Hendrick Motorsports Previews The 2017 Kansas Race

KANSAS SPEEDWAY (1.5-MILE TRI-OVAL)

LOCATION: KANSAS CITY, KANSAS
EVENT: NASCAR CUP SERIES (RACE 32 OF 36)
TUNE IN: 3 P.M. ET, SUNDAY, OCT. 22 (NBCSN/MRN/SIRIUSXM)

No. 5 UniFirst Chevrolet SS / Kasey Kahne

Driver Kasey Kahne   Hometown Enumclaw, Washington
Age 37                        Resides Mooresville, North Carolina

2017 Season

  • 13th in standings
  • 31 starts
  • 1 race win
  • 0 stage wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 3 top-five finishes
  • 6 top-10 finishes
  • 38 laps led

Career

  • 499 starts
  • 18 wins
  • 27 pole positions
  • 92 top-five finishes
  • 175 top-10 finishes
  • 4,645 laps led

Track Career 

  • 20 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 3 pole positions
  • 5 top-five finishes
  • 9 top-10 finishes
  • 102 laps led
UNIFIRST: The green-and-white colors of UniFirst return to Kasey Kahne’s No. 5 Chevrolet SS this weekend at Kansas Speedway. UniFirst signed an eight-year agreement with Hendrick Motorsports in 2016 to be the organization’s official workwear provider. The workwear and textile service company will also adorn Kahne’s Chevy at next week’s Martinsville Speedway event.

500 STARTS: This weekend at Kansas Speedway marks Kahne’s 500th start in the NASCAR Cup Series. Kahne’s rookie year in the Cup Series was in 2004, when he won four pole awards and took home Rookie of the Year honors. At the time, the 24-year-old was the youngest rookie of the year since Jeff Gordon won the honor at the age of 22 in 1993.

KAHNE AT KANSAS: In Kahne’s 20 Kansas starts, he has led 102 total laps in six races, which ranks him 11th among current drivers and 19th all-time. In the 11 starts the 37-year-old has made at the track while driving for Hendrick Motorsports, he has earned four top-five finishes and six top-10s, including a second-place finish in April 2013, in addition to one pole position in October 2012. The Enumclaw, Washington, native has an average starting position of 14.7, an average finishing position of 13.4 and has completed 99 percent of the laps possible.

POLE AWARDS: Kahne has earned three of his 27 career Cup Series pole awards at Kansas – in October 2006, October 2010 and October 2012. The three Kansas pole positions tie him for the most among active drivers alongside Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth. The three poles are tied for Kahne’s second-most at a track alongside Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Michigan International Speedway. The only track where the Enumclaw, Washington, native has more pole awards is Darlington Raceway, where he has amassed four.

KANSAS LOOP DATA: According to NASCAR’s loop data since 2005, Kahne is sixth among his peers in the driver rating category with an average of 91.1. The driver rating is a formula that combines wins, top-15 finishes, average running position while on the lead lap, average speed under green, fastest lap, most laps led and lead-lap finishes. He’s second in green-flag passes with 1,438 – teammate Johnson owns the tie breaker because of a higher average finish, and he’s also second in quality passes with 713. Quality passes are the number of times a driver passes another car that is running in the top 15 while under green-flag conditions. The Chevrolet driver is fourth in laps spent in the top 15 with 3,364, and he’s sixth in the fastest laps run category with 173.

TALLADEGA RECAP: Last weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, Kahne completed final practice in the first position on Friday afternoon, with teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. rounding out the top two. Saturday, he qualified the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS in the 11th position. Sunday, Kahne survived a pit road miscue, a left-front flat tire and damage to the No. 5 machine to bring it home in the eighth position, earning his third top-10 finish in four superspeedway starts this season.

CREW CHIEF WINS: Darian Grubb — Kahne’s crew chief since September’s New Hampshire weekend – is a two-time winner at Kansas. He visited Victory Lane at the 1.5-mile track in October 2009 with Tony Stewart and again in April 2012 with Denny Hamlin. Grubb’s 23 wins tie him with Paul Wolfe for the third-most among active crew chiefs in the NASCAR Cup Series.

No. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet SS / Chase Elliott

Driver Chase Elliott   Hometown Dawsonville, Georgia
Age 21                      Resides Dawsonville, Georgia

2017 Season

  • 6th in standings
  • 31 starts
  • 0 race wins
  • 3 stage wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 9 top-five finishes
  • 17 top-10 finishes
  • 402 laps led

Career

  • 72 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 3 pole positions
  • 19 top-five finishes
  • 34 top-10 finishes
  • 760 laps led

Track Career 

  • 3 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 0 top-five finishes
  • 1 top-10 finish
  • 4 laps led
NAPA AUTO PARTS CHEVROLET: This weekend at Kansas Speedway, NAPA AUTO PARTS will return to the hood of the No. 24 Chevrolet SS. The Atlanta-based company serves as majority sponsor for Chase Elliott during the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series season. Most recently, Elliott piloted the NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevy to a 16th-place finish at Talladega Superspeedway.

KANSAS STATS: The Dawsonville, Georgia, native is set to make his fourth Cup start at Kansas this weekend. In his previous three starts at the 1.5-mile tri-oval, Elliott has collected one top-10 finish and averaged a starting position of 12.0 and a finishing position of 23.0. He also has two starts at Kansas Speedway in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, earning two top-10 finishes and averaging a starting position of 12.0 and finishing position of 8.5.

‘DEGA REWIND: Elliott led three different times for a total of 26 laps in Sunday’s Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway. The No. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS driver’s race ultimately ended with a 16th-place finish after he was collected in a multiple-car incident while trying to take the lead in the final 10 laps of the race.

PLAYOFF STANDINGS: With the 16th-place result at Talladega, Elliott ranks sixth in the NASCAR Cup Series playoff standings heading into the Round of 12 cutoff race Sunday at Kansas Speedway. The second-year driver holds a 20-point advantage over the ninth-place driver, which would be the first competitor eliminated.

ELLIOTT AT CHEVY STAGE: Elliott will appear at the Team Chevy Stage on Sunday, Oct. 22, at 11:30 a.m. local time for a question-and-answer session.

No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS / Jimmie Johnson

Driver Jimmie Johnson   Hometown El Cajon, California
Age 42                             Resides Charlotte, North Carolina

2017 Season

  • 8th in standings
  • 31 starts
  • 3 race wins
  • 1 stage win
  • 0 pole positions
  • 4 top-five finishes
  • 11 top-10 finishes
  • 193 laps led

Career

  • 574 starts
  • 83 wins
  • 35 pole positions
  • 222 top-five finishes
  • 341 top-10 finishes
  • 18,639 laps led

Track Career 

  • 22 starts
  • 3 wins
  • 3 pole positions
  • 9 top-five finishes
  • 17 top-10 finishes
  • 601 laps led
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS, will be available to members of the media on Friday, Oct. 20, at 11:15 a.m. local time in the Kansas Speedway media center.

PLAYOFF PICTURE: This weekend in Kansas is the final race of the Round of 12 and Jimmie Johnson will have to stay within the top eight to continue to the Round of 8. With five playoff races complete and an unfortunate 24th-place result at Talladega Superspeedway last weekend, Johnson finds himself in eighth place, just seven points ahead of ninth place — the first driver that would be eliminated.

KANSAS DRIVER RATING: According to NASCAR’s loop data statistics since 2005, Johnson has the series-best driver rating at Kansas with a score of 108.7. The driver rating is a formula that combines wins, top-15 finishes, average running position while on the lead lap, average speed under green, fastest lap, most laps led and lead-lap finishes. The maximum a driver can earn in each race is 150 points. The driver rating number is used pre-race as a prediction tool and post-race as a performance evaluator.

LAST WIN AT KANSAS: Johnson’s last win at the 1.5-mile track came on May 9, 2015, when he passed Kevin Harvick with 10 laps to go and took the checkered flag for his third win at Kansas.

MORE STATS: Johnson has spent 82.1 percent of all laps run at Kansas inside the top 15. He has made 1,438 green-flag passes and has an average finish of 8.5.

PINK HAT FOR OCTOBER: Johnson will help bring awareness and recognition of those who are fighting breast cancer by wearing a gray hat with pink accents for the month of October. The hat can be purchased here.

No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS / Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.   Hometown Kannapolis, North Carolina
Age 43                                Resides Mooresville, North Carolina

2017 Season

  • 22nd in standings
  • 31 starts
  • 0 race wins
  • 0 stage wins
  • 2 pole positions
  • 1 top-five finish
  • 6 top-10 finishes
  • 44 laps led

Career

  • 626 starts
  • 26 wins
  • 15 pole positions
  • 149 top-five finishes
  • 258 top-10 finishes
  • 8,231 laps led

Track Career 

  • 21 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 3 top-five finishes
  • 9 top-10 finishes
  • 148 laps led
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, will be available to members of the media on Saturday, Oct. 21, at 11:45 p.m. local time in the Kansas Speedway media center.

KANSAS STATS: Dale Earnhardt Jr. has yet to win a race at Kansas Speedway, but he’s earned solid stats at the 1.5-mile track. The driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS has one pole (2002) at the speedway. He’s earned top-five finishes in two of the last six races at Kansas and in the other four he encountered a variety of issues unrelated to the speed of the car. According to NASCAR’s loop data statistics, Earnhardt ranks first among active drivers in the closers category, which represents the number of positions that a driver improves over the last 10 percent of the race. He has improved 31 positions, gaining an average of 1.8 spots since 2005. He also ranks seventh in fastest laps run with 151 and green-flag passes with 1,280, and has the ninth-best driver rating at 88.6.

BABY ON THE WAY: Earnhardt and his wife, Amy, made a big announcement on Instagram on Monday, Oct. 16 – they are expecting their first child, a baby girl. Click here for more.

NASCAR AMERICA: On Tuesday, Oct. 17, the driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS will appear on a live one-hour broadcast of “NASCAR America,” NBCSN’s daily NASCAR news program. The show will be broadcast from the NASCAR Hall of Fame starting at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

THE PLAYER’S TRIBUNE: Check out the behind-the-scenes photo essay from Earnhardt’s final Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway, featuring photos from The Player’s Tribune senior staff photographer, Jed Jacobsohn. Jacobsohn also took over Earnhardt’s Instagram account during the Talladega race weekend.

TODAY SHOW: “TODAY Show” host Willie Geist came to Talladega for an in-depth interview with Earnhardt, which will air on NBC on Sunday, Oct. 22. The pair also took a few laps around Talladega Superspeedway in a Corvette provided by Hendrick Chevrolet of Hoover, Alabama.

CLOSEST TO HOME: Jacob Conley, fueler for the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, considers Kansas Speedway to be his home track on the NASCAR Cup Series circuit. Conley grew up about three hours away in Omaha, Nebraska, and said he was always a NASCAR fan, but had never attended a race until he started working for Hendrick Motorsports. He played football at Doane University before joining the organization in 2013 as a member of the developmental pit crew. In 2015, he was a backup pit crew member for the Nos. 5 and 24 teams. Conley then became a starter for the No. 88 team in 2016 as one of the six primary over-the-wall crew members.

Hendrick Motorsports

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT KANSAS: At Kansas Speedway, Hendrick Motorsports has amassed six wins, five pole positions, 29 top-five finishes and 51 top-10 finishes in addition to 1,077 laps led. Johnson, who leads active drivers in wins, top-five finishes and top-10 finishes at the track, most recently won for the organization at Kansas in 2015.

ORGANIZATION STATS: To date, Hendrick Motorsports has totals of 12 championships, 249 race victories, 213 pole positions, 1,026 top-five finishes and 1,734 top-10 finishes in points-paying NASCAR Cup Series competition. Its teams have led 67,051 laps since 1984.

QUOTABLE / 

“I’ve always enjoyed Kansas, before the repave and now the new pavement the last few years has been really good for us, too. I think Kansas is one of our best tracks in the playoffs.”

Kasey Kahne on racing at Kansas

“I don’t know. We have had some really good cars there. We had one of the best cars I think I have ever had in the Cup Series last fall in the playoff race there. Very frustrating to have our tire go down there leading. I feel like we had another good car there this past spring, which was encouraging.”

Chase Elliott on his struggles at Kansas

“You know, it just depends on where you are at in the picture. You have to run well at all of them to get in and now with the way the playoff points are you can pad your way all the way to Homestead if you’ve done a good job throughout the entire season.”

Elliott on heading into a playoff cutoff race

“Obviously we are in a tight spot in the playoffs after last weekend at Talladega. We know what we need to do in Kansas.”

Jimmie Johnson on the playoff picturing heading into Kansas

“Kansas is a great racetrack for me. That place has widened out pretty good and you can run against the fence there, which is a line that I like to run. It’s a very fast racetrack and very smooth – a lot of fun, so we should have a good time.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. on racing at Kansas

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.