Auto Club 400

Everything you need to know about Sunday’s Auto Club 400 at Fontana

3 Comments

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 Auto Club Speedway – Round 5 of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.

AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY-SPECIFIC STATISTICS

Greg Biffle (No. 16 3M Aerospace Ford)
· One win, four top fives, seven top 10s
· Average finish of 16.6
· Average Running Position of 12.8, eighth-best
· Driver Rating of 95.8, seventh-best
· 217 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most
· 1,174 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 171.483 mph, sixth-fastest
· 2,405 Laps in the Top 15 (69.0%), eighth-most
· 649 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), 11th-most
Clint Bowyer (No. 15 PEAK Toyota)
· Two top fives, seven top 10s
· Average finish of 12.7
· Average Running Position of 13.1, ninth-best
· Driver Rating of 91.4, 10th-best
· Average Green Flag Speed of 171.052 mph, 10th-fastest
Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet)
· One win, five top fives, 10 top 10s; three poles
· Average finish of 12.4
· Average Running Position of 15.0, 12th-best
· Driver Rating of 89.6, 12th-best
· 1,275 Green Flag Passes, third-most
· 2,204 Laps in the Top 15 (63.3%), 10th-most
· 673 Quality Passes, 10th-most
Kyle Busch (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota)
· Two wins, seven top fives, 11 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 10.7
· Average Running Position of 9.1, second-best
· Driver Rating of 109.2, second-best
· 243 Fastest Laps Run, second-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 171.627 mph, second-fastest
· 2,803 Laps in the Top 15 (80.5%), third-most
· 739 Quality Passes, third-most
Carl Edwards (No. 99 Subway Ford)
· One win, eight top fives, 13 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 8.4
· Average Running Position of 12.2, seventh-best
· Driver Rating of 98.5, fifth-best
· 153 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 171.508 mph, fifth-fastest
· 2,651 Laps in the Top 15 (76.1%), fifth-most
· 708 Quality Passes, fourth-most
Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet)
· Three wins, 10 top fives, 11 top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 11.8
· Average Running Position of 10.4, fifth-best
· Driver Rating of 96.2, sixth-best
· 202 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most
· 1,273 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 171.399 mph, seventh-fastest
· 2,581 Laps in the Top 15 (74.1%), sixth-most
· Series-high 779 Quality Passes
Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota)
· One top five, four top 10s; three poles
· Average finish of 19.0
· Average Running Position of 13.9, 10th-best
· Driver Rating of 90.7, 11th-best
· Average Green Flag Speed of 171.205 mph, ninth-fastest
· 1,926 Laps in the Top 15 (64.6%), 12th-most
Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet)
· One win, four top fives, nine top 10s
· Average finish of 15.4
· Average Running Position of 12.0, sixth-best
· Driver Rating of 95.5, eighth-best
· 119 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most
· 1,191 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 171.329 mph, eighth-fastest
· 2,557 Laps in the Top 15 (73.4%), seventh-most
· 707 Quality Passes, fifth-most
Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet)
· Five wins, 12 top fives, 14 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 5.7
· Series-best Average Running Position of 6.1
· Series-best Driver Rating of 119.6
· Series-high 456 Fastest Laps Run
· Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 172.084 mph
· Series-high 3,247 Laps in the Top 15 (93.2%)
· 745 Quality Passes, second-most
Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet)
· One win, four top fives, 10 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 14.5
· Average Running Position of 14.4, 11th-best
· Driver Rating of 92.9, ninth-best
· 107 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most
· 1,210 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 171.051 mph, 11th-fastest
· 2,237 Laps in the Top 15 (64.2%), ninth-most
· 705 Quality Passes, seventh-most
Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota)
· Three wins, eight top fives, 14 top 10s
· Average finish of 10.1
· Average Running Position of 9.4, third-best
· Driver Rating of 105.5, third-best
· 133 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most
· 1,149 Green Flag Passes, 10th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 171.547 mph, third-fastest
· 2,860 Laps in the Top 15 (82.1%), second-most
· 701 Quality Passes, eighth-most
Tony Stewart (No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Chevrolet)
· Two wins, six top fives, 12 top 10s
· Average finish of 13.9
· Average Running Position of 9.9, fourth-best
· Driver Rating of 102.0, fourth-best
· 226 Fastest Laps Run, third-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 171.511 mph, fourth-fastest
· 2,683 Laps in the Top 15 (77.0%), fourth-most
· 707 Quality Passes, fifth-most
source:
Auto Club Speedway History
· Groundbreaking for California Speedway, as Auto Club Speedway originally was known, took place in November 1995.
· The first race was a NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race won by Ken Schrader on June 21, 1997.
· The first NASCAR Sprint Cup race was held on June 22, 1997 and won by Jeff Gordon.
· September 2004 was the first night race and that also was the first year both the NASCAR Sprint Cup and NASCAR Nationwide Series ran two races in a season there.
· The track name was changed to Auto Club Speedway (ACS) in February 2008.
Auto Club Speedway Notebook
· There have been 24 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Auto Club Speedway, the track hosted one NSCS race a season from 1997-2003, then two races per season from 2004-2010. In 2011 the track returned to a single-race season.
· 128 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club; 106 in more than one.
· Three drivers have participated in all 24 races: Jeff Burton, Jeff Gordon, and Bobby Labonte.
· Joe Nemechek won the inaugural Coors Light pole (1997) with a speed of 183.015 mph (39.341 secs.).
· 15 drivers have poles at Auto Club Speedway, led by Denny Hamlin and Kurt Busch with three each.
· Denny Hamlin (2011, 2012), Kurt Busch (2006 sweep) and Jamie McMurray (2010 sweep) are the three drivers to win consecutive poles at Auto Club Speedway. Hamlin has won the last two poles at ACS and could become the first in series history to win three-in-a-row at Auto Club.
· Youngest ACS pole winner: Kyle Busch (2/27/2005 – 19 years, 9 months, 25 days).
· Oldest ACS pole winner: Mike Skinner (4/30/2000 – 42 years, 10 months, 2 days).
· 14 different drivers have won at ACS, led by Jimmie Johnson (five). Three other drivers have multiple wins: Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth each have three wins, Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch each have two.
· Hendrick Motorsports leads the series in wins at Auto Club Speedway with nine, followed by Roush Fenway Racing with seven and Stewart Haas Racing with two.
· California-native Jimmie Johnson became the first and only driver to win from the pole at Auto Club Speedway in 2008.
· Only two ACS races have been won from the front row both by six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson,  fall of 2008 (pole); and the fall of 2007 (second-place).
· Nine of the 24 (37.5%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Auto Club Speedway have been won from a top-five starting position.
· 13 of the 24 (54.2%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Auto Club Speedway have been won from a top-10 starting position.
· Seven of the 24 (29.2%) races have been won from a starting position outside the top 20.
· The deepest in the field that a race winner has started was 31st, by Matt Kenseth in the spring of 2006.
· The most proficient starting position at ACS is pretty random. Three starting positions (third, ninth and 24th have produced three winners each.
· Youngest ACS winner: Kyle Busch (09/04/2005 – 20 years, 4 months, 2 days).
· Oldest ACS winner: Rusty Wallace (04/29/2001 – 44 years, 8 months, 15 days).
· Jimmie Johnson leads the series in runner-up finishes at Auto Club Speedway with five; followed by his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon with four.
· Jimmie Johnson leads the series in top-five finishes at Auto club Speedway with 12; followed by Jeff Gordon (10), Matt Kenseth (eight) and Carl Edwards (eight).
· Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth lead the series in top-10 finishes with 14; followed by Carl Edwards (13) and Tony Stewart (12).
· Jimmie Johnson leads the series in average finish at ACS with a 5.737
· Jimmie Johnson (5.7)and Carl Edwards (8.4) are the only two only active drivers with an average finish in the top 10 at Auto Club Speedway.
· There have been two green-white-checkered finishes at Auto Club Speedway: 2005 (250/254) and 2006 (250/251).
· Carl Edwards posted his first NSCS Coors Light pole at Auto Club Speedway on September 4, 2005. Kyle Busch won his first pole (2/27/05) and first series win (9/4/05) at ACS in 2005.
· Greg Biffle (4/28/02) and J.J. Yeley (9/5/04) made their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career starts at Auto Club Speedway.
· Jimmie Johnson posted his first series career win at Auto Club Speedway on April 28, 2002.
· Jimmie Johnson is the only driver to win consecutive races at Auto Club Speedway (fall of 2009 – spring of 2010).
· 12 of the 14 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers who have won at Auto Club Speedway participated in at least two or more races before visiting Victory Lane. Jeff Gordon (1997 – inaugural event) and Jimmie Johnson (2002) are the only drivers to win at ACS in their first appearance.
· Tony Stewart competed at Auto Club Speedway 18 times before winning in the fall of 2010; the longest span of any the 14 winners. Only Stewart (18) and Kevin Harvick (17) have made 10 or more attempts before their first win at Auto Club Speedway.
· Jeff Burton and Bobby Labonte lead the series with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Auto Club Speedway without visiting Victory Lane at 24.
· Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Auto Club Speedway was the (3/27/2011) race won by Kevin Harvick with a MOV of 0.144 second over Jimmie Johnson.
· Three reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions have gone on to win at Auto Club Speedway the following season: Tony Stewart (2012), Jeff Gordon (1999) and Jimmie Johnson – the only one to do it multiple times(2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010).
· Two drivers have won and Auto Club Speedway race and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship in the same season: Jeff Gordon (1997) and Jimmie Johnson (2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010).
· Two female drivers have competed at Auto Club Speedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Shawna Robinson and Danica Patrick. **Note:Robinson first attempted to qualify for the race at ACS on 4/29/2001 but failed to make the event.
Driver
Starting Position
Finishing Position
Date
Shawna Robinson
43
42
4/28/2002
Danica Patrick
40
26
3/24/2013

·   Only three car numbers have produced three or more Auto Club Speedway NSCS wins: No. 48 (Jimmie Johnson – 2002, 2007-2010), No. 17 (Matt Kenseth – 2006-2007, 2009), and No. 24 (Jeff Gordon – 1997, 1999, 2004).

NASCAR in California
· There have been 135 NASCAR Sprint Cup races among 15 different tracks in California.
· Auto Club Speedway has hosted the second most NSCS events among active California tracks.

Track Name
City
NSCS
Riverside International Raceway
Riverside
48
Sonoma Raceway
Sonoma
25
Auto Club Speedway
Fontana
24
Ontario Motor Speedway
Ontario
9
California State Fairgrounds
Sacramento
6
Carrell Speedway
Gardena
4
Ascot Stadium
Los Angeles
3
Bay Meadows Race Track
San Mateo
3
Marchbanks Speedway
Hanford
3
Oakland Stadium
Oakland
3
Redwood Speedway
Eureka
2
Willow Springs Speedway
Lancaster
2
Capitol Speedway
Sacramento
1
Merced Fairgrounds
Merced
1
Santa Clara Fairgrounds
San Jose
1

NASCAR in California
· 428 drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as California.
· 36 drivers from California have won at least one race in NASCAR’s three national series. 24 of the 36 California native NASCAR winners have won in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Driver
NSCS
NNS
NCWTS
Jeff Gordon
88
5
0
Jimmie Johnson
66
1
0
Kevin Harvick
24
40
14
Marvin Panch
17
0
0
Ernie Irvan
15
3
0
Dick Rathmann
13
0
0
Dan Gurney
5
0
0
Eddie Gray
4
0
0
Parnelli Jones
4
0
0
Eddie Pagan
4
0
0
Robby Gordon
3
1
0
Ray Elder
2
0
0
Danny Letner
2
0
0
Marvin Porter
2
0
0
Dick Brooks
1
0
0
Marvin Burke
1
0
0
Jim Cook
1
0
0
Lou Figaro
1
0
0
Danny Graves
1
0
0
Johnny Mantz
1
0
0
Casey Mears
1
1
0
Bill Norton
1
0
0
John Soares
1
0
0
Danny Weinberg
1
0
0
Ron Hornaday Jr
0
4
51
AJ Allmendinger
0
2
0
Jason Leffler
0
2
1
David Gilliland
0
1
0
Joe Ruttman
0
1
13
Boris Said
0
1
1
Mike Skinner
0
1
28
Matt Crafton
0
0
3
Kyle Larson
0
0
1
Justin Lofton
0
0
1
Scott Speed
0
0
1
Brandon Whitt
0
0
1

‘Fast Jack’ Beckman back to living up to his nickname at Gateway

Leave a comment

“Fast Jack” Beckman came into this weekend’s AAA Insurance Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park in a big predicament.

He didn’t live up to his colorful nickname during last week’s Carolina Nationals, the opening race of the six-race Countdown to the Championship.

Beckman was actually more like “Slow Jack,” as he failed to advance past the first round at Carolina in last Sunday’s eliminations.

He also failed to advance past the first round in the final pre-Countdown qualifying race, the U.S. Nationals, which he won last season.

All those things combined have put even more pressure on Beckman. He left Charlotte eighth in the 10-driver Funny Car Countdown standings.

2016_Jack_Beckman headshot

Being scored 110 points behind Funny Car points leader Ron Capps, Beckman had his work cut out for him heading into this weekend’s race at Gateway, in Madison, Illinois, just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis.

And as he has done numerous times in his career, when the pressure was on him, Beckman responded, qualifying No. 2 on Saturday for Sunday’s eliminations.

Robert Hight earned the No. 1 qualifier position (3.893 seconds at 328.38 mph), but Beckman wasn’t far behind (3.907 seconds at 325.22 mph).

That’s a big start for Beckman, who won at Gateway in 2012 and ended up second in last year’s championship battle that was won by fellow veteran Del Worsham. Beckman will face Dale Creasy Jr. in the first round of eliminations.

Last season, Beckman won seven races in the 24-race NHRA national event schedule. This season has been much different, as he has just one win (Chicago in July).

But that doesn’t mean he still can’t win each of the five remaining Countdown races – which obviously would go a long way towards earning him his second career Funny Car championship (and in five seasons).

Beckman isn’t panicking after Charlotte. He’s finished first, third and second in three of the last four seasons. He knows he and his Infinite Hero Dodge Charger have the capability to make a serious championship run.

In addition to hoping he wins Sunday, Beckman is defending champion of next week’s Dodge Nationals at Maple Grove (Pa.) Raceway.

“Since you can’t control how the leading cars do, really the goal is simple: you just need to win the race,” Beckman said in a media release. “At some point we have to win the race if we have a chance.

“There’s not any other path to a championship. We lost ground we couldn’t afford to lose (at Charlotte) and we can’t afford to lose any more ground. I don’t see those teams not continuing to perform well and the only way we win the championship is to outperform them. It’s imperative we get back to our capabilities.”

A major change for Saturday’s qualifying effort paid off handsomely with his No. 2 spot for Sunday – although admittedly it was a gamble of sorts for Beckman and crew chief Jimmy Prock.

“We’re still running a five-disc clutch and we have one disc on there that when it works it’s great and when it doesn’t it smokes the tires instantly and becomes too aggressive,” Beckman said. “We’re going to take that one out and take our chances with a brand new disc. We’re taking a calculated risk but I think it’s the only choice we have.

“We have to take baby steps but we have to take them quickly or we run out of races. Before we can go quick consistently we have to get back our predictability and we have to do that by the end of (this weekend’s race at) St. Louis.

“All we can control right now is our lane. Because we’re running out of rounds, every single pass becomes more important. But if you dwell on that, there’s a high likelihood you’re not going to do as well as you want.

“As the season winds down, the pressure goes up, but if you let it affect you, you’re not going to be at your best. The only thing you can do is take a positive mindset every time you go up there.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Touring car legend Yvan Muller to leave WTCC after 2016

STRASBOURG, FRANCE - OCTOBER 04:   Yvan Muller of France attends the FIA pre event press conference at rally headquarters after the Shakedown of the WRC France on October 04, 2012 in Strasbourg , France.  (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)
© Getty Images
Leave a comment

Touring car racing legend and four-time world champion Yvan Muller will leave the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) at the end of the 2016 season.

Muller made his name in the British Touring Car Championship before making the switch across to WTCC in 2006 with Seat.

The Frenchman claimed his first world title in 2008 before enjoying further successes in 2010, 2011 and 2013, the latter three championships won while behind the wheel of a Chevrolet.

Muller joined Citroen following its arrival in WTCC for the 2014 season, but has been unable to add to his haul of championship as teammate Jose Maria Lopez romped to three straight crowns.

With Citroen set to leave WTCC at the end of the year, Muller has decided that the time is right to follow suit and call time on a stint in the series that has seen him score 47 wins, 119 podium finishes and over 2,600 points.

“I am not sure that age is the main factor when it comes to ending a career. It’s more a matter of desire and motivation,” Muller said.

“With all the testing, the simulator sessions, the physical training and the travel to the race venues, a season of professional motor racing requires a level of personal commitment that I am no longer prepared to put in.

“At the same time, I am at a time of my life where I want to do something else and I am happy to be able to make that decision after eleven seasons of FIA WTCC.

“I’ve had some great experiences over my career. These three seasons with Citroën Racing have been particularly special, even though I never managed to be world champion with this team. But I will always be proud of having helped to build our racing programme and develop the Citroën C-Elysée WTCC. I have also met some great people who are passionate about their job and have a fierce competitive spirit.

“Driving has been part of my daily life for so long that I can’t see myself stopping racing entirely. But I am going to spend more time with my family and developing my team, Yvan Muller Racing. Before that, though, I am going to put everything I’ve got into meeting the team’s goals.”

Lopez is also set to leave WTCC at the end of the year, having agreed a deal to race for Citroen sub-brand DS in Formula E for the all-electric series’ third season.

The 2016 WTCC season closes on November 25 at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar.

Report: Sam Schmidt to receive America’s first driver’s license for semi-autonomous car

2016 Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
May 29, 2016
© INDYCAR
Leave a comment

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team owner Sam Schmidt is set to receive America’s first driver’s license for a semi-autonomous vehicle, according to a report from Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Schmidt sustained a spinal cord injury in a testing accident at Walt Disney World Speedway ahead of the 2000 IRL season, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down.

Schmidt went on to establish Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with programs in IndyCar and Indy Lights, both of which he still heads up.

Schmidt has previously completed laps behind the wheel of a modified 2014 Corvette C7 Stingray at Indianapolis in 2014 and in Long Beach last year, dubbed the ‘SAM project’ – semi-autonomous motorcar – developed with Arrow Electronics.

Schmidt controls the car using a breathing tube for acceleration and braking, and steers using his head movements that are picked up by infrared cameras.

Now, the SAM project is set to hit the road, with Las Vegas Review-Journal reporting that Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles will grant Schmidt the first road license for a semi-autonomous car in the country.

The report says that Arrow has worked closely with the Nevada DMV to update regulations so that Schmidt is able to drive on state roads.

“Nevada is leading the nation in promoting autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicle technologies that can bring mobility and independence to people with physical disabilities, including our wounded warriors,” officials from the Nevada DMV said.

Robert Kubica scores podium finish on Renault Sport Trophy debut at Spa

16 KUBICA Robert (POL) HAMON Christophe (FRA) RENAULT RS 01 Team Duqueine action during the 2016 Renault Sport series  at Spa Francorchamps, Belgium, September  23 to 25  - Photo Eric Vargiolu / DPPI
© Renault Sport
1 Comment

Robert Kubica enjoyed a successful debut in the Renault Sport Trophy at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on Saturday, finishing third alongside Christophe Hamon.

Former BMW and Renault Formula 1 driver Kubica announced last week that he would be entering the race weekend at Spa after accepting an invitation from the French manufacturer.

Kubica spent five seasons racing in F1 and won the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix for BMW before having his stint in the series cut short after a rally crash ahead of the 2011 season.

Severe injuries sustained to his right arm and hand meant left Kubica spending a lengthy spell in rehabilitation before making his return to motorsport in the World Rally Championship.

The Pole made his final WRC appearance in January at the Monte Carlo Rally before making his circuit racing return in the 12 Hours of Mugello with Mercedes.

Kubica enjoyed his first qualifying session since the 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Saturday ahead of the Renault Sport Trophy weekend, finishing third.

After seeing Hamon complete the first 10 laps of the race and suffer contact, Kubica completed the final 17 behind the wheel of the Renault R.S.01 car.

A late charge saw Kubica rise from P6 with 10 minutes remaining to cross the line third, six seconds behind race winners Raoul Owens and Fredrik Blomstedt.

Curiously, Kubica’s last F1 podium finish also came at Spa in 2010, finishing third for Renault behind Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber.

Kubica will return to Spa on Sunday for the sprint race, where he will race in the Pro class.