This entry of news and notes for the Aaron’s 499 from Talladega focuses in on Hendrick Motorsports driver Kasey Kahne his #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet. Kahne is coming off a 5th place finish at Richmond.
Kasey Kahne at Talladega: In 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup starts at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, Kasey Kahne has recorded two runner-up finishes and three top-10s. He has led 29 laps at the high-banked oval. Most recently, Kahne started 26th, led four laps and finished sixth at the track in October 2011.
Quick in qualifying: Kahne has started in the top-10 for the last eight straight races and notably drove his No. 5 Chevrolet to pole positions at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Martinsville (Va.) Speedway during that stretch. Kahne’s average starting position of 7.8 ranks second among fulltime Cup drivers.
Superspeedway stats: In 33 starts at the restrictor-plate tracks of Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway, Kahne has recorded a combined four top-five finishes and nine top-10s. He earned back-to-back top-five finishes at Daytona’s July races in 2010 and 2011 and two runner-up finishes in the fall races at Talladega in 2006 and 2009. Three of Kahne’s 12 career wins happened on tracks two miles or longer – Fontana, Calif., Michigan International Speedway and Pocono Raceway.
Loop Data: During the last seven years, Kahne has scored 4,497 green-flag passes at the Alabama oval, ranking him sixth according to NASCAR loop data. He is the ninth-best closer at Talladega during the same period, gaining an average of 2.2 positions during the last 10 percent of each race. In the first nine races of 2012, Kahne is the fastest driver late in a run and ranks second behind teammate Jimmie Johnson for green-flag speed.
Chassis Choice: For Sunday’s race, crew chief Kenny Francis will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 5-703. Originally built for the 2012 Daytona 500, this car was not raced after an incident in practice.
Hendrick at Talladega: In 56 events (178 starts) at Talladega, Hendrick Motorsports has 11 wins, 45 top-five finishes and 67 top-10s. Seven of the organization’s wins have happened after its drivers started the race ninth or better. In this race last year, Dale Earnhardt Jr. pushed Johnson, the race’s outside pole sitter, to Victory Lane. Johnson, the outside pole sitter, matched the closest margin of victory recorded — .002 seconds — since the use of electronic scoring.
Top Four: Hendrick Motorsports drivers lined up in the top four spots for the Talladega event in April 2011. Gordon, Johnson, Mark Martin and Earnhardt qualified one-two-three-four for the 500-mile event, making Hendrick Motorsports just the third team in Sprint Cup history to qualify in the first four starting positions. This feat previously was accomplished by owner Pete DePaolo in 1956 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway and Jack Roush in 2005 at Auto Club Speedway. The Hendrick teammates crossed the finish line in the top eight.
All-Time Stats: Gordon and Earnhardt rank second and third, respectively, among all-time winners at the 2.66-mile superspeedway. Gordon has six wins, while Earnhardt has five. Gordon also ranks tied for third all-time with 14 top-five finishes and third all-time in laps led with 832.
Approaching 200: In the first nine Cup events of the 2012 season, Hendrick Motorsports drivers have earned five runner-up results, 10 top-five finishes and 19 top-10s to give the four drivers an average combined finish of 14.7. Earnhardt and Johnson lead the organization with average finishing spots of 7.3 and 10, respectively. Hendrick Motorsports currently has 199 Cup victories, ranking first in NASCAR’s modern era for wins and second all-time behind Petty Enterprises, which has 268 victories.
Kasey Kahne on Talladega: “Hendrick Motorsports puts together great superspeedway cars. I had more power at Daytona (Fla.) than I’ve ever had. All four of us were fast during Speedweeks and just got caught by a lot of bad luck. The plate tracks are always a wild card for the whole field, but the (No.) 5 team has some great momentum right now.”
Kasey Kahne on his team’s momentum: “I think we’ve started to turn a corner now. We’re getting more consistent on pit road, and we’re finishing races. We’ve got to keep working on setups that work best during the race, but we’re really close. It feels good to get that top-five (at Richmond, Va.) and have some consistency week to week.”