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Official Daytona 500 entry list released; qualifying format explained

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Last week, we ran a preliminary Daytona 500 entry list based on confirmations and projections of entries from all offseason announcements.

There’s only one change from the list we outlined, and it’s an addition. The 48 cars listed last week are all on the official entry list, joined by the No. 40 Hillman Racing Chevrolet driven by Landon Cassill for the entry list completion of 49 cars.

VIEW: Official Entry List

More importantly perhaps is a rundown of owner points shuffles/changes and how the cars will qualify for the Daytona 500. The Daytona 500 qualifying format, unlike the remaining 35 NASCAR Sprint Cup races this year, is unchanged.

  • The front row, positions 1-2, will be filled by single-car, two-lap time trials held on Sunday.
  • Positions 3-32 are filled by the top 15 finishers in each of the Budweiser Duel races held Thursday night. The 16th place car gets in if either driver on the Daytona 500 front row finishes in the top 15.
  • Positions 33-36 go to the four fastest qualifying speeds not already locked in via Duel results.
  • Positions 37-42 are provisionals based on 2013 owner points, not already locked in by any of the above ways.
  • Position 43 is a past champion’s provisional, descending in order from most recent past champ not already locked in.

And now, the owner points changes:

  • At Richard Childress Racing, the No. 3 (Austin Dillon) takes the No. 29 points from Kevin Harvick last year.
  • Harvick’s No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet will have the No. 39 points from Ryan Newman. As a new entry, Kurt Busch’s No. 41 will not have any 2013 owner points to use, but he will have a past champion’s provisional available if needed.
  • Michael Waltrip Racing shifts the No. 56 owner points from Martin Truex Jr. to Brian Vickers’ No. 55, while Waltrip’s own No. 66 will take the No. 55 points.
  • BK Racing’s No. 23 (Alex Bowman) will have the No. 93 2013 points; the No. 93 driven by Morgan Shepherd won’t have any as a new entrant fielded by MacDonald Motorsports, per Sporting News’ Bob Pockrass.
  • The Randy Humphrey-fielded No. 77, driven by Dave Blaney, will take the No. 19 2013 points.

There are 14 cars entered that are outside the top 35 in 2013 entrant points, and eight of these 14 will make the field. So although three drivers have a past champion’s provisional available, they’ll likely need to qualify either on speed or via their Budweiser Duel result. They are arranged by owner points and include:

  • 83-Ryan Truex, BK Racing (36th in 2013, 36 2013 attempts)
  • 32-Terry Labonte, Go Fas Racing (37th, 36, plus eighth in PCP order)
  • 33-Brian Scott, Richard Childress Racing (38th, 36)
  • 35-Eric McClure, Front Row Motorsports (39th, 36)
  • 87-Joe Nemechek, Jay Robinson (40th, 36)
  • 21-Trevor Bayne, Wood Brothers (41st, 12)
  • 98-Josh Wise, Phil Parsons Racing (42nd, 33)
  • 40-Landon Cassill, Hillman Racing (43rd, 16)
  • 95-Michael McDowell, Leavine Family Racing (44th, 22)
  • 77-Dave Blaney, Humphrey Racing (45th, 23)
  • 41-Kurt Busch, Stewart-Haas Racing (New entry, 0, plus fourth in PCP order)
  • 52-Bobby Labonte, HScott Motorsports (New entry, 0, plus seventh in PCP order)
  • 26-Cole Whitt, Swan Racing (New entry, 0)
  • 93-Morgan Shepherd, MacDonald Motorsports (New entry, 0)

Raikkonen: No secret to qualifying charge in Abu Dhabi

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 28:  Kimi Raikkonen of Finland and Ferrari drives during final practice for the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit on November 28, 2015 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
© Getty Images
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Kimi Raikkonen says that there was no secret behind his late charge to third place in qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but remains realistic about his chances in Sunday’s race.

After seeing teammate Sebastian Vettel drop out in Q1, Raikkonen led Ferrari’s charge at the Yas Marina Circuit by finishing third behind the Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.

Raikkonen managed to edge out Force India driver Sergio Perez for P3 with his final lap in Q3, but the Finn said that there was no secret to his late charge.

“No real secret,” Raikkonen said. “Obviously the car has been handling pretty well all weekend.

“The laps haven’t been ideal many times. Even the first run, it was OK the lap, but I knew there was quite a lot of room to improve so I just tried to make one a bit better lap and it was enough.

“Obviously still a bit of a way off from what these guys can do but we did our best today.

“The Mercedes have been very quick today and yesterday, in the lap times they are a bit faster than us, but the race is tomorrow, so let’s see.

“I did my maximum today. Tomorrow is another day, we can only do our best and see where we’ll end up. We’ll try to make a good start and then see how it pans out, going from there and making the right decisions.”

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 7am ET on Sunday.

Porsche confirms unchanged line-up for 2016 WEC season

Porsche 919 Hybrid, Porsche Team: Romain Dumas, Neel Jani, Marc Lieb
© Porsche
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Following Audi’s press conference earlier today confirming its plans for the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship season, Porsche has followed suit by announcing it will be retaining all six of its existing LMP1 drivers for the new campaign.

Porsche enjoyed immense success in 2015 as Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard took the drivers’ championship in dramatic fashion at the 6 Hours of Bahrain, adding to the manufacturers’ title the marque had won three weeks earlier in Shanghai.

The 919 Hybrid LMP1 car took pole position for every race in 2015, and also won Porsche’s first 24 Hours of Le Mans since 1998 with the third entry of Nico Hulkenberg, Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber.

However, Porsche confirmed that it will be only racing with its two regular WEC entries at Le Mans next June, reflecting Audi’s move to help cut costs.

Porsche will once again run the same two line-ups, with Webber, Hartley and Bernhard set to defend their championship together with the no. 1 car. Marc Lieb, Neel Jani and Romain Dumas will team up for a third successive year in the second 919 Hybrid.

“The advice of ‘never change a winning team’ is spot on,” LMP1 vice-president Fritz Enzinger said.

“Both our driver trios didn’t only perform brilliantly on track, but have also been with us since the beginning of the programme and have significantly contributed to the Porsche 919 Hybrid’s development.

“We are very proud of these six top drivers, and very pleased all of them are on board for the 2016 world championship and the Le Mans 24 Hours.”

The decision to not run a third car at Le Mans not only ends Hulkenberg’s already-faint hopes of defending his title, but also will leave Tandy and Bamber looking for drives elsewhere.

It also puts an end to speculation that Juan Pablo Montoya could be set to bid for the Triple Crown and race at Le Mans, having tested with Porsche in Bahrain last week.

GP2: Vandoorne breaks win record, Rossi secures P2 in championship

2015 GP2 Series Round 11.
Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Saturday 28 November 2015.
Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL, ART Grand Prix) 
Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.
ref: Digital Image _SBL9548
© GP2 Series
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Stoffel Vandoorne claimed a record-breaking 11th GP2 Series victory in Abu Dhabi on Sunday after seeing off challenges from Pierre Gasly and Raffaele Marciello at the Yas Marina Circuit.

Starting second, Vandoorne made a good start but was unable to pass Gasly on the first lap, forcing him to settle down in P2 for the opening stages of the race.

Vandoorne made his move for the lead on lap four, diving down the inside of Gasly at the turn seven hairpin before establishing an advantage over the field.

Gasly dropped down the order as the option tire runners began to lose grip, prompting an early round of pit stops and allowing Raffaele Marciello to hit the front as the lead driver on primes.

Marciello retained this advantage until stopping at the end of lap 26, but emerged from the pits behind Vandoorne. The Italian was just ahead of Mitch Evans, leaving him to battle for second place in the closing stages against the prime-shod Russian Time racer.

Vandoorne was able to ease home at the front to record his seventh win of the year and 11th in GP2, beating Pastor Maldonado’s existing record of ten to become the most successful driver in the history of the series.

Marciello fended off Evans to finish second by less than one second, while American driver Alexander Rossi closely followed them home in fourth.

The result ensures that Rossi will finish the year as GP2’s vice-champion behind Vandoorne in the final standings.

Tomorrow’s sprint race will see Alex Lynn start from pole position for DAMS after finishing eighth on Saturday. Rio Haryanto will start from P2 by virtue of his seventh-place finish, with Jordan King and Gasly filling the second row of the grid.

New Audi R18 e-tron quattro unveiled; two cars only for Le Mans

Photo: Audi
Photo: Audi
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Audi Sport has revealed its new Audi R18 e-tron quattro, the latest generation of diesel-powered TDI which now will run with a 6 mJ battery hybrid.

The new LMP1 car was unveiled at the annual Audi Sport Finale in Munich, among several other key announcements of note.

Audi will retain its same driver lineup, the lead trio of Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler in one car with Lucas di Grassi, Loic Duval and Oliver Jarvis back as well. After the successive retirements of Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish and Dindo Capello the last three years, Audi now has the same lineup for consecutive years, for the first time in years.

However, and while the third car trio of Filipe Albuquerque, Marco Bonanomi and Rene Rast was on stage with the six others, Audi confirmed both it and sister brand Porsche will run two cars only at next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, rather than three as each did this year.

It was a jointly agreed upon decision; both operate under the VW Group parent company. It effectively rules out the same trio of Nick Tandy, Earl Bamber and Nico Hulkenberg repeating as a trio, although Porsche will announce the program for its own drivers next month.

“We stay with the TDI, 50 percent more hybrid power,” said Chris Reinke, Head of Audi LMP1. “Battery storage and high focus on aero as you can see. We are on our way to challenge for WEC and Le Mans wins.”

Here’s a few photos from the reveal, below: