NRA 500

Everything you need to know for Sunday’s Duck Commander 500 at Texas

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After an entertaining race won by Kurt Busch at Martinsville, the Sprint Cup Series will make the first of its two visits this year to the high-banked, 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway this weekend.

Courtesy of NASCAR’s public relations and statistics teams, here’s all the important numbers and notes you need to know going into Sunday’s Duck Commander 500 – Round 7 of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.

TEXAS-SPECIFIC STATISTICS

Greg Biffle (No. 16 3M/Give Kids A Smile Ford)
· Two wins, eight top fives, 12 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 15.1
· Average Running Position of 12.3, seventh-best
· Driver Rating of 101.8, third-best
· 465 Fastest Laps Run, second-most
· 1,194 Green Flag Passes, 10th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 173.396 mph, third-fastest
· 4,457 Laps in the Top 15 (74.0%), fourth-most
· Series-high 742 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green)

Clint Bowyer (No. 15 Willie’s Duck Diner Toyota)
· Three top fives, nine top 10s
· Average finish of 12.8
· Average Running Position of 12.6, eighth-best
· Driver Rating of 92.3, ninth-best
· Average Green Flag Speed of 173.094 mph, eighth-fastest

Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet)
· One win, three top fives, 12 top 10s
· Average finish of 15.3
· Driver Rating of 88.0, 12th-best
· 191 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most
· 1,372 Green Flag Passes, third-most
· 578 Quality Passes, 12th-most

Kyle Busch (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota)
· One win, six top fives, seven top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 14.0
· Average Running Position of 11.0, fourth-best
· Driver Rating of 101.6, fourth-best
· 331 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 173.452 mph, second-fastest
· 4,158 Laps in the Top 15 (73.1%), sixth-most
· 597 Quality Passes, 10th-most

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet)
· One win, four top fives, 13 top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 13.7
· Average Running Position of 11.5, fifth-best
· Driver Rating of 93.8, seventh-best
· 216 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most
· 1,343 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 173.134 mph, seventh-fastest
· 4,624 Laps in the Top 15 (76.8%), third-most
· 736 Quality Passes, second-most

Carl Edwards (No. 99 Fastenal Ford)
· Three wins, six top fives, eight top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 15.6
· Average Running Position of 12.3, sixth-best
· Driver Rating of 97.5, sixth-best
· 358 Fastest Laps Run, third-most
· 1,164 Green Flag Passes, 12th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 173.320 mph, fourth-fastest
· 4,425 Laps in the Top 15 (73.5%), fifth-most
· 703 Quality Passes, fourth-most

Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Axalta/Texas A&M School of Engineering Chevrolet)
· One win, eight top fives, 11 top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 17.8
· Average Running Position of 14.5, 11th-best
· Driver Rating of 90.6, 10th-best
· 307 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 172.965 mph, 11th-fastest
· 3,727 Laps in the Top 15 (61.9%), eighth-most
· 629 Quality Passes, ninth-most

Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota)
· Two wins, five top fives, nine top 10s
· Average finish of 10.7
· Average Running Position of 12.7, ninth-best
· Driver Rating of 93.3, eighth-best
· 167 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-most
· 1,301 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 172.998 mph, 10th-fastest
· 3,596 Laps in the Top 15 (67.2%), 12th-most
· 696 Quality Passes, fifth-most

Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s “Spring is Calling” Chevrolet)
· Three wins, 10 top fives, 16 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 8.7
· Average Running Position of 10.3, second-best
· Driver Rating of 106.4, second-best
· Series-high 488 Fastest Laps Run
· Average Green Flag Speed of 173.319 mph, fifth-fastest
· 4,660 Laps in the Top 15 (77.4%), second-most
· 681 Quality Passes, sixth-most

Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota)
· Two wins, 13 top fives, 16 top 10s
· Average finish of 8.3
· Series-best Average Running Position of 9.0
· Series-best Driver Rating of 107.2
· 350 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most
· 1,360 Green Flag Passes, fifth-most
· Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 173.482 mph
· Series-high 4,827 Laps in the Top 15 (80.1%)
· 709 Quality Passes, third-most

Tony Stewart (No. 14 Code 3 Associates/Mobil 1 Chevrolet)
· Two wins, six top fives, 12 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 13.1
· Average Running Position of 10.8, third-best
· Driver Rating of 99.1, fifth-best
· 344 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 173.180 mph, sixth-fastest
· 4,023 Laps in the Top 15 (70.7%), seventh-most
· 596 Quality Passes, 11th-most

Martin Truex Jr. (No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet)
· Two top fives, eight top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 15.0
· Average Running Position of 13.7, 10th-best
· Driver Rating of 89.1, 11th-best
· 1,164 Green Flag Passes, 12th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 173.017 mph, ninth-fastest
· 3,605 Laps in the Top 15 (63.4%), 11th-most

source:

Texas Motor Speedway Data
Season Race #: 7 of 36 (04-06-14)
Track Size: 1.5-mile
Banking/Turn 1 & 2: 24 degrees
Banking/Turn 3 & 4: 24 degrees
Banking/Frontstretch: 5 degrees
Banking/Backstretch: 5 degrees
Frontstretch Length: 2,250 feet
Backstretch Length: 1,330 feet
Race Length: 334 laps / 501 miles

Top 10 Driver Ratings at Texas
Matt Kenseth……………………….. 107.2
Jimmie Johnson…………………… 106.4
Greg Biffle………………………….. 101.8
Kyle Busch…………………………. 101.6
Tony Stewart…………………………. 99.1
Carl Edwards………………………… 97.5
Dale Earnhardt Jr…………………… 93.8
Denny Hamlin……………………….. 93.3
Clint Bowyer…………………………. 92.3
Jeff Gordon………………………….. 90.6
Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2013 races (18 total) among active drivers at Texas Motor Speedway.

Qualifying/Race Data
2013 Coors Light Pole winner: Kyle Busch, Toyota, 196.299 mph, 27.509 secs., 04-12-13
2013 race winner: Kyle Busch, Toyota, 144.751 mph, (03:27:40), 04-13-13
Track qualifying record: Kyle Busch, Toyota, 196.299 mph, 27.509 secs., 04-12-13
Track race record: Greg Biffle, Ford, 160.577 mph, (3:07:12), 11-14-12

Texas Motor Speedway History
· Construction on Texas Motor Speedway began in 1995.
· The first NASCAR national series race at TMS was a NASCAR Nationwide Series event on April 5, 1997 – won by Mark Martin.
· The first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race was on April 6, 1997 – won by Jeff Burton.
· The track underwent a repave between the 2001 and 2002 seasons.
· In 2011, the spring NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race was moved from Sunday to Saturday night under the lights at Texas Motor Speedway.
· Texas Motor Speedway hosted its first Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on November 6, 2005 – won by Carl Edwards.

Texas Motor Speedway Notebook
· There have been 26 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Texas Motor Speedway, one NSCS event from 1997 – 2004 and two races per year since 2005.
· 134 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas; 109 in more than one.
· Four drivers have made all 26 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Texas Motor Speedway – Jeff Gordon, Bobby Labonte, Jeff Burton and Mark Martin.
· Jeremy Mayfield was the first Coors Light pole winner, in 1998 with a speed of 185.906 mph. The inaugural Coors Light pole at Texas Motor Speedway in 1997 was cancelled due to weather conditions.
· 19 drivers have Coors Light poles at Texas, led by Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Bobby Labonte, Ryan Newman and Martin Truex Jr. with two each.
· Two drivers have won consecutive Coors Light poles at Texas Motor Speedway: Bobby Labonte (2003 and 2004) and Ryan Newman (2005 sweep).
· Youngest Texas Coors Light pole winner: Brian Vickers (11/05/2006 – 23 years, 0 months, 12 days).
· Oldest Texas Coors Light pole winner: Bill Elliott (4/08/2002 – 46 years, 6 months, 0 days).
· 17 different drivers have won at Texas Motor Speedway, led by Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson with three each.
· Seven drivers have multiple wins at Texas Motor Speedway: Carl Edwards (three), Jimmie Johnson (three), Greg Biffle, Jeff Burton, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart each have two.
· Roush Fenway Racing leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in wins at Texas Motor Speedway with nine; followed by Hendrick Motorsports with five and Joe Gibbs Racing with four.
· Three of the 26 (11.5%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Texas Motor Speedway have been won from the Coors Light Pole; Kasey Kahne (2006), Jimmie Johnson (2012) and Kyle Busch (2013).
· The third-place starting position is the most proficient starting spot in the field at Texas Motor Speedway, producing more wins than any other starting position in the field (five) – most recent: Jimmie Johnson last fall.
· Six of the 26 (23.1%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Texas Motor Speedway have been won from the front row: three from the pole and three from second-place.
· 20 of the 26 (76.9%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Texas Motor Speedway have been won from a top-10 starting position.
· Four of the 26 (15.3%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Texas Motor Speedway have been won from a starting position outside the top 20.
· The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Texas Motor Speedway is 31st, by Matt Kenseth in 2002.
· Youngest Texas winner: Ryan Newman (03/30/2003 – 25 years, 3 months, 22 days).
· Oldest Texas winner: Dale Jarrett (04/01/2001 – 44 years, 4 months, 6 days).
· Jimmie Johnson leads the series in runner-up finishes at Texas Motor Speedway with five; followed by Matt Kenseth with four.
· Matt Kenseth leads the series in top-five finishes at Texas Motor Speedway with 13; followed by Jimmie Johnson with 10.
· Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson are tied for the series lead in top-10 finishes at Texas Motor Speedway with 16 each; followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr. with 13.
· Jimmie Johnson leads active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Texas Motor Speedway with an 8..476. Johnson is the only active driver with an average starting position at Texas in the top 10.
· Two active drivers have a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series average finish in the top 10 at Texas: Matt Kenseth (8.3) and Jimmie Johnson (8.7).
· There have been three NSCS green-white-checkered finishes at Texas Motor Speedway: fall 2006 (334/339), spring 2008 (334/339), and fall 2012 (334/335).
· Qualifying has been cancelled due to weather conditions twice in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Texas Motor Speedway; the inaugural event in 1997 and spring 2007. The race has never been rain shortened.
· Kevin Harvick has participated in the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Texas Motor Speedway without posting a DNF (22).
· Jeff Burton (4/06/1997) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (4/02/2000) won their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career race at Texas Motor Speedway.
· David Ragan (4/09/2011) and Martin Truex Jr. (11/04/2007) posted their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light poles at Texas Motor Speedway.
· 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski (11/02/2008) and Trevor Bayne (11/07/2010) made their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career starts at Texas Motor Speedway.
· Two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have posted consecutive wins at Texas Motor Speedway: Carl Edwards (2008 sweep) and Denny Hamlin (2010 sweep).
· Nine of the 12 active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers who have won at Texas Motor Speedway participated in at least two or more races before visiting Victory Lane. Jeff Burton and Dale Earnhardt Jr. won at Texas in their first appearance; Carl Edwards and Ryan Newman won in their second appearance at TMS.
· Jeff Gordon competed at Texas Motor Speedway 16 times before winning in the spring of 2009; the longest span of any the 12 active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners.
· Only three of the 12 winning drivers have made 10 or more attempts before their first win at Texas Motor Speedway: Jeff Gordon (16) Kyle Busch (15) and Kurt Busch (13).
· Joe Nemechek leads the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Texas Motor Speedway without visiting Victory Lane at 23.
· Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Texas Motor Speedway was the (4/4/2004) race won by Elliott Sadler with a MOV of 0.028 second.
· Two female drivers have made NSCS starts at Texas Motor Speedway: Shawna Robinson and Danica Patrick
· Matt Kenseth leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in laps led at Texas Motor Speedway with 775 laps led in 23 starts.
· One NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver has won at Texas Motor Speedway in two different manufacturers: Jeff Burton (1997 – Ford; 2007 – Chevrolet).

NASCAR in Texas
· There have been 35 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races among three tracks in the state of Texas. Fort Worth’s Texas Motor Speedway has hosted 26 of them. Additionally, Texas World Speedway in College Station hosted eight, and Houston’s Meyer Speedway hosted one.
· 80 drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as Texas.
· Nine drivers from Texas have won at least one race in NASCAR’s three national series. Six of the nine Texas native NASCAR winners have won in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

  • Terry Labonte (22 Cup, 11 NNS, 1 Truck)
  • Bobby Labonte (21 Cup, 10 NNS, 1 Truck)
  • A.J. Foyt (7 Cup)
  • Billy Wade (4 Cup)
  • Bobby Hillin Jr. (1 Cup, 2 NNS)
  • Johnny Rutherford (1 Cup)
  • James Buescher (1 NNS, 6 Truck)
  • David Starr (4 Truck)
  • Colin Braun (1 Truck)

PWC: Parente back, Sellers, Hedlund join at K-PAX

Photo: PWC
Photo: PWC
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Defending Pirelli World Challenge GT champions K-PAX Racing have confirmed their lineup for this year’s season, which will see Alvaro Parente back to defend his crown in one of three McLaren 650S GT3s.

Parente will have two new teammates, in two talented Americans. Bryan Sellers will make his first run at a full-time PWC season in the team’s No. 6 McLaren, while Mike Hedlund, who’s driven off-and-on with K-PAX Racing technical partner Flying Lizard Motorsports, will run for a GTA title in the No. 98 McLaren.

Sellers and Hedlund replace Austin Cindric and Colin Thompson, respectively, as full-season drivers. Driver lineups for the SprintX races will be announced at a later date.

“With the addition of new teams, drivers and GT3 cars in the Pirelli World Challenge, 2017 is going to be tighter and more challenging than ever,” said Team Owner Jim Haughey. “So we are very pleased to have Alvaro, the returning Driver’s Champion, team up with the very competent Bryan Sellers in GT and Mike Hedlund in GTA.”

The full release is linked here.

These confirmations add to what’s shaping up to be, once again, a very good GT class field for the series.

Foyt confirms hire of Will Phillips as technical director

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Larry Foyt, Will Phillips and A.J. Foyt. Photo courtesy A.J. Foyt Racing
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A.J. Foyt Racing has confirmed the hire of ex-INDYCAR Vice President of Technology Will Phillips as the team’s new technical director. He’ll also serve as race engineer for Carlos Munoz this season. Trackside Online was first to report the hire.

Phillips was named as technical delegate for the Formula 4 United States Championship powered by Honda this past year, and now will be in a team role for the two-car Chevrolet outfit that Foyt has this season.

Munoz and Conor Daly will be in the pair of ABC Supply Co. Chevrolets this season, with Daniele Cucchiaroni continuing with the team as Daly’s race engineer. The duo tests this week at Sebring International Raceway’s short course.

He’s been a technical director/chief engineer, race engineer or design engineer at various teams, including but not limited to de Ferran Motorsports, Highcroft Racing, Rocketsports, and Reynard Motorsport.

“It is a privilege to join one of the most iconic teams in the IndyCar Series,” Phillips said in a release. “I have missed the competition and as such am looking forward to being back on the frontline. The depth of talent in the team is impressive and I look forward to working with them and helping create a cohesive engineering group to support Carlos and Conor.”

A.J. Foyt added, “I’m glad to have Will on our team. He’s smart and experienced and he was a close friend of “Ando’s” [the late John Anderson]. Ando worked for me and was a good friend of mine. I don’t know Will that well yet, but if Ando respected him, that’s good enough for me. I think Will can do a great job for us.”

Street in Nice renamed, unveiled in honor of Jules Bianchi

SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 20:  Jules Bianchi of France and Marussia walks across the paddock prior to the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit on April 20, 2014 in Shanghai, China.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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A street has been renamed and unveiled on Monday in honor of the late Jules Bianchi in his hometown of Nice, France.

The former ‘rue du Sapin’ in Nice is now ‘rue Jules Bianchi,’ in the Frenchman’s honor. A ceremony took place Monday at that street at the intersection of ‘avenue Pierre de Coubertin.’

Posts from the unveil are linked below. Charles Leclerc, Bianchi’s countryman and Ferrari Driver Academy member who participated in a couple first F1 free practice sessions with Haas F1 Team last year, posted “You’ll never ever be forgotten.”

Bianchi died in 2015 following a coma sustained after his accident in the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix, where he suffered a diffuse axonal injury. Not long afterwards, his No. 17 was retired from active competition in Formula 1.

Bianchi scored the first points and to date, the best career finish for the Manor F1 team, when he finished ninth in the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix.

MRTI: Thompson, Castro announce 2017 USF2000 programs

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Parker Thompson. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda has received a shot in the arm with a pair of announcements in recent days.

Parker Thompson, who came up a hard-luck second in last year’s championship to teammate Anthony Martin, will be firmly entrenched as a title contender once more in 2017 with a switch to Exclusive Autosport in the team’s No. 90 Tatuus USF-17 Mazda.

The Red Deer, Alberta native raced for JDC Motorsports in 2015 before moving to Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing last season. The move reunites Thompson with fellow Canadian and EA team owner Michael Duncalfe.

“This was easily one of the hardest off seasons I have had in my motorsport career thus far,” Thompson admitted. “I honestly didn’t know if I was going to get behind the wheel of a racecar in 2017, so when the opportunity arose to become a part of the EA organization, I was ecstatic.

“This is a dream team fit for myself, in a number of different ways. I met Michael when I was just 11-years-old racing in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan at the Western Canadian Karting Championships. It just goes to show you what relationship building can do for your career down the road! Since then, I actually raced for Michael in his decorated FF1600 program, and claimed my first two formula car wins with him. There’s not many team owners in the paddock who I have had such a great history and relationship with over the years.”

More on the announcement is linked here via the USF2000 website, and Thompson also released a video that is linked below.

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Andre Castro, an 18-year-old born in New York but with Colombian heritage, is the second confirmed driver at Newman/Wachs Racing ahead of its return to full-time racing. He’ll be in the team’s No. 37 entry alongside the previously announced Dakota Dickerson in the No. 36 car, with the series sophomore expected to improve this year.

“We ran Andre in our first test at Indy last October, and we had some success with him right from the start,”said team manager, Brian Halahan. “He was fast and he worked well with the team, so I feel we can build on that and have him running strong as soon as he is back in the Newman Wachs car. I think Andre and Dakota will make good teammates and push each other to the front.”

Castro is a go-kart veteran with limited car racing experience, but was nominated as a finalist for last year’s Team USA Scholarship.

“I am thrilled to be a part of Newman Wachs’ return to open-wheel racing, said Castro. After working with the team closely in the weeks leading up to the Chris Griffis Memorial test at Indy last fall, I saw that the team was incredibly serious about coming back and winning straight out of the gate. At the test itself, I was able to work with engineer Alan O’Leary extremely well, and by the end of the final day, me, a rookie driver and a returning team, together, we managed to be on top of the time sheets.”

While these two are in the USF2000 field this year, one driver who won’t be back for a second go-’round is Cameron Das, who raced his debut season with JAY Motorsports. The Baltimore teenager has stretched his wings not just in USF2000, but also in SCCA’s new U.S. F4 Championship, which he won.

Das, 16, will shift to Europe this year and will be one to watch along with new Red Bull Junior driver Neil Verhagen. Das has been confirmed with Carlin for its BRDC British F3 team, along with previously confirmed drivers James Pull and Enaam Ahmed.

“British Formula Three feels like the natural next step in my racing development,” said Das, who’s already tested for the team. “I’ve already had a chance to see Carlin in action and I couldn’t be more excited to spend the 2017 season with them. I really appreciate the support from my sponsor Autobahn Indoor Speedway and other partners for allowing me to embark on this incredible opportunity. I cannot wait for the first race weekend.”

The signing did bring up a good point – Das is unquestionably the racing driver with the name closest in spelling to actress Cameron Diaz.