Hendrick Motorsports Media Advance: Daytona

DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY (2.5-MILE SUPERSPEEDWAY)
LOCATION: DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA
EVENT: NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES (RACE 17 OF 36)
TUNE IN: 7:45 P.M. ET, SATURDAY, JULY 2 (NBC/MRN/SIRIUSXM)
No. 5 Great Clips Strong Against Cancer Chevrolet SS / Kasey Kahne
Driver Kasey Kahne   Hometown Enumclaw, Washington
Age 36                        Resides Mooresville, North Carolina
2016 Season
16th in standings
16 starts
0 wins
0 pole positions
2 top-five finishes
6 top-10 finishes
0 laps led
Career
448 starts
17 wins
27 pole positions
88 top-five finishes
162 top-10 finishes
4,607 laps led
Track Career
125 starts
0 wins
0 pole positions
2 top-five finishes
8 top-10 finishes
35 laps led
SPECIAL SCHEME FOR KAHNE: Kasey Kahne will pilot the No. 5 Great Clips Strong Against Cancer Chevrolet SS this weekend at Daytona. It’s a one-of-a-kind paint scheme designed by 8-year-old Noelia Gutierrez of White Center, Washington. Gutierrez, who was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia in March 2015, is a patient at Seattle Children’s Hospital in its Strong Against Cancer program, which uses immunotherapy to fight cancer. Great Clips tasked the children to use their creative minds to design Kahne’s Daytona paint scheme. After receiving approximately 40 submissions from the children, Kahne narrowed the entries down to his favorite four, and the fans voted Noelia the winner.
BUSY WEEK FOR KAHNE: After a ninth-place finish in the No. 5 Great Clips Shark Week Chevrolet SS at Sonoma, Kahne headed directly to the Suncadia Resort in Cle Elum, Washington, for his third annual The DRIVE golf tournament and charity auction. For the second consecutive year, Strong Against Cancer will benefit from proceeds raised at the star-studded event co-hosted by Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. Last year, The DRIVE presented a $400,000 check to the Seattle Children’s Hospital and its Strong Against Cancer initiative.
LOOP DATA: According to NASCAR’s loop data, the Enumclaw, Washington, native ranks second in the green-flag passes with 5,065, and third in quality passes with 3,229. He’s sixth in the laps spent in the top 15 category with 2,248. Kahne is seventh with an average running position of 16.322 at Daytona. He’s 10th in the driver rating category with an average rating of 82.7. NASCAR 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.
KAHNE AT DAYTONA: Kahne heads back to the track where he made his first start in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2004, his rookie season. The 36-year-old earned his best starting spot of third in the July 2012 race. He looks to improve on his best finish of second at the 2.5-mile superspeedway, which occurred in the July 2010 race. In this year’s February race at Daytona, Kahne started and finished 13th.
FLORIDA NATIVES: Daytona International Speedway is the home track for two members of the No. 5 team. Engine tuner Billy Fraser is from Callahan, Florida, located approximately 120 miles north of the 2.5-mile superspeedway. Fraser has a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Florida. Rear-tire changer Johnny Roberts hails from Titusville, Florida, located approximately 50 miles south of Daytona Beach, Florida.
No. 24 SunEnergy1 Chevrolet SS / Chase Elliott
Driver Chase Elliott   Hometown Dawsonville, Georgia
Age 20                      Resides Mooresville, North Carolina
2016 Season
6th in standings
16 starts
0 wins
2 pole positions
6 top-five finishes
11 top-10 finishes
118 laps led
Career
21 starts
0 wins
2 pole positions
6 top-five finishes
11 top-10 finishes
118 laps led
Track Career
1 start
0 wins
1 pole position
0 top-five finishes
0 top-10 finishes
3 laps led
PRIMARY SPONSOR DEBUT: For the first time in the 2016 season, SunEnergy1 will be the primary partner on board Rookie of the Year contender Chase Elliott’s No. 24 Chevrolet SS this weekend at Daytona International Speedway.
TOP-10 TEAR: Elliott earned his career-best finish earlier this month at Michigan International Speedway, when he led 35 laps en route to a second-place finish. Only two drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series have more top-10 finishes than Elliott’s 11 (Kevin Harvick with 13 and Kurt Busch with 14 — both Sprint Cup champions). Additionally, Elliott is tied for the third-most top-five finishes in the Cup Series with his six top-five finishes, trailing Kyle Busch and Harvick with nine and seven top-five finishes, respectively.
SEASON STANDINGS: Elliott currently sits sixth in the standings with 473 points. The rookie trails points leader Harvick by 89 markers. The 20-year-old is younger than any other driver currently inside the top 16 – the amount of drivers NASCAR takes into its playoffs – while also being the highest ranked rookie.
TOP-RANKED ROOKIE: Elliott leads the 2016 Rookie of the Year contender standings heading into Daytona by 50 points over second-place Ryan Blaney and 87 points over third-place Brian Scott. Elliott has accumulated a total of 227 rookie points this year through the first 16 points-paying races. Among active drivers, his 11 top-10 finishes are the most through the first 16 races of any Sprint Cup rookie season.
GUSTAFSON GOES HOME: No. 24 team crew chief Alan Gustafson grew up just down the road from Daytona International Speedway in Ormond Beach, Florida, the “Birthplace of Speed.” After graduating from Seabreeze High School, he enrolled at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering. Gustafson now leads the No. 24 team piloted by Elliott. The veteran crew chief will be looking to capitalize on the team’s strengths this weekend in front of his hometown crowd.
SUPERSPEEDWAY POLE PROWESS: Elliott has laid down quick qualifying laps in both plate races this year, earning pole awards at Talladega Superspeedway as well as in the prestigious Daytona 500. The rookie became the youngest driver (20 years, 2 months and 17 days) to land the top spot in NASCAR’s biggest race with a speed of 196.314 mph. Elliott is tied for the second-most pole awards of the season thus far.
No. 48 Lowe’s Patriotic Chevrolet SS / Jimmie Johnson
Driver Jimmie Johnson   Hometown El Cajon, California
Age 40                             Resides Charlotte, North Carolina
2016 Season
7th in standings
16 starts
2 wins
0 pole positions
6 top-five finishes
7 top-10 finishes
228 laps led
Career
523 starts
77 wins
34 pole positions
213 top-five finishes
321 top-10 finishes
17,937 laps led
Track Career
29 starts
3 wins
2 pole positions
11 top-five finishes
14 top-10 finishes
278 laps led
TWO MILLION FOLLOWERS: Jimmie Johnson hit a milestone on social media recently when his Twitter account surpassed two million followers. Johnson is currently the most followed driver in NASCAR.
LOWE’S PATRIOTIC: Johnson’s No. 48 Chevrolet SS will feature a patriotic theme. Longtime sponsor Lowe’s has a lengthy history of supporting the military. Currently, Lowe’s has more than 14,000 veterans, active military and Guard/Reserve employees.
IN MEMORY OF: The No. 48  Lowe’s Patriotic Chevrolet will carry a special decal this weekend in memory of Antonio Brown, the human resources manager at the Fern Park, Florida, Lowe’s store. Brown, a former U.S. Army captain who served in Kuwait during the Iraq War, was tragically killed in the Orlando night club shooting on June 12.
LAST DAYTONA WIN: The last time Johnson won at Daytona was on July 6, 2013. Johnson led 94 laps en route to his third win at the superspeedway. That year he also won the Daytona 500 and his sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.
DAYTONA DRIVER RATING: According to NASCAR’s loop data statistics, Johnson has the sixth-best driver rating at Daytona with a score of 88.7 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 WELLNESS CHALLENGE TRIATHLON:  Johnson is less than one month away from participating in the second part of the Jimmie Johnson Wellness Challenge. The Cane Creek Sprint Triathlon will take place in Waxhaw, North Carolina, on July 26. To enter click here:  http://jimmiejohnsontri.racesonline.com/
KENTUCKY TICKET PACKAGE: Johnson is teaming up with Kentucky Speedway and NASA once again for a family ticket package experience for the July 9 event at the track. Click here for information: http://www.kentuckyspeedway.com/jimmiejohnson/
No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS / Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.   Hometown Kannapolis, North Carolina
Age 41                                Resides Mooresville, North Carolina
2016 Season
12th in standings
16 starts
0 wins
0 pole positions
5 top-five finishes
6 top-10 finishes
53 laps led
Career
593 starts
26 wins
13 pole positions
148 top-five finishes
252 top-10 finishes
8,187 laps led
Track Career
33 starts
4 wins
1 pole position
13 top-five finishes
19 top-10 finishes
593 laps led
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, will be available to members of the media at 2:15 p.m. local time on Thursday in the Daytona International Speedway media center.
AT DAYTONA: In the four superspeedway points races last season, Dale Earnhardt Jr. had an incredible average finish of 1.75, with two wins and a lowest finish of third place. At Daytona International Speedway, the Kannapolis, North Carolina, native has four wins, including two Daytona 500 victories, and is tied with Tony Stewart for the most wins of any active driver at the track. Earnhardt is in a five-way tie for seventh on the all-time Daytona wins list. In this year’s Daytona 500, Earnhardt was making a pass for fifth with 31 laps to go when he spun and hit the wall, ending his day and resulting in a 36th-place finish. The result was an anomaly for the driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS at the 2.5-mile, D-shaped oval, who heads into Daytona as the defending July race winner.
CLOSE TO HOME: Jay Nolan Jr., the engine tuner for the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, grew up nearby in Jacksonville, Florida, which is just over an hour away from Daytona. Nolan moved to Charlotte in 2002, just three months after he graduated from Jacksonville’s Bishop Kenny High School, with the goal of working for Hendrick Motorsports. In January 2004, that dream became a reality when Nolan was hired to work in teardown in the engine shop after persistent visits to the shop while working other jobs in the area. He worked his way up in the engine department at Hendrick Motorsports, and in 2012 he became the engine tuner for the No. 88 team. In 2014, Nolan won the Daytona 500 with Earnhardt, which he names as by far his best moment in the sport — not a surprise considering that it’s the biggest race of the year and horsepower is vital to winning a superspeedway race.
GOLD GLOVES: During the month of July, Earnhardt will be wearing gloves accented in gold to raise awareness about hearing impairment as part of The Dale Jr. Foundation’s ongoing Driven to Give Gloves program. Earnhardt’s race-worn gloves will be auctioned off to raise funds for Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s clinical and research programs. Nationwide Children’s is America’s largest pediatric hospital and research center with all care provided regardless of a family’s ability to pay.
NATIONWIDE SMALL-BUSINESS PROMOTION: This is the final week to enter Nationwide’s small-business promotion. The deadline for entries on the social media sweepstakes, which encourages small-business owners to enter for a chance to have the name of their company featured on the TV panel of Earnhardt’s No. 88 Nationwide Chevy during the Sept. 25 race weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, is June 30. As the No. 1 small-business insurer in the country, Nationwide remains the carrier of choice for more than 500,000 small-business clients, including Earnhardt. The winner and a guest will also receive a VIP experience to the race that includes flights, lodging and a personal meeting with Earnhardt. To participate in the contest, small-business owners, employees and fans can nominate their “Boss Man” by uploading a picture of him or her doing their best “Water Cooler Dale” impression at www.watercoolerdalejr.com.
AXALTA INJECTOR: Announced in May, Axalta Coating Systems signed on to become the fifth and final founding partner of Daytona International Speedway’s re-development project, Daytona Rising, with branding on the track’s central entrance, referred to as an injector. Daytona completed a three-year, $400 million renovation this year along its frontstretch, where it built the massive, branded entrances that include sponsor-designed “neighborhoods” around them. Axalta has begun work on the injector, but the area won’t be fully completed until 2017.
Hendrick Motorsports
HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT DAYTONA: Hendrick Motorsports has achieved 14 wins, 15 pole positions, 54 top-five results, 93 top-10s and 1,925 laps led at Daytona. The organization has eight Daytona 500 victories, with Earnhardt most recently collecting a win at the superspeedway in July 2015.
ORGANIZATION STATS: To date, Hendrick Motorsports has totals of 242 victories, 208 pole positions, 999 top-five finishes and 1,667 top-10 finishes in Sprint Cup competition. Its teams have led 65,416 laps since 1984.
QUOTABLE /
“The superspeedway program at Hendrick Motorsports is one of the best and everybody at the shop works so hard on the cars. Not only is it a big weekend because of the Fourth of July, but I have a cool paint scheme that a girl named Noelia designed. She’s a patient at the Seattle Children’s Hospital, and Great Clips had the kids in the Strong Against Cancer program create designs for this weekend’s car. She put a lot of effort into it and the fans voted for her car to win.”
Kasey Kahne on racing at Daytona and his paint scheme
“I think it will be fun to get back to Daytona with SunEnergy1 on the car. I’ve known (SunEnergy 1 CEO and President) Kenny (Habul) for a while and I’m excited to get there. The car looks really cool I think. It will be a good weekend. Daytona is always fun and the Fourth of July race is always one that stands out.”
Chase Elliott on returning to Daytona with a new sponsor
“We have had strong cars at superspeedways this year. Daytona should be a good race to watch. If the race gets off to a slow start, you can probably bank on a wild finish. We have a special Lowe’s Chevrolet this weekend with the patriotic colors on it – would be nice to win this one to honor all the veterans.”
Jimmie Johnson on returning to Daytona
“We looked at some of the things we were doing on the plate car this year that we didn’t have last year – some new ideas and new theories how to get the car to be fast, and we think that has compromised how the car handles. Last year, we finished in the top two or three in every single plate race and we were the best car at Daytona and Talladega, hands down. So, we’re going to go back on our setup to 2015, and hopefully that is going to give me the confidence and the comfort that I need to drive the car and be aggressive with it in the draft. I’m looking forward to Daytona and getting back to our winning ways there.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. on Daytona setup
“Daytona is a good track for us, obviously. We’ve got confidence going into the race. With the points situation, we need to get a nice cushion. We need to try to protect ourselves – just do what we normally do, run and try to win, and not give away chunks of points. We gave away probably 40 points total at the restrictor plate races this year – Daytona and Talladega – by spinning out. Had we run those races and finished reasonably, I’d say that would be about 40 points that we would be able to tack onto what we have today and that would put us comfortably in position to make the Chase.”
Earnhardt on Daytona and making the Chase