NASCAR Victory Lap

Everything you need to know about Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas

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Courtesy of NASCAR’s public relations and statistics teams, here’s all the important numbers and notes you need to know going into this coming weekend’s Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway – round 3 of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.


Driver Highlights:
Greg Biffle (No. 16 Red Cross Ford)
· Two top fives, six top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 13.8
· Average Running Position of 10.7, fourth-best
· Driver Rating of 103.0, fourth-best
· 150 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most
· 483 Green Flag Passes, 12th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 170.361 mph, fourth-fastest
· 1,754 Laps in the Top 15 (72.4%), fifth-most
· 270 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), seventh-most

Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M’s Toyota)
· One win, four top fives, five top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 14.7
· Average Running Position of 10.3, third-best
· Driver Rating of 102.8, fifth-best
· 110 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most
· 500 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 170.333 mph, sixth-fastest
· Series-high 1,904 Laps in the Top 15 (78.5%)
· Series-high 358 Quality Passes

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Mountain Dew Kickstart Chevrolet)
· Two top fives, seven top 10s
· Average finish of 15.6
· Average Running Position of 14.9, 12th-best
· Driver Rating of 88.2, ninth-best
· 90 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most
· 532 Green Flag Passes, fifth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 169.982 mph, eighth-fastest
· 1,590 Laps in the Top 15 (65.6%), eighth-most
· 284 Quality Passes, sixth-most

Carl Edwards (No. 99 Aflac Ford)
· Two wins, four top fives, five top 10s
· Average finish of 9.7
· Average Running Position of 11.6, fifth-best
· Driver Rating of 98.8, sixth-best
· 155 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most
· 571 Green Flag Passes, second-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 170.031 mph, seventh-fastest
· 1,768 Laps in the Top 15 (72.9%), fourth-most
· 344 Quality Passes, second-most

Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet)
· One win, six top fives, seven top 10s
· Average finish of 15.4
· Average Running Position of 10.0, second-best
· Driver Rating of 103.8, second-best
· 177 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most
· 491 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 170.356 mph, fifth-fastest
· 1,870 Laps in the Top 15 (77.1%), second-most
· 334 Quality Passes, third-most

Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet)
· Three top fives, five top 10s
· Average finish of 12.7
· Average Running Position of 11.7, sixth-best
· Driver Rating of 94.8, eighth-best
· 60 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most
· 521 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 169.944 mph, ninth-fastest
· 1,680 Laps in the Top 15 (69.3%), seventh-most
· 267 Quality Passes, eighth-most

Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet)
· Four wins, five top fives, seven top 10s
· Average finish of 9.5
· Series-best Average Running Position of 9.6
· Series-best Driver Rating of 112.3
· Series-high 316 Fastest Laps Run
· 499 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most
· Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 170.622 mph
· 1,825 Laps in the Top 15 (75.3%), third-most
· 311 Quality Passes, fourth-most

Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet)
· Three top fives, five top 10s; three poles
· Average finish of 14.0
· Average Running Position of 14.3, ninth-best
· Driver Rating of 87.7, 10th-best
· 88 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most
· 539 Green Flag Passes, third-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 169.550 mph, 11th-fastest
· 1,498 Laps in the Top 15 (61.8%), 10th-most
· 245 Quality Passes, 11th-most

Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota)
· Three wins, six top fives, seven top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 11.6
· Average Running Position of 14.4, 10th-best
· Driver Rating of 98.7, seventh-best
· 193 Fastest Laps Run, second-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 170.475 mph, second-fastest
· 1,551 Laps in the Top 15 (64.0%), ninth-most
· 253 Quality Passes, ninth-most

Joey Logano (No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford)
· One top 10
· Average finish of 14.0
· Average Running Position of 14.7, 11th-best
· Driver Rating of 83.1, 12th-best
· Average Green Flag Speed of 169.343 mph, 12th-fastest

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (No. 17 Zest Ford)
· Average finish of 18.0
· Average Running Position of 12.9, eighth-best
· Driver Rating of 83.5, 11th-best
· Average Green Flag Speed of 169.856 mph, 10th-fastest

Tony Stewart (No. 14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet)
· One win, six top fives, nine top 10s
· Average finish of 12.7
· Average Running Position of 11.8, seventh-best
· Driver Rating of 103.4, third-best
· 187 Fastest Laps Run, third-most
· 501 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 170.371 mph, third-fastest
· 1,733 Laps in the Top 15 (71.5%), sixth-most
· 298 Quality Passes, fifth-most

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Winners List
Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Daytona 500, Daytona International Speedway
Kevin Harvick – The Profit on CNBC 500, Phoenix International Raceway

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Points Standings (After Race 2 of 36)
1. Dale Earnhardt Jr. – 90 points (1 win)
2. Brad Keselowski – 84 points
3. Jeff Gordon – 80 points
4. Kevin Harvick – 79 points (1 win)
5. Jimmie Johnson – 78 points
6. Joey Logano – 75 points
7. Matt Kenseth – 70 points
8. Denny Hamlin – 68 points
9. Carl Edwards – 65 points
10. Greg Biffle – 64 points
11. Casey Mears – 64 points
12. Jamie McMurray – 64 points
13. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – 63 points
14. Kyle Busch – 61 points
15. Ryan Newman – 60 points
16. Austin Dillon – 56 points

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2014 Top 10 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Rank Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating
1 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 14 0 0 2 7 2 15.6 88.2
2 Brad Keselowski 5 0 0 1 1 0 25.0 66.7
3 Jeff Gordon 16 0 1 6 7 3 15.4 103.8
4 Kevin Harvick 13 0 0 3 5 0 12.7 94.8
5 Jimmie Johnson 12 0 4 5 7 0 9.5 112.3
6 Joey Logano 5 0 0 0 1 0 14.0 83.1
7 Matt Kenseth 14 1 3 6 7 1 11.6 98.7
8 Denny Hamlin 8 0 0 1 4 0 13.1 79.2
9 Carl Edwards 9 0 2 4 5 0 9.7 98.8
10 Greg Biffle 10 1 0 2 6 1 13.8 103.0

* – Based on last nine races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (2005 – 2013).

Las Vegas Motor Speedway Track History
· The construction to build the superspeedway known today as Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS) began in 1995. Speedway Motorsports Inc. acquired the property in 1998.
· The first NASCAR race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway was a NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race won by Ken Schrader on Nov. 2, 1996.
· The first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race was held on March 1, 1998, won by Mark Martin.
· In 2006, the track was reconfigured to include progressive banking.

Las Vegas Motor Speedway Notes
· There have been 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
· 128 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Las Vegas; 97 in more than one.
· Four drivers have participated in all 16 races: Jeff Burton, Jeff Gordon, Bobby Labonte and Mark Martin.
· Dale Jarrett won the inaugural pole with a speed of 168.224 mph (32.773 secs.).
· 10 drivers have poles at LVMS, led by Kasey Kahne, who posted his third last season (2004, 2007 and 2012).
· Kyle Busch is the only driver to win consecutive poles at LVMS from (2008-‘09).
· Youngest LVMS pole winner: Kyle Busch (3/2/2008 – 22 years, 10 months, 0 days).
· Oldest LVMS pole winner: Dale Jarrett (3/4/2001 – 44 years, 3 months, 6 days).
· Nine different drivers have won at LVMS, led by Jimmie Johnson (four). Three other drivers have multiple wins at Las Vegas: Matt Kenseth (three), Jeff Burton, Carl Edwards (each have two).
· Roush Fenway Racing leads the series in wins at Las Vegas with seven, followed by Hendrick Motorsports with five.
· Las Vegas-native Kyle Busch became the first and only Only two LVMS races have been won from the front row: Kyle Busch, 2009 (pole); and Carl Edwards, 2008 (second-place).
· Three of the 16 races (18.7%) have been won from a top-five starting position at Las Vegas.
· Seven of the 16 (43.7%) races have been won from a top-10 starting position at Las Vegas.
· Four of the 16 races (25%) at Las Vegas have been won from a starting position outside the top 20.
· The deepest in the field that a race winner has started was 25th, by Matt Kenseth in 2004.
· Youngest LVMS winner: Kyle Busch (3/1/2009 – 23 years, 9 months, 27 days).
· Oldest LVMS winner: Sterling Marlin (3/3/2002 – 44 years, 7 months, 32 days).
· Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne and Tony Stewart lead the series in runner-up finishes at Las Vegas with two each.
· Matt Kenseth, Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart lead the series in top-five finishes at Las Vegas with six each.
· Mark Martin has 10 top-10 finishes, more than any other driver. His average finish is 13.4.
· Jimmie Johnson leads the series in average finish at LVMS with a 9.5; Carl Edwards (9.6) is the only other active driver with an average finish in the top 10.
· There has been one green-white-checkered finish at Las Vegas: 2006 (270/267).
· Kyle Busch made his first start and Kasey Kahne won his first pole at Las Vegas, in the same event (2004).
· Aric Almirola made his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career start at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2007.
· Three drivers have won consecutive races at Las Vegas: Jeff Burton (1999, 2000); Matt Kenseth (2003, 2004) and Jimmie Johnson is the only one of the three to win three consecutive races (2005, 2006 and 2007).
· Eight of the nine NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers who have won at Las Vegas participated in at least two or more races before visiting Victory Lane. Mark Martin (1998; inaugural event) is the only driver to win at Las Vegas in his first appearance.
· Tony Stewart competed at Las Vegas Motor Speedway 13 times before winning (2012); the longest span of any of the nine winners. Stewart is the only driver to have made 10 or more attempts before his first win at LVMS.
· Bobby Labonte leads the series (active drivers) with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Las Vegas without visiting Victory Lane with 16.
· Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Las Vegas was the March 12, 2006 race won by Jimmie Johnson with a MOV of 0.045 second.
· No driver has won the first three races of the season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The five drivers that have won the first two events of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season are: Matt Kenseth (2009), Jeff Gordon (1997), David Pearson (1976), Bob Welborn (1959) and Marvin Panch (1957).
· Three reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions have gone on to win at Las Vegas the following season: Matt Kenseth (2004), Jimmie Johnson is the only one to do it multiple times (2007, 2010) and Tony Stewart (2012).
· Three drivers have won at Las Vegas and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship in the same season: Jeff Gordon (2001), Matt Kenseth (2003) and Jimmie Johnson (2006, 2007 and 2010).
· Danica Patrick and Shawna Robinson are the only two female drivers to compete at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
· Only two car numbers have produced three or more Las Vegas NSCS wins: No. 48 – Jimmie Johnson (2005-2007 and 2010) and No. 99 – Jeff Burton (1999, 2000) and Carl Edwards (2008, 2011).

Las Vegas Motor Speedway Data
Season Race #: 3 of 36 (3-9-14)
Track Size: 1.5-miles
Banking/Turns 1 & 2: 20 degrees
Banking/Turns 3 & 4: 20 degrees
Banking/Frontstretch: 9 degrees
Banking/Backstretch: 9 degrees
Frontstretch Length: 2,275 feet
Backstretch Length: 1,572 feet
Race Length: 267 laps / 400.5 miles

Top 10 Driver Ratings at Las Vegas
Jimmie Johnson………………….. 112.3
Jeff Gordon………………………… 103.8
Tony Stewart………………………. 103.4
Greg Biffle………………………….. 103.0
Kyle Busch…………………………. 102.8
Carl Edwards……………………….. 98.8
Matt Kenseth………………………… 98.7
Kevin Harvick……………………….. 94.8
Dale Earnhardt Jr………………….. 88.2
Kasey Kahne………………………… 87.7
Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2013 races (nine total) among active drivers at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Qualifying/Race Data
2013 pole winner: None Due to Inclement Weather
2013 race winner: Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 146.287 mph, (2:44:16), 3-10-13
Track qualifying record: Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 190.456 mph, 28.353 secs., 3-09-12
Track race record: Mark Martin, Ford, 146.554 mph, (2:43:58), 3-01-98

NASCAR in Nevada
· There have been 17 NASCAR Sprint Cup races in Nevada – 16 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and one at Las Vegas Park Speedway…23 drivers in NASCAR national series history have listed their home state as Nevada…Three drivers from Nevada have won at least one NASCAR national series race: Kyle Busch (28 Cup, 64 NNS, 36 Truck), Kurt Busch (24 Cup, 5 NNS, 4 Truck), and Brendan Gaughan (8 Truck).

Rosberg: New season can’t come soon enough

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Nico Rosberg says that the new Formula 1 season cannot come soon enough after capping off 2015 with a third consecutive victory in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

Rosberg saw his hopes of winning a maiden world championship end in Austin, Texas last month as teammate Lewis Hamilton wrapped up his third title with three races to spare.

Since then, Rosberg has found a second wind to claim his first career hat-trick with victories in Mexico, Brazil and Abu Dhabi.

Speaking on the podium after his most recent success, Rosberg said that he was relishing the start of the new season and that it cannot come quickly enough given his momentum.

“Austin was a low point of the season, it was a tough weekend,” Rosberg said. “Since then I’ve just come back a lot stronger and I’m very happy about that.

“I’m excited about how the end of the season went, and next year can come any moment – it could start tomorrow for me, no problem, I don’t need any holidays!

“Anyway it’s great to end the season like this, go on holiday like this. Thank you so much, you’ve been awesome again this weekend for all your support and everything.

“Thanks to my team, absolutely stunning car you’ve all given me again today, unbelievable. I’m ecstatic.”

Rosberg struggled to compete with Hamilton for much of the year, but said that his recent successes were all the sweeter given the ability of his Mercedes stablemate.

“It’s always tough to race Lewis, he’s doing an awesome job and is one of the best out there,” Rosberg said.

“Even better feeling to win definitely against such opposition. It’s a great battle internally all of the time, and that’s what I race for, this battle. I look forward to more next year.”

Rosberg ends 2015 with third straight F1 win in Abu Dhabi

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Nico Rosberg rounded out the 2015 Formula 1 season with a third consecutive victory after seeing off the challenge of Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to win Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Rosberg controlled proceedings from the front of the field, leading the majority of the race before coming under pressure in the closing stages after Mercedes switched Hamilton’s strategy so he could push hard on the final stint.

However, the three-time world champion was unable to bridge the gap, allowing Rosberg to claim a sixth win of the season and a third in a row to finish off a year that largely saw him struggle for form.

A poor start from Hamilton allowed Rosberg to retain his lead from pole position heading into the first corner, but the Briton managed to fend off Kimi Raikkonen and Sergio Perez to hold on to second place. Rosberg was able to build on his good start, opening up a two second lead over Hamilton in the opening stages of the race before the first round of pit stops.

Further back, Fernando Alonso’s miserable 2015 season showed few signs of mercy even at the final race as he clashed with Pastor Maldonado at the first corner. The stewards deemed Alonso to be at fault, handing the Spaniard a drive-through penalty. The damage to Maldonado’s suspension was enough to end his race early.

There was further drama at the first round of pit stops when Williams released Valtteri Bottas into the path of Jenson Button, causing damage to the front of the Finn’s car. Bottas pitted again one lap later for repairs, and was duly hit with a time penalty for the unsafe release.

Mercedes had no such problems with its pit stops, but Hamilton was left scrambling for pace. A late push from Rosberg at the end of the first stint allowed him to create a five-second gap over Hamilton into which Sebastian Vettel – still yet to pit after starting on primes – dropped in to. Hamilton made light work of the Ferrari driver just three laps later, but the gap to Rosberg had already swelled to over six seconds.

Hamilton managed to work the gap down with a series of quick laps throughout the second stint of the race, though, piling the pressure on Rosberg at the front. The German’s led was halved in the space of a few laps as he struggled with graining on his tires and by the time he came in for a second time, the gap to Hamilton lay at just 1.3 seconds.

Rosberg was the first to pit once again, taking on another fresh set of primes on lap 31, but Mercedes opted to extend Hamilton’s stint before bringing him in. Rosberg was told to pick up the pace in reaction to this, closing the gap at the front so that he would be ahead once Hamilton made his final stop.

Just as he did in Brazil two weeks ago, Hamilton argued with Mercedes over strategy as he tried to get ahead of Rosberg once again. The Briton wanted to try and make a one-stop strategy work by going to the end, only to be told that this would be “impossible”.

All the while, Rosberg continued to close, giving him a lead of 12.5 seconds once Hamilton had pitted. Instead of putting on a set of options to make up for the longer second stint, Mercedes fitted another set of primes to Hamilton’s car, leaving him with the task of making up one second per lap in the final stages of the race.

It was one that Hamilton took in his stride, immediately laying down a quick pace on his fresh tires. Despite running 1.7 seconds per lap quicker than Rosberg at one point, Hamilton was unable to sustain this pace until the end and struggled with traffic, ending his hopes of victory in Abu Dhabi.

Instead it was Rosberg who crossed the line to take his third consecutive win and finish the 2015 season in style, beating Hamilton to the flag by 8.2 seconds.

Raikkonen rounded out the podium for Ferrari after enduring a rather lonely race, having been waved past Vettel due to their differing tire calls. Vettel managed to make his prime-prime-option strategy work perfectly to finish fourth, passing Perez in the closing stages to demote the Mexican to fifth.

Perez held on to finish fifth, two places ahead of Force India teammate Nico Hulkenberg to cap off the team’s best-ever F1 season in style. Daniel Ricciardo split them in P6, while Felipe Massa followed eighth ahead of Daniil Kvyat.

Romain Grosjean’s last race for Lotus ended in style as he passed Carlos Sainz Jr. for the final points-paying position with just three laps to go. He was then able to pass Daniil Kvyat one lap later to secure ninth position, leaving the Russian to settle for P10 at the checkered flag.

Max Verstappen enjoyed an eventful race en route to P12, but was under investigation from the stewards when the flag fell after ignoring blue flags. They handed him a time penalty that ultimately dropped him to P16. Button and Bottas recovered from their earlier clash to finish 12th and 13th ahead of the Sauber duo of Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr.

Despite threatening to retire the car at one point, Fernando Alonso finished his race in 17th place two laps down on Rosberg. Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi propped up the classification for Manor.

Magnussen set for Mercedes DTM test next week

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 15:  Kevin Magnussen of Denmark and McLaren Honda waves to the fans during the drivers' parade before the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park on March 15, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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Former McLaren driver Kevin Magnussen will try his hand at a DTM car next week in Spain at a test with Mercedes.

Magnussen raced for McLaren in 2014 before being dropped to make way for Fernando Alonso in 2015, and was released from his contract earlier this year after the team opted to retain Alonso and Jenson Button for next season.

The Dane is known to be evaluating his options in Formula 1 for next year, and has said that he would be open to another reserve role with a team.

Magnussen enjoyed a successful test with Porsche in Barcelona earlier this month, trying out the LMP1 919 Hybrid car that he called “the most advanced race car in the world”.

Magnussen had been tipped as a candidate to take Nico Hulkenberg’s place in the third Porsche entry for the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June, but it was confirmed on Saturday that the German marque would be scaling down to just two cars for 2016.

Now, Magnussen will test at DTM car with Mercedes at Jerez next week at the series’ annual rookie test.

“Yes, I’m going down there testing,” Magnussen told Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet.

“It’ll probably be on the third day [Thursday]. It will be a great experience and I appreciate the opportunity. I’m looking forward to trying another new race car for the first time.

“They are evaluating drivers and might need one for next season, but I’m not tied to anything for next year. For me it will be a great chance to try a racing car I’ve never driven before and then we’ll see what the future brings.”

Magnussen is set to be joined at the test by another ex-F1 driver, Giedo van der Garde, who will also be testing for Mercedes according to a report from Autosport.

Hamilton laughs off criticism about his lifestyle

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain waves after he captured the second position at the qualifying at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015. The Emirates Formula One Grand Prix will take place on Sunday.  (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
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Lewis Hamilton has laughed off criticism from former boss Ron Dennis about his lifestyle and behavior, saying that his activities away from Formula 1 have had a positive impact on his on-track performances.

Hamilton was signed to McLaren by Ron Dennis at the age of 13 before making his F1 debut with the team nine years later in 2007.

He won his first drivers’ championship with McLaren the following year, but left for Mercedes after the 2012 season.

Since then, Hamilton has gone on to win two more world titles and establish himself as one of F1’s all-time greats, while McLaren has failed to claim a single race victory in the same period.

Earlier this week, Dennis said that Hamilton’s celebrity lifestyle and behaviour would not be tolerated if he still were at McLaren, and that he looks at the Briton with “mixed emotions”.

When asked about the comments on Saturday, Hamilton laughed them off.

“I don’t know why he is touching on that subject,” Hamilton said. “Maybe he has nothing else positive to talk about!

“Who I am today, regardless of whom I was working for, is my own creation. I do a lot of things outside the sport, and I think it has a positive impact on my career.”

Hamilton admitted earlier this month that excessive partying following his third world title success in the USA had left him feeling “run down”, and also attributed his busy schedule to a minor car accident in Monaco ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix.