Auto Club 400

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


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.


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
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.
Starting Position
Finishing Position
Shawna Robinson
Danica Patrick

·   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
Riverside International Raceway
Sonoma Raceway
Auto Club Speedway
Ontario Motor Speedway
California State Fairgrounds
Carrell Speedway
Ascot Stadium
Los Angeles
Bay Meadows Race Track
San Mateo
Marchbanks Speedway
Oakland Stadium
Redwood Speedway
Willow Springs Speedway
Capitol Speedway
Merced Fairgrounds
Santa Clara Fairgrounds
San Jose

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.

Jeff Gordon
Jimmie Johnson
Kevin Harvick
Marvin Panch
Ernie Irvan
Dick Rathmann
Dan Gurney
Eddie Gray
Parnelli Jones
Eddie Pagan
Robby Gordon
Ray Elder
Danny Letner
Marvin Porter
Dick Brooks
Marvin Burke
Jim Cook
Lou Figaro
Danny Graves
Johnny Mantz
Casey Mears
Bill Norton
John Soares
Danny Weinberg
Ron Hornaday Jr
AJ Allmendinger
Jason Leffler
David Gilliland
Joe Ruttman
Boris Said
Mike Skinner
Matt Crafton
Kyle Larson
Justin Lofton
Scott Speed
Brandon Whitt

Schmidt confirms Mikhail Aleshin’s return for 2017

FORT WORTH, TX - JUNE 12:  Mikhail Aleshin of Russia, driver of the #7 SMP Schmidt Peterson Honda, sits in his pitbox during a rain delay prior to the Verizon IndyCar Series Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway on June 12, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedways)
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For the first time since expanding to a two-car team, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports will continue with the same two drivers on a year-to-year basis.

Team co-owner Sam Schmidt confirmed to that the “mad Russian,” Mikhail Aleshin, will be back for the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season alongside James Hinchcliffe.

“Now that we’ve got those two done, it’s a matter of firming up with all of the key individuals on the team and hopefully continue on and win races,” Schmidt told

“This deal is all about chemistry and continuity and it’s been a building process for us. Starting in 2011 with one car and then having two cars from 2012 on, we’ve never had the same guy in the second car for a second season.

“Really, Mikhail coming back for a second season, even though there was a year gap, I think you can really see the chemistry and the morale and the continuity building toward the last half of the season, when we were clearly the fastest Honda at most tracks if not all and right up to the front with the top five to eight guys, which is where we want to be.”

Schmidt took over the former FAZZT Race Team, which then featured Alex Tagliani as the driver, prior to 2011. Schmidt had a technical partnership with the Bryan Herta Autosport team that won the 2011 Indianapolis 500 with the late Dan Wheldon.

Wheldon later replaced Tagliani in Schmidt’s No. 77 Honda for Kentucky and ultimately his final start in Las Vegas.

New signing Simon Pagenaud asserted himself as team leader from 2012 through 2014, with Tristan Vautier (2013) and Aleshin (2014) coming on board as second full-time driver. Hinchcliffe then took over as SPM lead driver in 2015 when Pagenaud left for Team Penske, before his injuries sustained at the Indianapolis 500 forced a change of driver for the balance of the season.

Owing to a mix of sponsorship and political issues, Aleshin was unable to continue into 2015 with James Jakes filling the spot. But Aleshin came back for a one-off in a third SPM car at the 2015 Sonoma season finale, which blossomed back into the full-time seat once more last year.

With these two Honda seats now secure, it remains to be seen whether SPM will run a third car beyond the month of May, which it has done the last four seasons (driven by Oriol Servia in 2016, Conor Daly in 2015, Jacques Villeneuve in 2014 and Katherine Legge in 2013).

NBC Sports understands a third IndyCar for SPM could run a handful of races next season (three to five a possible range), but would likely be dictated by crew and engine availability.

SPM has traditionally run a four-car program in the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires series, although that program dipped to two full-time cars only starting at Road America this year. SPM looks to reassert itself as the dominant force in that series, in the midst of a three-year title losing drought after more or less controlling the title most years between 2004 and 2013.

These seats are still yet to be finalized/revealed:

  • Andretti Autosport (car four)
  • Chip Ganassi Racing (car four)
  • A.J. Foyt Enterprises (cars one and two)
  • Ed Carpenter Racing (car one, and road/street races in car two)
  • Dale Coyne Racing (car two)
  • KVSH Racing (car one)

Antonio Felix da Costa joins grid for Macau Grand Prix

FIA Formula E Hong Kong e-Prix.
Qualifying Session.
Antonio Felix da Costa (PRT), Amlin Andretti, Spark-Andretti, ATEC-02.
Hong Kong Harbour, Hong Kong, Asia.
Sunday 9 October 2016.
Photo: Adam Warner / FE / LAT
ref: Digital Image _14P5958
© FIA Formula E
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Antonio Felix da Costa has become the latest driver to sign up for the prestigious Macau Grand Prix, linking back up with Carlin for next month’s Formula 3 event.

Da Costa has contested the Macau race three times before, winning on his most recent appearance in 2012 with the Carlin team against a field that included current Formula 1 drivers Carlos Sainz Jr., Pascal Wehrlein and Felipe Nasr.

Since winning at Macau, da Costa has raced in Formula Renault 3.5, DTM and Formula E, the latter becoming his priority for the 2017 season with Andretti.

Da Costa will return to his roots on the November 20 weekend, joining Carlin’s line-up for the race that comes one week after the next Formula E round in Marrakech, Morocco.

“Yes it’s Macau and it’s happening. I will be back to Macau F3 GP with Carlin!” da Costa wrote on his Facebook page.

“Macau is a special place, it’s just pure driving. There is no special aim as such as going back for me, I’m doing it for the love of the sport, so when I got the call from Trevor [Carlin] I couldn’t say no.

“There will also be a few Macau winners going back as well as a lot of talented young guys so it will be a fun weekend. Thanks to BMW Motorsport for supporting my Macau comeback.”

Da Costa will be joined in the field by fellow Formula E racer Felix Rosenqvist, who is chasing an unprecedented third straight Macau victory.

Americans Askew and Kirkwood have strong runs at Formula Ford Festival

Photographs courtesy of Jack Mitchell/JAM Motorsport Photography.
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While Formula One was in the U.S. for Sunday’s United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas, several American open-wheel racers had a strong go of it at the Formula Ford Festival in Brands Hatch, England.

See the release below for more info on who:

Team USA Scholarship drivers Oliver Askew and Kyle Kirkwood continued to impress during a thrilling Formula Ford Festival Final on Sunday. Fellow American Chase Owen also posted a strong drive in the 20-lap finale, finishing sixth in another Cliff Dempsey Racing Ray.

The distinctive pair of red-white-and-blue Rays of Askew and Kirkwood lined up fourth and 16th on the grid after finishing second and eighth, respectively, in the morning’s Semi Final race. The Final began in cold but dry conditions and the opening stages delivered some scintillating action as polesitter and former British Formula Ford champion Scott Malvern held onto a tenuous lead over 2016 BRSCC Avon Tires British FF1600 champion Niall Murray and a vast, snarling pack of hungry young drivers all seeking to claim Festival glory.

Askew made another excellent start to move into third place at the first corner, only to fall to fourth when a defensive Malvern bottled up the pack under braking for Clearways and Luke Williams took the opportunity to drive around the outside of two of his rivals, including Askew, to run third. Askew lost another position on the following lap when an attempt to pass Williams at Graham Hill Bend was strongly rebuffed and the hard-charging American lost momentum on the exit and was promptly passed by two cars on the Cooper Straight, including Malvern’s teammate Chris Middlehurst.


Undeterred, Askew quickly fought back, regaining fourth on the next lap as Murray brilliantly squeezed past Malvern for the lead under braking for Paddock Hill Bend … after the pair had run with interlocked wheels for virtually the entire length of the Brabham Straight! Murray quickly pulled away to snag a well-deserved victory.

Askew aggressively regained third position on Lap 9 and initially reduced the small gap to Malvern, pulling clear of Middlehurst until Malvern’s obstructive tactics slowed them both appreciably and allowed the pack to close in again. The battled continued to be hot and heavy until Lap 14, when Askew abruptly slowed and headed for the pits with a punctured tire after being forced over the curb on the exit of Druid’s hairpin.

“Fantastic weekend up until about halfway through the Final,” said Askew with a broad smile. “I had a puncture and had to pull off the track unfortunately, but the car was unbelievable. Cliff Dempsey nailed the tire pressures and the setup. It was unreal. I had more grip than anyone around me. I was super-fast and had speed for at least second. I was passing for third when the  puncture happened.”

Kirkwood, meanwhile, was embroiled in a typically fraught battle in the midst of the 30-car field. He lost a place in the early stages before finding his feet and making a series of strong passes, especially under braking for Clearways, before finally crossing the finish line in seventh.

“Overall the race was good,” said Kirkwood. “I just had to pick people off left and right. After a couple of laps it almost seemed like you had to get the car in front of you comfortable with you in their mirrors and then make a move on them when they left the door open.”

The pair will return to action for the Walter Hayes Trophy at Silverstone on November 5/6.

Malaysia considers dropping F1 race: ‘The product is no longer exciting’

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - OCTOBER 02:  Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes F1 WO7 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo leads Daniel Ricciardo of Australia driving the (3) Red Bull Racing Red Bull-TAG Heuer RB12 TAG Heuer, Sergio Perez of Mexico driving the (11) Sahara Force India F1 Team VJM09 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo and the rest of the field at the start during the Malaysia Formula One Grand Prix at Sepang Circuit on October 2, 2016 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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The future of the Malaysian Grand Prix has been thrown into doubt following comments from government officials and the CEO of the Sepang International Circuit, saying F1 “is no longer exciting”.

Malaysia joined the F1 calendar back in 1999 and traditionally held the second round of the season from 2001.

The race shifted to a fall date for 2016 so that the track could complete an extensive redevelopment program, meaning it was held two weeks after the grand prix in neighboring Singapore.

Sepang signed a new three-year deal to host F1 in March 2015, but doubts have been raised about hosting the race beyond 2018.

Circuit CEO Datuk Ahmad Razlan Ahmad Razali told the New Straits Times that amid declining ticket sales and a falling global TV audience, Malaysia was considering dropping the race.

“Maybe it will do Malaysia good to take a break,” he said.

“I think the product is no longer exciting. It’s being dominated by one team.”

Malaysian government official Khairy Jamaluddin, the minister of youth and sports, sent out a series of tweets supporting Razlan’s comments.

Jamaluddin also revealed that officials considered making the grand prix at Sepang a night race, but found the costs to be too high.

The 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix is scheduled for September 17.