Sunday, April 22, 2012

Hendrick Garage: Kansas

Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon chat during practice on Friday.
Credit: Tyler Barrick/Getty Images for NASCAR
Kansas Speedway, a track where the Hendrick drivers have had success. Could this finally be the day Rick Hendrick gets his 200th win or would their luck continue to fall short?

Kasey Kahne, No. 5

Starting out 9th, Kasey Kahne found himself in the top ten for most of the race. On Lap 90 during green flag stops Kahne ran second, however he stayed out longer then his competitors and the No. 5 Chevy ran out of gas. Kahne would bounce around within the top 15 for the remainder of the race. Kahne earned his best finish this season, finishing 8th and he now ranks 26th in points, gaining one position.

“We were fast, said Kahne. "I think we were one of the fastest cars at times. At other times we were sliding around, the back of the car. We got off on pit sequence a little bit. We’ve got to work on pit stops and we’ve got to work on adjustments…”

Jeff Gordon, No. 24

The main issue Jeff Gordon had all day was poor handling conditions. Alan Gustafson and the No. 24 crew worked hard to get the issue fixed, but just couldn't find the fight adjustment that would get the No. 24 handling well. This would not stop Gordon from battling for positions.

On Lap 238 Gordon lost a cylinder, causing him to slow and fall off the pace. After being black flagged for not maintaining race speed, Gordon was forced to pit. The pit crew fixed the No. 24 as best as they could for Gordon to return to track. Able to hold on and finish, Jeff Gordon brought the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet home in 21st and now ranks 18th in the points, losing one position.

“We lucked out in some ways, I feel like, by finishing 21st," Gordon said after the race. "It could have been a lot worse. We struggled today. We missed the set-up. And we were still going to finish 7th or 8th. So I think that says a lot about our race team. But yeah, we obviously had a valve spring I believe, something in the valve train that broke…”

Jimmie Johnson, No. 48

Returning to the track he won at last October, Jimmie Johnson had high hopes to have that same fortune this time around.

Starting 15th, Johnson had a rocket of a Chevy and by the first caution flag was already in the top five. On Lap 156 Johnson, who had made his way to second, tried taking a shot at leader Martin Truex Jr., but just didn’t have enough power to take the lead. On Lap 187 when the caution came out, most of the leaders stayed on the track, but the No. 48 pitted, taking four tires. Johnson would lose his top-five position, restarting 12th. Just 20 laps later he was back to battling for third where he’d stay for the reminder of the race. Johnson finished third and gained one position to seventh in the points standings.

"I just wish I was closer to those guys to race for it, but we really ran second to third all day long.  Seemed to be the pace that we had in the car, so to come home third, I'd love to finish better, but it's not like we had a dominant car with the most laps that didn't win this week. We kind of finished where we ran all day," Johnson said of his results.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88

When the green flag dropped, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was running seventh and charging strong. By Lap 100 Earnhardt Jr. was in the top five, but complained of loose handling conditions which caused issues for the No. 88. Despite those issues, Earnhardt Jr. finished his day in seventh and ranks fourth in the points, dropping one spot.

Speaking on his seventh-place finish, Earnhardt Jr. said, "We never really cured our problems on the track, but we had a good car and it was a real consistent team, so we’ve got that going for us. And we’ve just got to get a little bit more to get to where we can try to win some races.”


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