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)

IMSA: Mazda’s first pole highlights Continental Tire GP qualifying

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Photo courtesy of IMSA
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There’s a pair of two-hour races for the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix on Sunday, Round 4 of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season for the Prototype, Prototype Challenge and GT Le Mans classes and Round 3 for GT Daytona.

The P/GTLM race will run first, with the PC/GTD race second. Air times are below, as are the qualifying reports.

P

Mazda Motorsports has done it.

The SpeedSource crew that has worked tirelessly to make the program not just reliable but now competitive has parlayed their practice pace at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca into the pole position for Sunday’s Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix.

Tristan Nunez led a Mazda Prototype 1-2, in the Mazda MZ-2.0T gasoline powered entry, in the No. 55 car with Tom Long in second in the No. 70 car. Nunez will share his car with Jonathan Bomarito and Long with Joel Miller.

Nunez clocked a 1:18.143 to Long’s 1:18.379 lap.

Nunez’s last pole came Sept. 7, 2013, also at Mazda Raceway, but then in the GRAND-AM Rolex Series in the GX class, in a SpeedSource Mazda 6 diesel.

It’s the first pole for a Mazda-powered prototype since Oct. 4, 2013 at Virginia International Raceway, in the American Le Mans Series, with Dyson Racing and a Lola LMP1 chassis.

A pair of Corvette DPs were third and fourth, the No. 31 Action Express Racing entry qualified by Dane Cameron just ahead of Ricky Taylor in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Wayne Taylor Racing entry. Neither were within striking distance though, at 0.929 and 0.976 of a second back respectively.

The Mazda front row lockout came after a Mazda 1-2 ST sweep by Freedom Autosport as well, when Chad McCumbee and Stevan McAleer beat Andrew Carbonell and Liam Dwyer in a pair of MX-5s in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race.

“This is a good start! The car was unbelievable. Huge effort by the guys at SpeedSource. We have a fantastic car. This is one of those moments we’ve all been waiting for here at Mazda, especially at Mazda Raceway. I was pushing my heart out and I wanted that pole,” Nunez told IMSA Radio’s Shea Adam in the immediate aftermath.

GTLM

Ferrari vs. Ford. That just feels good to write.

And for the first time in the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season, that’s what the pole battle was in the GT Le Mans class.

Major credit must go to Giacomo Mattioli’s Scuderia Corsa team – along with Risi Competitizone the only privateer efforts in class – which topped the factory Ford program in the hands of Chip Ganassi Racing, with Multimatic, for the class pole.

Daniel Serra in the No. 68 Ferrari 488 GTE took that new car’s first pole on U.S. soil, as well as the first for Los Angeles-based Scuderia Corsa within GTLM, courtesy of a last-lap flier at 1:22.867 at the 2.238-mile road course.

Serra’s time beat the pair of Ford GTs, the No. 67 car of Ryan Briscoe and No. 66 car of Dirk Mueller, respectively, which clocked their best grid positions this year in second and third at 1:22.946 and 1:23.115.

The No. 4 Corvette C7.R, qualified by Tommy Milner, lines up fourth with Risi’s No. 62 Ferrari in fifth, qualified by Toni Vilander. The best BMW was seventh with the best Porsche in eighth.

Serra will co-drive with Alessandro Pier Guidi, who finished second in the World Challenge race last September in Monterey. Briscoe and Mueller share their cars with Richard Westbrook and Sacramento native Joey Hand, respectively.

Milner and Oliver Gavin – or the No. 3 Corvette C7.R – look to deliver Corvette Racing its 100th win as a team on Sunday, and seek to rebound after the hard-luck, late-race dump the No. 4 car took at Long Beach.

PC

Prototype Challenge had a barnburner of a qualifying session as several drivers exchanged the top spot; ultimately Robert Alon took his first pole in the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Oreca FLM09 over James French in the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports car and Alex Popow in the No. 8 Starworks Motorsport entry.

Alon was due to start first in Long Beach on points, as the session didn’t meet its minimum green flag time. But after causing a yellow flag, that meant he would have his fastest time get deleted.

The Mazda Prototype Lites graduate atoned nicely and was super emotional afterwards in an interview with IMSA Radio. He’ll share the car with Tom Kimber-Smith on Sunday; French co-drives with Kyle Marcelli and Popow with Renger van der Zande.

GTD

The quirks and intricacies of the FIA Driver Ratings system meant four drivers you could reasonably classify as pros, even if their results actually classify them as “ams,” made it into the top six on the grid in the in theory pro-am GT Daytona class.

Again, all credit to the teams who’ve figured out how to master their lineups good to the regs, though.

Alex Riberas was best of the bunch in the No. 23 The Heart of Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R, taking his first class pole on track debut with a best time of 1:25.775. He’ll share his car with Mario Farnbacher; Riberas, the ex-Porsche Junior driver, takes over from Ian James as Farnbacher’s full-season co-driver this weekend.

Christina Nielsen and Patrick Lindsey – two proper Silvers in the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 and No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, respectively – clocked in second and third.

Nielsen and Alessandro Balzan look for their second win in a row this year after winning Sebring while Lindsey and Spencer Pumpelly seek a race repeat after winning here last year.

Cedric Sbirrazzuoli in the No. 27 Dream Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3, then a pair of unrelated Davises – Brandon in the No. 007 TRG-AMR Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 and Andrew in the No. 6 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS – completed the top six. Each of these three is a talented pro in their own right.

You could argue Bret Curtis in seventh in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 is the first true am on the grid, and credit to him for getting the white and black aFe Power car that high up. Dodge was the only manufacturer in class that failed to qualify within the top 10 of the 17-car grid.

TUNE-IN INFO

Tomorrow’s split race times and channels are linked below.

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Tire woes leave Haas down the grid in Russia

SOCHI, RUSSIA - APRIL 30: Romain Grosjean of France driving the (8) Haas F1 Team Haas-Ferrari VF-16 Ferrari 059/5 turbo comes back onto the track during qualifying for the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on April 30, 2016 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)
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Tire woes throughout practice and qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix left Haas Formula 1 drivers Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez down the grid ahead of Sunday’s race in Sochi.

NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas saw his eponymous F1 operation come back down to earth in China two weeks ago when its run of points finishes since debut came to an end.

Grosjean and Gutierrez arrived in Russia hopeful of getting back into the top 10, but both struggled to get temperature into their tires throughout qualifying.

Low temperatures and a green track surface hit all of the teams hard in Sochi, yet Haas seemed more affected than others as Grosjean and Gutierrez qualified 15th and 16th respectively.

“It’s been a complicated weekend so far for us,” Grosjean said. “We’ve been struggling with the grip and the car. It’s difficult to get the tire to work on such a smooth asphalt. We’re progressing, we’re learning and doing the most we can do.

“I still don’t have the feeling I used to have earlier in the season with the car. We really need to analyze that. Then tomorrow’s going to be a long race with a lot of fuel saving. The tires are hard to keep in the window, so it’s going to be challenging for everyone.

“Maybe we can try to be a bit more clever. Let’s do our best, let’s analyse and let’s keep having some interesting data. We’ll see where we are after the race.”

Gutierrez enters Sunday’s race still chasing his first F1 points since the 2013 Japanese Grand Prix, and admitted that Haas needs a few surprises to be in with a chance of reaching the top 10.

“Qualifying was pretty hard. It was difficult to get the tires to work here so it’s been a bit of a challenge,” Gutierrez said.

“I was doing my best, with all the options we have available, to maximize everything but I’m not really satisfied with the result.

“However, we still have a race to do tomorrow. Hopefully a few surprises may come our way that will give us a chance to be up in the points.

“It’s probably not going to be very straightforward, as the pace is not as good as we want it to be, but we will definitely push hard and do our best to get there.”

The Russian Grand Prix is live on CNBC and Live Extra from 7am ET on Sunday.

Lowe: Mercedes let Hamilton down

SOCHI, RUSSIA - APRIL 30: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP in the garage during final practice ahead of the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on April 30, 2016 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)
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Mercedes Formula 1 technical chief Paddy Lowe says that the team let Lewis Hamilton down after he suffered a power unit failure for the second race weekend in a row during qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Hamilton was forced to start last in China two weeks ago after an issue on his power unit prevented him from posting a time during qualifying.

Although he did take part in both Q1 and Q2 on Saturday in Russia, a repeat of the issue on the same power unit meant that Hamilton could not run in Q3.

As a result, Hamilton will start 10th on the grid for the start in Sochi – and only if Mercedes makes no changes to his car.

While teammate and championship leader Nico Rosberg was able to sweep to pole position, Hamilton was left to prepare for yet another fightback drive on Sunday.

“Our day has been tainted by a failure which deprived Lewis of a shot at pole – and deprived the fans of what would surely have been a thrilling climax to an immensely close battle between our two drivers,” Lowe said after the session.

“We’ve let Lewis down for the second weekend in a row, so our apologies go to him once again. It’s a cruel twist of fate that, out of eight Mercedes-Benz Power Units on the grid, the problem should befall the same driver twice.

“We’ve been working very hard over the past couple of weeks to understand what happened in China – but unfortunately there is clearly still more work to be done.

“Our focus for the immediate future, however, is on making sure Lewis’ car is in the best possible condition for tomorrow’s race to give him the best chance of making the kind of strong recovery we’ve seen him pull off so many times in the past.”

The Russian Grand Prix is live on CNBC from 7am ET on Sunday.

Hamilton reprimanded for Russia qualifying misdemeanor

SOCHI, RUSSIA - APRIL 29: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP in the Paddock during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on April 29, 2016 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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Lewis Hamilton has been given a reprimand by the FIA stewards for failing to follow the race director’s instructions during qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Ahead of the weekend at the Sochi Autodrom, FIA race director Charlie Whiting had a white bollard placed in the run-off area at Turn 2 to guide drivers where to go if they ran wide at the corner.

The idea was used successfully in Canada last year, and forces drivers to pass through the ‘penalty zone’ that ensures they do not gain an advantage by running wide.

During Q1, Hamilton ran wide at Turn 2 but failed to pass to the left of the bollard. Although he did not gain an advantage or improve his lap time, the stewards still opted to look into his misdemeanor after qualifying.

Late on Saturday, they confirmed that Hamilton had been handed a reprimand for the incident, marking his second of the season. If he racks up one more, he will receive a 10-place grid penalty.

Hamilton ultimately finished 10th in qualifying after an issue on his power unit prevented him from taking part in Q3.

“It’s obviously not a great feeling to be on the sidelines again – but that’s life,” Hamilton said. “I knew there was a problem and that it was probably the same failure that I had in China pretty much straight away. I went out for a second run in Q2 to get a feeler lap and felt the same power loss as last time.

“When it happened in Shanghai it was something we hadn’t seen before and now unfortunately it’s happened again, so we need to understand it. I’ve never been superstitious about these things, though, and I never will be. There’s nothing I can do about it, so I’ll move on and look ahead to the race.”

Hamilton said that Mercedes was yet to decide whether or not it would make any changes to his power unit overnight that may result in him receiving another penalty.

“I don’t know where I’m going to start yet – we’ll wait to see how that unfolds,” Hamilton said.

“But I never give up and I’ll give it all I’ve got to recover whatever I can in the race, like always. It’s not an easy track for overtaking. With the levels of tire degradation and it being so tough to follow here, it’s not going to be easy to make my way forward.

“But there are long straights and we’ve got good pace, so if I can keep the car in one piece I’ll be fighting for decent points I’m sure.”

The Russian Grand Prix is live on CNBC and Live Extra from 7am ET on Sunday.