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Pre-Race Notes and Quotes: Texas

Hendrick Motorsports | Race Preview Published 4/1/2014
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EVENT: Duck Commander 500
DATE: Sunday, April 6, 2014
TRACK: Texas Motor Speedway
LENGTH: 1.5-mile quad-oval
TV: FOX (Coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. ET)
RADIO: PRN (Coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. ET)

News & Notes

POINTS REPORT: Six races into the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, Dale Earnhardt Jr. leads the driver standings on the strength of one win, four top-five finishes and four top-10s. He has a nine-point lead over second-place Matt Kenseth, and Earnhardt’s 7.3 average finish currently is a Series-best.

POLE POSITION: Earnhardt’s two pole positions at Texas Motor Speedway 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 National Guard 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, at Texas.

EARNHARDT AT TEXAS: In 23 Sprint Cup starts at Texas Motor Speedway, Earnhardt has scored one win, two pole positions, four top-five finishes and 13 top-10s. He has an average starting position of 11.3, which is his second-best at all tracks. He has led at least one lap in 13 of those starts for a total of 448 laps.

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 18 races there, the Kannapolis, N.C., native has spent 76.8 percent of the events (4,624 laps of 6,023 total) running in the top 15. Earnhardt also ranks fifth in the average running position category with an 11.5 average spot.

DRIVER RATING: According to NASCAR's loop data statistics, Earnhardt’s driver rating at Texas is 93.8, which ranks him seventh among drivers in the last 18 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. 88-822. Earnhardt last raced this chassis to a second-place finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March.

TEXAS DOUBLE: In addition to his duties behind the wheel of the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet, Earnhardt will pilot JR Motorsports' No. 88 Chevrolet in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race on Friday. In six Nationwide starts at Texas, Earnhardt has one win, two top-five finishes and four top-10s. This marks Earnhardt's third Nationwide start of the season. Most recently, he drove the No. 88 Chevrolet to a fourth-place finish in the Nationwide event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last month.

30TH ANNIVERSARY: In 2014, 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. Driver Geoff Bodine won the Martinsville Speedway spring race on April 29, 1984, marking Hendrick Motorsports’ first victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

30TH SWEEPSTAKES: To celebrate its 30th anniversary, Hendrick Motorsports is giving away 30 prizes in 30 days from March 27 to April 25. The sweepstakes launched at www.30years.HendrickMotorsports.com. In addition to 30 daily prizes, fans can enter to win one of the four grand prizes: the special-edition 30th anniversary firesuits worn by Hendrick Motorsports drivers Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Earnhardt recently at Martinsville Speedway.

HENDRICK AT TEXAS: In 26 races (105 starts) at Texas, Hendrick Motorsports has five wins, 26 top-five finishes and 46 top-10s. Johnson most recently went to Victory Lane for the organization in November 2013 after starting from third. Johnson ranks tied for first among drivers all-time with three wins and 16 top-10 finishes at the 1.5-mile oval. Johnson’s average finish of 8.7 ranks second behind Kenseth (8.3). Gordon and Earnhardt rank tied for first all-time with two pole positions.

MEDIA AVAILABILITY: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS, will be available to members of the media on Friday at 4:15 p.m. local time in the media center at Texas Motor Speedway.

Quotes

DALE EARNHARDT JR. (ON THE FAN SUPPORT AT TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY.): “There are a lot of things I like about Texas Motor Speedway. One of the things I like about TMS, and this is genuine, is the fan support. When we first built that racetrack, to be frank, we (NASCAR) were struggling west of the Mississippi to really draw crowds. For whatever reason, when they built this racetrack, people really latched on to it. It’s been a great market for us. It’s been very successful. There’s a great staff out there that does a lot of cutting-edge stuff and does a lot of unique promotion that you don’t see at other places. It makes it a lot of fun to come here. Especially when the fans show their support to the track itself, it makes you want to race in front of them. It makes you excited to be here when they’re, in turn, excited to see you.”

Standings
After Brickyard 400
Rank +/- Driver Points Behind
1 -- Jeff Gordon 717 0
2 -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. 693 -24
3 -- Brad Keselowski 666 -51
4 -- Matt Kenseth 661 -56
5 -- Jimmie Johnson 628 -89
6 +2 Kyle Busch 609 -108
7 -- Ryan Newman 606 -111
8 -2 Carl Edwards 603 -114
9 -- Joey Logano 591 -126
10 -- Clint Bowyer 577 -140
11 +1 Denny Hamlin 572 -145
12 +1 Kevin Harvick 565 -152
Full Standings