Talladega wrecks result in just minimal changes in Sprint Cup points; Gordon, Kenseth still 1-2

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Okay, take the ‘Dega mulligan and move on.

That’s pretty much the scenario for most of the drivers in the Sprint Cup standings after Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Because so many of the top drivers in the rankings coming into the race were involved in wrecks, the overall standings didn’t really change all that much.

Jeff Gordon remained in first place in the Cup standings, three points ahead of Matt Kenseth, who stayed in second place.

Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr. each gained one spot in the rankings, moving up to third (four points behind Gordon) and fourth (-19), respectively.

Carl Edwards dropped one place, into a tie for fourth with Earnhardt.

Rounding out the top 10 after ‘Dega, Joey Logano remained in sixth place (-42), Jimmie Johnson improved from eighth to seventh (-43), Greg Biffle gained three places to jump to eighth (-47), Ryan Newman remained in ninth (-48) and Brian Vickers remained in 10th (-50).

The biggest improvement in the standings by any driver Sunday was three positions, by both Biffle and by Clint Bowyer, who climbed into the top 20 and left Talladega in 18th position (-86).

Suffering the biggest drop in the standings was Tony Stewart, who fell six places, from 15th to 21st (-103).

Other changes of note:

* Brad Keselowski dropped four places in the standings, from seventh to 11th (-53).

* Jamie McMurray dropped five places, from 19th to 24th (-106).

* Kurt Busch fell out of the top 25 to 27th (-151).

* Last year’s spring Talladega race winner David Ragan dropped four spots to 35th after Sunday’s race (-216).

* In what he has previously said would be the final race of his three-plus decade Cup career, Terry Labonte finished

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UNOFFICIAL Provided by NASCAR Statistics- Sunday, 5/4/2014 @ 4:42 PM Central UNOFFICIAL

Points Report

Talladega Superspeedway

45th Annual Aaron’s 499

Pos Driver BonusPts Points Ldr Nxt Starts Poles Wins T5s T10s DNFs Money Won PPos G/L

1 Jeff Gordon 7 347 0 0 10 0 0 4 7 0 $2,382,113 1 0
2 Matt Kenseth 8 344 -3 -3 10 1 0 3 7 0 $2,028,762 2 0
3 Kyle Busch 10 343 -4 -1 10 1 1 3 5 0 $2,114,368 4 1
4 Dale Earnhardt Jr 10 328 -19 -15 10 0 1 5 6 1 $2,799,753 5 1
5 Carl Edwards 8 328 -19 0 10 0 1 2 5 1 $1,601,948 3 -2
6 Joey Logano 16 305 -42 -23 10 1 2 5 5 2 $2,293,318 6 0
7 Jimmie Johnson 9 304 -43 -1 10 0 0 3 5 0 $2,107,568 8 1
8 Greg Biffle 5 300 -47 -4 10 0 0 2 4 0 $1,814,683 11 3
9 Ryan Newman 3 299 -48 -1 10 0 0 0 4 0 $1,370,198 9 0
10 Brian Vickers 3 297 -50 -2 10 0 0 2 4 0 $1,659,513 10 0
11 Brad Keselowski 13 294 -53 -3 10 1 1 4 4 0 $2,577,893 7 -4
12 Denny Hamlin 9 292 -55 -2 9 1 1 2 3 0 $2,401,200 14 2
13 Kyle Larson # 0 286 -61 -6 10 0 0 2 5 1 $1,613,533 13 0
14 Austin Dillon # 1 281 -66 -5 10 0 0 0 1 0 $1,711,908 12 -2
15 AJ Allmendinger 2 279 -68 -2 10 0 0 1 3 0 $1,406,400 17 2
16 Marcos Ambrose 2 268 -79 -11 10 0 0 2 2 0 $1,527,933 16 0
17 Paul Menard 3 265 -82 -3 10 0 0 1 5 0 $1,800,698 18 1
18 Clint Bowyer 5 261 -86 -4 10 0 0 1 3 2 $1,575,053 21 3
19 Kevin Harvick 16 258 -89 -3 10 1 2 2 4 2 $1,901,923 20 1
20 Kasey Kahne 3 252 -95 -6 10 0 0 0 3 1 $1,372,383 22 2
21 Tony Stewart 1 244 -103 -8 10 1 0 2 4 1 $1,603,348 15 -6
22 Casey Mears 1 244 -103 0 10 0 0 0 1 0 $1,429,267 23 1
23 Aric Almirola 1 242 -105 -2 10 0 0 1 2 2 $1,517,363 24 1
24 Jamie McMurray 1 241 -106 -1 10 0 0 0 2 1 $1,578,368 19 -5
25 Ricky Stenhouse Jr 0 218 -129 -23 10 0 0 1 3 0 $1,648,363 26 1
26 Martin Truex Jr 0 209 -138 -9 10 0 0 0 1 1 $1,402,793 27 1
27 Kurt Busch 7 196 -151 -13 10 0 1 2 2 4 $1,283,708 25 -2
28 Justin Allgaier # 1 190 -157 -6 10 0 0 0 0 1 $1,328,504 28 0
29 Danica Patrick 2 176 -171 -14 10 0 0 0 0 1 $1,219,363 29 0
30 David Gilliland 3 152 -195 -24 10 0 0 0 0 1 $1,285,819 30 0
31 Michael Annett # 0 144 -203 -8 10 0 0 0 0 2 $1,168,724 33 2
32 Alex Bowman # 0 132 -215 -12 10 0 0 0 0 2 $1,135,470 34 2
33 Reed Sorenson 3 131 -216 -1 10 0 0 0 0 3 $1,108,794 32 -1
34 Cole Whitt # 0 131 -216 0 10 0 0 0 0 1 $1,062,083 35 1
35 David Ragan 3 131 -216 0 10 0 0 0 0 1 $1,210,228 31 -4
36 Josh Wise 0 119 -228 -12 9 0 0 0 0 0 $995,392 36 0
37 Ryan Truex # 0 77 -270 -42 8 0 0 0 0 2 $671,703 38 1
38 Travis Kvapil 2 72 -275 -5 8 0 0 0 0 0 $656,049 37 -1
39 Parker Kligerman 0 54 -293 -18 8 0 0 0 0 4 $829,833 39 0
40 Michael McDowell 1 49 -298 -5 6 0 0 0 0 3 $524,164 40 0
41 Terry Labonte 0 44 -303 -5 2 0 0 0 0 0 $479,744 44 3
42 David Reutimann 1 37 -310 -7 3 0 0 0 0 0 $255,665 41 -1
43 Bobby Labonte 0 29 -318 -8 1 0 0 0 0 0 $325,213 42 -1
44 Jeff Burton 0 27 -320 -2 1 0 0 0 0 0 $115,960 43 -1
45 Michael Waltrip 1 23 -324 -4 2 0 0 0 0 1 $384,038 48 3
46 David Stremme 0 22 -325 -1 3 0 0 0 0 1 $227,870 45 -1
47 Timmy Hill 0 7 -340 -15 2 0 0 0 0 1 $150,770 46 -1
Pos Driver BPts Points Ldr Nxt Starts Poles Wins T5s T10
s
DNFs Money Won PPos G/L
BPts – Bonus Points, -Ldr/-Nxt = Points behind Leader/Next higher, PPos = Previous Position, G/L = Points standing gain/loss, (i) Ineligible for driver points in this series48 Dave Blaney 0 4 -343 -3 2 0 0 0 0 2 $131,650 47 -1
49 Landon Cassill(i) 0 0 -347 -4 8 0 0 0 0 0 $958,783 49 0
50 Sam Hornish Jr.(i) 0 0 -347 -4 1 0 0 0 0 0 $107,410 50 0
51 Trevor Bayne(i) 0 0 -347 -4 4 0 0 0 0 2 $607,428 51 0
52 Brian Scott(i) 0 0 -347 -4 4 1 0 0 0 1 $573,865 52 0
53 Joe Nemechek(i) 0 0 -347 -4 6 0 0 0 0 2 $506,009 53 0
54 Blake Koch(i) 0 0 -347 -4 1 0 0 0 0 0 $72,946 54 0
55 J J Yeley(i) 0 0 -347 -4 1 0 0 0 0 1 $62,180 55 0
56 Morgan Shepherd(i) 0 0 -347 -4 1 0 0 0 0 1 $73,693 56 0
57 Eric McClure(i) 0 0 -347 -4 0 0 0 0 0 0 $24,763 57 0
Pos Driver BPts Points Ldr Nxt Starts Poles Wins T5s T10
s
DNFs Money Won PPos G/L
BPts – Bonus Points, -Ldr/-Nxt = Points behind Leader/Next higher, PPos = Previous Position, G/L = Points standing gain/loss, (i) Ineligible for driver points in this series

Schmidt Peterson aiming high with Hinchcliffe, Wickens

Photo: IndyCar
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The new Schmidt Peterson Motorsports duo of James Hinchcliffe and Robert Wickens expressed a high amount of confidence during Wednesday’s confirmation of Hinchcliffe’s return and Wickens’ signing, as the pair looks to return the Sam Schmidt and Ric Peterson co-owned team to prominent status within the Verizon IndyCar Series.

“We’re hoping to give Toronto and Ontario and Canadian sports fans in general something to cheer about over the next season,” Hinchcliffe quipped during a teleconference on Wednesday.

Granted, there are likely to be several challenges to overcome, notably for Wickens, who returns to single-seater competition for the first time since 2011, when he was a champion of the Formula Renault 3.5 series and served as test driver for the now defunct Manor Racing (then known as Marussia Virgin Racing).

Having spent every year since then in DTM, where he won a total of six races and finished as high as fourth in the championship (2016), Wickens knows returning to open wheel competition will be an adjustment. However, he explained that the history of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, specifically its Indy Lights history, speaks to their ability to help a driver adapt, and he rates the program they’re putting together very highly.

“I think Schmidt Peterson Motorsports have a fantastic driver development program. They showed that in their multiple Indy Lights championships along the way. I think we will have a strong program in place. I have a feeling that the simulator will be my new best friend,” Wickens said when asked about getting reacquainted with an open-wheel car.

Of course, having an experienced teammate like Hinchcliffe to lean on will undoubtedly help the transition, something Wickens readily admitted.

“I’m very fortunate that I have James as my teammate because he’s so experienced, I can learn off him. Because we already have such a good off-track relationship, I feel like you can just take his word, trust him, kind of move forward with it,” he revealed.

They’ve been teammates before, both in karting where they first met in 2001, and then in the now-defunct A1 Grand Prix series in 2007-2008, a series that pitted nations against each other in spec open-wheel cars. Funnily, that A1GP type of vibe returns as Schmidt Peterson Motorsports now has that with its “Team Canada” mantra while all four of Andretti Autosport’s full-season drivers are American.

For Hinchcliffe, Wickens’ background, even if it hasn’t been in the single-seater realm since 2011, was a big selling point in adding him to the team.

“In Robby, we have a proven winner at a very high level. The level of technical expertise that he comes with from his time in DTM is very impressive,” he said of Wickens’ technical background.

Hinchcliffe added that Wickens’ ability to analyze the car and its setup was evidenced in two outings: one at Sebing International Raceway in March, in part of a “ride swap” between the two longtime friends, and a second at Road America, when he subbed on Friday practice for Mikhail Aleshin.

Wickens sampled Hinchcliffe’s No. 5 Arrow Electronics Honda earlier this year. Photo: IndyCar

Hinchcliffe revealed that Wickens’ feedback to the team and his ability to quickly adapt to the chassis took everyone somewhat by surprise.

“We did our ride swap. He had two hours in the car, hardly anything even resembling a test day, and his performance was pretty impressive. No doubt the time in Road America helped because that really gave us a better sense of his technical feedback, integrated with the team a little bit more. Everybody was happy to work with him on that day,” said Hinchcliffe.

Further still, Hinchcliffe is firm in his belief that the 2018 aero kit and its reduction in aerodynamic downforce will fall right into Wickens’ wheelhouse, based on Hinchcliffe’s own take after sampling Wickens’ DTM Mercedes earlier this year.

“In all honesty, I was saying earlier today, the 2018 car is probably better suited for him than the 2017 car because of the experience he’s had the last handful of series,” Hinchcliffe asserted.

“The (aero kit) was such high downforce, it would be a big change coming out of DTM. But with the loss of downforce that we’ve seen, the car is moving around a little bit more, brake zones, things like that, it won’t be as big a transition I think. Just based on the experience that I got in our ride swap, I think he’s going to adapt very quickly, be comfortable very quickly, and as a result be competitive very quickly. So it’s going to be exciting.”

As for expectations heading into next year, team co-owner Schmidt did not mince words and expects the team’s performance to resemble what they did in 2012, 2013, and 2014, when they won a total of four races (with driver Simon Pagenaud) and finished in the top five in the championship each year.

“We had a stint in ’12, ’13, ’14 where we finished fifth in the points (or better. I think we want to get back to that level of competition,” Schmidt added. “We felt like we were missing things in having two cars with equal funding and equal drivers and equal capabilities. We think this gets back there.”

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