Jeff Gordon

Everything you need to know for Saturday’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond

Leave a comment

With the Easter break now over, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to short-track action this weekend with the first of two annual visits to the 3/4-mile Richmond International Raceway.

RIR may be a short track but its style of racing is something you’d find at a typical superspeedway, making it a favorite among NASCAR faithful. Side-by-side action is common under the lights, and you can expect to see a fair amount of rubbin’ as well.

A old slogan called the track “Racing Perfection” and for many stock car fans, RIR is just that.

Courtesy of NASCAR’s public relations and statistics teams, here’s all the important numbers and notes you need to know going into Saturday night’s Toyota Owners 400 – Round 9 of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.

RICHMOND-SPECIFIC STATS

Clint Bowyer (No. 15 AAA Insurance Toyota)
· Two wins, three top fives, nine top 10s
· Average finish of 10.1
· Average Running Position of 9.5, fourth-best
· Driver Rating of 100.7, fourth-best
· 183 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-most
· 851 Green Flag Passes, 12th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 116.414 mph, fifth-fastest
· 5,140 Laps in the Top 15 (80.1%), fifth-most
· 485 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), fourth-most

Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet)
· One win, five top fives, nine top 10s
· Average finish of 17.3
· Average Running Position of 14.4, eighth-best
· Driver Rating of 92.2, seventh-best
· 364 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 116.386 mph, sixth-fastest
· 4,338 Laps in the Top 15 (60.1%), ninth-most
· 428 Quality Passes, 10th-most

Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M’s Toyota)
· Four wins, 12 top fives, 13 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 7.2
· Average Running Position of 7.8, second-best
· Driver Rating of 111.9, second-best
· 529 Fastest Laps Run, second-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 116.749 mph, second-fastest
· 6,271 Laps in the Top 15 (86.9%), second-most
· 533 Quality Passes, third-most

Carl Edwards (No. 99 FordAlwaysRacing Ford)
· One win, four top fives, 10 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 13.7
· Average Running Position of 14.9, ninth-best
· Driver Rating of 90.1, ninth-best
· 291 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most
· 957 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 116.290 mph, ninth-fastest
· 4,276 Laps in the Top 15 (59.3%), 10th-most
· 429 Quality Passes, ninth-most

Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet)
· Two wins, 16 top fives, 26 top 10s; six poles
· Average finish of 14.1
· Average Running Position of 13.8, seventh-best
· Driver Rating of 96.0, sixth-best
· 343 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 116.375 mph, seventh-fastest
· 4,518 Laps in the Top 15 (62.6%), eighth-most
· 436 Quality Passes, seventh-most

Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota)
· Two wins, seven top fives, nine top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 8.9
· Series-best Average Running Position of 6.6
· Series-best Driver Rating of 114.8
· Series-high 584 Fastest Laps Run
· Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 116.782 mph
· 5,361 Laps in the Top 15 (89.2%), fourth-most

Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Outback Steakhouse Chevrolet)
· Three wins, seven top fives, 16 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 11.3
· Average Running Position of 7.9, third-best
· Driver Rating of 110.0, third-best
· 458 Fastest Laps Run, third-most
· 854 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 116.658 mph, third-fastest
· Series-high 6,617 Laps in the Top 15 (91.7%)
· Series-high 613 Quality Passes

Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet)
· Three wins, five top fives, eight top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 17.3
· Average Running Position of 16.2, 12th-best
· Driver Rating of 88.5, 10th-best
· 274 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 116.232 mph, 11th-fastest

Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet)
· One win, four top fives, seven top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 18.0
· Driver Rating of 86.8, 11th-best
· 341 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most
· 923 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most
· 4,088 Laps in the Top 15 (56.7%), 12th-most
· 433 Quality Passes, eighth-most

Ryan Newman (No. 31 Quicken Loans Chevrolet)
· One win, six top fives, 14 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 11.4
· Average Running Position of 11.7, fifth-best
· Driver Rating of 91.6, eighth-best
· 921 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most
· 5,419 Laps in the Top 15 (75.1%), third-most
· 550 Quality Passes, second-most

Tony Stewart (No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Chevrolet)
· Three wins, 11 top fives, 19 top 10s
· Average finish of 10.6
· Average Running Position of 12.1, sixth-best
· Driver Rating of 96.5, fifth-best
· 276 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most
· 875 Green Flag Passes, 10th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 116.498 mph, fourth-fastest
· 4,755 Laps in the Top 15 (69.8%), sixth-most
· 462 Quality Passes, fifth-most

source:

Richmond International Raceway Track Data
Season Race #: 9 of 36 (04-26-14)
Track Size: 0.75-miles
Banking/Turns 1 & 2: 14 degrees
Banking/Turns 3 & 4: 14 degrees
Banking/Frontstretch: 8 degrees
Banking/Backstretch: 2 degrees
Frontstretch Length: 1,290 feet
Backstretch Length: 860 feet
Race Length: 400 laps / 300 miles

Top 10 Driver Ratings at Richmond
Denny Hamlin………………………. 114.8
Kyle Busch…………………………. 111.9
Kevin Harvick………………………. 110.0
Clint Bowyer………………………… 100.7
Tony Stewart…………………………. 96.5
Jeff Gordon………………………….. 96.0
Kurt Busch……………………………. 92.2
Ryan Newman……………………….. 91.6
Carl Edwards………………………… 90.1
Jimmie Johnson…………………….. 88.5
Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2013 races (18 total) among active drivers at Richmond International Raceway

Qualifying/Race Data
2013 Coors Light pole winner: Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 130.334 mph, 20.716 secs., 04-25-13
2013 race winner: Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 92.141 mph, (03:18:17), 04-27-13
Track qualifying record: Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 130.599 mph, 20.674 secs., 09-04-13
Track race record: Dale Jarrett, Ford, 109.047 mph, (02:45:04), 09-06-97

Richmond International Raceway History
· Originally known as the Atlantic Rural Exposition Fairgrounds, Richmond International Raceway held its first race in 1946 as a half-mile dirt track.
· The first NASCAR Sprint Cup race was April 19, 1953 won by Lee Petty.
· The spring 1964 race was run on a Tuesday night under temporary lighting.
· The track name changed to Virginia State Fairgrounds in 1967.
· The track surface was changed from dirt to asphalt between races in 1968.
· The track name changed to Richmond Fairgrounds Raceway in 1969.
· The track was re-measured to .542-mile for 1970.
· The track was rebuilt as a three-quarters-mile D-shaped oval following the Feb. 21, 1988 race.
· The first race under permanent lights was Sept. 7, 1991.
· The first season with both races as night races was 1999.
Notebook
· There have been 115 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Richmond International Raceway, one NSCS event from 1953 – 1958 and two races per year since 1959.
· 472 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond; 306 in more than one.
· NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty leads the series in starts at Richmond with 63. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 42 starts.
· Buck Baker won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Richmond in 1953 with a speed of 48.465 mph.
· 52 drivers have Coors Light poles at Richmond, led by Richard Petty and Bobby Allison with eight each. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with six.
· Seven drivers have won consecutive Coors Light poles at Richmond. Bobby Allison holds the record for most consecutive Coors Light poles at Richmond with five (1972 – 1974).
· Youngest Richmond pole winner: Brian Vickers (05/15/2004 – 20 years, 6 months, 21 days).
· Oldest Richmond pole winner: Mark Martin (04/28/2012 – 53 years, 3 months, 19 days).
· 48 different drivers have won at Richmond International Raceway, led by Richard Petty with 13. Kyle Busch leads all active drivers with four.
· Petty Enterprises has the most wins at Richmond in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with 15; followed by Hendrick Motorsports with 10, Joe Gibbs Racing and Richard Childress Racing each have nine.
· Chevrolet leads the series in wins at Richmond with 36 victories; followed by Ford with 29 and Toyota with seven.
· 22 of the 115 (19.1%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Richmond International Raceway have been won from the Coors Light pole. Only three active drivers have been able to accomplish the feat: Kasey Kahne (2005), Jimmie Johnson (2007) and Kyle Busch (2010).
· The pole starting position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners than any other starting position at Richmond (22).
· 35 of the 115 (30.4%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Richmond have been won from the front row: 22 from the pole and 13 from second-place.
· 90 of the 115 (78.2%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Richmond International Raceway have been won from a top-10 starting position.
· 13 of the 115 (11.3%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Richmond International Raceway have been won from a starting position outside the top 20.
· The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Richmond International Raceway was 31st, by Clint Bowyer in the spring of 2008.
· Youngest Richmond winner: Richard Petty (04/23/1961 – 23 years, 9 months, 21 days).
· Oldest Richmond winner: Harry Gant (09/07/1991 – 51 years, 7 months, 28 days).
· Bobby Allison and Richard Petty are tied for the lead in runner-up finishes at Richmond with nine each. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with six.
· Richard Petty leads the series in top-five finishes at Richmond with 34; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 16.
· Richard Petty leads the series in top-10 finishes at Richmond with 41. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 26.
· Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Richmond International Raceway with a 7.643.
· Kyle Busch leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average finishing position at Richmond International Raceway with a 7.222.
· Two active drivers have a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series average finish in the top 10 at Richmond: Kyle Busch (7.2) and Denny Hamlin (8.9).
· There have been two NSCS race resulting with a green-white-checkered finish at Richmond International Raceway: spring of 2008 (400/410) and spring of 2013 (400/406).
· Only four of the 115 races at Richmond International Raceway have been shortened due to weather conditions: spring of 1962, spring of 1977, spring of 1982 and spring of 2003.
· Bobby Labonte (09/11/1993) and Brian Vickers (05/15/2004) posted their first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light pole at Richmond.
· Tony Stewart (09/11/1999) and Kasey Kahne (05/14/2005) posted their first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win at Richmond.
· Eight drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series have posted consecutive wins at Richmond International Raceway. Richard Petty leads the series in consecutive wins at Richmond after posting seven consecutive wins from the fall of 1970 – 1973. Jimmie Johnson (2007 sweep) is the only active driver with consecutive wins at Richmond.
· All of the 13 active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners at Richmond International Raceway participated in at least one or more races before visiting Victory Lane. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Stewart won at Richmond in their second appearance.
· Joe Nemechek competed at Richmond International Raceway 18 times before winning in 1994; the longest span of any the 13 active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners.
· Dave Blaney leads the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Richmond without visiting Victory Lane at 26.
· Since the advent of electronic scoring in 1993, the closest margin of victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Richmond International Raceway was the (09/12/1998) race won by Jeff Burton with a MOV of 0.051 second.
· Two female drivers have competed at Richmond in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series:
Janet Guthrie: 2/27/1977 – Started 13th, Finished 12th; 9/11/1977 – Started 14th, Finished 12th
Danica Patrick: 4/27/2013 – Started 30th, Finished 29th; 9/7/2013 – Started 36th, Finished 30th

NASCAR in Virginia
· There have been 283 NASCAR Sprint Cup races among nine tracks in Virginia: Martinsville 131, Richmond 115, South Boston 10, Langley Field (Hampton) 9, Old Dominion (Manassas) 7, Southside (Richmond) 4, Starkey (Roanoke) 4, Norfolk 2, Princess Anne (Norfolk) 1.
· 171 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 have won in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Joe Weatherly – 25 Cup
Denny Hamlin – 23 Cup, 11 NNS, 2 Truck
Ricky Rudd – 23 Cup, 1 NNS
Jeff Burton – 21 Cup, 27 NNS
Curtis Turner – 17 Cup
Ward Burton – 5 Cup, 4 NNS
Glen Wood – 4 Cup
Elliott Sadler – 3 Cup, 9 NNS, 1 Truck
Emanuel Zervakis – 2 Cup
Lennie Pond – 1 Cup
Wendell Scott – 1 Cup
Tommy Ellis – 22 NNS
Jimmy Hensley – 9 NNS, 2 Truck
Rick Mast – 9 NNS
Hermie Sadler – 2 NNS
Elton Sawyer – 2 NNS
Stacy Compton – 2 Truck
Jon Wood – 2 Truck
Jeb Burton – 1 Truck

Yamaha, Ducati enjoy launches ahead of new MotoGP season

yfr_editorial_use_pictures_16-php
© Yamaha MotoGP
Leave a comment

MotoGP heavyweights Yamaha and Ducati geared up for the new season of motorcycle racing’s premier championship with launches this week.

Yamaha and Ducati both enter 2017 with a new line-up following Jorge Lorenzo’s decision to move from the former to the latter, acting as one of a number of shake-ups in the rider market.

Three-time MotoGP champion Lorenzo replaces Andrea Iannone at Ducati, who sought refuge at Suzuki after a seat was freed up by Maverick Viñales following his move to Yamaha in replace of – the man who started the merry-go-round all – Lorenzo.

Yamaha was the first to take the covers off its new bike at a launch in Madrid on Thursday, with Viñales being joined by nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi for the unveiling of the YZR-M1.

The new bike features a darker blue as its main livery color, as well as greater presence for title sponsor Movistar.

“I had the first test in Valencia after the race, but particularly after we moved to Sepang and we could have more kilometers and [do] more work on the new bike,” Rossi said.

“We discovered a very good potential. It looks like we can be stronger. For sure now it’s important to work in the three tests before the first race, and try to arrive ready in Qatar. But the first impression is very good.”

Ducati followed suit earlier today by unveiling its new livery for 2017, with Lorenzo making one of his first official appearances in the team’s colors following the expiration of his Yamaha contract on December 31.

The team presented its 2016 bike, the Desmosedici GP16, in ’17 colors, as well as removing the controversial – and now banned – winglets from its model.

The new MotoGP season begins in Qatar on March 26, with pre-season testing set to start at the end of January in Malaysia.

Neuville leads Ogier midway through Monte Carlo Rally

Thierry Neuville (BEL) competes during the FIA World Rally Championship 2017 in Monte Carlo, Monaco on January 20, 2017
© Red Bull Content Pool
Leave a comment

MONACO (AP) Belgian driver Thierry Neuville took a 45-second lead Friday over defending world rally champion Sebastien Ogier midway through the season-opening Monte Carlo Rally.

Overnight leader Neuville won three of Friday’s six special stages, while Ogier struggled early on before pegging Neuville back by winning the last two. Ott Tanak of Estonia is third.

Four-time champion Ogier is now driving for Ford M-Sport after switching from Volkswagen last month. The Frenchman was eight seconds behind Neuville’s Hyundai overnight and quickly under pressure.

Tanak, who also drives for M-Sport, won Friday’s first special stage – the third of 17 overall – ahead of Neuville, with Ogier in ninth.

Difficult morning conditions saw snow and sheet ice on the roads. With all the top drivers fitting studded winter tires, Ogier still went off into a ditch.

“It happened at a junction, it was very, very icy. I pulled the handbrake but the car never turned,” Ogier said. “I slipped into the ditch and became stuck.”

Neuville won the next three specials – with Ogier second on 4 and 5 – but Ogier finally found his best form to trim back the deficit from 1:12 to 45 seconds. He also overtook Tanak, who is a fraction of a second behind Ogier.

Conditions were slushy in the afternoon as the icy roads began melting.

“For me this was more tricky than this morning and difficult to know what rhythm to go,” Neuville said.

A spectator was killed on Thursday night after being hit by a car during the first stage.

Organizers said the spectator was struck by a car driven by New Zealand driver Hayden Paddon during the first of two night stages.

That stage was canceled but the second went ahead, with Neuville beating Ogier.

There are six specials Saturday with the race concluding Sunday lunchtime.

Last year, Ogier won by nearly two minutes ahead of then-teammate Andreas Mikkelsen of Norway.

Ogier announced last month that he was going to drive the Ford Fiesta for M-Sport this season. A fifth title would move him into outright second place on the all-time list behind countryman Sebastien Loeb, who won nine straight titles.

The 33-year-old Ogier, who has won 38 career races, is tied with Finnish drivers Tommi Makinen – who won four straight – and Juha Kankkunen.

The next event in the 13-race season is in Sweden in three weeks.

BRDC: Reports Silverstone will definitely drop British GP ‘speculative and wrong’

NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 10:  The grid at the start of the race during the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone on July 10, 2016 in Northampton, England.  (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images)
© Getty Images
Leave a comment

The British Racing Drivers Club has issued a statement dismissing suggestions that Silverstone will definitely drop its Formula 1 race following the 2019 season.

Doubt was cast over the future of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone following a leaked letter from BRDC chairman John Grant, in which he admitted to concerns about the cost of hosting the race.

Grant admitted that BRDC officials were considering triggering a clause in Silverstone’s F1 contract that would allow it to end its commitment after 2019 due to “ruinous” costs.

In a statement issued on Friday, the BRDC stressed that no final decision had been made and that suggestions a final decision to drop the race had already been made were incorrect.

“The British Racing Drivers Club wishes to make clear that recent press reports suggesting that talks have been unsuccessful and that the British Grand Prix will definitely be dropped after 2019 are speculative and wrong,” the statement reads.

“Our objective is to preserve the British Grand Prix at Silverstone for many years to come but, of course, we can only do this if it makes economic sense,” Grant added.

“As I have said before, we will be considering over the next six months if we should give notice of our intention to exercise the break clause in our grand prix contract at the end of 2019. No decision has been made, or will be made, until mid-July.

“In the meantime, we will be using this period to explore all interested parties, hopefully in private, various ways in which we might work out a more sustainable proposition.”

Jacques Villeneuve: Indy 500 ‘the biggest, most important race in the world’

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY 25: Jacques Villeneuve of Canada driver of the #5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Dallara Honda during the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500 mile race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 25, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
© Getty Images
Leave a comment

1995 CART champion Jacques Villeneuve has called the Indianapolis 500 “the biggest, most important race in the world”, believing that its long-running traditions are key to its enduring appeal.

Villeneuve won the Indy 500 in 1995 en route to the CART title, having finished second at the Brickyard the previous year.

Villeneuve moved into Formula 1 following his CART title victory, becoming world champion with Williams in 1997 before ultimately leaving the series mid-way through the 2006 season.

Villeneuve appeared in his third ‘500 in 2014, finishing 14th for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (pictured above).

Speaking at Autosport International last week, Villeneuve spoke warmly of his experiences at the ‘500, saying it dwarfed any other race in motorsport.

“[You’re] running at an average speed of 230 mph in traffic, in a place where you’re still allowed to risk your life basically because it’s marginally safer than 20 years ago, and half a million people in the grandstands,” Villeneuve said.

“Back then it was an event that lasted three weeks. You would build on it so the energy was incredible. It felt like a big gladiatorial ring from the Roman Empire. It was very special.

“It is the biggest, most important race in the world. Obviously an F1 championship is bigger, but as a one single event, it’s the biggest one.”

Villeneuve said that he did not appreciate the enormity of the event until he finally raced at the ‘500, having followed F1 more closely as a child by virtue of his father, Gilles, who raced for Ferrari.

“The Indy 500, I didn’t grow up with it. I grew up with Formula 1, so I didn’t really know what it represented,” Villeneuve said

“I didn’t think about it until I raced in Atlantics and I thought ‘oh wow, there’s half a million people here, that’s cool’.

“I still didn’t really understand why there was one toilet where they didn’t put the door because one year there was a driver who didn’t close his door and they decided to keep it like that for the next 40 years.

“There’s lots of stuff in America that’s very important, the history of why things have happened. Why do you drink milk when you’ve won the Indy 500? It’s because – I don’t know which driver – in the past was thirsty and asked for a jug of milk. They gave it to him and it became tradition.

“All these little things keep it alive. To get a race where people come almost daily for three weeks, that takes a lot of passion. But when you’re in it, OK it’s just a race and there’s lots of people, great, but it’s a stepping stone to F1.

“When you’re out of it, you realize first of all I survived it, and then you’ve won it. And then you realize that it’s still present and alive.

“And then you realize that that win was 22 years ago, and then you understand the meaning of what you accomplished.”