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Pre-Race Notes and Quotes: Las Vegas

Hendrick Motorsports | Race Preview Published 3/6/2014

EVENT: Kobalt Tools 400
DATE: Sunday, March 9, 2014
TRACK: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
LENGTH: 1.5-mile tri-oval
TV: FOX (Coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. ET)
RADIO: PRN (Coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. ET)

News & Notes

STRONG START: Dale Earnhardt Jr. opened the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup season by winning the Daytona 500 and finishing second last week at Phoenix International Raceway. Earnhardt’s average finish of 1.5 is the best of his 14 previous full Cup seasons. Prior to this year, he averaged a 3.0 finish in the first two races of 2004 and a 3.5-place finish to open 2013.

KICKSTART: Earnhardt will sport a Mountain Dew Kickstart paint scheme and firesuit this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to introduce two new flavors – Black Cherry and Limeade. These beverages combine the great taste of Mountain Dew with 5 percent real fruit juice, electrolytes for taste and just the right amount of kick to get you ready for whatever the night will bring. To kick off race week in Las Vegas, Mountain Dew Kickstart will host a larger-than-life slot machine outside of Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on Wednesday, March 5 from 5-9 p.m. local time followed by a ‘Kickstart Your Night’ party at Koi Restaurant & Lounge. Admission is free. Must be age 21 or older.

POINTS REPORT: Earnhardt, driver of the No. 88 Mountain Dew Kickstart Chevrolet SS, currently ranks first in the driver standings after finishing second last weekend at Phoenix. The only other time Earnhardt led the standings going into the third race of the year was 2004.

AT LAS VEGAS: In 14 Sprint Cup starts at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Earnhardt has scored two top-five finishes, seven top-10s and has led 232 laps. He has an 8.8 average finish behind the wheel of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet during the six Cup events at the track. Earnhardt has two runner-up finishes at the 1.5-mile oval, and that ties him for first with teammate Kasey Kahne and Tony Stewart on the track’s all-time list.

LAS VEGAS STATS: Among active drivers, Earnhardt ranks fifth in the laps led category with 232 total at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The driver of the No. 88 Mountain Dew Kickstart Chevrolet SS is tied for 11th with two top-five finishes and is tied for second with seven top-10s among active, full-time drivers at the 1.5-mile racetrack.

CHASSIS CHOICE: This weekend, crew chief Steve Letarte and the No. 88 team will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-822. Earnhardt most recently raced this car to a third–place finish at the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway last November.

INTERMEDIATE TRACK STATS: In 245 Cup starts on intermediate (one- to two-mile) tracks, Earnhardt has recorded six wins, eight pole positions, 49 top-five finishes and 100 top-10s.

HAULER PARADE: Team transporter driver Andy Taylor will participate in the NASCAR hauler parade on the Las Vegas Strip on Wednesday. Starting at 6 p.m. local time, the NASCAR team transporters will drive north on the Strip, past some of the world's most well-known hotels and casinos.

VEGAS DOUBLE: Earnhardt will drive the No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet during the 300-mile NASCAR Nationwide Series event on March 8 at Las Vegas. The 1998 and 1999 Nationwide Series champion has scored two top-five finishes and three top-10s in four Nationwide starts at the 1.5-mile track.

30TH ANNIVERSARY: This season, Hendrick Motorsports is celebrating its 30th anniversary in NASCAR. The organization began in 1984 with five employees and 5,000 square feet of work space. It has grown to more than 500 employees with a 430,000-square-foot facility that sits on 140 acres.

HENDRICK AT LAS VEGAS: In 16 races (62 starts) at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Hendrick Motorsports has five wins, 16 top-five finishes and 26 top-10s. Jimmie Johnson leads all drivers at the 1.5-mile oval with four victories, while Jeff Gordon ranks tied for first there with six top-five finishes.

HENDRICK IN 2014: Earnhardt and his three Hendrick Motorsports teammates Gordon, Johnson and Kahne have combined for an average finish of 8.125 to start the 2014 campaign.

INTERMEDIATE POWER: When it comes to competing at 1.5-mile racetracks, Hendrick Motorsports headlines the win, top-five finish, top-10 and laps led categories. Johnson’s 15 wins are the most all-time by a driver at 1.5-mile tracks, while Gordon has the most top-five finishes (53). Johnson and Gordon are tied for the most top-10 results with 73 apiece. Johnson also is the all-time lap leader at 1.5-mile tracks with 4,129 laps led.


DALE EARNHARDT JR. (ON LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY.): “Vegas has a lot of bumps going into Turn 1. They are something else. I’m impressed each time I go there how much rougher it is. That really challenges you to set the car up to be able to get through the bumps. Your performance at Vegas can set the tone for the other intermediate tracks. Confidence is everything and when you go to Vegas. If you run well, you expect to go to the next mile-and-a-half and run well.”

After Ford EcoBoost 400
Rank +/- Driver Points Behind
1 +3 Kevin Harvick 5043 0
2 +1 Ryan Newman 5042 -1
3 -2 Denny Hamlin 5037 -6
4 -2 Joey Logano 5028 -15
5 -- Brad Keselowski 2361 -2682
6 -- Jeff Gordon 2348 -2695
7 -- Matt Kenseth 2334 -2709
8 +2 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2301 -2742
9 -- Carl Edwards 2288 -2755
10 -2 Kyle Busch 2285 -2758
11 +2 Jimmie Johnson 2274 -2769
12 +2 Kurt Busch 2263 -2780
Full Standings