Irwin Tools Night Race

Race to Chase update: Kenseth, Bowyer clinch berths

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Saturday night’s Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol was the 24th of 26 regular season races before NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup. Matt Kenseth clinched a berth with his Sprint Cup season-high fifth win of 2013 and despite a frustrating night, Clint Bowyer clinched a berth as well.

Kasey Kahne came up just short of what would have been a crucial third win for him, which would have all but secured his Chase position. Still, he advanced to eighth in points with the runner-up finish. Joey Logano has also vaulted into the top 10 for the first time in the Race to the Chase run, and his Michigan win looks even more important now.

Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman’s subplot of where both are racing in 2014 may not have a direct impact on their 2013 seasons. But coincidentally, both struggled on Saturday, as did defending series champion Brad Keselowski. Keselowski and Busch are now on the outside looking in in 11th and 12th, neither with a win yet this year, while Newman still has a win but ranks 15th.

Here’s where things sit as of now:

1. Jimmie Johnson, 821 points, 4 wins
2. Clint Bowyer, 803, 0
3. Carl Edwards, 768, 1
4. Kevin Harvick, 760, 2
5. Kyle Busch, 739, 3
6. Matt Kenseth, 736, 5
7. Dale Earnhardt Jr., 714, 0
8. Kasey Kahne, 701, 2
9. Greg Biffle, 698, 1
10. Joey Logano, 685, 1
11. Brad Keselowski, -4 behind Logano, 0
12. Kurt Busch, -6, 0
13. Jeff Gordon, -11, 0
14. Martin Truex Jr., -22, 1
15. Ryan Newman, -26, 1
16. Jamie McMurray, -38, 0
17. Paul Menard, -47, 0
18. Aric Almirola, -69, 0
19. Tony Stewart, -91, 1
20. Jeff Burton, -93, 0

Wild Card leaders Martin Truex Jr. and Ryan Newman have a win apiece to their credit, but if any of Keselowski, Kurt Busch or Jeff Gordon win one of the next two races, their chances are in jeopardy.

LOCKED IN: Johnson, Bowyer, Kenseth
VIRTUAL LOCKS: Edwards, Harvick, Kyle Busch
ALMOST LOCKS: Earnhardt Jr., Kahne
GOOD FOR NOW: Biffle, Logano, Truex, Newman

IN RANGE: Keselowski, Kurt Busch, Gordon
OUT OF RANGE: McMurray
VIRTUALLY ELIMINATED: Menard, Almirola, Stewart, Burton

PREVIOUS RACE TO CHASE UPDATES: Indianapolis, Pocono 2, Watkins Glen, Michigan 2

Rosberg called before stewards over Hungary pole lap

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - JULY 23: Nico Rosberg of Germany and Mercedes GP in the garage during final practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Hungary at Hungaroring on July 23, 2016 in Budapest, Hungary.  (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images)
© Getty Images
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Nico Rosberg has been called to see the FIA race stewards over his pole position lap during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Rosberg’s final Q3 lap saw him edge out Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton for pole position by 0.143 seconds, but was partially completed under double-waved yellow flags shown following a spin for Fernando Alonso.

Rosberg was adamant after the session that he lifted enough, and the stewards did not initially investigate it.

However, over three-and-a-half hours after qualifying was completed, Rosberg has now been called in over a possible failure to slow for yellow flags during his Q3 lap.

Rosberg will meet with the stewards at 19:45 local time in Hungary (13:45 ET).

The majority of drivers completing their final laps at the end of Q3 were forced to abort their efforts in response to Alonso’s spin.

Double-waved yellows require drivers to “slow down and be prepared to stop”. Although Rosberg arrived at the scene later than most, he still only lifted, not appearing to slow enough so that he could stop, thus prompting the stewards to investigate.

UPDATE: No penalty for Rosberg after stewards’ meeting

The FIA stewards have confirmed that Rosberg has been cleared of failing to slow for yellow flags on his final Q3 lap, meaning he keeps pole position for Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix.

“The telemetry demonstrated that the driver reduced speed significantly into Turn 8,” a statement from the stewards read.

Rosberg confident he lifted enough during Hungary pole lap

Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg, of Germany, smiles as he celebrates after setting the pole position during the qualifying session for Sunday's Formula One Hungary Grand Prix, at the Hungaroring racetrack, in Budapest, Hungary, Saturday, July 23, 2016. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
© AP
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Nico Rosberg is confident that he slowed down enough to respect the yellow flags during his pole position lap for the Hungarian Grand Prix in qualifying on Saturday.

Rosberg edged out Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to score pole at the Hungaroring by 0.143 seconds, his final lap being completed partly under yellow flags following a spin for Fernando Alonso.

Drivers are required to slow under yellows, with those who first came across Alonso’s car being forced to abandon their final flying laps altogether as a result.

Alonso had cleared his car by the time Rosberg came to Turn 5, although yellow flags were still being shown, leading to questions about the validity of the German’s time.

“For sure there were double waved [yellows] yeah, but I had a very, very big lift and lost a lot of time as a result,” Rosberg explained.

“I was also slower than on my previous lap in that yellow sector, or in that yellow segment, or whatever it’s called, so I’m sure it will be OK.”

Speaking to NBCSN after qualifying, Rosberg re-affirmed his belief that he had slowed down enough.

“Yeah for sure,” Rosberg said when asked if he did enough.

“I know what I need to do. I did a big lift, so I handled it according to what needed to be done, so it will be OK.”

The Hungarian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports App from 7am ET on Sunday.

Steiner: Haas being 11th ‘starting to get old’

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - JULY 23: Romain Grosjean of France driving the (8) Haas F1 Team Haas-Ferrari VF-16 Ferrari 059/5 turbo on track during qualifying for the Formula One Grand Prix of Hungary at Hungaroring on July 23, 2016 in Budapest, Hungary.  (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images)
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Haas Formula 1 chief Guenther Steiner joked that being 11th is “starting to get old” after seeing Romain Grosjean narrowly miss out on the team’s first Q3 appearance in Hungary.

Grosjean and teammate Esteban Gutierrez were well inside the top 10 after completing their final lap times, only for a flurry of improvements on a rapidly-drying track to bump them down to 11th and 15th respectively.

Grosjean believed that Q3 was within Haas’ reach in Hungary, but instead suffered his ninth straight Q2 exit.

“It was close. We were only one-tenth off of Lewis [Hamilton’s] P10 time,” Grosjean said.

“All things considered, to be that close, it’s a good thing. We successfully made all the right decisions at the right time in qualifying, including tire choices.

“It was a very difficult qualifying session, but we showed how much we’ve improved as a team from day one through today. We were perfect today in our execution. We were fast on both the extreme wet and intermediate tires. We weren’t too bad on slicks.

“I know that tenth-of-a-second that denied us today is somewhere in there. I’m pretty happy with everything.

“If it doesn’t rain tomorrow it’s going to be boiling hot, and that always makes for a good race.”

Like Grosjean, Steiner looked on the bright side of the result, but joked he was tired of Haas narrowly missing out on the top 10.

“It was quite an exciting qualifying session with a lot of action out there,” Steiner said.

“To keep cool in this situation is very difficult, but I think the team did a good job. We managed everything very well, so we’ve no regrets.

“We ended up 11th and 15th. Being 11th is starting to get old, but at least by being there Romain can start on new tires, so that will be an advantage.

“Esteban can make his way up. He’s in good company, with Kimi [Raikkonen] just ahead. We’re almost there, but still not in Q3, which is where we want to be.

“But 11th is a good starting position. Tomorrow we’re confident we can move up. We’ll be trying hard to get points.”

The Hungarian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports App from 7am ET on Sunday.

Pierre Gasly takes second GP2 win in Hungary feature race

Pierre Gasly (FRA, PREMA, Racing) leads the field.
2016 GP2 Series Round 6
Hungaroring, Budapest, Hungary
Saturday 23 July 2016

Photo: /GP2 Series Media Service
ref: Digital Image _ONY3476
© GP2 Series
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Red Bull junior driver Pierre Gasly swept to his second GP2 Series victory in the space of two weeks with a dominant display at the Hungaroring on Saturday afternoon.

Victory in the feature race at Silverstone saw Gasly end a win drought dating back almost three years to his Formula Renault 2.0 days and move back into contention for the championship.

The Frenchman would have to wait just 14 days for his second GP2 win to come about as he fended off charges from Antonio Giovinazzi, Sergey Sirotkin and Raffaele Marciello to win in Budapest.

A good start allowed Gasly to control the early part of the race before pitting to the hard tire, at which point he was left to battle with cars running an alternate strategy.

Ex-Ferrari academy member Marciello looked to extend his prime stint before making the switch to the soft compound late on. The Italian put his fresh rubber to good use, cutting the gap to Gasly, Giovinazzi and Sirotkin after emerging from the pits behind the trio.

Arden’s Jimmy Eriksson rolled the dice on an ambitious strategy, pitting from the lead with just two laps remaining. The Swede came back out in eighth place, but retired after running out of fuel just half a lap from the finish.

Gasly had kept his cool, regaining the lead when Eriksson finally pitted with Giovinazzi and Sirotkin two seconds further back before crossing the line to claim his second victory in the space of two weeks.

Giovinazzi held Sirotkin off to complete a one-two finish for Prema, leaving the Russian to settle for P3. Marciello finished fourth ahead of Arthur Pic and Nobuharu Matsushita, while Norman Nato was seventh. Jordan King finished eighth for the third feature race in a row, giving him pole for Sunday’s sprint race in Hungary.

Victory gives Gasly a seven-point lead in the drivers’ standings ahead of Giovinazzi, with Marciello a further 12 points behind.