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2017 Talladega II: Hendrick Motorsports NASCAR Monster Energy Race Preview
Posted by: newsla on Oct 11, 2017 - 06:05 AM
NASCAR News
2017 Talladega II: Hendrick Motorsports NASCAR Monster Energy Race Preview


TALLADEGA SUPERSPEEDWAY (2.66-MILE OVAL)
LOCATION: TALLADEGA, ALABAMA
EVENT: NASCAR CUP SERIES (RACE 31 OF 36)
TUNE IN: 2 P.M. ET, SUNDAY, OCT. 15 (NBC/MRN/SIRIUSXM)

 
No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS / Kasey Kahne

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

2017 Season
• 14th in standings
• 30 starts
• 1 race win
• 0 stage wins
• 0 pole positions
• 3 top-five finishes
• 5 top-10 finishes
• 33 laps led

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

Track Career
• 27 starts
• 0 wins
• 1 pole position
• 4 top-five finishes
• 6 top-10 finishes
• 83 laps led

FARMERS INSURANCE: Farmers Insurance returns to the No. 5 Chevrolet SS this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway. Kasey Kahne most recently drove the Farmers Insurance livery at Dover International Speedway, where he finished 14th. The longtime Hendrick Motorsports partner will also adorn Kahne’s Chevy at the upcoming Phoenix race weekend.

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

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

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

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

No. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet SS / Chase Elliott

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

2017 Season
• 4th in standings
• 30 starts
• 0 race wins
• 3 stage wins
• 1 pole position
• 9 top-five finishes
• 17 top-10 finishes
• 376 laps led

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

Track Career
• 3 starts
• 0 wins
• 1 pole position
• 1 top-five finish
• 1 top-10 finish
• 36 laps led

Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet SS, will be available to members of the media on Friday, Oct. 13, at 11:20 a.m. local time in the Talladega Superspeedway media center.

NAPA AUTO PARTS CHEVROLET: This weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, the familiar blue-and-yellow NAPA AUTO PARTS paint scheme will return to the No. 24 Chevrolet SS. The Atlanta-based company serves as majority sponsor for Chase Elliott during the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series season. Most recently, Elliott piloted the NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevy to a second-place finish at Chicagoland Speedway.

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

TALLADEGA DRIVER RATING: According to NASCAR’s loop data since 2005, Elliott has the highest driver rating at Talladega with a score of 91.4. The driver rating is a formula that combines wins, top-15 finishes, average running position while on the lead lap, average speed under green, fastest lap, most laps led and lead-lap finishes. The maximum a driver can earn in each race is 150 points.

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

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

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

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

No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet SS / Jimmie Johnson

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

2017 Season
• 7th in standings
• 30 starts
• 3 race wins
• 1 stage win
• 0 pole positions
• 4 top-five finishes
• 11 top-10 finishes
• 193 laps led

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

Track Career
• 31 starts
• 2 wins
• 1 pole position
• 7 top-five finishes
• 12 top-10 finishes
• 470 laps led

PLAYOFF PICTURE: With four races in the books and a seventh-place finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway last weekend, Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team are currently seventh in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs standings heading into Talladega.

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

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

TALLADEGA DRIVER RATING: According to NASCAR's loop data statistics since 2005, Johnson has the fifth-best driver rating at Talladega with a score of 88.1. The driver rating is a formula that combines wins, top-15 finishes, average running position while on the lead lap, average speed under green, fastest lap, most laps led and lead-lap finishes. The maximum a driver can earn in each race is 150 points. The driver rating number is used pre-race as a prediction tool and post-race as a performance evaluator.

PINK HAT FOR OCTOBER: Johnson will help bring awareness and recognition of those who are fighting breast cancer by wearing a gray hat with pink accents for the month of October. The hat can be purchased here.

No. 88 Mountain Dew Chevrolet SS / Dale Earnhardt Jr.

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

2017 Season
• 22nd in standings
• 30 starts
• 0 race wins
• 0 stage wins
• 1 pole position
• 1 top-five finish
• 5 top-10 finishes
• 37 laps led

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

Track Career
• 34 starts
• 6 wins
• 0 pole positions
• 12 top-five finishes
• 16 top-10 finishes
• 960 laps led

Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 Mountain Dew Chevrolet SS, will be available to members of the media on Friday, Oct. 13, at 3:20 p.m. local time in the Talladega Superspeedway media center.

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

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

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

TODAY SHOW: While he’s in Talladega, Earnhardt will spend time with "TODAY Show" host Willie Geist for an interview that will air later this fall.
DALE JR. DAY: Governor Kay Ivey has declared Sunday, Oct. 15, as “Dale Earnhardt Jr. Day” in the state of Alabama. Ivey, who will also serve as Grand Marshal for the Alabama 500, made the announcement in celebration of six-time Talladega winner Earnhardt and his legacy at the world’s greatest “Super” Superspeedway. Click here for more.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DALE!: Please join us in wishing Earnhardt a very happy birthday as he celebrates his 43rd today.
HOMETOWN HERO: William “Rowdy” Harrell, rear-tire carrier for the No. 88 Mountain Dew Chevrolet team, can certainly be called a hometown hero when he returns to Alabama, and particularly to Moundville, the small town where he grew up. After playing football in high school, Harrell was a walk-on linebacker for Nick Saban’s well-known University of Alabama football team, winning three national championships in his four years with the team. The tire carrier can also add race winner to his list of accolades, as he joined the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 team in 2014 and became one of the six primary over-the-wall crew members in 2015. During those two seasons, the No. 88 team racked up seven wins, including the 2014 Daytona 500. Alabama’s football team is undefeated to this point of the 2017 college football season, which the outgoing former linebacker still follows very closely. Harrell was also selected to be on Steve Letarte’s All-Star Pit Crew segment for NBC this weekend.

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

Hendrick Motorsports

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

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

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

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

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

“I think there is something you can do. There are guys that have been consistently winning at those races over the past number of years. Anytime you see something consistently happen, there is obviously not just luck involved in it.”
Chase Elliott on luck versus control at Talladega
“We have to go there. It counts as much as the rest of them so I kind of look at it as an opportunity. The guys who have embraced it and have been willing to want to figure it out seem to excel and we would like to be among that group.”
Elliott on restrictor plate racing

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

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

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