Going through NASCAR withdrawal already? Here’s some intriguing numbers to devour

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NASCAR may have the upcoming weekend off for the Easter holiday, but that doesn’t mean its crack team of statisticians is on vacation like most of the drivers and teams.

Even without a race, they’re still pumping out numbers that fans love to devour. So for an appetizer prior to next week’s countdown to the April 26 race at Richmond International Raceway, here’s some food for thought and to munch on:

* THAT’S DOMINATION: In addition to being the first repeat winner of 2014 in the Sprint Cup Series, Kevin Harvick has led 462 total laps in those two wins this season. He led 224 laps in winning Saturday night’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, and led 238 laps in his first win earlier this season at Phoenix. All told through eight races, Harvick has led an impressive 515 laps in competition.

* FROM WORST TO FIRST – OR CLOSE TO IT: Let’s face it, Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. had terrible days at Texas two weeks ago. Earnhardt made a huge mistake, bouncing into the rain-drenched infield grass going into Turn 1, and then shot across the track and hit the wall head-on, ending his day and leaving teammate Jimmie Johnson to finish 25th (Johnson picked up a lot of debris kicked up by Earnhardt’s car). Harvick, meanwhile, finished one spot ahead of Earnhardt in 42nd place because his engine expired early. Just five days later, both drivers improved an outstanding 41 places in the final race finish at Darlington: Harvick won and Earnhardt finished second.

* EARNHARDT SUCCESS CONTINUES: Even with the Texas debacle, Earnhardt continues to have the best season start of his Cup career. In addition to winning the season-opening Daytona 500, he has three other runner-up finishes (Phoenix, Las Vegas and Darlington) and a third (Martinsville), making for five top-three showings in his first eight starts.

* BUSCH NEARS IMPRESSIVE MILESTONE: Kyle Busch needs to lead 30 laps at next week’s race at Richmond to reach 10,000 total laps led in the Sprint Cup Series in his career. And the guy is still only 28 years old (he turns 29 on May 2)!

* THAT’S STOUT: More specifically at Richmond, the younger Busch brother has led 586 total laps in the last five spring races at the ¾-mile bullring. He’s led at least 32 laps in each of the last five spring races and won four of them.

* HE’S THE NO. 1 AND ONLY: Pop quiz – who is the only driver to have reached the final round in each of the seven knockout qualifying sessions this season? Joey Logano, that’s who. Logano continued his streak as the only driver to make every final qualifying round at Darlington, starting on the outside of the front row. And just in case you’re asking, “Wait a minute, there’s been eight races this season. Aren’t you missing one?” The answer is no. Remember, there was no knockout qualifying in the season opener at Daytona. Knockout qualifying did not begin until the second race of the season at Phoenix.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Defending winner Takuma Sato to grace front of 2018 Indy 500 tickets

Photos: IMS/Chris Owens
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The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has unveiled what the ticket for the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500 will look like.

The ticket features blue and red foil stamped with a sculptural embossing of last year’s 500 winner, Takuma Sato, in victory lane, holding the ceremonial winner’s bottle of milk. Sato became the first Japanese driver to win the Greatest Spectacle In Racing, driving for Andretti Autosport.

The ticket was revealed Thursday during a ceremony at the Indiana Statehouse that featured Sato, now with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, as well as Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb, Hulman & Company President and CEO Mark Miles, IMS President J. Douglas Boles and Hulman Motorsports Senior Vice President of Events Allison Melangton.

The Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil will be held Sunday, May 27 at IMS.

Follow @JerryBonkowski