Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet, captured the first wild card spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup with a 12th-place finish at Richmond (Va.) International Speedway last weekend. This is Kahne’s third career Chase appearance and his first since 2009. He will open the Chase at Chicagoland Speedway as the 11th seed, 12 points behind first-place Denny Hamlin.
KAHNE AT CHICAGOLAND: In eight NASCAR Sprint Cup starts at Chicagoland Speedway, Kahne has one top-five finish and two top-10s. He enters Sunday’s event with four straight top-15 finishes at the 1.5-mile oval.
LOOP DATA: In the last seven races at Chicagoland, Kahne ranks as the best closer, moving up an average of 2.4 positions in the last 10 percent of each race according to NASCAR loop data.
1.5-MILE SUCCESS: Kahne has finished eighth or better in four of the five points races at 1.5-mile speedways this season, notably recording a win at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway and a runner-up finish at Kentucky Speedway. He also earned the pole earlier this season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway – the first at the 1.5-mile track for Hendrick Motorsports.
CHASSIS CHOICE: For Sunday’s race, crew chief Kenny Francis has selected Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 5-724. Kahne has raced this car three times this year, most notably scoring his first win of the season at Charlotte in May.
2012 SEASON-TO-DATE STATS: With 484 fastest laps run this season, Kahne ranks third in the category according to NASCAR loop data. He ranks fourth for average speed under the green flag and for speed late in a run. Kahne’s 2012 driver rating of 93.0 ranks him 10th among the competition. 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.
HENDRICK AT CHICAGO: In 11 races (46 Cup starts) at Chicagoland, Hendrick Motorsports has two wins, 16 top-five finishes and 22 top-10s. Jeff Gordon earned Hendrick Motorsports’ first Cup win at the racetrack in 2006.
FOUR-FOR-FOUR: Kahne, Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. all qualified for spots inside the 2012 Chase, marking the first time that Hendrick Motorsports has had all of its drivers earn spots in the postseason playoff. To date, the organization’s best overall result happened in 2009 when three of the four drivers qualified and finished one-two-three — Johnson won the Cup, Mark Martin finished second and Gordon took third.
TEAM EFFORT: Hendrick Motorsports is the only organization to have all of its drivers qualified for this year’s Chase. Kahne, Gordon, Johnson and Earnhardt account for one-third of the 12 spots. Johnson is seeded second with 2,009 points; Earnhardt is seeded seventh with 2,003; Kahne and Gordon, wild card recipients, will begin the Chase in 11th and 12th, respectively, with 2,000 points.
KASEY KAHNE, DRIVER, NO. 5 FARMERS INSURANCE CHEVROLET (ON CHICAGOLAND.): “I enjoy going to Chicago. We haven’t always run our best there, but we’ve surprised ourselves with good finishes at some other tracks this year. It’s going to be important to come out of the gate strong in the first Chase race. We’re starting without bonus points, so we want to make up some ground this weekend.”