The Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Family Will Expand by One!

Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. couldn’t help himself.

When he heard his unborn daughter’s heartbeat for the first time, Earnhardt responded with an instinctive, spontaneous laugh of pure joy.

“It’s not like a funny ‘ha-ha’ laugh,” Earnhardt said before final Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice at Kansas Speedway. “It’s more like something just comes out. I’d play it for you. You just burst out like joy. It wasn’t ‘ha-ha’ funny. It was just a joyful moment.

“Somebody says your wife is pregnant, that registers a little bit. But man, when you hear that heartbeat it’s like ‘Yep, it’s real. This is a real thing in there and it’s here. This is happening.’ So, just all this emotion just pops out.”

Earnhardt learned in August that wife Amy was pregnant with the couple’s first child, but didn’t make the news public until last Monday. Nevertheless, the driver of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet recalls being consumed with anticipation while waiting for confirmation of the pregnancy.

“We went for a checkup, and Amy took a couple of tests, and the tests were saying she’s pregnant,” Earnhardt recounted. “We went to the doctor, and I’m still thinking, ‘Man, I’m not believing crap until this doctor tells me. So we’re sitting in there for like 20 minutes. And they’re talking woman language, and I’m not understanding.

“They are just talking about things, and I’m like, ‘Well, when is she going to say it?’ I want to hear it from the doctor’s mouth that she’s pregnant, so we can rejoice. It took them a while. I was scared to speak up. Finally, they said something that confirmed it for me and I was like, ‘Awesome!’”

“And then we had the ultrasound and got to hear the heartbeat and all that right there, and that was great. We go back for another checkup here soon, in a couple of days, and those are awesome. They are so much fun because it’s like the closest you can get to it before they’re born, and I’m looking forward to each and every one of them.”

So as Dale Jr. exits stage left from fulltime driving, and moves up to the NBC TV booth next season, he and his wife will  be welcoming a daughter into his life!

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

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!

Hendrick Motorsports Previews Talladega

TALLADEGA SUPERSPEEDWAY (2.66-MILE OVAL)

LOCATION: TALLADEGA, ALABAMA
EVENT: NASCAR CUP SERIES (RACE 31 OF 36)
TUNE IN: 2 P.M. ET, SUNDAY, OCT. 15 (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

  • 14th in standings
  • 30 starts
  • 1 race win
  • 0 stage wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 3 top-five finishes
  • 5 top-10 finishes
  • 33 laps led

Career

  • 498 starts
  • 18 wins
  • 27 pole positions
  • 92 top-five finishes
  • 174 top-10 finishes
  • 4,640 laps led

Track Career 

  • 27 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 4 top-five finishes
  • 6 top-10 finishes
  • 83 laps led
FARMERS INSURANCE: Farmers Insurance returns to the No. 5 Chevrolet SS this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway. Kasey Kahne most recently drove the Farmers Insurance livery at Dover International Speedway, where he finished 14th. The longtime Hendrick Motorsports partner will also adorn Kahne’s Chevy at the upcoming Phoenix race weekend.

KAHNE AT TALLADEGA: Kahne has earned one of his 27 pole awards at Talladega. He captured the prime starting position with a speed of 191.455 mph in October 2012. The Enumclaw, Washington, native also has two starts on the outside pole position – both in 2015. Kahne has finished second in the Talladega race twice – October 2006 and November 2009. Earlier this year at Talladega, Kahne finished in the fifth position.

TALLADEGA LOOP DATA: According to NASCAR’s loop data since 2005, Kahne ranks first in the closer category with 57 positions moved up over the last 10 percent of the race. The 37-year-old is ninth in green-flag passes with 8,073. He’s 11th in laps spent in the top 15 with 1,979 and in quality passes with 4,578. Quality passes are the number of times a driver passes another car that is running in the top 15 while under green-flag conditions.

RESTRICTOR PLATES: At restrictor-plate tracks this season, Kahne has led 19 laps for 47.5 miles and earned 88 points. Kahne has one top-five finish and two top-10s at superspeedways in 2017.

CREW CHIEF WINS: Darian Grubb — Kahne’s crew chief since September’s New Hampshire weekend — has earned one win at Talladega. Grubb visited Victory Lane at the 2.66-mile oval in May 2014 with driver Denny Hamlin. The crew chief’s 23 wins are 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

  • 4th in standings
  • 30 starts
  • 0 race wins
  • 3 stage wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 9 top-five finishes
  • 17 top-10 finishes
  • 376 laps led

Career

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

Track Career 

  • 3 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 1 top-five finish
  • 1 top-10 finish
  • 36 laps led
Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet SS, will be available to members of the media on Friday, Oct. 13, at 11:20 a.m. local time in the Talladega Superspeedway media center.

NAPA AUTO PARTS CHEVROLET: This weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, the familiar blue-and-yellow NAPA AUTO PARTS paint scheme will return to 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 second-place finish at Chicagoland Speedway.

TALLADEGA STATS: Elliott will make his fourth start at Talladega Superspeedway this weekend. The 21-year-old driver earned the pole award in his first start at the track in May 2016 and garnered a top-five finish. Elliott has led 36 laps and averages a starting position of 4.3 and finishing position of 15.7 at the track. He has three starts at Talladega in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, collecting one top-10 finish.

TALLADEGA DRIVER RATING: According to NASCAR’s loop data since 2005, Elliott has the highest driver rating at Talladega with a score of 91.4. 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.

CHARLOTTE REWIND: Elliott started Sunday afternoon’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in seventh, but it didn’t take long for him to find the front of the field – taking the lead on Lap 41 and leading 11 laps before eventually finishing Stage 1 in second. The second-year driver maintained the second position through the end of Stage 2. Elliott and the No. 24 SunEnergy1 team continued their strong run, collecting their third runner-up effort in four playoff races.

PLAYOFF STANDINGS: With the runner-up finish at Charlotte, Elliott now ranks fourth in the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs as the series heads to Talladega this weekend. The driver of the No. 24 holds a 16-point advantage over the ninth-place driver, which would be the first competitor eliminated.

ELLIOTT AT TALLADEGA: Elliott will appear at the Team Chevy Stage on Sunday, Oct. 15, at 10:10 a.m. local time for a question-and-answer session.

TESTING AT MARTINSVILLE: Elliott and the No. 24 team will represent Hendrick Motorsports at the Martinsville test on Tuesday and Wednesday. The NASCAR Cup Series will return to Martinsville for the first race of the Round of 8 in the playoffs on Oct. 29.

No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS / Jimmie Johnson

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

2017 Season

  • 7th in standings
  • 30 starts
  • 3 race wins
  • 1 stage win
  • 0 pole positions
  • 4 top-five finishes
  • 11 top-10 finishes
  • 193 laps led

Career

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

Track Career 

  • 31 starts
  • 2 wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 7 top-five finishes
  • 12 top-10 finishes
  • 470 laps led
PLAYOFF PICTURE: With four races in the books and a seventh-place finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway last weekend, Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team are currently seventh in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs standings heading into Talladega.

ALABAMA GANG: Front-tire carrier R.J. Barnette hails from nearby Pinson, Alabama. Barnette played football at Samford University as a defensive end and tried out for the Hendrick Motorsports pit crew in 2009. He has been on the No. 48 team ever since.

JIMMIE JOHNSON FOUNDATIONOn Monday, Johnson hosted his 11th annual golf tournament benefiting the Jimmie Johnson Foundation. The private event, usually held on the West Coast in California where Johnson is from, was held in Charlotte, North Carolina, at Quail Hollow. The event raised over $753,000 and Johnson has now donated over $11 million to children in need. For more information, click here.

TALLADEGA DRIVER RATING: According to NASCAR’s loop data statistics since 2005, Johnson has the fifth-best driver rating at Talladega with a score of 88.1. 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. 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.

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 Mountain Dew Chevrolet SS / Dale Earnhardt Jr.

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

2017 Season

  • 22nd in standings
  • 30 starts
  • 0 race wins
  • 0 stage wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 1 top-five finish
  • 5 top-10 finishes
  • 37 laps led

Career

  • 625 starts
  • 26 wins
  • 14 pole positions
  • 149 top-five finishes
  • 257 top-10 finishes
  • 8,224 laps led

Track Career 

  • 34 starts
  • 6 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 12 top-five finishes
  • 16 top-10 finishes
  • 960 laps led
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 Mountain Dew Chevrolet SS, will be available to members of the media on Friday, Oct. 13, at 3:20 p.m. local time in the Talladega Superspeedway media center.

WINNING WAYS: Winning may not be all Dale Earnhardt Jr. does at Talladega Superspeedway, but the driver of the No. 88 Mountain Dew Chevrolet SS does have six wins on the 2.66-mile tri-oval, more than he has at any other track on the NASCAR Cup Series circuit. In 2015, he won the spring race and entered Talladega’s fall race in a win-to-continue playoffs scenario, where he finished second, just missing his opportunity to make it into the penultimate round of the postseason. The 2016 spring race looked promising as Earnhardt qualified third, but after two separate incidents, he wasn’t able to finish the race. In this year’s spring race, Earnhardt qualified second and was running third with 15 laps to go before having to pit for a loose wheel. According to NASCAR’s loop data statistics, Earnhardt is at the top of the chart among active drivers in the laps led category at the track, leading a total of 471 laps since 2005, 15 more laps than his next closest competitor.

TALLADEGA LOOP DATA: In addition to leading the most laps, Earnhardt has the second-best driver rating among active drivers at the track with an average of 91.0 since 2005. 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. Earnhardt also ranks near the top in several other loop data categories, including average running position (third – 14.422), laps in the top 15 (fourth – 2,808) and green-flag speed (third – 193.759 mph). The Kannapolis, North Carolina, native ranks in the top 10 in many of the additional categories, including fastest laps run (eighth – 87), green-flag passes (seventh – 8,189), and quality passes (fourth – 5,228).

THANK YOU, FANS: The No. 88 Mountain Dew Chevrolet SS will sport a special paint scheme this weekend. Through the “Ride with Jr.” program, Mountain Dew allowed fans to sign up to get their name on the No. 88 Chevy and say thank you to the driver in the process, which fits right in with Earnhardt’s JR Nation #Appreci88ion Tour. Click here for more.

TODAY SHOW: While he’s in Talladega, Earnhardt will spend time with “TODAY Show” host Willie Geist for an interview that will air later this fall.

DALE JR. DAY: Governor Kay Ivey has declared Sunday, Oct. 15, as “Dale Earnhardt Jr. Day” in the state of Alabama. Ivey, who will also serve as Grand Marshal for the Alabama 500, made the announcement in celebration of six-time Talladega winner Earnhardt and his legacy at the world’s greatest “Super” Superspeedway. Click here for more.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DALE!: Please join us in wishing Earnhardt a very happy birthday as he celebrates his 43rd today.

HOMETOWN HERO: William “Rowdy” Harrell, rear-tire carrier for the No. 88 Mountain Dew Chevrolet team, can certainly be called a hometown hero when he returns to Alabama, and particularly to Moundville, the small town where he grew up. After playing football in high school, Harrell was a walk-on linebacker for Nick Saban’s well-known University of Alabama football team, winning three national championships in his four years with the team. The tire carrier can also add race winner to his list of accolades, as he joined the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 team in 2014 and became one of the six primary over-the-wall crew members in 2015. During those two seasons, the No. 88 team racked up seven wins, including the 2014 Daytona 500. Alabama’s football team is undefeated to this point of the 2017 college football season, which the outgoing former linebacker still follows very closely. Harrell was also selected to be on Steve Letarte’s All-Star Pit Crew segment for NBC this weekend.

ICYMI 2018 UNVEIL: Alex Bowman and Earnhardt unveiled the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 last Thursday that Bowman will race in 2018. Click here for a recap from the event.

Hendrick Motorsports

2018 CHEVROLET CAMARO REVEAL: On Thursday, Oct. 5, Hendrick Motorsports revealed all four of its 2018 Daytona 500 primary paint schemes featuring drivers Chase Elliott, William Byron, Jimmie Johnson and Alex Bowman. The 2018 driver lineup was joined at the event by Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick, four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon, 14-time most popular driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and 1988 Cup champion Bill Elliott. Click here to watch the 2018 car reveal and here for up-close photos of the four Camaros.

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT TALLADEGA: At Talladega Superspeedway, Hendrick Motorsports has 12 wins, 11 pole positions, 55 top-five finishes and 80 top-10s. Hendrick Motorsports’ most recent Talladega win came in 2015, when Earnhardt made his way to Victory Lane in the May race after qualifying fourth.

SIX MAKE 12: Hendrick Motorsports’ 12 wins at Talladega have come thanks to six different drivers. Ken Schrader earned the organization’s first win at the track in 1988. Jeff Gordon contributed six wins, Johnson has earned two, and Brian Vickers, Terry Labonte and Earnhardt have claimed one apiece.

ORGANIZATION STATS: To date, Hendrick Motorsports has totals of 12 championships, 249 race victories, 212 pole positions, 1,026 top-five finishes and 1,732 top-10 finishes in points-paying NASCAR Cup Series competition. Its teams have led 67,013 laps since 1984.

QUOTABLE / 

“I think we can do well at Talladega. Unfortunately, you can’t control everything at Talladega, though. Sometimes you are unlucky and that’s just part of what happens there. We had a strong finish there earlier this year and all we can do is focus on everything we can control.”

Kasey Kahne on racing at Talladega

“I think there is something you can do. There are guys that have been consistently winning at those races over the past number of years. Anytime you see something consistently happen, there is obviously not just luck involved in it.”

Chase Elliott on luck versus control at Talladega

“We have to go there. It counts as much as the rest of them so I kind of look at it as an opportunity. The guys who have embraced it and have been willing to want to figure it out seem to excel and we would like to be among that group.”

Elliott on restrictor plate racing

“Talladega is indeed a wildcard race. I’m happy it’s not a cut-off for the Round of 8, but we really need to make it through the race and have a good finish. We don’t want to go to Kansas fighting to stay alive in the hunt for an eighth championship.”

Jimmie Johnson on racing at Talladega

“I’d like to fly under the radar a little bit. I don’t want to put too much pressure on us – it messes up the way you think, the way you use strategy in the race, everything. But Talladega is a great track and a great opportunity to win. I think we’ll also have a chance to win at Martinsville and Texas, and some of these other tracks we go to.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. on racing at Talladega

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

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Regrets Not Pegging The “Fun Meter” This Year

Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
Make no mistake, Dale Earnhardt Jr. took issue with the suggestion that missing the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff this year has allowed the driver of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet to compete under less pressure and have more fun in his final races as full-time driver.

Earnhardt’s “fun meter” says something completely different.

“I think that the fans would be having more fun if we were racing for the championship and then I would be having more fun interacting with them in that manner and their excitement of it,” Earnhardt said on Friday after opening practice at Charlotte Motor Speedway. “So I think it’s a little bittersweet for me and the fans and our supporters with the situation we’re in. I only really have fun when we run well.

“It’s been a difficult year from a fun meter standpoint. We haven’t really moved the needle too much this year. This past couple of weekends, especially at Dover and Richmond, we’ve seen some improvements and had fun driving the car and been quick. And I think we were good off the truck today. I thought we had something to build on.”

Earnhardt’s optimism quickly dissipated when he hit the Turn 4 wall in the first five minutes of practice. The No. 88 team rolled out a backup car, and Earnhardt ran two laps in that Chevy before the end of the 85-minute session.

“I don’t really know how to compare the backup car to the primary,” Earnhardt said after the abbreviated run. “And it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles, so it might not be quite as good as I was hoping, I guess, initially when we rolled it off the truck today.

“But, that’s it. I enjoy running well. When I don’t run well, I don’t know that anybody enjoys that. And it’s hard to make light of it or to smile through it. And I think the fans would have more fun, and in turn, me having more fun if we were in the thick of the championship battle.”

Later that evening, Earnhardt qualified 23rd for Sunday’s Bank of America 500.

The needle on the fun meter didn’t move.

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

Charlotte Motor Speedway Gives Dale Jr. A Meaningful Gift

Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
As he moves through his final season of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series racing, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has had one consistent request—that gifts and recognition in his honor have a broader societal impact. Moments after posting the third-fastest speed in the opening minutes of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice, Dale Earnhardt Jr. crashed Friday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Earnhardt got loose entering Turn 4 and slid up the track where he struck the outside wall preparing for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Bank of America 500.

On Friday, Charlotte Motor Speedway honored Earnhardt’s wishes-and then some—with a gift of $100,000 to establish and underwrite the Dale Earnhardt Jr. Concussion Research Fund at the Carolinas Healthcare System’s Levine Children’s Hospital.

During two separate seasons, Earnhardt missed races because of concussion symptoms. In 2012 he was sidelined for two events, and last year he sat out the final 18 races after his symptoms from a wreck at Michigan worsened drastically in subsequent weeks.

During Friday’s presentation, the football team from Mooresville High School, Earnhardt’s alma mater, was ushered into the media center as part of the surprise.

“We have a lot of history with concussions and awareness and rehab and all that good stuff, so this is something that is actually very close to my heart,” Earnhardt said. “I hope to be able to continue to help others going forward. This is a great way to do that, so thanks again.”

Earnhardt didn’t play football at Mooresville. In fact, his Twitter profile lists him as “Former backup fullback for Mooresville Blue Devils varsity soccer.”

“I was four 4-feet-10-inches tall at the time,” Earnhardt said of the year he entered high school. “I think I was 5-foot-3 when I got my driver’s license. So I was real short, and we were driving by the football field—well, the practice field—and they were out there practicing, and I said, ‘I want to play football.’ And the guy said, I’m going to take you down and introduce you to the soccer coach, because I don’t think you need to be playing football.

“So I played soccer anyways. I got me a letter jacket and all that. We went to State and lost, but it was a lot of fun. I played one year, and I was the back-up, so I sat on the bench all year and I got to play a couple of games. We were a pretty good team, so we would get a big lead, I would get in a couple of games.”

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

Hendrick Motorsprts Previews The Bank of America 500

CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY (1.5-MILE OVAL)

LOCATION: CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA
EVENT: NASCAR CUP SERIES (RACE 30 OF 36)
TUNE IN: 2 P.M. ET, SUNDAY, OCT. 8 (NBC/PRN/SIRIUSXM)

No. 5 go90 Chevrolet SS / Kasey Kahne

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

2017 Season

  • 15th in standings
  • 29 starts
  • 1 race win
  • 0 stage wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 3 top-five finishes
  • 4 top-10 finishes
  • 31 laps led

Career

  • 497 starts
  • 18 wins
  • 27 pole positions
  • 92 top-five finishes
  • 173 top-10 finishes
  • 4,638 laps led

Track Career 

  • 27 starts
  • 4 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 10 top-five finishes
  • 14 top-10 finishes
  • 1,106 laps led
GO90: This weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Kasey Kahne will pilot the No. 5 go90 Chevrolet SS. Charlotte marks the fourth time this season that go90 has adorned the No. 5 Chevrolet SS. The Hendrick Motorsports docuseries“Road to Race Day” can be seen on Complex Networks’ Rated Red available on go90. All eight episodes are now available to watch.

KAHNE AT CHARLOTTE: Kahne’s four wins (two in 2006, one in both 2008 and 2012) at Charlotte Motor Speedway place him second among current NASCAR Cup Series drivers in victories at the 1.5-mile track just behind teammate Jimmie Johnson, who has eight. The 37-year-old is tied for fourth in the all-time wins category at the track with Buddy Baker, Fred Lorenzen, Mark Martin and David Pearson. Kahne has led 1,106 laps over 12 races at the Concord, North Carolina, venue, which is second-most among active drivers and 10th all-time. Kahne has excelled at conquering the longest race of the season, with three of his four wins coming in the strenuous 600-mile race. He also has three runner-up finishes at the track and scored a third-place finish in last year’s fall race.

CHARLOTTE LOOP DATA: According to NASCAR’s loop data statistics since 2005, Kahne has an average driver rating of 93.6, which ranks him sixth among his peers. 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 laps, most laps led and lead-lap finishes. He’s second to Johnson in fastest laps run with 710 and is second in green-flag passes with 1,970. He is also fifth in quality passes with 987. Quality passes are the number of times a driver passes another car that is running inside the top 15 while under green-flag conditions. The Enumclaw, Washington, native is eighth in laps run in the top 15 with 5,255.

CREW CHIEF WINS: Kahne’s newly appointed crew chief, Darian Grubb, has earned two of his 23 wins at the Concord, North Carolina, track. Grubb visited Victory Lane with former Hendrick Motorsports driver Casey Mears in May 2007. The Floyd, Virginia, native returned to Victory Lane in May 2015 with Carl Edwards. Grubb currently has the third-most wins among active crew chiefs in the Cup Series.

COMING HOME: Several of the No. 5 team members originate from North Carolina – engineer Matt Piercy (Conover, North Carolina); engineer and front-tire carrier Michael Oxendine (Lumberton, North Carolina); rear-tire carrier Allen Stallings (Manteo, North Carolina); jackman Joseph So (Salisbury, North Carolina); and fueler Landon Walker (North Wilkesboro, North Carolina).

No. 24 SunEnergy1 Chevrolet SS / Chase Elliott

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

2017 Season

  • 10th in standings
  • 29 starts
  • 0 race wins
  • 3 stage wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 8 top-five finishes
  • 16 top-10 finishes
  • 364 laps led

Career

  • 70 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 3 pole positions
  • 18 top-five finishes
  • 33 top-10 finishes
  • 722 laps led

Track Career 

  • 4 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 0 top-five finishes
  • 1 top-10 finish
  • 103 laps led
SUNENERGY1 CHEVROLET: This weekend, SunEnergy1, one of the world’s largest privately held solar energy companies, will once again adorn the hood of the No. 24 Chevrolet SS. It marks the fourth race of the season that SunEnergy1 has served as the primary sponsor for Chase Elliott. In the most recent appearance, Elliott piloted the SunEnergy1 Chevy at Watkins Glen International in August, when he collected a 13th-place finish.

CHARLOTTE STATS: The second-year driver is set to make his fifth start at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday. In Elliott’s four previous starts he has garnered one top-10 finish and led 103 laps. He averages a starting position of 11.5 and finishing position of 24.2. Elliott has also made four starts at Charlotte in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, where he garnered three top-10s, led 66 laps and earned a pole award in October 2014.

DOVER REWIND: Elliott led a career-high 138 laps on his way to a second-place finish Sunday at Dover International Speedway. With the finish, Elliott and the No. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS team advanced to the Round of 12 in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.

MEET ELLIOTT: Elliott will appear at the Under Armour Factory House store at the Charlotte Premium Outlets (5524 New Fashion Way, Charlotte, NC 28278) on Friday, Oct. 6, from 10-11 a.m. local time. Photos are guaranteed for the first 125 guests (one per person) on a first-come, first-served basis.

HOME SWEET HOME: While all team members currently live in North Carolina, there are three members of the No. 24 team that hail from the Tar Heel State: gas man and engineer Travis Gordon (Richfield, North Carolina), tire carrier Jared Seate (Charlotte, North Carolina) and mechanic Ben Bowden (Julian, North Carolina).

No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS / Jimmie Johnson

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

2017 Season

  • 5th in standings
  • 29 starts
  • 3 race wins
  • 1 stage win
  • 0 pole positions
  • 4 top-five finishes
  • 10 top-10 finishes
  • 193 laps led

Career

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

Track Career 

  • 32 starts
  • 8 wins
  • 4 pole positions
  • 15 top-five finishes
  • 19 top-10 finishes
  • 1,930 laps led
PLAYOFF PICTURE: With three races in the rear-view mirror in the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team are in the Round of 12 and fifth in the standings heading into Charlotte. Johnson posted a third-place finish last weekend at Dover, which was his first top-five result since Dover in June.

CHARLOTTE PERFORMANCE IMPRESSIVE: In addition to his eight wins at Charlotte, Johnson has led a total of 1,930 laps around the 1.5-mile track. He has spent over 86.7 percent of all laps run inside the top 15 and has an average finish of 14th. Johnson also holds the record for the driver who won from the worst starting spot in the field, taking the green flag in 37th and driving home with the checkered flag in the May 2003 race.

RECENT PERFORMANCES AT CHARLOTTE: In May, Johnson finished 17th at Charlotte. One year ago, Johnson put on a dominating performance, leading 155 laps en route to his eighth win at the track and securing himself into the Round of 8 in the 2016 Cup Series playoffs.

RECORD WINS: Johnson is the all-time winningest driver at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Runners up include NASCAR Hall of Famers Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison, both of whom have six wins, followed by former Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon with five.

PAINTING THE WALL PINK: Johnson and partner Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina participated in a “Paint the Wall Pink” event on Sept. 27. Johnson and hundreds of cancer survivors gathered at Charlotte Motor Speedway to help raise awareness for breast cancer, as well as paint the pit wall pink for this weekend’s race. Click here for more.

CHARLOTTE DRIVER RATING: According to NASCAR’s loop data statistics since 2005, Johnson has the best driver rating at Charlotte with a score of 110.4. 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.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BIG EARL: Longtime team spotter Earl Barban will celebrate a birthday on Oct. 5. Barban is a native of St. Louis, Missouri, and has been with the team for more than 10 years.

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 42                                Resides Mooresville, North Carolina

2017 Season

  • 22nd in standings
  • 29 starts
  • 0 race wins
  • 0 stage wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 1 top-five finish
  • 5 top-10 finishes
  • 37 laps led

Career

  • 624 starts
  • 26 wins
  • 14 pole positions
  • 149 top-five finishes
  • 257 top-10 finishes
  • 8,224 laps led

Track Career 

  • 34 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 6 top-five finishes
  • 13 top-10 finishes
  • 360 laps led
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, will be available to members of the media on Friday, Oct. 6, at 3:10 p.m. local time in the Charlotte Motor Speedway media center.

CHARLOTTE STATS: Dale Earnhardt Jr. has yet to win a points race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but if you throw out the DNF for engine trouble in the spring of 2013, the Kannapolis, North Carolina, native has an average finish of 14.4 in the last six years (2012-2017) and a career total of six top-five and 13 top-10 finishes. The 1.5-mile oval is also the site of his first NASCAR Cup Series start (May 1999) and first Cup pole (May 2000).

ALL-STAR: While Earnhardt hasn’t yet won a points-paying race at Charlotte, the driver earned a victory as a rookie in his first start in the All-Star Race on May 20, 2000. It was a 70-lap event and he took the lead from Dale Jarrett with two laps to go to win the race. Earnhardt has made every All-Star Race since 2000, although he has had to run the open qualifier twice. Both times, Earnhardt transferred to the All-Star Race – once by winning the fan vote (2011) and once by winning the Showdown (2012).

LOOP DATA: According to NASCAR’s loop data statistics, Earnhardt ranks seventh among drivers for green-flag passes at Charlotte since 2005, completing 1,868 of them. In that span, the driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS ranks ninth among drivers in fastest laps run (216), 10th in laps inside the top 15 (4,379) and 12th in laps led at the 1.5-mile oval (162).

BRAD PAISLEY HEADLINES JR NATION APPRECI88ION CONCERT: On Saturday night, Oct. 7, Earnhardt is treating fans to a concert featuring three-time Grammy award-winning country music artist Brad Paisley. Saturday night’s concert, presented by Wrangler and Nationwide, is part of the JR Nation Appreci88ion Tour, Earnhardt’s campaign to salute fans in his final season as a full-time NASCAR Cup driver. Earnhardt will introduce Paisley on stage and will participate in a special presentation of “Trackside Live,” a pre-race show at zMAX Dragway broadcast live on NASCAR.com beginning at 8:30 p.m. Prior to Earnhardt’s “Trackside Live” appearance, country music sensation Tim Dugger will rev up Saturday’s show by opening for Paisley. The spectacular concert is FREE for every adult ticketholder to Sunday’s Bank of America 500. For tickets and information, fans can call the Charlotte Motor Speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS (3267) or visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.

2018 DAYTONA 500 PAINT SCHEME UNVEIL: Both Earnhardt and Alex Bowman will be in attendance for the unveil of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevy’s 2018 Daytona 500 paint scheme on Thursday, Oct. 5. On July 20, Bowman was named the full-time driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet beginning in 2018. Bowman, 24, piloted the No. 88 Chevrolet in 10 of the final 18 Cup races last season in place of the injured Earnhardt. The Tucson, Arizona, native debuted July 17, 2016, at New Hampshire and went on to earn three top-10 finishes with the team including a sixth-place result at Phoenix, where he won the pole position and led a race-high 194 laps. Scroll down to the Hendrick Motorsports section for more information on the 2018 unveil.

BOWMAN IN NXS: Through Hendrick Motorsports’ technical partnership with Chip Ganassi Racing, Bowman will drive the No. 42 Chevrolet Camaro in the NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway this weekend on Saturday, Oct. 7. He will also race the No. 42 Camaro at Phoenix International Raceway on Nov. 11. Hendrick Automotive Group’s HendrickCars.com, which features more than 43,000 new and pre-owned cars for sale, will serve as Bowman’s primary sponsor in the Charlotte race with additional support from Vannoy Construction. For more, click here.

Hendrick Motorsports

2018 CHEVROLET CAMARO REVEAL: On Thursday, Oct. 5, Hendrick Motorsports will reveal all four of its 2018 Daytona 500 primary paint schemes featuring drivers Chase Elliott, William Byron, Jimmie Johnson and Alex Bowman. The 2018 driver lineup will be joined at the event by Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick, four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon, 14-time most popular driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and 1988 Cup champion Bill Elliott. The 2018 car reveal will be covered live Thursday at 6:30 p.m. ET on NASCAR.comand the Hendrick Motorsports Facebook page. The reveal will be followed by a post-event show featuring interviews with the Hendrick Motorsports team.

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT CHARLOTTE: Hendrick Motorsports has 19 wins at Charlotte Motor Speedway, which ranks first all-time among teams at the 1.5-mile oval. Jimmie Johnson most recently won the Bank of America 500 there last October and has an all-time record eight career victories at Charlotte. Johnson’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne ranks second among drivers competing in the 500-mile event this weekend with four wins at Charlotte. The organization has 60 top-five finishes and 95 top-10s and has led 5,023 laps at Charlotte since 1984.

FINDING VICTORY LANE: Hendrick Motorsports’ 19 wins at Charlotte are tied with Dover International Speedway for second for the organization’s most at a track, behind only Martinsville Speedway with 24 wins. The Charlotte victories have come via seven different drivers — Johnson (eight), Gordon (five), Darrell Waltrip (two), Ken Schrader, Terry Labonte, Casey Mears and Kahne.

ORGANIZATION STATS: To date, Hendrick Motorsports has totals of 12 championships, 249 race victories, 212 pole positions, 1,023 top-five finishes and 1,726 top-10 finishes in points-paying NASCAR Cup Series competition. Its teams have led 66,856 laps since 1984.

QUOTABLE / 

“Charlotte is nice because it’s so close to home. Obviously, I have a few wins there, but for whatever reason over the past couple of years it’s been one of the harder tracks for me. It’s been tough to figure out the bumps and figure out how to keep the car turning.”

Kasey Kahne on racing at Charlotte

“Charlotte provides many challenges, but when the sun is out, I feel like you can really move around and have some options with your race car, which is nice.”

Chase Elliott on racing at Charlotte

“We were so fast off the truck last weekend in Dover and with a third-place finish, have some good momentum heading into Charlotte. We’re still looking for that sweet spot and need to start leading some laps but I have a ton of faith in my Lowe’s team. They never quit.”

Jimmie Johnson on moving forward in the playoffs

“The challenge at Charlotte is not landing too tight in Turns 1 and 2 and being too tight in the center there. Something that I think we all fight and we all have to work on there is trying to get your car to roll the middle of the corner, have that front grip and keep the car turning in the middle. You get into the corner so fast in Turn 1 and transitioning into that banking, the car really lands hard and gets tight, so trying to make that transition is a real challenge. Charlotte is our home track and I haven’t won a points race there yet, so that’s certainly something I would like to do. We have been seeing some improvements in our performance and our speed, so I’m looking forward to Charlotte.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. on racing at Charlotte

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

Hendrick Motorsports Previews The Apache

DOVER INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY (ONE-MILE OVAL)

LOCATION: DOVER, DELAWARE
EVENT: NASCAR CUP SERIES (RACE 29 OF 36)
TUNE IN: 2 P.M. ET, SUNDAY, OCT. 1 (NBCSN/MRN/SIRIUSXM)

No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS / Kasey Kahne

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

2017 Season

  • 16th in standings
  • 28 starts
  • 1 race win
  • 0 stage wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 3 top-five finishes
  • 4 top-10 finishes
  • 31 laps led

Career

  • 496 starts
  • 18 wins
  • 27 pole positions
  • 92 top-five finishes
  • 173 top-10 finishes
  • 4,638 laps led

Track Career 

  • 27 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 3 top-five finishes
  • 8 top-10 finishes
  • 90 laps led
FARMERS AT DOVER: This weekend at Dover International Speedway, Kasey Kahne will drive the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS. The Enumclaw, Washington, native most recently piloted the Farmers Insurance livery at Indianapolis Motor Speedway where he went on to capture his 18th career NASCAR Cup Series win. Kahne will also be behind the wheel of the Farmers Insurance Chevy for the upcoming races at Talladega Superspeedway and Phoenix International Raceway.

KAHNE AT DOVER: Kahne has started in the second position three times at Dover and looks to earn his first pole award at the concrete track this weekend to add to his 27 career Cup poles. In Kahne’s last five races at the “Monster Mile,” he’s accumulated two top-five finishes and one top-10, as well as two additional finishes inside the top 20. He has an average starting position of 14.0 and a finishing position of 18.6. In this year’s May race, Kahne had a strong run going until he was caught up in a late-race incident in the closing laps and ultimately finished 17th.

DOVER LOOP DATA: According to NASCAR’s loop data since 2005, Kahne ranks third in green-flag passes at Dover with 1,022. He’s sixth in fastest laps run with 371 laps. The 37-year-old is eighth in quality passes with 508 and ninth in laps spent in the top 15 with 5,802. Quality passes are the number of times a driver passes another car that is running in the top 15 while under green-flag conditions.

RECAPPING NEW HAMPSHIRE: Kahne and the No. 5 team entered last weekend’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway with a newly appointed crew chief, Darian Grubb. After a strong opening practice session on Friday, Kahne qualified the No. 5 machine in the ninth position. During the opening of Sunday’s race, Kahne battled a loose-handling race car. As the race continued, the handling improved and Kahne was on the verge of reaching the top 10 with under 50 laps remaining before he was forced to the garage to repair a mechanical issue. Unfortunately, he was relegated to a 35th-place finish in the second race of Round 1 in the playoffs.

GOLD AND TEAL WHEEL: Earlier this month at Richmond Raceway, Kahne used a special teal and gold steering wheel for the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation’s second annual “Drive for Teal and Gold” campaign. The goal is to bring awareness and raise funds for ovarian (teal) and childhood cancers (gold). Kahne’s steering wheel is up for auction via the NASCAR Foundation through the Fanatics website. Bidding for Kahne’s No. 5 steering wheel closes on Oct. 1.

No. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet SS / Chase Elliott

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

2017 Season

  • 9th in standings
  • 28 starts
  • 0 race wins
  • 3 stage wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 7 top-five finishes
  • 15 top-10 finishes
  • 226 laps led

Career

  • 69 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 3 pole positions
  • 17 top-five finishes
  • 32 top-10 finishes
  • 584 laps led

Track Career 

  • 3 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 3 top-five finishes
  • 3 top-10 finishes
  • 0 laps led
NAPA AUTO PARTS CHEVROLET: This weekend at Dover International Speedway, the familiar blue-and-yellow NAPA AUTO PARTS paint scheme will return to 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 second-place finish at Chicagoland Speedway.

MONSTER MILE STATS: The Dawsonville, Georgia, native is set to make his fourth start at Dover this weekend. In Elliott’s first three appearances at the one-mile oval, he has collected three top-five finishes. He averages a starting position of 12.7 and finishing position of 3.7. Elliott also has four starts in the NASCAR XFINITY Series at the Dover, Delaware, track. In those four starts, the 21-year-old driver garnered two top-five finishes, four top-10s and 19 laps led, averaging a starting position of 6.0 and finishing position of 5.2.

DOVER DRIVER RATING: According to NASCAR’s loop data since 2005, Elliott has the fourth-highest driver rating at Dover with a score of 100.2. 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.

LOUDON REWIND: Elliott and the No. 24 team started 14th in a backup car due to a single-car incident in first practice at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The second-year driver ended the opening 75-lap stage in 17th after reporting that his car was too tight. After a pit stop for four tires, fuel and chassis adjustments to improve the handling conditions on the Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet, Elliott restarted 14th to begin Stage 2. The 21-year-old driver gained one position during the stage for a 13th-place finish at Lap 150. Elliott restarted ninth for the final stage after a quick pit stop by the No. 24 team. He was scored 11th on Lap 221 when the caution flag waved. He continued to maintain the 11th position when the yellow flag was displayed once again at Lap 274. The No. 24 driver restarted 10th with 23 laps to go and fought to hold his position, but ultimately finished just outside the top 10 in 11th.

PLAYOFF STANDINGS: With the 11th-place result in Loudon, Elliott ranks ninth in the NASCAR Cup Series playoff standings heading into the Round of 16 cutoff race Sunday at Dover International Speedway. The second-year driver holds a 26-point advantage over the 13th-place driver, which would be the first competitor eliminated.

DRIVE FOR TEAL & GOLD: Since Richmond, Elliott has been running a special steering wheel for the second annual Martin Truex Jr. Foundation’s “Drive for Teal & Gold” steering wheel campaign to bring awareness for ovarian and childhood cancers. The bidding is open until Sunday, Oct. 1, for Elliott’s signed, race-driven wheel via the NASCAR Foundation though Fanatics.

No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS / Jimmie Johnson

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

2017 Season

  • 7th in standings
  • 28 starts
  • 3 race wins
  • 1 stage win
  • 0 pole positions
  • 3 top-five finishes
  • 9 top-10 finishes
  • 188 laps led

Career

  • 571 starts
  • 83 wins
  • 35 pole positions
  • 221 top-five finishes
  • 339 top-10 finishes
  • 18,634 laps led

Track Career 

  • 31 starts
  • 11 wins
  • 3 pole positions
  • 16 top-five finishes
  • 22 top-10 finishes
  • 3,100 laps led
PLAYOFF PICTURE: Two races into the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team are seventh in the standings heading into Dover, the closing race of the Round of 16. Johnson finished 14th last weekend at New Hampshire after a miscue on a pit stop resulted in the team not finishing in the top 10.

ELITE COMPANY: With his 11 wins at Dover, Johnson is just the fifth driver to win 10 or more races at a single track, joining Dale Earnhardt Sr., David Pearson, Richard Petty and Darrell Waltrip.

DOVER STATS IMPRESSIVE: In addition to his 11 wins at Dover, Johnson has led a total of 3,100 laps at the one-mile concrete speedway. He has spent over 85 percent of all laps run in the top 15 and has an average finish of 7.9. Johnson and the No. 48 Lowe’s team swept both races at Dover in the 2002 and 2009 seasons.

LAST TIME AT DOVER: Dover was the site of Johnson’s latest win in June. He started 14th and led only seven laps – but they were the final laps, as Johnson battled Kyle Larson down to the wire. It was Johnson’s 83rd win in the NASCAR Cup Series and his record-breaking 11th victory at Dover.

DOVER DRIVER RATING: According to NASCAR’s loop data statistics since 2005, Johnson has the best driver rating at Dover with a score of 118.3. 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.

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 42                                Resides Mooresville, North Carolina

2017 Season

  • 22nd in standings
  • 28 starts
  • 0 race wins
  • 0 stage wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 1 top-five finish
  • 4 top-10 finishes
  • 37 laps led

Career

  • 623 starts
  • 26 wins
  • 14 pole positions
  • 149 top-five finishes
  • 256 top-10 finishes
  • 8,224 laps led

Track Career 

  • 34 starts
  • 1 win
  • 1 pole position
  • 7 top-five finishes
  • 12 top-10 finishes
  • 451 laps led
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, will be available to members of the media on Friday, Sept. 29, at 2:55 p.m. local time in the Dover International Speedway media center.

TAMING THE ‘MONSTER’: Dale Earnhardt Jr. has one win at the “Monster Mile,” which came in the 2001 fall race after leading the final 39 laps en route to victory. He’s earned five top-five finishes and nine top-10s at the concrete oval since his trip to Victory Lane in 2001 and had a notably good weekend in the fall of 2013, starting from the pole and finishing second. He finished 11th in this year’s spring race at Dover, just missing the top 10.

MONSTER MILE STATS: According to NASCAR’s loop data statistics, Earnhardt ranks fourth among active drivers since 2005 for green-flag passes at Dover International Speedway, completing 1,018 green-flag passes. The driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS ranks eighth in fastest laps run during that span at the one-mile oval with 257.

STANDINGS UPDATE: After Earnhardt did not qualify for the 16-driver NASCAR playoffs following the Sept. 9 race at Richmond, he mentioned that the goal for the No. 88 team would be to finish in the top 20 in points. It’s a challenging goal — especially after Earnhardt was caught up in a multi-car incident last weekend in Loudon, relegating him to a 34th-place finish — but one that is certainly mathematically possible with eight races remaining. Currently, the driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevy is ranked 22nd in the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings. Earnhardt is 30 points behind the driver ranked 21st, Trevor Bayne, and 142 points out of 20th, the spot currently held by Daniel Suarez.

CLOSE TO HOME: The rear-tire changer for the No. 88 Nationwide Chevy team, Devin DelRicco, hails from Upper Marlboro, Maryland, which is approximately two hours west of Dover. The high school baseball player used one of the pit crew schools in the Charlotte, North Carolina, area to work his way into NASCAR. The 27-year-old tire changer has been with the No. 88 team for three years.

TIRE TEST: Earnhardt and the No. 88 team participated in a Goodyear tire test at Dover International Speedway on July 25. The one-day test had drivers testing a new tire package for this weekend’s race at the one-mile concrete oval.

Hendrick Motorsports

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT DOVER: At Dover International Speedway, Hendrick Motorsports has 19 wins, nine pole positions, 62 top-five finishes and 100 top-10s. Johnson most recently visited Victory Lane for the organization at the track earlier this year in June.

FINDING VICTORY LANE: Hendrick Motorsports’ 19 wins at Dover are tied with Charlotte Motor Speedway for the organization’s second-most at a track. The Dover victories have come via five different drivers — Johnson (11), Gordon (5), Geoff Bodine, Ricky Rudd and Ken Schrader.

ORGANIZATION STATS: To date, Hendrick Motorsports has totals of 12 championships, 249 race victories, 212 pole positions, 1,023 top-five finishes and 1,726 top-10 finishes in points-paying NASCAR Cup Series competition. Its teams have led 66,856 laps since 1984.

QUOTABLE / 

“Dover is probably one of my favorite tracks and always has been. It’s definitely one of the more difficult tracks. The hardest thing about Dover is on a long run your tires build up with so much air that your car starts bouncing a lot more and your head starts moving around a lot more. Every time the car bounces it tries to take grip out of the front or rear tires, whichever one is close to sliding. Trying to control that as a driver and with the balance of your car to me is key to really running well there.”

Kasey Kahne on racing at Dover

“I’ve been trying to talk to him every time I’ve ever been. I still haven’t figured it out, but yes, I would say he is the best there, no doubt. I would love to know what makes him so good at that track. I feel like I have learned some things and have gotten better there over the past few races. We had a solid race there last time. I had a solid race in the fall of last year, too. I think we are gaining on it. We are not to his level by any means, but I think we are gaining on it.”

Chase Elliott on learning from teammate Jimmie Johnson at Dover

“Yeah, there is a different feel. A lot of times the concrete tracks have patches and you can tell where the cracks and the lines in the concrete are. As you get some laps on tires and the air pressure builds up it really wants to bounce across those grooves and patches in the track. You can notice it, for sure. One thing about the concrete tracks is they don’t really age, they stay about the same. I know Dover does some cool things, too, like watering the track when it’s hot and things to try to keep that from happening. But, they seem very consistent to me.”

Elliott on the difference between concrete and asphalt tracks

“Dover, hands down, is one of my favorite tracks. It suits my driving style as well as the team in how they build and set up the cars. We have had so much success over the years at Dover, I wish we raced there every weekend. I can’t wait to get in that race car.”

Jimmie Johnson on racing at Dover

“I’m looking forward to Dover. Well, I’m especially looking forward to some of the tracks that we have coming up after that – Martinsville, Talladega, Texas, Phoenix, etc. I don’t know how we’re going to do at Dover, it hasn’t been a great track for us the past several years. I appreciate everybody’s support though and it does help. We’re going to keep grinding and keep working hard and try to get a good run for everybody this weekend.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. on racing at Dover

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

Louden Short Strokes

Joey Logano's helmet
Happy Hour was anything but happy for Joey Logano. While other drivers practiced during Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series final practice, Logano sat on pit road, serving the entire 55 minutes in NASCAR’s version of a penalty box. Logano’s No. 22 Team Penske Ford failed in repeated attempts to get through pre-qualifying inspection on Friday and did not make an attempt during time trials. He’ll start last in Sunday’s ISM Connect 300 with no practice during Happy Hour…

Dale Earnhardt Jr., who qualified 15th on Friday, was eighth fastest in final practice at 131.112 mph, second best among non-Playoff drivers. Earnhardt is racing at New Hampshire for the last time in the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet…

Ty Dillon scraped the wall with his No. 13 Chevrolet in Happy Hour and will start Sunday’s race from the rear in a backup car. Jimmie Johnson (seventh in final practice) and Chase Elliott (13th) also are in backup cars because of accidents in Friday’s opening practice, but will start where they qualified (12th and 14th, respectively) because their wrecks occurred before time trials.

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

Dale Jr. Thinks He’s Leaving NASCAR Racing In Good Hands

Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
There’s no debating that the highest level of NASCAR racing is witnessing a changing of the guard.

Jeff Gordon retired from full-time racing at the end of the 2015 season. Tony Stewart followed a year later. Earnhardt is playing out his final year in the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. Danica Patrick has announced she won’t return to Stewart-Haas Racing next year. And veterans Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne are out of their current rides, with no concrete plans to announce yet for 2018.

That doesn’t mean, however, that the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is short on star power. With neophyte young guns like Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Daniel Suarez, Austin Dillon and Erik Jones leading a parade of talented 20-somethings, Earnhardt believes he’s leading the competition in firm hands.

“Yeah, absolutely,” Earnhardt affirmed. “I think that these young guys are really crafty with social media and I think that’s a great direction for them to interact with not only current fans, but to find new fans. I think they do a great job at that.

“I had to learn what Twitter was and how to use it. These guys grew up in this generation, and they are sort of already masters of it. There’s a lot of great things going on on Instagram and Twitter, and I think that there’s a lot of opportunity there to capture an audience and make new fans and create new fans.”

Earnhardt also believes the drivers who will carry the sport for the next generation must accept the necessity of outreach—even if it’s an inconvenience.

“They need to push themselves, which is hard to do. I didn’t want to do any of this when I was young. But when NASCAR says we need somebody in New York to do morning shows this week to promote the playoffs, these guys need to jump on that wagon and go.

“It’s not a ton of fun, but once you’re in the middle of it, doing it, it’s really enjoyable meeting these people and these personalities and making these connections and networking with these people.”

So here comes the next generation of NASCAR super stars to carry the sport for the next decade or so!

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

Hendrick Motorsports Previews Chicagoland

CHICAGOLAND SPEEDWAY (1.5-MILE OVAL)

LOCATION: JOLIET, ILLINOIS
EVENT: NASCAR CUP SERIES (RACE 27 OF 36)
TUNE IN: 3 P.M. ET, SUNDAY, SEPT. 17 (NBCSN/MRN/SIRIUSXM)

No. 5 Great Clips Strong Against Cancer Chevrolet SS / Kasey Kahne

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

2017 Season

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

Career

  • 494 starts
  • 18 wins
  • 27 pole positions
  • 92 top-five finishes
  • 173 top-10 finishes
  • 4,638 laps led

Track Career 

  • 13 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 2 top-five finishes
  • 4 top-10 finishes
  • 12 laps led
GREAT CLIPS: This weekend at Chicagoland Speedway, Kasey Kahne will pilot the No. 5 Great Clips Strong Against Cancer Chevrolet SS. The longtime Hendrick Motorsports partner will also adorn the No. 5 machine at Texas Motor Speedway and the season-ending finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In last year’s race at Chicagoland, Kahne ended the day with a seventh-place finish. His highest finishes at the Joliet, Illinois, track are two third-place results.

MEET WYATT: Kahne’s No. 5 Chevrolet SS will have a different look this weekend at Chicagoland. Children from Seattle Children’s Hospital’s Strong Against Cancer initiative, in conjunction with Great Clips, had the opportunity to create a design for Kahne’s car this weekend. The three finalists went before a fan vote, with 9-year-old Wyatt, from Washington, receiving the most votes. Wyatt was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma in October 2016 after he woke up one morning with an egg-sized lump on his neck. Wyatt, his parents and siblings will all be attending this weekend’s event courtesy of Great Clips.

PLAYOFFS: After finishing 12th at Richmond Raceway last weekend, Kahne will begin the playoffs as the 13th seed among the 16 competitors vying for the championship. The first playoff round goes until the Oct. 1 race at Dover International Speedway. Kahne will need to be in the 12th points position following the checkered flag at the “Monster Mile” in order to continue on in his quest for the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series championship. It marks Kahne’s first time in the 10-race playoffs since the 2014 season.

CHICAGO LOOP DATA: According to NASCAR’s loop data since 2005, Kahne is first in the closers category with 20 positions gained during the last 10 percent of those races. Additionally, the 37-year-old ranks ninth in fastest laps run at Chicagoland with 78.

No. 24 NAPA Brakes Chevrolet SS / Chase Elliott

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

2017 Season

  • 10th in standings
  • 26 starts
  • 0 race wins
  • 2 stage wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 6 top-five finishes
  • 14 top-10 finishes
  • 184 laps led

Career

  • 67 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 3 pole positions
  • 16 top-five finishes
  • 31 top-10 finishes
  • 542 laps led

Track Career 

  • 1 start
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 1 top-five finish
  • 1 top-10 finish
  • 75 laps led
NAPA BRAKES: This weekend at Chicagoland Speedway, Chase Elliott will pilot the No. 24 NAPA Brakes Chevrolet SS for the second time this season. Elliott most recently raced the scheme at Richmond Raceway in April. Now through Sept. 30, save up to $50 on your favorite sports team apparel and merchandise from Fanatics.com with qualifying brake pad and rotor purchases at participating NAPA AUTO PARTS stores.

PLAYOFF-BOUND: For the second consecutive season, Elliott has secured his spot in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. He will begin the playoffs as the 10th seed among the 16 competitors.In the regular season, the 21-year-old driver collected six top-five finishes, 14 top-10s and the pole award for the season-opening Daytona 500. In those 26 races, Elliott averaged a starting position of 10.4 and finishing position of 13.5.

CHICAGOLAND STATS: This weekend, Elliott will make his second Cup Series start at Chicagoland Speedway. In his 2016 start at the 1.5-mile track, Elliott qualified 14th and finished third after leading 75 laps. The Dawsonville, Georgia, native also has four NASCAR XFINITY Series starts at Chicago – collecting a win in his first start at the speedway in July 2014. In the four XFINITY starts he averaged a starting position of 7.5 and finishing position of 9.8

RICHMOND REWIND: Elliott started ninth in Saturday night’s 400-lap regular-season finale and used that position to score two additional points in Stage 1 by finishing ninth. The No. 24 Mountain Dew team slipped just outside the top 10 in Stage 2, finishing 12th after Elliott reported he may have charged too hard and overused his tires in the early laps of what ended up being a lengthy green-flag run throughout the 100-lap stage. The No. 24 team raced inside the top 20 for the remainder of the night and was able to climb to 10th when the checkered flag waved, securing his playoff berth for the second consecutive season.

SEE ELLIOTT IN CHICAGO: Elliott is scheduled to participate in NASCAR’s youth autograph session at the Chicagoland display in the midway of the racetrack on Sunday, Sept. 17, beginning at 10:30 a.m. local time.

No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS / Jimmie Johnson

Driver Jimmie Johnson   Hometown El Cajon, California
Age 41                             Resides Charlotte, North Carolina

2017 Season

  • 5th in standings
  • 26 starts
  • 3 race wins
  • 1 stage win
  • 0 pole positions
  • 3 top-five finishes
  • 8 top-10 finishes
  • 188 laps led

Career

  • 569 starts
  • 83 wins
  • 35 pole positions
  • 221 top-five finishes
  • 338 top-10 finishes
  • 18,634 laps led

Track Career 

  • 15 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 2 pole positions
  • 7 top-five finishes
  • 10 top-10 finishes
  • 695 laps led
TESTED AT CHICAGO: Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team spent two days testing at Chicagoland Speedway in August to help Hendrick Motorsports prepare for the playoff-opening event.

CHICAGO DRIVER RATING: According to NASCAR’s loop data statistics, Johnson has the second-best driver rating at Chicagoland with a score of 90.3 since 2005. 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 and is used pre-race as a prediction tool and post-race as a performance evaluator.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MR. JOHNSON: El Cajon, California, native Johnson will celebrate his 42nd birthday on Sunday, Sept. 17.

WINLESS IN THE WINDY CITY: Even though Johnson and the No. 48 Lowe’s team have led 695 laps at Chicago and own seven top-five finishes, the 1.5-mile track remains one of the three venues on the current NASCAR Cup schedule where Johnson has yet to score a win. The others are Kentucky and Watkins Glen.

BRISTOL BOUND: On Thursday, Sept. 14, Johnson will head to ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut, for NASCAR playoff media and to help promote the sport over the next 10 weeks en route to the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series championship.

PLAYOFF-BOUND: With Johnson’s three wins this season, he is currently seeded fifth in the NASCAR playoffs grid with 17 playoff points. He is the only driver who has made the NASCAR Cup Series’ postseason playoff system every year of its existence.

KNAUS FROM NEARBY ROCKFORD: No. 48 team crew chief Chad Knaus was born and raised in Rockford, Illinois, approximately 106 miles north of Chicagoland Speedway. Knaus made a name for himself racing Late Model Stock cars at Rockford Speedway with his father, John. Knaus graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in Rockford.

STEERING WHEEL FOR A CAUSE: September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness and Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and Johnson honored fellow competitor Martin Truex Jr. and his longtime girlfriend Sherry Pollex — who is an ovarian cancer survivor — with a teal-and-gold-colored steering wheel last weekend at Richmond. The second annual “Drive for Teal & Gold” campaign is designed to raise awareness of and funds for ovarian (teal ribbon) and childhood (gold ribbon) cancers. At the end of September, the autographed wheel will be available via online auction by the NASCAR Foundation to benefit the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation.

No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS / Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.   Hometown Kannapolis, North Carolina
Age 42                                Resides Mooresville, North Carolina

2017 Season

  • 22nd in standings
  • 26 starts
  • 0 race wins
  • 0 stage wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 1 top-five finish
  • 4 top-10 finishes
  • 37 laps led

Career

  • 621 starts
  • 26 wins
  • 14 pole positions
  • 149 top-five finishes
  • 256 top-10 finishes
  • 8,224 laps led

Track Career 

  • 15 starts
  • 1 win
  • 0 pole positions
  • 3 top-five finishes
  • 5 top-10 finishes
  • 123 laps led
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS, will be available to members of the media on Friday, Sept. 15, at 5 p.m. local time in the Chicagoland Speedway media center.

AXALTA ON THE NO. 88: This weekend’s race at Chicagoland Speedway will mark Axalta Coating System’s penultimate race as primary sponsor on the No. 88 Chevrolet SS for 2017. This season, Axalta colors have adorned the No. 88 Chevy for 11 races with Chicagoland making 12. The leading global supplier of liquid and powder coatings will close out the season with the final race at Homestead-Miami Speedway with a special red-and-black scheme. In 2018, Axalta will be a primary partner for both the No. 88 and the No. 24 teams at Hendrick Motorsports.

CHICAGOLAND STATS: In 15 NASCAR Cup Series starts at Chicago, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has one win, three top-five finishes and five top-10s. He has an average start there of 16.9 and an average finish of 15.3. His average running position (12.9) since 2005 ranks him ninth among active drivers, according to NASCAR’s loop data statistics. He has completed 97.4 percent of all the laps he’s attempted (3,903 of 4,008 total) and has led 123 laps at the 1.5-mile track. Per NASCAR’s stats, the driver of the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet ranks eighth among active competitors since 2005 in fastest laps run at Chicagoland with 79 laps. Earnhardt leads all active competitors in the green-flag passes category with 801 passes and ranks second in quality passes with 394. Quality passes are the number of times a driver passes another car that is running in the top 15 while under green-flag conditions.

WINDY CITY WIN: Earnhardt reached Victory Lane at Chicagoland Speedway on July 10, 2005. The then-30-year-old Earnhardt lined up 25th for the event and cracked the top 10 within the first 100 laps. He led the final 11 laps en route to securing the win.

PAWS CHICAGO SUPPLY DRIVE: Chicagoland Speedway has partnered with PAWS Chicago to pay tribute to Earnhardt’s career. Taking his love for his dogs into consideration, a donation drive will be held in his honor during the race weekend, Sept. 14-17. PAWS Chicago, the Midwest’s largest No Kill humane organization, finds homes for more than 5,100 animals each year. With the level of destruction and homelessness caused recently by hurricanes Harvey and Irma, animals are in need of emergency sheltering. To assist in the aftermath of these tragedies, PAWS Chicago has mobilized an ongoing rescue effort to evacuate animals from the impacted areas. With the influx of animals, the organization is in desperate need of wet dog and cat food and kitty litter. All supplies collected for the Chicago-based animal shelter will be donated in Earnhardt’s name. In addition to the physical donation generated by NASCAR’s loyal fan base, Chicagoland Speedway will also make a monetary contribution. For more, click here.

IVES’ BIRTHDAY: No. 88 team crew chief Greg Ives celebrates his 38th birthday on Wednesday, Sept. 13. The Bark River, Michigan, native grew up working with his father and older brother at the racetrack and spent eight years behind the wheel before finding his true calling under the hood. This is his third season atop the pit box with Earnhardt and the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet SS team.

TEAL SHOES: Earnhardt will wear teal shoes for the remainder of September before auctioning them off in support of ovarian cancer research online at http://www.ebay.com/usr/dalejrfoundation. For more, visit The Dale Jr. Foundation’s website.

Hendrick Motorsports

DISASTER RELIEF FUND: Hendrick Motorsports drivers Kasey Kahne, Chase Elliott, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. have launched a disaster relief fund with the goal of raising $500,000 in two weeks to support hurricane victims. The drivers, Hendrick Motorsports and Hendrick Automotive Group committed a combined $300,000 and are encouraging the public to join the effort. Visit HendrickRelief.org for more information and to donate.

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT CHICAGO: At Chicagoland Speedway, Hendrick Motorsports has two wins, four pole positions, 21 top-five finishes and 31 top-10s. Mark Martin most recently visited Victory Lane for the organization at the track in 2009.

ORGANIZATION STATS: To date, Hendrick Motorsports has totals of 12 championships, 249 race victories, 212 pole positions, 1,022 top-five finishes and 1,724 top-10 finishes in points-paying NASCAR Cup Series competition. Its teams have led 66,814 laps since 1984.

QUOTABLE / 

“I’m glad I’m in the playoffs this year and have an opportunity to see how far we can go. We just need to get the best results every week and make no mistakes and see where we end up. I think with everybody all-in, hopefully we can come out of nowhere and really make some noise throughout the next 10 races. We just need to do the best we possibly can, give a lot of effort and put a lot of time into it. If we do all of that I think we’ll get our best result and I’ll be happy with it.”

Kasey Kahne on making the playoffs

“Anything is possible. I know that everyone is really going to start pushing it next week and I hope our group is leading the pack when it comes to performance and the things that we need to do. Now is the time of the year to get in the right direction if we are going to do it. So, we will see.”

Chase Elliott on beginning the playoffs

“I feel like we have been talking about our summer slump a lot lately, but I am confident going into these next 10 races that the ‘slump’ is over. No one steps up to the challenge better than my No. 48 Lowe’s team. I’m looking forward to Chicago, we had a great test there and I’ve always wanted to give (No. 48 team crew chief) Chad (Knaus) a win at his home track.”

Jimmie Johnson on racing at Chicagoland

“We should’ve run well all year and gotten ourselves into the playoffs for all of our fans. I’m proud of how we did last weekend and I hope we can continue to run like that the rest of the year. Chicago should be a good track for us. One of our teammates went out there and tested, so we’ve got some information that we can look at. (No. 88 team crew chief) Greg (Ives) is going to be back. T-Mack (Travis Mack, served as interim crew chief last week at Richmond) is still there as a car chief. I told all my guys at the end of the race last week that this is the team that Greg needs underneath of him to be successful. All of these guys stepped up a little bit and we need to be that way all year long. We should be able to do this going forward, at least that’s what I think we’re capable of, so we’re going to keep working hard for these last 10 races.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. on entering the final stretch of the season

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