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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.


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).

MotorSportsTalk’s Predictions: 2016 Mexican GP

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - OCTOBER 27:  Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Red Bull Racing and Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing arrive at the circuit in full Dia de Muertos face paint during previews to the Formula One Grand Prix of Mexico at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on October 27, 2016 in Mexico City, Mexico.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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Formula 1 returns to Mexico this weekend with memories of last year’s exuberant event still fresh and the championship battle finely poised.

Nico Rosberg may have lost out to Mercedes teammate and title rival Lewis Hamilton last weekend in Austin, Texas, but the German is still 26 points clear heading to Mexico City.

Rosberg can mathematically win the championship this Sunday, but needs Hamilton not to score and would have to win the race himself.

What can we expect in Mexico this weekend? MST F1 writers Luke Smith and Tony DiZinno make their picks.

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Race Winner: Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton was effortless flawless in Austin. I’ll say he’ll carry that form through to Mexico on Sunday and tick another track off his win list.

Surprise Finish: Sergio Perez. While I doubt Perez can hit the podium, I reckon he could get among the Ferrari drivers and take home another top five finish for Force India on home soil.

Most to Prove: Esteban Gutierrez. At his first home grand prix weekend, Gutierrez needs to impress as he bids to remain with Haas for 2017.

Additional Storyline: Rosberg’s approach. Will Rosberg play things safe in Mexico? Or could he try and finish what he started with a 10th victory of the season? Keep an eye on his on-track attitude.

Predict the Podium

1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes
3. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

Race Winner: Lewis Hamilton. It may not matter for the championship if Nico Rosberg finishes second but thanks to his on-form weekend in Austin, I think Hamilton can carry the momentum to Mexico and add this circuit to his tally of victories. A win here would tie him with Alain Prost for second all-time on 51.

Surprise Finish: Sergio Perez. Going to peg the Mexican for at least a top-five finish on home soil in Mexico City. A Mercedes-powered Williams got on the podium here last year, and I’m going to be so bold as to see Perez scores P3 here thanks to some abnormal circumstances taking the Red Bulls and Ferraris from podium contention.

Most to Prove: Renault’s current pair. I wrote the same last week, but after both Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer had a weekend to forget in Austin, either or both of them need to step up this weekend. Problem here is, it will be extra difficult considering neither raced here last year.

Additional Storyline: Mexico year two. Much as we always look at how COTA does year-on-year, will Mexico’s second outing of its return to the calendar feature the same festive crowd, atmosphere and presence or will there be a drop off?

Predict the Podium

1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes
3. Sergio Perez Force India

Aoyama to replace injured Pedrosa for Malaysia MotoGP round

MOTEGI, JAPAN - OCTOBER 15:   Hiroshi Aoyama of Japan and Repsol Honda Team (rides in place of Dani pedrosa of Spain) heads down a straight during the practice during the MotoGP of Japan - Qualifying at Twin Ring Motegi on October 15, 2016 in Motegi, Japan.  (Photo by Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images)
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Honda test rider Hiroshi Aoyama will return to the MotoGP grid this weekend in Malaysia, deputizing for the injured Dani Pedrosa.

Pedrosa sustained a fractured collarbone after crashing during practice for the Japanese Grand Prix, with Aoyama stepping in for the remainder of the weekend at Motegi. The Japanese rider finished 15th, scoring one point.

American rider Nicky Hayden stood in last weekend in Australia, but is unable to race in Malaysia due to a clash with the World Superbike Championship. As a result, Aoyama will return for the race weekend at the Sepang International Circuit.

“I’m very glad to have the chance to ride for the Repsol Honda Team again, as in Japan it was a bit challenging to start Saturday morning from FP3, to adapt to the bike and to try and find my rhythm,” Aoyama said.

“I hope this time things will work out well and I can find a good feeling with the bike since the beginning. All of us wish for Dani coming back soon, but until he is recovered I’ll do my best for Honda and for the Repsol Honda Team.

“Tuesday was my 35th birthday and I’m simply happy to be here in Malaysia, which is a country I particularly like and I look forward to enjoy racing at the Sepang Circuit.”

Rosberg focused on winning the race, not the championship, in Mexico

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - OCTOBER 27:  Nico Rosberg of Germany and Mercedes GP talks in the Drivers Press Conference during previews to the Formula One Grand Prix of Mexico at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on October 27, 2016 in Mexico City, Mexico.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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Nico Rosberg insists that he is only focused on winning the race and not the championship this weekend when Formula 1 visits Mexico City.

Rosberg is able to clinch his maiden F1 drivers’ championship this Sunday in Mexico, but only if he wins the race and Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton fails to score any points.

The German has long insisted that he is approaching the championship on a race by race basis, and won’t change that stance in Mexico.

“I’m well aware of that,” Rosberg said when reminded he could win the title on Sunday.

“It’s been a great season so far which has put me in this position. It’s exciting to be in this championship battle with Lewis towards the end of the season.

“For me, my way of achieving the best possible result is to focus on the things that are in my control. In Mexico, that’s winning the race.

“For the championship, it’s not really in my control if I get it this weekend. It’s about winning the race and then see what happens.”

Rosberg maintained the approach when asked what winning the world championship would mean to him.

“It’s a childhood dream. But that’s where it ends for me,” Rosberg said.

“For me important this weekend is winning the Mexican GP.”

Rosberg was also asked about F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone’s suggestion over the United States Grand Prix weekend that the German winning the title would not be as good for F1 as if Hamilton won it.

“I spoke to him personally and he said that’s not exactly the way he said it,” Rosberg said.

“But for me it’s not something that’s important to me. I focus on my thing. That’s it.”

Rosberg won last year’s grand prix in Mexico when F1 returned after 23-year hiatus, and is relishing the opportunity to race in front of a passionate home crowd.

“I have great memories from here last year, winning here was awesome,” Rosberg said.

“The podium is one of the best in the year in the baseball stadium, it was absolutely phenomenal.”

Red Bull’s ‘Mad Max’ Verstappen adds flair and drama to F1

AUSTIN, TX - OCTOBER 23: Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing sits in his car in the garage before the United States Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas on October 23, 2016 in Austin, United States.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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It’s been a wild season for young Max Verstappen.

The talented Dutch teenager has been promoted to Red Bull, become the youngest winner in Formula One history and bickered with some of the top teams and drivers in the sport. His aggressive tactics have even prompted a rules clarification for safety.

“Mad Max” is brash, won’t be intimidated and to many, he’s a much-needed dose of excitement for Formula One and a future champion. The kid seized on his chance to be fast and famous and won’t let go.

“Why wait?” Verstappen said. “I have a great car, a great team, and I want it all as quickly as possible.”

Verstappen is squeezing everything he can into this season as Formula One races this week in Mexico City. At the U.S. Grand Prix in Texas last week, Verstappen provided days of drama worthy of a 19-year-old still learning how to navigate a grown-up sport.

The teams had barely left Japan two weeks earlier when Mercedes considered, then opted not to file a complaint over his defensive moves against Lewis Hamilton in a braking zone. Verstappen finished second and Hamilton’s third-place finish pushed him further back in the 2016 title chase against teammate Nico Rosberg.

By the time drivers got to Austin, several used their Friday meeting to complain about their precocious rival. Having heard similar comments several times this season, Formula One officials issued a rule clarification: blocking during braking would be deemed illegal and punished. It took about 10 minutes for the media to call it the “Verstappen Rule.”

He shrugged.

“Maybe they can get past (me), now,” Verstappen said.

Conflicts have also flared in the Red Bull garage.

After getting an early warning during the race to save his tires, Verstappen barked over his car radio that he’s “not here to finish fourth!” A few laps later, he mistakenly went into a pit stop without a team order. He was out of the race a few laps later with a gearbox problem.

Even that disrupted teammate Daniel Ricciardo. Unable to race but still mobile, Verstappen tried to nurse his car around the track before he eventually pulled over and stopped. That brought out a yellow flag, which meant Ricciardo lost valuable time in his battle for second with Rosberg. Ricciardo finished third.

“When I saw Max out there, I thought, ‘Ah hell, my boy’s done it again.’ That was a devastating moment, but we’ll keep soldiering on,” Ricciardo said.

Team leadership was not amused.

“We have 80 engineers and strategists, but it’s all useless if a driver decides alone to come into the pits,” Red Bull racing consultant Helmut Marko told Autoweek.

Verstappen is the son of race driver Jos Verstappen, who made 106 career Formula One starts, and his talent caught a lot of attention from teams growing up. Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff tried to sign Verstappen when he was 14 before Red Bull snagged him.

Wolff, whose drivers are chasing each other for the team’s third consecutive championship, has alternately called Verstappen “refreshing” and “dangerous” and has even compared him to Formula One’s revered Ayrton Senna.

“He comes in here with no fear, no respect, puts the elbows out,” Wolff said earlier this season.

That approach has worn thin on some teams, most notably Ferrari and its two former world champion drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen. Raikkonen has warned Verstappen could cause a “massive accident” with his driving.

But Verstappen’s critics have done most of their shouting at him from the rear. Before his car failed him in Texas, Verstappen finished second in Malaysia and Japan. His five podium finishes in the last 10 races are three more than Vettel and Raikkonen combined.

And back in Spain, when the Mercedes cars knocked each other out in a first-lap crash, Verstappen leaped to the front and doggedly held off Raikkonen for his first career victory in his first race for Red Bull.

Verstappen drives with swagger and a win Sunday in Mexico would come on his 20th birthday. His critics have done little damage to his confidence or skills behind the wheel.

“No,” Verstappen said. “I am a grown-up boy.”