Hendrick Motorsports Previews The Toyota/Save Mart 350

SONOMA RACEWAY (1.99-MILE ROAD COURSE)

LOCATION: SONOMA, CALIFORNIA
EVENT: NASCAR CUP SERIES (RACE 16 OF 36)
TUNE IN: 3 P.M. ET, SUNDAY, JUNE 25 (FS1/PRN/SIRIUSXM)

No. 5 Windows 10 Chevrolet SS / Kasey Kahne

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

2017 Season

  • 21st in standings
  • 15 starts
  • 0 race wins
  • 0 stage wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 2 top-five finishes
  • 3 top-10 finishes
  • 7 laps led

Career

  • 483 starts
  • 17 wins
  • 27 pole positions
  • 91 top-five finishes
  • 172 top-10 finishes
  • 4,614 laps led

Track Career 

  • 13 starts
  • 1 win
  • 2 pole positions
  • 2 top-five finishes
  • 6 top-10 finishes
  • 41 laps led
MICROSOFT AT SONOMA: This weekend at Sonoma Raceway, Kasey Kahne will pilot the No. 5 Windows 10 Chevrolet SS. The northern California track marks the first time the major technology partner of Hendrick Motorsports has adorned the No. 5 Chevrolet SS.

KAHNE AT SONOMA: In just his first seven starts at the wine country track, the Enumclaw, Washington, native earned two pole awards – 2008 and 2010 – and one win. Kahne won the 2009 race by leading 37 laps and taking the checkered flag with a 0.748-second margin of victory over Tony Stewart. Each of his last four starts at Sonoma have resulted in top-10 finishes, most recently a ninth-place result in last year’s race at the 1.99-mile track. In total, Kahne has led 41 laps throughout two races in his NASCAR Cup Series career at the 10-turn road course, which ranks him ninth among current drivers.

SONOMA LOOP DATA: According to NASCAR’s loop data since 2005, Kahne ranks second in green-flag passes with 718 and quality passes with 311. 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’s fifth in laps in the top 15 with 786 and ranks sixth in the fastest laps run category with 45. He’s 10th in driver rating with a high rating of 132.4. 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.

GOING HOME: Mechanic Charley McDonell, a longtime member of Kahne’s team, is the only California native on the No. 5 Windows 10 team. He hails from Cottonwood, California, which is located approximately three hours north of Sonoma Raceway.

No. 24 Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet SS / Chase Elliott

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

2017 Season

  • 5th in standings
  • 15 starts
  • 0 race wins
  • 2 stage wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 5 top-five finishes
  • 9 top-10 finishes
  • 169 laps led

Career

  • 56 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 3 pole positions
  • 15 top-five finishes
  • 26 top-10 finishes
  • 527 laps led

Track Career 

  • 1 start
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 0 top-five finishes
  • 0 top-10 finishes
  • 0 laps led
KELLEY BLUE BOOK CHEVROLET: This weekend at Sonoma Raceway, Chase Elliott will pilot the No. 24 Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet SS for the first time this season. Kelley Blue Book is the vehicle valuation and information source trusted and relied upon by both consumers and the automotive industry. Each week, the company provides the most market-reflective values in the industry on its top-rated website KBB.com, including its famous Blue Book Trade-In Values and Fair Purchase Price, which reports what others are paying for new and used cars this week. Kelley Blue Book extended its relationship with Hendrick Motorsports prior to the 2015 NASCAR Cup Series season. In addition to Sonoma, Kelley Blue Book is scheduled to be on the No. 24 Chevrolet SS later this season at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in September.

#CHASETHEEXPERT: Kelley Blue Book kicked off its Everyday Expert series on Monday with Elliott showing you how to ping pong like a pro. Kelley Blue Book’s video series will continue this weekend on its Facebook and Twitterchannels. Fans can tune in to watch Elliott try his hand at remote control cars, frisbee and more.

SONOMA STATS: The Dawsonville, Georgia, native is set to make his second Cup Series start at the 10-turn track this weekend. In his first Cup start at Sonoma last season, he qualified 16th and finished 21st. Elliott also got behind the wheel of the No. 24 Chevrolet in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race at Sonoma last season, starting from the pole position, leading nine laps and winning the 64-lap event.

MICHIGAN REWIND: Last weekend at Michigan, Elliott started 10th and maintained his top-10 position in Stages 1 and 2, finishing eighth and earning three bonus points in the first stage and taking the green-checkered flag ninth in second stage, claiming two additional bonus points. When the final stage began, Elliott restarted eighth and wasted no time moving his way inside the top five. A quick pit stop by the No. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS team put Elliott in position for a successful restart that allowed him to climb his way to third. Elliott continued to race inside the top five for the remainder of the race and when the final caution waved on Lap 192, he found himself running third. A masterful restart with five laps remaining allowed Elliott to take over second, where he would ultimately finish the race.

No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS / Jimmie Johnson

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

2017 Season

  • 8th in standings
  • 15 starts
  • 3 race wins
  • 0 stage wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 3 top-five finishes
  • 6 top-10 finishes
  • 172 laps led

Career

  • 558 starts
  • 83 wins
  • 35 pole positions
  • 221 top-five finishes
  • 336 top-10 finishes
  • 18,618 laps led

Track Career 

  • 15 starts
  • 1 win
  • 0 pole positions
  • 4 top-five finishes
  • 9 top-10 finishes
  • 131 laps led
ICYMI JOHNSON EXTENDS CONTRACT: Hendrick Motorsports and defending NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson announced last week that they have agreed to a three-year extension that will keep Johnson behind the wheel of the No. 48 Chevrolet SS through 2020. In addition, Lowe’s Companies Inc. has extended its longstanding relationship with Hendrick Motorsports after signing an agreement that will continue its full-season, 38-race primary sponsorship of Johnson and the No. 48 team through 2018. Click here to see some of Johnson’s “storybook” accomplishments.

ONE WIN IN SONOMA: Johnson has been able to sip wine in Victory Lane one time at Sonoma Raceway over the course of his career. His win at the 1.99-mile road course came on June 20, 2010, when he led 55 of 110 laps en route to the victory. In 2015, Johnson led 45 laps before finishing sixth.

SONOMA DRIVER RATING: According to NASCAR’s loop data statistics since 2005, Johnson has the second-best driver rating at Sonoma with an average score of 99.9 at the track during that span. 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.

CALIFORNIA CREW MEMBER: No. 48 team race engineer Julian Pena hails from Aliso Viejo, California, and graduated from Stanford University with a degree in mechanical engineering.

GUEST PHOTOGRAPHER: As part of an ongoing photography project designed to showcase life at the track with a unique perspective, Johnson has invited photographer Victor Cobian to Sonoma Raceway. Cobian is an up-and-coming photographer who was recommended for the program by Lyle Owerko, who photographed Johnson’s 2017 Daytona 500 weekend. As part of Johnson’s 2017 photography project, several amateur photographers will be invited to the track as a guest of Johnson and the 48 team with the potential to win a grant to further their art and photography career. With a social media takeover on Johnson’s handles (@JimmieJohnson on Instagram & Twitter, Jimmie Johnson on Facebook), Cobian’s work will be highlighted for all NASCAR fans to enjoy.

MALEC WINS AT ROAD AMERICA: No. 48 team car chief Ron Malec was absent from Michigan last week as he took his first weekend off of his NASCAR Cup Series career, which spans over 17 years. Instead, Malec spent his weekend at Road America, a road course racetrack in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, racing as a competitor in the Chicago Region SCCA June Sprints. Malec participated in two events, finishing second on Saturday and then winning the GT-1 class on Sunday.

No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS / Dale Earnhardt Jr.

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

2017 Season

  • 23rd in standings
  • 15 starts
  • 0 race wins
  • 0 stage wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 1 top-five finish
  • 3 top-10 finishes
  • 10 laps led

Career

  • 610 starts
  • 26 wins
  • 13 pole positions
  • 149 top-five finishes
  • 255 top-10 finishes
  • 8,197 laps led

Track Career 

  • 17 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 1 top-five finish
  • 2 top-10 finishes
  • 9 laps led
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS, will visit the Sonoma Raceway media center at 2:30 p.m. local time on Friday, June 23.

HEADING IN THE ‘RIGHT’ DIRECTION: Dale Earnhardt Jr. has mentioned time and again that he is not as confident on road courses as he is on the ovals that make up the bread-and-butter of the NASCAR Cup Series schedule. But, don’t let the 42-year-old veteran fool you – he has stepped up his game when it comes to tackling both left- and right-hand turns. In his first 14 starts at Sonoma Raceway, he never finished inside the top 10, although he did have six top-15 finishes. In his most recent three starts at the 10-turn, 1.99-mile road course, the driver of the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS has earned two top-10s, finishing third in 2014 and seventh in 2015. Last summer, he ran inside the top 10 for a majority of the race, but a late-race incident caused him to lose spots and he finished 13th. Earnhardt’s best start at Sonoma came in 2007 when he qualified third. He has finished on the lead lap in 14 of 17 races.

MAKING PASSES: Earnhardt is scored near the top of the board in making passes at the California road course, according to NASCAR’s loop data statistics, which cover active drivers in events from 2005 to the present. The Kannapolis, North Carolina, native ranks first in the green-flag passes category with 731 and he’s seventh on the quality passes list with 224. Earnhardt is 11th in fastest laps run (27), green-flag speed (89.754 mph) and laps spent in the top 15 (558).

AXALTA COLORS: The No. 88 Chevrolet SS will be back in the bright Axalta colors this weekend. It marks Axalta’s seventh of 13 races as the primary partner on Earnhardt’s Chevrolet this season.

NATIONWIDE PET PROMOTION: Earlier in June, Nationwide launched a social media sweepstakes encouraging pet owners to enter for a chance to have a photo of their pet featured on the TV panel of Earnhardt’s No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS during the Sept. 24 race weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. As Nationwide’s current ad campaign highlights, Earnhardt knows how important it is to insure and protect his “many sides” including his car, his small business and his home. He takes that same protective approach to his beloved dogs, Gus and Junebug. That’s where Nationwide pet insurance can come in handy, by helping defray costs of visits, treatments and, in case of a more serious disease, it will help cover the cost of surgical procedures. Pet owners can visit www.pawsandracing.com to learn more about Nationwide’s pet insurance and submit a photo of their pet(s) to enter to win a VIP race experience including travel, a meet & greet with Gus and Dale Jr. and their pet’s image will be featured on the No. 88 Chevrolet. Additional first-prize winners will receive a Nationwide Pet Accessory Kit plus a No. 88 Nationwide die-cast car signed by Earnhardt.

Hendrick Motorsports

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT SONOMA: At Sonoma, Hendrick Motorsports has earned six victories, nine pole positions, 30 top-five finishes, 50 top-10s and 638 laps led. Jeff Gordon owns five of the organization’s wins there, and Jimmie Johnson most recently took the checkered flag at the 1.99-mile track for the organization in June 2010.

ORGANIZATION STATS: To date, Hendrick Motorsports has totals of 12 championships, 248 race victories, 211 pole positions, 1,020 top-five finishes and 1,715 top-10 finishes in points-paying NASCAR Cup Series competition. Its teams have led 66,730 laps since 1984.

QUOTABLE / 

“I really like going to Sonoma. It’s a very unique track and cool part of the country – it’s the closest we get to my home state of Washington. I had a tough time with figuring out the track the first few times I went there. But once I got it, we were much better there and even got a win in 2009.”

Kasey Kahne on racing at Sonoma

“I like road courses, but I’m not sure what I need to do to improve at Sonoma. It’s just a very slow-feeling track with very little grip and a lot of finesse, kind of like Martinsville. I’m looking forward to getting there this weekend and seeing what we can do.”

Chase Elliott on racing at Sonoma

“Sonoma is tricky. Track position is important and there are all kinds of different strategies going on throughout the field, which keeps the engineers on their toes. We hope to qualify well and if you can save fuel, it usually creates more opportunities toward the end of the race. As a native of California, I’m always happy to get back there. It’s a great area with a lot to do.”

Jimmie Johnson on racing at Sonoma

“We’ve had great race cars at the road courses the last few years, which has helped me a lot. Sonoma is the most challenging track that I race at. We’ve just got to take care of our car and make it through to the end.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. on racing at Sonoma

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

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