MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY (TWO-MILE OVAL)
LOCATION: BROOKLYN, MICHIGAN
EVENT: NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES (RACE 23 OF 36)
TUNE IN: 2:30 P.M. ET, SUNDAY, AUG. 16 (NBCSN/MRN/SIRIUSXM)
No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS / Kasey Kahne
Driver Kasey Kahne Hometown Enumclaw, Washington
Age 35 Resides Mooresville, North Carolina
17th in standings
1 pole position
2 top-five finishes
6 top-10 finishes
46 laps led
27 pole positions
85 top-five finishes
152 top-10 finishes
4,587 laps led
3 pole positions
8 top-five finishes
10 top-10 finishes
67 laps led
POLE POWER: In the last 10 Sprint Cup races at Michigan International Speedway, Kasey Kahne leads the field in pole positions (two). In 23 career starts at the track, Kahne owns three pole positions.
SUMMER SESSION: Kahne is not known to take a summer break during the NASCAR Sprint Cup season, as 10 of his 17 career victories have been achieved between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
COMING DOWN TO THE WIRE: Kahne has shown the ability to clinch a Chase for the Sprint Cup berth in the final races of a season. In 2014, Kahne led the final two laps at Atlanta Motor Speedway, then the penultimate race before the Chase, in order to clinch a postseason berth. The win was his first win of the season and his 17th career victory. Kahne earned the lead from Matt Kenseth in the second attempt at a green-white-checkered finish and won the race by 0.574 seconds.
FARMERS INSURANCE CHEVROLET SS: Farmers Insurance will adorn the hood of Kahne’s No. 5 Chevrolet SS this weekend at Michigan International Speedway, and will be the primary sponsor on the car for three additional Sprint Cup Series races this year: New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Sept. 27), Texas Motor Speedway (Nov. 8) and Phoenix International Raceway (Nov. 15).
FARMERS RACING ART SERIES: Kahne and Farmers Insurance have launched the Farmers Racing Art Series. The program is designed to provide young artists the opportunity to create a series of autograph cards featuring Kahne and the No. 5 team. The series, developed in collaboration with the Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts, a Kansas City, Missouri, public art school, invites student artists to design six posters based on racing and lifestyle themes. Each student whose artwork is selected will receive a $500 educational gift card in addition to having their autograph card featured at the team hauler for fans to take free of charge at the NASCAR races.
FIVE KAHNE: Kahne started the Five Kahne 5K charity run in 2010 with the goal of building an annual event to generate funds for youth causes. 2015 marks the sixth year of the Five Kahne 5K presented by Great Clips. Fundraising efforts, in addition to supporting the Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte, have allowed nearly 5,000 children in North Carolina the opportunity to receive free field trips to the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Registration for the Oct. 11 event is now available by clicking here.
No. 24 Pepsi Chevrolet SS / Jeff Gordon
Driver Jeff Gordon Hometown Pittsboro, Indiana
Age 44 Resides Charlotte, North Carolina
12th in standings
3 pole positions
3 top-five finishes
12 top-10 finishes
166 laps led
80 pole positions
323 top-five finishes
466 top-10 finishes
24,830 laps led
6 pole positions
19 top-five finishes
27 top-10 finishes
1,058 laps led
Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Pepsi Chevrolet SS, is scheduled to visit the Michigan International Speedway media center at 3:15 p.m. local time Friday.
REIGNING PURE MICHIGAN 400 WINNER: On Aug. 17 of last year, Jeff Gordon led 68 laps from the pole position en route to victory at Michigan International Speedway. It was his third of four wins in 2014 and his 91st career Sprint Cup victory.
SEVENTH-FASTEST POLE POSITION WINNER: Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Pepsi Chevrolet SS, set the seventh-fastest pole winning speed in NASCAR history when he averaged 206.558 miles per hour during qualifying at Michigan in August of last year. Bill Elliott owns the top six speeds with each recorded at Daytona or Talladega before restrictor plates were required at superspeedway events.
TOPS AMONG ACTIVE DRIVERS: Gordon’s six pole positions, 19 top-five finishes, 27 top-10s and 1,058 laps led are tops among active drivers at the Irish Hills track.
MILESTONE MICHIGAN VICTORY: On June 10, 2001, Gordon started first and finished first to notch win No. 100 for Hendrick Motorsports. It was his third of six victories during a year when Gordon won his fourth NASCAR Cup Series title.
PEPSI AND PIZZA: At the Aug. 16 race, Gordon’s No. 24 Pepsi Chevrolet SS will have a fresh new look, featuring Little Caesars on the TV panel. If Gordon wins the race, Little Caesars will give away one free $5 HOT-N-READY® Lunch Combo, featuring a 20 ounces Pepsi product, to every customer who comes into a participating store and mentions the offer at the check-out counter between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. (local time) on Wednesday, Aug. 19.
RACING AT KNOXVILLE NATIONALS: On Wednesday in Knoxville, Iowa, Gordon is scheduled to join fellow Sprint Cup competitors Tony Stewart, Kyle Larson and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne at Slideways Karting Center for the third annual Weld Racing Go-Kart Spectacular. The event is open to the public for a $5 admission per person (12 and under are free) with all proceeds benefitting Kick-It. Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation and Kick-It partnered in 2012 with one simple goal in mind – to accelerate a cure for children with cancer. For more information, visit www.kick-it.org/jeffgordon.
No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS / Jimmie Johnson
Driver Jimmie Johnson Hometown El Cajon, California
Age 39 Resides Charlotte, North Carolina
4th in standings
0 pole positions
10 top-five finishes
15 top-10 finishes
467 laps led
33 pole positions
203 top-five finishes
307 top-10 finishes
17,618 laps led
0 pole positions
5 top-five finishes
11 top-10 finishes
646 laps led
HOMETOWN CONNECTIONS: Michigan International Speedway serves as a “hometown” track for two members of the No. 48 team. Gasman Brandon Harder went to Bowling Green State University and hails from Oak Harbor, Ohio, roughly 90 miles from the track. Harder has been a member of the No. 48 team since 2009. Rear-tire carrier Ryan Patton is from Delphos, Ohio, which is 105 miles south of the track. Patton, who played football at Ohio State University, has been on the No. 48 team since 2012.
MICHIGAN WIN: It took 25 attempts for Johnson to find the winners circle in Michigan but persistence finally paid off on June 15, 2014. After starting seventh, Johnson led 39 laps and beat Kevin Harvick to the stripe by 1.214 seconds. Although he has had some tough luck in the Irish Hills, Johnson has five top-five and 11 top-10 finishes and has an average finish of 16.0.
SECOND-HIGHEST DRIVER RATING: According to NASCAR’s loop data statistics, Jimmie Johnson has the second-best driver rating at Michigan with a score of 102.5 during the past 10 years 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 rating number is used pre-race as a prediction tool and post-race as a performance evaluator.
JIMMIE JOHNSON FAMILY TICKET PACKAGE AT DARLINGTON: Darlington Raceway is offering a special $48 ticket package for the Sept. 6 Southern 500. The package includes an adult grandstand ticket, a scanner rental and a question-and-answer session with six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Johnson. There is also a $22 youth package available. For more details, log on to www.DarlingtonRaceway.com.
UPCOMING JIMMIE JOHNSON FOUNDATION WELLNESS CHALLENGE EVENT: Registration is open for the final event of the 2015 Jimmie Johnson Foundation Wellness Challenge. The Lake Davidson Sprint Triathlon will take place on Sept. 13 in Davidson, North Carolina. Log on to www.jjfwellnesschallenge.org for more details.
STILL TIME TO ENTER GATORADE ‘SWEAT WITH THE BEST’: Until Aug. 31, fans can enter to win the experience of a lifetime with Johnson. The Gatorade “Sweat with the Best” experience will give a lucky winner the chance to take a tour of the Hendrick Motorsports facility, train with the No. 48 pit crew and ride around Darlington Raceway with Johnson. The experience includes travel and accommodations as well as a photograph with Johnson and an autographed firesuit. It is open only to participants 18 years or older. Enter here until Aug. 31.
No. 88 Microsoft Chevrolet SS / Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. Hometown Kannapolis, North Carolina
Age 40 Resides Mooresville, North Carolina
3rd in standings
0 pole positions
11 top-five finishes
13 top-10 finishes
204 laps led
13 pole positions
138 top-five finishes
237 top-10 finishes
8,051 laps led
2 pole positions
8 top-five finishes
13 top-10 finishes
353 laps led
MICHIGAN WIN: Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s victory at Michigan on June 17, 2012, was his second win in a points-paying event for Hendrick Motorsports. After starting from the 17th position, Earnhardt led 95 laps at the Irish Hills track, stretching out his lead to 5.393 seconds before taking the checkered flag.
MICHIGAN POLES: Earnhardt’s two career pole positions at Michigan are tied for first as career-bests for the 40-year-old driver. He also has captured two career poles at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway.
DRIVER RATING: Earnhardt ranks fifth in the driver rating category in the last 21 races at Michigan with an average of 98.0. 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.
MICROSOFT WINDOWS 10: Microsoft recently added Michigan to its primary sponsorship lineup and will make its third appearance on Earnhardt’s No. 88 Chevrolet SS this weekend. The global leader in technology and innovation kicked off its new multi-year partnership with Hendrick Motorsports Motorsports in June 2015 by incorporating technology solutions and training across the team, including competition, business and IT functions. As part of the partnership, Microsoft was also the primary sponsor of the No. 88 Chevrolet SS at Sonoma and Pocono in conjunction with the launch of Windows 10, which is now available as a free upgrade for qualified Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 devices.
HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT MICHIGAN: Hendrick Motorsports drivers have led 2,370 laps en route to eight wins, 49 top-five finishes and 89 top-10s at Michigan. Five different drivers — Gordon, Johnson, Earnhardt, Mark Martin and Ricky Rudd — have earned those eight trips to Victory Lane. The organization also owns 11 pole positions at the track.
ORGANIZATION STATS: To date, Hendrick Motorsports has totals of 237 victories, 204 pole positions, 968 top-five finishes and 1,608 top-10 finishes in Sprint Cup competition. Its teams have led 64,724 laps since 1984.
“It would be great to win in Michigan while we’re close to Chevrolet. We always have a lot of the Chevrolet people come down and support the race and support the teams that they are a huge part of. To win in their backyard is a place that we want to win badly. I think Hendrick Motorsports, myself and everyone on the No. 5 team wants to win there, so we’re going to do everything we can to do that.”
Kasey Kahne on Michigan International Speedway
“At this rate we’re going to need to win. That’s the only way we’ll go into the Chase. We’ve got to get a little better. I need to get a little better. We had a nice test at Bristol, so I feel that will help us when we get there. And Michigan; there were times at Indianapolis when we were really quick with that package. I know they’re working hard to bring a little less drag and more downforce there for us, all four of us. So hopefully we can run good at Michigan and maybe get a win there. We’ve won there before and we’ve also won at Bristol before, so, maybe one of those tracks. Darlington and Richmond; those are some tracks that we could run really well at, too.”
Kahne on racing toward the Chase
“Every weekend I feel like we’re really going for the win. We’re doing everything we can to try and win the race. Everyone takes every chance they can see. We’re trying as hard as we can. Sometimes it just doesn’t go your way. My favorite track is always the next one we’re going to. I think you have to look at it that way. I don’t really have a track I don’t like going to. The main thing is that all of the equipment we get at Hendrick Motorsports is good enough to win every weekend. We need to get on the ball here and do that, and I don’t see any better weekend to do that than the next one.”
No. 5 team crew chief Keith Rodden on racing toward the Chase
“I think in some ways the rules package we’ll use at Michigan is better suited there compared to Indy – and some ways it’s not. It’s better suited because Michigan is wider and there is the ability to find some clean air. The package is great if you are in a straight line because it offers some really cool drafting opportunities.
“A big, wide track like Michigan – as long as we can get away from the cars in the corners – has the potential to create that big draft and momentum down the straightaways. We will know more when we get there, but I can promise you if you get in the corner behind somebody it’s going to be a white-knuckle experience. It was at Indy, so I know it’s really going to be one at Michigan.”
Jeff Gordon on a new racing package at Michigan
“We’ve had to overcome some crazy things the past few weeks on the track. Last weekend at Watkins Glen we had a fast car – had to overcome a pit-road speeding penalty and then getting wrecked. We qualified better than we have in a while and it just shows my Lowe’s team isn’t giving up. We want to enter the Chase strong and have a few more weeks to work some things out. Michigan is a good track for us.”
Jimmie Johnson on the No. 48 team’s performance
“Michigan is a fun, wide racetrack. We should have a good, competitive car this weekend. I hope to race well and have a lot of fun.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. on racing at Michigan