Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth, Marcos Ambrose, Kyle Busch, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

NASCAR Sprint Unlimited stats, heading into tonight

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Of the 18 drivers who will race in tonight’s Sprint Unlimited, 16 have past starts. Danica Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. haven’t yet competed in the race.

Past winners entered include: Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart and Terry Labonte.

Here’s a stats breakdown, per NASCAR, of how everyone else has fared in the non-points opener that kicks off the 2014 season.

Marcos Ambrose – No. 9 Stanley Ford
                     Times Laps
Year Fin St Car Laps Led   Led Status
2012 3   21  9   82   1     1 Running
2013 11  10  9   75           Running

Kurt Busch – No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet
                     Times Laps
Year Fin St Car Laps Led   Led Status
2002 14  1  97   70   1     3  Running
2003 11  3  97   70   1     11 Running
2005 6   6  97   70            Running
2007 3   19 2    70   2     6  Running
2008 18  1  2    70            Running
2009 9   12 2    78            Running
2010 23  22 2    32            Accident
2011 1   17 22   75   3     3  Running
2012 17  6  51   82            Accident
2013 13  18 78   15            Accident

Kyle Busch – No. 18 M&M’s Toyota
                     Times Laps
Year Fin St Car Laps Led   Led Status
2006 15  14 5   72   2     4   Running
2007 7   6  5   70   3     39  Running
2009 10  10 18  78   2     6   Running
2010 4   17 18  76             Running
2011 16  21 18  41   2     2   Accident
2012 1   2  18  82   2     3   Running
2013 16  13 18  14             Accident

Dale Earnhardt Jr. – No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet
                     Times Laps
Year Fin St Car Laps Led   Led Status
2001 6   10 8   70             Running
2002 2   16 8   70   1     20  Running
2003 1   19 8   70   4     13  Running
2004 2   19 8   70             Running
2005 7   12 8   70             Running
2006 2   19 8   72   1     1   Running
2007 14  17 8   70             Running
2008 1   7  88  70   7     47  Running
2009 18  9  88  64   4     23  Accident
2010 11  11 88  76             Running
2011 19  1  88  27   3     4   Accident
2012 20  8  88  54   2     12  Accident
2013 8   16 88  75             Running

Carl Edwards – No. 99 Fastenal Ford
                     Times Laps
Year Fin St Car Laps Led   Led Status
2006 16  11 99  71             Running
2008 12  20 99  70   1     1   Running
2009 7   11 99  78   2     11  Running
2010 17  1  99  74   2     42  Accident
2011 21  3  99  33             Accident
2012 9   11 99  82             Running
2013 12  1  99  75             Running

Jeff Gordon – No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet
                     Times Laps
Year Fin St Car Laps Led   Led Status
1994 1   6  24  20   1     2   Running
1995 4   5  24  20             Running
1996 9   7  24  20             Running
1997 1   3  24  20             Running
1998 14  5  24  25             Engine
1999 15  8  24  25             Running
2000 2   6  24  25             Running
2001 11  6  24  70             Running
2002 3   22 24  70             Running
2003 2   18 24  70   2     31  Running
2004 5   2  24  70   2     16  Running
2005 3   11 24  70             Running
2006 19  10 24  23             Accident
2007 21  11 24  31             Electrical
2008 4   22 24  70   1     1   Running
2009 4   28 24  78   2     2   Running
2010 6   23 24  76             Running
2011 6   12 24  75   1     1   Running
2012 15  14 24  73   3     16  Accident
2013 17  7  24  14             Accident

Denny Hamlin – No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota
                     Times Laps
Year Fin St Car Laps Led   Led Status
2006 1   15 11  72   3     16  Running
2007 17  21 11  70             Running
2008 9   12 11  70             Running
2009 13  5  11  78   2     4   Running
2010 5   24 11  76             Running
2011 12  4  11  75             Running
2012 5   16 11  82             Running
2013 15  5  11  14             Accident

Kevin Harvick – No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet
                     Times Laps
Year Fin St Car Laps Led   Led Status
2003 9   16 29  70             Running
2004 3   5  29  70   2     10  Running
2006 20  18 29  15             Engine
2007 5   20 29  70   2     11  Running
2009 1   27 29  78   1     1   Running
2010 1   2  29  76   5     21  Running
2011 7   18 29  75             Running
2012 22  22 29  54   3     4   Accident
2013 1   17 29  75   3     37  Running

Jimmie Johnson – No. 48 KOBALT TOOLS Chevrolet
                     Times Laps
Year Fin St Car Laps Led   Led Status
2003 7   2  48  70   1     4   Running
2004 9   17 48  70             Running
2005 1   17 48  70   1     16  Running
2006 5   2  48  72   3     12  Running
2007 4   8  48  70             Running
2008 3   18 48  70             Running
2009 14  21 48  77   1     2   Accident
2010 13  16 48  76             Running
2011 4   23 48  75   2     7   Running
2012 14  18 48  74   1     1   Accident
2013 14  11 48  14             Accident

Matt Kenseth – No. 20 Dollar General Toyota
                     Times Laps
Year Fin St Car Laps Led   Led Status
2003 3   5  17  70   3     6   Running
2006 6   16 17  72             Running
2009 8   25 17  78   1     1   Running
2010 16  8  17  74             Accident
2011 13  19 17  74             Running
2012 21  23 17  54             Accident
2013 5   12 20  75   2     25  Running

Brad Keselowski – No. 2 Miller Lite Ford
                     Times Laps
Year Fin St Car Laps Led   Led Status
2012 4   3  2   82             Running

Terry Labonte – No. 32 C&J Energy Services Ford
                     Times Laps
Year Fin St Car Laps Led   Led Status
1982 2   1  44  20             Running
1983 10  11 44  19             Accident
1984 9   11 44  20             Running
1985 1   11 44  20   1     16  Running
1986 5   8  11  20             Running
1987 9   5  11  0              Accident
1988 9   5  11  20             Running
1989 3   4  11  20             Running
1992 13  7  94  20             Running
1996 4   11 5   20             Running
1997 11  1  5   20   1     10  Running
2001 15  12 5   69             Running
2002 7   7  5   70             Running
2003 14  17 5   70             Running
2004 8   6  5   70   3     17  Running
2013 19  19 32  2              Accident

Joey Logano – No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford
                     Times Laps
Year Fin St Car Laps Led   Led Status
2009 28  19 20  3              Accident
2010 7   21 20  76             Running
2011 18  22 20  27             Accident
2012 18  10 20  54   1     1   Accident
2013 3   9  22  75             Running

Jamie McMurray – No. 1 Cessna Chevrolet
                     Times Laps
Year Fin St Car Laps Led   Led Status
2004 17  3  42  69   2     8   Accident
2006 8   17 26  72   1     1   Running
2008 22  4  26  24             Accident
2009 2   15 26  78   4     16  Running
2010 3   9  1   76   2     2   Running
2011 2   14 1   75             Running
2012 16  4  1   73   5     11  Accident

Ryan Newman – No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet
                     Times Laps
Year Fin St Car Laps Led   Led Status
2002 15  8  12  70             Running
2003 4   15 12  70             Running
2004 16  16 12  69   1    4    Accident
2005 2   7  12  70   1    4    Running
2006 17  7  12  68             Accident
2007 20  9  12  46             Engine
2008 23  17 12  70             Running
2010 19  4  39  74             Accident
2011 3   8  39  75  3    18    Running
2012 7   13 39  82             Running

Tony Stewart – No. 14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet
                     Times Laps
Year Fin St Car Laps Led   Led Status
2000 4   3  20  25             Running
2001 1   7  20  70             Running
2002 1   3  20  70   2     31  Running
2003 15  12 20  70             Running
2004 7   18 20  70             Running
2005 4   8  20  70             Running
2006 3   3  20  72   3     7   Running
2007 1   14 20  70   2     11  Running
2008 2   10 20  70   2     9   Running
2009 3   6  14  78   1     4   Running
2010 9   13 14  76   2     6   Running
2011 11  2  14  75   3     4   Running
2012 2   15 14  82   1     7   Running
2013 4   15 14  75   2     5   Running

Ricky Taylor makes his IndyCar test debut today at Homestead

BRASELTON, GA - OCTOBER 03:  Ricky Taylor, C, sits with member of his crew before qualifying for Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta on October 3, 2014 in Braselton, Georgia.  (Photo by Brian Cleary/Getty Images)
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It seems to be the winter of all-stars from other racing disciplines testing in IndyCar.

Today Ricky Taylor joined the list of those stars from the closed-top sports car or touring car world on the winter IndyCar test list, with a one-off guest test for Team Penske in defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion Simon Pagenaud’s No. 1 PPG Chevrolet.

The older of two Taylor brothers, who completed a star turn at this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona en route to delivering the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R an overall win with brother Jordan, Max Angelelli and Jeff Gordon, made his maiden laps at the Homestead-Miami Speedway road course.

Chevrolet and General Motors extended the test offer to Ricky Taylor for this opportunity. Fittingly for Pagenaud, it’s the second time in not even a year he’s given up his seat to another member of either the GM or Penske family; Brad Keselowski made a similar out-of-nowhere one-off test at Road America last year.

“Every driver dreams to be an Indy car driver,” Taylor said, via IndyCar.com. It can’t hurt to be involved with (Team Penske); there are no negatives to that. To get to know all the guys and get to drive the car and get an actual feel for it in a low-pressure environment is a great opportunity for me. Even if it doesn’t lead to anything, it’s a big learning opportunity.”

With Ricky Taylor completing this test and with Robert Wickens and Pipo Derani set to test next week at Sebring’s short course, there’s been a sudden series of additional interest in the final few runs before the IndyCar season opens on March 12.

And with Ricky Taylor in Homestead today, it was left to Jordan Taylor and the Konica Minolta team’s new third driver, Englishman Alex Lynn, to run solo today as part of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship February test at Sebring’s full course. Lynn will make his U.S. race debut in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, to be held March 18. Ricky Taylor would be expected back at Sebring for the second day of the test, held Friday.

Alexander Albon moves up to GP2 with ART Grand Prix

2016 GP2 Series Test 3
Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Friday 2 December 2016.
Alexander Albon (THA, ART Grand Prix) 
Photo: Zak Mauger/GP2 Series Media Service.
ref: Digital Image _X0W3990
© GP2 Series
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2016 GP3 Series runner-up Alexander Albon has announced that he will move into GP2 for 2017 with ART Grand Prix, completing the team’s line-up.

Albon, 20, finished second behind Ferrari junior Charles Leclerc in GP3 last year with ART, racking up four race wins through his rookie campaign.

The Thai youngster will now continue with ART in GP2, partnering McLaren youngster Nobuharu Matsushita through 2017.

“I am really excited to be working with ART Grand Prix for a second year. I learnt a huge amount last year and we have become one big close family,” Albon said.

“Moving up to the GP2 series is an important step in anyone’s career and I am extremely fortunate to be with a top team who already understand me.

“There’s a lot to learn coming from GP3, and the experience and method of working at ART Grand Prix is the reason they have won so many titles. I hope I will continue to proudly wear Thailand’s colours and those of my faithful Thai partners.

“I look forward to the new challenge and cannot wait for the season to begin!”

The new GP2 season will begin in Bahrain on April 15.

Sergey Sirotkin set for more F1 practice chances through 2017

SOCHI, RUSSIA - APRIL 28: Sergey Sirotkin of Russia and Renault Sport F1 in the Paddock during previews ahead of the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on April 28, 2016 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)
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Sergey Sirotkin is poised to enjoy more Formula 1 practice opportunities through 2017 with Renault after the team confirmed he would continue in a reserve role.

Sirotkin, 21, joined Renault in 2016 as a test driver after previously working with Sauber and falling short in a bid to be on the grid for 2015.

The Russian enjoyed two practice run-outs through 2016 behind the wheel of the Renault R.S.16, but will enjoy an expanded program in the forthcoming campaign.

“For Sergey, stability is important and we are happy to continue the development program after a very good GP2 season,” Renault F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul said.

“He will continue to focus on his development role as a reserve, and he will have more opportunities to run in the car on Friday.

“His attention to detail and his appetite to be at the factory, looking at the simulator, his focus and his mentality, we’re happy to maintain at the team.”

Sirotkin is yet to confirm his racing plans for 2017, having spent the past two seasons in GP2, but has his sights firmly set on an F1 race seat next year.

“I don’t think anyone would be surprised if I said that my main target for the 2018 season is to have a seat as a Formula 1 race driver and that’s what I’m working towards,” Sirotkin said.

“I’m here to learn and be an asset to the team as well as show that I am worthy of further opportunities.”

VTB Group becomes title sponsor for Russian Grand Prix

SOCHI, RUSSIA - MAY 01: Nico Rosberg of Germany driving the (6) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes F1 WO7 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo leads Kimi Raikkonen of Finland driving the (7) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H Ferrari 059/5 turbo (Shell GP), Valtteri Bottas of Finland driving the (77) Williams Martini Racing Williams FW38 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo and the rest of the field at the start during the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on May 1, 2016 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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Russian finance group VTB has been named as the new title sponsor for the Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix for 2017, set to take place on April 30.

Russia first joined the F1 championship calendar back in 2014, with the Sochi Autodrom being constructed in the city that hosted the Winter Olympics earlier that year.

For 2017, the race will feature a title sponsor for the first time, with an announcement being made by the VTB Group and F1 officials on Thursday.

As per a statement on the official F1 website: “The company’s branding has been included in the race’s logo and VTB has obtained additional advertising, marketing and communication options.”

“The right to be the title sponsor of such a major international project opens up new opportunities for both VTB Group and the Russian round of the FIA Formula One World Championship,” first deputy president and chairman of VTB management board Vasily Titov said.

“I am confident that our cooperation will become an example of an effective sponsorship in the area of motorsport for many companies. We are looking forward to seeing everyone at the 2017 Formula 1 VTB Russian Grand Prix in Sochi on 28-30 April.”

“The 2017 Formula 1 VTB Russian Grand Prix is not only a great event to attend to enjoy high-tech sporting battles and a wide range of entertainment, but is also a business platform of the highest level,” race promoter Sergey Vorobyev added.

“We are grateful to Bernie Ecclestone for making the decisions necessary for the development of this partnership and look forward to successfully working with Chase Carey and the new Formula 1 management team.”

Carey became F1’s new CEO last month following Ecclestone’s resignation, and was pleased to confirm the deal for VTB to become the Russian Grand Prix’s title sponsor.

“We are delighted to welcome VTB into the Formula One family as it becomes Event Title Partner of the Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix,” Carey said.

“VTB’s involvement will only add to the continued success of the event and we look forward to this being the start of a long and successful relationship.”