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Pre-Race Notes and Quotes: Texas

Hendrick Motorsports | Race Preview Published 10/31/2013
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EVENT: AAA Texas 500
TRACK: Texas Motor Speedway
LENGTH: 1.5-mile quad-oval
TV: ESPN (Coverage begins at 2 p.m. ET)
RADIO: PRN (Coverage begins at 2 p.m. ET)

News & Notes

POINTS WITH THREE TO GO: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 AMP Energy Gold/7-Eleven Chevrolet SS, ranks seventh in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings after finishing eighth at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway last weekend. With three races remaining in the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, Earnhardt trails leader Matt Kenseth by 56 points.

AMP ENERGY GOLD: Earnhardt’s No. 88 Chevrolet will have gold and black paint scheme this weekend to honor his fellow AMP Energy athletes who will be hitting the slopes and going for gold in the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. AMP Energy Gold is a new, apple-flavored beverage that will be available on shelves nationwide from Nov. 4 through January 2014.

POLE POSITION: Earnhardt’s two pole positions at Texas are tied for first as career-bests for the 39-year-old driver. Earnhardt earned the top starting spot at the Lone Star State track in April 2001 and in April 2008, his first pole with Hendrick Motorsports. He also has two pole positions at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Michigan International Speedway.

FIRST WINS: Earnhardt, driver of the No. 88 AMP Energy Gold/7-Eleven Chevrolet SS, earned his first career Cup and NASCAR Nationwide Series wins at Texas Motor Speedway. He was just seven races into his rookie season when he recorded his first Cup win on April 2, 2000, at the Fort Worth racetrack. Then age 25, Earnhardt started the race fourth and led 106 laps on his way to Victory Lane. He recorded his first career win in the Nationwide Series on April 4, 1998.

EARNHARDT AT TEXAS: In 22 Sprint Cup starts at Texas Motor Speedway, Earnhardt has scored one win, two pole positions, three top-five finishes and 12 top-10s. He has an average starting position of 11.5, which is his second-best at all tracks, and he has led 448 laps total at the 1.5-mile oval.

LOOP DATA: According to NASCAR's loop data statistics, Earnhardt ranks third among drivers in laps run in the top 15 at Texas. During the last 17 races there, the Kannapolis, N.C., native has spent 75.4 percent of the events (4,290 laps of 5,689 total) running in the top 15. Earnhardt also ranks sixth in the average running position category with an 11.931 average spot.

DRIVER RATING: According to NASCAR's loop data statistics, Earnhardt’s driver rating at Texas is 92.6, which ranks him eighth among drivers in the last 17 races at the 1.5-mile oval. The driver rating is a formula that combines the following categories: wins, finishes, 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 points 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.

CHASSIS CHOICE: This weekend at Texas, crew chief Steve Letarte will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-716. Earnhardt has raced this chassis five times this year: Auto Club Speedway in March, Kansas Speedway in April, the All-Star Race in May and Michigan International Speedway in June and August.

HENDRICK AT TEXAS: In 25 races (101 starts) at Texas, Hendrick Motorsports has four wins, 23 top-five finishes and 43 top-10s. Jimmie Johnson most recently went to Victory Lane for the organization in November 2012 after starting from the pole position. Johnson ranks tied for first with 15 top-10s and second with nine top-five finishes. His 9.1 average finish ranks second. Jeff Gordon and Earnhardt rank tied for first all-time with two pole positions.

2013 CHASE: Johnson enters Sunday’s Cup event at Texas – the eighth in the 10-race postseason – with the same number of points as leader Matt Kenseth, but ranks second because Kenseth has seven wins and Johnson has five. The driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet SS ranks first among championship contenders with a 6.9 average start, a 5.4 average finish and a 5.233 average running position during the first seven Chase events. Gordon, with a win Oct. 27 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, has climbed to third in the standings and trails the frontrunners by 27 points.

Quotes

DALE EARNHARDT JR. (ON TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY.): “I really enjoy racing at Texas, but it can be a challenge. It has got a pretty big bump in the middle of (Turns) 1 and 2 and 3 and 4, where the tunnels are. We had a good test there last week, and we are looking forward to having a good weekend, hopefully getting a win.”

Standings
After Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500
Rank +/- Driver Points Behind
1 +6 Jeff Gordon 4044 0
2 +1 Ryan Newman 4041 -3
3 -2 Joey Logano 4040 -4
4 +1 Matt Kenseth 4039 -5
5 -1 Denny Hamlin 4037 -7
6 -- Carl Edwards 4024 -20
7 +1 Brad Keselowski 4013 -31
8 -6 Kevin Harvick 4011 -33
9 -- Kyle Busch 2230 -1814
10 +2 AJ Allmendinger 2198 -1846
11 +2 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2196 -1848
12 -2 Jimmie Johnson 2186 -1858
Full Standings