Jeff Gordon

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

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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

Al Unser to return to the cockpit at the SVRA Brickyard Invitational

al-unser
Photo: IMS Museum
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Four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser will return to the cockpit this summer to compete in the SVRA’s “Indy Legends” Charity Pro-Am, scheduled for June 17 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“Big Al” will join son Al Unser Jr., which will be their first competitive race together since 1993. It will also be the first time any member of Unser family has raced at the Speedway since 2008, when Al Unser III contested the Indy Lights Freedom 100 for the now defunct Playa Del Racing.

“I guess I got tired of watching the kids have all the fun,” quipped the elder Unser, who previously served as the grand marshal of the 2015 event. He later explained that expressed gratitude toward organizer Tony Parella, president and CEO of the SVRA (Sportscar Vintage Racing Association) for creating the event and extending an invitation to compete. “Seriously, Tony Parella and his SVRA team have created a first-class event and that’s why the entire Unser family has gotten behind it. We believe in what he is doing and I personally enjoy reconnecting with the great fans of the Indianapolis 500.”

Parella’s enthusiasm mirrored Unser’s.”There have been a lot of great legends in the history of auto racing, but in my book Big Al is right at the top of the mountain,” he asserted. “I am honored beyond words. This is such a validation of what all of us at the SVRA have been working so hard to build. To be able to say that this great champion believes in what we are doing enough to strap in and race with us means everything to me personally and professionally.”

The Unsers will join 31 other Indianapolis 500 veterans to compete in vintage Corvettes, Camaros and Mustangs, with model years of 1963 to 1972, in the SVRA’s “Group 6” A and B Production. Each veteran will be paired an amateur driver to split time behind the wheel. Other events slated to highlight the weekend include a Motostalgia car auction, the Hagerty Insurance “shine and show” car corral, vintage motorcycle racing and displays, and hundreds of vintage racers celebrating a century’s worth of auto racing.

Force India releases driver runout schedule for testing

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 11:  Sergio Perez of Mexico driving the (11) Sahara Force India F1 Team VJM09 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo on track during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Brazil at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 11, 2016 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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Sahara Force India is next up to reveal its 2017 challenger – the VJM10 premieres tomorrow – but it has come out today and released its plans for who will run when in said challenger.

Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon will have one full day apiece at the first test and then split the last day, with Alfonso Celis Jr. continuing his role with the team and set to run on day three of the opening test.

Ocon and Perez will then alternate for the second test, with Ocon on days one and three and Perez days two and four.

Ocon’s tested for Force India before but this will mark his first running as an official Force India driver. The impressive French driver shifts to the Mercedes-powered Force India entry after a successful second half of the year with Manor.

Perez, meanwhile, helped spearhead Force India’s climb to fourth in the Constructor’s Championship last year, the team’s best result since its 2008 debut.

Sahara Force India – Barcelona Test Schedule

Test 1
February 27 – Sergio Perez
February 28 – Esteban Ocon
March 1 – Alfonso Celis Jr.
March 2 – Sergio Perez/Esteban Ocon

Test 2
March 7 – Esteban Ocon
March 8 – Sergio Perez
March 9 – Esteban Ocon
March 10 – Sergio Perez

Alain Prost: F1 ‘needs to have more of a human side’

LONG BEACH, CA - APRIL 2: In this handout image supplied by Formula E, Alain Prost with Nicolas Prost (FRA), Renault e.Dams Z.E.15 during the Long Beach Formula E race at Long Beach Street Circuit on April 2, 2016 in Long Beach, California. (Photo by Andrew Ferraro/LAT/Formula E via Getty Images)
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Four-time Formula 1 World Champion Alain Prost was confirmed today as a special advisor to Renault Sport Racing, but his comments about the sport’s future were more important than his newly announced role with the team.

Prost, who’s spent a lot of time in the FIA Formula E world with the Renault e.dams team and son Nico, one of that team’s two drivers, said F1 has to work harder to attract younger fans as it heads into its new dawn under the new ownership group from Liberty Media Corporation.

“I think the vision is difficult to tell today,” Prost said during Renault’s launch today in London. “We have a new buyer. CVC isn’t there anymore; Liberty is. With the teams having Ross Brawn to work with, that’s a good asset.

“We need more than a vision. We need two goals. We need to bring spectators and young guys, and talking more about interactivity is more or less what we do in Formula E. That would be obvious.

“We need to have more of a human side. More people are interested in the drivers than the technology and performance.”

That dig comes a bit at F1’s hybrid technical regulations that have come into play the last few years, which has seen Mercedes AMG Petronas firmly at the head of the development curve and having won all but eight races since the start of 2014 (Red Bull with five wins, Ferrari with three).

Prost did say the reset for 2017, which features the new wider tires and wider bodies and wings, could help in that pursuit of bringing in new fans.

“I think it’s very positive for Formula 1. You needed a new cycle. These cars will be very impressive. I hope it brings new and young spectators,” he said.

Prost confirmed he won’t have a day-to-day role with Renault but will be part of the team’s executive committee.

“I must say what is important is that Renault is competitive and can win as soon as possible,” he said. “It’s not the first time I’ve been involved! But I won’t have a day-to-day role. It will be a bit more from behind.

“Together with Jerome and Cyril, my role is to give the input to give the best strategy possible to be good for the future.”

Renault targeting step up to fifth place in standings

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 21:  Jolyon Palmer (C) of Great Britain and Renault Sport, Nico Hulkenberg (L) of Germany and Renault Sport and Sergey Sirotkin of Russia and Renault Sport pose with the Renault Sport Formula One team's 2017 car, the RS17, on February 21, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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At the launch of the new Renault R.S.17 today in London, Renault Sport F1 Team senior management expressed a goal of leaping to the top-five in the Constructor’s Championship for the 2017 Formula 1 season.

Jerome Stoll, president of Renault Sport Racing and Cyril Abiteboul, the team’s managing director, said with the offseason reset and having had a proper amount of time to fully become Renault they can go from ninth up to fifth in this year’s standings.

“We have a car developed by us, and we expect to be fifth in the championship,” Stoll said during the team’s launch. “We have the team, we have the drivers, we have the partners. We are completely managed by Renault now.

Abiteboul added, “We’ve been investing more than any of the top teams. We lead everyone else in looking where the regulations are. Last year was about putting together the building blocks of the mid-term to the long-term in the back office. This year, I will be spending more time at the track.”

Abiteboul introduced the drivers who he hopes will do the task. He hailed Jolyon Palmer’s improvement in the latter stages of the season and said Nico Hulkenberg’s record speaks for itself.

“We’re happy to continue the journey with Jolyon,” Abiteboul said. “Like all rookies, he’s had difficult and challenging moments, but we stay together as a group and continue to perform.

“He’s been keeping his head down and got through the difficult part of the year. He had a remarkable last third of the year with great races in Malaysia and Japan.

“Nico, I’m not going to introduce him. You should know what he can do. He set a pole in his rookie season with Williams. He won Le Mans his first year with Porsche. He’s secured fourth in the standings with Force India last year. He will be an example for all of us.”

Team technical director Bob Bell said there “should be an overall significant improvement in car performance.” With the higher downforce though, he said whether there will be a lot of overtaking remains the biggest question mark going into the year.

“The truth is none of us will know until Melbourne. The jury’s still out, but we’re hopeful.”