Hendrick Motorsports Previews The Can-Am 500

PHOENIX INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY (ONE-MILE OVAL)

LOCATION: AVONDALE, ARIZONA
EVENT: NASCAR CUP SERIES (RACE 35 OF 36)
TUNE IN: 2:30 P.M. ET, SUNDAY, NOV. 12 (NBC/MRN/SIRIUSXM)

No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS / Kasey Kahne

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

2017 Season

  • 12th in standings
  • 34 starts
  • 1 race win
  • 0 stage wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 3 top-five finishes
  • 6 top-10 finishes
  • 41 laps led

Career

  • 502 starts
  • 18 wins
  • 27 pole positions
  • 92 top-five finishes
  • 175 top-10 finishes
  • 4,648 laps led

Track Career 

  • 26 starts
  • 1 win
  • 0 pole positions
  • 5 top-five finishes
  • 8 top-10 finishes
  • 55 laps led
FARMERS AT PHOENIX: Kasey Kahne will pilot the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS at Phoenix International Raceway for the final time this season. The Enumclaw, Washington, native last drove the black-and-blue scheme last month at Talladega Superspeedway, where he raced it to an eighth-place result and secured his sixth top-10 finish of the season.

KAHNE AT PHOENIX: Kahne returns to Phoenix this weekend for his 11th start at the track with Hendrick Motorsports. The 37-year-old driver’s win at Phoenix in November 2011 was his 12th career NASCAR Cup Series victory, and he finished with a 0.802-second margin of victory over Carl Edwards. Overall, Kahne has an average starting position of 12.0 and an average finishing position of 17.8 at Phoenix.

PHOENIX LOOP DATA: According to NASCAR’s loop data since 2005, Kahne is eighth in quality passes at Phoenix with 483. Quality passes are the number of times a driver passes another car that is running in the top 15 while under green-flag conditions. He also ranks ninth in fastest laps run with 198, 10th in green-flag passes with 929, ninth in laps run in the top 15 with 4,154 and eighth in the closers category with 10 positions moved up over the last 10 percent of the race.

RECAPPING TEXAS: After qualifying 19th and ending two of three practice sessions inside the top 15, Kahne and the No. 5 team overcame an early on-track incident in Sunday’s 500-mile event at Texas Motor Speedway and utilized pit strategy to secure an 11th-place effort at the Fort Worth, Texas, track.

No. 24 Hooters Chevrolet SS / Chase Elliott

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

2017 Season

  • 7th in standings
  • 34 starts
  • 0 race wins
  • 3 stage wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 10 top-five finishes
  • 19 top-10 finishes
  • 526 laps led

Career

  • 75 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 3 pole positions
  • 20 top-five finishes
  • 36 top-10 finishes
  • 884 laps led

Track Career 

  • 3 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 0 top-five finishes
  • 2 top-10 finishes
  • 106 laps led
Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 24 Hooters Chevrolet SS, will be available to members of the media on Friday, Nov. 10, at 1:05 p.m. local time in the Phoenix International Raceway media center.

HOOTERS CHEVROLET: For the second consecutive week and third time this season, the orange-and-white Hooters paint scheme will adorn the hood of the No. 24 Chevrolet SS this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway. A casual dining establishment with a deep history in NASCAR, the Atlanta-based company was a three-race primary sponsor of the No. 24 team this season with Phoenix being their final race of 2017. Chase Elliott most recently piloted the No. 24 Hooters Chevrolet SS to an eighth-place finish last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.

PHOENIX STATS: The second-year driver is set to make his fourth start at the one-mile oval this weekend. Elliott has collected two top-10 finishes in his three previous starts, led 106 laps and averaged a starting position of 9.0 and finishing position of 9.7. Elliott has also competed in five NASCAR XFINITY Series races at the Avondale, Arizona, track, garnering two top-five finishes and five top-10s.

PLAYOFF STANDINGS: Elliott is currently seventh in the NASCAR Cup Series playoff standings — 49 points behind fourth — as the series heads to Phoenix International Raceway for the Round of 8 cutoff race.

TEXAS REWIND: The Dawsonville, Georgia, native and the No. 24 Hooters team finished eighth in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway after battling through the field from the rear due to not completing inspection in time for qualifying.

HOOTERS 25TH ANNIVERSARY: November marks the 25th anniversary of Hooters’ NASCAR Cup Series 1992 championship with driver Alan Kulwicki. To honor that great achievement, Elliott will sport a special pair of racing shoes this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway.

COMING HOME: No. 24 team jackman John Gianninoto, who grew up in Tucson, Arizona, will compete in front of his hometown crowd at Phoenix International Raceway. Gianninoto graduated with honors from Catalina Foothills High School and went on to sign as an offensive lineman for UNLV in 2006, earning his first letter in 2007 and becoming a team captain in 2010. Gianninoto participated in the Carolina Panthers’ 2012 training camp before signing with Hendrick Motorsports in September 2012.

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
  • 34 starts
  • 3 race wins
  • 1 stage win
  • 0 pole positions
  • 4 top-five finishes
  • 11 top-10 finishes
  • 217 laps led

Career

  • 577 starts
  • 83 wins
  • 35 pole positions
  • 222 top-five finishes
  • 341 top-10 finishes
  • 18,663 laps led

Track Career 

  • 28 starts
  • 4 wins
  • 3 pole positions
  • 15 top-five finishes
  • 20 top-10 finishes
  • 990 laps led
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS, will be available to members of the media on Friday, Nov. 10, at 9:45 a.m. local time in the Phoenix International Raceway media center.

PLAYOFF PICTURE: Jimmie Johnson had a tough Texas race, facing multiple issues on pit road and fighting the handling of his Lowe’s Chevrolet before ultimately finishing 27th. He is now eighth in the playoff points standings and in a potential must-win situation heading into Phoenix.

CMA PRESENTER: Before heading to Phoenix, Johnson will stop over in Nashville, Tennessee, to represent NASCAR at the 51st Country Music Association (CMA) Awards. Johnson, along with actress Michelle Monaghan, will present the 2017 Female Vocalist of the Year award. The CMAs are live on Wednesday, Nov. 8, at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

SUPPORT FROM HIS FRIENDS: Ryan Dungey, a seven-time motocross and supercross champion, made a surprise visit to Texas Motor Speedway to lend some support in Johnson’s quest for an eighth championship. Dungey, who recently retired from racing, attended his first NASCAR race in August at Bristol Motor Speedway earlier this season. He and Johnson have been supportive friends throughout each other’s careers.

PHOENIX STATS: According to NASCAR loop data since 2005, Johnson has the series-best driver rating at Phoenix with a score of 111.0. 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.

RECORD SPEED: The four-time winner at Phoenix also holds the track record for fastest qualifying speed. On Nov. 13, 2015, Johnson clocked a time of 25.147 seconds or 146.308 mph around the one-mile track. He is credited with 35 career pole positions, three of which have come at Phoenix. Johnson won one Phoenix event from the pole position, which was in November 2009.

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
  • 34 starts
  • 0 race wins
  • 0 stage wins
  • 2 pole positions
  • 1 top-five finish
  • 7 top-10 finishes
  • 47 laps led

Career

  • 629 starts
  • 26 wins
  • 15 pole positions
  • 149 top-five finishes
  • 259 top-10 finishes
  • 8,234 laps led

Track Career 

  • 29 starts
  • 3 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 9 top-five finishes
  • 14 top-10 finishes
  • 569 laps led
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, will be available to members of the media on Friday, Nov. 10, at 10 a.m. local time in the Phoenix International Raceway media center.

MOST RECENT WIN: Dale Earnhardt Jr. won at Phoenix International Raceway in November 2015 after a rain-shortened event. The wet weather didn’t put a damper on Earnhardt, who led 22 laps en route to his 26th career NASCAR Cup Series victory and his third at the track. The 43-year-old driver earned his first two Phoenix wins back-to-back, going to Victory Lane in November 2003 and November 2004 when the one-mile tri-oval hosted one Cup event per season. By virtue of his three wins, Earnhardt ranks third on the all-time wins list at Phoenix behind Kevin Harvick (eight) and teammate Jimmie Johnson (four).

STATISTICALLY SPEAKING: Earnhardt, a three-time winner at Phoenix, has experienced a resurgence lately at the short track. In his last eight races at the facility, the driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS has earned one win, five top-five finishes and six top-10s. The only one of those eight events in which he finished outside of the top 15 was when the series visited the short track in March 2015 and a blown right-rear tire ended his day on Lap 180. Earnhardt is ranked 11th among all active competitors with a driver rating of 88.6 from 2005-2017. 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. He ranks fourth among his competitors for completing the most green-flag passes since 2005 with 977, fifth in fastest laps run with 278 and seventh in laps led with 259.

VISITING KIMMEL: Before he makes his way to Phoenix, Earnhardt will stop in Los Angeles to appear on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” on Thursday, Nov. 9. “Jimmy Kimmel Live” airs weeknights at 11:35 p.m. ET, but check your local listings for details. Actor Josh Hutcherson and musical guest Dan Auerbach are also scheduled to join Earnhardt on Thursday’s show. It won’t be Earnhardt’s first visit – the driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet SS has made multiple appearances on Kimmel’s late-night talk show.

NATIONWIDE IS ON HIS SIDE: The weekend’s event at Phoenix marks Nationwide’s final primary paint scheme with Earnhardt on the No. 88 Chevy, highlighting a very successful partnership. In September 2014, Nationwide announced an agreement with Hendrick Motorsports to become the majority primary sponsor for Earnhardt and the No. 88 Chevrolet for 21 races in each of the 2015-2017 seasons, although the partnership began well before that. Nationwide and Earnhardt officially teamed up in 2009, but it was a connection a long time in the making. The partnership was an extension of his family’s longtime relationship with Nationwide off the track – the Earnhardts have trusted Nationwide for their insurance needs for more than 35 years. Earnhardt continued that with his own 25-year relationship, trusting Nationwide to protect everything from his cars to his house to his business and even his dog, Gus. To honor and celebrate Earnhardt’s Cup career, Nationwide released a touching commercial spot last week that can be seen here.

GRAY GLOVES: Earnhardt will wear his gray-accented gloves again for the Phoenix and Homestead races to close out the month of November, raising awareness for diabetes. Through the Dale Jr. Foundation’s Driven to Give Gloves program, his race-worn gloves will be auctioned off to raise funds for the Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s clinical and research programs. Nationwide Children’s is America’s largest pediatric hospital and research center with all care provided regardless of a family’s ability to pay.

PATIENT CHAMPION J.R. CURRY: Additionally, through The Dale Jr. Foundation’s Driven to Give Gloves program, 10-year-old John Roger (J.R.) Curry will have his name featured above the passenger door of Earnhardt’s No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS at Phoenix. J.R. was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 2 and has received care through the Nationwide Children’s Hospital. J.R. started out with four shots and at least 10 finger pokes a day – that’s 1,460 shots and 3,650 finger pokes in a year – and had a tough time adjusting to his condition in the beginning, but he eventually got used to the process and became accustomed to the needles. He recently switched to a pump, which gives him a lot more freedom and his parents are able to monitor the readings. J.R. doesn’t let his diabetes stop him from doing what he loves – he plays soccer, baseball, basketball and is even a race car driver.

HOME TRACK: Phoenix International Raceway is the home track for No. 88 jackman Nick Covey, who grew up in Glendale, Arizona. He joined Hendrick Motorsports in 2009 and has been a member of the No. 88 team for six years. Covey played football for the University of Nebraska, where he was a linebacker from 2005 to 2009. Away from the racetrack, he says his focus is on his wife and his children, who play baseball.

Hendrick Motorsports

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT PHOENIX: Hendrick Motorsports has earned 10 wins, 11 pole positions, 45 top-five finishes and 79 top-10s at Phoenix International Raceway. Those 10 wins are spread among six drivers, with Jimmie Johnson accounting for four. Dale Earnhardt Jr. recorded the organization’s most recent Phoenix victory in November 2015.

ORGANIZATION STATS: To date, Hendrick Motorsports has totals of 12 championships, 249 race victories, 213 pole positions, 1,027 top-five finishes and 1,737 top-10 finishes in points-paying NASCAR Cup Series competition. Its teams have led 67,205 laps since 1984.

QUOTABLE / 

“Just the different ends of the track. (Turns) 1 and 2 kind of being like it is and (Turns) 3 and 4 being so flat we have to be set up a lot like at Darlington – you have to pick a little bit of the best on both and try to marry the two together the best you can to be good there.”

Chase Elliott on what makes Phoenix unique

“You want to try to win the race. The guy who wins that race is probably going to go on, we saw that last year. We weren’t really in the hunt there last year to win the race. We weren’t in the playoffs anymore at that point, so all those guys, you try to respect them as much as you can when you are not involved in it, but at the same time you want to win. Fine line you have to walk there, but just try to get the victory if you can to punch your ticket.”

Elliott on competing at Phoenix for a spot in the Final 4 at Homestead

“I know we’re building a better race car and taking a few new ideas to Phoenix. We’ll go there and fight as hard as we can. One thing this team will never do is give up.”

Jimmie Johnson on racing at Phoenix

“Phoenix is a good track for us. We have certainly had a great car there the last several times. Knowing we have won there helps you just go in there with a good attitude. I don’t think that we’ve lost hope on winning a race by any means. So, we’ll go in there with a solid attitude and see how it works out for us.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. on racing at Phoenix

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

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