LOUDON, N.H. -- With the start of the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championshp fast approaching, Hendrick Motorsports drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, and Jimmie Johnson crammed two days of testing into one Wednesday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway to prepare for their visit next month for the Sylvania 300, the second event in NASCAR's 10-race playoff format.
"This is an important race in the Chase, obviously,'' said Gordon, who has completed and led more laps at the 1.058-mile oval in Loudon than any other driver in Sprint Cup history. "Anything we can learn here that we can take somewhere else to help us get in the Chase is as crucial as well."
With an average finish of 16.0 in 28 career starts at NHMS, Earnhardt stood to benefit by taking part in the team test.
"Testing anywhere can help you, and we didnít think we were as good as we needed to be last time and weíre trying to pick up a few things that can help us,'' said Earnhardt, who started third but finished 14th in July's Sprint Cup race at NHMS. "If we are fortunate enough to make the Chase, this is one of the important races in the Chase so weíre trying to get off to a good start, and the race is real key.''
Asked why New Hampshire in particular was important in the Chase, Earnhardt said, "They're all very important. You canít really give up any [points], you canít take a race off, and you canít have a bad event, so you need to be prepared for each one.
"The [projected] average finish to win a championship has to be definitely under seventh, so that means you have to finish good everywhere.''
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