Auto Club 400

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

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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 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

Force India gives Renault tips ahead of Hulkenberg’s arrival for 2017

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 11:  Nico Hulkenberg of Germany driving the (27) Sahara Force India F1 Team VJM09 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo on track during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Brazil at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 11, 2016 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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Force India has sent Renault an early Christmas present by giving tips on how to look after Nico Hulkenberg ahead of his arrival at the team for the 2017 Formula 1 season.

Hulkenberg announced back in October that he would be leaving Force India at the end of the 2016 season, joining Renault for its second year back in F1 as a constructor.

In a tongue-in-cheek post on Force India’s Twitter account, the team gave Renault some advice on how to look after Hulkenberg.

“He answers the name of ‘Nico’, but ‘Hulk’ will do in public,” it reads.

“He has been a beloved member of our family for longer than we can remember, but it is time for him to go and find his own feet.

“Nico is friendly and of good nature, but there are just a few, simple rules to follow to take care of him:

  • Do not feed him after midnight.
  • Do not get him wet. Actually, just kidding. He’s pretty good in the wet.
  • Even though the resemblance can be uncanny, do not refer to him as ‘Johnny Bravo’ (if you do, let us know how it goes.

“And most importantly, and we can’t stress this enough…

  • Do NOT make him angry.

“Best of luck for your life together, your friends at Sahara Force India.”

Force India had previously left Hulkenberg’s helmet and race suit under its Christmas tree as a gift for Renault.

Porsche was quick to chip in on the claim that you shouldn’t feed Hulkenberg after midnight, with the German having ran pretty well in the early hours at Le Mans en route to victory in 2015.

The F1 season may be over, but the Twitter fun between the teams will continue through the winter.

Ricciardo: Verstappen’s arrival at Red Bull pushed me on

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - OCTOBER 02:  Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Red Bull Racing celebrates with Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing after their 1-2 finish 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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Daniel Ricciardo says that Max Verstappen’s arrival at Red Bull four races in to the 2016 Formula 1 season helped him to raise his game as a driver.

Verstappen  swapped seats with Daniil Kvyat after the Russian Grand Prix in May, with Ricciardo’s former teammate moving back down to Red Bull’s feeder team, Toro Rosso.

Ricciardo and Verstappen enjoyed a strong 17-race stint as teammates through 2016, each taking one win and enough points to lift Red Bull up to second place in the constructors’ championship.

Reflecting on his season, Ricciardo admitted that he was unsure about how quickly Verstappen would fit in at Red Bull and get up to speed, but that he soon realized the quality of the Dutchman.

“It was a big thing. Especially that first weekend in Spain which was pretty crazy, and not just because he won,” Ricciardo said.

“I suspect the team didn’t know how good Max was and where he was going to fit. His win really gave us good energy and pushed us on to get stronger.

“In Spain everybody was watching, wondering if we’d made a mistake swapping Dany and Max around. I think his win was a relief more than anything. And it definitely pushed us on. Certainly it pushed me on.

“I think I’d been at the right level from the start of the season, which may have caused some of the commotion in the first place because I had a better start than Dany.

“With Max, I felt we were pushing each other from the off. He was closer to me in qualifying and so naturally that provides a spur because you’re looking at each other’s data and finding an extra bit here and there. It makes you better.”

Ricciardo conceded that the amicable relationship with Verstappen could become tense in 2017 should the pair become embroiled in a title fight, but hopes they can retain their mutual respect.

“Well, I’m not naïve. If we’re fighting for wins I’m sure the pressure and tension will rise,” Ricciardo said.

“But hopefully we’ll be able to look each other in the eye and say ‘good job’ afterwards.”

F1 2016 Driver Review: Lewis Hamilton

NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 10:  Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP celebrates his win on the start finish straight after the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone on July 10, 2016 in Northampton, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
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Lewis Hamilton

Team: Mercedes AMG Petronas
Car No.: 44
Races: 21
Wins: 10
Podiums (excluding wins): 7
Pole Positions: 12
Fastest Laps: 3
Points: 380
Laps Led: 566
Championship Position: 2nd

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Lewis Hamilton’s year was an odd one. While he was at his brilliant best on a number of occasions, racking up 10 wins – more than any driver not to win the championship in F1 history – there were a handful of costly errors that ultimately cost him the title.

Yes, the reliability woes with the Mercedes power unit through the year hurt his title bid enormously. But that’s racing; bad luck is part and parcel of it, just as Nico Rosberg found out at points in 2014 and 2015.

Instead, Hamilton needs to look at himself to see where he could have done better in 2015. Poor starts in Australia, Bahrain, Italy and Japan were all damaging to his title challenge, as were weekends he was off the boil in Singapore and Baku.

Hamilton proved once again that he has a good balance between his life outside of F1, which he continues to quite clearly enjoy, judging by his Snapchat escapades, and his efforts on-track. He remains the strongest driver in the field. But this year, his old, successful mind-games were unable to knock Rosberg down. Nico had the answer this time around. Let’s see what 2017 brings for the Briton as he searches for a fourth World Championship.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

The year of Lewis revolved as much around him off-track as it did on it. Sometimes, his on-track runs ended through a spate of Mercedes mechanical woes, which were as unexpected as they were frustrating after a flawless winter.

Then there were his spats with the press, his Snapchat antics in Suzuka and his otherwise nonchalant approach to some outside-the-car commitments. From the outside, it seemed Hamilton was less engaged this year until he needed to be, then made peace with the fact he’d done all he could do as the year went on.

The year was defined, performance-wise, by his starts – and how poor some of them were. A number of wins were lost as a result. Even so, he still beat Rosberg 10-9 in wins and 12-8 in poles. The area he beat Rosberg in a category he wouldn’t want is DNFs – that crushing engine failure in Malaysia joined with the pair’s clash in Spain.

Hamilton was his usual peerless self at times though, and his rally to end the season with four straight wins was admirable in the face of a roller coaster year up to that point. His drive at Abu Dhabi was tenacious and smart; he backed Rosberg into the field as his only shot of snatching the title. He remains F1’s most fascinating character and out-and-out fastest driver, if not its current World Champion.

F1 2016 Driver Review: Nico Rosberg

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 27:  Nico Rosberg of Germany and Mercedes GP celebrates with his second place trophy after securing the F1 World Drivers Championship during the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit on November 27, 2016 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
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As part of MotorSportsTalk’s review of the 2016 Formula 1 season, Luke Smith and Tony DiZinno look back on each driver’s year, starting today with World Champion Nico Rosberg.

Nico Rosberg

Team: Mercedes AMG Petronas
Car No.: 6
Races: 21
Wins: 9
Podiums (excluding wins): 6
Pole Positions: 8
Fastest Laps: 6
Points: 385
Laps Led: 489
Championship Position: 1st

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Assuming that he doesn’t backtrack on his decision to retire from racing at any point in the future, 2016 will be remembered as the strongest year of Nico Rosberg’s motorsport career. Twice burned by championship defeats to Lewis Hamilton, the German bit back in 2016 with a new approach that yielded the ultimate reward.

Sure, his “one race at a time” rhetoric was boring; we like our champions to have some fire in their bellies. However, it worked wonders. Rosberg was no longer taking baggage and stress from race to race as he was through 2014 and 2015. Each race was a clean slate.

There were low moments, such as the clash with Hamilton on-track in Austria, but Rosberg recovered from his mid-season wobble nicely. Four second places is hardly the way to sign off a championship-winning season, but Rosberg cared little – he’d got the job done.

The greatest shame for 2017 is that we won’t get the chance to see if Rosberg can build on this breakthrough year and beat Hamilton again. Instead, he’s ‘one and done’; that’s it.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

In the last year of the current regulations, Nico Rosberg always needed to win this year’s World Championship if he was to ensure he ever won one in his career. Rare do you think of him as being 31 years old, in the sport 11 seasons, because he still has a fresh face look – albeit not as young as his initial “baby face” days with Williams, and the birth of a potential mullet to match his World Champion father Keke.

Alas, Rosberg had whatever momentum carried over from winning the last three races of last season, and opened the year with four wins on the trot. The 2016 version of Rosberg did not crack despite the contact with Lewis Hamilton in Spain, nor really, through Hamilton’s midsummer run of six wins in seven races. Only in Austria did it ever look like Rosberg was really on the back foot.

His starts helped propel him all season and that crucial post-summer run of form with wins in Spa, Monza, Singapore and Suzuka was what shifted the momentum back in his corner. He trailed Hamilton by as many as 19 points but by Suzuka was up 33. He brought it home as needed to the finish, and is a deserving World Champ.