FONTANA RECAP: Most recently, Kasey Kahne finished ninth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in Fontana, Calif., on March 24. This marks his third top-10 finish in just five starts this season. Kahne currently ranks seventh in the standings and trails leader and teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. by 40 points.
SEASON-TO-DATE: In the first five races this season, Kahne ranks first among Cup drivers in several categories including: fastest drivers early in a run (4.750) and green-flag speed (4.500). The 32-year-old driver also is tied for first with Matt Kenseth for laps led (223). Kahne has started from the outside pole twice and inside the top six for two events this season.
KAHNE AT MARTINSVILLE: In 18 Cup starts at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, Kahne has recorded two top-five finishes and three top-10s. He scored his best result at the short track in April 2005 when he rallied from a 35th-place starting spot to finish second. The driver of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS scored the pole position at the half-mile oval in April 2012 and has qualified sixth or better six times at the Virginia short track. Most recently, Kahne led 12 laps and scored a third-place finish at Martinsville in October 2012.
MARTINSVILLE LOOP DATA: According to NASCAR loop data during the last 16 Sprint Cup Series races at Martinsville, Kahne ranks fourth in the closers category with 28 positions improved in the last 10 percent of laps in each race. He also ranks ninth in fastest laps run (191).
SHORT TRACK STATS: In 55 starts on tracks less than one mile in length, Kahne has three pole positions, two wins, 10 top-five finishes and 18 top-10s. He finished 12th in his most recent short track event at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway in September 2012.
CHASSIS CHOICE: Crew chief Kenny Francis will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 5-787 for Sunday’s event at Martinsville. This is a new chassis.
HENDRICK BESTS AT MARTINSVILLE: Hendrick Motorsports has recorded its most wins, top-five finishes and top-10s at Martinsville. The organization has 19 victories there, with Johnson most recently reaching Victory Lane at the short track in October 2012. During that race, three Hendrick Motorsports drivers finished seventh or better to give the organization 104 career top-10s at Martinsville. That figure is a team-best for Hendrick and ranks as more than any other team has acquired at any Cup track in NASCAR history.
MARTINSVILLE DUO: Johnson and Gordon rank tied for first among active drivers with seven wins apiece at the paper-clip oval. Gordon leads active drivers at the Virginia short track in the following statistical categories: top-five finishes (25), top-10s (32) and laps led (3,515). Gordon also ranks first among active drivers with a 7.2 starting position, and Johnson ranks first with an average finish of 5.5
KASEY KAHNE, DRIVER, NO. 5 FARMERS INSURANCE CHEVROLET SS (ON THE TEAM’S PERFORMANCE SO FAR THIS SEASON.): “We’re off to a much better start than last year, and I feel good about that. We got a little behind at the start of the season and fought back in the last couple weeks to get back to a good spot. I feel good about where we’re at, and I feel good about the speed of our car and our team. That’s what it’s all about is just being on the same page with all the guys. Right now, we’re really working well together and enjoying it.”
KAHNE (ON WHAT HE’S LOOKING FORWARD TO AT MARTINSVILLE.): “Just having Jimmie (Johnson), Jeff (Gordon) and Dale (Earnhardt Jr.) as my teammates; I think those guys run really well there. Being part of Hendrick Motorsports, they bring a really nice package to that track. Last year was the best I’ve ever ran there, the most comfortable I’ve been, and I feel like it will be like that again this year just because of the guys I’m surrounded with. That was one of my hardest tracks, and now I’m feeling like I’m figuring it out. I think it’s because of those guys and listening and learning from them.”
KENNY FRANCIS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 5 FARMERS INSURANCE CHEVROLET SS (ON THE TEAM’S PERFORMANCE SO FAR THIS SEASON.): “I think it gives us a lot of confidence the fact that we’re in good shape on this new car, and we’re always working to get better. We’re looking to try to continue that momentum, and I think all of our cars this year have shown pretty good speed. Between the Nos. 24, 48 and 88, we’ve all been fast at most of the tracks and been pretty good.”