statement to ourselves as anybody else,” said Gordon, who now ranks ninth in the driver standings. “Great effort by this DuPont team, Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) and everybody else. We really missed the setup at the beginning of the race. I don’t know if the adjustments we made were that good or if the track position was just changing.
“We were fast. I think we were faster than the leader. That felt awesome to start there with old tires and work all that way into second. That was amazing.”
Track position and handling were two persistent issues most teams faced during Sunday’s race. Hendrick Motorsports’ teams worked diligently to dial in their Chevrolets. Johnson, who started 12th, was running inside the top 10 during the outset of the race. His No. 48 team worked on the Lowe’s/Jimmie Johnson Foundation Chevrolet to find the right combination. Johnson improved to finish seventh and now ranks third in the driver standings. Martin started 16th in his No. 5 Farmers Insurance/GoDaddy.com Chevrolet and held on to run in the top 25. He finished 19th and now ranks 14th in the driver standings.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. was scored with the 41st-place finish after being involved a mid-race accident that affected his No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet. Earnhardt, who started the race 18th, was running in that same position when two cars ahead of him made contact, triggering a spin in Turn 11 on Lap 38. With nowhere to go, Earnhardt made contact with the spinning competitor.
Earnhardt immediately attempted to return to the racetrack, but his fuel pressure and water temperatures were affected to the point where he had no choice but to retire to the garage.
“They had a big ol’ mess getting into (Turn) 11, and we jumped in there and got part of it and banged up the nose a little bit,” Earnhardt said afterward. “It knocked a hole in the radiator, and it ended up hurting the engine a little bit so I think the engine is done. It has a hole in the side of it so that usually isn’t good.
“It was a really rough race but it was fun though. It just sucks to be out this early.”
Earnhardt now is ranked seventh in the driver standings.

6.20.2011

MARTIN SCORES A TOP-10 FINISH AT MICHIGAN

MARTIN SCORES A TOP-10 FINISH AT MICHIGAN

Gordon and Earnhardt finish in the top 21
BROOKLYN, Mich. (June 19, 2011) – Mark Martin was the top finisher among his Hendrick Motorsports teammates with a ninth-place finish for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Michigan International Speedway. 
Martin, driver of the No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, started the Cup event in the 19th position and battled his way in to the top-10 by Lap 100. With his ninth-place finish at Michigan, Martin now owns the most top-10s (30) at the two-mile track. He currently is ranked 14th in the championship standings.
“Our car was much better today,” Martin said. “We had a pretty good run. I think we can take it and kind of build on that going forward. It was a good day for us after what we have been having happen.”
Jeff Gordon, who rolled off the grid 31st, worked his way inside the top-10 by Lap 163. When the race saw its last caution at Lap 192, Gordon came in for four tires and fuel. Gordon was 12th at the restart on Lap 195, but he fell back a couple positions in the final laps and finished 17th. The driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet now is ranked 12th in the championship standings.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet, finished 21st at Michigan. With 15 laps to go, Earnhardt was attempting to pass teammate Martin when the No. 5 Chevrolet became loose. In an effort to avoid contact with Martin, Earnhardt was forced to slow down, thus, causing him to brush the wall. Several laps later, Earnhardt’s No. 88 Chevrolet made contact with the wall once again after a tire cut. As a result, this brought out the last caution on Lap 192. Crew chief Steve Letarte called him in to the pits for fuel and four tires. Earnhardt, who was 19th at the restart, went on to finish the event 21st. He remains third in the championship standings.
“I never gave up,” Earnhardt said. “Even at the end when the car was beat, we still wanted to try to get what we could at the end of the race. We tried to get as many spots as we can. Every point is a big deal out there.”
Jimmie Johnson, who started the race 21st, brought out the first caution on Lap 9 when he spun on the backstretch. The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s/KOBALT Tools Chevrolet battled hard all day to work his way through the field. When the checkered flag waved on Lap 200, Johnson was 27th. He now is fifth in the championship standings.
“It was a tough day,” Johnson said. “We got turned around early and ground the sway bar off the right front. We lost a couple laps from that, and we were just kind of in a hole at that point and couldn’t get caught back up. It’s just part of it.”

6.13.2011

GORDON WINS AT POCONO

GORDON WINS AT POCONO

Hendrick Teammates in Top 18
LONG POND, Pa. - Jeff Gordon tied Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison for third on the all-time NASCAR Cup career win list as he picked up his 84th victory on Sunday at Pocono Raceway.
Gordon, who led the final 19 laps of the race, won his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event of the season, and his fifth overall at Pocono. Hendrick Motorsports now owns 197 wins in the Cup Series.
“I really have to thank (crew chief) Alan Gustafson and all the engineers on this DuPont Chevrolet,” Gordon said. “They just worked so hard to get me what I needed to go fast. They never lacked confidence in what I could do out there. That is so important and that is what makes it a winning effort like this. We just never gave up. Awesome race car. Awesome pit stops. To win at Pocono again and to do it in the fashion that we did it today, it’s just a great day.”
Gordon started third and after consistently running in the top-five the majority of the day, he took the lead on lap 160. Crew chief Alan Gustafson called Gordon in to the pits for their final scheduled stop on lap 177. After Gordon beat the No. 2 car off pit road, the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet eventually regained the lead when the current leader had to pit. Gordon remained in the lead and took the checkered flag on lap 200. 
Teammates Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Mark Martin rounded out the top 18, finishing fourth, sixth and 18th, respectively, at the 500-mile event.
Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, started the event 14th, led one lap and ran inside the top-five for the majority of the day. Johnson remains second in the championship standings, just six points behind leader Carl Edwards.
“I really thought I had a shot there on that restart at the end, but I kind of got stuck in the middle, lost a bunch of track position and just had to recover from that,” Johnson said. “But it was a great day today. I’m very happy to see the No. 24 (Jeff Gordon) in Victory Lane. Everybody at Hendrick Motorsports has been working very hard to make sure that the cars are getting speed in them and they’ve done that.”
After starting 21st, Earnhardt drove his way through the field and into the top-10 by lap 122. The driver of the No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet earned his eighth top-10 finish of the season and remains third in the championship standings, only 10 points behind leader Edwards.
“I’m real happy with where I finished,” Earnhardt said. “On the last restart of the race, we were 18th with 30 to go and we drove back up to sixth so I’m real happy about that. The car was pretty good. We struggled a little with the handling in the middle part of the race, but it was really good at the start and really good at the end. We had good speed all weekend, and hopefully when we come back we’ll have good balance again.”
Martin, driver of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance/GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, started the event 10th and finished 18th after battling several handing issues throughout the day. Martin now ranks 15th in the driver standings.

6.7.2011

DALE EARNHARDT JR. SCORED A SECOND-PLACE RUN AT KANSAS

DALE EARNHARDT JR. SCORED A SECOND-PLACE RUN AT KANSAS

Fellow Hendrick Drivers Gordon and Johnson also finish in top 10
KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Dale Earnhardt Jr. matched his best finish of the 2011 season after he took runner-up honors in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Kansas Speedway. The driver of the No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet raced hard to contend for the win, but ultimately had to go into fuel-conservation mode on the final laps. He finished second, ahead of his teammates Jeff Gordon in fourth, Jimmie Johnson in seventh and Mark Martin in 21st.
Earnhardt lined up 28th for Sunday’s race and was working his way through the field, when he spun his No. 88 Chevrolet in Turn 4. Earnhardt saved his car, but had to make a stop for new tires and fuel.
“I spun out there one time trying to find some speed,” Earnhardt said. “It was just real loose, which I like. It was hot and slick, just the way I like it. I tried to get too much at one time. We had a good car – fast all day. Just gotta qualify better so we don’t have to work so hard.”
Earnhardt’s teammates also rallied from some difficult starting spots. Gordon lined up 22nd for the 400-mile affair, and Johnson was 31st. They made their way through the field and were running inside the top 10 by Lap 67.  Martin, meanwhile, experienced handling issues on his No. 5 Farmers Insurance/GoDaddy.com Chevrolet and spent the majority of his day inside the top 25.
When Earnhardt’s spin brought out the caution flag on Lap 154, the Hendrick lineup took the opportunity for fuel, tires and adjustments. Earnhardt’s issue turned out to be a blessing for the driver of the No. 88 Chevy, and he picked up a new pit sequence. As the race wound down, Earnhardt and crew chief Steve Letarte knew the No. 88 Chevrolet could go the distance if the 267-lap event continued under green-flag conditions.
Gordon and Johnson were on a different pit sequence, however, and were required to come in for fuel during the final 10 laps. Their pit crews worked swiftly and the duo returned to nab spots inside the top 10. Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s/KOBALT Tools Chevrolet, improves to second in the driver standings, while Gordon now ranks 13th.
“I thought we did an excellent job with this (No.) Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet,” Gordon said. “I have to thank Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) and all the guys. We had an awesome car all weekend; the car just unloaded fast. We made some adjustments early and it really just came to us and that’s when we drove it up into the top three and really stayed there.
“All in all a great effort, great top-five finish. We’re thrilled about that. We want to thank everybody for supporting Drive to End Hunger, especially in this Kansas area with everything that’s been going on in Joplin (Mo.). We can’t thank the fans enough not only for coming out to the race, but for supporting Drive to End Hunger.”
 
Martin, driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet, ranks 14th in the driver standings.

MAY

5.30.2011

EARNHARDT HOLDS ON FOR SEVENTH-PLACE FINISH AT CHARLOTTE

EARNHARDT HOLDS ON FOR SEVENTH-PLACE FINISH AT CHARLOTTE

NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver Led to the Final Lap
CONCORD, N.C. – Dale Earnhardt Jr. could see the checkered flag coming out of Turn 4 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Just a short stretch of the 1.5-mile oval stood between him and his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win of the season, when his No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet sputtered out of fuel. He coasted for the seventh-place finish to record his sixth top-10 finish of the season.
“You know, we had to go for it,” team owner Rick Hendrick told MRN after the race. “We were a couple hundred feet, and he would have won the race so it was one of those deals that we had to do it. Dale did a super job, and Steve (Letarte, crew chief) called a heck of a race. It was a great race all night, the best that the (No.) 88 has run on a mile-and-a-half track. So we’ll take it. Rough night for the rest of our guys, but I’m real proud of Junior and Steve.”
Earnhardt battled fiercely in the closing laps of the 600-mile event and rallied from his 25th starting spot to run inside the top 10. When the final caution flag was issued with five laps to go, Earnhardt lined up on the inside of the front row next to Kasey Kahne. Earnhardt had a solid restart and was poised for his first win at the 1.5-mile oval when the fuel issue arose.
“I’m disappointed, we came so close to winning but, I was sitting there looking at maybe a 20th-place finish if we would have run out of gas sooner,” said Earnhardt, who ranks fourth in the driver standings. “I thought those guys wrecked on that restart and that would have brought the caution out before the white and we’d have had to pit. This was probably, in all honesty, the best turnout of events for us besides winning the race. But it wasn’t the car, we just ran out of gas. That is just the way it goes. We will keep working hard. We run good.”
Earnhardt’s teammates also dealt with disappointment during Sunday’s 400-lap event.  With just under 100 laps left in Sunday’s Cup event, Mark Martin was involved in a three-car pileup that sent his No. 5 CARQUEST Auto Parts/GoDaddy.com Chevrolet to the garage. Martin lined up 13th for the 600-mile event and was running inside the top 15 when he was collected in an incident on Lap 303. Martin was racing David Gilliland, when Gilliland’s No. 34 car got loose and pushed Martin into the outside wall. The contact melded the cars together, and the duo came to a rest in the middle of Turn 4.
“We were just running on the outside during the restart there on the high side, and I got collected,” Martin said afterward. “I haven’t seen (the replay) yet. I don’t know what happened yet. I just know we got collected.”
Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Earnhardt all pitted during this yellow-flag period, and Gordon left pit road as the new leader. By the conclusion of the race, the driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet had led 19 laps. But he struggled to keep pace with the field and finished 20th.
Two caution periods later, Johnson returned to pit road for tires, fuel and adjustments on Lap 345. During the stop, however, a piece of equipment was left attached to Johnson’s No. 48 Lowe’s Summer Salute Chevrolet. The miscue cost Johnson position, and he was required to complete a pass-through penalty. Johnson was working his way through the field when his engine expired on Lap 396. He was scored with the 28th-place finish, and the caution period set up the final dash for the green-white-checkered flag.
“What I’m taking from this week is that we had a fast car. Unfortunately four laps from the end we lost an engine, which never happens. We’ve had a lot of things go our way over the years and the last couple of weeks, things have not gone our way and that’s just how it goes. So we’ll dig in deep and work hard and get this Lowe’s car back where it belongs.
“We dropped a cylinder and it blew the engine with four (laps) to go,” said Johnson, who ranks third in the driver standings. “So it was definitely a disappointing way to finish up. We fought so hard all night long and to get track position from multiple issues and then got ourselves up there and were looking at a top-five finish and lost the engine. It was very uncharacteristic. Our engine shop is very dedicated and focused on building reliable power. So it must have been a fluke deal.”
 

5.23.2011

HENDRICK TEAMMATES FINISH ALL-STAR RACE IN TOP 19

HENDRICK TEAMMATES FINISH ALL-STAR RACE IN TOP 19

Johnson Leads HMS Brigade with an 11th-place Finish
CONCORD, N.C. – The Hendrick Motorsports lineup finished inside the top 19 during Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint All-Star event at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Jimmie Johnson was the top finisher among his teammates and drove his No. 5 Lowe’s Chevrolet to an 11th-place finish. He led once for six laps during the second segment of the four-segment race. During the final stretch, Johnson was tangled up with another competitor on the restart, and the contact affected his run. He finished 11th.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., who earned the fan vote to participate in Saturday’s 100-lap race, finished 14th in his No. 88 The Dale Jr. Foundation/VH1 Save the Music/AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet. Prior to the all-star event, Earnhardt raced in the Showdown and finished sixth.
“I was real thankful to be in the race,” Earnhardt said. “Very productive for us to be in there and be running and trying stuff. We changed a lot of things every opportunity we had. We did learn several things. Got a great feeling for the car and what this setup was doing and what we can probably do to make it better.”
Jeff Gordon followed Earnhardt across the finish line and scored the 15th-place result in his No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet. Gordon lined up 12th for the event and spent the majority of the race inside the top 10.
“We had an awesome race tonight,” Gordon said. “You know, the closer we got to the front, the better it got, which was obviously pretty normal. And that’s exactly what we needed. So, we’ll make a few adjustments, and we’ll be ready to rock and roll for the 600 next week.”
Mark Martin started Saturday’s race fifth in his No. 25 Farmers Insurance “Throwback”/GoDaddy.com Chevrolet. All night, the team tinkered with the Chevy’s handling, and during the final 10-lap restart, another competitor made contact with the No. 25. Martin was forced to retire seven laps early. He was scored in 19th.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series action returns this week with the season’s longest event – the 600-mile race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday, May 29.

5.16.2011

MARTIN FINISHES SECOND AT DOVER

MARTIN FINISHES SECOND AT DOVER

Hendrick Teammates in top 17 at Dover
DOVER, Del. - Late-race pit strategy put Mark Martin in a position to win Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Dover International Speedway. Martin opted to stay on the one-mile concrete oval while the majority of the field pitted when the caution flag was waved with less than 45 laps to go.
The driver of the No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet led the field to the green flag, but wasn’t able to hold off the competition without fresh tires, and he slipped into second place. Martin managed to hold on and stay there to pick up runner-up honors at the one-mile concrete oval. His Hendrick Motorsports teammates finished inside the top 17: Jimmie Johnson took ninth, Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 12th and Jeff Gordon finished 17th.
“Kudos to (crew chief) Lance McGrew and everybody on this GoDaddy.com crew here,” said Martin, who improves to 11th in the standings. “Just want to give a shout out to all our supporters, CARQUEST Auto Parts, and all the guys that support us. We ran good, but we were getting ready to finish 15th again. And it’s been a shame because we’ve ran that well this year and we’ve finished 15th. Today was just a great Dover race. I love this place.”
Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, led a race-high 207 laps during Sunday’s contest and was contending for his seventh career victory at Dover when the caution flag was thrown with less than 45 laps left. Johnson, who was running third at the time, headed for pit road where teams employed a variety of strategies. Johnson’s No. 48 team decided upon four tires, a chassis adjustment and fuel. As a result, Johnson left pit road in 10th position. He improved to finish the race ninth.
“I really was (surprised four tires didn’t work),” said Johnson, who remains second in the driver standings. “I knew we were outnumbered once we came off pit road and saw so many guys come off on two (tires). At that point, I knew we were in trouble. The numbers don’t work in your favor, especially at this track.
“Overall it was a great day. We had a great race car, led a lot of laps, had great pit stops. We’re doing the things we need to do with this Lowe’s Chevrolet.”
Earnhardt started third in his No. 88 AMP Energy Sugar Free/National Guard Chevrolet and held steady inside the top 15 throughout Sunday’s race. He led one lap and finished 12th to remain fourth in the driver standings.

5.9.2011

HENDRICK TEAMMATES FINISH IN THE TOP 19 AT DARLINGTON

HENDRICK TEAMMATES FINISH IN THE TOP 19 AT DARLINGTON

Gordon Leads HMS with a 12th-Place Finish
DARLINGTON, S.C. – Jeff Gordon led Hendrick Motorsports with a 12th-place finish in Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Darlington Raceway, while his teammates rounded out the top 19. Dale Earnhardt Jr. held on to finish 14th; Jimmie Johnson took 15th and Mark Martin was scored 19th.
Gordon lined up his No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet fifth and maintained his presence in the top 10 for the majority of Saturday’s 367-lap affair. Gordon was running inside the top three when the final green flag pit stops began with under 20 laps to go. When he returned to the field, he was running inside the top 15. As the race wound down, Gordon held on to finish 12th and  ranks 17th in the driver standings.
Earnhardt, driver of the No. 88 AMP Energy Sugar Free/National Guard Chevrolet, improved from his 30th starting spot and was running inside the top 10 with under 100 laps to go on Saturday. Earnhardt was poised for a strong finish when he missed the commitment cone for pit road on Lap 228. The pass-through penalty put Earnhardt deep in the field, but he recovered to finish 14th and remains fourth in the driver standings
Johnson overcame two spins in his No. 48 Lowe’s/KOBALT Tools Chevrolet to return to the lead lap. He was running inside the top 10 with under 20 laps to go when he also suffered an issue on pit road. A missing lug nut sent the driver of the No. 48 Chevy to the rear of the field. He overcame the setback to finish 15th. He remains second in the standings.
Martin, driver of the No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, maintained his position inside the top 20 as the race unfolded. He was making his way through the field when he encountered contact from another competitor and sustained a cut tire on Lap 279. The contact damaged the No. 5 Chevrolet and forced Martin to make an unscheduled pit stop for fresh tires. Like his teammates, Martin rallied from the damage and finished 19th. He now ranks 14th in the standings.
 

5.2.2011

JOHNSON, MARTIN AND EARNHARDT FINISH IN TOP 19 AT RICHMOND

JOHNSON, MARTIN AND EARNHARDT FINISH IN TOP 19 AT RICHMOND

Gordon Finds Trouble Ending his Night Early
 
RICHMOND, Va. – Jimmie Johnson turned his Saturday night run at Richmond International Raceway into an eighth-place finish, his sixth top-10 result of the season, while his teammates Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 14th and 19th, respectively. Jeff Gordon was involved in a late-race incident, which ended his night early, and he was scored 39th.
 
Martin, driver of the No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, started fifth, and Gordon lined up his No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet in sixth. The duo spent the majority of Saturday’s event in the top 10, despite alternating pit sequences, and appeared to be in decent position for the seventh restart of the night on Lap 301. They were running inside the top 15 when they were entangled in an incident on the backstretch. The damage from the accident ended Gordon’s night, but Martin was able to head for pit road.
 
“What a shame,” said Gordon, who ranks 16th in the driver standings. “That DuPont Chevrolet was so strong tonight. I’m so proud of Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) and the guys. I hate we lost that track position there with all the pit sequences and different strategies that were going on there. With 100 to go, everybody was losing their patience including me. We were three-wide there, and I don’t know what happened. I just know someone got in my right rear and around we went.”
 
Gordon’s teammates Earnhardt and Johnson benefited from the caution period that followed the multi-car incident. Earnhardt and Johnson spent the first half of Saturday’s race battling handling issues and even overcame running a lap down to be in solid position when the incident occurred on Lap 301.
 
When the field returned to green-flag racing on Lap 315, Earnhardt was running second and Johnson was 11th. Martin, whose No. 5 GoDaddy.com team made the necessary repairs during the pit stop, returned to the field in 20th.
 
Earnhardt and Johnson continued to race in the top 15, and Martin started his climb through the field as the laps unfolded at Richmond. The final stretch of the race ran under green-flag conditions, and that prompted the teams to examine their needs on pit road.
 
Earnhardt and crew chief Steve Letarte anticipated the No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet would be about shy on fuel, so Earnhardt made his way down pit road with 11 laps to go. During the pit stop, Earnhardt took a splash of fuel and raced off pit road. He returned to the race to finish 19th and now ranks fourth in the driver standings.
 
Johnson, who crossed the finish line eighth in his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, remains second in the driver standings. Martin improved six spots in the final laps to finish 14th and ranks 14th in the driver standings.
 

APRIL

4.19.2011

JOHNSON WINS WILD FINISH AT TALLADEGA

JOHNSON WINS WILD FINISH AT TALLADEGA

Hendrick teammates in top eight
TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 17, 2011) – Jimmie Johnson, with help from teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr., gave Hendrick Motorsports a storybook ending in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Talladega Superspeedway. The duo slipped by teammates Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin, who also were battling for the checkered flag.
Johnson picked up the win, his second at the 2.5-mile superspeedway, while his teammates finished inside the top eight. With six cars fighting for the checkered flag, Gordon scored the third-place result, while Earnhardt took fourth. Martin finished eighth. This is the 196th Cup victory for Hendrick Motorsports.
Johnson’s margin of victory was .002 seconds, which matches the closest margin of victory since the inception of electronic scoring in May 1993. That mark was set first at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway on March 16, 2003.
Johnson handed the checkered flag to Earnhardt as a way of saying thank you, when he pulled his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet into Victory Lane. Earnhardt cheerfully congratulated his teammate.
“Man, I thought we were in trouble,” Johnson said afterward about the finish. “Something happened with two (laps to go), and we got disconnected. I had a really tough time hearing Junior on the radio, so I didn’t know what he was saying or what he needed. But we got hooked up and rolling and all of a sudden, there were only two groups in front of us.
“They were worried about each other and left that bottom open. We had some big momentum on our side and off we went. This (Nos.) 48/88 shop is awesome. I can’t thank these guys enough. I can’t thank Junior enough. He made the decision that my car was faster leading. He was more worried about the team having success than anything, and he’s responsible for this win today.”
Johnson, who now owns 54 career wins and moves into a tie with Lee Petty for ninth on the all-time wins list, improves to second in the driver standings.
Earnhardt improves to third after finishing third in his No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet at Talladega.
Gordon, the pole sitter for Sunday’s event, partnered with Martin throughout the race. The driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet believed afterward that he and Martin might have taken the lead a bit too early coming into the white flag lap.
The momentum of the wild finish affected Martin, who crossed the finish line eighth in his No. 5 CARQUEST Auto Parts/GoDaddy.com Chevrolet. He now ranks 14th in the driver standings.
For Hendrick Motorsports, Sunday’s race opened as dramatically as it ended. Gordon, Johnson, Martin and Earnhardt qualified one-two-three-four for the 500-mile event, making Hendrick Motorsports just the third team in Sprint Cup history to qualify in the first four starting positions. This feat previously was accomplished by owner Pete DePaolo in 1956 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway and Jack Roush in 2005 at Auto Club Speedway.
When the green flag first was waved for Sunday’s race, the Hendrick Chevrolets were lined up perfectly for drafting at the 2.5-mile superspeedway. Earlier in the practice session, Gordon had spent time drafting with Martin, while Johnson and Earnhardt were working together. So it worked out neatly that Gordon was the pole sitter and Martin was behind him in third. Johnson started from the outside pole and was followed by Earnhardt in fourth.
Each of the four drivers had led at least one lap by the halfway point of the race, with Johnson recording the most at 14 laps. Earnhardt tallied 11 laps led, while Gordon paced the field nine times and Martin did so once.
As the race unfolded, the Hendrick quartet maintained position inside the top 20 and waited to make a late-race charge. The final caution flag of the race was thrown with under 20 laps to go, and the teammates decided they were ready. At the time, Gordon and Martin were running fifth and sixth, respectively, while Johnson and Earnhardt were running 13th and 14th, respectively.
With 11 laps to go, Gordon and Martin pushed their way to the front, and Johnson and Earnhardt followed closely behind. The Nos. 48/88 tagteam took advantage of the fact that Gordon and Martin were contending with competitors on the outside line. Johnson and Earnhardt ran the bottom line on the white-flag lap to slip in and take the win.

           

4.11.2011

JOHNSON, EARNHARDT FINISH IN TOP 10 AT TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY

JOHNSON, EARNHARDT FINISH IN TOP 10 AT TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY

Hendrick Teammate Gordon finished 23rd while Martin Found Trouble before Finishing 36th
FORT WORTH, Tex. (April 9, 2011) – Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. picked up top-10 finishes during Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Texas Motor Speedway, while their Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin finished 23rd and 36th, respectively.
Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s/KOBALT Tools Chevrolet, opened the 334-lap event from the sixth position and held steady in the top 10. He crossed the finish line eighth to claim his 12th top-10 finish in 16 Cup starts at the 1.5-mile track. Johnson ranks fourth in the driver standings.
Earnhardt lined up 28th and drove his No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet through the field. Using strategy employed by crew chief Steve Letarte, Earnhardt led two laps on his way to scoring a ninth-place finish and improving to sixth in the driver standings.
Gordon started 32nd and ran as high as 13th during the Saturday Cup event. He was running 16th with 14 laps to go and held on to finish 23rd. The driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet led once during the 501-lap event and now ranks 14th in the driver standings.
Martin, who started the race 21st in his No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, was running 16th roughly 200 laps into the event. On Lap 215, he was collected in an accident on the backstretch at Texas Motor Speedway that ended his night. The driver of the No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet was scored with the 36th-place finish and now ranks 15th in the driver standings.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to the 2.66-mile track of Talladega Superspeedway next. Live coverage of the Aaron’s 499 will begin on Sunday, April 17 at 1:00 p.m. (ET) on FOX and 12:00 p.m. (ET) on MRN and XM/Sirius Satellite Radio.

4.4.2011

DALE EARNHARDT JR. TAKES SECOND IN EXCITING FINISH AT MARTINSVILLE

DALE EARNHARDT JR. TAKES SECOND IN EXCITING FINISH AT MARTINSVILLE

All Four Hendrick Cars Occupy Spots in Top-12 in Championship Point Standings with Six Races in the Record Books
MARTINSVILLE, Va. (April 3, 2011) – Dale Earnhardt, Jr. put himself in position to end an almost three-year winless streak in today’s running of the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway but fell just short finishing in the runner-up position. Earnhardt took the lead late in the race and held the spot until the closing laps when eventual winner Kevin Harvick made a pass with three laps remaining. 
“I tried to put together some laps there but the back of car just wasn't into the track enough,” commented the driver of the No. 88 Chevy following the race. “The No. 29, he was coming and there just wasn't much I could do. Got a little lose there going down into (turn) one. I wanted to do a little bit of a cross over move and I thought I had that but we got down into turn three, I wanted to keep my nose there but not too much. I had already got into Kyle (Busch) pretty hard racing for the lead there. I just tried to keep the nose in there without turning him sideways and allowing Kyle to get into the mix. I don't know what I could have done different.”
Earnhardt’s runner-up position gained him four spots in the driver championship point standings where he now sits eighth. “We didn't have that great of a car,” continued Earnhardt. “We weren't fast all day. We were a top-10 car but not a race winning car. We worked on it real hard but we didn't make any gains really. We made some changes that did things but nothing really to give the car any speed. Steve (Letarte, crew chief) did an awesome job with pit strategy. That's what got us up there, that's all it was. The car was good enough for 15 laps to run past those guys and try to get out there and get a big lead. Just not enough.”
Earnhardt led 17 laps while fellow Hendrick driver Jeff Gordon led a total of 37 laps before taking the checkered flag in the fifth spot. Mark Martin finished 10th driving the No. 5 Quaker State Chevrolet with defending champion Jimmie Johnson finishing one spot behind in 11th.
Johnson sits third in the point standings with Martin and Gordon occupying the 10th and 12th positions after six races.
Kevin Harvick took the checkered flag scoring his second consecutive win. Following Earnhardt were Kyle Busch and Juan Pablo Monotya with Gordon rounding out the top five.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to the Lone Star state next for a stop at Texas Motor Speedway. Live coverage of the Samsung Mobile 500 will begin on Saturday, April, 9 at 7:30 p.m. (ET) on FOX and 7:00 p.m. (ET) on PRN and Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 128.

MARCH

3.28.2011

JIMMIE JOHNSON FIGHTS FOR LEAD IN CLOSING LAPS IN FONTANA

JIMMIE JOHNSON FIGHTS FOR LEAD IN CLOSING LAPS IN FONTANA

Defending Champion Ends up Second in Auto Club 400
FONTANA, Calif (March 27, 2011) – Hendrick Motorsports driver Jimmie Johnson fought a hard battle for the win in Sunday’s running of the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Unfortunately the defending champ fell just short of taking the checkered flag for the win and finished in the runner-up spot.
"It reminded me of last year in the Spring race, you know,” commented Johnson about his battle with race winner Kevin Harvick. “Just didn't hold him off that time. Those tires made the difference. I knew he was coming, they said he was coming. If I could have got by the No. 18 maybe a lap sooner that might have been enough to give him the margin I needed. Just way loose. I was driving my butt off just trying to keep this Lowe's Chevrolet up front but it didn't pan out. I hate losing it coming off of (turn) four like that but we did everything we could today. We had a great race. Made our car a lot better all day long so I'm really proud about that."
Fellow Hendrick drivers Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin all struggled throughout the 400-mile event. Earnhardt finished just shy of the top-10 in the 12th spot after starting in the 30th position. Four-time champion Jeff Gordon fought handling issues throughout the race as did veteran driver Mark Martin with the teammates finishing 18th and 20th respectively.
Kevin Harvick took the checkered flag for his first win of the season, followed by Johnson in second. Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman rounded out the top five.
Next up for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is a stop at Martinsville Speedway. Live coverage of the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 will begin at 1:00 p.m. (ET) on FOX and 12:00 p.m. (ET) on MRN and Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 128.

3.20.2011

JIMMIE JOHNSON HAS SOLID RUN AT BRISTOL WITH THIRD-PLACE FINISH

JIMMIE JOHNSON HAS SOLID RUN AT BRISTOL WITH THIRD-PLACE FINISH

Fellow Hendrick Teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Just Misses Scoring his Third Straight Top-10 Finish
BRISTOL, TN (March 20, 2011) – Five-time and defending champion, Jimmie Johnson led the Hendrick Motorsports brigade in the running of the Jeff Byrd 500 presented by Food City at the half-mile bullring of Bristol Motor Speedway. Johnson finished a strong third after starting from the sixth position. He led the field four times for 164 laps and was a contender throughout the 500-lap event.
"The race off pit road is what got us,” commented Johnson following the race. “That track position was everything. Really, the No. 18 (Kyle Busch) and I didn't see much of the No. 99 (Carl Edwards) all day. We were pretty equal on pace. Whoever had clean air was going to be in control. We just didn't get off pit road in front of everybody. Great stops all day long, just a little off there at end. A good group of guys thats learning and I know these guys are going to be rock solid. They are clearly fast, just need to give them more experience and they will be fine. All-in-all a great day for this Kobalt Tools Chevrolet and looking forward to the next one."
Fellow HMS and Quaker State teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr. finished just shy of scoring his third straight top-10 finish after taking the checkered flag in the 11th position while veteran driver Mark Martin crossed the start finish line in the 12th position. Four-time champion Jeff Gordon finished 14th after struggling to find the handling on his Chevrolet.
Johnson’s top-five finish boosted him up five spots in the NSCS driver championship point standings where he now sits in the seventh position. Earnhardt moved up one position to ninth while Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon held their spots in 11th and 19th respectively.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads back to the West Coast next for the March 27th running of the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Live flag-to-flag coverage can be seen beginning at 3:00 pm (ET) on FOX and heard on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 128 beginning at 2:00 p.m. (ET).

 

FEBRUARY

2.28.2011

GORDON ENDS 66 WINLESS STREAK WITH VICTORY IN PHOENIX

Jeff Gordon Ends 66 Winless Streak with Victory in Phoenix

Gordon Ends 66 Winless Streak with Victory In Phoenix. Fellow HMS Driver and Defending Champ Jimmie Johnson Finishes Third.

AVONDALE, Ariz. (February 27, 2011) – Veteran driver Jeff Gordon took the checkered flag in Sunday’s running of the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway ending a 66-race winless streak. The win, his 83rd career victory, put the four-time Cup Champion in the fifth spot on the all time win list where he is tied with racing legend Cale Yarborough.

“I can't tell you how amazing this feels,” Gordon commented from victory lane. “So thankful to Rick Hendrick, all that he does. It's been a long time I know. I'm going to savor this one so much, but I've got to say thanks to the fans. I mean not only the fans at home .. I've been tweeting lately for the first time and all of the stuff that people have been saying, the motivation has been unbelievably inspiring and then to see that crowd stick around to see my really lame burnout because I stink at them but they love that show. Man we hope we can give them some more shows like that this year. That was awesome, thank you so much."

Following Gordon was Quaker State teammate Jimmie Johnson who finished third after starting 28th. Fellow HMS driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr. fought back after going a lap down to finish 10th while veteran driver Mark Martin finished just outside the top-10 in 13th.

Prior to Sunday’s event in Phoenix, Hendrick Motorsports had won six of the last eight events at the one-mile flat track. Gordon's win was his second at the raceway.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Las Vegas Motor Speedway next for the running of the Kobalt Tools 400. Live flag-to-flag coverage will begin on Sunday, March 6 at 3:00 p.m. (ET) on FOX and 2:00 p.m. on PRN and XM Sirius Satellite Radio.

2.22.2011

MARK MARTIN EARNS TOP-10 RUN IN DAYTONA 500 FOR HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS

MARK MARTIN EARNS TOP-10 RUN IN DAYTONA 500 FOR HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS

Mark Martin Earns Top-10 Run in Daytona 500 for Hendrick Motorsports, Remaining Hendrick Cars all Find Trouble on Track

DAYTONA BEACH, FLA (February 20, 2011) – As the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series kicked off the 2011 season, the Quaker State teams from the Hendrick Motorsports stable faced both highs and lows throughout the Speedweeks events.

Dale Earnahardt, Jr. and Jeff Gordon made it an all Hendrick front row for the second straight year with Earnhardt earning the pole for the “All American Race” and Gordon claiming the runner-up spot. However a practice crash would relegate NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver to the rear of the field for the start of the 53rd running of the Daytona 500.

As the green-flag fell for 500 laps of racing action, the Hendrick cars settled in and picked their partners to try to make a charge toward the front.

An early-race incident claiming a multitude of cars took out defending champ Jimmie Johnson along with teammates Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin. Johnson and Gordon went to the garage for repairs, while Martin was able to stay on track and get his repairs on pit road. Both Johnson and Gordon were able to return to the track several laps down and continue the race.

Earnhardt made a charge toward the front of the field on several occasions and led three times for nine laps before finding his own trouble late on a green-white-checker restart ending his day prematurely. Martin was the only Hendrick car to remain on track bringing his No. 5 Chevrolet to the checkered flag in the 10th position.

Earnhardt was credited with the 24th finishing position with Johnson and Gordon taking the 27th and 28th spots.

“I was in the back there and we got a flat tire and got ourselves in the back there and I was coming around one and two and all those guys were running into the back of each other on the inside and it was crazy and the 7 got turned down in the apron and they had a wreck,” commented Earnhardt following the race. “Some guys got into the wall on the outside and I was just trying to avoid that and got to the center there and got hooked in the right rear but I don’t know, we have had some pretty tough luck down here and didn’t get the finish we wanted for AMP and National Guard and our fans.”

Next up for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway in Auto Club Speedway in Avondale, Arizona. Live coverage will begin on February 27, 2010 at 3:00 p.m. (ET) on FOX and 2:00 p.m. on MRN Radio.

NOVEMBER

11.22.2010

JIMMIE JOHNSON SCORES HIS RECORD-SETTING FIFTH CONSECUTIVE NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP

Jimmie Johnson Fifth Consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship

Jimmie Johnson Scores His Record-Setting Fifth Consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Nov. 21, 2010) – Jimmie Johnson and his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team have made history by capturing the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship title for a record fifth year in a row. With the season down to its final race, Johnson crossed the finish line second to end the 2010 Sprint Cup season with the help of Quaker State racing oil, developed with durability in mind to keep the No. 48 Chevrolet’s engine running through to the checkered flag.

Winning a fifth straight title wasn’t easy for Johnson, who entered Sunday’s race chasing then-points leader Denny Hamlin. Although Johnson lined up sixth on Sunday, 31 spots better than Hamlin, the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup remained tight. Hamlin struggled to advance through the field, while Johnson assumed the points lead and held steady within the top 10, leading Lap 71 to pick up five bonus points.

The trio of Chase contenders -- Johnson, Hamlin and Kevin Harvick -- experienced continual shakeups during the final 100 laps of competition, mostly based upon their performance on pit road. A lengthy pit stop cost Johnson position on a Lap 167 caution, while Harvick was penalized 20 laps later for being too fast entering pit road. The biggest change happened with 25 laps to go when Hamlin was caught one lap down by the caution flag. Hamlin took the wave-around, but Johnson capitalized. Johnson continued to stretch out his lead, taking over the second position, as the laps ticked down. He crossed the finish line second to match his best result at the 1.5-mile oval and to pick up his fifth straight championship.

"I'm so proud to be in this position and so thankful to have my great race team and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports giving me great race cars,” commented Jimmie Johnson just moments after the race. “I think this year we showed what this team is made. At times we didn't have the most speed, but we proved it here at the end of the Chase and especially here today. I am just beside myself. Four was amazing. Now I have to figure out what the hell to say about winning five of these things because everybody is going to want to know what it means. I don't know! It is pretty damn awesome I can tell you that."

Johnson is the first driver in NASCAR history to capture five straight Sprint Cup titles and the first champion in the Chase format to overcome a points deficit going into the final event. Hendrick Motorsports now is NASCAR's all-time leader in NASCAR Sprint Cup owner championships with 10 after Johnson and the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet team earned their fifth consecutive series title Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Hendrick Motorsports previously was tied with Petty Enterprises, which earned nine Cup owner championships.

Hendrick Motorsports also becomes one of just four teams in major American professional sports to have scored five or more titles consecutively. The Boston Celtics posted eight NBA titles in a row starting with the 1958-59 season and ending in 1965-66. Hendrick now is tied with the New York Yankees, which earned five World Series rings from 1949-53, and the Montreal Canadiens, which scored five Stanley Cups from 1956-60.

11.17.2010

MARTIN AND JOHNSON LEAVE PHOENIX WITH A PAIR OF TOP-10 FINISHES

Jimmie Johnson Quaker State

Johnson Closes Gap to 15 Points with One Race Remaining in The Chase

AVONDALE, Ariz. (Nov. 14, 2010) – Jimmie Johnson stretched out a tank of fuel on Sunday to finish fifth at Phoenix International Raceway and keep his hopes alive for earning his fifth straight NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. He was joined in the top 15 by teammates Mark Martin in eighth, Jeff Gordon in 11th and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 14th.

Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s/KOBALT Tools Chevrolet, lined up 21st in Sunday’s event and patiently worked his way through the field. A four-time winner at the desert oval, Johnson cracked the top 10 by Lap 75 and continued to chase then-race leader Denny Hamlin. Hamlin continued to dominate as the race unfolded, but the No. 48 team caught a break during the final 89 laps, which ran under green-flag conditions. Chad Knaus, crew chief of the No. 48 Chevy, coached Johnson to save fuel with about 25 laps to go, while Hamlin’s team opted to make a stop with 10 laps to go. The final pit stop cost Hamlin position, and Johnson was able to gain 18 points on him in the championship hunt. Johnson still ranks second behind Hamlin in the standings, but only by 15 points as the Series heads to Homestead-Miami Speedway for the season finale.

Martin, driver of the No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, crossed the finish line eighth on Sunday after lining up 28th for the 312-mile event. Martin ranks 13th in the standings, which is the highest he can finish in the postseason system.

Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, scored the 11th-place finish on Sunday after rolling off the grid 22nd. Gordon remains sixth in the championship standings.

Earnhardt crossed the finish line 14th in his No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Paint the 88/National Guard Chevrolet, after starting the race 31st. Earnhardt drove a specially painted No. 88 Chevrolet, which he selected from almost 10,000 entries in the Paint the 88 contest. The green-and-white scheme was designed by Jason Corino, of Colorado Springs, Colo.

The Ford 400 begins at 1 p.m. EST with live coverage provided by ESPN. A pre-race show airs at noon on ESPN2.

11.17.2010

NEWMAN FUELS TO 2ND-PLACE FINISH IN PHOENIX

Ryan Newman Quaker State

Stewart-Haas Racing Teammate Tony Stewart Comes Home 17th

AVONDALE, Ariz. (Nov. 14, 2010) – Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 U.S. Army Veterans Day Chevrolet Impala, led the two-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent at Phoenix International Raceway by finishing second in Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 500k NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.

Newman came into Phoenix as the track’s most recent Sprint Cup victor, as he scored the win in the series’ spring visit to the 1-mile oval in April. He now has five top-10 finishes in 17 career Sprint Cup starts at Phoenix, with Sunday’s effort giving Newman his 13th top-10 finish of the season.

Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Old Spice/Office Depot Chevrolet Impala for SHR, finished 17th.

Carl Edwards won the Kobalt Tools 500k to earn his 17th career Sprint Cup victory, his first of the season, and his first at Phoenix.

Newman finished 4.770 seconds behind Edwards, while Joey Logano, Greg Biffle and Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top-five. Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Mark Martin, Kurt Busch and Jamie McMurray comprised the remainder of the top-10.

There were five caution periods for 25 laps, with six drivers failing to finish the 312-lap race.

Stewart represents SHR in this year’s Chase for the Championship. He came into Phoenix eighth among the top-12 drivers competing for this year’s title, 363 points behind Chase leader Denny Hamlin. He leaves Phoenix ninth in points, 388 markers arrears Hamlin.

Newman remained 15th in the standings with 4,156 points, the third-highest non-Chase driver.

The Ford 400 begins at 1 p.m. EST with live coverage provided by ESPN. A pre-race show airs at noon on ESPN2.

11.8.2010

MARTIN AND JOHNSON LEAVE TEXAS WITH A PAIR OF TOP-10 FINISHES

Quaker State Mark Martin

Johnson Falls to Second in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup with Two Races Remaining

FORT WORTH, Texas (Nov. 7, 2010) – Mark Martin scored the third-place finish in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Texas Motor Speedway, while his championship-contending teammates Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon encountered some misfortunate in the 334-lap event. Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 25th in his No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet.

Martin, driver of the No. 5 CARQUEST Auto Parts/GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, led four times for 36 laps on Sunday. A previous winner at Texas, Martin was able to contend for the win in the closing laps after staying out when the caution flag was waved on Lap 328. On the restart, the front row of Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth was too strong, and Martin chased them to earn the third-place result.

Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, salvaged his run to turn in a ninth-place finish. After starting 17th, Johnson worked his way through the field. But several early issues on pit road hampered his progress, and crew chief Chad Knaus made a change in the No. 48 team’s over-the-wall crew around the Lap 200 mark. Just nine laps prior, Gordon had been sidelined after an incident with Jeff Burton in Turn 2. Gordon had started 15th in his No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, but his hopes of making up any ground in the championship standings were dashed after he tangled with Burton’s No. 33 Chevrolet. Gordon retired to the garage with the 37th-place finish and a sixth-place ranking in the standings, while his crew went to assist the No. 48 team.

Johnson, who led one lap on Sunday, now ranks second in the championship standings, 33 points behind leader and Texas race winner Denny Hamlin. With two races remaining in the Chase, the Cup Series heads next to Phoenix International Raceway, where Johnson owns a Series-best 4.9 average finish. Johnson, the four-time defending Cup champion, owns four wins at the flat desert oval.

The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Nov. 14 Kobalt Tools 500k at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Ariz. The penultimate race of the 10-race Chase begins at 3 p.m. EST with live coverage provided by ESPN beginning with a pre-race show at 2 p.m. EST.

11.8.2010

LATE-RACE GAMBLE DOESN’T QUITE PAY OFF FOR STEWART WITH 11TH-PLACE FINISH AT TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY

Quaker State Tony Stewart

Stewart-Haas Racing Teammate Ryan Newman Comes Home 20th

FORT WORTH, Texas (Nov. 7, 2010) – Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet Impala, led the two-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth by finishing 11th in Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. It was Stewart’s 12th top-12 finish in 20 career Sprint Cup starts at Texas.

Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Tornados Chevrolet Impala for SHR, finished 20th.

Denny Hamlin won the AAA Texas 500 to earn his 16th career Sprint Cup victory, his series-high eighth win of the season, and his second victory and eighth top-10 finish in 11 Sprint Cup races at Texas. Hamlin also won the April Sprint Cup race at Texas and became only the second driver to sweep both Texas races in the same year. Carl Edwards won both Texas races in 2008.

Matt Kenseth crossed the finish line .488 of a second behind Hamlin in the runner-up spot, while Mark Martin, Joey Logano and Greg Biffle rounded out the top-five. Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, David Ragan, Jimmie Johnson and Paul Menard comprised the remainder of the top-10.

There were nine caution periods for 40 laps, with nine drivers failing to finish the 334-lap race.

Stewart represents SHR in this year’s Chase for the Championship. He came to Texas seventh among the top-12 drivers competing for this year’s title, 317 points behind Chase leader Johnson. His 11th-place finish dropped him one position to eighth in the standings, where he is now 363 markers arrears new Chase-leader Hamlin.

Newman maintained his 15th spot in the standings, the third-highest non-Chase driver, 121 points behind 13th-place Martin.

The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Nov. 14 Kobalt Tools 500k at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Ariz. The penultimate race of the 10-race Chase begins at 3 p.m. EST with live coverage provided by ESPN beginning with a pre-race show at 2 p.m. EST.

11.1.2010

TALLADEGA NIGHTMARE FOR STEWART-HAAS RACING

Tony Stewart Quaker State

Stewart’s Top-Five Run Folded by Last-Lap Accident While Newman Battles Back from One-Lap Down to Finish 23rd at Talladega Superspeedway

TALLADEGA, Ala. (October 31, 2010) – Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet Impala, led the two-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway by finishing 22nd in Sunday’s AMP Energy Juice 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.

Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet Impala for SHR, finished 31st after getting caught up in a last-lap accident.

Clint Bowyer won the AMP Energy Juice 500 to earn his fourth career Sprint Cup victory, his second of the season and his first victory and fourth top-10 in 10 races at Talladega. It was also Richard Childress Racing’s (RCR) 11th victory at Talladega, most among car owners.

Kevin Harvick crossed the finish line in second behind RCR teammate Bowyer in a race that ended under caution after a multi-car accident on the final lap. Juan Pablo Montoya, David Reutimann and Joey Logano rounded out the top-five. Martin Truex Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski comprised the remainder of the top-10.

There were seven caution periods for 19 laps, with six drivers failing to finish the 188-lap race.

Stewart represents SHR in this year’s Chase for the Championship. He came to Talladega seventh among the top-12 drivers competing for this year’s title, 236 points behind Chase leader Johnson. His 31st-place finish maintained his seventh spot in points, where he’s now 317 markers arrears Johnson.

Newman maintained his 15th place in the standings, the third-highest non-Chase driver, 93 points behind 13th-place Jamie McMurray.

The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule – the eighth race of the 10-race Chase – is the Nov. 7 AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. The race begins at 3 p.m. EST with live coverage provided by ESPN beginning with a pre-race show at 2 p.m.

11.1.2010

JOHNSON MAINTAINS POINTS LEAD AS THE CHASE FOR THE NASCAR SPRINT CUP TIGHTENS UP

Quaker State Racing Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson

Hendrick Trio Finishes in the Top-11 at Talladega Superspeedway

TALLADEGA, Ala. (Oct. 31, 2010) – Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin finished inside the top 11 in Sunday’s AMP Energy Juice 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, while their teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 24 laps in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event.

The Hendrick Motorsports drivers went into the 500-mile affair with varying strategies, and each led at least one lap as the race unfolded. Earnhardt, who started sixth in his No. 88 Legends of Hallowdega AMP Energy Juice/National Guard Chevrolet, immediately pursued the top spot, while his teammates decided to hang back. Gordon, Johnson and Martin decided to save their cars and patiently make their way around the racetrack as the event continued.

Earnhardt was rewarded for his aggressive move, and he captured the lead on Lap 3. On Lap 134, Earnhardt was involved in a three-car incident in Turn 4. The driver of the No. 88 Chevy was running along in the middle of the pack when he made contact with the No. 33 of Jeff Burton while bumpdrafting. The contact did not end Earnhardt’s day, but the five-time Talladega winner no longer was a factor as the race wound down. He finished 39th after leading six times for a race-high 24 laps.

"I got in the back of (Jeff) Burton and got him out of control," Earnhardt said. "We've just been pushing each other all day long, and I got into him the wrong way. I saw him in the Infield Care Center, and he's all right. But I had a real good car and awesome engine and just kinda having fun out there running around seeing what you can do, and got a little too excited and ended early."

With 13 laps to go, Gordon and Johnson teamed up and the duo charged through the field. They moved from the middle of the pack into the first and second spots within one lap of the 2.66-mile superspeedway. Gordon led a lap, but sustained an engine issue that affected his No. 24 National Guard/DuPont Chevrolet and he was forced to drop out of the draft. Johnson led two laps and held steady in the top five until the caution flag was issued on Lap 181. During the restart, Johnson lost drafting help and was shuffled through the field. Johnson crossed the finish line seventh, just ahead of Gordon, who was scored eighth.

"We felt like we had a shot to win the race today," said Johnson, who maintains his lead in the championship standings. "We did a good job today. We played our strategy out right. We got into the lead with four or five (laps) to go; maybe a touch to early, but I had a good shot at it. The No. 24 (Jeff Gordon) thought he had an engine failing and got out of the way because at that point I didn't have any teammates in front, and it just really didn't work out for me. But it was still a great finish, and we'll take it."

"There is just a lot of crazy stuff that goes on here," said Gordon, who trails teammate Johnson in the standings by 207 points in fourth place. "I'm just happy to have a car that finished in one piece to be honest with you. We haven't had that for a long time.

"Me and Jimmie got hooked up together and drove all the way to the front. I started experiencing some weird things inside the car. It was kind of vibrating. There was a lot of smoke and it smelled like oil. I thought the engine was getting ready to blow up so he shuffled me out. From that point on, we just kind of fought back. From that restart, I just couldn't get anybody to go with us. But we still held our own."

Martin, driver of the No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, made several charges to the front of the field and led twice for two laps. As the laps ticked down, Martin climbed from his top-15 running position and avoided a late-race multi-car crash on the frontstretch to finish 11th.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series next travels to Texas Motor Speedway. Each of the Hendrick drivers has won at the 1.5-mile speedway.

OCTOBER

10.27.2010

STEWART FINISHES 24TH AFTER BEING A TOP-15 MAINSTAY AT MARTINSVILLE

Quaker State Tony Stewart

Newman Leads 32 Laps During Solid First Half Before Breaking Rear Gear

MARTINSVILLE, Va., (October 24, 2010) – Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet Impala, led the two-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway by finishing 24th in Sunday’s TUMS Fast Relief 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Stewart ran in the top-15 for much of the 500-lap race, but a flat right-front tire with less than 10 laps remaining forced him to pit and go two laps down.

Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Tornados Chevrolet Impala for SHR, finished 30th. Newman led twice for 32 of the opening 127 laps around the .526-mile paperclip-shaped oval before a broken rear gear sent him to the garage for several laps, taking him out of contention for the remainder of the race.

Denny Hamlin won the TUMS Fast Relief 500 to earn his 15th career Sprint Cup victory, his series-high seventh win of the season, and his fourth victory and 10th top-10 finish in 11 races at Martinsville. Hamlin has now won three consecutive Sprint Cup races at Martinsville and four of the last six.

Mark Martin finished 2.318 seconds behind Hamlin in the runner-up spot, while Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top-five. Joey Logano, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, Jeff Burton and Brad Keselowski comprised the remainder of the top-10.

There were 15 caution periods for 90 laps, with nine drivers failing to finish.

Stewart represents SHR in this year’s Chase for the Championship. He came to Martinsville sixth among the top-12 drivers competing for this year’s title, 177 points behind Chase leader Johnson. His 24th-place finish dropped him to seventh in points, 236 markers arrears Johnson.

Newman fell one spot to 15th, 127 points behind 13th-place Jamie McMurray, the highest non-Chase driver in points.

The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule – the seventh race of the 10-race Chase – is the Oct. 31 Amp Energy Juice 500 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. The race begins at 1 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by ESPN. A pre-race show beginning at noon will air on ESPN2.

10.27.2010

HENDRICK TRIO FINISHES IN TOP-10 AT MARTINSVILLE

Quaker State Mark Martin

Johnson Maintains Point Lead in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup with Four Races Remaining

MARTINSVILLE, Va. (Oct. 24, 2010) – Mark Martin overcame an early incident in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Martinsville Speedway to finish in the runner-up position. His teammates Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. rounded out the top 10 for Hendrick Motorsports with fifth- and seventh-place finishes, respectively, while Jeff Gordon crossed the finish line 19th.

Martin, driver of the No. 5 eBay Motors/GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, started 21st and was working his way up through the field when he was caught up in a multi-car accident on Lap 226 that affected the rear end of the Chevrolet. The No. 5 team addressed the damage, and Martin worked to make up for the lost time throughout the race. He was in the right position when a series of final caution flags were waved on Laps 385 and 398. Martin battled his way through traffic in the final laps to finish second.

“That was so much fun,” Martin said. “And it was such a bad day. I was running out of brakes at Lap 30, and I thought this was going to be the longest day of my life. And these guys on this race team made the difference; I want to thank eBay Motors for coming on board. I look forward to a lot of folks going there and maybe checking out a lot of their cars and parts there and of course GoDaddy.com and everybody that supports us; CARQUEST and all those guys. It was a great run for us. We needed that.”

Johnson started his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet from the 19th position and broke into the top 10 within the first 50 laps of the 500-mile event. Johnson remained in the top 10 for a majority of the remaining laps before developing handling issues on his Chevrolet during a long green-flag run at the end of the event. Johnson held on to a fifth-place finish and maintained his lead in the championship standings over race winner Denny Hamlin by six points.

“It was a good day,” Johnson said. “We were much stronger on the short run than we were on the long run. And they way this thing unfolded in the end there was a lot of long runs. We kind of lost a few spots. For a while there I thought the No. 29 (Kevin Harvick) and the No. 11 (Denny Hamlin) and us were all going to ride together all day long and then the No. 11 there at the end got going and took off an won the thing. It was a solid performance; something we can't be disappointed in. I wish we were a little better but there is a lot of racing left."

Earnhardt wheeled his No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet from a 28th starting spot to cross the finish line seventh, his first top-10 since his fourth-place finish in the first race of the Chase at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Earnhardt cracked the top 10 on Lap 250 and led three times for 90 laps before also encountering handling issues on his Chevrolet during the final green-flag run.

“We got toward the front on some pit strategy that worked out really good, and then we had a good enough car at the time to pass the guys that were around us,” Earnhardt said. “They had a little less tire than we had. A lot of things worked in our favor to get us the lead

“I love short track racing and I love coming here. This place has a lot of history. I have a lot of respect for it. I used to not understand how to get around here and then I have been pretty good here for a long time. I feel pretty good that when I come here I can run good. I like racing here and I like this style of racing.”

Gordon started the race in the 11th position, the best of his Hendrick Motorsports teammates, and led 56 laps until he was involved in a two-car incident on Lap 385. While battling Kurt Busch for position, the two competitors became entangled coming off Turn 2 which brought out the caution flag for the 14th time of the day. Gordon and the No. 24 team salvaged their race car to bring the Chevrolet home 20th. He is currently ranked fifth in the championship standings, 203 points behind leader and teammate Johnson.

“Our championship hopes have taken a big hit the last couple of weeks,” Gordon said. “So, for us, it's not about that right now; it’s about going out and getting the best finishes that we can and trying to win races. I felt like, at times, we had a car capable of winning today, and that pit stop hurt us, and we were back there battling our way back up there slowly but surely. And that incident, I gave him (Kurt Busch) a reason to get upset. So I wish I hadn't of done that. But, we were racing hard. And then what it does for us for the championship is really insignificant in my opinion. At this point we're just racing to try to get the best finishes, and we'll continue to do that as we move forward."

The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule – the seventh race of the 10-race Chase – is the Oct. 31 Amp Energy Juice 500 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. The race begins at 1 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by ESPN. A pre-race show beginning at noon will air on ESPN2.

10.18.2010

JOHNSON FINISHES THIRD AT CHARLOTTE

Quaker State Jimmie Johnson

Driver of the No. 48 Extends his Lead for a Fifth Championship to 41 Points in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup

CONCORD, N.C. (Oct. 16, 2010) – Jimmie Johnson overcame an early spin during Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Charlotte Motor Speedway and finished third to hold onto his lead in the championship standings.

Mark Martin, driver of the No. 5 GoDaddy.com, followed Johnson across the finish line in 11th, while Jeff Gordon took 23rd and Dale Earnhardt Jr. scored 29th.

Johnson opened Saturday’s event from the 10th position and held steady until he spun on Lap 34. Undeterred, the No. 48 team repaired the damage and sent Johnson back to the track. He climbed his way through the field and led 15 laps in the Lowe’s Chevrolet toward the end of the event. Johnson leads the standings by 41 points.

Martin lined up fourth on Saturday and ultimately led nine laps, first taking the lead on Lap 77. While restarts were an issue for the No. 5 team, Martin continued to hold his position inside the top 15. He crossed the finish line 11th.

Gordon scored the pole position – his first of the season – and held that top spot during the opening seven laps of Saturday’s race. He raced inside the top 10 until an ignition issue affected the No. 24 Chevrolet midway through the race. Gordon struggled to regain the lost spots on the 1.5-mile oval. Gordon remains fourth in the driver standings with the 23rd-place finish.

Earnhardt started eighth in his No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet but encountered handling issues as the race progressed. The No. 88 team continually worked on Earnhardt’s Chevy, and he finished the event 29th.

The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule – the sixth race of the 10-race Chase – is the Oct. 24 Tums Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. The race begins at 1 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by ESPN. A one-hour pre-race show will air at noon on ESPN2.

10.18.2010

STEWART CAN’T ‘BANK’ ON IT AT CHARLOTTE

Newman Endures Disastrous Outing at Charlotte to Finish 36th

CONCORD, N.C., (October 16, 2010) – Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Old Spice/Office Depot “Showtime” Chevrolet Impala, led the two-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway by finishing 21st in Saturday night’s Bank of America 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.

Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Haas Automation Chevrolet Impala for SHR, finished 36th after an accident on just the second lap of the 334-lap contest sent him to the garage area for lengthy repairs. He wound up returning to the race, albeit many laps down.

Jamie McMurray won the Bank of America 500 to score his sixth career Sprint Cup victory, his third of the season and his second at Charlotte. McMurray earned his first career Sprint Cup win at Charlotte on Oct. 13, 2002 as the interim driver for an injured Sterling Marlin.

Kyle Busch finished 1.866 seconds behind McMurray in the runner-up spot, while Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin and Greg Biffle rounded out the top-five. Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, David Reutimann and David Ragan comprised the remainder of the top-10.

There were nine caution periods for 39 laps, with six drivers failing to finish.

Stewart represents SHR in this year’s Chase for the Championship. He came into Charlotte fifth among the top-12 drivers competing for this year’s title, 107 points behind Chase leader Johnson. His 21st-place finish dropped him to sixth in points, 177 markers arrears Johnson.

Newman also dropped in the standings. He had been the highest non-Chase driver in the standings at 13th, 60 points ahead of 14th-place McMurray, coming into Charlotte. He’s now 14th in points, 75 markers arrears 13th-place McMurray.

The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule – the sixth race of the 10-race Chase – is the Oct. 24 Tums Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. The race begins at 1 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by ESPN. A one-hour pre-race show will air at noon on ESPN2.

10.12.2010

JOHNSON AND MARTIN FINISH INSIDE THE TOP-FIVE IN FONTANA

Hendrick Motorsports teammates Quaker State

All Four Hendrick Motorsports Teammates Pace the Field for a Combined 77 Laps Before Securing Top-16 Finishes

FONTANA, Calif. (Oct. 10, 2010) – Jimmie Johnson maintained his position atop the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings after finishing third in Sunday’s Pepsi Max 400 at Auto Club Speedway.

Mark Martin followed Johnson across the finish line, picking up the sixth spot, while Jeff Gordon finished ninth and improved one position in the driver standings to fourth. Dale Earnhardt Jr. took 16th.

The Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolets were strong during Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event, and all four drivers led a combined 77 laps. Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s/Jimmie Johnson Foundation Chevrolet, was the first of the quartet to lead the field. He held the top spot for 22 laps on his way to collecting his 13th top-five finish this season.

Martin, driver of the No. 5 CARQUEST Auto Parts/GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, climbed from his 11th-place starting spot to lead the field by Lap 74. Martin paced the field for a race-high 41 laps on Sunday before picking up his eighth top-10 finish of the season.

Gordon led 11 laps in his No. 24 DuPont/Pepsi Max Chevrolet after starting 17th. But his hopes at a fourth win at Auto Club Speedway were dashed with under 40 laps to go when a speeding penalty on pit road put the No. 24 team at the back of the pack. Gordon steadily climbed his way through the field to score his 16th top-10 finish of the season.

Earnhardt, who lined up eighth for Sunday’s race, steered his No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet into the lead after a caution on Lap 53. While the majority of the field pitted under the yellow flag, the No. 88 team attempted pit strategy, which meant Earnhardt was the leader for three laps.

The Sprint Cup Series next will compete this Saturday night at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. Race coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. ET on ABC.

10.12.2010

OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE DRIVER A RUNAWAY WINNER AT AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY

Tony Stewart Quaker State

Tornados Driver Finishes Fifth at Sponsor’s Home Track

FONTANA, Calif., (October 10, 2010) – Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet Impala, led the two-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., by winning Sunday’s Pepsi Max 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.

Stewart led three times for 27 laps to notch the 39th victory of his Sprint Cup career, his second of the season and his first at Fontana. Stewart has now scored Sprint Cup wins at all but two tracks the Sprint Cup Series currently visits – Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.

The win also secured the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Manufacturers’ Cup for Chevrolet for the 34th time since the inception of the award in 1950. Chevrolet won its first Manufacturers’ Cup in 1958, and this year’s win marked the eighth consecutive season that Chevrolet has captured the title (2003-2010). Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Tornados Chevrolet Impala for SHR, finished fifth. It was his third top-five finish this season and his third top-five in 16 career Sprint Cup starts at Fontana.

The last time both SHR cars finished in the top-five was in June 2009 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway where Stewart was victorious and Newman was fifth. The successful weekend in Southern California was even more special as Haas Automation, which SHR co-owner Gene Haas founded, is located just 108 miles west of Fontana in Oxnard, Calif. And Ruiz Foods, maker of Tornados, is located 244 miles northwest of the 2-mile oval in Dinuba, Calif.

Clint Bowyer finished .466 of a second behind Stewart, while Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne and Newman rounded out the top-five. Mark Martin, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Jeff Gordon and David Reutimann comprised the remainder of the top-10.

There were nine caution periods for 36 laps, with 10 drivers failing to finish the 200-lap race.

Stewart represents SHR in this year’s Chase for the Championship. He came into Fontana 10th among the top-12 drivers competing for this year’s title, 127 points behind Chase leader Johnson. His victory vaulted him to fifth in points, 107 markers arrears Johnson.

Newman remained the highest non-Chase driver in the standings at 13th, 60 points ahead of 14th-place Jamie McMurray.

The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule – the fifth race of the 10-race Chase – is the Oct. 16 Bank of America 500 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. The race begins at 7:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by ABC beginning with a pre-race show at 7 p.m.

10.4.2010

JOHNSON AND GORDON FINISH IN TOP-FIVE TO IMPROVE IN STANDINGS

Jimmie Johnson Quaker State

Four-Time Defending Championship Johnson Takes Over Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship Standings

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (Oct. 3, 2010) – Jimmie Johnson, the four-time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, used a second-place finish in Sunday’s race at Kansas Speedway to take the lead in the driver standings.

Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s/Johns Manville Chevrolet, leads the championship standings by eight points with seven races remaining in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. On Sunday, Johnson lined up 21st and steadily worked his way through the field on the strength of strong runs and solid pit stops.

“To come through a poor qualifying effort and fight for track position all day long and get second at the end was really cool,” Johnson said. “I'm glad we had the finish we did. There's still a lot of racing left, but we're doing the right things. We're making bad weekends good weekends. Although we dominated and won (at Dover (Del.) International Speedway last weekend), we didn't have what we wanted leaving practice yesterday. We didn't have what we wanted for the first half of the race. But we kept working on the car and made it better. I can't thank (crew chief) Chad (Knaus) and all these guys on this Lowe's car enough for their hard work and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports for giving us the tools to go to the racetrack.”

Gordon joined his teammate in the top five with a fifth-place finish and improved three positions in the standings to fifth. He led three times for 29 laps during Sunday’s 400-mile event.

“This track has been good to us,” Gordon said. “We were hoping for a little bit more than that with the way things went all weekend long. The way the race started, we were pretty optimistic but we were just missing a little bit there. We lost some track position. I just give a lot of credit to this DuPont Chevrolet team there at the end. Great pit stops. Good adjustments that brought us back up in the top five so that was a great finish.”

Mark Martin, driver of the No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, lined up 28th and ran as high as fifth before crossing the finish line 14th.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. started Sunday’s contest in 20th and worked through handling issues with his team. He finished 22nd in his No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet.

10.4.2010

STEWART 'CHOPS' AWAY AT POINT DEFICIT IN KANSAS

Meanwhile Another Strong Run Lifts Newman to 9th-Place Finish

KANSAS CITY, Kan., (October 3, 2010) – Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet Impala, led the two-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City by finishing fourth in Sunday’s Price Chopper 400 presented by Kraft Foods NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.

Stewart led four times for a race-high 76 laps to score his eighth top-five finish this season and his fifth top-five in 10 career Sprint Cup starts at Kansas.

Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet Impala for SHR, finished ninth. It was his 11th top-10 finish this season and his fourth top-10 in 10 career Sprint Cup starts at the 1.5-mile oval.

The last time both SHR cars finished in the top-10 was four races ago at Atlanta Motor Speedway where Stewart won and Newman finished eighth.

Greg Biffle beat Jimmie Johnson by 7.638 seconds to win the Price Chopper 400 presented by Kraft Foods. It was his 16th career Sprint Cup victory, his second of the season and his second at Kansas.

Finishing third was Kevin Harvick, while Stewart and Jeff Gordon rounded out the top-five. Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, Paul Menard, Newman and A.J. Allmendinger comprised the remainder of the top-10.

There were five caution periods for 24 laps, with seven drivers failing to finish the 267-lap race.

Stewart represents SHR in this year’s Chase for the Championship. He came into Kansas 10th among the top-12 drivers competing for this year’s title, 162 points behind Chase leader Denny Hamlin. He leaves Kansas still 10th in points, but is now 127 markers arrears new Chase leader Johnson.

Newman remained 13th in the standings and is 22 points ahead of 14th-place Jamie McMurray.

The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule – the fourth race of the 10-race Chase – is the Oct. 10 Pepsi Max 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. The race begins at 3 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by ESPN beginning with a pre-race show at 2 p.m.

SEPTEMBER

9.30.2010

PEDREGON ELIMINATED FOLLOWING FIRST ROUND OF COMPETITION AT THE O’REILLY SUPER START BATTERIES NHRA FALL NATIONALS

Tony Pedregon Quaker State

Quaker State Driver Continues his Quest in the 2010 Countdown to the Championship

ENNIS, Texas (September 27, 2010) – The Quaker State brand once again returned to the Funny Car of Tony Pedregon this weekend at the O’Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec. The competition marked the third event in the 2010 Countdown to the Championship.

The action kicked off with the first round of qualifying on Friday. Pedregon took to the track for his attempt and lined up next to Ron Capps. The driver of the Quaker State Impala laid down a 4.744-second run which ranked him 7th at the completion of the round. Later that afternoon, Pedregon had one more attempt to improve his time. Once again paired with Ron Capps, Pedregon started mixing up cylinders late in the run but still made a strong qualifying attempt and improved his time of record. A 4.263-second run with a top speed of 251.86 mph moved Pedregon to eighth at the end of the second qualification round.

Drivers returned to Texas Motorplex for the O’Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals on Saturday for one more rounds of qualifying. In the third round, Pedregon rattled the tires hard off the line and was forced to give up on the run quickly. The attempt resulted in a 7.963-second run and left him ranked 13th to participate in Sunday’s eliminations.

Tony Pedregon was paired against Bob Tasca III during the first round of eliminations at the O’Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals. Pedregon had been solid throughout the weekend, but with a 2-6 record against Tasca, he knew it would be a difficult round. The Quaker State Impala had a good side-by-side run. Pedregon got the hole-shot, but Tasca drove around him at the 60 foot mark. Despite making his quickest pass of the weekend at 4.234 seconds, the effort still wasn’t good enough to hold off Tasca and Pedregon was eliminated during the opening round.

Pedregon will continue his battle for the 2010 championship at the Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway outside Reading, Pa., October 7-10. Qualifications will be televised on ESPN2 beginning at 10:30 p.m. EST on Saturday, Oct. 9. Coverage will continue on Sunday, Oct. 10, with eliminations beginning at 9:00 p.m. EST also on ESPN.

9.27.2010

RYAN NEWMAN RALLIES FROM EARLY CONTACT TO SCORE 10TH TOP-10 OF 2010 SEASON

Tony Stewart Quaker State

Meanwhile the Monster Mile Bites Teammate Tony Stewart with 21st-Place Finish

DOVER, Del. (Sept. 26, 2010) – Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Haas Automation Chevrolet Impala, led the two-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent at Dover (Del.) International Speedway by finishing eighth in Sunday’s AAA 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. It was his 10th top-10 finish this season and his 11th top-10 in 18 career Sprint Cup starts at Dover.

Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet Impala for SHR, finished 21st after a pit road speeding penalty early in the event put him two laps down.

Jimmie Johnson beat Jeff Burton by 2.637 seconds to win the AAA 400 and score the 53rd victory of his Sprint Cup career, his sixth of the season and his sixth at Dover.

Finishing third was Joey Logano, while Kurt Busch and Carl Edwards rounded out the top-five. Kyle Busch, Paul Menard, Newman, Denny Hamlin and A.J. Allmendinger comprised the remainder of the top-10.

There were four caution periods for 19 laps, with eight drivers failing to finish the 400-lap race.

Stewart represents SHR in this year’s Chase for the Championship. He came into Dover 10th among the top-12 drivers competing for this year’s title, 124 points behind Chase leader Denny Hamlin. He leaves Dover still 10th in points, but 162 markers arrears Hamlin.

Newman remained 13th in the standings with 3,363 points, 19 markers ahead of 14th-place Jamie McMurray.

The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule – the third race of the 10-race Chase – is the Oct. 3 Price Chopper 400 presented by Kraft Foods at Kansas Speedway in Kansas Speedway. The race begins at 1 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by ESPN. A pre-race show airs at noon on ESPN2.

9.27.2010

JOHNSON CONQUERS THE MONSTER MILE TO TAKE OVER SECOND-PLACE IN THE CHASE FOR THE SPRINT CUP STANDINGS

Jimmie Johnson Quaker State

Gordon Finishes 11th and Moves to Eighth in Championship Point Standings

DOVER, Del. (Sept. 26, 2010) – Jimmie Johnson knows his way around Dover International Speedway, and the four-time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion made his sixth trip to Victory Lane at the concrete oval on Sunday. With the win, Johnson improves four spots in the driver standings to second. He ranks just 35 points behind leader Denny Hamlin in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s/KOBALT Tools Chevrolet, opened Sunday’s Cup event from the pole position -- the third of his career at Dover -- and took the lead by Lap 172. Johnson led five times for a race-high 191 laps.

"I just can't thank everybody at Hendrick Motorsports enough for working as hard as they do," Johnson said. "It just never quits. It never stops. And I'm so thankful for the engine shop, the chassis shop and all the great guys who work on this Lowe's/KOBALT Tools car and all the great people at Lowe's and KOBALT Tools for their support; the fans and everything. There's this huge weight off my shoulders that we were able to win a race in the Chase, rebound from last weekend. We're in the middle of this thing, and I'm really, really excited."

Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont/Law Enforcement Museum Chevrolet, began Sunday’s 400-mile affair from the 15th starting spot and worked his way into the top 10 by Lap 60. Gordon overcame a late-race pit miscue to hold on and finish 11th. But despite his competitive run, Gordon slipped four spots to eighth in the Chase.

"You can't give up those positions, especially when you come to a place like this where most of the Chase guys are going to be up front," Gordon said. "The first half of the race went pretty good. The second half, when the rubber laid down, man we just really struggled. It was everything I could do to just hang on to it, let alone finish 11th. So things didn't go our way there at the end. We lost some extra positions and just held on for 11th. That's all we can do."

Mark Martin, driver of the No. 5 Delphi/GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, started Sunday’s race from 42nd and climbed his way into the top 15 by Lap 200. Martin finished 12th.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet, started 32nd and worked through handling issues in Sunday’s 400-lap event to finish 23rd.

9.22.2010

STEWART RUNS FAST AT LOUDON BEFORE FUEL RUNS OUT

Tony Stewart Quaker State

Teammate Ryan Newman Finishes 8th in New Hampshire Sprint Cup Race

LOUDON, N.H. (Sept. 19, 2010) - Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet Impala, led the two-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon by finishing eighth in Sunday’s Sylvania 300 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. It was his ninth top-10 finish this season and his 12th top-10 in 18 career Sprint Cup starts at New Hampshire.

Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet Impala for SHR, finished a disappointing 24th after running out of fuel on the penultimate lap while leading. Stewart led three times for 100 laps, second-most of all drivers.

Clint Bowyer wound up the winner, beating Denny Hamlin to the line by .477 of a second to score his third career Sprint Cup victory, his first of the season and his second at New Hampshire. Bowyer led seven times for a race-high 177 laps.

Finishing third was Jamie McMurray, while Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top-five. Jeff Gordon, David Reutimann, Newman, Kyle Busch and Sam Hornish Jr., comprised the remainder of the top-10.

There were eight caution periods for 34 laps, with eight drivers failing to finish the 300-lap race.

Stewart represents SHR in this year’s Chase for the Championship and came into New Hampshire seeded sixth, 50 points behind Chase leader Hamlin. The two-time Sprint Cup champion leaves Loudon 11th in points, 124 markers arrears Hamlin.

With nine races remaining before a champion is crowned following the season finale Nov. 21 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the top-12 drivers competing for the title rank as follows: 1. Denny Hamlin (5,230 points), 2. Clint Bowyer (5,195 points, -35), 3. Kevin Harvick (5,185 points, -45), 4. Kyle Busch (5,168 points -62), 5. Jeff Gordon (5,155 points, -75) 6. Kurt Busch (5,144 points, -86), 7. Jimmie Johnson (5,138 points, -92), 8. Carl Edwards (5,135 points, -95), 9. Greg Biffle (5,122 points, -108), 10. Jeff Burton (5,118 points, -112), 11. Tony Stewart (5,106 points, -124), 12. Matt Kenseth (5,094 points, -136). 

The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule – the second race of the 10-race Chase for the Championship – is the Sept. 26 AAA 400 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. The race begins at 1 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by ESPN2 beginning at noon.

9.22.2010

DALE EARNHARDT JR AND JEFF GORDON FINISH IN TOP-SIX AT LOUDON

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Quaker State

Johnson Involved in Two Multi-Car Incidents En Route to a 25th-Place Finish

LOUDON, N.H. (Sept. 19, 2010) – Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon earned spots inside the top six, while their Hendrick Motorsports teammates were caught up in separate incidents during Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Earnhardt, driver of the No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet, demonstrated his passing prowess during Sunday’s 300-lap event. He lined up 32nd and improved 22 spots within the first 60 laps. Twice more, Earnhardt had to rally back into the top 10. As the race wound down, Earnhardt held on to finish fourth and collect his third top-five finish of the season.

"The setbacks we had today hurt us a lot," Earnhardt said. "I want to thank AMP Energy and National Guard and the team, they worked really hard. We unloaded a great car, they did a good job preparing it at the shop. We worked on it all weekend. It was pretty good in practice and we approved on it a little bit. We had an eighth place finish last time and felt like we were really fast and competitive all day long. We can't qualify very good here, but once we get in race trim, we just kind of go to the front or get near the front."

Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont/National Guard Chevrolet, steadily improved from his 17th starting spot to run inside the top 10 within the first 120 laps. Gordon maintained his position there, even leading once for two laps, before crossing the finish line sixth. A four-time Cup champion, Gordon is ranked fifth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

"It wasn't our best day, but I felt like we really brought the No. 24 car home in the best position we possibly could," Gordon said. "We had some high hopes when we got up there to third or fourth; even to second at one time, but I think Steve (Letarte, crew chief) called a great race. He didn't want to risk the fuel, and it just wasn't worth it. We did a gas-and-go and probably just needed to make one adjustment on that last set of tires; we got real tight there at the end, but when those guys didn't make it on fuel it definitely made us feel that much better about the call that Steve made and come home sixth. It was still a good points day for us."

Mark Martin started 26th in his No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet and spent the outset of the race mired in traffic before being involved in an incident on Lap 206 that stunted his team’s forward progress. Martin, driver of the No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, crossed the finish line 29th.

Johnson started 25th and steered the No. 48 Lowe’s/John’s Manville Chevrolet into the top 10 within the first 30 laps. Johnson ran as high as third and was running ninth when he was involved in a multi-car incident on Lap 223 in Turn 2. Four other contenders in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup were involved in the accident, which pushed the No. 48 team to the back of the pack for the restart. Johnson’s rally was cut short, though, when he was involved in another multi-car incident in Turn 2 almost 20 laps later. The four-time defending champion finished 25th and now ranks seventh in the Chase standings.

"We showed up today," Johnson said. "We did what we could. We had a decent car today and ran in the top five and top 10, but just didn’t end up finishing there. We’ll go home and get back to work and go after it again next week.”

The Chase continues next Sunday at 1 p.m. ET at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. The race will be televised on ESPN.

9.14.2010

RYAN NEWMAN LEADS STEWART-HAAS RACING WITH AN 11TH-PLACE FINISH IN RICHMOND

Stewart Haas Racing Teammates Quaker State

Tony Stewart Will Begin the Chase for the Championship Ranked Sixth

RICHMOND, Va. (Sept. 11, 2010) – Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet Impala, led the two-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway by finishing 11th in Saturday night’s Air Guard 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.

Unfortunately, the result was not enough to put Newman into the 12-driver Chase for the Championship, as he leaves Richmond 13th in the point standings, just 98 markers behind 12th-place Greg Biffle. Tony Stewart, Newman’s teammate and car owner, claimed his Chase berth last weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Ga., by winning the Emory Healthcare 500.

Stewart drove his No. 14 Old Spice/ Office Depot Chevrolet Impala to a 16th-place finish at Richmond. He is seeded sixth in the Chase, 50 points behind top-seed Denny Hamlin.

Hamlin beat his Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) teammate, Kyle Busch, by .537 of a second to win the Air Guard 400. It was his 14th career Sprint Cup victory, his series-high sixth of the season and his second at Richmond. The win was especially meaningful to Hamlin as he grew up in Chesterfield, Va., just 22 miles from Richmond International Raceway.

Finishing third was four-time and reigning Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson. JGR driver Joey Logano finished fourth, while Marcos Ambrose, Clint Bowyer, Juan Pablo Montoya, A.J. Allmendinger, Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards comprised the remainder of the top-10.

There were three caution periods for 28 laps, with five drivers failing to finish the 400-lap race.

Richmond marked the last race of the regular season, as the Chase for the Championship now begins. This is Stewart’s sixth appearance in the Chase and he won the Chase in 2005 – the second year of the format – to collect his second Sprint Cup championship. (Stewart’s first championship came in 2002 under the old NASCAR Winston Cup Series format.)

Only the top-12 drivers in points are eligible to compete for the Chase for the Championship. NASCAR recalibrated the points for those in the top-12 as soon as the Richmond race was over, with each driver getting 5,000 points, plus 10 bonus points for each of their respective wins during the 26-race regular season. For drivers starting the Chase with identical point totals, their seed was determined by the traditional tiebreaker of best finishes beyond race victories. Tony Stewart will start the Chase for the Championship in the sixth position, fifty points behind the top-ranked seed, Denny Hamlin.

The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule – the first race of the 10-race Chase for the Championship – is the Sept. 19 Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. The race begins at 1 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by ESPN. A pre-race show will be broadcast at noon on ESPN2.

9.14.2010

JIMMIE JOHNSON THREATENED FOR THE WIN WITH A THIRD-PLACE FINISH AT RICHMOND INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY

Jimmie Johnson

Chase Kicks Off with Johnson Ranked Second and Gordon Ranked Eighth

RICHMOND, Va. (Sept. 11, 2010) – Jimmie Johnson threatened for the win in Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Richmond International Raceway, but ultimately crossed the finish line third and earned the second-place spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Race winner Denny Hamlin captured the top spot for the championship hunt, which begins next weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Johnson opened Saturday’s race from the 11th position and led seven laps, never falling outside of the top 10. With a fifth straight title in his sights, Johnson will be joined in the Chase by his teammate Jeff Gordon, who also is seeking a fifth Cup championship. Gordon drove his No. 24 DuPont/National Guard Military Intelligence Chevrolet to a 12th-place finish Saturday, and he will start the postseason from the eighth position.

Mark Martin, driver of the No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, finished 20th on Saturday, while Dale Earnhardt Jr. drove his No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet to a 34th-place result.

Next weekend the 2010 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship will kick off with the Sylvania 300 from New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday, September 19. ESPN will have a live television broadcast of the event beginning at 1:00 p.m. EST. Meanwhile, PRN and Sirius XM Radio provide a live radio play-by-play of the action at 12:00 p.m. EST.

9.7.2010

STEWART WINS AT ATLANTA MOTOR SPEEDWAY TO COLLECT FIRST SPRINT CUP WIN OF 2010

Tony Stewart Quaker State

Ryan Newman Bounces Back from Adversity Twice to Post an Eighth-Place Finish

HAMPTON, Ga. (Sept. 5, 2010) – Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet Impala, led the two-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent by winning Sunday night’s Emory Healthcare 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Stewart led eight times for a race-high 176 laps in the 325-lap contest to score his first victory since winning last October at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City – a span of 31 races. It was the 38th point-paying win of Stewart’s Sprint Cup career and his fifth since joining SHR in 2009. It was also his third Sprint Cup win at Atlanta, as Stewart won at the 1.54-mile oval in March 2002 and October 2006. Stewart has now won a race in each of his 12 Sprint Cup seasons.

In nabbing his first win of 2010, Stewart earned 10 bonus points for the upcoming Chase for the Championship. The two-time Sprint Cup champion clinched his spot in the elite 12-driver Chase via his performance at Atlanta, as he left the penultimate Race to the Chase with an insurmountable 353-point advantage over 13th-place Ryan Newman, Stewart’s teammate and the first driver on the outside looking in at the Chase with only one race remaining before the Chase field is set. This marks the sixth time since the Chase debuted in 2004 that Stewart has qualified for the playoff-like title hunt.

This was also the second Sprint Cup victory for SHR in 2010, as Newman won in April at Phoenix International Raceway.

Newman, driver of the No. 39 U.S. Army Reserve Chevrolet Impala for SHR, finished eighth after starting second. It was his sixth top-10 finish at Atlanta and his eighth top-10 finish of 2010.

Carl Edwards finished 1.316 seconds behind Stewart in the runner-up spot, while Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Burton and Kyle Busch rounded out the top-five. Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer, Newman, Juan Pablo Montoya and Marcos Ambrose comprised the remainder of the top-10.

There were eight caution periods for 53 laps, with 10 drivers failing to finish.

With round 25 of 36 complete, Stewart picked up two spots to climb to fourth in the Sprint Cup championship standings. He now has 3,302 points and is 283 markers behind series leader Kevin Harvick. Newman gained two positions in the standings and now has 2,949 points and is 117 points back of 12th-place Bowyer, who holds the final spot in the Chase. The top-10 drivers in points are all locked into the Chase.

The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Sept. 11 Air Guard 400 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. The race starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by ABC beginning with its pre-race show at 7 p.m.

9.7.2010

JIMMIE JOHNSON EARNS A SPOT TO COMPETE IN THE CHASE FOR THE NASCAR SPRINT CUP CHAMPIONSHIP

Quaker State Jimmie Johnson

Jeff Gordon Joined Teammate Johnson with Finishes Inside the Top-13

HAMPTON, Ga. (Sept. 5, 2010) – Jimmie Johnson secured his spot inside the upcoming Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup with a third-place finish in Sunday night’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

His Hendrick Motorsports teammates rounded out the top 22. Jeff Gordon finished 13th, Mark Martin took 21st and Dale Earnhardt Jr. scored 22nd.

Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s/KOBALT Tools Chevrolet, opened Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Atlanta in seventh and contended for the win, leading eight laps toward the end.

“It was a really good night,” said Johnson, who ranks seventh in the driver standings. “There were times where we lost the handle, and we were able to address the car and get it back. All in all, solid day -- good job in the pits, good job on the track. I’m glad to get a good run on a track that’s been tough on us.”

Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont/Jeff Gordon Foundation Chevrolet, entered Sunday’s race with his spot secure in the Chase. He started 18th and climbed his way inside the top 10. Handling became an issue, though, and the No. 24 team worked hard to help Gordon finish 13th.

Martin lined up his No. 5 CARQUEST Auto Parts/GoDaddy.com Chevrolet in 17th with his sights set on cracking back into the top 12 in the driver standings. His forward progress was hampered by handling issues, though, and Martin crossed the finish line 21st. He remains 15th in the driver standings, 147 points behind 12th-place Clint Bowyer with one race remaining until the postseason field is set.

“We just weren’t fast enough,” Martin said. “We really weren’t that far off on our balance. We just didn’t have the speed. We battled and really some of the long runs were ok – we were really close to the leaders. But I was three-quarters of a lap behind. We’ve just got to get our stuff faster.

“We’ll take these next races, and we’ll work really, really hard like we have been to get in the Chase,” Martin added. “And we’ll work hard to get prepared for next year. We had such a rocket ship last year, and Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) and I both had a career year last year. That’s what we hope to have next year. Right now, we’ve got some work to do.”

Earnhardt followed Martin across the finish line in 22nd in his No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet. Earnhardt started the race 25th and steadily improved his position. He spent most of the race running in the top 15.

The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Sept. 11 Air Guard 400 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. The race starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by ABC beginning with its pre-race show at 7 p.m.

AUGUST

8.23.2010

RYAN NEWMAN LEADS STEWART-HAAS RACING WITH A SIXTH-PLACE FINISH ON SATURDAY NIGHT

Quaker State driver Ryan Newman

Tony Stewart Is Involved in a Multi-Car Accident En Route to a 27th-Place Finish

BRISTOL, Tenn. (Aug. 21, 2010) – Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 WIX Filters Chevrolet Impala, led the two-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent by finishing sixth in Saturday’s Irwin Tools Night Race NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. It was Newman’s seventh top-10 of 2010 and his 10th top-10 at Bristol.

Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet Impala for SHR, finished 27th to break a five-race string of top-10 finishes. His last result outside the top-10 came July 3 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway where he was caught up in a multi-car accident and placed 25th.

Kyle Busch won the Irwin Tools Night Race to score his 19th career Sprint Cup victory, his third of the season and his fourth at Bristol. Busch pulled the Bristol hat trick, winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race Wednesday night, the NASCAR Nationwide Series race Friday night and the Sprint Cup race Saturday night. It was the first time any driver has swept NASCAR’s top-three touring divisions in a single race weekend.

David Reutimann finished .677 of a second behind Busch in the runner-up spot, while Jamie McMurray, Clint Bowyer and Kasey Kahne rounded out the top-five. Newman, Juan Pablo Montoya, Greg Biffle, Kurt Busch and Matt Kenseth comprised the remainder of the top-10.

There were seven caution periods for 39 laps, with eight drivers failing to finish the 500-lap race.

With round 24 of 36 complete, Stewart dropped two spots to sixth in the Sprint Cup championship standings. He now has 3,107 points and is 414 markers behind series leader Kevin Harvick and 287 points ahead of 13th-place Jamie McMurray, the first driver on the outside looking in at the 12-driver Chase for the Championship, which will be decided in the next two races. Newman fell one position to 15th in the standings. He has 2,802 points and is 118 points back of 12th-place Bowyer, who holds the final spot in the Chase.

The Sprint Cup Series takes a rare weekend off before returning to action at Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Sept. 5 Emory Healthcare 500. The race starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by ESPN beginning with its pre-race show at 7 p.m.

8.23.2010

JEFF GORDON CLINCHES SPOT TO COMPETE IN THE 2010 CHASE FOR THE NASCAR SPRINT CUP

Quaker State driver Jimmie Johnson

Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Finish Inside the Top-15 at Bristol

BRISTOL, Tenn. (Aug. 21, 2010) – Jeff Gordon clinched his spot inside the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and led his Hendrick Motorsports teammates with an 11th-place finish on Saturday at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. followed Gordon in 13th, while Mark Martin finished 23rd and Jimmie Johnson finished 35th.

Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, climbed from his 26th-starting position to lead two laps and finish 11th. Gordon remains second in the driver standings.

“We’ve had a heck of a season,” Gordon said. “Very consistent runs and strong runs. We haven’t won yet, I still think we have a heck of a shot at the championship. I am really happy to be in the Chase again. Right now we are focused on wins and bonus points and I am a little disappointed with an 11th-place finish tonight but it wasn’t from a lack of effort, that is for sure.

“I hope these fans here had a lot of fun because it was a lot of fun to race. There were a lot of great battles. They have so many amazing fans here in Bristol so thanks for that.”

Earnhardt drove his No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet from a 27th-starting spot to a 13th-place finish and is ranked 19th in the driver standings. With two races remaining before the field is set in the Chase, Earnhardt trails 12th-place by 170 points.

Martin started 13th in his No. 5 CARQUEST Auto Parts/GoDaddy.com Chevrolet and led one lap before crossing finish line 23rd. Martin is ranked 14th in the driver standings, 101 points outside the Chase with two races remaining before the field is set.

Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, started from the pole position and led 175 laps before being involved in an accident on Lap 262. Johnson’s No. 48 team worked to fix the damage, and he returned to finish 35th. Johnson ranks ninth in the driver standings.

The Sprint Cup Series takes a rare weekend off before returning to action at Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Sept. 5 Emory Healthcare 500. The race starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by ESPN beginning with its pre-race show at 7 p.m.

8.16.2010

JIMMIE JOHNSON LEADS HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS WITH A 12TH-PLACE FINISH AT MICHIGAN

Jimmie Johnson Quaker State

Gordon Remains Second in the NSCS Point Standings in his Charge for the 2010 Race for the Chase

BROOKLYN, Mich. (Aug. 15, 2010) – Jimmie Johnson was Hendrick Motorsports’ highest finisher in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Michigan International Speedway. Johnson took 12th, while his teammates rounded out the top 28 positions -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 19th, Jeff Gordon finished 27th and Mark Martin took 28th.

Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, started from the outside pole position and led the first 14 laps. The No. 48 team overcame a miscue on pit road to finish 12th. Johnson remains ranked fifth in the driver standings.

"We overcame a lot today,” Johnson said. “We started the race good and faded a little bit and in the middle of the race when things started to slip from us. We did a good job of keeping our heads in the game and not letting it beat us down and start making bad decisions.”

Earnhardt followed Johnson across the finish line in his No. 88 National Guard ‘Drive the Guard’/AMP Energy Chevrolet to take 19th. Earnhardt opened Sunday’s event from the 38th position and steadily climbed throughout the race, running as high as 15th on Lap 180. He is ranked 17th in the driver standings with three races until the field is set for the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Earnhardt is 129 points behind 12th-place Clint Bowyer.

Gordon lined his No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet 36th and was running eighth by Lap 80. But misfortune on Lap 154 – a cut tire – hampered Gordon’s run, and he finished 27th. With 10 top-five finishes and 13 top-10s, Gordon remains second in the driver standings.

“We had a great run going, and I was really excited about how good the car was to be able to drive up from 36th,” Gordon said. “I really thought we were going to give those guys a run for the win there. But, everything that could have of happened did happen. We cut the front tire and got damage to the right-rear (tire); the vacuum system -- we had a problem with that.

“We've just got to work hard and keep putting good race cars out there and you just hope that things turn around and come your way. That's the thing about the Chase. Your momentum can shift at any time."

Martin focused his efforts on finding that momentum on Sunday. He lined up 12th in his No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, but unfortunately made contact with the No. 82, which affected the front of the No. 5 Chevrolet. Martin finished 28th and is ranked 13th in the driver standings, 35 points behind 12th-place

"My guys did an awesome job,” Martin said. “The car was really fast the last run but it took us the whole race to fix up my mistake. I was real aggressive early in the race and got the damage in the front. It got us a little bit behind first of all and then got the damage in the front end. We going to race hard like we did today and try not to have any more scrapes but we're going to go down swinging and that's what we did today."

The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Aug. 21 Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. The race starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by ABC beginning with its pre-race show at 7 p.m.

8.16.2010

TONY STEWART SCORES A SIXTH-PLACE FINISH IN THE CARFAX 400

Tony Stewart Quaker State

Newman Finishes 23rd After Mid-Race Contact Leaves Him Spinning Across the Track

BROOKLYN, Mich. (Aug. 15, 2010) – Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet Impala, led the two-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent by finishing sixth in Sunday’s CARFAX 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. It was Stewart’s 16th top-10 finish at the 2-mile oval and his 13th top-10 finish this season.

Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Tornados Chevrolet Impala for SHR, finished 23rd after running in the top-15 for much of the first half of the event. Mid-race contact with Joey Logano caused Newman to spin and lose a lap. While he eventually regained that lost lap, he ended up mired in traffic and unable to crack the top-15 again.

Kevin Harvick won the CARFAX 400 to score his 14th career Sprint Cup victory, his third of the season and his first at Michigan.

Denny Hamlin finished 1.731 seconds behind Harvick in the runner-up spot, while Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth rounded out the top-five. Stewart, Juan Pablo Montoya, Martin Truex Jr., Elliott Sadler and Logano comprised the remainder of the top-10.

There were five caution periods for 25 laps, with seven drivers failing to finish the 200-lap race.

With round 23 of 36 complete, Stewart jumped four spots to fourth in the Sprint Cup championship standings. He now has 3,020 points and is 380 markers behind series leader Harvick and 300 points ahead of 13th-place Mark Martin, the first driver on the outside looking in at the 12-driver Chase for the Championship, which will be decided in the next three races. Newman remained 14th in the standings. He has 2,652 points and is 103 points back of 12th-place Clint Bowyer, who holds the final spot in the Chase.

The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Aug. 21 Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. The race starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by ABC beginning with its pre-race show at 7 p.m.

8.9.2010

JEFF GORDON LEADS HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS TEAMMATES WITH A 10TH-PLACE FINISH AT WATKINS GLEN INTERNATIONAL

No. 48 Quaker State Crew at The Glen

Mark Martin Moves Inside The Race for the Chase

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (Aug. 8, 2010) – Jeff Gordon earned his 13th top-10 finish of the season while Mark Martin broke into the top 12 in the driver standings in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Watkins Glen International.

Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, opened Sunday’s race from the 16th position and steadily climbed through the field. He remains second in the driver standings with four races remaining till the field is set for the 2010 Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Martin, driver of the No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, entered the 90-lap affair only 34 points outside of the top 12. The NASCAR veteran smoothly negotiated the 2.45-mile course and finished 19th, while Clint Bowyer, the driver previously ranked 12th in the standings, experienced a chassis issue and finished 32nd. Martin, now ranked 12th, owns a 10-point advantage over Bowyer, who dropped to 13th.

Jimmie Johnson opened Sunday’s race in the ninth position and worked with his team to find the right handling for his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet. With under 10 laps left in the race, Johnson was involved in an accident in Turn 7. His team hammered out the damage, and Johnson was scored with a 32nd-place finish. Johnson is ranked fifth in the driver standings.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was scored 26th after his team spent most of the race finding a solution for the handling of the No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet. Earnhardt, who opened Sunday’s race 40th, ranks 16th in the driver standings, 121 points out of 12th-place.

Next weekend the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will roar into Michigan International Speedway for the second time this season. The Carfax 400 will be broadcast live on ESPN at 1:00 p.m. EST on Sunday, August 15th. MRN and Sirius XM Radio will also have live coverage from Michigan International Speedway beginning at 12:00 p.m. EST.

8.9.2010

STEWART RACES TO A SEVENTH-PLACE FINISH AT WATKINS GLEN INTERNATIONAL

Tony Stewart Quaker State Watkins Glen International

Finish Marked Stewart’s Ninth Top-10 at The Glen; Teammate Ryan Newman Finishes 12th

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y . (Aug. 8, 2010) - Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Old Spice/Office Depot Chevrolet Impala, led the two-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent by finishing seventh in Sunday’s Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at The Glen NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International.

It was Stewart’s ninth top-10 finish in 12 career Sprint Cup starts at the 2.45-mile, 11-turn road course, but ended a streak of six consecutive top-two finishes, including victories in 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2009. It was Stewart’s 12th top-10 finish of the season.

Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet for SHR, finished 12th. It was his eighth top-12 finish of the season and second in a row, and his best result at Watkins Glen since he finished eighth in 2006.

Juan Pablo Montoya won the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at The Glen to score his second career Sprint Cup victory, his first of the season and his first at Watkins Glen.

Kurt Busch finished 4.735 seconds behind Montoya in the runner-up spot, while Marcos Ambrose, A.J. Allmendinger and Carl Edwards rounded out the top-five. Jamie McMurray, Stewart, Kyle Busch, Jeff Burton and Jeff Gordon comprised the remainder of the top-10.

There were five caution periods for 13 laps, with nine drivers failing to finish the 90-lap race.

With round 22 of 36 complete, Stewart remained eighth in the Sprint Cup championship standings. He now has 2,865 points and is 345 markers behind series leader Kevin Harvick and 234 points ahead of 13th-place Clint Bowyer, the first driver on the outside looking in at the 12-driver Chase for the Championship, which will be decided in the next four races. Newman moved up one position to 14th in the standings. He has 2,558 points and is 83 points back of 12th-place Mark Martin, who holds the final spot in the Chase.

The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Aug. 15 Carfax 400 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. The race starts at 1 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by ESPN beginning with its pre-race show at noon.

8.2.2010

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS TRIO FINISHES INSIDE THE TOP-10

Jeff Gordon Quaker State

Jeff Gordon Leads Teammates with a Sixth-Place Finish

LONG POND, Pa. (Aug. 1, 2010) – Hendrick Motorsports dominated most of Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Pocono Raceway, and three of its four drivers left the 500-mile event with top-10 finishes.

Jeff Gordon led his teammates across the finish line with a sixth-place result, while Mark Martin took seventh and Jimmie Johnson finished 10th. Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet, left with 27th-place.

Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, lined up fourth for Sunday’s event and was the race leader within the first lap. Johnson, who started the race sixth in his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, joined Gordon as a front-runner and led a race-high 96 laps as he battled for his sixth win of the 2010 season. Meanwhile, Martin and Earnhardt jockeyed for position inside the top 10 as the race unfolded.

But ultimately it was Gordon in the best position as the laps counted down. With 35 laps to go, he was running first when a multi-car incident happened on the backstretch, prompting NASCAR officials to wave the red flag. After a 17 minute and 20 second clean-up period, racing resumed and the drivers headed for pit road.

A variety of strategies were employed, and Martin made the best progress off pit road, taking over the third position for the restart on Lap 180. Gordon was 13th, while Johnson was 15th and Earnhardt was 24th. As the race wound down, the drivers worked hard to improve their positions.

Gordon, who led seven times for 39 laps, remains second in the driver standings, while Johnson remains fourth. Martin ranks 13th, but trails 12th-place Clint Bowyer by only 34 points with five races remaining till the cutoff for the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Earnhardt is 14th and trails 12th-place by 129 points.

8.2.2010

TONY STEWART RACES TO A RUNNER-UP FINISH AT POCONO RACEWAY

Tony Stewart Quaker State

Stewart’s Achieves 18th Top-10 at Pocono, While a Pit Calls Lifts Newman to 12th-Place Finish at Pocono Raceway

LONG POND, Pa. (Aug. 1, 2010) - Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet Impala, led the two-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent by finishing second in Sunday’s Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.

It was Stewart’s 18th top-10 finish in 24 career Sprint Cup starts at Pocono and his 11th top-10 of 2010. It was also the fourth time in the last five Sprint Cup races at Pocono that Stewart has finished third or better – a stat that includes his first point-paying win as a driver/owner with SHR on June 7, 2009.

Stewart now has three second-place finishes so far this season, with the other two coming at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway on March 21 and New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on June 27. He remains winless this season, with his last victory coming 29 races ago at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City on Oct. 4, 2009.

Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet Impala for SHR, used late-race pit strategy to finish 12th. On the final pit stop of the day, he and crew chief Tony Gibson opted to make a fuel-only stop, which vaulted them from 24th to eighth. And even with tires that were well worn compared to the drivers around Newman that either took two or four tires, the U.S. Army pilot was able to take advantage of his newfound track position and post a solid result.

Greg Biffle won the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 to score his 15th career Sprint Cup victory, his first of the season and his first at Pocono.

Stewart finished 3.598 seconds behind Biffle, while Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top-five. Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin, Jeff Burton, Martin Truex Jr., and Jimmie Johnson comprised the remainder of the top-10.

There were five caution periods for 31 laps, with 12 drivers failing to finish the 200-lap race, which was delayed nearly an hour due to rain.

With round 21 of 36 complete, Stewart is eighth in the Sprint Cup championship standings. He gained one spot and now has 2,719 points, 361 markers behind series leader Harvick and 189 points ahead of 13th-place Martin, the first driver on the outside looking in at the 12-driver Chase for the Championship, which will be decided in the next five races. Newman held his 15th position in the standings. He has 2,426 points and is 138 points back of 12th-place Clint Bowyer, who holds the final spot in the Chase.

The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Aug. 8 Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at The Glen at the Watkins Glen (N.Y) International road course, where Stewart is a five-time victor and the defending race winner. The race begins at 1 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by ESPN beginning with its pre-race show at noon.

JULY

7.26.2010

STEWART RACES TO A FIFTH-PLACE FINISH WHILE NEWMAN BATTLES BACK FROM TWO FLAT TIRES EARLY IN THE 17TH RUNNING OF THE BRICKYARD 400

Tony Stewart Leads the SHR Contingent with Fifth-Place Finish While Ryan Newman Comes Home 17th

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (July 25, 2010) - Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Old Spice/Office Depot Chevrolet Impala, led the two-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent by finishing fifth in Sunday’s 17th running of the Brickyard 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It was Stewart’s sixth top-five finish in 12 career Sprint Cup starts at Indianapolis and his fifth top-five of 2010.

Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Haas Automation Chevrolet Impala for SHR, finished 17th after battling back from two early flat tires that had him two laps down and in 37th-place just 20 laps into the 160-lap contest.

Jamie McMurray won the Brickyard 400 to score his fifth career Sprint Cup victory, his second of the season and his first at Indianapolis. McMurray also won the 2010 Daytona 500, making him just the third driver in NASCAR history to win the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 in the same season. Dale Jarrett first accomplished the feat in 1996, while Jimmie Johnson won both races in 2006.

Championship point leader Kevin Harvick finished 1.391 seconds behind race-winner McMurray, while Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer and Stewart rounded out the top-five. Jeff Burton, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano and Kurt Busch comprised the remainder of the top-10.

There were six caution periods for 25 laps, with 10 drivers failing to finish.

With round 20 of 36 complete, Stewart remains ninth in the Sprint Cup championship standings. He has 2,544 points, 376 markers behind series leader Harvick and 160 points ahead of 13th-place Mark Martin. Newman gained one spot and is now 15th. He has 2,299 points and is 147 points back of 12th-place Bowyer, who holds the final spot in the 12-driver Chase for the Championship with six races remaining before the Chase begins.

The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Aug. 1 Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. The race starts at 1 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by ESPN beginning with its pre-race show at noon on ESPN2.

7.26.2010

MARK MARTIN LEADS HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS WITH AN 11TH-PLACE FINISH AT INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY

Quaker State Hendrick Motorsports Race at Indianapolis

The Four-Car Hendrick Motorsports Team Raced Inside the Top-15 before Succumbing to a Variety of Obstacles in the 17th Annual Brickyard 400

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (July 25, 2010) – Although the Hendrick Motorsports lineup started Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event strong, Mark Martin scored the highest finish and placed 11th in the 400-mile event.

Martin, driver of the No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, started from the third position and battled early for the lead with Juan Pablo Montoya and teammate Jimmie Johnson. Martin eventually took the lead, pacing the field for 10 laps. He crossed the finish line 11th and is ranked 13th in the driver standings.

Johnson lined up his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet from the outside pole position and maintained his footing inside the top 10 during the outset of the race. The two-time defending race winner led one lap but experienced handling issues that resulted in a 22nd-place finish for the No. 48 team.

“We were just trying to make the car better on the pit stops,” said Johnson, who ranks fourth in the driver standings. “We took some time early in the race to adjust the car and correct the tight in. My car was just so tight in. I had guys out-braking me at a track where you really don't charge the corner. We were really confused as to why.”

Jeff Gordon started eight in the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet and never dropped out of the top 15 until late in the race. With about 30 laps to go, Gordon shredded a tire. The unscheduled pit stop jeopardized his running position, and he crossed the finish line 23rd behind Johnson.

"We just didn't have it,” said Gordon, who is ranked second in the driver standings. “We looked pretty good in qualifying but I thought in practice we were going to be better. As a group, we'll go back and review everything and try to see what we're missing and we'll pay attention to the competition. This is a unique place. We all want to win here.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. started 17th and ran as high as 13th during Sunday’s race. The driver of the No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet also experienced handling issues during the middle of the race that affected his forward progress. He worked with crew chief Lance McGrew to address the issue, and the No. 88 team was attempting to charge through the field when Earnhardt was collected in an incident with Montoya in Turn 4. Earnhardt finished the event 27th and is ranked 14th in the driver standings.

“Right in the middle of the race, it got real tight,” Earnhardt said. “Then we fixed it. I felt like we were pretty good coming up through there. Right at the end, I felt like we had a good car, a good top-10 car. (Juan Pablo) Montoya got in the fence there and just kind of pulled down and stopped in front of us. I was side-by-side with somebody. I didn’t even see him hit the wall, I didn’t even know there was a car in the wall until he came across the No. 47 (Marcos Ambrose) hood and there he was, I ran right in the back of them, nowhere to go.”

Next week the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will travel to Pocono Raceway on Sunday, August 1. Live flag-to-flag coverage of the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 will begin at 1:00 p.m. EST on ESPN. MRN and SIRIUS XM Satellite Radio will provide a radio broadcast of the 200-lap race beginning at 12:00 p.m. EST.

7.13.2010

JEFF GORDON GAINS GROUND ON NSCS POINT LEADER

Jeff Gordon Chicagoland Quaker State

Other Members of Hendrick Motorsports Race Inside The Top 25 Positions to Maintain Point Standing

JOLIET, Ill. (July 10, 2010) – Jeff Gordon earned his ninth top-five finish of the season and drew closer to points leader Kevin Harvick in the championship standings after Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Chicagoland Speedway.

Gordon lined up his No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet sixth for his 600th Cup start. He led twice for 47 laps before crossing the finish line third. He remains second in the driver standings – 103 points behind Harvick.

Mark Martin, driver of the No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, rallied from his 21st starting spot to finish 15th, while Dale Earnhardt Jr. was scored 23rd in his No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet. Earnhardt now ranks 13th in the driver standings, and Martin is 14th.

Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, opened Saturday’s race from the outside pole position and led the first 92 laps. He held steady in the top 10, but lost position after spinning on the backstretch on Lap 137. Johnson, who remains third in the driver standings, crossed the finish line 25th.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will return to action at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, July 25th with the 16th running of the Brickyard 400. Live flag-to-flag coverage will kick off on ESPN beginning at 1:00 p.m. EST. IMS Radio and Sirius XM Satellite Radio will begin at 12:00 p.m. EST.

7.13.2010

ANOTHER RACE AT CHICAGOLAND, ANOTHER TOP-10 FOR STEWART

Tony Stewart Chicagoland Speedway Quaker State

Newman Endures Disappointing Night at Chicagoland

Joliet, Ill. (July 12, 2010) - Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice “Back-to-School” Chevrolet Impala, led the two-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent by finishing ninth in Saturday night’s LifeLock.com 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. It was Stewart’s eighth top-10 finish in 10 career Sprint Cup starts at Chicagoland and his ninth top-10 of the 2010 season.

Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Haas Automation Chevrolet Impala for SHR, finished 22nd. Newman struggled with an ill-handling racecar for much of the night switching back and forth between an extremely tight handling racecar and an extremely loose handling car. David Reutimann won the LifeLock.com 400 to score his second career Sprint Cup victory, his first of the season and his first at Chicagoland. Reutimann’s only other victory came in the 2009 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, which was rain-shortened, with only 227 of the 400 scheduled laps completed.

Carl Edwards finished .727 of a second behind race winner Reutimann, while Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer and Jamie McMurray rounded out the top-five. Kasey Kahne, Jeff Burton, Denny Hamlin, Stewart and Paul Menard comprised the remainder of the top-10.

There were four caution periods for 21 laps, with eight drivers failing to finish the 267-lap race.

With round 19 of 36 complete, Stewart remained ninth in the Sprint Cup championship standings. He has 2,389 points, 356 markers behind series leader Kevin Harvick and 118 points ahead of 13th-place Dale Earnhardt Jr. Newman fell one spot to 16th. He has 2,187 points and is 99 points back of 12th-place Bowyer, who holds the final spot in the 12-driver Chase for the Championship with seven races remaining before the Chase begins.

The Sprint Cup Series takes a rare weekend off before heading to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the July 25 Brickyard 400. The race begins at 1 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by ESPN beginning with its pre-race show at noon.

7.5.2010

JEFF GORDON AND DALE EARNHARDT JR. SURVIVE WRECK-FEST AT DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY TO FINISH IN THE TOP FOUR

Jeff Gordon Coke Zero 400 Runner Up Quaker State

JEFF GORDON AND DALE EARNHARDT JR. SURVIVE WRECK-FEST AT DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY TO FINISH IN THE TOP FOUR

Johnson and Martin Saw Sparks Fly as They Were Caught Up in “The Big One” With Just 12 Scheduled Laps Remaining in Coke Zero 400

 

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 3, 2010) – Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. survived Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Daytona International Speedway to score top-four finishes and improve in the driver standings.

Their Hendrick Motorsports teammates Mark Martin and Jimmie Johnson were not quite as fortunate and were collected in a race-ending, multi-car accident on Lap 148.

Although rain delayed the start of the 400-mile event, all four Hendrick drivers started Saturday’s race strong. Inclement weather affected Friday’s qualifying session so the field was set according to owner points and Hendrick’s quartet started within the top 11. The teams held steady during the outset of the race.

The race unfolded without major incident during the first 115 laps, and each team worked to find the right setup for the 2.5-mile superspeedway. With fewer than 50 laps to run, multi-car accidents started to become a regular occurrence.

The biggest of those wrecks happened on Lap 148 and involved Johnson’s No. 48 Lowe’s/KOBALT Tools Chevrolet and Martin’s No. 5 CARQUEST Auto Parts/GoDaddy.com Chevrolet. Martin, who now ranks 13th in the driver standings, was scored with a 28th-place finish. Johnson was scored 31st and now ranks third in the championship standings.

Gordon and Earnhardt survived the 19-car collision in Turn 3 that brought out the red flag for almost 10 minutes. When the field returned to green-flag racing on Lap 151, Gordon and Earnhardt both were running in the top 10.

Gordon patiently steered his No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet to his ninth top-five finish of the season. The four-time Sprint Cup Champion improves three spots in the driver standings to second.

Earnhardt, who hasn’t finished outside of the top 11 during the last four races, kept his team’s momentum going with a fourth-place finish. The driver of the No. 88 National Guard ‘8Soldiers 8 Missions’/AMP Energy Chevrolet improves to 11th in the driver standings.

Next week the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races under the lights at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday, July 10. Live flag-to-flag coverage will begin at 7:30 p.m. EST on TNT with radio coverage on MRN and SIRIUS XM Satellite radio beginning at 6:30 p.m. EST.

7.5.2010

HUGE WRECK IN THE CLOSING LAPS AT DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY SIDELINED BOTH STEWART-HAAS RACING TEAMS

HUGE WRECK IN THE CLOSING LAPS AT DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY SIDELINED BOTH STEWART-HAAS RACING TEAMS

Tony Stewart Finishes in 25th and Ryan Newman Comes Home in 26th

 

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 3, 2010) – Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Burger King Chevrolet Impala, led the two-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent by finishing 25th in Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 powered by Coca-Cola NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.

Stewart was caught up in a huge, multi-car wreck 12 laps short of the race’s originally scheduled 160-lap distance. The resulting red flag allowed the No. 14 crew to evaluate the car’s damage once it was towed back into the garage, and upon the red flag being lifted, they were able to go to work. Miraculously, the team repaired the car well enough for Stewart to make a handful of laps and leapfrog many of the other drivers who were involved in the same accident. Seven spots were picked up, allowing Stewart to bring home a top-25 finish.

The accident overshadowed what had been a strong run for Stewart, as he led twice for a total of seven laps around the 2.5-mile oval.

Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Tornados Chevrolet Impala for SHR, finished 26th after getting caught up in the same lap-148 melee.

Stewart and Newman were two of 19 drivers involved in the “Big One.” Nine of those drivers were forced to retire as a result of damage sustained in the accident.

Kevin Harvick won the Coke Zero 400 powered by Coca-Cola to score his 13th career Sprint Cup victory, his second of the season and his second point-paying win at Daytona.

Kasey Kahne finished .092 of a second behind Harvick in the runner-up spot, while Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Jeff Burton rounded out the top-five. Carl Edwards, Kurt Busch, Reed Sorensen, Mike Bliss and Scott Speed comprised the remainder of the top-10.

There were nine caution periods for 37 laps, with 18 drivers failing to complete the 166-lap race, which was extended six laps via a green-white-checkered finish.

With round 18 of 36 complete, Stewart is ninth in the Sprint Cup championship standings. He maintained his position and now has 2,251 points, 433 markers behind series leader Harvick and 120 points ahead of 13th-place Mark Martin. Newman fell one spot to 15th. He has 2,090 points and is 80 points back of 12th-place Carl Edwards, who holds the final spot in the 12-driver Chase for the Championship with eight races remaining before the Chase begins.

The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the July 10 LifeLock.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. The race starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by TNT beginning with its pre-race show at 6:30 p.m.

JUNE

6.28.2010

TONY STEWART TAKES CHECKERED FLAG IN RUNNER-UP SPOT IN LOUDON

Tony Stewart LENOX Industrial Tools 301 Runner-Up Quaker State

TONY STEWART TAKES CHECKERED FLAG IN RUNNER-UP SPOT IN LOUDON

Fellow Stewart-Haas Teammate Newman Scores a Top-10 Run with a Sixth-Place Finish

LOUDON, NH (June 27, 2010) – The Stewart-Haas Racing team had strong performances in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway with Tony Stewart leading the two-car team with a second-place finish in the LENOX Industrial Tools 301. Fellow SHR teammate Ryan Newman finished just outside the top-five with a sixth-place run.

Stewart started in the 25th position but ran throughout the field for most of the event. The driver of the No. 14 Chevrolet got off sequence with the other cars after they didn’t get the car full of fuel on an early pit stop. Stewart and his team worked hard to battle back toward the front with a couple of late-race cautions aiding him.

"Yeah, these guys did an awesome job on this Old Spice/Office Depot team today,” commented Stewart on his run bad through the field. “We didn't get fuel in on the first stop there and that caused us to keep having to come in because we were at the end of our fuel window every time we were coming. We'd gain a little bit and then we'd lose it all back and then some. But we kept fighting all day. We got caught out there at the end and had to take a wave-around to stay on the lead lap there and fought our way up to second. That was pretty cool."

Stewart’s runner-up finish gained him one position in the point standings where he now sits ninth.

Fellow SHR teammate Ryan Newman also had strong race finishing sixth after running in the top-15 for most of the 301-lap race. Newman also gained a spot in the point standings and now sits 14th still in contention to make the top-12 before the Chase for the Sprint Cup starts.

Hendrick Motorsports driver Jimmie Johnson took the checkered flag for his second win in a row with Stewart finishing in the runner-up position. Kurt Busch, Jeff Gordon and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top-five.

Next up for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is a stop at the Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, July 3. Live flag-to-flag coverage of the Coke Zero 400 presented by Coca-Cola begins at 7:30 p.m. (ET) on TNT and 6:30 p.m. (ET) on MRN and Sirius XM Satellite Radio.

6.28.2010

JIMMIE JOHNSON EARNS SECOND WIN IN A ROW WITH VICTORY AT NEW HAMPSHIRE MOTOR SPEEDWAY

Jimmie Johnson LENOX Industrial Tools 301 Win Quaker State

JIMMIE JOHNSON EARNS SECOND WIN IN A ROW WITH VICTORY AT NEW HAMPSHIRE MOTOR SPEEDWAY

Fellow HMS Teammates Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Score Top-10 Finishes

LOUDON, NH (June 27, 2010) – Jimmie Johnson took the checkered flag in Sunday’s running of the LENOX Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway to score his fifth win of the 2010 season and second victory in as many weeks. Johnson led three different times for nine laps before crossing the start-finish line securing his second-place position in the championship point standings.

"First and foremost I just want to thank Lowe's and all their employee-owners, everybody at Chevrolet and Hendrick Motorsports for giving me a great race car,” commented Johnson from Victory Lane. “We lost some track position but I just kept my head down and stayed focused and picked them off one at a time. Chad (Knaus) had some great strategy pitting a lap or two early over some guys and we were able to get out on the track and make up time and pick up a couple of spots there."

Jeff Gordon finished fourth after racing in the top-10 most of the day after starting from the 16th position and working his way into the top-10 by the 30th circuit. The four-time champ’s top-five finish kept him in the fifth position in the point standings as well.

Fellow Quaker State driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr. also had a solid run in Loudon finishing eighth in the 301-lap event. Earnhardt started deep in the field but made a steady trek into the top-10 running positions by lap 105. NASCAR’s “Most Popular Driver” remained toward the front of the field for the remainder of the race and moved to within three points of the top-12 in the point standings.

Veteran driver Mark Martin had a strong qualifying run starting from the fourth position. He remained in the top-10 for the first portion of the race but gradually fell back before finishing 21st. Martin remains 11th in the point standings.

Following Johnson in the running order were Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch in second and third. Gordon and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top-five.

Next up for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is a stop at the Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, July 3. Live flag-to-flag coverage of the Coke Zero 400 presented by Coca-Cola begins at 7:30 p.m. (ET) on TNT and 6:30 p.m. (ET) on MRN and Sirius XM Satellite Radio.

6.21.2010

STEWART-HAAS DRIVER TONY STEWART SCORES NINTH-PLACE FINISH IN SONOMA

Tony Stewart Top-10 Sonoma Quaker State

Top-10 Run Gains Stewart One Spot in Point Standings

SONOMA, CA (June 20, 2010) – Stewart-Haas Racing driver Tony Stewart led the team’s two-car contingent in Sunday’s Sprint Cup Series event at Infineon Raceway by finishing ninth on the 1.99-mile road course. The driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet led one time for two laps before earning his seventh top-10 finish of the season.

“We just struggled getting forward bite all weekend,” commented Stewart’s crew chief Darian Grubb on his driver’s run. “The car was actually really good with balance left versus right, compared to what we had last year, so we thought we had a pretty good setup. When the track got slicker, we thought it was our strong point, but it went away pretty quick. Top 10 is not exactly what we came here to do. We came here to win the race. But, getting a top 10 and moving into the top 10 in points, that’s what we needed to do.”

Fellow SHR driver Ryan Newman finished just outside the top-15 after starting in the 13th spot. The No. 39 Chevy driver raced around the 15th spot for much of the 110-lap event before receiving slight damage in a multi-car accident on a late-race restart. Newman was able to continue and finish 16th for the day.

Jimmie Johnson took the checkered flag collecting his fourth win of the season and was followed by Robby Gordon, Kevin Harvick and Kasey Kahne. Jeff Gordon rounded out the top-five.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to oval-track racing next weekend for the running of the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Live flag-to-flag coverage begins on Sunday, June 27 at 1:00 p.m. (ET) on TNT and 12:00 p.m. (ET) on PRN and Sirius XM Satellite radio.

6.21.2010

JIMMIE JOHNSON TAKES CHECKERED FLAG FOR FOURTH WIN OF SEASON

Jimmie Johnson Save Mart 350 win Quaker State

Hendrick Driver Scores First Road Course Win

SONOMA, CA (June 20, 2010) – Hendrick Motorsports driver Jimmie Johnson dominated Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Infineon Raceway claiming his fourth win of the season along with his first career road course victory. Johnson led three times for a race-high 55 laps before taking the checkered flag for the win. Johnson also gained four positions in the championship point standings moving into the runner-up spot after 16 races.

"It feels so good,” commented Johnson on his first road course win. “I've been working really hard to get better as a road course driver. I have to thank Bob Stallings and Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty and Kyle Brannan and all the guys at GAINSCO Racing who have been working with me and letting me come and run their Grand Am car. It has been a big help. On top of that Hendrick Motorsports has been working so hard to get better at this stuff. We tested again and again and again and we are getting better. I'm getting better and we have all the tools here. Just an awesome day. Happy Father's Day to my Dad and it is also my Mom's birthday, so one heck of a day."

Fellow Hendrick teammate Jeff Gordon also earned a top-five finish by coming home in the fifth position. The four-time Sprint Cup champion ran up front most of the day, remaining in the top-five. Gordon’s finish also gained him spots in the point standings moving him into the fifth position.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. had a decent day finishing just outside the top-10 in the 11th position coming on strong in the closing stages of the race. Earnhardt moved up one spot in points and now sits just outside the top-12 in the 13th position. Veteran driver Mark Martin finished 14th gaining one position in the point standings moving into the 11th spot.

Following Johnson in the field were Robby Gordon and Kevin Harvick. Kasey Kahne and Gordon rounded out the top-five. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to oval-track racing next weekend for the running of the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Live flag-to-flag coverage begins on Sunday, June 27 at 1:00 p.m. (ET) on TNT and 12:00 p.m. (ET) on PRN and Sirius XM Satellite radio.

6.14.2010

TONY STEWART EARNS A TOP-FIVE RUN FOR STEWART-HAAS RACING IN MICHIGAN

Tony Stewart NASCAR Sprint Cup Michigan

Stewart Now in Top-12 in Points After Fifth-Place Finish at Michigan

BROOKLYN, MI (June 13, 2010) - Tony Stewart led the two-car contingent of Stewart-Haas Racing with a top-five finish in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Race at Michigan International Speedway. Stewart’s fifth-place run was his third top-five finish of the season and helped move him up two spots in the NSCS point standings. He now sits in the 11th spot.

"I’m pretty excited about it," commented Stewart on his run Sunday. "That’s the best car we’ve had in a long time, so I’m really proud of our guys. We’re definitely gaining on it. I felt racy today. So, it was a pretty good day for the Old Spice/Office Depot Chevy today."

Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet, ran in the top-10 for the first 40 circuits and top-15 until lap 140. It was late in the race when he ran over some debris causing damage to the front end of his machine. The team was never able to recover and Newman ended up 32nd for the day.

Denny Hamlin took the checkered flag for his fifth win of the season with Kasey Kahne and Kurt Busch coming in second and third. Jeff Gordon and Stewart rounded out the top-five.

Next up for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is the season’s first road course event as the series heads West to Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California. Live flag-to-flag coverage of the Toyota/Save Mart 350 will begin on TNT at 3:00 p.m. (ET) and PRN and Sirius XM Satellite Radio at 2:00 p.m. (ET).

6.14.2010

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS HAS STRONG SHOWING IN MICHIGAN

Jeff Gordon Hendrick Motor Sports NASCAR Sprint Cup Michigan

Three of the Four Hendrick Motorsports Team Cars Finish in the Top-10 at Michigan

BROOKLYN, MI (June 13, 2010) – Three of the four Hendrick Motorsports team cars turned in solid runs in Sunday’s running of the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Jeff Gordon led the four-car stable with a fourth-place run followed by Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. who also finished in the top-10. Fellow HMS teammate Mark Martin finished just outside the top-15 with a 16th-place run.

Gordon fought handling issues early after starting from the sixth position but the No. 24 team was able to make adjustments to get their driver back on track. The four-time Sprint Cup champion spent most of the 200-lap race running in the top-10 before racking up another top-five finish.

"It was a challenging race, just trying to get the balance of the car from one end to the next, and getting track position, so there was a lot on the pit crew," commented Gordon. "And Steve [Letarte, crew chief] making the calls, as well as just trying to get in position. We were a third- or fourth-place car today, and to come home fourth, it’s a good day for this DuPont/National Guard Chevrolet. It was a challenging day, but it wouldn’t have taken but a few more things to make this great and a chance to win. We’re real happy with today to get a top-five. It was a good points day, and we know that we’re way behind that 11, and we’ve got some work to do there."

Both Johnson and Earnhardt spent much of the race running in the top-10 while veteran driver Mark Martin struggled running mid-pack for most of the event before finishing 16th.

Denny Hamlin took the checkered flag for his fifth win of the season with Kasey Kahne and Kurt Busch coming in second and third. Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart rounded out the top-five.

Next up for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is the season’s first road course event as the series heads West to Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California. Live flag-to-flag coverage of the Toyota/Save Mart 350 will begin on TNT at 3:00 p.m. (ET) and PRN and Sirius XM Satellite Radio at 2:00 p.m. (ET).

6.7.2010

TONY STEWART FINISHES THIRD IN POCONO

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Tony Stewart Gillette Fusion ProGlide Quaker State

Tony Stewart's Third-Place Finish Gives Stewart-Hass Racing Team Places Two in Top 15 at Pocono. Fellow SHR Teammate Ryan Newman Earns a Top-15 Run.

LONG POND, PA (June 6, 2010) – Tony Stewart led the Stewart-Haas Racing team in Sunday’s running of the Gillette Fusion ProGlide 500 presented by Target by finishing third in the 500-mile event. Fellow SHR teammate Ryan Newman earned a top-15 run finishing 14th for the day.

Stewart, driver of the No 14 Old Spice/Office Depot Chevrolet, started in the sixth position but raced mid-pack for most of the day. The Indiana native broke back into the top-five by lap 170 before finishing third.

"We’ll take it for the Office Depot/Old Spice Chevy," commented Stewart after the race. "Not a beautiful day by any means but we got where we needed to in the end. We got some track position and we had a pretty good car when we got there. I wasn’t very good in traffic and a lot of guys were racing like a bunch of idiots out there today."

Newman raced his No. 39 U.S. Haas Automation Chevrolet around the 20th spot for most of the day making his way into the top-10 running positions between laps 170 and 180. The SHR driver fell back out of the top-10 but was able to hang on for the top-15 finish.

Denny Hamlin won the Gillette Fusion ProGlide 500 presented by Target with Kyle Busch and Stewart finishing second and third. Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top five.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Michigan International Speedway next for round 15 of 36 on Sunday, June 13, 2010. Live flag-to-flag coverage of the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400 will begin at 1:00 p.m. (ET) on TNT and 12:00 p.m. on MRN and Sirius XM Satellite Radio.

6.7.2010

JIMMIE JOHNSON SCORES A TOP-FIVE FINISH IN POCONO

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Jimmie Johnson Gillette Fusion ProGlide Quaker State

Jimmie Johnson Scores A Top-Five Finish In Pocono. HMS Teammates Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon Fell Out after Late-Race Melee

LONG POND, PA (June 6, 2010) – Jimmie Johnson was the top finishing Hendrick Motorsports car in Sunday’s running of the Gillette Fusion ProGlide 500 presented by Target. Johnson drove his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet to a fifth-place finish while fellow teammates Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon were involved in a last-lap multi-car accident. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was able to avoid the wreck to finish 19th.

Johnson broke into the top-10 by lap 30 after starting from the 25th position. The defending champion fell out of the top-10 running positions late in the race but was able to work his way back into the top-five.

"We had a great race car," stated Johnson. "We got up to second and was running with the No. 11 (Denny Hamlin) on pace. And then the pit strategy stuff started coming into play and I was maybe a little cautious on some of the restarts trying to take care of myself and not tear up another race car. And maybe it cost me a little bit. But in the end, great performance. We had a top car, a top speed car all day long and I brought it home in 5th."

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. started in the third spot but dropped out of the top-10 by lap 30. The driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet experienced problems throughout the race finishing just inside the top-20.

Mark Martin struggled throughout the event running mid-pack for most of the race while Jeff Gordon was a top-10 car for the first half of the race but fell back in the second half. The two teammates were unable to avoid the big wreck on the final lap and suffered too much damage to finish the race.

Denny Hamlin won the Gillette Fusion ProGlide 500 presented by Target with Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart finishing second and third. Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top five.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Michigan International Speedway next for round 15 of 36 on Sunday, June 13, 2010. Live flag-to-flag coverage of the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400 will begin at 1:00 p.m. (ET) on TNT and 12:00 p.m. on MRN and Sirius XM Satellite Radio.

6.1.2010

RYAN NEWMAN SCORES A TOP-10 FINISH IN THE COCA-COLA 600 AT CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY

Quaker State Ryan Newman Top-10 Finish Coca-Cola 600 Charlotte Motor Speedway

Ryan Newman Scores A Top-10 Finish In The Coca-Cola 600 At Charlotte Motor Speedway. Fellow SHR teammate Tony Stewart Finishes 15th.

CHARLOTTE, NC (May 31, 2010) – Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet Impala, led the two-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent by finishing ninth in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.

Newman started from the pole for the 46th time of his Sprint Cup career and for the ninth time in his 19 races at Charlotte. His top-10 effort was his third in the last four Sprint Cup races and his fifth top-10 finish this season.

Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet Impala for SHR, finished 15th. It was Stewart’s sixth top-15 result this season.

Kurt Busch, who won last weekend’s non-points NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte, swept the city’s Sprint Cup action by winning the Coca-Cola 600. It was Busch’s second win this season, his first point-paying win at Charlotte and his 22nd career Sprint Cup victory.

Daytona 500 champion Jamie McMurray finished .737 of a second behind Busch in the runner-up spot, while Kyle Busch, Mark Martin and David Reutimann rounded out the top-five. Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer, Paul Menard, Newman and Matt Kenseth comprised the remainder of the top-10.

There were eight caution periods for 34 laps, with seven drivers failing to finish the 400-lap race.

With round 13 of 36 complete, Newman moved in to the top-12 in the Sprint Cup championship standings. Thanks to his top-10 finish at Charlotte, Newman gained one spot to rise to 12th, where he now has 1,547 points and is 351 markers behind series leader Kevin Harvick. Stewart lost two positions to fall to 16th in the standings. He has 1,520 points and is 27 points out of 12th.

The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the June 6 Gillette Fusion ProGlide 500 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. The race starts at 1 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by TNT beginning with its pre-race show at noon.

6.1.2010

MARK MARTIN AND JEFF GORDON UTILIZED LATE-RACE PIT STRATEGY TO ACHIEVE TOP-10 FINISHES IN THE COCA-COLA 600

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 Jeff Gordon Quaker State

Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon Utilized Late-Race Pit Strategy To Achieve Top-10 Finishes In The Coca-Cola 600. Johnson Struggles With Ill-Handling Car and Involvement in Two Mid-Race Incidents to Finish 37th.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (May 30, 2010) – Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon took advantage of a late-race caution to improve their track position and leave Sunday’s 600-mile NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event with top-10 finishes.

Martin and Gordon both made pit stops prior to the caution on Lap 377 and opted to stay out when the yellow flag was waved for a spin on the backstretch. Martin and Gordon jockeyed for position and crossed the finish line fourth and sixth, respectively.

“We had a good car in the second half (of the race),” said Martin, driver of the No. 5 CARQUEST Auto Parts/GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, who improves one position to 10th in the driver standings. “We messed up on a pit stop; we just stayed behind all day. We knew we had a good race car there at the end. We knew we didn’t need tires. Yes, to run with the front two, we needed tires, but we were strong. Great effort CARQUEST, all our supporters, GoDaddy.com, Delphi, Chevrolet. This race team pulled a rabbit out of the hat.”

Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Stars and Stripes Chevrolet, led three laps and improves two spots in the driver standings to fourth.

“Well the finish wasn't bad, you know,” Gordon said. “I feel like that was the best we'd been. It was definitely a long, long 600 miles for us. We struggled at the beginning in the daytime and luckily stayed on the lead lap. We fought hard and got some track position and did our best to maintain it, but we just never really had it tonight. So we know we've got to work on some things for when we come back."

Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 National Guard “Honoring Our Soldiers”/AMP Energy Chevrolet, led once for 10 laps. As the race progressed, however, he was forced to make an unscheduled pit stop for debris on the grill of his Chevy. He crossed the finish line 22nd and now ranks 17th in the driver standings.

Jimmie Johnson led 36 laps early, but was involved in two mid-race incidents that hindered his No. 48 Lowe’s “Memorial Day Tribute” Chevrolet. Johnson’s team rallied, making the necessary repairs, and Johnson, a six-time winner at the 1.5-mile speedway, finished 37th.

"That first one (incident) was just a racing deal,” said Johnson, who ranks seventh in the driver standings. “I got in the fence and did some damage. We were trying to recover from that, and I was trying to run from the leader, trying to be respectful of the leader, and I had the leader on my tail coming through. We made some big adjustments to the car and basically adjusted it to free it up there, and I just spun out off of (Turn) 2."

MAY

5.24.2010

TONY STEWART EARNS A TOP-FIVE FINISH IN THE NASCAR SPRINT ALL-STAR RACE

Tony Stewart Earns A Top-Five Finish in the Nascar Sprint All-Star Race

Tony Stewart Earns A Top-Five Finish in the Nascar Sprint All-Star Race. Fellow SHR teammate Ryan Newman Finished 11th

CHARLOTTE, NC (May 22, 2010) – Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman both participated in Saturday night’s running of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The two-car SHR contingent was able to avoid a late-race incident to finish fifth and 11th respectively.

Two-time Sprint Cup champion and driver of the No. 14 Chevrolet, Tony Stewart led the two-car team by finishing fifth after starting from the 11th spot. Stewart’s solid run marked his eighth top-10 finish in his 12 career All-Star starts.

"We learned some things that we hope to use next weekend,” commented the co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing. “It still wasn't perfect at the end but we made ground on it and it finally gave us a little stability. I think we're slightly on to something. Now, we're going to have to work around this a little bit we definitely made some gains."

Fellow SHR teammate and Quaker State driver Ryan Newman finished just outside the top-10 in Saturday’s race. The driver of the No. 39 Chevrolet earned his sixth top-15 finish in his eight career All-Star races.

Kurt Busch took the million dollar win on Saturday night and was followed by Martin Truex, Jr. and Joey Logano. Denny Hamlin along with Stewart rounded out the top-five.

Next up for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is the running of the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday, May 29 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Live flag-to-flag coverage will begin at 5:45 p.m. (ET) on FOX with radio coverage on PRN and Sirius XM Satellite radio beginning at 5:00 p.m. (ET).

5.24.2010

JOHNSON LEADS MOST LAPS BUT GETS CAUGHT IN LATE-RACE CRASH ENDING HIS HOPES AT ALL-STAR WIN

NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway

All Four Hendrick Drivers Finish in the Top-20 in Million Dollar Event

CHARLOTTE, NC (May 22, 2010) – Hendrick Motorsports driver Jimmie Johnson was in position to contend for the million dollar win on Saturday night in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but a late-race incident cost the four-time champion his shot at the victory.

Johnson led a race-high 56 laps before spinning through the grass on the second green-white-checkered restart in the final 10-lap segment. A trip to the pit lane allowed the No. 48 team a chance to make minor repairs and Johnson returned to the track to finish 13th for the night.

"I was pinned on the inside and still had a great car,” Johnson said of his spin on Lap 97. “I just couldn't get going on those first two laps kind of. Then that last time, I knew we were coming to the white (flag). Knew I had to clear the No. 11 on the outside of me so I just kept my foot in it, and I could feel them outside of me kind of pulling the back end of my car around but I said, ‘The hell with it; it's the All Star race.’ Kept my foot to the floor and hoped that I made it off the turn, and I didn't. It turned around on me."

As the green-flag waved for the final 10-lap segment a multi-car crash was triggered on the first lap collecting Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Mark Martin. Both Gordon and Martin had too extensive repairs to continue however Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s team was able to make repairs and get their driver back out.

Junior took the checkered flag in the 12th spot scoring the highest finish for HMS with Mark Martin finishing 17th and Jeff Gordon 20th.

Kurt Busch took the million dollar win on Saturday night and was followed by Martin Truex, Jr. and Joey Logano. Denny Hamlin and Tony Stewart rounded out the top-five.

Next up for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is the running of the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday, May 29 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Live flag-to-flag coverage will begin at 5:45 p.m. (ET) on FOX with radio coverage on PRN and Sirius XM Satellite radio beginning at 5:00 p.m. (ET).

5.17.2010

TONY STEWART NETS A TOP-10 FINISH AT THE MONSTER MILE

Stewart-Haas Team at Autism Speaks 400 at Dover International Speedway

Tony Stewart Nets A Top-10 Finish At The Monster Mile While Stewart-Haas Teammate Ryan Newman Finishes in the Top-15 with a 13th-place Run

DOVER, DE (May 16, 2010) – Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman turned in steady runs in Sunday’s running of the Autism Speaks 400 at Dover International Speedway. Both drivers gained spots in the point standings with their finishes as the series completed its 12th event of the 2010 season.

After starting in the 16th position, Stewart had a strong going in the beginning of the 400-lap event but fell out of the top-10 mid-way through the race. The driver of the No. 14 Chevrolet worked his way back into the top-10 in the final 100 laps of the race before finishing in the ninth position.

Fellow SHR teammate Ryan Newman rolled off from the sixth position before falling out of the top-10 early in the event. He steadily worked his way back into the top-15 after running near the 20th spot to finish 13th.

"Our Army Chevy wasn't that good in the beginning and we almost had a tire go down,” Newman said following the race. “But (crew chief) Tony Gibson and the crew guys kept working on the car and made it better as the race went on. In the early going, we looked like a 25th-place car but came home 13th. We took a bad day and turned it into a decent day. We're a battling team with great will and have a strong desire for success. It's the same will and pride that are Soldiers have. Wearing the Army uniform inspires every one of us on this No. 39 Stewart-Haas team."

Both drivers gained spots in the point standings with Newman moving up one position to 13th place and Stewart gaining four positions moving into the 14th spot.

Kyle Busch took the win at Dover with Jeff Burton and Matt Kenseth coming in second and third. Denny Hamlin and David Reutimann rounded out the top-five.

Next up for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is the NASCAR All-Star race set for Saturday night, May 22. Live flag-to-flag coverage will begin at 9:00 p.m. on SPEED with radio coverage on MRN and Sirius XM Satellite radio.

5.17.2010

JEFF GORDON NETS HIGHEST FINISH FOR HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS WITH 11TH-PLACE RUN AT MONSTER MILE

Autism Speaks 400 at Dover International Speedway

Jeff Gordon nets highest finish for Hendrick Motorsports with 11th-place run at Monster Mile. Late-Race Pit Road Penalty Spoils Dominate Run for Jimmie Johnson.

DOVER, DE (May 16, 2010) – Hendrick Motorsports struggled in today’s running of the Autism Speaks 400 at Dover International Speedway with Jeff Gordon netting the highest finishing position with an 11th-place run.

Four-time and defending champion Jimmie Johnson dominated the 400-lap event leading 225 laps and battling for the lead throughout most of the race. It was on the final pit stop of the day that the driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet was caught speeding on pit road during a green-flag pit stop and had to serve a pass through penalty putting him down a lap. Johnson went on to finish 16th.

Mark Martin started from the third spot but fell out of the top-10 after the first 100 laps. The veteran driver raced his way back into the top-15 in the final stages of the race before finishing 15th.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. struggled throughout the 400-mile event and had a mechanical issue that sent him to the garage for repairs. The driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet wound up finishing in the 30th position many laps down.

Johnson, Gordon and Martin all remain in the top-12 in the point standings. Earnhardt dropped out of the top-12 to the 16th position after losing four spots.

Kyle Busch took the win at Dover with Jeff Burton and Matt Kenseth coming in second and third. Denny Hamlin and David Reutimann rounded out the top-five.

Next up for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is the NASCAR All-Star race set for Saturday night, May 22. Live flag-to-flag coverage will begin at 9:00 p.m. on SPEED with radio coverage on MRN and Sirius XM Satellite radio.

5.10.2010

RYAN NEWMAN SCORES A TOP-10 FINISH IN DARLINGTON

RYAN NEWMAN SCORES A TOP-10 FINISH IN DARLINGTON

Ryan Newman Scores A Top-10 Finish In Darlington, SHR Teammate Tony Stewart Comes Home in the 23rd Spot

DARLINGTON, S.C. (May 8, 2010) – Stewart-Haas Racing driver Ryan Newman scored another top-10 finish Saturday night at Darlington Raceway while fellow SHR teammate Tony Stewart finished 23rd after suffering from different issues that relegated him to the top-25 finish.

Newman’s ninth-place run marked his fourth top-10 finish of the season and eighth top-10 at the 1.366-mile track. The driver of the No. 39 Chevrolet raced in the top-10 until lap 100 but returned to the front late in the race to finish ninth.

Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Chevrolet Impala for SHR, finished 23rd after suffering from an ill-handling machine among other problems that plagued the team throughout the night.

Newman’s top-10 finish moved him up two spots in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings where he now sits in the 14th position. Stewart’s 23rd-place finish dropped him three spots to the 18th position.

Denny Hamlin took the checkered flag for his third win of the 2010 season with pole sitter Jamie McMurray and Kurt Busch following him. Jeff Gordon and Juan Pablo Montoya rounded out the top-five.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Dover International Speedway next on Sunday, May 16, 2010. Live television coverage of the Autism Speaks 400 presented by Hershey’s Milk and Milkshakes will begin at 1:00 p.m. (ET) on FOX with radio coverage on MRN and Sirius XM Satellite radio at 12:00 p.m. (ET).

5.10.2010

JEFF GORDON SCORES ANOTHER TOP-FIVE FINISH WITH FOURTH-PLACE RUN IN DARLINGTON

JEFF GORDON SCORES ANOTHER TOP-FIVE FINISH WITH FOURTH-PLACE RUN IN DARLINGTON

Jeff Gordon Scores Another Top-Five Finish. Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Finish in the Top-20 while Jimmie Johnson has Trouble and Falls out Early

DARLINGTON, S.C. (May 8, 2010) – Hendrick Motorsports driver Jeff Gordon picked up his fifth top-five finish of the season in Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Darlington Raceway. Fellow teammates Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. took the checkered flag in the 16th and 18th spots respectively while four-time champion Jimmie Johnson was involved in a mid-race crash that ended his evening early.

Gordon, who started the Showtime Southern 500 from the outside pole, took the lead on the first lap before leading a race-high 110 laps. The driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet had a significant lead when he attempted a green-flag pit stop missing the pit lane on his first attempt and had to make a second attempt at a pit stop. Gordon was on pit road when the caution flag was thrown but was able to remain on the lead lap. The four-time champion had work his way back through the field to finish fourth.

Veteran driver Mark Martin had his No. 5 Chevrolet in the top-15 running positions in the 367-lap event when he was caught on pit road when caution waved putting him a lap down. Fellow HMS and Quaker State driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr. suffered a cut tire that dropped him out of the top-10 running positions. NASCAR’s “Most Popular Driver” struggled to regain those spots and had to settle for the 18th finishing position.

Defending and four-time champion Jimmie Johnson struggled all night recovering from early contact with the outside retaining wall before getting collected by another driver under the caution on lap 178. The damage to the No. 48 Chevrolet was too severe for Johnson to continue and he was credited with the 36th finishing spot.

Johnson remains second in the point standings while Gordon and Earnhardt gained positions and sit fourth and 12th. Mark Martin maintained his 10th-place position putting all four HMS drivers in the top 12.

Denny Hamlin took the checkered flag for his third win of the 2010 season with pole sitter Jamie McMurray and Kurt Busch following him. Gordon and Juan Pablo Montoya rounded out the top-five.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Dover International Speedway next on Sunday, May 16, 2010. Live television coverage of the Autism Speaks 400 presented by Hershey’s Milk and Milkshakes will begin at 1:00 p.m. (ET) on FOX with radio coverage on MRN and Sirius XM Satellite radio at 12:00 p.m. (ET).

5.3.2010

STEWART-HAAS RACING DRIVER RYAN NEWMAN SCORED A TOP-10 FINISH IN SATURDAY NIGHT RACING AT RICHMOND

RYAN NEWMAN SCORED A TOP-10 FINISH IN SATURDAY NIGHT RACING AT RICHMOND

Stewart-Haas Racing Driver Ryan Newman Scored A Top-10 Finish In Saturday Night Racing At Richmond. Fellow SHR Teammate Tony Stewart Finished 23rd

RICHMOND, VA (May 1, 2010) – Stewart-Haas racing teammates Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman turned in mixed results in Saturday night’s Sprint Cup Series event at Richmond International Raceway.

After starting from the eight spot, Newman fell out of the top-10 mid-way through the event before regaining a spot at the front of the field in the closing laps to finish eighth. The driver of the Army Medicine Chevrolet gained two positions in the point standings with his solid run to move into the 16th spot.

“It was a good points night,” Newman stated after the race. “It was disappointing and frustrating because I think we had a car that was better than 8th from a speed standpoint especially on the long runs. But the US Army Medicine Chevrolet didn’t get it done tonight and that is why it is frustrating. But I guess when you are frustrated with a top-10, we expect more and that means we are capable of more. We’ll see if we can do that next time.”

Fellow SHR teammate Tony Stewart started in the 18th position but fell outside the top-20 by lap 40 and remained beyond mid-pack for the duration of the race. With his 23rd-place finishing position, the two-time Sprint Cup champion dropped one spot in the point standings falling to the 15th position.

Kyle Busch took the checkered flag claiming his first win of the season and was followed by four-time champion Jeff Gordon. Following Harvick to round out the top-five were Jeff Burton and Carl Edwards.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will head to Darlington Raceway on Saturday, May 8 for some Mother’s Day weekend Saturday night racing. Live coverage of the Showtime Southern 500 will begin at 7:30 p.m. (ET) on FOX with radio coverage beginning at 6:30 p.m. on MRN and Sirius XM Satellite Radio.

5.3.2010

HENDRICK DRIVERS JEFF GORDON AND JIMMIE JOHNSON BRING HOME TOP-10 FINISHES IN RICHMOND

Jeff Gordon Second Place Finish At Richmond International Raceway

Hendrick Drivers Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson Bring Home Top-10 Finishes in Richmond, Fellow HMS Teammates Martin and Earnhardt Finish Outside the Top-20

RICHMOND, VA (May 1, 2010) – Four-time Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon scored a runner-up finish in Saturday’s Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway while fellow HMS teammate Jimmie Johnson finished in the 10th spot. Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. finished further behind in the 25th and 32nd spots respectively.

Gordon led three times for 144 laps but couldn’t hold off the eventual race winner, Kyle Busch, on the final restart in the closing laps.

“Well it was a heck of a night for us. Kyle (Busch) was just the class of the field there early and I don’t know what happened to him, he started falling backwards,” commented Gordon following the 400-lap event. “We had some issues at that same time. We were able to maintain and then get the lead from Burton and then pulled. I knew I didn’t want to see cautions. Our car was not really very good on restarts, but, we were able to get a couple of good ones.”

After starting in the third spot, Johnson fell back a little having to settle for the 10th finishing position before making contact with another competitor on the final lap and going for a spin.

Both Martin and Earnhardt, Jr. struggled finishing further back in the field. Martin took the checkered flag in the 25th position while Earnhardt suffered a cut tire and finished 32nd.

Johnson fell one spot in the point standing and now sits in the second position 10 markers behind the leader. Gordon’s runner-up finish advanced him four positions into the sixth spot while Martin and Earnhardt both lost spots and sit 10th and 13th.

Kyle Busch took the checkered flag claiming his first win of the season and was followed by Gordon. Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton and Carl Edwards rounded out the top-five.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will head to Darlington Raceway on Saturday, May 8 for some Mother’s Day weekend Saturday night racing. Live coverage of the Showtime Southern 500 will begin at 7:30 p.m. (ET) on FOX with radio coverage beginning at 6:30 p.m. on MRN and Sirius XM Satellite Radio.

APRIL

4.26.2010

MARK MARTIN SCORES FIFTH-PLACE FINISH IN TALLADEGA

Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway

Gordon and Johnson Have Decent Runs Spoiled by Late-Race Incidents
TALLADEGA, AL (April 25, 2010) – Mark Martin was the top-finishing Hendrick Motorsports car in Sunday’s running of the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway. He scored a top-five finish with Dale Earnhardt Jr. finishing 13th, however teammates Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson found trouble late in the race that went into three green-white-checker finishes.
Veteran driver Mark Martin started in the 10th position after qualifying was set according to owner’s points and remained in the top-10 for the first thirty circuits of the scheduled 188-lap event. However, in typical restrictor-plate racing Martin spent time racing throughout the 43-car field dodging several late-race incidents that sent the event into extra laps before finishing fifth.
Fellow Hendrick driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr. also had a decent run leading five times for a total of eight laps. Junior spent the majority of the race running in the top-10 but was pushed back in the draft in the third and final green-white-checker run to the finish. The No. 88 driver took the checkered flag in the 13th spot.
Four-time Sprint Cup champions Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson both took turns at the front of the field leading a total of 13 laps but found trouble late in the race after the event went into overtime. Gordon’s incident came on lap 183 when he was collected by another car but the driver of the No. 24 Chevy was able to continue. Johnson however was not as fortunate after making contact with another car and hitting the inside retaining wall bringing out the final yellow flag of the day. Gordon remained on the lead lap finishing 22nd while Johnson was sent to the garage and credited with a 31st-place finish.
Johnson remains on top of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship point standings with a 26-point lead. Mark Martin’s top-five finish jumped him up four spots to the fifth position while Dale Earnhardt, Jr. lost one spot falling to the eighth position. Gordon lost five spots and now sits 10th.
Kevin Harvick took the checkered flag for the win and was followed by Jamie McMurray, Juan Pablo Montoya and Denny Hamlin. Martin rounded out top-five.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Richmond International Raceway next for some Saturday night racing action. Live coverage of the Crown Royal presents the Heath Calhoun 400 will begin at 7:30 p.m. (ET) on FOX and 6:30 p.m. (ET) on MRN Sirius XM Satellite radio. 
 

4.26.2010

TONY STEWART COMES HOME IN 16TH AT TALLADEGA

Tony Stewart at Talladega

Ryan Newman Falls Victim in Late-Race Multi-Car Accident
TALLADEGA, AL (April 25, 2010) – Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman posted mixed results in Sunday’s running of the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway. Both took turns leading the event with Stewart showing strong and Newman struggling before getting caught in a late-race multi-car wreck.
Stewart started Sunday’s race in the 13th position and raced throughout the field for the scheduled 188-lap event. The SHR driver led one time for one lap and hooked up with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. on several occasions to make a strong bid for the win. He was sitting in the fourth position on lap 190 but got shuffled back in the final dash for the checkered flag and had to settle for the 16th finishing spot.
Fellow Stewart Haas Racing teammate Ryan Newman started in the 16th position and also took a turn at the front of the field. He raced mid to back-pack but had worked his way back into the top-15 before getting caught up in a late-race incident that took out several cars. Newman’s day was done and he was credited with the 35th finishing position.
Stewart dropped one spot in the points standings falling to the 14th position while Newman also took a hit falling to the 18th spot.
Kevin Harvick took the checkered flag for the win and was followed by Jamie McMurray, Juan Pablo Montoya and Denny Hamlin. Martin rounded out top-five.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Richmond International Raceway next for some Saturday night racing action. Live coverage of the Crown Royal presents the Heath Calhoun 400 will begin on Saturday, May 1 at 7:30 p.m. (ET) on FOX and 6:30 p.m. (ET) on MRN Sirius XM Satellite radio.

4.20.2010

TONY STEWART HAS STRONG RUN SPOILED BY LATE-RACE INCIDENT IN TEXAS

Tony Stewart Texas Motor Speedway

Fellow Stewart-Haas Teammate Ryan Newman Finished in 11th
FT WORTH, TX (April 19, 2010) – Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman both had solid runs in Monday’s rescheduled Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Stewart started the weekend off with a pole-winning qualifying effort and raced at the front of the 43-car field for much of the 334-lap event. However a late-race incident took the No. 14 driver out of contention and relegated him to a 33rd-place finish. While SHR teammate Ryan Newman didn’t have as strong of a run, the winner from last week’s event in Phoenix held on to finish just outside the top-10 in the 11th spot.
Stewart led the 500-mile race five times for a total of 74 laps. He was running in the top-five when the multi-car wreck happened.
"I came off of four there and bounced off of Jeff's (Gordon) right rear,” commented Stewart on the incident. “It was just a pendulum and I lost it and got into his right rear and then I got us to where neither one of us could get away from it. Somebody put me three wide in one and two and that got me up to where I got a lot of crap on my tires and that started it. It was my fault. Feel bad about it, about doing something stupid like that. I didn't plan on getting loose, but it is 100% my fault."
Ryan Newman struggled with the handling of his car and raced mid-pack for most of the day. However, the No. 39 Chevy got better toward the end of the race and he was able to avoid the big wreck and finish 11th.
Stewart took a hit in the points dropping five positions into the 14th spot. Newman was able to maintain his 16th-place position with his top-15 run.
Denny Hamlin won the Samsung Mobile 500 with Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch finishing second and third. Kurt Busch and Kasey Kahne rounded out the top-five. 
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads next to the 2.66-mile track of Talladega Superspeedway. Live coverage of the Aaron’s 499 will begin at 1:00 p.m. (ET) on Fox and 12:00 p.m. (ET) on MRN and Sirius XM Satellite Radio.

4.20.2010

JIMMIE JOHNSON SCORES A SECOND-PLACE RUN IN TEXAS

Jimmie Johnson Second Place In Texas

Teammate Jeff Gordon Leads Many Laps Before Late Multi-Car Crash Ends His Day
FT WORTH, TX (April 19, 2010) – After persistent rain showers forced the postponement of Sunday’s running of the Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series took the green flag on Monday afternoon for 334 laps of competition.
The Hendrick Motorsports stable had a strong showing throughout the 500-mile event with Johnson, Gordon and Earnhardt all taking turns leading the 43-car field. However a late-race multi-car incident demolished Gordon’s chances at his first win of the season and sent him to the garage early. Johnson, Earnhardt and Martin were all able to avoid the wreck and finish in the top-10 for the day.
Jeff Gordon was poised to challenge for his first win of the season by leading six times for 124 laps. The four-time champion was sitting at the front of the field when the multi-car wreck occurred and had nowhere to go. The No. 24 DuPont Chevy was damaged too heavily to continue as Gordon was sent to the garage for the day and had to settle for a 32nd-place finish.
“When you get a late caution like that, you are going to have guys take two and guys take four,” stated Gordon on the closing laps of the race. “We chose to take four. Every second, every position counts on those restarts with that few of laps to go. I saw Tony backing up and then he got loose. I was trying not to get in to him. I ended up getting underneath him and we were three wide. Then I saw the 48 out on my left corner sneak in there as well. Just saw a lot of guys racing hard and we ran out of room. I got clipped in the right rear and turned me in the wall.”
Four-time champion Johnson led four times for 39 laps. The defending champion raced in the top-10 for most of the day and battled back and forth with HMS teammates in the top-five. With his second-place finish, Johnson increased his points lead to 108 markets over the second-place driver.
Mark Martin finished sixth for the day after starting deep in the field and racing in the back for much of the race. The veteran driver was able to capitalize on the incident and earn his fourth top-10 finish of the year.
NASCAR’s “Most Popular Driver” Dale Earnhardt, Jr. also took turns at the front of the field leading 46 laps during Monday’s race. He was in position to score a top-five run in the final laps but fell back to the eighth spot where he took the checkered flag.
With Johnson remaining in the point lead, Jeff Gordon also held onto his spot sitting fifth with eight races in the books. Both Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Mark Martin gained three spots putting the No. 88 in the seventh position and the No. 5 in the 10th spot.
Denny Hamlin won the Samsung Mobile 500 with Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch finishing second and third. Kurt Busch and Kasey Kahne rounded out the top-five. 
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads next to the 2.66-mile track of Talladega Superspeedway. Live coverage of the Aaron’s 499 will begin at 1:00 p.m. (ET) on Fox and 12:00 p.m. (ET) on MRN and Sirius XM Satellite Radio.

4.12.2010

RYAN NEWMAN PULLS OUT VICTORY IN DRAMATIC FINISH IN PHOENIX

Ryan Newman

Two-Tire Call Helped Gain Track Position for Run to Checkered Flag

AVONDALE, Ariz. (April 11, 2010) – Ryan Newman ended a 77-race drought Saturday night by winning the Subway Fresh Fit 600 at Phoenix International Raceway. Stewart-Haas teammate, Tony Stewart finished 23rd for the evening.

Newman started from the 14th spot and spent most of the race in or right outside the top-10 running positions. It was a late-race caution with three laps remaining that set up the dramatic finish. Newman’s team elected to take on only two tires that put him in the second-spot for the restart. With the leader spinning his tires on the final restart, Newman grabbed the lead and took the checkered flag .130 seconds ahead of the next car.

"I thought we had a good car in practice, but I've got to thank Tornados for coming on board and helping us out with what Tony Stewart and everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing has given us an opportunity with,” commented Newman from Victory Lane. “I’ve got to thank the fans and Sprint and Chevrolet and Coca-Cola and U.S. Army. Man we've been working so hard for those guys to get into Victory Lane and everybody at Haas Automation. It's been a long time coming for me to get in Victory Lane. I'm missing my mom and dad right now. They're back home taking care of my grandfather. Man I couldn't believe it. I saw the white flag and I'm like, I ain't got that far to go!"

Newman’s victory was his 14th Sprint Cup Series win.

Tony Stewart, Newman’s teammate, had a strong start running as high as the third position but fell out of the top-10 by lap 160 and struggled the rest of the race.

With his victory, Newman gained six spots in the points moving into the 16th position while Stewart remains in the top-12.

Following Newman were Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Mark Martin. Juan Pablo Montoya rounded out the top-five.

Next up for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is the running of the Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Live green-flag coverage will begin on Sunday, April 18, 2010 at 3:00 p.m. (E.T.) on FOX with radio coverage on PRN and Sirius/XM Satellite radio at 2:00 p.m. (E.T.)

4.12.2010

JEFF GORDON FINISHES SECOND AT PHOENIX INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY

Jeff Gordon Car

All Four Hendrick Cars Finish in the Top-12

AVONDALE, Ariz. (April 11, 2010) – Hendrick Motorsports driver Jeff Gordon finished second in Saturday Night’s running of the Subway Fresh Fit 600 at Phoenix International Raceway. Gordon was in the lead on the final restart but spun his tires losing the top spot. Fellow HMS drivers Jimmie Johnson and Mark Martin finished just behind Gordon with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. finishing 12th.

Gordon and Johnson both ran in the top-10 most of the night with Johnson leading many laps. Mark Martin broke into the top-10 late in the race while Earnhardt struggled running between the 15th and 20th position.

A late-race caution set up a final dash to the checkered flag with several teams taking on only two tires. Gordon inherited the lead with his two-tire stop but spun those tires on the restart falling back to the second spot.

“Ryan (Newman, race winner) had a good jump on me getting into (turn) 1,” said Gordon. “It was pretty much game over at that point. We had a good car, we were the second-place car, we finished second. I’m still pretty happy and proud of that effort. We made the car better throughout the whole race, and that is something we didn’t do as well last year so real happy with that.”

Johnson led 113 laps during Saturday night’s race but chose to take on four tires during that final stop. Martin took on only two tires and held on for the fourth-place finish. Earnhardt hit a piece of debris on lap 56 causing his team to make repairs throughout the event.

Johnson remains the points leader extending his lead to 36 over second place. Gordon moved up two spots into the fifth position with Junior remaining in the 10th spot. Martin gained four positions moving to just outside the top-12 in the 13th spot.

Ryan Newman took the win at Phoenix with the three Hendrick cars of Gordon, Johnson and Martin following. Juan Pablo Montoya rounded out the top-five.

Next up for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is the running of the Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Live green-flag coverage will begin on Sunday, April 18, 2010 at 3:00 p.m. (E.T.) on FOX with radio coverage on PRN and Sirius/XM Satellite radio at 2:00 p.m. (E.T.)

MARCH

3.8.2010

HENDRICK CARS STRUGGLE WITH TIRE AND HANDLING ISSUES

Jimmie Johnson Manages to finish just Outside the Top-10 in the 12th position

HAMPTON, GA (March 7, 2010) – The Hendrick Motorsports teams all struggled throughout Sunday’s running of the Kobalt Tools 500. Tires were a main issue with each of the four teams experiencing problems at different times in the event. Jimmie Johnson was able to muster a 12th-place finish with Earnhardt, Jr. and Jeff Gordon finishing in the top-20. Mark Martin was on his way to a solid finish as well before a late-race incident ruined his chances.

Johnson started from the 16th position but quickly made his way into the top-10. The defending champion spent some time in the lead pack but a vibration late in the race forced him to pit road early getting him out of sequence. Surviving two attempts at a green-white-checker finish, the four-time Sprint Cup Series champion managed to finish just outside the top-10 in the 12th position.

After starting from the pole, it became evident that the No. 88 of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was struggling with handling issues as he lost several positions in the early stages of the race. Tire problems also affected NASCAR’s “Most Popular Driver” as he fell a lap down to the leaders. The third-year Hendrick driver was able to work his way back into the top-15 and finished there for the day.

Jeff Gordon had a strong start qualifying his No. 24 DuPont Chevy in the top-five but lost the balance on his car just before the half-way point of the race. Fighting an extremely loose race car the four-time Sprint Cup champion was able to finish 18th in Sunday’s race.

Fellow Quaker State and veteran driver Mark Martin had a solid run going before a late-race incident took him out of contention. The driver of the No. 5 HMS Chevrolet had a tire go down early in the race but fought back from the mishap to run in the top-10. The accident that occurred on the first attempt of a green-white-checker finish damaged the No. 5 car heavily relegating Martin to a 33rd-place finish.

Johnson, Martin and Gordon all sit in the top-12 of the Sprint Cup Series driver’s championship point standings. Earnhardt is not far behind knocking on the door of the top-12 while sitting in the 13th spot.

Kurt Busch took the checkered flag for the win and was followed by Matt Kenseth and Juan Pablo Montoya. Paul Menard and A.J. Allmendinger rounded out the top-five.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will take a weekend off before returning to action on Sunday, March 21, 2010. Live coverage of the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway will begin at 1:00 p.m. (ET) on Fox with radio coverage beginning at 12:00 p.m. (ET) on PRN and Sirius/XM satellite radio.

 

3.1.2010

JOHNSON WINS AND JEFF GORDON AND MARK MARTIN ROUND OUT THE TOP-FOUR AT LAS VEGAS FOR HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS

LAS VEGAS (Feb. 28, 2010) – Jimmie Johnson wrestled the lead away from teammate Jeff Gordon with 17 laps to go to earn his second straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win of the 2010 season and his fourth overall at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday.

Gordon followed Johnson across the finish line in third, and Mark Martin was close behind in fourth. Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished the 267-lap event 16th.

Gordon opened the race from the outside pole position and immediately led the first 52 laps in his No. 24 DuPont/Pepsi Max Chevrolet. Gordon never dropped out of the top three and appeared poised for his first win of the season when Johnson struck in his No. 48 Lowe’s/KOBALT Tools Chevrolet.

Like most of the field, the teammates took advantage of a late-race caution to pick up extra tires and fuel. Gordon’s team put two fresh tires on his Chevrolet, while Johnson took four.

Johnson battled with Gordon and finally slipped by on Lap 251.

“He was really, really good,” said Johnson, who jumped seven spots to fifth in the driver standings. “I guess he got too tight there at the end. Man, I did all I could for the three runs before that, and I had nothing for him. I could get close, then I couldn’t get the pass pulled off. … We had a great race car all day long. I think he really showed the strength of Hendrick (Motorsports’) cars when Jeff and I checked out from everyone.”

Gordon held onto a spot in the top three and led seven times for a race-high 219 laps. The third-place finish catapulted the NASCAR veteran nine spots in the driver standings to 13th, but the finish still was disappointing.

"It is tough,” Gordon said. “We came here to win, and I felt like every decision that we made today on the track and in the pits was to try to win the race. When you are leading sometimes that tough call can go against you. We were thinking more guys were going to take two tires. We aren’t going to beat ourselves up over this one; we had an awesome, awesome DuPont/Pepsi Max Chevrolet. That thing was just strolling today. It was so incredible to be out there driving a car that was that fast and be able to maintain the lead and be able to do the things that we did today. We certainly showed them that we were here. I think that you are going to see a lot more out of us this year."

Martin lined up eighth in his No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet and joined his Hendrick Motorsports teammates in the top five. Martin never dropped any lower than 16th in the field, but really started making a charge during the final 40 laps. Then he climbed from ninth to fourth.

"It was a great finish,” said Martin, who improved three spots in the driver standings to third. “Just a great job by everybody on the GoDaddy.com Chevrolet. I want to thank my buddy Bob Parsons (Go Daddy CEO) and everybody at GoDaddy.com. Awesome race car at the end. We were off a little bit at the beginning; we weren’t prepared for that sunshine and struggled for a long time. Then we got the car good there at the end. Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) and the guys just did a great job. We were pretty competitive there at the last."

Dale Earnhardt Jr. experienced some handling issues with his No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet and struggled to stay in the top 10 during Sunday’s race. He crossed the finish line 16th and improved one spot to 15th in the driver standings.

FEBRUARY

2.22.2010

JIMMIE JOHNSON CLAIMS HIS FIRST WIN OF 2010 WITH DOMINATING PERFORMANCE IN FONTANA

Fellow Hendrick Teammate Mark Martin Finishes Fourth in Auto Club 500

FONTANA, CALIF (February 21, 2010) – Two of the four Hendrick Motorsports (HMS) teams had solid runs in Sunday’s running of the Auto Club 500 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Defending champion Jimmie Johnson scored his first win of the season with fellow HMS teammate Mark Martin coming home in fourth. Both Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. experienced problems putting them back further in the finishing order.

Johnson started from the seventh position and quickly worked his way into the top spot by the 30th lap. The California native dominated the 500-mile race by leading eight different times for a race high 101 laps. Taking the lead for the final time on lap 227, Johnson maintained the first position taking the checkered flag for his first win of the 2010 season and 48th career victory.

"That is amazing,” commented Johnson on his victory. “I won my first race here and to come back and win my 48th...I can’t thank the fans enough for supporting our great sport and being behind us. It has just been a great nine years and I look forward to see what the future brings."

Fellow HMS teammate Mark Martin also turned in a strong performance finishing fourth in the Auto Club 500. The veteran driver led two times for five laps remaining a solid car throughout the day.

Four-time Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon finished 20th after fighting handling and motor problems throughout the event. The Quaker State driver led one time for 11 laps but struggled with his Chevrolet handling both loose and tight as the weather conditions changed. Late in the event the No. 24 team thought they lost a cylinder in the engine but the motor was able to hang on to the finish.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and the No. 88 team experienced a tough day capped off by breaking an axle while leaving pit road during a green-flag stop. The crew was able to fix the broken part and get NASCAR’s “Most Popular Driver” back on track to finish the race. Earnhardt finished 32nd for the day many laps down.

Kevin Harvick followed Jimmie Johnson to the checkered flag finishing in the runner-up spot. Jeff Burton finished third in front of Martin with Joey Logano rounding out the top five.

Next up for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is the running of the Shelby American at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Live television coverage is set to begin at 3:00 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, February 28 on FOX.
 

2.15.2010

DALE EARNHARDT JR FINISHES 52ND DAYTONA 500 IN RUNNER UP SPOT

Fellow Hendrick Motorsports Teammates Struggle Throughout 500-mile Event

DAYTONA BEACH, FL (February 14, 2010) – Hendrick Motorsports’ Dale Earnhardt, Jr. had a strong showing in the 52nd running of the Daytona 500 finishing second under the lights in a dramatic end to the “All American Race”. While Earnhardt found success, his fellow teammates struggled throughout the event with various problems.

NASCAR’s “Most Popular Driver” led one time for a total of four laps but was a contender as the field took the green flag for the final attempt of a green-white-checker finish. Earnhardt shot through the field in the final lap going from the 10th running position to the second spot in a single lap but was unable to make a move on the race leader and had to settle for the runner-up spot.

Fellow HMS teammate Mark Martin started the event from the pole but quickly lost the handling of his Chevrolet and fell back in the running order. Martin remained mid-pack for the majority of the race breaking back into the top-20 around the half-way point. The veteran driver worked his way toward the top-10 in the final laps ending up 12th for the day.

Four-time Sprint Cup Champion Jeff Gordon struggled with the handling of his car moving back and forth throughout the field. The Quaker State driver led a couple of laps mid-way through the race but found himself deep in the field in the final restart where he made contact with another car sending him spinning and relegating him to a 26th-place finish.

Defending Champion Jimmie Johnson encountered tire issues throughout the 500-mile event taking him out of contention before the half-way mark of the race. With less than 20 laps remaining in the race, Johnson broke a rear axle sending him behind the wall and out of the race early. The Hendrick driver was credited with the 35th-finishing position.

Jamie McMurray took the checkered flag for the win followed by Earnhardt and Greg Biffle. Clint Bowyer and David Reutimann rounded out the top-five.

Next up for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is the Auto Club 500 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Live coverage will begin on February 21, 2010 at 3:00 p.m. (ET) on FOX and 2:00 p.m. on MRN Radio.

 

2.10.2010

MARTIN, EARNHARDT ON FRONT ROW FOR DAYTONA 500

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 6, 2010) – Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt Jr. earned the top two spots during Saturday’s qualifying session at Daytona International Speedway and were joined in the top 10 by their teammates Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon.

Martin, driver of the No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, toured the 2.5-mile speedway in 47.074 seconds at roughly 191.188 mph to earn the pole position – his first for the Daytona 500. At 51 years old, Martin is the oldest driver to earn the first spot in the season-opening event.

"This is just a great accomplishment for this GoDaddy.com team, Alan Gustafson (crew chief) and all of the guys,” Martin said. “I want to thank Bob Parsons for stepping up to the plate here. It is pretty exciting to have them on board. It is all about the team. That was not accomplishment of mine, it is one of all of our guys on this team. To have Dale, Jr. on the outside of the front row, locked in, just means that we are doing stuff right."

Earnhardt, driver of the No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet, turned in a time of 47.142 at roughly 190.193 mph to score the outside pole. This is the second time Earnhardt has earned a front-row starting spot in the Daytona 500. He started second in 2003.

“The guys have put together one hell of a race car, and I’m just proud to be able to drive it,” Earnhardt said. “I want to thank AMP Energy and the National Guard and all our sponsors. The team is doing an amazing job building such a great race car. The engine and the body is doing its job just perfectly and we’ve just got to get it up off the race track and that thing will be hard to beat."

Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, locked up the sixth spot, while Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet posted the 10th-fastest time.

From here, the drivers prepare for Thursday’s Gatorade Duels, which are two 60-lap qualifiers for next weekend’s Daytona 500. Martin and Earnhardt are locked into the front row for the Great American race, and each gets the pole in a qualifying event. Martin will start from the top spot in the first Duel, while Earnhardt will start first in the second one.

The rest of the field in each race is set according to the 2009 owner points. Odd-numbered owner points positions start in the first race, while even-numbered owners compete in the second. The outcome of these events determines the remainder of the field for the Daytona 500, which means Johnson and Gordon have a chance to improve upon their Saturday qualifying efforts. Last year, Gordon won his Gatorade Duel to score the third starting spot.

Johnson and Gordon will participate in the first Gatorade Duel starting fourth and seventh, respectively.

Race coverage of Thursday’s Gatorade Duels will begin at 2 p.m. ET on SPEED.

2.10.2010

JEFF GORDON SCORES A TOP-10 FINISH IN BUDWEISER SHOOTOUT

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Finishes Just Outside the Top-10 in 11th

DAYTONA BEACH, FL (February 8, 2010) – The 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup season got under way this past weekend with the season’s first event at Daytona International Speedway. The annual running of the Budweiser Shootout took place on Saturday evening under the lights of the 2.5-mile legendary track. Coming off a strong season in 2009, the four Hendrick Motorsports teams looked forward to starting the 2010 season on a positive note to continue their success into the new season.

The HMS stable had mixed results from the eventful race that ended with a green-white-checker finish.

Four-time Sprint Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon drove his DuPont Chevrolet to a top-10 finish taking the checkered flag in the sixth spot after started in the 23rd position.

"Oh, man, just a green-white-checkered flag race and the DuPont Chevrolet was good,” commented Gordon. “I got myself in position there a couple of times to where I really thought we might have a shot at it. And then I got shuffled back. I was pretty disappointed.”

Fellow Quaker State driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr. also had a decent night crossing the start-finish line just outside the top-10 with an 11th-place run.

"We were not very fast in practice with this car, and it was not very strong in the race,” Earnhardt said following the event.  “We’ll just try to bring a better chassis to the next Shootout."

Defending and four-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson finished 13th while fellow HMS teammate Mark Martin scored a 20th-place run after being involved in an accident.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series continues at the Daytona International Speedway with the Gatorade Duel qualifying races on Thursday, February 11th. Live action begins at 2:00 p.m. (ET) on SPEED and 1:00 p.m. on MRN Radio. The Series will officially kick off its season on Sunday, February 14th with the running of the Daytona 500. Live coverage of the first event of the 2010 season will begin at 1:00 p.m. (ET) on FOX and 12:00 p.m. on MRN Radio.

NOVEMBER

11.23.2009

ONE FOR THE RECORD BOOKS

Johnson Makes His Mark in NASCAR History by Claiming his Fourth Consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship

HOMESTEAD, FL (November 22, 2009) – Jimmie Johnson etched his way into the NASCAR history books today by finishing fifth in the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. With his finish, the Quaker State driver claimed a record-setting fourth consecutive Sprint Cup title. Johnson finished the 36-race season with a 141-point lead over Hendrick Motorsports teammate Mark Martin.

"Just amazed, I mean I’ve been trying to chase this out of my head and what this might mean to me after the disappointment at Texas,” commented Johnson. “So it is going to take a little while for those things to jump start in my mind and get going again. Just so proud of the effort. Really think of how much I love this sport, how much I respect this sport. The greats before, how they have carried this sport on their backs and made it what it is and then to do something none of them have done, it is unbelievable man. I grew up on two wheels in the dirt. I had no clue I was going to end up here racing stock cars and doing something that had never been done before."

Fellow Quaker State drivers Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon finished second and third in the point standings as both drivers contended for the title throughout the 2009 season. The one-two-three finish marked the first time in NASCAR history that a team took the top-three spots in the final championship point standings.

Johnson started the weekend off by earning his fourth pole of the season. He only needed to finish 25th or better and once he led a lap to earn those five bonus points he only had to finish 27th or better. The defending champ took the lead two separate times and for 28 total laps. He remained in the top-10 for much of the event except for a pit sequence to pull out his historic run for a fourth consecutive championship.

Fellow Hendrick Motorsports teammates Mark Martina and Jeff Gordon also had solid nights finishing sixth and twelfth respectively. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. finished 28th.

Johnson and the entire No. 48 Lowe’s/Quaker State team will be honored Friday, December 4 at the Wynn in Las Vegas, Nevada.

11.16.2009

JIMMIE JOHNSON DOMINATES AT PHOENIX TO CLAIM SEVENTH WIN OF THE SEASON

Three-Time Champ is Poised to Claim Record-Setting Fourth Championship

AVONDALE, AZ (November 15, 2009) – Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 Lowe’s team bounced back from a dismal finish one week ago in Texas and dominated Sunday’s Sprint Cup event at Phoenix International Raceway to claim their seventh victory of the season. In addition the three-time champ put himself in position to claim his fourth consecutive Sprint Cup title going into the season’s final event. Fellow Hendrick Motorsports teammates Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon both had solid runs finishing in the top-10 while Dale Earnhardt Jr. had another difficult day finishing 35th.

After taking the lead for the first time on lap 53, Johnson led four different times for 238 laps. With his strong showing he also extended his points lead to 108 over fellow teammate Mark Martin. With the strong lead, Johnson only has to finish 25th or better in next week’s finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Fellow HMS teammate Mark Martin did what he could by finishing fourth. Jeff Gordon also had a solid run finishing ninth, his 24th top-10 finish of the season and the most of any competitor. The duo continues to hold down their respective point positions sitting second and third going into the final race.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. had another rough day after being involved in an on-track incident that sent him behind the wall for repairs. His team got him back on track to finish 35th several laps down to the leaders. Junior dropped one position in the point standings and now sits in the 24th spot.

Flag-to-flag coverage of the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida will take the green flag Sunday, November 22 beginning at 2:30 p.m. (EDT) on ABC.  The race will also be broadcast on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius Satellite Radio beginning at 2:45 p.m. (EDT). 

11.9.2009

MARK MARTIN BRINGS HOME A FOURTH-PLACE FINISH IN TEXAS

Veteran Driver Closes the Gap on Points Leader Jimmie Johnson after Three-Time Champ Finds Trouble

FT. WORTH, TX (November 8, 2009) – Hendrick Motorsports driver Mark Martin capitalized on teammate Jimmie Johnson’s misfortune in Sunday’s race at Texas Motor Speedway. Martin finished fourth and moved to within 73 points of Johnson with two races remaining in the season. Johnson finished 38th after a lap-three mishap that sent him to the garage for over 100 laps for repairs. Fellow HMS teammate Jeff Gordon finished 13th while Dale Earnhardt, Jr. had a solid run spoiled after he ran out of gas in the closing laps.

Martin had a solid, consistent run spending most of the day racing in the top-10. He was able to make it to the end on fuel while many others ran out of gas finishing the 334-lap race in the fourth position, his 13th top-five finish of the season.

Four-time champion Jeff Gordon had a strong car at the beginning of the race after starting from the pole but lost some track position after a problem on pit road. Gordon’s car went away in the middle of the event dropping him back to the 18th position, where he ran most of the day. However, the No. 24 team played the fuel strategy to their advantage and Gordon was able to muster a top-15 finish taking the checkered flag in the 13th spot.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. started in the top-10 and remained there for the entirety of the race until the very end. He quickly moved into the top-five and had a solid run going until he ran out of fuel in the closing laps costing him valuable track position. Junior lost several laps trying to get the car to pit road and ended up 25th for the day.

Fellow HMS teammate and point leader Jimmie Johnson was involved in a lap-three incident that heavily damaged the No. 48 Chevrolet after he made heavy contact with both the outside and inside retaining walls. Johnson pulled his machine behind the wall and the No. 48 crew worked diligently for over an hour to make repairs to get their driver back on track. The three-time champ was credited with a 38th-place finish for the day.

With his misfortune, Johnson’s lead shrank to just 73 markers over second-place Mark Martin. Gordon remains third in the standings just 112 points out of first with two races remaining in the season.

Flag-to-flag coverage of the Checker O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 presented by Pennzoil at Phoenix International Raceway in Goodyear, Arizona will take the green flag Sunday, November 17 beginning at 2:30 p.m. (EDT) on ABC.  The race will also be broadcast on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius Satellite Radio beginning at 2:45 p.m. (EDT). 
 

11.2.2009

JIMMIE JOHNSON SURVIVES LATE-RACE MELEE TO FINISH SIXTH AT TALLADEGA

Hendrick Motorsports Driver Extends Points Lead with Three Races Remaining

TALLADEGA, AL (November 1, 2009) – Hendrick Motorsports driver Jimmie Johnson survived a late-race multi-car incident to finish sixth in Sunday’s running of the AMP Energy 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. Fellow Hendrick driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr. finished just outside the top-10 in the 11th position while both Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin were involved in the final lap melee.

Johnson started from the pole after Saturday’s qualifying session was rained out but immediately went to the rear of the field. He remained at the back of the pack for much of the day trying to avoid any trouble on the track. The three-time champion began to work his way to the front of the field in the closing laps and was sitting in the 24th position with 20 laps remaining. A violent wreck on lap 184 brought the field to a halt and upon the restart several cars hit pit road for fuel gaining Johnson several spots. A last-lap wreck gained the points leader additional spots allowing him to finish in the top-10.

Fellow HMS driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr. also had a solid run leading the event five different times for nine laps. Earnhardt spent a large portion of the scheduled 188-lap event in the top-10 before finishing in the 11th position.

Both Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin also had decent runs going before being involved in the final lap wreck. Both took turns leading the race and were running in the top-10 before having to duck on pit road for a splash a fuel as the race neared its end. During the green-white-checker finish both were unable to avoid the “big one” with Martin’s car getting airborne. Gordon finished 20th with Martin being credited with a 28th-place finish.

Johnson extended his points lead to 184 over second-place Mark Martin. Jeff Gordon remains third while Earnhardt gained a spot moving into the 23rd position.

Jamie McMurray took the checkered flag for the win and was followed by Kasey Kahne and Joey Logano. Greg Biffle and Jeff Burton rounded out the top-five.

Flag-to-flag coverage of the Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in Ft. Worth, Texas will take the green flag Sunday, November 8 beginning at 2:30 p.m. (EDT) on ABC.  The race will also be broadcast on the Performance Racing Network and Sirius Satellite Radio beginning at 2:30 p.m. (EDT). 

OCTOBER

10.26.2009

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS DRIVERS JIMMIE JOHNSON, JEFF GORDON AND MARK MARTIN HAVE SOLID RUNS IN MARTINSVILLE

Quaker State Drivers Continue to Hold Down Top Three Positions in Point Standings with Four Races Remaining

MARTINSVILLE, VA (October 25, 2009) – Hendrick Motorsports continued its dominance at Martinsville Speedway in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race. Series points leader Jimmie Johnson finished in the runner-up spot with fellow HMS teammates Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin scoring top-10 finishes as well. Johnson maintains the points lead with Martin and Gordon rounding out the top-three positions.

Johnson struggled a little in qualifying putting his No. 48 Chevrolet in the 15th starting position. However it did not take long for the three-time and defending champion to break into the top-five and take over the lead. Johnson held the lead five times for a total of 164 laps before having to settle for the second position late in the race.

Four-time Champion Jeff Gordon earned the outside pole and held a top-five position early in the 500-lap event. However the driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet fell further back in the field during the mid portion of the race before working his way back into the top-10 to finish fifth while Mark Martin turned in a solid run by remaining in the top-10 for the entire race before settling for an eighth-place finish.

Fellow HMS teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr. had a rough day fighting tire problems that dropped him laps behind early in the race. However, NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver was able to gain his laps back with the Lucky Dog pass only to fall victim to another blown tire that relegated him back into the field once again. Earnhardt finished 29th two laps down to the leaders.

Johnson extended his points lead to 118 over second-place Mark Martin with Gordon remaining third in the point standings with just four races left in the season.

Denny Hamlin took the checkered flag for the win in the Tums Fast Relief 500 with Johnson and Juan Pablo Montoya in second and third. Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon rounded out the top-five.

Next up for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is race number seven of the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup. Flag-to-flag coverage of the AMP Energy 500 at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama will take the green flag Sunday, November 1 beginning at 12:00 p.m. (EDT) on ABC.  The race will also be broadcast on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius Satellite Radio beginning at 12:15 p.m. (EDT). 

10.19.2009

JIMMIE JOHNSON SCORES ANOTHER WIN AS HE INCHES CLOSER TO FOURTH CONSECUTIVE CHAMPIONSHIP

Quaker State Driver Increases Points Lead to 90 with Five Races Remaining

CONCORD, NC (October 17, 2009) – Jimmie Johnson captured his sixth win of the season in Saturday night’s running of the Banking 500 only from Bank of America at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. In addition the defending Sprint Cup Champion increased his points lead to 90 markers with just five races remaining in the season.

Once again Johnson led the most laps of any competitor taking the top spot five different times for 92 circuits. The three-time champion remained in the top-five running positions for the entire 334 laps before taking the checkered flag and scoring the win.

"So special me getting the win at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in the Lowe’s car in the final race here at the speedway, the sponsorship,” Johnson said from Victory Lane. “What a big day for the overall spectrum. So, just awesome. 

"The perfect weekend which is what Chad (Knaus) always wanted to do. Win every practice, qualifying and the race and we got it."

Fellow Hendrick Motorsports driver Jeff Gordon also continued a strong campaign in pursuit of his fifth championship. Gordon finished fourth after leading 64 laps and advanced two positions in the point standings moving into the third spot.

Both Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. had trouble on Saturday night. Martin was able to salvage his run finishing 17th but Earnhardt, Jr. experienced mechanical problems sending him behind the wall. Junior was able to complete the race but was 30 laps down to the leader crossing the start/finish line in the 38th position.

Martin maintained his second-place position in the point standings while Earnhardt remains in the 22nd position.

Flag-to-flag coverage of the Tums Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Virginia will take the green flag Sunday, October 25 beginning at 1:00 p.m. (EDT) on ABC.  The race will also be broadcast on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius Satellite Radio beginning at 12:15 p.m. (EDT). 

10.12.2009

JIMMIE JOHNSON SCORES FIFTH WIN OF THE SEASON

Three-Time Champ Takes over the Points Lead with Six Races Remaining in the Season

FONTANA, CA (October 11, 2009) – Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 Lowe’s team scored their fifth victory of the 2009 season by leading 126 of the 250 laps in Sunday’s running of the Pepsi 500 at California Speedway. Fellow Hendrick Motorsports drivers Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin also finished in the top-five while Dale Earnhardt, Jr. spent a lot of time in the top-10 before a late-race incident ended his day early.

Johnson, who is gunning for a record-setting fourth consecutive championship, dominated the race leading the most laps and earning 10 bonus points. He was on the point more than 10 different times and fought through some pit road issues early in the race to take the win. Johnson’s win also marked his 16th career Chase victory.

"It is such a long race and so much takes place,” commented Johnson on the pit road trouble. “I knew on pit road that you win some and lose some. Just a solid day all along. I’m so proud of this Lowe’s team. I’m so thankful to Lowe’s for allowing me to put the foundation on the side of the car and we had store 2712 riding with us today so it’s nice to do that for them. Man what an awesome car and what an awesome day. Those cautions at the end really had me nervous. I just didn’t know what to do on the restarts. The No. 24 would get me on some of them. The No. 42 was racing.

"I knew once we had three or four laps I was in good shape but there at the end I really didn’t have many laps. I’m glad I got a good start and got going."

Fellow HMS driver Jeff Gordon took the runner-up position scoring his 14th top-five finish of the season with Mark Martin earning his 12th top-five finish of the year. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. had a decent run spoiled by a multi-car accident late in the race that brought out the red flag for over 20 minutes. The lap 246 melee took out several cars running in the top-ten.

Johnson took over the points lead with six races remaining in the season. Mark Martin fell to the second position with Jeff Gordon gaining two spots and moving into the fifth spot. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. remains in the 22nd position.

Flag-to-flag coverage of the NASCAR Banking 500 only by Bank of America at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina will take the green flag Saturday, October 17 beginning at 7:00 p.m. (EDT) on ABC.  The race will also be broadcast on the Performance Racing Network and Sirius Satellite Radio beginning at 6:15 p.m. (EDT). 

10.5.2009

JEFF GORDON FINISHES SECOND IN KANSAS

Mark Martin Extends Points Lead with Seven Races Remaining

KANSAS CITY, KS (October 4, 2009) – Hendrick Motorsports had a strong showing once again in Sunday’s running of the Price Chopper 400 presented by Kraft Foods at Kansas Speedway. Jeff Gordon was the highest finishing HMS car taking the checker flag in the runner-up position. Mark Martin and Jimmie Johnson also finished in the top-10.

Gordon started the day in the ninth position and fought handling issues early in the event. However his No. 24 crew was able to make the proper adjustments and get him into the top-five where he raced through a good portion of the 267-lap race. Gordon had a strong Chevrolet in the closing laps as well but ran out of time to challenge for the lead and settled for the second position.

Mark Martin started the weekend off by earning his seventh pole position of the season. He led the first 11 laps of the race before falling back a few positions. However the veteran driver remained in the top-10 for the entire race and finished in the seventh position.

Fellow HMS driver Jimmie Johnson also fought some slight handling issues after starting in the 11th position but was able to take the lead several times. After leading 53 laps, the Quaker State driver crossed the start-finish line in the ninth position.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was running in the top-10 and led for 41 laps before a pit road penalty put him a lap down. It was late in the event when Junior experienced a mechanical failure ending his day early. He was credited with the 36th finishing position.

Mark Martin extended his points lead over Jimmie Johnson as the pair remains first and second in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings. Jeff Gordon moved up one position to the seventh spot with just seven races remaining. Despite his troubles, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. maintained his 22nd place position in the standings as well.

Flag-to-flag coverage of the Pepsi 500 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California will take the green flag Sunday, October 11 beginning at 2:30 p.m. (EDT) on ABC.  The race will also be broadcast on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius Satellite Radio beginning at 3:15 p.m. (EDT). 

SEPTEMBER

9.28.2009

JIMMIE JOHNSON DOMINATES IN DOVER TO SCORE FOURTH WIN OF THE SEASON

Three-Time Champ is on track to Earn Record-Setting Fourth Consecutive Title

DOVER, DE (September 27, 2009) – Jimmie Johnson dominated Sunday’s running of the AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway to claim his fourth win of the season and 44th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory. Fellow Hendrick Motorsports teammate Mark Martin finished in the runner-up spot with Jeff Gordon coming home sixth. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. struggled throughout the 400-mile race to finish 20th one lap down to the leaders.

Johnson started the weekend off by earning the pole for the 400-lap event. He led the first 27 laps retaking the lead at lap 149. He took the top spot for the final time on lap 176 and ended up leading a race high 271 laps. His win also moved him closer to points leader Mark Martin trailing him only by 10 markers.

"It was just an awesome race car, awesome day,” stated Johnson. “I can’t thank all the Lowe’s employees for all of their support. We had the race for relief program on the deck lid and want to point out that Lowe’s is going to donate more money now that we would. So a lot of great things for us. The fans were great cheering me in when my engine was broken trying to here to victory lane. I am just so happy we had a maximum points day today, that is what we needed to do."

Martin finished in the runner-up spot and maintained the points lead with only eight races remaining on the schedule. Jeff Gordon gained positions in the point standings moving up two spots to the eighth position with his sixth-place run.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. had a rough outing in Dover going a lap down before regaining it late in the race with the “Lucky Dog” pass. However the Quaker State driver fell a lap down again and finished 20th for the day. Earnhardt lost a spot in the point standings and now sits in the 22nd position.

Following Johnson and Martin were Matt Kenseth and Juan Pablo Montoya. Kurt Busch rounded out the top-five.

Flag-to-flag coverage of the Price Chopper 400 presented by Kraft Foods at Kansas Speedway will take the green flag Sunday, October 4 beginning at 1 p.m. (EDT) on ABC.  The race will also be broadcast on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius Satellite Radio beginning at 1:15 p.m. (EDT). 

9.21.2009

MARK MARTIN SCORES FIFTH WIN OF THE SEASON AT NEW HAMPSHIRE

Veteran Driver Maintains Points Lead with Nine Races Remaining in the Season

LOUDON, N.H. (September 20, 2009) – The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series headed to New Hampshire Motor Speedway this weekend for the first event of the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup. Hendrick Motorsports driver Mark Martin was able to pull out the win claiming his fifth victory of the season. Fellow HMS teammate Jimmie Johnson scored a fourth-place finish while Jeff Gordon fought handling problems late in the race and Dale Earnhardt Jr. fell victim to a late-race incident.

Martin started the Sylvania 300 in the 14th position and took the lead late in the event. He led two different times for a total of 68 laps before taking the checkered flag for his fifth win of the 2009 season. With his win, Martin maintained the lead in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings as well.

“Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) won that race -- that’s all I got to say,” commented an elated Martin from Victory Lane. “He took a driver that can’t drive Loudon and put a set-up in it that we could run along reasonable. Just like I said before the race, if they can stumble around and get me in the front then I might be able to stay there with it. That’s what we did, but it was sure tough.”

Jimmie Johnson’s fourth-place finish moved him up into the second position in the point standings as he goes for a record-setting fourth consecutive championship. Fellow Quaker State driver Jeff Gordon has a strong car at the beginning of the race but the handling went away causing the four-time champ to lose many positions on the track before finishing 15th.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. also had a solid run going and was running in the top-five when another car made contact with him late in race sending him hard into the outside wall. He was able to drive the car back to the garage but unable to return to green-flag racing.

Gordon slipped to the 10th position in the point standings while Earnhardt maintained his 23rd position.

Behind Martin were Denny Hamlin and Juan Pablo Montoya finishing second and third Kyle Busch rounded out the top-five.

Flag-to-flag coverage of the AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway will take the green flag Sunday, Sept. 27 beginning at 1 p.m. (EDT) on ABC.  The race will also be broadcast on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius Satellite Radio beginning at 1:15 p.m. (EDT). 

9.14.2009

JEFF GORDON AND MARK MARTIN EARN TOP-FIVE FINISHES IN RICHMOND

Martin Earns Number One Seed Going into the Chase for the Sprint Cup with Johnson Sitting Third and Gordon Seeded in the Sixth Position

RICHMOND, VA (September 13, 2009) - Both Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin had solid runs in Saturday night’s running of the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond International Raceway earning top-five finishes in the final race before the Chase for the Sprint Cup starts. Fellow Quaker State driver Jimmie Johnson also had a strong showing remaining in the top-10 for most of the race before falling behind in the closing laps of the 300-mile event.

Martin started the weekend out on a high note earning his sixth pole of the season. After leading the first three circuits the Quaker State driver settled into the top-five where he remained for the duration of the event before finishing fourth. With bonus points from his four wins throughout the first 26 races, Martin took over the top spot in the points earning the number one seed going into the Chase for the Championship.

Fellow HMS driver Jeff Gordon had a solid performance leading five times for 97 laps while remaining in the top-10 during the entire 400-lap race before finishing third. Jimmie Johnson’s Chevrolet started out running well but the handling went away in the closing laps of the event causing him to fall out of the top-10 and finish 11th for the evening.

Quaker State teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr. spent some time in the top-10 as well before the handling of his No. 88 Chevrolet went away causing him to lose track position and finish 21st.

Three of the four Quaker State drivers berthed spots in the Chase with Martin in the points lead while Johnson ended up in the third position and Gordon in the sixth seed. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. remains in the 21st position in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings with 10 races remaining in the season.

Denny Hamlin took the checkered flag first earning his second win of the season and was followed by Kurt Busch and Gordon. Following Martin in fourth was Kyle Busch rounding out the top-five.

Next up for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is the first race of the 10-race Chase to the Sprint Cup. Live coverage of the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway will begin on Sunday, September 20, 2009 at 1:00 p.m. (ET) on ABC with radio coverage started at 1:00 p.m. (ET) on PRN and Sirius-XM Satellite radio.

9.7.2009

MARTIN AND GORDON EARN TOP-10 RUNS IN ATLANTA

Johnson has Strong Run Spoiled by Broken Axle, Finishes 36th

HAMPTON, GA (September 7, 2009) – Mark Martin ran in the top-10 for all 325 laps in Sunday night’s running of the Pep Boys Auto 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. His consistent run earned him a top-five finish while Hendrick teammate Jeff Gordon fought handling issues to finish eighth. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. started deep in the field but worked his way into the top 10 before finishing 17th with Jimmie Johnson having a solid run going before breaking an axle that sent him behind the wall relegating him to a 36th-place finish.

After starting in the seventh position, Martin remained just outside the top-five running positions for the first half of the race. It was later in the 500-mile event that the veteran driver broke into the top-five where he remained for the duration of the event before finishing fifth.

HMS teammate Jeff Gordon qualified in the fourth position but a loose handling condition dropped him in the field early in the race. The No. 24 team was able to rebound as Gordon regained his position in the top-10 and remained there for the duration of the event. The four-time Sprint Cup champion took the checkered flag in the eighth position.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. started deep in the field in the 31st position working his way into the top-10 by lap 160. Earnhardt remained in the front of the field until the closing laps of the race when his car fell off dropping him out of the top-15. NASCAR’s “Most Popular Driver” wound up 17th for the night.

With a second-row starting position, Jimmie Johnson took the lead early in the event leading twice for a total of 17 laps. It was late in the race when the No. 48 suffered a broken axle sending Johnson behind the wall for repairs. With the repairs Johnson fell off the pace loosing many laps and finishing in the 36th position.

With Johnson’s trouble he fell one position in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver championship standings switching places with teammate Jeff Gordon. Gordon now sits second with Johnson third as both drivers secured positions in the Chase for the Sprint Cup with one race remaining before the start of the 10-race run to the championship. Mark Martin remains 10th in the point standings and will go into Richmond next week battling for a spot in the top-12. Earnhardt also maintained his points position in the 21st spot after Sunday night’s run.

Kasey Kahne took the win in Atlanta and was followed by Kevin Harvick and Juan Pablo Montoya. David Reutimann along with Mark Martin rounded out the top-five.

Next up for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is the final race before the Chase for the Sprint Cup starts. Live television coverage of the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 from Richmond International Raceway begins on Saturday, September 12 on ABC at 7:00 p.m. (ET) with radio coverage beginning at 6:45 p.m. (ET) on MRN and Sirius-XM Satellite radio.

AUGUST

8.24.2009

MARK MARTIN TURNS IN DOMINATING PERFORMANCE AT BRISTOL

Quaker State Driver Finished Second after Starting from the Pole

BRISTOL, TN (August 23, 2009) – Mark Martin dominated Saturday night’s running of the Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway by leading 240 of the 500 laps before finishing in the runner-up spot. HMS teammates Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. both scored top-10 runs with Jeff Gordon struggling to finish 23rd one lap down to the leaders.

Martin started from the pole, his fifth of the season, and led five different times for the most laps after running in the top-five for the entire event. The veteran driver put on a great battle in the closing laps trying to take away the top-spot but had to settle for the second position as he marked his 1000th NASCAR National Series start.

"I wanted to get him, but there wasn’t any use in, you know; we were racing hard for it,” commented Martin on his late-race battle for the lead. “I got in under him. He gave me plenty of room and it was a good thing because I got sideways and slid right up and it was a good thing that he didn’t crowd me or we’d have both wrecked. I tried to get him. But I’m real proud of Pop Tarts and CARQUEST and everybody. I’d like to have won it, but we finally got a decent finish with a great race car and no matter how this thing falls, I’m proud of this race team. I’m proud to drive their car and I’m having the time of my life."

Three-time Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson had a strong car for most of the evening leading 107 laps but a pit road mishap late in the race caused the Quaker State driver to lose valuable track position. Making several stops for fresh tires, the California native was able to power his way back into the top-10 and finish eighth.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. backed up a solid run from a week ago with another strong finish coming home in the ninth position.  The HMS driver ran mid-pack for the first half of the race before moving into the top 10 in the final 100 laps.

Jeff Gordon started in the rear of the field but quickly made his way toward the front breaking into the top-10 by lap 200. The handling on the No. 24 Chevrolet went away about half-way through the event causing the four-time champion to lose a lap and finish 23rd.

Gordon and Johnson swapped points positions again with Johnson taking the second spot back. Martin improved his points position moving up two spots to the 10th position. Earnhardt remains 21st with just two races left before the start of the Chase.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will take a weekend off before returning to action on Sunday, September 6 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Live Television coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. (ET) on ESPN with radio coverage beginning at 6:30 p.m. (ET) on the Performance Racing Network (PRN) and Sirius/XM Satellite radio.

8.17.2009

GORDON AND EARNHARDT, JR. SCORE TOP-FIVE FINISHES IN MICHIGAN

Johnson and Martin Have Strong Runs Spoiled by Fuel Mileage

BROOKLYN, MI (August 16, 2009) – The Hendrick Motorsports teams all had strong runs in Sunday’s running of the Carfax 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Jimmie Johnson and Mark Martin both ran up front for the majority of the 300-lap event before running out of fuel in the final laps. Jeff Gordon who also spent most of the day in the top-five was able to stretch his fuel to finish second while Dale Earnhardt, Jr. used pit strategy to gain track position and finish third for the day.

Johnson who led a race high 133 laps remained in the top-five for most of the event. It was with only three laps remaining that the three-time champion ran out of fuel and had to duck onto pit road for a splash of gas. Johnson ended up in the 33rd position one lap down to the leaders.

Martin had a similar day to Johnson as he started the race on the outside pole and took the lead on the first lap. The Quaker State driver led four different times for 26 laps before running out of fuel on the white-flag lap. The veteran driver ended up in the 31st position.

Jeff Gordon had a strong showing breaking into the top-five by lap 60 and remaining in the top-10 for much of the remaining laps of the race. Gordon was able to put himself in position to gain a few spots with others running out of gas in the closing stages and took the runner-up spot.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. struggled through the first half of the race but his team used pit strategy to gain their driver valuable track position. It wasn’t until late in the race that the Quaker State driver made his way into the top-10 before working his way into the third spot where he took the checkered flag.

Gordon and Johnson swapped positions in the point standings and remain second and third with Gordon taking over the runner-up spot. Mark Martin dropped to the 12th position and sits 12 points ahead of the 13th spot. Earnhardt jumped up four positions with his top-five run and now sits 21st after 23 of 36 races.

Brian Vickers crossed the start-finish line first earning his second career Sprint Cup win. Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. followed finishing second and third with Carl Edwards and Sam Hornish, Jr. rounding out the top-five.

Next up for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is the Sharpie 500 at the high-banked ½-mile oval of Bristol Motor Speedway. Live Coverage of racing action will begin on Saturday, August 22, 2009 at 6:30 p.m. (ET) on ESPN along with radio coverage on MRN/Sirius-XM Satellite Radio at 7:00 p.m. (ET).

8.11.2009

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS HAS TOUGH DAY AT THE GLEN

Johnson Finishes 12th with Gordon and Earnhardt Receiving Extensive Damage in Separate Incidents

WATKINS GLEN, NY (August 10, 2009) – The Hendrick Motorsports teams experienced a tough day in Monday’s running of the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at the Glen in the season’s second and final road course event. Johnson was the highest finishing HMS car with a 12th-place run while fellow Quaker State driver Mark Martin struggled throughout the weekend bringing his No. 5 Chevrolet home to a 23rd-place finish. Both Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Jeff Gordon were involved in incidents that ended their day early.

For the second week in a row Mother Nature postponed the race from Sunday to Monday. Johnson took the green flag from the pole, his first on a road course, under deep blue skies. The three-time champion led one time for four laps but fell off late in the race to finish 12th.

Mark Martin and the No. 5 HMS team struggled all weekend looking for speed. After starting in the 28th position the veteran driver ran mid-pack for most of the day before taking the checkered flag in the 23rd position.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was also running mid-pack before he had a brake failure that sent him hard into the tire barrier on lap 43 causing extensive damage to the front end of the No. 88 Chevy. The crew was able to make enough repairs to get NASCAR’s most popular driver back on track and finish 39th for the day.

Fellow HMS driver Jeff Gordon started from deep in the field but was able to pick off several positions through the first portion of the 90-lap event. However, the four-time champion was involved in a tremendous crash on lap 64 that damaged his Chevy beyond repair. Gordon was credited with the 37th finishing position.

Johnson remains second in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings with Gordon maintaining his third position. Mark Martin lost one spot falling to 11th with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. losing two positions dropping to the 25th spot.

Tony Stewart won the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at the Glen with Marcos Ambrose and Carl Edwards finishing second and third. Kyle Busch and Greg Biffle rounded out the top-five.

Next up for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is the Carfax 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Live Coverage of racing action will begin on Sunday, August 16, 2009 at 1:00 p.m. (ET) on ESPN along with radio coverage on MRN/Sirius-XM Satellite Radio at 1:15 p.m. (ET).

8.4.2009

MARK MARTIN AND JEFF GORDON BOTH EARN TOP-10 RUNS AT POCONO

Mechanical Problems Drop Johnson out of Contention

LONG POND, PA (August 3, 2009) – Both Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon has solid performances in Monday’s running of the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway finishing in the top-10. Fellow Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson was strong in the early stages of the race but mechanical issues dropped him out of contention and put him several laps down. The No. 48 team fought back and returned to the lead lap late in the race to finish 13th.

With qualifying cancelled because of rain, both Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon had solid starting positions for Monday’s Sprint Cup race in Pocono. Starting from the front of the field Johnson took the lead and stayed on the point for the first 22 laps of the 200-lap event. It was at the half-way point of the race that the three-time champion began to have mechanical problems that dropped him in the field. After many trips down the pit lane and loosing several laps, the Chad Knaus led team figured out the problem and got Johnson’s car back to full power. With the help of several caution flags, Johnson was able to gain a spot back on the lead lap late in the race and finish in the 13th position.

"I don’t know yet but I assume it was a spark plug issue,” Johnson commented about the mechanical issue. “That’s the last thing we started changing. The car started running better so it’s just crazy how sometimes a little part like that can go wrong. I know our guys will look closely at it to make sure that something like that doesn’t happen again. I’m just so proud of the fight this race team has. For us to come back from three laps down and get back on the lead lap and salvage a 13th-place finish means a lot to me. I think we are going in the right direction and it shows to me what my team is capable of and I know what I’m capable of going into the Chase."

Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon both had solid runs with Martin taking the lead at one point for 10 laps before finishing seventh. Gordon also stayed up front for much of the race before settling for an eighth-place finish.

Fellow HMS driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr. struggled throughout the event but was able to break into the top-10 late in the race before falling off and finishing in the 28th spot.

Johnson remains second in the point standings with Gordon right behind him in the third spot. Martin dropped to the 10th position with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. also losing a position falling to the 23rd spot.

Denny Hamlin took the checkered flag for the win and was followed by Juan Pablo Montoya and Clint Bowyer. Sam Hornish, Jr. and Kasey Kahne rounded out the top-five.

Next up for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is the running of the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at the Glen at the 2.45-mile road course of Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, New York. Coverage of live racing action will begin on Sunday, August 9, 2009 at 1:00 p.m. (ET) on ESPN with radio coverage on MRN/XM-Sirius Satellite radio at 1:15 p.m.

JULY

7.27.2009

JIMMIE JOHNSON WINS AT THE BRICKYARD

Fellow Hendrick Teammates Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon Score Top-10 Finishes

SPEEDWAY, IN (July 26, 2009) – Hendrick Motorsports driver Jimmie Johnson scored his third win at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Sunday’s running of the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. Johnson also became the first back-to-back winner in NASCAR competition at the historic track. Fellow HMS driver Mark Martin finished second with Jeff Gordon taking the checkered flag in the ninth position. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was credited with a 36th-place finish after losing an engine at lap 127.

After starting in the 16th position Johnson quickly made his way into the top-10 taking over the eighth position by lap 10. Breaking into the top-five just a few laps leader, the three-time and defending champion took the lead with 24 laps remaining in the 400-mile event. Johnson remained on the point after a close battle with fellow teammate Mark Martin earning his third victory of the 2009 season.

"That was unbelievable,” said Johnson. “I hope the fans enjoyed that race. I can’t say enough about this race team and all of Hendrick Motorsports. It was a fun battle with my teammate Mark Martin. It’s great to work with him and work with Alan (Gustafson) and work with all my teammates at Hendrick Motorsports. “

"Those last 15-20 laps we had to drive it so hard to stay ahead of the five,” continued Johnson. “I was better in (turns) three and four than he was and he had me beat in (turns) one and two and it was kind of a give and take thing that was going on. Luckily we held him off."

Martin, who earned his fourth pole of the season, led the first four laps of the 160-lap event. He remained in the second spot for virtually the rest of the race before retaking the lead on lap 127. Falling to his teammate on a late-race restart, the veteran battled for the No. 1 spot in the closing laps but had to settle for the runner-up finish. Fellow Quaker State driver Jeff Gordon battled from deep in the field to earn a top-10 finish bringing his DuPont Chevrolet home to a ninth-place finish.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. had a strong qualifying effort starting Sunday’s race from the third position and running in the top-10 until his engine expired on lap 127 sending him to the garage and out of the race.

With his win, Johnson took over the second position in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship point standings with Gordon falling to third. Martin gained two spots with his second-place finish with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. losing one position falling to the 21st spot.

Next up for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is the running of the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway. Coverage of live racing action will begin on Sunday, August 2, 2009 at 1:00 p.m. (ET) on ESPN with radio coverage on MRN/XM-Sirius Satellite radio at 1:15 p.m.

7.13.2009

MARK MARTIN CAPTURES FOURTH WIN OF 2009 SEASON WITH DOMINATING PERFORMANCE AT CHICAGOLAND SPEEDWAY

Gordon Brings Home a Second–Place Finish with Johnson Earning a Top–10 Run

JOLIET, ILL (July 11, 2009) – Hendrick Motorsports driver Mark Martin won Saturday night’s running of the LifeLock 400 at Chicagoland Speedway after leading 195 of the 267 laps. Fellow Quaker State teammate Jeff Gordon finished in the runner–up spot with Jimmie Johnson coming home in eighth. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. finished 15th after turning in a solid and consistent run.

"I want to thank CARQUEST, Kellogg’s and Chevrolet, Sprint, Rick Hendrick and his race team," said Martin from Victory Lane after claiming his fourth win of the season. "That was fun! That’s what life’s all about right there. These guys deserve to win. We could have parked the car yesterday with an hour left in practice."

Jeff Gordon started from the seventh position and raced in the top–10 for the majority of the event before taking on fresh tires in the closing stages of the race. The new tires allowed the Quaker State driver to make a run for the lead before finishing second.

Johnson also had a strong car taking the lead early but a problem on pit road dropped him several spots and out of the lead. The driver of the No. 48 Chevy remained in the top–five until the end of the race before finishing eighth.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. had a solid run in Saturday night’s event before adjustments late in the race made the handling of his car go away. Junior raced in the top–10 several times before settling for a 15th–place finish.

Jeff Gordon remains second in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship point standings with Jimmie Johnson maintaining his third–place position. Mark Martin’s win pushed him back into the top–12 where he now sits 11th. Dale Junior also remained in the same spot occupying the 21st position with seven races remaining before the start of the Chase.

Following Martin and Gordon was Kasey Kahne and Tony Stewart finishing third and fourth. Denny Hamlin rounded out the top–five.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will take a weekend off before heading to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana for the running of the Brickyard 400. Live television coverage begins on Sunday, July 26, 2009 at 1:00 p.m. (ET) on ESPN. The event will also be broadcast live on IMS Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio with coverage beginning at 1:00 p.m. (ET).

7.6.2009

JIMMIE JOHNSON SURVIVES WILD FINISH TO COME HOME SECOND IN DAYTONA

Martin, Gordon and Earnhardt Finish Further Back in the Field After Trouble

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 4, 2009) -- Jimmie Johnson finished second to lead his Hendrick Motorsports/Quaker State teammates at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday night. Johnson survived a wild finish that involved numerous cars crashing coming to the finish line on the final lap of the 400 lap race at Daytona.

Johnson, started third, for the 160-lap event. He remains third in the driver standings, trailing teammate Jeff Gordon by 14 points.

"It was a great race car," Johnson said. "We haven’t been this strong in Daytona in a long time, and I am really proud of the hard work my team has put in this chassis. The guys did a great job of setting this car up, and I am very impressed with this.”

Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, and Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 National Guard "Serving America"/AMP Energy Chevrolet, were involved in a multi-car accident on Lap 76. Gordon, who started from the outside pole position, finished 28th. Earnhardt, who started 19th, finished 39th.

Mark Martin, driver of the No. 5 CARQUEST/Kellogg’s Impala SS, now ranks 13th in the standings after finishing 38th. Martin was involved in a multi-car crash early in the day, but his team worked to fix his No. 5 Chevrolet and he returned to the track.

The next race on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule is the LifeLock.com 400 from Chicagoland Speedway. The race will take the green flag Saturday, July 11 at 8 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. Race coverage will be televised live on TNT beginning at 6:30 p.m. EDT and broadcast worldwide on the MRN and Sirius XM Satellite Radio. Qualifying for the 19th race on the 2009 NSCS schedule will be televised live on SPEED Thursday, July 9 at 8:30 p.m. EDT.

JUNE

6.29.2009

JEFF GORDON FINISHES SECOND IN NEW HAMPSHIRE

Jimmie Johnson also Scores a Top-10 Finish at Loudon

LOUDON, NH (June 28, 2009) – Hendrick Motorsports’ Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson both had dominating performances in Sunday’s rain-shortened LENOX Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Both led multiple laps but in the end pit strategy played a role as the rain approached and they had to settle for second and ninth respectively. Fellow HMS teammates Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Mark Martin finished 13th and 14th after running in the top-10 for the majority of the race.

After Friday’s qualifying session was cancelled because of rain, Gordon and Johnson both started from the front where they remained throughout most of the race. Gordon took the lead early and remained on the point for a total of 64 laps. Johnson also took his turn leading twice for a race-high 93 laps. Both finished in the top-10 maintaining their second and third positions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings.

Both Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Mark Martin had solid runs running in the top-10 for the majority of the day. Earnhardt’s 13th-place finish gained him one position in points where he now sits 19th with Mark Martin maintaining his 11th-place points position after finishing 14th. Martin also led one lap earning five bonus points for the day.

Joey Logano took the win scoring his first Sprint Cup Series victory. Following Gordon’s second-place finish was Kurt Busch in third with David Reutimann and Tony Stewart rounding out the top-five.

Next up for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is the running of the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. Live television coverage begins on Saturday, July 4, 2009 at 7:30 p.m. (ET) on TNT. The event will also be broadcast live on MRN (Motor Racing Network) and Sirius Satellite Radio with coverage beginning at 7:15 p.m. (ET).

6.22.2009

JIMMIE JOHNSON BOUNCES BACK FROM EARLY RACE TROUBLE TO FINISH IN THE TOP-FIVE AT SONOMA

Jimmie Johnson Sonoma Top-Five

Jeff Gordon Scores a Top-10 Finish with Earnhardt and Martin Finishing Further Back after Late-Race Incidents

Sonoma, CA (June 21, 2009) – Jimmie Johnson survived a pit road penalty early in the running of the SaveMart 350 to finish fourth in Sunday’s race at Infineon Raceway. Fellow Hendrick Motorsports (HMS) teammate Jeff Gordon also fought back from a pit road penalty to finish ninth in the 110-lap event. Both Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. had decent runs going before being involved in a late-race incident that relegated them both to finish further back in the field.

Starting from the 11th position Jimmie Johnson was running in the top-10 when a pit road speeding penalty sent him to the rear of the field. However, the four-time Sprint Cup champion fought back to put himself back into the top-10 before finishing fourth. Johnson remains in the third spot in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings.

Fellow HMS driver Jeff Gordon also had to fight back from a pit road speeding penalty to finish in the top-10. The No. 24 HMS team struggled with the car much of the weekend trying to get the car better throughout practice and the race. Gordon broke into the top-10 during a green-white-checker finish to score a ninth-place finish and remains in the runner-up spot in points only 84 markers out of first place.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was on his way to finishing in the top-10 before being involved in a multi-car incident late in the race. Junior was able to continue running but fell back further in the field to finish 26th. His finish dropped him two spots in the point standings where he now sits 20th.

Veteran driver Mark Martin was hoping for a better finish coming off his win one week ago in Michigan. However the Quaker State driver struggled throughout much of the event and also dropped several positions after being involved in that late-race incident. Martin finish 35th for the day but remained in the top-12 in points sitting in the 11th spot.

Kasey Kahne won the Toyota SaveMart 350 with Tony Stewart finishing second. Marcos Ambrose along with Johnson and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top-five.

Next up for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is the running of the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. Live television coverage begins on Sunday, June 28, 2009 at 1:30 p.m. (ET) on TNT. The event will also be broadcast live on PRN (Performance Racing Network) and Sirius Satellite Radio with coverage beginning at 1:30 p.m. (ET).

6.9.2009

JEFF GORDON AND JIMMIE JOHNSON EARN TOP-10 FINISHES AT POCONO

Pocono

Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt, JR. Post Top-15 Finishes while Jeff Gordon Struggles to Finish 26th

DOVER, DE (May 31, 2009) - Jimmie Johnson dominated Sunday’s running of the Autism Speaks 400 at Dover International Speedway by leading 298 laps on his way to his second victory of the season. Mark Martin finished 10th with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. finishing 12th with a new crew chief on top of his pit box. Jeff Gordon got caught a lap down on pit road and fought handling problems throughout the event to finish 26th.

Starting from the eighth position, the three-time Sprint Cup Champion obviously had the best car of the field leading nine different times for almost two-thirds of the race. A bad pit stop late in the race put the Quaker State driver in the eighth position for the final restart where he battled his way back into the top-three. Johnson ended up retaking the lead after a late-race battle for the top spot in the closing laps to earn his second victory of the season.

Mark Martin had a strong car all day long finishing 10th to earn his seventh top-10 finish of the season while Dale Earnhardt, Jr. had a new crew chief this week turning in a solid run after starting from the 22nd position.

Four-time champion Jeff Gordon struggled all weekend after wrecking his primary car in qualifying and having to go to a backup car. With no laps on the new car Gordon started the 400-lap event in the 42nd position. The Quaker State driver lost one lap when the caution flag waved while he was on pit road for a green-flag stop and handling problems resulted in another lap lost before taking the checkered flag in the 26th position.

With Gordon’s rough day he lost one spot in the point standings falling to the second position and now sits 46 markers out of first place.  Jimmie Johnson moved up one position to third with his win while Mark Martin maintained his 12th-place position. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. also gained a spot moving into the 18th position.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads next to Pocono Raceway on Sunday, June 7, 2009. Live television coverage of the Pocono 500 begins at 12:30 p.m. (ET) on TNT with radio coverage beginning at 1:15 p.m. on MRN (Motor Racing Network) and Sirius XM Satellite radio.

6.1.2009

JIMMIE JOHNSON SCORES SECOND WIN OF THE SEASON BY DOMINATING AT DOVER

Jimmie Johnson Dominates At Dover

Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt, JR. Post Top-15 Finishes while Jeff Gordon Struggles to Finish 26th

DOVER, DE (May 31, 2009) - Jimmie Johnson dominated Sunday’s running of the Autism Speaks 400 at Dover International Speedway by leading 298 laps on his way to his second victory of the season. Mark Martin finished 10th with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. finishing 12th with a new crew chief on top of his pit box. Jeff Gordon got caught a lap down on pit road and fought handling problems throughout the event to finish 26th.

Starting from the eighth position, the three-time Sprint Cup Champion obviously had the best car of the field leading nine different times for almost two-thirds of the race. A bad pit stop late in the race put the Quaker State driver in the eighth position for the final restart where he battled his way back into the top-three. Johnson ended up retaking the lead after a late-race battle for the top spot in the closing laps to earn his second victory of the season.

Mark Martin had a strong car all day long finishing 10th to earn his seventh top-10 finish of the season while Dale Earnhardt, Jr. had a new crew chief this week turning in a solid run after starting from the 22nd position.

Four-time champion Jeff Gordon struggled all weekend after wrecking his primary car in qualifying and having to go to a backup car. With no laps on the new car Gordon started the 400-lap event in the 42nd position. The Quaker State driver lost one lap when the caution flag waved while he was on pit road for a green-flag stop and handling problems resulted in another lap lost before taking the checkered flag in the 26th position.

With Gordon’s rough day he lost one spot in the point standings falling to the second position and now sits 46 markers out of first place.  Jimmie Johnson moved up one position to third with his win while Mark Martin maintained his 12th-place position. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. also gained a spot moving into the 18th position.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads next to Pocono Raceway on Sunday, June 7, 2009. Live television coverage of the Pocono 500 begins at 12:30 p.m. (ET) on TNT with radio coverage beginning at 1:15 p.m. on MRN (Motor Racing Network) and Sirius XM Satellite radio.

MAY

5.29.2009

HENDRICK CARS STRUGGLE IN RAIN-SHORTENED COCA-COLA 600

Coca-Cola 600

Johnson and Gordon Finish in the Top-15 with Martin Finishing 17th; Earnhardt, Jr. Finished 40th

CONCORD, NC (May 25, 2009) - The Hendrick Motorsports teams were anxious to get the 50th running of the Coca-Cola 600 started after heavy rains postponed the event on Sunday moving it to Monday. Weather remained a factor during Monday’s event with the HMS cars struggling with handling. Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon earned top-15 finishes in the rain-shortened race with Mark Martin finishing close behind in 17th. Fellow HMS teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr. dealt with extreme handling issues finishing 40th.

With cars set up to run at night and the track conditions changing after rains washed the rubber off the surface, the teams knew that handling would be an issue at least in the opening laps of the race.

Jimmie Johnson spent most of his day running in the top-10 only falling out late in the rain-shortened race. Johnson led one time for a total of six laps before settling into the 13th position when the final caution flag waved on lap 220. Fellow Quaker State driver Jeff Gordon fought an extremely tight race car but his crew was able to make adjustments helping their driver earn a 14th-place finish.

Mark Martin ran in the top-five in the opening laps of the race before falling back into the top-25. The Quaker State driver rallied back into the top-15 before slipping into the 17th position right before the final caution and red flag waved.

Fellow HMS driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr. struggled the entire race after starting in the 27th position. Handling issues plagued NASCAR’s "Most Popular Driver" throughout the 227 completed laps relegating him to a 40th-place finish.

The event was interrupted by rain three different times before weather ended the 400-lap race early.

Gordon remains the points leader after 12 starts with Jimmie Johnson maintaining his fourth-place position. Mark Martin remains in the top-12 in the final Chase position with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. slipping a spot to the 19th position.

David Reutimann scored his first NASCAR Sprint Cup win followed by Ryan Newman and Robby Gordon. Carl Edwards and Brian Vickers rounded out the top-five.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads next to the Dover International Speedway on Sunday, May 31, 2009. Live television coverage of the Autism Speaks 400, presented by Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips & Cheese begins at 1:30 p.m. (ET) on FOX with radio coverage beginning at 1:15 p.m. on PRN (Performance)

5.17.2009

JOHNSON AND GORDON BOTH HAVE STRONG RUNS IN ALL-STAR EVENT BUT FIND TROUBLE LATE IN THE RACE

2009 Sprint All-Star Race

Martin and Earnhardt, Jr. Score Top-10 Finishes in Million Dollar Event

CONCORD, NC (May 17, 2009) - Hendrick Motorsports (HMS) drivers Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon both took turns leading Saturday night’s Sprint All-Star race before finding trouble in the final 10-lap segment after spinning as a result of contact with other cars. Johnson was able to continue but Gordon’s night was ended early. Fellow HMS teammates Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. both brought home top-10 finishes in the million dollar event.

Jimmie Johnson started the 100-lap event from the pole and went on to lead entire 50-lap first segment. After a set of pit stops between the first and second segments Johnson took the green flag in the fifth spot. The three-time champion remained in the top-five running positions throughout the next two segments. In was in the final 10-lap shootout that he found trouble getting turned on the first lap bringing out the caution. After a trip to pit road Johnson had to restart the race in the rear of the field but made his way back into the top-15 to finish 13th.

Four-time Champion Jeff Gordon also had a strong car in the All-Star event starting from the sixth position. The Quaker State driver raced in the top-five for most of the 100-lap event leading 10 of the 20 laps in the third segment. In the final 10-lap shootout Gordon got spun while battling for the lead and ended up nose first in the outside retaining wall. Gordon’s night was cut short with just three laps remaining and he was credited with a 19th-place finish.

Mark Martin also had a stout car racing in the top-five for much of the night. Running as high as the third position, Martin settled in for the final 10 laps taking the checkered flag in the sixth position. Fellow HMS teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr. fought handling for much of the race before crossing the start-finish line in the 10th position.

Tony Stewart took home the million dollar trophy with his first All-Star win followed by Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch. Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards rounded out the top-five.

Next up for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday, May 24, 2009 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Live television coverage begins at 5:00 p.m. (ET) on FOX with radio coverage beginning at 4:30 p.m. on PRN (Performance Racing Network) and Sirius XM Satellite radio.

5.11.2009

MARK MARTIN SCORES SECOND WIN OF THE 2009 SEASON; FOURTH VICTORY FOR HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS

Mark Martin Win At Southern 500 At Darlington Raceway

Three-time Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson Finishes Second after Qualifying Crash

DARLINGTON, SC (May 9, 2009) - Mark Martin took the win in Saturday night’s running of the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway scoring his second victory of the 2009 season. Hendrick Motorsports (HMS) teammates Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon scored top-10 finishes as well with Johnson finishing in the runner-up spot and Gordon coming home in the fifth position.

After starting in the 12th position Martin ran solidly in the top-15 for most of the 367-lap event. The Quaker State driver took the lead on lap 322 remaining on the point for the final 46 circuits on the way to his second win of the season. With his first-place finish, Martin moved into the top-12 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings for the first time of the season. He now sits 11th.

Fellow HMS driver Jimmie Johnson literally had a roller coaster weekend. After wrecking in qualifying, the No. 48 driver had to go to a back-up car and start the 500-mile event from the 42nd position. Crew chief Chad Knaus used pit strategy to gain Johnson the lead, picking up valuable bonus points for leading laps. Johnson then got caught on pit road with a caution flag putting the Quaker State driver a lap down. The reigning champion was able to regain the lost lap but found trouble again on pit road after being spun out while coming in for service. Recovering again, Johnson found his way back into the top-10 by lap 320 and worked his way into the runner-up spot for the finish. The three-time Sprint Cup Champion gained two spots in the point standings moving back into the fourth spot.

Four-time Champion Jeff Gordon also had a roller coaster event after starting on the outside pole. Gordon remained in the top-five before a wheel vibration relegated him to the back of the pack. He was able to recover and regain his lap late in the race moving back into the top-10 to finish fifth. Gordon maintained his point lead and sits 29 markers ahead of the second-place driver after 11 events.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. struggled with handling most of the race running between the 20th and 30th positions for much of the event. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver broke into the top-10 one time before bringing out the final caution on lap 344 with a spin. Junior went on to finish in the 27th position while maintaining the 18th spot in the point standings.

Following Mark Martin and Jimmie Johnson’s one-two finish were teammates Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman. Gordon rounded out the top-five giving Quaker State and Hendrick Motorsports three of the top-five finishing positions.

Next up for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is the Sprint All-Star weekend at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Live television coverage of the NASCAR Sprint Showdown begins on Saturday, May 16, 2009 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) on SPEED.  The event will also be broadcast live on MRN (Motor Racing Network) and Sirius XM Satellite Radio with coverage beginning at 6:45 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT). The Sprint All-Star Race will follow with coverage beginning at 8:30 Eastern Daylight Time on both SPEED and MRN, Sirius XM Satellite Radio.

5.3.2009

MARK MARTIN AND JEFF GORDON SCORE TOP-10 RUNS AT RICHMOND

Crown Royal presents The Russ Friedman 400 at Richmond International Speedway

Teammates Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Jimmie Johnson Experience Problems

RICHMOND, VA (May 2, 2009) - Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon both had solid runs in Saturday night’s running of the Crown Royal presents The Russ Friedman 400 at Richmond International Speedway. Both drivers came home with a top-10 finish while fellow Quaker State drivers Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Jimmie Johnson had trouble.

Mark Martin spent most of the night running in the top-five before another car caused him to spin on lap 313. The Hendrick Motorsports (HMS) driver was able to continue and remain on the lead lap working his way back toward the front in the closing laps of the race to finish in the top-five.

Fellow HMS driver Jeff Gordon also had a solid run after racing in the top-10 for the entire 400- lap event. Gordon led four different times for a total of 96 laps before finishing in the eighth position.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. fought extreme handling issues throughout the race. His Tony Eury, Jr. led crew worked on his No. 88 Chevrolet throughout the event but was never able to give Junior the handling he needed. The Quaker State driver finished the night in the 27th position the first car a lap down to the leaders.

Three-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson started the race off with a solid run racing in the top-15 before brake issues began to plague the Quaker State driver. A pit road penalty in the early stages of the race dropped Johnson to the back of the field. The penalty along with the brake issues caused the No. 48 driver to lose several laps before taking the checkered flag in the 36th position.

Jeff Gordon moved back into the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points lead with is top-10 run while Johnson lost three positions dropping to the sixth position. Mark Martin gained three spots moving into the 15th spot with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. losing three positions falling to the 18th spot.

Kyle Busch took the win on Saturday night in Richmond with Tony Stewart and Jeff Burton finishing second and third. Ryan Newman finished fourth with Quaker State’s Mark Martin rounding out the top-five.

Next up for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is the running of the Southern 500 presented by GoDaddy.com at Darlington Raceway. Live television coverage begins on Saturday, May 9, 2009 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) on FOX.  The event will also be broadcast live on MRN (Motor Racing Network) and Sirius XM Satellite Radio with coverage beginning at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT).   

APRIL

4.29.2009

DALE EARNHARDT, JR. FINISHES SECOND IN WILD RACE AT TALLADEGA

DALE EARNHARDT, JR. FINISHES SECOND AT TALLADEGA

Gordon and Martin get caught up in the "Big One" with Johnson having Trouble in the Closing Laps

TALLADEGA, AL (April 26, 2009) - The Hendrick Motorsports teams of Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin had mixed results in what was a dramatic race at the 2.66-mile track of Talladega Superspeedway. Earnhardt scored a second-place finish with Johnson, Gordon and Martin all finishing in the back of the pack after experiencing trouble.

Earnhardt led a total of 20 laps seven different times and put himself in position to make a run for the lead in the closing laps before finishing second in what turned out to be a wild finish.

Three-time and defending champion Jimmie Johnson kept himself in contention for most of the 188-lap event. It wasn’t until late in the race with just several laps remaining that Johnson found himself in an accident that ended his day early. Johnson was running in the top 10 at the time of the incident but was relegated to a 30th-place finish after falling out of the race with just nine laps left in competition.

Four-time champion Jeff Gordon was also involved along with eight other cars, was involved in a multi-car accident on lap seven of the 188-lap event that sent him behind the wall and to the garage. After many laps the No. 24 team made the appropriate repairs and got Gordon back on track where he continued to run laps and gain as many positions as possible. Gordon finished in the 37th position, 60 laps down to the leaders.

Coming off of last week’s win in Phoenix, Mark Martin was hoping for a better finish in Talladega but was also involved in the "Big One". The damage to the No. 5 machine was too significant for Martin to continue ending his day early and relegating him to a 43rd-place finish.

Brad Keselowski took the win in a dramatic finish followed by Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Ryan Newman, Marcos Ambrose and Scott Speed rounded out the top-five.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will return to action next weekend for the running of the Crown Royal present Russ Friedman 400 at Richmond International Raceway. Live television coverage begins on Saturday, May 2, 2009 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) on FOX.  The event will also be broadcast live on MRN (Motor Racing Network) and Sirius XM Satellite Radio with coverage beginning at 6:45 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT).

4.20.2009

MARTIN TAKES THE WIN IN PHOENIX TO MAKE IT THREE IN A ROW FOR HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS

MARK MARTIN TAKES THE WIN IN PHOENIX

Quaker State Driver Wins after Claiming Third Pole of the Season

AVONDALE, AZ (April 19, 2009) – After 97 races without a victory, Mark Martin took the checkered flag on Saturday night to win the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. Martin started from the pole, his third of the 2009 season and led a total of 157 laps over five different times before taking the win. Fellow Quaker State driver Jimmie Johnson also earned a top-five run finishing fourth to earn his fourth top-five finish of the season.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. had an up and down event at Phoenix leading twice for a total of 63 laps before getting a bad set of tires that dropped him in the running order. In addition the Hendrick Motorsports driver had a late race incident that sent him into the wall on lap 302 causing him to lose a couple of laps and finish 31st for the evening.

Fellow HMS teammate Jeff Gordon started the event in the fourth position and ran in the top-10 for the first 140 laps of the race. Handling issues dropped the four-time champion out of the top-10 and then a pit road mistake during a green-flag pit cycle brought the No. 24 Quaker State driver back down the pit lane for a missing lug nut. Gordon lost a lap during the penalty and finished 25th one lap down to the leaders.

Gordon remains the point leader and sits 85 markers ahead of Quaker State teammate Jimmie Johnson who remains in the second spot. Martin’s win moved him up five more positions and he now sits 13th in the standings just nine points out of the top-12. Dale Earnhardt Jr. lost three positions falling to the 19th spot after his 31st-place finish.

Mark Martin took the win at Phoenix on Saturday night with Tony Stewart finishing second. Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson and Greg Biffle rounded out the top-five.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will return to action next weekend for the running of the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway. Live television coverage begins on Sunday, April 26, 2009 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) on FOX. The event will also be broadcast live on MRN (Motor Racing Network) and Sirius Satellite Radio with coverage beginning at 1:15 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT).

4.6.2009

JEFF GORDON ENDS WINLESS STREAK WITH A VICTORY AT TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY

JEFF GORDON ENDS WINLESS STREAK WITH A VICTORY AT TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY

Fellow Quaker State Driver Jimmie Johnson Finishes Second Giving Hendrick Motorsports a One-Two Finish

FT. WORTH, TX (April 5, 2009) – Four-time Sprint Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon ended a 47-race winless streak with his victory in the Samsung 500 on Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway. Gordon led a race-high 105 laps after starting the 334-lap race from the outside pole. Fellow HMS driver Jimmie Johnson gave the team a one-two finish after taking the checkered flag in the runner-up spot.

Johnson struggled at the beginning of the race but the Chad Knaus led crew worked on his Chevrolet throughout the event and made it better for their driver. The three-time and defending champion broke returned to the top 10 on lap 240 after falling back remained there for the remaining laps of the race. Johnson made a late-race run to try to challenge for the lead but ran out of laps.

Fellow Quaker State driver Mark Martin finished sixth earning another top-10 finish after starting in the 23rd position. Martin patiently made his way into the top-10 breaking into the top five late in the race before falling to sixth in the closing laps.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. fought handling issues throughout the race but remained around the top 10 for much of race. A pit strategy call put the two-time Nationwide Series champion in the lead late in the race however contact with another car relegated him to a 20th-place finish.

Gordon remains the points leader with a 162-point lead over second place Jimmie Johnson who moved up two spots with his second-place finish. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. remains 16th in points with Mark Martin gaining nine spots to the 18th position.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will take a week off before returning to action for the running of the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Arizona. Live television coverage begins on Saturday, April 18, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) on FOX. The event will also be broadcast live on MRN (Motor Racing Network) and Sirius Satellite Radio with coverage beginning at 7:45 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT).

MARCH

3.31.2009

JEFF GORDON MAINTAINS POINTS LEAD WITH SECOND-PLACE FINISH IN ATLANTA

Fellow Hendrick Motorsports Teammates Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. have Solid Runs with Mark Martin having Trouble

HAMPTON, GA (March 8, 2009) - Hendrick Motorsports and Quaker State driver Jeff Gordon continued his strong start to the 2009 season on Sunday finishing second in the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Fellow HMS teammates Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. both had solid runs finishing ninth and 11th respectively while Mark Martin found trouble on the track relegating him to a 31st-place finish.

After starting in the 16th position Gordon never raced outside of the top 10 for the remainder of the 500-mile race. The veteran led one time for a total of 47 laps and battled for the lead at different times as well. The four-time Sprint Cup Champion made a charge for the front under the green-white-checkered finish but just did not have enough to take the win. Gordon’s second-place finish marks his second top-five and third top-10 finish in the first four events of the season. He remains at the top of the NSCS point standings 43 points ahead of the second-place driver.

Defending and three-time champion Jimmie Johnson also had a solid day running in the top-10 for most of the event. A pit road penalty for speeding late in the race put the Quaker State driver out of the top-10 before he battled back to finish ninth. Johnson led the race one time for 11 laps and now sits just outside the top-12 in points in the 13th position.

Fellow HMS and Quaker State driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr. fought handling issues with a loose race track throughout the day. The driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet raced in the top 15 with a solid top-10 run between lap 80 and lap 200. Junior’s 11th-place run gained him five spots in the point standings moving him into the top-25.

Mark Martin started the weekend out on a high note claiming the pole position for Sunday’s race. The 50-year-old led the first five laps of the event and was running in the top 10 when he lost a right rear tire and made heavy contact with the outside retaining wall. The No. 5 HMS crew made repairs to Martin’s machine and got their driver back on track to finish the race. Martin took the checkered flag in the 31st position.

Kurt Busch won the Kobalt Tools 500 with Gordon finishing just behind him in second. Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick and Brian Vickers rounded out the top-five.

After taking a week off the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will head to Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee for the running of the Food City 500. Live television coverage begins on Sunday, March 22, 2009 at 1:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) on FOX. The event will also be broadcast live on PRN (Performance Racing Network) and Sirius Satellite Radio with coverage beginning at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST).

3.31.2009

JIMMIE JOHNSON SCORES FIRST WIN OF 2009 AT MARTINSVILLE

All Four Hendrick Cars Score Top-10 Finishes in Goody’s Fast Relief 500

MARTINSVILLE, VA (March 29, 2009) - Hendrick Motorsports driver Jimmie Johnson made a daring pass in the closing stages of Sunday’s running of the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 to take the win at Martinsville Speedway. The three-time and defending champion had a strong car most of the day on his way to his fifth victory in the last six races at the infamous short track. Fellow Quaker State teammates Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. all scored top-10 finishes in Sunday’s race as well.

Johnson struggled in the early stages of the race pitting early to allow the No. 48 team to work on his Chevrolet. Crew Chief Chad Knaus made the correct adjustments with Johnson breaking into the top-five by lap 258 and never dropping out. The Lowe’s/Quaker State team earned Johnson the lead for the first time on a pit stop and it was a during that late race pass that the reigning champion took the lead again for the final time. The California native led two different times for a total of 42 laps and moved up five spots in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points standings to the fourth position.

Four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon started from the pole after Friday’s qualifying session was rained out and the field was set according to owner points. Taking the lead four different times for a total of 147 laps, Gordon appeared to be on his way to breaking his winless streak. However, the No. 24 Chevrolet fell back a little in the closing stages of the race and Gordon had to settle for a fourth-place finish.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Mark Martin both fought back from running deep in the field to finish in the top-10 as well. Martin’s seventh-place finish moved him up four spots in the point standings to 27th with Earnhardt gaining three spots to move to 16th after finishing eighth.

Sunday’s race at Martinsville marked the 25th anniversary of Hendrick Motorsport’s first win. Having Johnson win 25 years later and all four of his teams finish in the top-10 was a perfect cap to the celebration of this milestone.

Denny Hamlin finished second behind Johnson followed by Tony Stewart in third. Gordon’s fourth-place finish along with Clint Bowyer’s fifth-place run rounded out the top-five.

Next up for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is the running of the Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in Ft. Worth, Texas. Live television coverage begins on Sunday, April 5, 2009 at 1:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) on FOX. The event will also be broadcast live on PRN (Performance Racing Network) and Sirius Satellite Radio with coverage beginning at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT).

3.31.2009

THREE HENDRICK CARS EARN TOP-10 FINISHES AT BRISTOL

Mark Martin Earns Pole for Second Race in a Row

BRISTOL, TN (March 22, 2009) - The Hendrick Motorsports (HMS) teams had a strong showing in Sunday’s running of the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Three of the four teams finished in the top-10 after Mark Martin earned his second pole in the past two events. Jimmie Johnson finished third with Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin right behind him in fourth and sixth. Fellow Quaker State teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr. fought his way back from a lap down twice to finish 14th.

Three-time series champion Jimmie Johnson finished third in Sunday’s race after leading two different times for a total of 88 laps, the second highest of the race. The reigning champion ran in the top-five for most of the 500-lap race and battled for the lead on many occasions. However trouble during a pit stop prevented the No. 48 team from taking the win. Johnson’s top-five run moved him into the top-12 in points where he sits in the ninth spot.

Fellow Quaker State driver Jeff Gordon also had a strong run finishing fourth. The four-time Sprint Cup champion started in the 10th position and ran in the top-10 for much of the day. Gordon who is on a strong start to the 2009 season remains on top of the point standings for the third week in a row. He now has a 76-point lead over the second place driver.

Veteran driver Mark Martin started the Food City 500 from the pole, his second in as many events and led the opening laps of the event before settling into the top five. The HMS driver raced in the top 10 for much of the race only falling out during pit sequences. Martin’s solid run helped move the driver up in points as well.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. had a tough day in his No. 88 Chevy falling off the lead lap on two different occasions. However the Tony Eury, Jr. led crew kept working on Earnhardt’s car and he was able to put himself in position to gain his lap back twice. Earnhardt finished 14th and moved up five spots in the point standings to the 19th position.

Kyle Busch won the Food City 500 followed by Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson. Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne rounded out the top five.

Next up for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is the running of the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Virginia. Live television coverage begins on Sunday, March 29, 2009 at 1:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) on FOX. The event will also be broadcast live on MRN (Motor Racing Network) and Sirius Satellite Radio with coverage beginning at 1:15 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT).

3.9.2009

NASCAR SPRINT SERIES NEWS

Gordon and Mears both Score Top-10 Finishes with Earnhardt, Jr. Falling out Early

HOMESTEAD, FL (November 16, 2008) - Jimmie Johnson entered the final race of the 2008 Sprint Cup Series season with a 141-point lead over second place Carl Edwards. Johnson just needed to finish 36th or better to claim his record-tying third-consecutive Sprint Cup Championship.

Starting from the 30th position Johnson didn’t hold back and gained 12 spots in the opening laps of the race. By lap 156 the two-time champion worked his way into the top 10. Continuing to do what he needed to do to secure the championship, Johnson maintained his position keeping out of trouble. A strategy call by crew chief Chad Knaus put Johnson in the position to take the lead after pitting on lap 200. In the closing laps, Johnson had to return for a splash of fuel and took the checkered flag in the 15th position.

Four time Cup champion Jeff Gordon entered Homestead-Miami Speedway still looking for his first win of the 2008 season. Gordon started from the 37th position but through a miscommunication on a pit stop found himself out front on lap 167. After leading 16 laps, the driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet remained at the point until lap 207 when he brought his car down the pit lane. Gordon crossed the start/finish line in the fourth spot earning his 13th top-five finish of the year.

Casey Mears had a solid run in his final race with Hendrick Motorsports racing in the top-10 early in the 400-mile event. Mears spent time in and out of the top-15 before making a bid again for the top-10 late in the race where he took the checkered flag. Mears’ eighth-place finish marked the drivers sixth top-10 run of the season.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was running toward the front of the field before having trouble on pit road at lap 140. The Q Racing driver stalled the No. 88 Chevrolet leaving his pit and lost several positions while trying to get it restarted. He then came back down the pit lane to take on the two more tires and restarted at the tail end of the lead lap cars in the 21st position.

However it was on lap 246 while running in the top 10 that Earnhardt’s race would take a detrimental turn. Thinking he had a tire going down he came down the pit lane to receive four new tires. When the fresh tires did not fix the problem, he returned to pit road where the No. 88 crew found a burned wheel bearing thus ending his night early. Earnhardt fell out of the race and was credited with a 41st-place finish.

Johnson finished atop the points 69 points ahead of second-place finisher Carl Edwards. Gordon wound up seventh overall in the final point standings with Earnhardt dropping to the 12th spot. Q Racing teammate Casey Mears finished 20th.

Carl Edwards took the win in the final race with Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray, Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer rounding out the top-five.

3.9.2009

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS TEAMS HAVE STRONG SHOWING IN OPENING LAPS OF 51ST-ANNUAL DAYTONA 500

A Late-Race Pit Call put Gordon and Martin behind While Earnhardt, Jr. and Johnson Experience Problems

DAYTONA BEACH, FL (February 15, 2009) - Persistent rain forced NASCAR officials to call the 51st running of the Daytona 500 with just 152 laps of the 200-lap event complete. The Hendrick Motorsports (HMS) stable of cars had a strong showing in the early laps of the race with several teams taking turns leading but unfortunately for the Quaker State drivers circumstances caused problems relegating the teams to lesser finishes.

The newest member of the HMS team, Mark Martin, had a very successful outing in his first event for the team. Martin claimed the outside pole one week ago during qualifying and led the field to the green along-side pole sitter Martin Truex, Jr. Martin raced in the top-10 for much of the first half of the race until coming down pit road under the caution before the rain delay that eventually ended the race. Martin and his teammate Jeff Gordon both gambled thinking the race would continue and took on fresh tires during that last stop. Martin ended up 16th for the day.

Fellow Quaker State driver Jeff Gordon had a strong car leading laps after starting in the third position. His team also gambled taking on tires under the final yellow and finished 13th.

Three-time Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson raced toward the front of the field early before falling back because of handling issues. Johnson got caught by a caution flag after pitting under the green costing the team to go a lap down. The Quaker State driver was unable to make his lap back up and finished 31st.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (Junior) led early as well but a pit road penalty cost the team a lap followed by an on-track incident that caused a 10-car accident. Junior avoided any major damage to his Chevrolet and was able to get his lap back but was only able to get to the 27th position before the race was called.

Matt Kenseth was declared the winner of the race with Harvick finishing second. A.J. Allmendinger, Clint Bowyer and Elliott Sadler rounded out the top five.

Next up for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is the running of the Auto Club 500 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Live television coverage begins on Sunday, February 22, 2009 at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) on FOX. The event will also be broadcast live on MRN and Sirius Satellite Radio with coverage beginning at 5:15 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST).

3.9.2009

JEFF GORDON AND JIMMIE JOHNSON SCORE TOP-10 FINISHES AT CALIFORNIA

Fellow Quaker State Drivers Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Mark Martin Suffer Engine Problems

FONTANA, Calif. (February 22, 2009) - Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson had solid runs in the Auto Club 500 at Auto Club Speedway with both drivers leading laps and scoring top-10 finishes. Fellow Quaker State Teammates Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Mark Martin also had solid runs going before losing engines late in the race - thus ending their nights early.

Three-time Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson had a strong qualifying run with a lap quick enough to put him on the outside of the front row for the 250-lap event. Johnson took over the lead on the opening lap and remained at the top spot for many laps. Racing in the top-five for the majority of the race, Johnson took the checkered flag in the ninth position.

Fellow Hendrick Motorsports driver Jeff Gordon was also solid all night after starting from the sixth position. The four-time champion took the lead on lap 89 and remained in the top-five for most of the event. Gordon made a late-race charge for the lead but just did not have enough to catch eventual race winner Matt Kenseth.

Both Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Mark Martin were running in the top 15 when they had their engines expire late in the race. The two drivers took their cars to the garage area within a handful of laps of each other and finished 39th and 40th respectively for the evening.

Matt Kenseth scored his second win in a row with Gordon in the runner-up spot. Kyle Busch, Greg Biffle and Kurt Busch rounded out the top five.

Next up for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is the running of the Shelby 427 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas, Nevada. Live television coverage begins on Sunday, March 1, 2009 at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) on FOX. The event will also be broadcast live on PRN (Performance Racing Network) and Sirius Satellite Radio with coverage beginning at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST).

Motorsports