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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.

LAS VEGAS-SPECIFIC STATISTICS

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).

Flavio Briatore: Fernando Alonso won’t take vacant Mercedes F1 seat

MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 24:  Flavio Briatore, his wife Elisabetta Gregoraci and their son Falco Nathan attend the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Monaco on May 24, 2015 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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Flavio Briatore has dismissed speculation suggesting that Fernando Alonso could replace Nico Rosberg at Mercedes for the 2017 Formula 1 season.

Briatore previously managed Alonso and remains a close friend of the Spaniard, who currently races for McLaren.

Rosberg announced just five days after winning his maiden F1 title that he would be retiring from racing with immediate effect, freeing up the most coveted seat on the grid.

Alonso is known to be desperate for a third world championship, having not claimed a title since 2006, leading to speculation that he could push for a move to Mercedes for 2017.

Mercedes F1 chief Toto Wolff said that Alonso was a driver that officials at the German marque “have to consider”, but was quick to acknowledge the contract in place with McLaren.

Briatore has become the latest figure to dismiss the idea, also making light of the fact that Alonso is linked to every free seat of note in F1.

“How is it that whenever there is a seat, you always think of Fernando?” Briatore told Italian publication La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“But there is a contract and we respect it.”

Alonso broke out of his Ferrari deal early at the end of 2014 to move to McLaren, but Briatore insisted that this was due to an escape clause in his contract.

“The situation was different. We had a pact with [Ferrari president Luca] di Montezemolo,” Briatore said.

“If we didn’t win the championship in 2014, we would be free, and Luca kept that promise.

“[Ferrari team principal Marco] Mattiacci offered a three-year renewal, but we refused.”

F1 2016 Review: Stories of the season

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 27: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes F1 WO7 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo leads Nico Rosberg of Germany driving the (6) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes F1 WO7 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo Daniel Ricciardo of Australia driving the (3) Red Bull Racing Red Bull-TAG Heuer RB12 TAG Heuer Sebastian Vettel of Germany driving the (5) Scuderia Ferrari SF16- Ferrari 059/5 turbo (Shell GP), Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (33) Red Bull Racing Red Bull-TAG Heuer RB12 TAG Heuer and the rest of the field at the start during the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit on November 27, 2016 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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The 2016 Formula 1 season may have ended a little under two weeks ago now, but it was perhaps right that we let the dust settle before kicking off our series of year reviews on MotorSportsTalk.

Last Friday saw Nico Rosberg perform the ultimate mic drop by announcing his immediate retirement from racing just five days after winning his first F1 World Championship.

We’ll get to that in a bit when looking back on the stories of the season – but through the rest of the year, F1 offered a number of intriguing and notable moments.

Here’s a look back at the biggest stories of the 2016 F1 season.

MERCEDES MAKES IT THREE

Mercedes winning a third straight championship double may not seem like a big story at face value, but it really, really is. Given we are now three years in to the V6 turbo era of F1 and the field has noticeable converged, for Mercedes to have racked up a record number of wins, points and poles is an astonishing achievement.

Very rarely have we seen a true threat to Mercedes’ surpremacy, either. In 2015, Sebastian Vettel’s three victories came on weekends where Mercedes was simply second best. This time around? The two blots on Mercedes’ record book – Spain and Malaysia – were due to mitigating circumstances.

Red Bull and Ferrari may have lurked at times, but in reality, the gap at the front only grew bigger in 2016.

HAMILTON/ROSBERG RIVALRY GETS ANOTHER (FINAL) CHAPTER

The rivalry between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg reached a fiery crescendo in 2016. On-track clashes in Spain and Austria stoked the fire nicely, forcing Mercedes to revise its “terms of engagement” with both drivers to prevent recurrences.

While we failed to see any titanic on-track battles between the duo, this was certainly the bitterest year yet in Hamilton/Rosberg relations. The lengths that Hamilton went to in the title decider to stop his teammate winning was evidence of how sour relations had become, yet he was gracious in defeat once Rosberg had clinched the title.

Following Rosberg’s retirement, it looks like we’ve seen the last chapter of one of F1’s most intense rivalries. While it may have been messy at times, it has at least ensured that Mercedes’ spell of dominance was not a complete procession.

ROSBERG DROPS THE MIC

The last F1 story of the year was the biggest. Nico Rosberg’s sensational decision to retire from racing just five days after winning his maiden world championship shocked the entire F1 paddock (well, except Lewis Hamilton) and the sporting world in general.

Everything about the story was a surprise: the decision itself; the nature in which it happened; the ‘OK-ness’ about it all, as well. F1 will be without its champion next year despite him being perfectly fit and well, young, and coming off the best season of his career. It’s a weird situation…

It also brings into question the legacy that Rosberg will leave behind. Will he be remembered as the driver who defeated one of F1’s all-time greats in Hamilton? Or as the man who was ‘one and done’? Time will tell.

HAAS HITS THE GRID

The star-spangled banner returned to the F1 grid full-time in 2016 as NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas saw his eponymous operation make its debut. Most were unsure what to expect from Haas F1 Team during its debut season, making Romain Grosjean’s charge to sixth on debut in Australia a surprise for most.

Grosjean went one better at the next race in Bahrain, finishing fifth, but it proved to be the high point of the season. The strategic mastery we saw early on disappeared, and the teething problems that come with any new project began to crop up time and time again. The team scored just one point in the second half of the season.

Nevertheless, it was a strong start to life in F1 from Haas. Let’s see what more it can do in 2017.

FERRARI STRUGGLES, RED BULL EXCELS

When Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen vaulted to the front of the pack on the opening lap of the season in Australia, it seemed our prayers had been answered: finally, there would be some resistance to Mercedes’ steam-roller act we’d seen for the previous two years in F1.

It was about as good as things got for the Scuderia though. Come the end of the year, both Vettel and Raikkonen ended up winless, with Ferrari slipping behind Red Bull to third in the constructors’ championship. It was a big come-down after the hope that ran through the 2015 campaign and off-season.

As for Red Bull? 2016’s success was a big surprise. Renault finally got its act together on the engine side of things, giving Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo the tools with which to win one race each, and even light the fire under the Mercedes boys later in the year.

VERSTAPPEN STEPS UP, STEALS THE SHOW

Max Verstappen’s promotion into a Red Bull seat just four races in to the new season was a major story, with the crest-fallen Daniil Kvyat moving back down to Toro Rosso. We knew this teen protege was going to be special, but few could have predicted just how special he would be through 2016.

From victory on debut (albeit a fortunate one) to his defence of Hamilton in Japan, and, most impressive of all, his magic in the rain at Interlagos, this was a memorable year for Verstappen.

Don’t go thinking this is the finished product yet. Verstappen’s qualifying form remains a bit patchy, lacking the ouright pace over one lap of teammate Daniel Ricciardo, and there were costly errors through the year (the start at Spa being one).

But boy, if this is Verstappen as a sophomore, we can’t wait to see what’s to come in his twenties.

TALKING ‘BOUT MY GENERATION

2016 was a year for the next generation of F1 to come to the fore. Besides Verstappen’s growing stardom, we saw his ex-teammate, Carlos Sainz Jr., lead Toro Rosso and mark himself as one of the best up-and-comers on the grid.

Mercedes youngsters Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon both enjoyed impressive campaigns, the latter making his debut at Spa, with both now being linked to the vacant Mercedes seat.

We also saw Stoffel Vandoorne make his race debut, replacing the injured Fernando Alonso in Bahrain ahead of his full-time bow with McLaren next year, and had GP3 champion Charles Leclerc run in practice for Haas.

With Lance Stroll also poised to join the grid next year, we’re talking more and more about a younger generation in F1.

CHANGING OF THE GUARD

Tying in with that theme, 2016 saw the last hurrahs in F1 for Felipe Massa and Jenson Button, two of the sport’s veterans. Although Button could yet return in 2018, it’s highly unlikely.

Both ended their careers gracefully, bowing out with class in Abu Dhabi, although it’s hard to play their seasons up as being overly impressive given their form compared to teammates Valtteri Bottas and Fernando Alonso.

With Rosberg now also out of the picture, the F1 grid is becoming more and more unrecognizable to the one we had 10 years ago.

Some of the other big stories were:

  • Force India’s best-ever finish in the constructors’ championship, beating Williams to fourth.
  • Liberty Media’s plan to buy F1, announced back in September.
  • F1’s first race in Baku, Azerbaijan, which proved to be a pleasant surprise.
  • McLaren’s continued revival as Honda makes progress.
  • The reliability of Lewis Hamilton’s car (or lack of) through the season.
  • The power struggle at McLaren that led to Ron Dennis’ exit.
  • Continued efforts to improve safety in F1 with the Halo device.
  • After a damp 2015, the roaring, record-breaking USGP in Austin in October (with a hat-tip to Taylor Swift).

And it is with a T-Swift lyric we shall close things out in our stories of the season. 2016 may have been a bit of a rough year for the world, but the F1 season acted as a kind of escape; a way to shake it off.

John Force Racing will ‘Advance’ with new sponsorship for Courtney Force

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BROWNSBURG, Indiana — John Force likes to use the word “advance” in discussing the long-term future of his four-car race team.

Friday morning, Force literally put “advance” into action, as he announced daughter Courtney Force’s Funny Car will be sponsored during the 2017 24-race NHRA schedule by Advance Auto Parts stores, beginning with the season-opening Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California. The deal is for multiple seasons.

“This is all about building John Force Racing for the future,” Force told MotorSportsTalk. “We had a great run with Traxxas, they’ll be staying in the sport, which is great. And now we’re partnering with Advance Auto Parts, which we’re very excited about.”

Advance Auto Parts replaces Traxxas, which produces radio-controlled race cars, and which had sponsored Courtney Force for the past five seasons. Traxxas will remain involved in the sport as sponsor of the Traxxas Shootout, a special race-within-a-race for both Funny Cars and Top Fuel dragsters contested during the annual U.S. Nationals in Brownsburg.

Advance Auto Parts, which has nearly 5,400 retail stores across the country, is no stranger to John Force Racing. The auto parts supplier sponsored John Force’s PEAK Chevrolet Camaro at several events during the 2016 season, including a victory in the NHRA Carolina Nationals, which kicked off the six-race NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs.

“The opportunity came to grow the deal and they were interested in Courtney so it was a perfect match,” John Force said. “I have done shows with Advance Auto Parts in the past and am looking forward to working with them again.”

Both John and Courtney Force will be featured in several upcoming advertising and marketing campaigns for the company.

 

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Gustav Malja joins Racing Engineering for 2017 GP2 season

2016 GP2 Series Test 3
Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Wednesday 30 November 2016.
Gustav Malja (SWE, Racing Engineering) 
Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.
ref: Digital Image _SLB2993_1
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Racing Engineering has announced the signing of Gustav Malja for the 2017 GP2 Series season following the Swede’s rookie campaign.

Malja, 21, made his GP2 debut in 2015 before embarking on his first full campaign in the Formula 1 support series with Rapax.

Malja scored points in the opening round of the year in Spain, finishing ninth, before highlighting his season with a run of top-10 finishes from Hockenheim to Sepang.

The run saw Malja finish second in the Spa sprint race and third at Monza in the feature event, enough to give him 13th in the final standings.

Malja will now move up to Racing Engineering for 2017, the team having worked with Norman Nato and Jordan King for the past season.

“I’m excited to join Racing Engineering for the 2017 GP2 season. We began getting to know each other in Abu Dhabi last week, and I immediately felt very much at home,” Malja said.

“It’s a team with a long and successful history in GP2, and I’m convinced it’s the ideal place for my continued development as a driver.

“I’m also very pleased to have everything in place at such an early stage. It will ease preparations this winter and give us all some peace of mind.”

Malja is the fourth driver to confirm his entry to GP2 for 2017, joining Sergio Sette Camara (MP Motorsport), Charles Leclerc and Antonio Fuoco (both Prema Racing) on the grid.