2012 Ford EcoBoost 400

By the numbers: The 2013 Chasers at Homestead

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In February, it all began at Daytona. This weekend, it all ends four hours south in Homestead.

Championship Weekend is fast-approaching, with the Chase for the Sprint Cup set to conclude this Sunday in the Ford Ecoboost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Jimmie Johnson opened the 2013 season with a win in the Daytona 500, which caused me to wonder if a sixth Cup title was coming to him this year. At that point in time, he was confident that he’d have a strong year. Now, he’s on the cusp of writing his name into the record books once again.

Matt Kenseth (-28 points) and Kevin Harvick (-34 points), his remaining rivals in the championship, have no control over their fates; they can dominate and win on Sunday, but they also need Johnson to collapse.

A lot of things have to happen in order for someone other than Johnson to raise the Cup after 400 miles on Sunday. But it’s not over yet. We’ve been surprised a few times in this Chase. Perhaps, the racing gods have one more in store.

As provided by NASCAR, here are the Homestead-Miami statistics for each of the 13 Chase competitors.

JIMMIE JOHNSON (Leader – 2,384 Points)
· Four Top-5s, seven Top-10s
· Average Finish: 15.3 in 12 races
· Average Running Position: 13.8, ninth-best

MATT KENSETH (Second, -28 points)
· One win, three Top-5s, five Top-10s
· Average Finish: 17.6 in 13 races
· Average Running Position: 9.3, third-best

KEVIN HARVICK (Third, -34 points)
· Five Top-5s, 10 Top-10s
· Average Finish: 7.9 in 12 races
· Average Running Position: 10.6, fourth-best

KYLE BUSCH (Fourth, -57 points)
· One Top-5, two Top-10s
· Average Finish: 23.1 in eight races
· Average Running Position: 15.8, 15th-best

DALE EARNHARDT JR. (Fifth, -63 points)
· One Top-10
· Average Finish: 22.1 in 13 races
· Average Running Position: 20.8, 22nd-best

JEFF GORDON (Sixth, -80 points)
· One win, seven Top-5s, 11 Top-10s
· Average Finish: 10.6 in 14 races
· Average Running Position: 13.0, seventh-best

GREG BIFFLE (Seventh, -83 points)
· Three wins, four Top-5s, five Top-10s
· Average Finish: 14.4 in 11 races
· Average Running Position: 15.2, 13th-best

CLINT BOWYER (Eighth, -87 points)
· Two Top-5s, four Top-10s
· Average Finish: 12.1 in seven races
· Average Running Position: 12.0, fifth-best

JOEY LOGANO (Ninth, -97 points)
· Average Finish: 24.0 in four races
· Average Running Position: 22.2, 24th-best

KURT BUSCH (10th, -99 points)
· One win, four Top-5s, five Top-10s
· Average Finish: 19.8 in 12 races
· Average Running Position: 23.8, 29th-best

RYAN NEWMAN (11th, -125 points)
· One Top-5, four Top-10s
· Average Finish: 17.0 in 11 races
· Average Running Position: 13.6, eighth-best

KASEY KAHNE (12th, -132 points)
· One Top-5s, four Top-10s
· Average Finish: 15.4 in nine races
· Average Running Position: 12.5, sixth-best

CARL EDWARDS (13th, -134 points)
· Two wins, five Top-5s, seven Top-10s
· Average Finish: 6.0 in nine races
· Series-best Average Running Position of 7.1
*Series-best Driver Rating of 119.0
*Series-high 264 Fastest Laps Run
*Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 162.674 mph
*Series-high 1,881 Laps in the Top 15 (88.0%)

Rosberg delighted with near-perfect lap en route to Russia pole

SOCHI, RUSSIA - OCTOBER 10:  Nico Rosberg of Germany and Mercedes GP drives during qualifying for the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on October 10, 2015 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)
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Nico Rosberg believes that he produced a near-perfect lap en route to pole position for the Russian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Rosberg posted a fastest lap time of 1:37.113 to beat Mercedes teammate and championship leader Lewis Hamilton to pole position by three-tenths of a second.

The result marked Rosberg’s third pole position of the season, and is the first time he has scored back-to back poles since the end of 2014.

Conditions in practice on Friday plus a scary crash for Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz Jr. on Saturday meant that the field headed into qualifying almost blind in terms of setup and car balance, but Rosberg was pleased with what he achieved.

“It was a tricky session today as we were not able to practise a lot yesterday,” Rosberg explained. “We had to guess what the right set up for this track will be.

“But we nailed it and had a nearly perfect lap in my first run in Q3. So I’m quite pleased with that.

“I’m in the best possible position for tomorrow, which is great. I really hope for a clean race, it will be a great battle with Lewis.”

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff praised Rosberg for his consistently quick display in practice and qualifying, but believes that the lack of practice running will also have an impact on Sunday’s race.

“A great job from Nico to take a second pole position in a row; he has been quick all weekend and kept that going through qualifying to take P1,” Wolff said.

“For the race, it will be a bit of a journey into the unknown because we have not had much running this weekend. This track is tough on the rear tires and everybody will be watching the tire degradation carefully.

“We’re starting from the best possible position but we need to take everything one step at a time.”

The Russian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 6:30am ET on Sunday.

WEC: Porsche sweeps to front row lock-out in Fuji

Car #17 / PORSCHE TEAM (DEU) / Porsche 919 Hybrid Hybrid  / Timo Bernhard (DEU) / Mark Webber (AUS) / Brendon Hartley (NZL) Qualifying LMP1 & LMP2 - 6 Hours of Fuji at Fuji International Speedway - Shizuoka - Japan
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Porsche extended its streak of pole positions in the FIA World Endurance Championship to nine races by locking out the front row of the grid for the 6 Hours of Fuji on Saturday.

Sharing qualifying duties in the no. 17 Porsche 919 Hybrid, Mark Webber and Timo Bernhard posted a two-lap average of 1:22.763 seconds to give the German marque pole position at Fuji Speedway.

Yet again, it was the sister no. 18 Porsche of Marc Lieb, Neel Jani and Romain Dumas that put up the most stringent challenge, but fell three-tenths of a second short at the end of the LMP qualifying session.

Audi put up more of a fight to the Porsches this time around as both of its R18 e-tron quattros finished within half a second of the no. 17’s time. The no. 7 of Marcel Fassler, Andre Lotterer and Benoit Treluyer will start third ahead of Lucas di Grassi, Loic Duval and Oliver Jarvis in the no 8.

Toyota endured another fairly routine qualifying en route to P5 and P6 as the TS 040 Hybrid car struggles to keep up with its rivals, beating only the Rebellion and ByKolles runners in LMP1.

In LMP2, G-Drive continued its dominant streak by finishing first and second in class. Sam Bird, Roman Rusinov and Julien Canal will start from pole tomorrow ahead of Gustavo Yacaman, Luis Felipe Derani and Ricardo Gonzalez in the sister car.

AF Corse bounced back from a difficult race in Austin to finish first and second in GTE Pro qualifying, led by the no. 71 of James Calado and Davide Rigon. Toni Vilander and Gianmaria Bruni will start just behind in P2 ahead of the no. 99 Aston Martin Racing entry.

Ferrari’s strong form carried over into GTE Am as well as the SMP Racing F458 Italia took class pole, finishing three-tenths clear of the no. 98 AMR Vantage.