Everything you need to know for Saturday’s 5-Hour Energy 400 at Kansas

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Kansas Speedway’s first night race came in 2011 courtesy of ARCA, but this Saturday night, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will have its inaugural race under the lights on the 1.5-mile oval.

Last fall, Darlington Raceway’s lone Sprint Cup race and Kansas’ spring Cup race swapped dates, enabling the latter to become a night race – something the track had pursued for several years.

Courtesy of NASCAR’s public relations and statistics teams, here’s all the important notes and numbers you need to know going into Saturday’s 5-Hour Energy 400 benefiting Special Operations Warrior Foundation – Round 11 of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.

KANSAS-SPECIFIC STATISTICS

Greg Biffle (No. 16 3M Novec Ford)
· Two wins, seven top fives, nine top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 10.3
· Average Running Position of 9.1, second-best
· Driver Rating of 106.9, third-best
· 205 Fastest Laps Run, third-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 165.911 mph, fourth-fastest
· 2,574 Laps in the Top 15 (81.7%), third-most
· 472 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), third-most

Clint Bowyer (No. 15 Cherry 5-Hour ENERGY for Special Ops Warrior Foundation Toyota)
· Two top fives, five top 10s
· Average finish of 13.2
· Driver Rating of 90.1, 10th-best

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet)
· One top five, seven top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 15.9
· Driver Rating of 89.9, 11th-best
· 773 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 165.549 mph, ninth-fastest
· 1,738 Laps in the Top 15 (60.2%), 12th-most
· 366 Quality Passes, 12th-most

Carl Edwards (No. 99 Aflac Ford)
· Five top fives, nine top 10s
· Average finish of 10.8
· Average Running Position of 12.3, seventh-best
· Driver Rating of 96.6, sixth-best
· 125 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most
· 820 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 165.678 mph, fifth-fastest
· 2,166 Laps in the Top 15 (68.7%), sixth-most
· 457 Quality Passes, fourth-most

Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Axalta Coatings Chevrolet)
· Two wins, nine top fives, 11 top 10s
· Average finish of 10.6
· Average Running Position of 9.8, fourth-best
· Driver Rating of 99.6, fourth-best
· 109 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most
· 735 Green Flag Passes, 12th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 165.943 mph, third-fastest
· 2,669 Laps in the Top 15 (84.7%), second-most
· 474 Quality Passes, second-most

Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota)
· One win, three top fives, three top 10s
· Average finish of 14.8
· Average Running Position of 14.1, 11th-best
· Driver Rating of 89.2, 12th-best
· 69 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-most
· 1,942 Laps in the Top 15 (67.3%), ninth-most
· 378 Quality Passes, 11th-most

Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet)
· One win, two top fives, seven top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 12.1
· Average Running Position of 12.2, sixth-best
· Driver Rating of 95.9, seventh-best
· 140 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most
· Series-high 900 Green Flag Passes
· Average Green Flag Speed of 165.653 mph, sixth-fastest
· 2,208 Laps in the Top 15 (70.1%), fifth-most
· 424 Quality Passes, fifth-most

Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet)
· Two wins, six top fives, 13 top 10s; three poles
· Average finish of 7.5
· Series-best Average Running Position of 7.4
· Series-best Driver Rating of 118.9
· Series-high 470 Fastest Laps Run
· 853 Green Flag Passes, fifth-most
· Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 166.603 mph
· Series-high 2,812 Laps in the Top 15 (89.2%)
· Series-high 566 Quality Passes

Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Farmers Insurance/Thankamillionteachers.com Chevrolet)
· Three top fives, six top 10s; three poles
· Average finish of 14.0
· Average Running Position of 14.0, 10th-best
· Driver Rating of 91.1, ninth-best
· 133 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most
· 856 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 165.547 mph, 10th-fastest
· 1,990 Laps in the Top 15 (63.1%), seventh-most
· 397 Quality Passes, eighth-most

Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota)
· Two wins, six top fives, nine top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 14.6
· Average Running Position of 9.6, third-best
· Driver Rating of 109.6, second-best
· 232 Fastest Laps Run, second-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 165.946 mph, second-fastest
· 2,564 Laps in the Top 15 (81.3%), fourth-most
· 400 Quality Passes, seventh-most

Tony Stewart (No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet)
· Two wins, six top fives, nine top 10s
· Average finish of 12.3
· Average Running Position of 11.3, fifth-best
· Driver Rating of 97.5, fifth-best
· 137 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 165.625 mph, eighth-fastest
· 1,984 Laps in the Top 15 (68.8%), eighth-most
· 401 Quality Passes, sixth-most

Martin Truex Jr. (No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet)
· Three top fives, three top 10s
· Average finish of 19.2
· Average Running Position of 13.8, eighth-best
· Driver Rating of 91.5, eighth-best
· 131 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 165.627 mph, seventh-fastest
· 1,791 Laps in the Top 15 (62.1%), 11th-most

Kansas Speedway Track Data
Season Race #: 11 of 36 (05-10-14)
Track Size: 1.5-miles
Banking/Turn 1 & 2: 17 to 20 degrees
Banking/Turn 3 & 4: 17 to 20 degrees
Banking/Frontstretch: 10 degrees
Banking/Backstretch: 5 degrees
Frontstretch Length: 2,685 feet
Backstretch Length: 2,207 feet
Race Length: 267 laps / 400 miles

Top 10 Driver Ratings at Kansas
Jimmie Johnson…………………… 118.9
Matt Kenseth……………………….. 109.6
Greg Biffle………………………….. 106.9
Jeff Gordon………………………….. 99.6
Tony Stewart…………………………. 97.5
Carl Edwards………………………… 96.6
Kevin Harvick………………………… 95.9
Martin Truex Jr………………………. 91.5
Kasey Kahne………………………… 91.1
Clint Bowyer…………………………. 90.1
Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2013 races (12 total) among active drivers at Kansas Speedway.

Qualifying/Race Data
2013 pole winner: Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 191.864 mph, 28.145 secs., 04-21-13
2013 race winner: Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 133.611 mph, (02:59:51), 04-21-13
Track qualifying record: Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 191.864 mph, 28.145 secs., 04-19-13
Track race record: Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 133.611 mph, (02:59:51), 04-22-12

Kansas Speedway History
· Groundbreaking was held on May 25, 1999.
· The official opening of Kansas Speedway was in 2001, with the first events being an ARCA race and a NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race on the same day – June 2.
· The first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race was on Sept. 30, 2001 – won by Jeff Gordon.
· During the 2012 season, between the April and October events the 1.5-mile track underwent a repave adding variable banking in the corners.

Kansas Speedway Notes
· There have been 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Kansas Speedway, one NSCS event from 2001 – 2010 and two races per year since 2011.
· 111 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kansas; 83 in more than one.
· Seven drivers have started all 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Kansas Speedway – Jeff Gordon, Jeff Burton, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Mark Martin, Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman.
· Jason Leffler won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Kansas Speedway in 2001 with a speed of 176.499 mph.
· 11 drivers have Coors Light poles at Kansas, led by Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne with three each.
· Jimmie Johnson is the only driver to win consecutive Coors Light poles at Kansas Speedway (2007 and 2008).
· Youngest Kansas pole winner: Jason Leffler (09/30/2001 – 26 years, 0 months, 14 days).
· Oldest Kansas pole winner: Mark Martin (10/04/2009 – 50 years, 8 months, 25 days).
· 11 different drivers have won at Kansas Speedway, led by Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson with two each.
· Roush Fenway Racing and Hendrick Motorsports are tied for the most wins at Kansas in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with four each.
· Chevrolet leads the series in wins at Kansas with eight victories; followed by Ford with four wins.
· Four of the 16 (25%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Kansas Speedway have been won from the Coors Light pole; Joe Nemechek (2004), Jimmie Johnson (2008), Matt Kenseth (spring 2013), Kevin Harvick (fall 2013).
· Five of the 16 (31.2%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Kansas Speedway have been won from the front row: four from the pole and one from second-place.
· 10 of the 16 (62.5%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Kansas Speedway have been won from a top-10 starting position.
· Two of the 16 (12.5%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Kansas Speedway have been won from a starting position outside the top 20.
· The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Kansas Speedway was 25th, by Brad Keselowski in the spring of 2011.
· Youngest Kansas winner: Ryan Newman (10/05/2003 – 25 years, 9 months, 27 days).
· Oldest Kansas winner: Mark Martin (10/09/2005 – 46 years, 9 months, 0 days).
· Martin Truex Jr., Kasey Kahne and Ryan Newman are tied for theseries most runner-up finishes at Kansas Speedway with two each.
· Jeff Gordon leads the series in top-five finishes at Kansas Speedway with nine; followed by Greg Biffle with seven.
· Jimmie Johnson leads the series in top-10 finishes at Kansas Speedway with 13; followed by Jeff Gordon (11), Edwards, Biffle, Kenseth and Stewart each have nine.
· Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Kansas Speedway with a 10.800.
· Jimmie Johnson (7.533) leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average finishing position at Kansas Speedway – he is the only driver with an average finish in the top-10 at Kansas.
· There has been one NSCS race resulting with a green-white-checkered finish at Kansas Speedway: fall of 2011 (267/272).
· Only one of the 16 races at Kansas Speedway has been shortened due to weather conditions: fall of 2007.
· Qualifying has never been cancelled due to weather conditions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Kansas Speedway.
· Denny Hamlin has participated in the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Kansas Speedway without posting a DNF (11).
· Jason Leffler (09/30/2001) is the only driver to post his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light pole at Kansas Speedway.
· 2011 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion and 2013 NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Austin Dillon (10/09/2011) and Denny Hamlin (10/09/2005) made their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career starts at Kansas Speedway.
· Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth are the only two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers that have posted consecutive wins at Kansas Speedway: Gordon (2001 and 2002 – the first two NSCS events at Kansas) and Kenseth (fall of 2012, spring of 2013).
· Nine of the 10 active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners at Kansas Speedway participated in at least two or more races before visiting Victory Lane. Jeff Gordon won at Kansas in his first appearance.
· Kevin Harvick competed at Kansas Speedway 15 times before winning last fall; the longest span of any the 11 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners at Kansas.
· Kevin Harvick (15) and Matt Kenseth (13)have made 10 or more attempts before their first win at Kansas Speedway.
· Kurt Busch leads the series with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Kansas Speedway without visiting Victory Lane at 16.
· Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Kansas Speedway was the (10/10/2004) race won by Joe Nemechek with a MOV of 0.081 second.
· Jimmie Johnson leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in laps led at Kansas Speedway with 562 laps led in 15 starts.
· Danica Patrick is the only female driver that has competed at Kansas Speedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series…Fall 2012: Started 40th, finished 32nd; Spring 2013: Started and finished 25th; Fall 2013: Started 29th, finished 43rd.
· All 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup races in Kansas have taken place at Kansas Speedway.
· 17 drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as Kansas.
· Two drivers from Kansas have won at least one race in NASCAR’s three national series: Clint Bowyer (8 Cup, 8 NNS, 3 Truck) and Jim Roper (1 Cup).

Grosjean: ‘Unbelievable’ to score Haas’ best F1 qualifying result in Australia

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Romain Grosjean hailed Haas’ Formula 1 qualifying performance in Australia as “unbelievable” after picking up its best Saturday result since joining the grid.

NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas took his eponymous operation into F1 last year, with Grosjean leading its charge through its debut campaign.

Haas enters its sophomore year in 2017 looking to build on its eighth-place finish in the constructors’ championship, and made a strong start in Australia on Saturday.

While new driver Kevin Magnussen dropped out in Q1 following an error on his hot lap, Grosjean was able to take Haas into Q3 before securing sixth place on the grid for Sunday’s season-opener.

The result marks Haas’ best qualifying result to date in F1, beating Grosjean’s run to P7 ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix last November.

“It was quite an unbelievable qualifying session for us. It’s a shame that we didn’t get Kevin there, but the car is looking good, even better than what we’ve seen recently,” Grosjean said after the session.

“We’ve made some good progress over the weekend. There’s a lot more we can understand and analyze but, generally, it’s a great start for us.

“It’s always good to start with a strong qualifying session. It tells you that if you keep improving the car, you could be in a good place very soon. If that’s our baseline, and you can fight between sixth and 10th position, where it’s so tight, it would be great to be there most of the time and enjoy some good times.

“Tomorrow’s start is a big unknown. We’ve been practicing and some have been good, others not so much. Hopefully, we’ll get the first one right tomorrow.”

The Australian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports App from midnight ET.

Daniel Ricciardo frustrated to crash out of home F1 qualifying

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Daniel Ricciardo made no secret of his frustration after crash out of Formula 1 qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix, resigning himself to a 10th-place start for his home race on Sunday.

Ricciardo entered the Melbourne weekend aiming to become the first Australian to finish on the podium at his home race since the event became part of the F1 world championship in 1985.

Despite struggling with the setup on his RB13 car on Friday, Ricciardo looked poised to claim a top-five grid slot for Sunday’s race, only to lose control of his car at Turn 14 in Q3 and end the session in the wall.

“That was a tough one today. I don’t crash into the barriers often and the last place I want to do that is at home,” Ricciardo said after the session.

“But I feel I crashed for the right reason, as I was basically pushing and trying to find the limit and these things happen, so let’s say I’m not disappointed by the approach, it was just more of a frustrating outcome, starting 10th instead of being under the top five.”

Ever the optimist, Ricciardo said the difficult qualifying will only serve as greater motivation to fight back up the order and give his home fans a result to celebrate on Sunday.

“I knew the crowds would have also preferred to see me further up the grid and it would have been nice to put on a better performance than that but tomorrow is where the points are,” Ricciardo said.

“It’s a chance to create a bigger headline if I have a good race so that’s what will motivate me to do better tomorrow. I made it a bit more difficult for myself but it’s going to be alright.

“To get a good start in the race will be the key. I saved a set of ultra-softs in Q2, I know that not everyone in front of me has, so maybe that gives me a chance.”

The Australian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports App from midnight ET.

Valtteri Bottas disappointed with P3 start for Mercedes F1 debut

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Valtteri Bottas came away from qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix feeling disappointed despite securing third place on the grid for his first Formula 1 race as a Mercedes driver.

Bottas joined Mercedes over the winter following world champion Nico Rosberg’s decision to retire from racing, and made his first official race weekend appearance for the Silver Arrows on Friday.

The ex-Williams driver made a splash in qualifying by running teammate Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel close, but was left to settle for third on the grid after finishing three-tenths of a second off the pole time.

“Third position is not ideal. In general I’m not happy with the result,” Bottas admitted after qualifying.

“But what I’m really happy about and proud about [is] what the team has done again with this car. I only saw a very small part of the preparation with the new car and the new era of Formula 1, and it’s really nice to see that all the work has paid off and we’re fighting at the very front.

“It seems to be very close this year, especially here. Myself I didn’t get any perfect laps in, so not that satisfied.

“Tomorrow’s the day that matters. It seems like in the race starts we’ve been quite strong. If we can keep that form I had in practice, and have a nice and clean race and get some really good points.”

Bottas’ best finish in Australia currently stands at fifth place in 2014 with Williams, with the Finn never qualifying any higher than sixth at Albert Park in his four previous attempts.

The Australian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports App from midnight ET.

Vettel: Front-row grid slot for Australia proof of Ferrari’s progress

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Sebastian Vettel believes that his charge to second place on the grid for Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix acts as proof of the progress Ferrari’s Formula 1 operation has made over the winter.

Vettel arrived in Australia as one of the favorites to take pole following an impressive showing in pre-season testing, prompting three-time champion Lewis Hamilton to name Ferrari as the leading team.

Hamilton rallied in qualifying to take pole position for Mercedes, beating Vettel by two-tenths of a second, but the Ferrari driver managed to fend off Valtteri Bottas in the second Silver Arrow and clinch a front-row berth.

The result marked Ferrari’s best qualifying result since the 2015 Singapore Grand Prix – Vettel’s and Ferrari’s last pole and victory in F1 – and the German was encouraged by the result.

“I think we have a good car. I think we are working well as a team,” Vettel said.

“Things are improving. Obviously it’s nice to see that things are working, the car is working. I had a mixed day yesterday, but the confidence in the car was there from testing and I think we showed that again today.”

Vettel conceded that he felt his final lap in qualifying could have been faster, but doubts it would have been enough to catch pole-sitter Hamilton.

“In the end I was not entirely happy with my lap. I was pretty happy with the end, maybe not so much with the opening of the lap where we lost a bit too much,” Vettel said.

“But I think Lewis did a very good lap. I would have loved to, but I don’t think pole was up for grabs. Tomorrow I think we can do something in the race. The car feels good, we’ve improved it so the pace should be much better than it was yesterday when we had practice.

“It’s been a big winter for us, lots of change we’ve gone through as a team in the last 12 months, and for the better. I think the team is getting stronger.

“Obviously everyone is pushing very hard and it’s not so easy to come here with a long journey to get to Australia, but I think people are fired up and we are motivated for tomorrow.

“I think it’s the first good opportunity.”