Hendrick Motorsports Previews The Ford EcoBoost 400 At Homestead

HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY (1.5-MILE OVAL)

LOCATION: HOMESTEAD, FLORIDA
EVENT: NASCAR CUP SERIES (RACE 36 OF 36)
TUNE IN: 2:30 P.M. ET, SUNDAY, NOV. 19 (NBC/MRN/SIRIUSXM)

No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet SS / Kasey Kahne

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

2017 Season

  • 14th in standings
  • 35 starts
  • 1 race win
  • 0 stage wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 3 top-five finishes
  • 6 top-10 finishes
  • 41 laps led

Career

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

Track Career 

  • 13 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 2 pole positions
  • 1 top-five finishes
  • 4 top-10 finishes
  • 107 laps led
GREAT CLIPS: Kasey Kahne will pilot the No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet SS at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the final race of the season. The Enumclaw, Washington, native last drove the scheme in September at Chicagoland Speedway. Homestead marks the eighth time this season that the Great Clips scheme has graced Kahne’s Chevy.

KAHNE AT HOMESTEAD: Kahne returns to the Florida track with two poles, one top-five finish and four top-10s on his Homestead resume. The 37-year-old driver has led three different times at the 1.5-mile track for a total of 107 laps, ranking him seventh among active drivers. Kahne has an average starting position of 11.8 and an average finishing position of 16.9 at Homestead.

SALUTING KASEY: Homestead will mark the final race with Hendrick Motorsports for Kahne, who has won six Cup races since joining the organization in 2012. His first Hendrick Motorsports win came in the Memorial Day weekend race at Charlotte in May 2012, followed by checkered flags at New Hampshire, Bristol, Pocono, Atlanta and, most recently, historic Indianapolis. He has scored eight runner-up finishes with the No. 5 team, along with five pole positions, 35 top-five finishes, 73 top-10s and 1,284 laps led. Kahne earned Cup Series playoff berths in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2017. He finished a career-high fourth in the championship standings in 2012.

5’S FINAL RIDE: This weekend at Homestead marks the end of an era, as Hendrick Motorsports will no longer field its No. 5 Chevrolet following the season. It was the organization’s first car number and has run full-time since the team was founded in 1984. The No. 5 was raced to Hendrick Motorsports’ first victory by Geoff Bodine at Martinsville Speedway during its inaugural season, and Terry Labonte drove it to a Cup Series championship in 1996. Seven drivers have piloted the car full-time since 1984 — Bodine, Ricky Rudd, Labonte, Kyle Busch, Casey Mears, Mark Martin, and now Kahne, who took over the ride in 2012. The car number has amassed 38 wins for Hendrick Motorsports. Next season, the organization will field Nos. 9, 24, 48 and 88

HOMESTEAD LOOP DATA: According to NASCAR’s loop data since 2005, Kahne is third in the green-flag passes category with 1,024. He also ranks fourth in average speed late in a run at 145.546 mph, eighth in fastest laps run with 108 and ninth in quality passes with 474.

GOING HOME: Two No. 5 team members will return to their home state this weekend. Engine tuner Billy Fraser, a University of Florida graduate, was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida. Rear-tire changer Johnny Roberts hails from Titusville, Florida.

No. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet SS / Chase Elliott

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

2017 Season

  • 5th in standings
  • 35 starts
  • 0 race wins
  • 3 stage wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 11 top-five finishes
  • 20 top-10 finishes
  • 560 laps led

Career

  • 76 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 3 pole positions
  • 21 top-five finishes
  • 37 top-10 finishes
  • 918 laps led

Track Career 

  • 1 start
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 0 top-five finishes
  • 0 top-10 finishes
  • 0 laps led
NAPA AUTO PARTS CHEVROLET: As the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series season comes to a close this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, NAPA AUTO PARTS will once again grace the hood of the No. 24 Chevrolet SS with its familiar blue-and-yellow colors. The Atlanta-based company has served as majority sponsor for Chase Elliott during the 2017 season and will return as a primary sponsor to Elliott and the No. 9 team in 2018. Elliott’s fresh paint scheme was revealed in October. Most recently, Elliott piloted the NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevy at Martinsville Speedway, where he led four separate times for a total of 123 laps. The No. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS driver ultimately finished 27th after being spun out by a competitor while leading in the final five laps.

HOMESTEAD-MIAMI STATS: The second-year driver is set to make his second NASCAR Cup Series start at the 1.5-mile oval. In last year’s race, Elliott qualified fifth and finished 11th. The driver of the No. 24 has also competed in two NASCAR XFINITY Series races at the Homestead, Florida, track, garnering one top-10 finish. In 2014, Elliott was crowned the XFINITY Series champion at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

2017 SEASON: Up to the final race of the season, Elliott and the No. 24 team have collected 11 top-five finishes, 20 top-10s and 560 laps led. Elliott has captured five runner-up finishes, four of which came in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. The 21-year old has averaged a starting position of 10.5 and finishing position of 12.2 throughout 2017.

PHOENIX REWIND: Elliott and the No. 24 Hooters team put up a valiant effort on Sunday afternoon at Phoenix International Raceway. The Dawsonville, Georgia, native led three times for 34 laps on his way to the seventh runner-up finish of his career. Despite scoring his fourth runner-up finish in nine playoff races, Elliott will be on the outside looking in as the Championship 4 race for the NASCAR Cup Series title on Sunday. Elliott ranks fifth in the series points standings entering the season finale.

No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS / Jimmie Johnson

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

2017 Season

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

Career

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

Track Career 

  • 16 starts
  • 1 win
  • 2 pole positions
  • 5 top-five finishes
  • 11 top-10 finishes
  • 102 laps led
#CHASING8: Last weekend in Phoenix, Jimmie Johnson suffered a blown right-front tire on Lap 149 while running 11th. The damage was too severe to fix and the No. 48 Lowe’s team did not advance into the final Championship 4 round for this weekend’s event at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Johnson is currently 10th in the point standings entering the final race of the season.

PERFORMANCE IN MIAMI: Among Johnson’s five top-five finishes at Homestead are two runner-up finishes, the most recent of which came in 2010. It marked his best finish at the track until last year, when Johnson led only three laps during the season finale event, but they were the final three, clinching both his first career win at the track and his seventh NASCAR Cup Series championship.

CMA RED CARPET RECAP: Last week before heading to Phoenix, Johnson and his wife Chandra attended the 51st Annual Country Music Association Awards in Nashville, Tennessee. Johnson, along with actress Michelle Monaghan, presented the award for Female Vocalist of the Year to country music standout Miranda Lambert. Among the many entertainment media outlets that covered the event, E! News referred to the Johnson’s as one of the “cutest” couples on the red carpet. Click here to see the red carpet photos.

DRIVER RATING: According to NASCAR’s loop data statistics since 2005, Johnson has the fifth-best driver rating at Homestead-Miami Speedway with a score of 97.8. 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.

No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS / Dale Earnhardt Jr.

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

2017 Season

  • 21st in standings
  • 35 starts
  • 0 race wins
  • 0 stage wins
  • 2 pole positions
  • 1 top-five finish
  • 8 top-10 finishes
  • 47 laps led

Career

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

Track Career 

  • 16 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 1 top-five finish
  • 2 top-10 finishes
  • 121 laps led
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS, will be available to members of the media on Friday, Nov. 16, at 10:20 a.m. local time in the Homestead-Miami Speedway media center.

APPRECI88ION TOUR SUCCESS: In June, Dale Earnhardt Jr. announced a five-month campaign called the JR Nation Appreci88ion Tour, which started at the July Daytona event and has carried through to the end of the 2017 season, his last as a full-time NASCAR Cup Series driver. The Appreci88ion campaign gave Earnhardt’s fans, his partners and the NASCAR industry a way to celebrate his historic career while offering the driver an opportunity to make gestures of gratitude to everyone who made the ride possible. Throughout, the fans have joined the celebration by using the #Appreci88ion hashtag on social media. Earnhardt himself used it to share weekly videos recounting memories and milestones from each of the tracks on the NASCAR circuit. The gestures of appreciation from the entire industry were overwhelming, and many will create a lasting impact on local communities across the country, celebrating the legacy Earnhardt has created.

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: The 2017 season marked Earnhardt’s 18th full-time year in the Cup Series. The native of Kannapolis, North Carolina, has earned 26 career victories, including the 2004 and 2014 Daytona 500s. His 26 victories tie him for 29th on NASCAR’s all-time race winners list. He also has 15 pole positions and eight non-points wins (five in the Daytona 500 qualifying Duel, two in the Clash and one All-Star Race victory). Overall, Earnhardt has qualified for the NASCAR playoffs eight times (2004, 2006, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015). He is the only third-generation NASCAR champion, achieved when he won the 1998 and 1999 NASCAR XFINITY Series titles. He follows his legendary father Dale Earnhardt Sr., a seven-time Cup champion and winner of 76 races, and his grandfather, Ralph Earnhardt, the 1956 NASCAR Sportsman champion. The three Earnhardts combine for 10 NASCAR championships.

AT HOMESTEAD: Earnhardt, who has yet to earn his first win at Homestead, has been on the upswing in his most recent visits to the 1.5-mile oval. While Earnhardt has a total of one top-five and two top-10 finishes in his 16 starts at the facility, the Kannapolis, North Carolina, native has finished inside of the top 15 in four of his last five trips to Homestead-Miami Speedway, including a career-best third-place finish in the 2013 event. According to NASCAR’s loop data statistics, Earnhardt ranks near the top of the fastest laps run category. The driver of the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS is fourth among active drivers at Homestead since 2005 with 150 fastest laps run, some of which have been during the 121 laps he’s led in his 16 starts at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

ROOKIE SCHEME: Earnhardt’s No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS, originally unveiled live on QVC on Aug. 2 from Axalta’s Customer Experience Center, will be red with black and white stripes, paying homage to the driver’s very first paint scheme, which debuted in 1999 when he competed in his first career Cup Series race. Click here to see how the scheme came to life.

A NIGHT TO REMEMBER: On Tuesday, Nov. 28, NASCAR and Nationwide will bring together fans, family, friends, key influencers in his racing life and a few surprise guests to join Earnhardt to tell stories at Rose. Rabbit. Lie. at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas at 9 p.m. PST. Hosted by Earnhardt himself, this once-in-a-lifetime fan experience will tell the tales of NASCAR’s reigning most popular driver. The best part is all the proceeds from the event will benefit Nationwide Children’s Hospital including the great work being done in the Dale and Amy Earnhardt Activity Room. For tickets and more information, click here.

IT’S NOT GOODBYE, IT’S SEE YOU LATER: While Earnhardt is retiring from full-time Cup racing, he will still be a very visible presence in the sport. He will drive in two NASCAR XFINITY Series races for his JR Motorsports team in 2018, be active in his role as an owner of that team, and, in the second half of the season, he will join the NBC Sports group in the Cup broadcast booth. In short, the man who has been voted by fans as NASCAR’s most popular driver for 14 consecutive years isn’t really going anywhere.

Hendrick Motorsports

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT HOMESTEAD: Hendrick Motorsports drivers have earned two wins, three pole positions, 14 top-five finishes and 29 top-10s at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The first win came courtesy of Jeff Gordon in 2012, when he led the final 13 laps of the race en route to Victory Lane. The organization’s most recent win at the Florida track came just last season as Jimmie Johnson clinched his record-tying seventh NASCAR Cup Series title after leading the final three laps of the race.

LASST RIDE FOR THE SS: Homestead will be the last race for the successful Chevrolet SS model NASCAR Cup Series race car before the manufacturer transitions to the new Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in 2018. The Chevy SS made its debut in the 2013 Daytona 500, which was won by Johnson. Hendrick Motorsports earned the car’s first three race wins and has amassed 40 total points-paying victories and two Cup Series championships with the SS.

SEASON IN REVIEW: With one NASCAR Cup Series race remaining in 2017, Hendrick Motorsports has amassed four wins, three pole positions, 19 top-five finishes and 45 top-10s. The four wins came at four different tracks — Texas, Bristol, Dover and Indianapolis. Kasey Kahne, Chase Elliott and Johnson qualified for the series’ playoffs, with Kahne being eliminated following the Round of 16 and Elliott and Johnson following the Round of 8 cutoff event last weekend at Phoenix.

ORGANIZATION STATS: To date, Hendrick Motorsports has totals of 12 championships, 249 race victories, 213 pole positions, 1,028 top-five finishes and 1,739 top-10 finishes in points-paying NASCAR Cup Series competition. Its teams have led 67,239 laps since 1984.

QUOTABLE / 

“You have to be able to run the wall, it seems like, for a lot of that race, because the speed is up against the fence. So, just being confident with that, confident with the grip of your car and then you also have to move around late in the race. It seems like the wall kind of goes away a lot of times. I’ve always liked Homestead. I’ve won one race there in XFINITY and ran well in Cup races, led a lot of laps. But it’s a track that’s really tough to win at. To me, the pace falls off a ton and it’s rough in spots. I think it’s one of our tougher tracks throughout the season.”

Kasey Kahne on racing at Homestead

“I felt like I gave it my all at Phoenix. We’re going to go to Homestead and try to finish the season as strong as we can and then get ready to come at them next year as hard as possible.”

Chase Elliott on not advancing to the Championship 4

“Yeah, you know, we have other tracks that have progressive banking and they don’t quite work like Homestead. I think one thing people overlook is the straightaways are actually straight we don’t have a dogleg there. I think that makes a big difference in how the track is shaped and what allows you to run some different lanes. I think that plays a bigger factor than people think.”

Elliott on Homestead’s progressive banking

“I hate it for this team that we won’t be competing for an eighth championship this year. They’ve worked so hard all year long and I’m very proud of their efforts. It’s obviously not the result that we want, but we’re Hendrick strong and I’m proud of Team 48 and very thankful for the support and all the opportunities Lowe’s, Kobalt and Chevrolet give us. We will make some changes in the offseason, get those new Camaros built and come back next year strong.”

Jimmie Johnson on being eliminated from the 2017 playoffs

“I’ve known Dale a long time, well before he joined Hendrick Motorsports and even before I was a stock car driver. To have him as a teammate, I’ve been able to get to know him behind the scenes and behind the steering wheel – our friendship has gone to deeper levels. I really have enjoyed my friendship with him. It will be sad to see the No. 88 go away, but I’m so proud of him for everything he has accomplished. I can’t wait to see him as a dad, to compare notes (laughs) and am just so happy for him and Amy. I’m excited to see what this next chapter has in store for him.”

Johnson on Dale Earnhardt Jr.

“I am not sure that I’m ready to be going through all of the emotion that I will have in Homestead, but it’s coming. I hope that I can handle it well, but it’s definitely going to be interesting to see how that feels. All these videos and all these things that our partners are creating, this content has just been incredible. It makes you feel so good in your heart. The comments from fans … it is more than you can process and I’m sure that Homestead is just going to be like the cork coming out of the bottle. I’m lucky that Amy (Earnhardt) is going to be there, I’m lucky my family will be there, and my team. I will have so much support and I want to support them. It’s going to be emotional for them and our fans.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. on his emotions leading into Homestead

“I’m trying to run hard, trying to do well, trying to figure out our cars and get as good a finish as we can. We’re going to have a lot of things going on this week. Going in there and trying to do as well as we can is at the top of the list, but there are a ton of other things happening. We will just take it one day at a time. It’s going to be a busy weekend.”

Earnhardt on racing at Homestead

“Throughout the years, my relationship to Dale has gone through many phases. In his early years I was a fan, watching him win races and championships in the iconic AC Delco paint scheme. It was so cool that we had the privilege to run a throwback to that scheme at Darlington this year. In 2004 when I started at Hendrick Motorsports, he was a competitor that we had to go out there and race each weekend, especially at the superspeedway races where he was so strong.

“When he made the move to Hendrick in 2008, we began a pretty neat relationship. Dale and I are pretty calm and quiet in our personal environment, but when it comes to competition we are extremely focused and competitive. The fantasy football league was where we had our first encounter of determination. The unique battle we had formed a bond that we can still talk about today.

“Moving to JR Motorsports in 2013, Dale became my boss as I tried to help lead his company back to winning races and eventually a championship. Every time Dale came to my office, he asked what he could do for me to help the teams get better – never to tell me how to do my job. There are plenty of Monday morning crew chiefs, but he was never one of them.

“Then in 2015, I got the call to be his crew chief. It was an honor to accept the challenge because I knew we could have quick success with the relationships we had already established. That held true for the 2015 season and 2016 was going to be even better. Putting more focus on winning and being perfect, we were so close in 2015, so why not? When Dale got hurt in 2016, I took a lot of the responsibility on myself. We had to work through the tough times together, had to confide in each other, and ultimately developed our best relationship – our friendship.”

No. 88 team crew chief Greg Ives on his relationship with Dale Earnhardt Jr.

“Kasey is one of the best people you’ll ever meet, and he’s contributed so much to our organization. He’s won big races like the World 600 and Indianapolis, competed for championships, and added a lot to the legacy of the ‘5’ team. Kasey’s a true racer, and I haven’t seen many drivers with his level of pure talent. I’m looking forward to continuing our friendship for a long time. He’s a great dad. He’s someone who does so much good through his charitable work and has such a passion for racing. I admire his character and truly appreciate everything he’s done for us. It’s going to be hard not seeing the ‘5’ car on the track next year, but I’m proud that he’ll be the driver to give it one last ride.”

Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick on Kasey Kahne

“Dale said he was going to make me popular. (laughs) His star power and his talent immediately created a lot of enthusiasm both inside and outside the organization. His fans of course pull for him, but some of them have also supported our other drivers because they’re his teammates. So it’s been neat to see the Earnhardt fans come on board and embrace what we’ve done together. He’s been a great teammate and a great ambassador. He really jumped in from day one and put his heart and soul into the team.”

Hendrick on Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s impact on the organization

“A lot of pressure. (laughs) You know what the expectations are. You want to give him the best possible stuff. You want him to run well. That’s what folks expected when he came over and joined us. You don’t want to let his fans down, and you don’t want to let Dale down.”

Hendrick on whether he felt pressure being Earnhardt’s car owner

“To win the very first race he ran (the 2008 Budweiser Shootout) was unbelievable. There was a lot of hype going into that season, so to win right out of the gate was exciting and took some pressure off. The Daytona 500 (in 2014) was so special. Any time you can be with Dale in victory lane at Daytona, it carries a lot of meaning. I think all the way back to his very first test with us at Atlanta (2007) when he drove our car with City Chevrolet on the hood and All-Star Racing on the side. That’s when we were like, ‘OK, this is really happening.’ I kept the car (from the test). That’s how much it meant to me.”

Hendrick on his favorite moments with Earnhardt at Hendrick Motorsports

“It’s really, really special. He always told me that Dale would drive for us. I didn’t think it would ever be possible. For that to actually come together, it was like we were fulfilling something that he (Ricky) always believed in and wanted to see happen.”

Hendrick on Earnhardt driving for Hendrick Motorsports as his son Ricky predicted

“After knowing Dale and Kelley (Earnhardt Miller) for so long, it’s kind of felt like a family affair. I want to be someone Dale can talk to and confide in. In a way, I think we’ve filled a void for each other. No one will ever replace my son and no one will ever replace his dad, but we share a special bond. I’ve just loved watching him grow up and mature, from hanging out with his posse (friends) to getting married and now starting a family with Amy.”

Hendrick on his relationship with Earnhardt

“We’ve talked about it a lot. We’ve made a commitment to each other that we’re not going to let this end. We’re going to do even more things together. We’re partners in JR Motorsports. We’re partners in car dealerships. We both love to go down to Florida and fish. I want to see him as a dad and watch his family grow. Our relationship is so much more than him just driving the car. He’s a special person and friend.”

Hendrick on how his relationship with Earnhardt will change after the driver’s retirement

“He’s still going to be very visible – maybe even more visible after going to TV. I think he will keep it loose (on TV) and the fans will really respond. Dale loves the sport. He’s a car owner (at JR Motorsports). He’s committed. He’s going to stay involved. The one thing I know for sure is that Dale is always going to be Dale.”

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

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