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Everything you need to know about Sunday’s STP 500 at Martinsville

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After three and four-wide speedway antics at Fontana, the Sprint Cup Series returns to its fender-rubbin’ roots this weekend at NASCAR’s oldest track, the half-mile “paperclip” known as Martinsville Speedway.

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 STP 500 – Round 6 of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.

MARTINSVILLE-SPECIFIC STATISTICS

Clint Bowyer (No. 15 5-Hour Energy Toyota)
· Four top fives, 10 top 10s
· Average finish of 12.6
· Average Running Position of 12.5, sixth-best
· Driver Rating of 93.8, seventh-best
· Average Green Flag Speed of 91.182 mph, seventh-fastest
· 5,803 Laps in the Top 15 (72.2%), eighth-most
· 512 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), sixth-most

Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M’s Toyota)
· Eight top fives, nine top 10s
· Average finish of 16.0
· Average Running Position of 13.2, seventh-best
· Driver Rating of 97.0, sixth-best
· 402 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 91.292 mph, fourth-fastest
· 6,323 Laps in the Top 15 (70.0%), fifth-most
· 578 Quality Passes, fourth-most

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet)
· 10 top fives, 15 top 10s
· Average finish of 13.2
· Average Running Position of 11.0, fourth-best
· Driver Rating of 98.9, fourth-best
· 455 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most
· Series-high 1,042 Green Flag Passes
· Average Green Flag Speed of 91.288 mph, fifth-fastest
· 6,963 Laps in the Top 15 (77.1%), third-most
· 619 Quality Passes, third-most

Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet)
· Eight wins, 27 top fives, 34 top 10s; seven poles
· Average finish of 6.8
· Average Running Position of 6.2, second-best
· Driver Rating of 121.1, second-best
· Series-high 1,029 Fastest Laps Run
· 857 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 91.640 mph, second-fastest
· 8,167 Laps in the Top 15 (90.4%), second-most
· Series-high 660 Quality Passes

Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota)
· Four wins, nine top fives, 13 top 10s; three poles
· Average finish of 8.1
· Average Running Position of 8.8, third-best
· Driver Rating of 111.4, third-best
· 572 Fastest Laps Run, third-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 91.421 mph, third-fastest
· 6,609 Laps in the Top 15 (82.3%), fourth-most
· 560 Quality Passes, fifth-most

Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet)
· One win, three top fives, 11 top 10s
· Average finish of 16.2
· Average Running Position of 13.8, ninth-best
· Driver Rating of 92.9, eighth-best
· 220 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most
· 869 Green Flag Passes, 10th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 91.074 mph, eighth-fastest
· 5,947 Laps in the Top 15 (65.8%), seventh-most
· 510 Quality Passes, eighth-most

Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet)
· Eight wins, 17 top fives, 21 top 10s; three poles
· Average finish of 5.3
· Series-best Average Running Position of 5.8
· Series-best Driver Rating of 124.0
· 954 Fastest Laps Run, second-most
· Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 91.652 mph
· Series-high 8,333 Laps in the Top 15 (92.2%)
· 647 Quality Passes, second-most

Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Ford)
· One top five, five top 10s
· Average finish of 10.4
· Average Running Position of 13.5, eighth-best
· Driver Rating of 89.2, ninth-best
· Average Green Flag Speed of 91.071 mph, ninth-fastest

Jamie McMurray (No. 1 McDonald’s Chevrolet)
· One top five, 12 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 16.2
· Average Running Position of 15.9, 12th-best
· Driver Rating of 84.2, 12th-best
· 854 Green Flag Passes, 12th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 90.964 mph, 11th-fastest
· 4,817 Laps in the Top 15 (53.3%), 12th-most
· 386 Quality Passes, 12th-most

Ryan Newman (No. 31 Quicken Loans Chevrolet)
· One win, seven top fives, 11 top 10s; three poles
· Average finish of 15.3
· Average Running Position of 15.2, 11th-best
· Driver Rating of 87.4, 11th-best
· 142 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-most
· 938 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most
· 5,058 Laps in the Top 15 (56.0%), 10th-most
· 478 Quality Passes, ninth-most

Tony Stewart (No. 14 Code 3 Associates/Mobil 1 Chevrolet)
· Three wins, nine top fives, 15 top 10s; three poles
· Average finish of 13.8
· Average Running Position of 11.1, fifth-best
· Driver Rating of 98.5, fifth-best
· 376 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 91.200 mph, sixth-fastest
· 6,113 Laps in the Top 15 (71.6%), sixth-most
· 417 Quality Passes, 11th-most

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Martinsville Speedway Data

Season Race #: 6 of 36 (03-30-14)
Track Size: 0.526-mile
Banking/Turn 1 & 2: 12 degrees
Banking/Turn 3 & 4: 12 degrees
Banking/Frontstretch: 0 degrees
Banking/Backstretch: 0 degrees
Frontstretch Length: 800 feet
Backstretch Length: 800 feet
Race Length: 500 laps / 263 miles

Top 10 Driver Ratings at Martinsville
Jimmie Johnson…………………… 124.0
Jeff Gordon………………………… 121.1
Denny Hamlin………………………. 111.4
Dale Earnhardt Jr…………………… 98.9
Tony Stewart…………………………. 98.5
Kyle Busch…………………………… 97.0
Clint Bowyer…………………………. 93.8
Kevin Harvick………………………… 92.9
Brad Keselowski……………………. 89.2
Ryan Newman……………………….. 87.4
Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2013 races (18 total) among active drivers at Martinsville Speedway.

Qualifying/Race Data

2013 Coors Light Pole winner: Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet – 98.400 mph, 19.244 secs., 04-05-13

2013 race winner: Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet – 72.066 mph, (03:38:58), 04-07-13

Track qualifying record: Denny Hamlin, Toyota – 99.595 mph, 19.013 secs., 10-25-13

Track race record: Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 82.223 mph, (3:11:55), 09-22-96

Martinsville Speedway History

· Opened in September 1947 by H. Clay Earles, Martinsville, originally a dirt track, is one of the oldest continuously-operating race tracks in the United States.
· The first NASCAR-sanctioned race at Martinsville was on July 4, 1948.
· The first NASCAR Sprint Cup race was Sept. 25, 1949.
· The track was paved in 1955.
· The first 500-lap event at Martinsville was in 1956.
· Concrete corners were added atop asphalt in 1976.

Martinsville Speedway Notebook

· There have been 130 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway, one in the inaugural year and two races per year since 1950.
· 593 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville; 374 in more than one.
· NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty has the all-time most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Martinsville with 67 starts; Jeff Gordon has the most among active drivers with 42.
· Curtis Turner won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Martinsville Speedway in 1949.
· 57 drivers have Coors Light poles at Martinsville, led by NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip with eight; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with seven.
· 12 drivers have won two or more consecutive Coors Light poles at Martinsville Speedway. Four of the 12 have won three consecutive poles at Martinsville: Glen Wood (Fall of 1959 and 1960 sweep); Darrell Waltrip (1979 sweep and spring 1980); Mark Martin (fall of 1990 and 1991 sweep); Jeff Gordon (2003 sweep and spring 2004).
· Youngest Martinsville pole winner: Ricky Rudd (4/26/1981 – 24 years, 7 months, 14 days).
· Oldest Martinsville pole winner: Morgan Shepherd (4/26/1987 – 45 years, 6 months, 14 days).
· 47 different drivers have won at Martinsville Speedway, led by Richard Petty with 15; Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon lead the series among active drivers with eight wins each.
· 23 drivers have multiple wins at Martinsville Speedway only four active drivers have multiple wins: Jimmie Johnson (eight), Jeff Gordon (eight), Denny Hamlin (four) and Tony Stewart (three).
· Hendrick Motorsports leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in wins at Martinsville Speedway with 21.
· 21 of 130 races (16.1%) at Martinsville Speedway have been won from the Coors Light pole; seven of those 21 wins came from active drivers: Tony Stewart (2000), Jeff Gordon (2003 twice), Jimmie Johnson (2008, 2012, spring 2013) and Denny Hamlin (2010).
· The Coors Light pole is the most proficient starting spot in the field at Martinsville producing more wins (21) than any other starting position.
· 36 of the 130 (27.6%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway have been won from the front row: 21 from the pole and 15 from second-place.
· 95 of the 130 (73%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Martinsville Speedway have been won from a top-10 starting position.
· Five of the 130 (3.8%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway have been won from a starting position outside the top 20.
· The deepest in the field that a race winner has started was 36th, by Kurt Busch in the fall of 2002.
· Youngest Martinsville winner: Richard Petty (04/10/1960 – 22 years, 9 months, 8 days).
· Oldest Martinsville winner: Harry Gant (09/22/1991 – 51 years, 8 months, 12 days).
· NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt leads the series in runner-up finishes at Martinsville Speedway with seven; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with four, followed by his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson with three.
· Richard Petty leads the series in top-five finishes at Martinsville Speedway with 30; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 27, followed by Jimmie Johnson with 17.
· Richard Petty leads the series in top-10 finishes at Martinsville Speedway with 37; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 34, followed by Jimmie Johnson (21).
· Jeff Gordon leads active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Martinsville Speedway with a 7.238. Ryan Newman is the only other active driver with an average starting position at Martinsville in the top-10 (9.417).
· Three active drivers have a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series average finish in the top-10 at Martinsville: Jimmie Johnson (5.333), Jeff Gordon (6.833) and Denny Hamlin (8.125).
· There have been five NSCS green-white-checkered finishes at Martinsville Speedway: fall 2007 (500/506), fall 2008 (500/504), fall 2009 (500/501), spring 2010 (500/508), and spring 2012 (500/515).
· Jeff Gordon has participated in the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway without a DNF (42).
· Tony Stewart (4/18/1999) and Scott Riggs (4/10/2005) won their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light poles at Martinsville Speedway.
· Mike Bliss (09/27/1998), Travis Kvapil (10/24/2004), Michael McDowell (3/30/2008) and Scott Speed (10/19/2008) made their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career starts at Martinsville Speedway.
· 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have posted consecutive wins at Martinsville Speedway. Fred Lorenzen won four NSCS races straight (the most) from the fall of 1963 through the spring of 1965.
· All 10 active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers who have won at Martinsville Speedway participated in at least two or more races before visiting Victory Lane. Tony Stewart won at Martinsville with the fewest previous appearances (three).
· Ryan Newman competed at Martinsville Speedway 20 times before winning in the spring of 2012; the longest span of any the 10 active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners.
· Four drivers have made 10 or more attempts before their first win at Martinsville Speedway: Mark Martin (12); Bobby Labonte (18), Kevin Harvick (19) and Ryan Newman (20).
· Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Martinsville Speedway is the 4/1/2007 race won by Jimmie Johnson with a MOV of 0.065 second.
· Danica Patrick is the only female driver to compete at Martinsville Speedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
· Seven car numbers have produced five or more Martinsville Speedway NSCS wins:

  • No. 43 – Richard Petty (1960, ’62, ’63, ’67 sweep, ’68, ’69 sweep, ’70, ’71, ’72 sweep, ’73, ’75 and ’79); John Andretti (1999)
  • No. 11 – Cale Yarborough (1974, ’76, ’77 sweep, ‘78); Darrell Waltrip (1981, ’82, ’83, ’84); Geoff Bodine (1990 sweep); Denny Hamlin (2008, ’09, ’10 sweep)
  • No. 28 – Fred Lorenzen (1961, ’63, ’64 sweep, ‘65 and ‘66); Buddy Baker (1979); Ernie Irvan (1993).
  • No. 2 – Dale Earnhardt (1980); Rusty Wallace (1993, ‘94 sweep, ’95, ’96 and ‘04)
  • No. 48 – Jimmie Johnson (2004, ’06, ’07 sweep, ’08, ’09, ’12, ‘13)
  • No. 24 – Jeff Gordon (1996, ’97, ’99, ’03 sweep and ’05 sweep, fall 2013)
  • No. 3 – Ricky Rudd (1983); Dale Earnhardt (1985, ’87, ’88, ’91, ’95)

NASCAR in Virginia

· There have been 282 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races among nine tracks in Virginia: Martinsville 130, Richmond International Raceway 115, South Boston 10, Langley Field (Hampton) 9, Old Dominion (Manassas) 7, Southside (Richmond) 4, Starkey (Roanoke) 2, Norfolk 2, Princess Anne (Norfolk) 1.
· 169 drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as Virginia.
· 19 drivers from Virginia have won at least one race in NASCAR’s three national series. 11 of the 19 Virginia native NASCAR winners have won in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

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Helmut Marko: Modern-day F1 drivers are overpaid

xxxx during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria at Red Bull Ring on June 19, 2015 in Spielberg, Austria.
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Red Bull Racing team advisor Helmut Marko believes that modern-day Formula 1 drivers are overpaid due to the reduced risk and easier driving conditions they experience.

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel are two of the highest-paid drivers on the grid in 2016, earning upwards of $30 million per year from their teams.

However, Marko believes that drivers in F1 are overpaid as there is now a reduced risk of suffering a fatal accident, and that with the cars being easier to drive, their worth has decreased.

“Basically, the drivers of today are definitely overpaid for two reasons,” Marko told Sport Bild in Germany.

“Firstly, there is only a small risk that serious accidents can result in injury or even be fatal.

“Secondly, young top talent like [Max] Verstappen or [Pascal] Wehrlein can take the modern car and straight away easily do 100 laps without tiring.

“Previously you had even a Vettel have to take breaks because he was not used to the high centrifugal forces. This means that the cars are easier to drive. The drivers must do less.”

Wolff: Wehrlein, Ocon deserve Formula 1 roles

SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA - JUNE 23:  Pascal Wehrlein of Germany and Mercedes GP drives during Formula One testing at the Red Bull Ring on June 23, 2015 in Spielberg, Austria.  (Photo by Andrew Hone/Getty Images)
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Mercedes AMG Petronas team boss Toto Wolff believes that junior talents Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon have both earned their roles in Formula 1 for the 2016 season “on merit”.

Wehrlein will make his grand prix debut in 2016 with Manor Racing after winning the DTM title for Mercedes last year, becoming the youngest champion in the history of the series.

Ocon has been loaned to Renault Sport F1 Racing for its comeback season, and will work as the team’s reserve driver following his GP3 title success last year.

Wolff feels that both drivers deserve their chance in F1 this year, and also said that Mercedes will look to expand its junior program across the course of the season.

“We’re delighted that Pascal and Esteban will tackle a fresh set of challenges in 2016,” Wolff said. “Our aim is to build their experience in the best possible environment and, following positive discussions with our counterparts at Manor and Renault, it became clear that their respective Formula 1 programmes presented ideal opportunities to achieve that.

“It is very pleasing to see young drivers earning their spot in Formula 1 on merit and to see that talent is being rewarded by the system. Pascal and Esteban have proven themselves to be amongst the top young drivers out there – and both come into 2016 as champions of their respective series.

“But they still have plenty to learn and they will be staying humble, with their feet on the ground. This is an important year for them and we will be following their progress with great interest, while also looking to expand our junior program.

“Mercedes-Benz has a strong tradition of developing young racing talent and our eyes are very much open to other promising prospects for the future.”

Social roundup: When Mika Hakkinen met CJ Wilson, and other cool shots

SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 15:  Former F1 World Champion Mika Hakkinen is seen during practice for the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit on April 15, 2011 in Shanghai, China.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
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What happens when you put a McLaren P1 owned by baseball star and CJ Wilson Racing team principal, and occasional driver, CJ Wilson, with two-time F1 World Champion Mika Hakkinen, and you turn them loose at The Thermal Club for a track day?

Pure awesomeness.

Of course there’s other cars besides the McLaren and hockey legend, Teemu Selanne, was also on site.

This really isn’t a post so much that needs words, but one that does need proper photos and noise.

The CJWR pairing of Marc Miller and Daniel Burkett, who drive the No. 33 One Capital/Motor Oil Matters Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport dubbed “Darth Cayman” in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, have been coaching and driving at an event this weekend out at The Thermal Club, a luxury race track in California.

See a mix of photos and videos below:

Ecclestone gives Monza until end of February to resolve F1 future

MONZA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 06:  Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP celebrates on the podium next to Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Ferrari after winning the Formula One Grand Prix of Italy at Autodromo di Monza on September 6, 2015 in Monza, Italy.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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Formula 1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone has given officials at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza until the end of February to resolve the future of the Italian Grand Prix.

Monza has hosted the Italian Grand Prix for all but one year since 1950 when the F1 world championship was formed, establishing itself as one of the series’ most historic and legendary venues.

However, its future has come under increasing scrutiny in recent months following a cut in the amount of tax relief that the race receives by the Italian government.

Ecclestone said back in November that he had “no doubts” the race would remain on the calendar and extend its contract beyond the end of 2016 when it expires.

However, the 85-year-old has now cast fresh doubt on the race in an interview with Reuters, giving the circuit until the end of February to resolve its future.

“It’s Italian. A lot of conversations at the moment and not much action,” Ecclestone said.

“They said to me a few months ago: ‘Everything is sorted out, we know exactly where we are and it’s all agreed and no dramas.’

“And now I heard yesterday it’s become very political… They’ll get on with it. Or not. I don’t know what’s going to happen. Nothing we can do about it.

“The only people that can sort this out are the people that are currently involved in Italy. They can take as long as they like, provided it’s by the end of this month.”

The 2016 Italian Grand Prix is set to take place at Monza on September 4.