Dale Jr’s Legacy Involves More Than Just Driving

Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

When the checkered flag waves on Sunday evening at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career in then No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet will be over.

And though Earnhardt says he will run two or three NASCAR XFINITY Series races for his JR Motorsports team next season, his appearances behind the wheel will be few and far between.

Nevertheless, Earnhardt will maintain an enduring presence in the sport as he continues to provide opportunities to aspiring drivers. On Saturday at Homestead, three of his JRM drivers—on markedly different career arcs—will compete for the series championship.

Veteran Elliott Sadler, 42, Justin Allgaier, 31, and Sunoco rookie William Byron, 19, will race for the title against Richard Childress Racing’s Daniel Hemric in the Ford Eco-Boost 300. That Earnhardt has three quarters of the Championship 4 field under his roof is emblematic of his contribution to the sport as a team owner.

And though Earnhardt will have plenty to occupy his time in his final weekend as a Cup driver, he’ll immerse himself in the XFINITY race as soon as he finishes his post-practice debrief for the No. 88 Chevy.

“I’ll get a headset and come out to pit road and sit on the pit wall and watch the XFINITY race unfold,” Earnhardt said on Friday morning before opening Cup practice. “It’s really a proud moment for all of us, my sister (Kelley Earnhardt Miller) and everybody at JR Motorsports to have the opportunity to be here at the final race racing for a championship, whether it’s one car or three or four.

“There’s a lot of pride in that. We came close last year (with Sadler), and even when the checkered flag fell, the pride in my heart was the same as it was on the first lap. I just thought it was so special to be there.”

JR Motorsports has come light years since its 2005 debut at Homestead with driver Mark McFarland.

“We were kind of a patchwork of a ragtag crew, and we ran 20th all night, and we thought it was so awesome just to be there,” Earnhardt said.  “We were so proud to be in the race and just be competing. ‘There goes our car!’ It was awesome.

“So I don’t take that for granted, and I know how hard it is to be good and be competitive so there is a lot of pride that we are even in the position to win a championship. Hemric is a worthy opponent. I know RCR will put everything they have to give him the best opportunity.”

Three of the four Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series contenders also have driven for Earnhardt—Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick. Fellow Hendrick driver Chase Elliott won the NASCAR XFINITY Series title for JRM in 2014.

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

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!

Chase Elliott: Win Or Bust

Chase Elliott
Unlike Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney or Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott doesn’t have a realistic chance to advance to the Championship 4 on points—and he knows it.

“Our task at hand is pretty simple,” said the driver of the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, who trails Keselowski by 49 points for the final spot at Homestead. “We have to win the race to move on next week. Everybody in here knows that. We know that and we are going to try to attack the weekend as best we can.

“Hopefully, give ourselves a chance to do that Sunday afternoon and see what happens. That’s pretty straightforward what we have to do with the situation we’re in now. It’s not the most ideal situation, but if you were able to pull it off, it would be a lot of momentum moving into next week. We’ll give it our best shot and see what happens.”

Elliott got off to a strong start on Friday afternoon with a fourth-place qualifying effort. He was second fastest behind Kevin Harvick in Saturday’s first practice session but dropped to 17th in Happy Hour when the one-mile track at Phoenix Raceway got hotter and slicker—closer to the conditions he’ll face in Sunday’s Can-Am 500.

Elliott was within four laps of winning the opening race in the Playoff’s Round of 8 at Martinsville when Hamlin drove him into the Turn 3 wall. But Elliott would prefer not to dwell on what might have been.

“You can play the game of ‘what if’s,’ but unfortunately for our circumstances, this is a sport of do’s and don’ts and we have not,” Elliott said. “I’ve said that before. It’s just the facts. What happened last week or a month ago or the beginning of the season or having an opportunity to win and not—it’s nothing you can change now.

“I think you just have to understand whatever position that you’re in and hope that you learn something from that experience to know that, if you’re ever in that position again, you can change the outcome.”

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

Elliott Faces A Must Win At Phoenix

Chase Elliott

Chase Elliott knows firsthand how quickly one’s fortunes can change in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.

The driver of the No. 24 was three laps away from a win at Martinsville two weeks ago – a win that would’ve automatically clinched him a spot in the Championship 4 – when he was wrecked out of the lead thanks to a “punt” from Denny Hamlin.

Now, only one Championship 4 berth remains after Kyle Busch won his way in at Martinsville, Kevin Harvick advanced with a victory at Texas and Martin Truex Jr. clinched via points in the Lone Star State.

Elliott enters Sunday’s Can-Am 500 Playoff cutoff event at Phoenix Raceway (2:30 p.m. ET on NBC) 49 points behind Brad Keselowski for the final Championship 4 berth, virtually needing a victory to earn the final bid.

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

The 21-year-old Dawsonville, Georgia native proved he can win at Phoenix in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ visit to the one-mile track in March. Elliott led 106 laps and won the second stage before finishing 12th due to some shuffling on a late restart.

In his two previous starts at Phoenix, Elliott finished eighth (March 2016) and ninth (November 2016). His average finish in three career Phoenix starts is 9.7.

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

Hendrick Motorsports Previews The Can-Am 500

PHOENIX INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY (ONE-MILE OVAL)

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

No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS / Kasey Kahne

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

2017 Season

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

Career

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

Track Career 

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

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

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

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

No. 24 Hooters Chevrolet SS / Chase Elliott

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

2017 Season

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

Career

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

Track Career 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS / Jimmie Johnson

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

2017 Season

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

Career

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

Track Career 

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

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

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

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

PHOENIX STATS: According to NASCAR loop data since 2005, Johnson has the series-best driver rating at Phoenix with a score of 111.0. The driver rating is a formula that combines wins, top-15 finishes, average running position while on the lead lap, average speed under green, fastest lap, most laps led and lead-lap finishes. The maximum a driver can earn in each race is 150 points. The driver rating number is used pre-race as a prediction tool and post-race as a performance evaluator.

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

No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS / Dale Earnhardt Jr.

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

2017 Season

  • 22nd in standings
  • 34 starts
  • 0 race wins
  • 0 stage wins
  • 2 pole positions
  • 1 top-five finish
  • 7 top-10 finishes
  • 47 laps led

Career

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

Track Career 

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

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

STATISTICALLY SPEAKING: Earnhardt, a three-time winner at Phoenix, has experienced a resurgence lately at the short track. In his last eight races at the facility, the driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS has earned one win, five top-five finishes and six top-10s. The only one of those eight events in which he finished outside of the top 15 was when the series visited the short track in March 2015 and a blown right-rear tire ended his day on Lap 180. Earnhardt is ranked 11th among all active competitors with a driver rating of 88.6 from 2005-2017. The driver rating is a formula that combines wins, top-15 finishes, average running position while on the lead lap, average speed under green, fastest lap, most laps led and lead-lap finishes. The maximum a driver can earn in each race is 150 points. He ranks fourth among his competitors for completing the most green-flag passes since 2005 with 977, fifth in fastest laps run with 278 and seventh in laps led with 259.

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

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

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

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

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

Hendrick Motorsports

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

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

QUOTABLE / 

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

Chase Elliott on what makes Phoenix unique

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

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

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

Jimmie Johnson on racing at Phoenix

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

Dale Earnhardt Jr. on racing at Phoenix

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

Chase Elliott Looks To Rebound At Texas

Chase Elliott
No one was more disappointed following last Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of 8 opener at Martinsville Speedway than Chase Elliott.

The No. 24 driver held the lead at the Southern Virginia short track with three laps to go and looked well on his way to his first career win and a berth in the Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Then, Denny Hamlin drilled Elliott’s back bumper, sent him crashing into the wall, and ended his day.

“We had a great car today and we had an opportunity,” said Elliott after furiously confronting Hamlin following the race. “We had a good restart there at the end and felt like I was doing what I needed to do. And I can’t control his decisions and whatever the hell that was. We’re on to Texas.”

On to Texas Motor Speedway Elliott will go for Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 – the penultimate race of the Round of 8. As a result of the Martinsville wreck, Elliott dropped to eighth on the Playoff Grid, 26 points below Kevin Harvick on the cutoff line. He essentially has to win one of the next two races – at Texas or Phoenix – to compete for the championship at Homestead.

In three starts at Texas, Elliott has finished fifth (spring 2016), fourth (fall 2016) and ninth (spring 2017). His 9.6 average running position at the 1.5-mile track ranks second among active drivers.

Elliott has finished fourth or better in the last four Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races at 1.5-mile tracks: third at Kentucky, second at Chicago, second at Charlotte and fourth at Kansas.

“Looking forward to getting back to Texas – it’s a fun place to go,” Elliott said. “I enjoy going there and after the good runs we had there last season, I’m definitely looking forward to returning. In the spring we had a pretty good car, our teammate won, so good things to look back to for that race when we go back.”

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

HMS Shows Off Its New Look For Texas

TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY (1.5-MILE OVAL)

LOCATION: FORT WORTH, TEXAS
EVENT: NASCAR CUP SERIES (RACE 34 OF 36)
TUNE IN: 2 P.M. ET, SUNDAY, NOV. 5 (NBCSN/PRN/SIRIUSXM)

No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet SS / Kasey Kahne

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

2017 Season

  • 11th in standings
  • 33 starts
  • 1 race win
  • 0 stage wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 3 top-five finishes
  • 6 top-10 finishes
  • 38 laps led

Career

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

Track Career 

  • 26 starts
  • 1 win
  • 1 pole position
  • 5 top-five finishes
  • 9 top-10 finishes
  • 224 laps led
GREAT CLIPS: This weekend at Texas Motor Speedway, Kasey Kahne’s No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet SS will sport a different look, promoting the new Warner Bros. movie, “Justice League,” which debuts in theaters Nov. 17. Kahne’s Chevy features three heroes including Wonder Woman and The Flash.

KAHNE AT TEXAS: In just his fourth start at Texas Motor Speedway, Kahne swept the weekend. He earned the pole for the April 2006 race with a speed of 190.315 mph and went on to visit Victory Lane with a margin of victory of 5.229 seconds. The 37-year-old has led 224 laps throughout five races, which ranks him ninth among active drivers for laps led at the 1.5-mile track. Since joining Hendrick Motorsports in 2012, Kahne has earned five top-10 finishes and a pair of 11th-place results while driving the No. 5 machine. Overall, the driver has an average starting position of 14.4 and an average finishing position of 18.2 at the Forth Worth, Texas, track.

TEXAS LOOP DATA: According to NASCAR’s loop data since 2005, Kahne is sixth in fastest laps run with 279, green-flag passes with 1,806 and quality passes with 872. 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 Enumclaw, Washington, native is seventh in laps spent in the top 15 with 5,216 and ninth in green-flag speed.

CREW CHIEF WINS: Darian Grubb — Kahne’s crew chief since September’s New Hampshire weekend — has one win at Texas. He entered Victory Lane with Tony Stewart in the 2011 fall race. The Floyd, Virginia, native’s 23 wins tie him for the third-most among active crew chiefs in the NASCAR Cup Series.

No. 24 Hooters Chevrolet SS / Chase Elliott

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

2017 Season

  • 8th in standings
  • 33 starts
  • 0 race wins
  • 3 stage wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 10 top-five finishes
  • 18 top-10 finishes
  • 525 laps led

Career

  • 74 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 3 pole positions
  • 20 top-five finishes
  • 35 top-10 finishes
  • 883 laps led

Track Career 

  • 3 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 2 top-five finishes
  • 3 top-10 finishes
  • 4 laps led
Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 24 Hooters Chevrolet SS, will be available to members of the media on Friday, Nov. 3, at 10:45 a.m. local time in the Texas Motor Speedway media center.

HOOTERS CHEVROLET: For the second time this season, the orange-and-white Hooters paint scheme will adorn the hood of the No. 24 Chevrolet SS this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. A casual dining establishment with a deep history in NASCAR, the Atlanta-based company will be a three-race primary sponsor of the No. 24 team in the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series season. Chase Elliott will also pilot the No. 24 Hooters Chevrolet SS next weekend at Phoenix International Raceway.

LONE STAR STATE STATS: The Dawsonville, Georgia, native is set to make his fourth NASCAR Cup Series start at Texas Motor Speedway this weekend. Elliott has collected top-10 finishes in his three previous starts at the 1.5-mile oval. The driver of the No. 24 averages a starting position of 16.0 and finishing position of 6.0. Elliott collected his first career NASCAR XFINITY Series victory at the 1.5-mile speedway in April 2014. In his five XFINITY Series starts there, he has accumulated three top-five finishes and five top-10s, led 38 laps and completed 100 percent of the 1,000 possible laps while averaging a starting position of 10.4 and finishing position of 5.0.

PLAYOFF STANDINGS: Elliott is currently eighth in the NASCAR Cup Series playoff standings — 26 points behind fourth, the final position moving on to the Championship 4 — as the series heads to Texas Motor Speedway for the second of three races in the Round of 8.

MARTINSVILLE REWIND: Elliott led four different times for a total of 123 laps in last Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway. The No. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS driver ultimately finished 27th after being spun by a competitor while leading with less than five laps remaining.

CHASE U: Elliott has partnered with Texas Motor Speedway to bring a unique race-day experience to college students called Chase University, better known as Chase U. Chase U is the official college tailgate party for the Texas 500 featuring free food from Hooters and an appearance by the driver of the No. 24 Hooters Chevrolet himself. Get a race ticket to Sunday’s event and access to the Chase U tailgate for only $24 here.

ELLIOTT IN TEXAS: On Friday, Nov. 3, the 21-year-old driver will head out to Hooters of downtown Fort Worth, Texas, at 6 p.m. local time to take pictures and sign autographs for the first 100 guests through the door. Elliott will appear at the Team Chevy Stage on Sunday, Nov. 5, at 10:10 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

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

Career

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

Track Career 

  • 28 starts
  • 7 wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 15 top-five finishes
  • 21 top-10 finishes
  • 1,041 laps led
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS, will be available to members of the media on Friday, Nov. 3, at 11:15 a.m. local time in the Texas Motor Speedway media center.

PLAYOFF PICTURE: In last weekend’s event at Martinsville Speedway, Jimmie Johnson secured a 12th-place finish after starting in the rear of the field due to a spin in qualifying. Throughout the race, Johnson led 24 laps, placing fourth and 10th in the first two stages. He fought the handling of the Lowe’s Chevy late in the race and fell to 17th, being scored a lap down. Johnson received the free pass during a late-race caution and was able to make up some positions, but was caught up in an incident on the final lap and finished 12th. He is now fifth in the point standings, just three points behind the fourth-place driver, with two races remaining in the Round of 8.

MAINTENANCE SUPPLY HEADQUARTERS: This weekend, Houston-based Maintenance Supply Headquarters, the newest member of the Lowe’s Pro Services family, will be featured behind the rear wheel of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet. Other vendors featured this year have included Hitachi, A.O. Smith, SharkBite and Marshalltown.

TEXAS STATS: According to NASCAR’s loop data since 2005, Johnson has the series-best driver rating at Texas Motor Speedway with a score of 107.3. 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.

SPRING WINNER AND LAP LEADER: The last time out at Texas, Johnson started 24th and led 18 laps to take the checkered flag for his seventh victory at the track. Johnson’s 1,041 laps led at Texas are the most among active drivers.

HOMESTEAD TESTING: Johnson and the No. 48 team participated in a two-day test session last week at Homestead-Miami Speedway in preparation for the 2017 season finale.

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

Career

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

Track Career 

  • 29 starts
  • 1 win
  • 2 pole positions
  • 7 top-five finishes
  • 18 top-10 finishes
  • 448 laps led
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, will be available to members of the media on Friday, Nov. 3, at 10 a.m. local time in the Texas Motor Speedway media center.

JUSTICE LEAGUE: In addition to teammate Kasey Kahne, Dale Earnhardt Jr. will also have a special paint scheme on his Chevrolet this weekend. Both cars are inspired by characters from the new Warner Bros. movie, “Justice League,” in theaters Nov. 17. “Justice League” heroes Batman, Cyborg and Aquaman will adorn the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.

STRONG AT TEXAS: Earnhardt hasn’t finished outside of the top six in the last five races he has run at Texas Motor Speedway. While the driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS hasn’t been to Victory Lane since winning his first NASCAR Cup Series race in his first start at the Fort Worth, Texas, track on April 2, 2000, at age 25, he earned a runner-up finish in last year’s spring race and finished fifth in his most recent trip to the facility earlier this year. The 43-year-old driver has two poles at the Lone Star State track, earning the top starting spot in April 2001 and in April 2008, his first pole with Hendrick Motorsports.

QUALITY PASSES AND STATS: Earnhardt leads all active drivers since 2005 in the quality passes category per NASCAR’s loop data statistics. Quality passes are the number of times a driver passes another car that is running in the top 15 while under green flag conditions. He has recorded 1,018 quality passes at Texas, 75 more than the next closest driver. Earnhardt has the sixth-best driver rating with a 93.6 average. 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 ranks third in the number of laps spent in the top 15 with 6,075 and he holds a solid ranking in several of the speed categories: average running position (sixth – 12.302), fastest laps run (fourth – 328) and green-flag speed (fifth – 173.888 mph).

TEXAS MOTORSPORTS HOF: Earnhardt will become the 19th member inducted into the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame when he is honored during a special ceremony held in The Grand Ballroom of The Speedway Club on Saturday, Nov. 4. The driver took an immediate liking to Texas Motor Speedway, earning his first career XFINITY Series win on April 4, 1998, at the 1.5-mile speedway. Nearly two years later to the day Earnhardt would strike again, winning his first Cup Series race on April 2, 2000, to become the first Cup rookie driver to win at Texas. The Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame ceremony serves as a major fundraiser for Speedway Children’s Charities-Texas. Tickets were appropriately priced at $88 to reflect Earnhardt’s iconic Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet, and the event has sold out. For more, click here.

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

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

Darian Grubb Named William Byron’s Crew Chief For 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

DARIAN GRUBB NAMED CREW CHIEF OF NO. 24 TEAM IN 2018

CONCORD, N.C. (Nov. 1, 2017) – Hendrick Motorsports has named veteran crew chief Darian Grubb to lead the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 team of driver William Byron, who will make his NASCAR Cup Series debut in 2018 and compete for rookie of the year honors.

Grubb, 42, led Tony Stewart to the 2011 Cup championship and has posted 23 total victories in the series, which ties him for third among active full-time crew chiefs. He has recorded 18 pole positions, 72 top-five finishes and 132 top-10s in his career atop the pit box.

“This is our last major piece of the puzzle for next season,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. “Darian is an all-around terrific person and a proven winner. The experience and leadership he brings will be a difference-maker for William and everyone on the team. He has a clear vision for the future and already is plugged in with our other crew chiefs. He’s a great fit.”

The Grubb-Byron combination fills out the 2018 Hendrick Motorsports lineup, which includes the crew chief and driver pairings of Alan Gustafson with Chase Elliott, seven-time champions Chad Knaus and Jimmie Johnson, and Greg Ives leading newcomer Alex Bowman.

“The opportunity to work with William and the No. 24 team is big,” said Grubb, a native of Floyd, Virginia, with a mechanical engineering degree from Virginia Tech. “William is a phenomenal young driver and already a great communicator in the race car. I’m looking forward to building a strong relationship with him and working with Alan, Chad, Greg and all of our talented people. Everyone on the team will be committed to continuing the winning tradition of the No. 24.”

Hendrick Motorsports announced in August that Byron, who is currently second in the NASCAR XFINITY Series playoff standings, will drive the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in the NASCAR Cup Series beginning in 2018. The 19-year-old Charlotte, North Carolina, native has three wins this year as an XFINITY Series rookie.

“I have so much respect for Darian and everything he’s accomplished in this sport,” Byron said. “There aren’t many people with a résumé like his, and I will definitely tap into that knowledge from day one. He knows how to win races and win championships. To have that kind of person leading the No. 24 team gives me a ton of confidence about what we can all do together.”

Grubb originally joined Hendrick Motorsports in January 2003. He served as the lead race engineer for the No. 48 Chevrolet and driver Johnson from 2003-2006, including four races as interim crew chief during the team’s 2006 championship season. Grubb earned one win in 2007 as crew chief for Casey Mears before being named engineering manager for the Nos. 5 and 88 Hendrick Motorsports teams for 2008.

In 2009, Grubb moved into a crew chief role at Stewart-Haas Racing, where in three seasons with driver Stewart he won 11 races and the 2011 Cup Series title. He then joined Joe Gibbs Racing, recording nine total victories from 2012-2015 as crew chief for drivers Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards. Grubb rejoined Hendrick Motorsports in January 2016 to oversee race car manufacturing as vehicle production director and was recently promoted to director of competition systems.

Last month, Grubb was named crew chief for the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports team for the remaining nine races of the 2017 season. In 2018, the No. 24 team will be fielded by the current No. 5 team.

ABOUT HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS:
Founded by Rick Hendrick in 1984, Hendrick Motorsports has earned 249 points-paying race victories and a record 12 car owner championships in the premier NASCAR Cup Series. The organization fields four full-time Chevrolet teams on the Cup circuit with drivers Kasey Kahne, Chase Elliott, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Headquartered in Concord, North Carolina, Hendrick Motorsports employs more than 600 people. For more information, please visit HendrickMotorsports.com or interact on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

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

Jimmie Johnson Knows That He Must Win A Race To Get To Homestead

Jimmie Johnson
Although he’s tied in points with Kevin Harvick for the final transfer spot to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Jimmie Johnson feels a higher sense of urgency due to the addition of playoff points to the postseason format.

“It’s not back to zero with all those stage points,” Johnson said. “For us to advance moving forward, we’ve got to win.”

Johnson’s best shot at victory in the Round of 8 is likely Sunday’s round-opening First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway. The No. 48 Chevrolet driver leads active drivers with nine checkered flags at the Southern Virginia short track and is the defending race winner.

In addition to his nine Martinsville wins, Johnson boasts 19 top fives, 24 top 10s and a series-best 7.5 average finish at Martinsville. He also leads active drivers at “The Paperclip” in driver rating (116.9) and average running position (8.0).

Johnson won last year’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship and is chasing a record eighth series title. He is tied with Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty for the most championships in series history.

“Martinsville is not a bad track for us, so hopefully we can repeat last year’s performance there,” Johnson said. “It’s pretty simple from here on out, we’ve got to get some speed in our cars and we’ve got to win a race.”

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

Hendrick Motortsports Previews The First Data 500 At Martinsville

MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY (0.526-MILE OVAL)

LOCATION: RIDGEWAY, VIRGINIA
EVENT: NASCAR CUP SERIES (RACE 33 OF 36)
TUNE IN: 3 P.M. ET, SUNDAY, OCT. 29 (NBCSN/MRN/SIRIUSXM)

No. 5 UniFirst Chevrolet SS / Kasey Kahne

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

2017 Season

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

Career

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

Track Career 

  • 27 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 3 top-five finishes
  • 5 top-10 finishes
  • 60 laps led
UNIFIRST: The green-and-white colors of UniFirst return to Kasey Kahne’s No. 5 Chevrolet SS for the second consecutive weekend at Martinsville Speedway. UniFirst signed an eight-year agreement with Hendrick Motorsports in 2016 to be the organization’s official workwear provider. Martinsville marks the workwear and textile service company’s final primary race of this season.

KAHNE AT MARTINSVILLE: Kahne has one pole award at Martinsville in his first start at the 0.526-mile track for Hendrick Motorsports. In 2012, he edged Kevin Harvick to earn the top starting position after posting a 19.496-second lap. In April 2016, the 37-year-old started on the outside pole with a lap time of 19.515 seconds, just 0.002 shy of the pole-winning time. In Kahne’s 11 starts with Hendrick Motorsports at the paperclip-shaped track, he has earned three top-10s and a pair of 11th-place finishes. Throughout his Cup Series career, Kahne has led 60 laps at the Ridgeway, Virginia, track, which ranks him 14th among active drivers.

SHORT-TRACK STATS: In Kahne’s 83 starts at tracks less than one mile in length, he has 13 top-five finishes and 25 top-10s, earning an average starting position of 15.0 and an average finishing position of 18.2. The Chevy driver has also led 853 laps in his NASCAR Cup Series career at short tracks.

MARTINSVILLE LOOP DATA: According to NASCAR’s loop data since 2005, Kahne is fourth in the closers category with 22 positions gained over the last 10 percent of the race. The Enumclaw, Washington, native is ninth in fastest laps run with 283 and green-flag passes with 1,167.

GOING HOME: No. 5 team crew chief Darian Grubb returns to his home state of Virginia this weekend. Grubb is a native of Floyd, Virginia, which is located approximately one hour northwest of Martinsville Speedway. The 42-year-old is a graduate of Virginia Tech with an engineering degree. Grubb has been Kahne’s crew chief since September’s New Hampshire race and has accumulated 23 wins in the NASCAR Cup Series, which ties for third-most among active crew chiefs.

No. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet SS / Chase Elliott

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

2017 Season

  • 8th in standings
  • 32 starts
  • 0 race wins
  • 3 stage wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 10 top-five finishes
  • 18 top-10 finishes
  • 402 laps led

Career

  • 73 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 3 pole positions
  • 20 top-five finishes
  • 35 top-10 finishes
  • 760 laps led

Track Career 

  • 4 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 1 top-five finish
  • 1 top-10 finish
  • 20 laps led
NAPA AUTO PARTS CHEVROLET: This weekend at Martinsville Speedway, the familiar blue-and-yellow colors will once again grace the hood of the No. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS 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 fourth-place finish at Kansas Speedway.

MARTINSVILLE STATS: Elliott is set to make his fifth start at the 0.526-mile speedway on Sunday. In his four previous starts at the Virginia track, Elliott averages a starting position of 11.0 and finishing position of 18.2. At Martinsville in March, the second-year driver collected a stage win and led 20 laps en route to a third-place result — his best career finish at the track. The same weekend, Elliott also earned his second career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory after starting from the pole and leading 92 laps.

KANSAS RECAP: Elliott started 14th in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Round of 12 cut-off race at Kansas Speedway and picked up crucial points by finishing seventh in Stage 1 and ninth in Stage 2. The Dawsonville, Georgia, native took the checkered flag in fourth for his 10th top-five finish of the season, advancing the No. 24 team to the Round of 8 in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.

PLAYOFF STANDINGS: With the fourth-place finish at Kansas Speedway propelling the No. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS team forward in the playoffs, Elliott enters the Round of 8 just 11 points behind fourth place, which will be the final position that advances to Homestead-Miami Speedway.

TESTING: Before Talladega race weekend, Elliott and the No. 24 team represented Hendrick Motorsports at a Martinsville tire test on Oct. 10-11. Elliott, who clocked laps on both Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon, said the test was very beneficial to the No. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS team.

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

Career

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

Track Career 

  • 31 starts
  • 9 wins
  • 3 pole positions
  • 19 top-five finishes
  • 24 top-10 finishes
  • 2,838 laps led
PLAYOFF PICTURE: Last weekend’s race at Kansas Speedway came down to the wire from a points perspective and despite spinning out twice during the race, Jimmie Johnson was able to advance to the Round of 8. Johnson has a combined 20 wins at Martinsville, Texas and Phoenix, the three race venues in the Round of 8. He was also a winner one year ago at Martinsville — where he clinched his position in the 2016 Championship 4 — and won the Texas event earlier this season.

MARTINSVILLE STATS: According to NASCAR’s loop data since 2005, Johnson has the series-best driver rating at Martinsville Speedway with a score of 116.9. 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.

LAP LEADER: Johnson’s 2,838 laps led at Martinsville Speedway are the most among active drivers. The number ranks him fifth all-time at the paperclip-shaped oval.

ONE YEAR AGO: Johnson punched his ticket into the championship round of the 2016 NASCAR playoffs on Oct. 30 when he won for the ninth time at Martinsville. Johnson led 92 laps that day and went on to win his seventh NASCAR Cup Series championship three weeks later at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

MASTERING ‘THE PAPERCLIP’: Richard Petty leads all drivers with 15 career victories at the paperclip-shaped track. Johnson has the most wins among active drivers with nine victories. Former teammate Jeff Gordon also has nine wins. Additionally, Johnson is the most recent driver to win consecutive races (fall 2012 and spring 2013) at Martinsville. He has won the fall race at the track in four of his seven championship seasons.

HOMESTEAD TESTING: Johnson and the No. 48 team are representing the Hendrick Motorsports organization at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the test session on Oct. 25-26 in preparation for next month’s season finale.

PINK HAT FOR OCTOBER: Johnson has helped bring awareness and recognition of those who are fighting breast cancer by wearing a gray hat with pink accents for the month of October. He will don it for the final time in 2017 this weekend at Martinsville. 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
  • 32 starts
  • 0 race wins
  • 0 stage wins
  • 2 pole positions
  • 1 top-five finish
  • 7 top-10 finishes
  • 44 laps led

Career

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

Track Career 

  • 34 starts
  • 1 win
  • 0 pole positions
  • 13 top-five finishes
  • 18 top-10 finishes
  • 972 laps led
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, will be available to members of the media on Saturday, Oct. 28, at 10:30 a.m. local time in the Martinsville Speedway media center.

ANOTHER CLOCK: Dale Earnhardt Jr. earned his first victory at the historic 0.526-mile Martinsville Speedway on Oct. 26, 2014. He held off former teammate and nine-time Martinsville winner Jeff Gordon to score the win, taking home the iconic grandfather clock that the speedway gives as its trophy. In the last 12 races at the paperclip-shaped oval, Earnhardt has earned five top-five finishes and seven top-10 results, which bodes well for the 43-year-old veteran’s chances to capture his second grandfather clock this weekend.

MAKING PASSES: Earnhardt is one of the best drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series at Martinsville, and NASCAR’s loop data since 2005 backs up that claim. He ranks first among active drivers in green-flag passes (1,450) and second to teammate Jimmie Johnson – by just six passes – in quality passes (864 to Johnson’s 870). Earnhardt ranks fourth among all active competitors with an average driver rating of 97.8 at the track. 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 of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS ranks fourth in several categories, including average running position (12.050), fastest laps run (586), laps in the top 15 (8,769) and green-flag speed (91.210 mph).

GREY GHOST RETURNS: Fitting with the JR Nation Appreci88ion Tour theme, Nationwide gave fans the chance to pick Earnhardt’s paint scheme for this weekend’s race at Martinsville. When the votes were tallied, fans selected the “Grey Ghost” as the No. 88’s scheme – fitting for Halloween weekend considering the orange and black colors. In 2016, Earnhardt was scheduled to run the sleek, silver scheme on his No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet for the throwback race at Darlington Raceway, but Jeff Gordon ended up filling in as Earnhardt missed the final half of the season due to a concussion. It’s only fitting that Earnhardt will get to race one of his all-time favorite schemes before he retires from full-time Cup Series racing.

AMY PACING THE FIELD: Earnhardt will be making his final Cup start at Martinsville while his wife, Amy, will lead the field to the green. She will serve as the Honorary Pace Car Driver for Martinsville Speedway on Sunday, which will be her first time behind the wheel of the pace car.

DEW AD SPOTS: After releasing a poignant ad spot last week, Mountain Dew’s newest promo takes a humorous approach to Earnhardt’s pending retirement as the driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet SS for Hendrick Motorsports. Follow @DaleJron Twitter to see the release of the spot this Thursday, which is also scheduled to run on television during Sunday’s race at Martinsville as well as during Game 5 of the MLB World Series.

Hendrick Motorsports

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT MARTINSVILLE: At Martinsville, Hendrick Motorsports has team records for wins (24), top-five finishes (78), top-10s (122) and laps led (9,094) at a track and has earned at least one win there in each of the past five years.The combined 17 poles at the Virginia track are tied with Charlotte, Daytona and Richmond for the organization’s most at a track.

FIVE MAKE 24: The organization’s 24 wins at Martinsville have come courtesy of five different drivers: Jimmie Johnson (nine), Jeff Gordon (nine), Darrell Waltrip (four), Geoff Bodine and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

ORGANIZATION STATS: To date, Hendrick Motorsports has totals of 12 championships, 249 race victories, 213 pole positions, 1,027 top-five finishes and 1,736 top-10 finishes in points-paying NASCAR Cup Series competition. Its teams have led 67,051 laps since 1984.

QUOTABLE / 

“To win at Martinsville would be such a challenge. To be able to put 500 laps together and win the race there – to me, it’s one of our most difficult races of the year because so much can go on between restarts, pitting and just having a car that handles the proper way to get to the finish and to be fast enough to win. There are guys who have been so strong at that track and others who aren’t and I’m somewhere in the middle. It would be really, really neat to win the race there and get the clock and figure out where to put it because it’s so big.”

Kasey Kahne on racing at Martinsville

“I hope this past time wasn’t just a lucky weekend. Martinsville has been a disaster for me, so this past time was really good. Needed a little bit to run with the No. 18 and No. 2, but way improved from where I have been there in the past. I feel like I learned a couple of things. The tire did change, so I hope it wasn’t just the tire changing that made me kind of luck into running well. So, we will see.”

Chase Elliott on improving at Martinsville

“It’s not back to zero with all those stage points. For us to advance moving forward, we’ve got to win. Martinsville is not a bad track for us. So, hopefully we can repeat last year’s performance there. It’s pretty simple from here on out, we’ve got to get some speed in our cars and we’ve got to win a race.”

Jimmie Johnson on progressing in the Round of 8

“Martinsville this weekend should be a lot of fun. We’ve got the Grey Ghost – I appreciate everybody voting for that paint scheme so I can run it. I didn’t get to drive that car last year and I love that car, so I may have swayed the vote because I went on social media and said, ‘That’s the one I’d love to run.’ I’m excited to get the opportunity to drive that car this weekend. Martinsville is a great track for us. I love the short tracks and short-track racing.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. on racing the Grey Ghost scheme at Martinsville

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