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).

Road America weekend, Thursday notes

Brett Hundley with Will Power and Mario Andretti. Photo: IndyCar
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ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – It’s a busy day of testing, practice and qualifying for all the series not named the Verizon IndyCar Series on Thursday at the KOHLER Grand Prix weekend.

IndyCar sessions begin on Friday and as such there wasn’t meant to be as much to report on that end… until late Thursday afternoon when Schmidt Peterson Motorsports confirmed Mikhail Aleshin’s temporary absence and Robert Wickens to fill in.

Meanwhile with Esteban Gutierrez having been confirmed for the rest of the season at Dale Coyne Racing, it’s anticipated he will have his first oval test next week at Iowa Speedway, to have his first running on an oval ahead of the July 9 Iowa Corn 300.

Here’s a couple other IndyCar notes…

DIXON’S SURPRISE TO A YOUNG FAN

Advance Auto Parts IndyCar Radio Network reporter Jake Query, who will also be hosting this weekend’s Indy Lights coverage from Road America on NBCSN, found a fan letter from a young girl named Lucy addressed to INDYCAR after Scott Dixon’s wild ride at the Indianapolis 500. Lucy proceeded to thank INDYCAR for its safety efforts in keeping Dixon intact.

Well, between the efforts of Query and the IndyCar PR staff, a meeting between the two was arranged. You can see the video of that, below.

PACKERS QB TAKES A RIDE WITH MARIO

Not that Packers QB though.

Green Bay Packers backup quarterback Brett Hundley had a ride today with Mario Andretti in Honda’s Fastest Seat in Sports, the two-seat IndyCar. He posted on it below.

Elsewhere, here is a bit more from the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires and Pirelli World Challenge ranks.

MRTI

  • First practice is in the books for USF2000 and rather than Oliver Askew being on top for Cape Motorsports, it was actually the Pabst Racing team that went 1-2-3 with Dutchman Rinus VeeKay ahead of Guyana driver Calvin Ming and Brazilian Lucas Kohl. Not bad for Augie Pabst’s Oconomowoc, Wis.-based team. Askew was fourth, and David Malukas was an impressive fifth. Full results are here.
  • In first qualifying for Pro Mazda, Juncos Racing’s Victor Franzoni took the pole with a best time of 2:06.5835, ahead of Cape Motorsports’ Anthony Martin at 2:07.9055. Team Pelfrey’s trio of Carlos Cunha, TJ Fischer and Nikita Lastochkin completed the top five. Full results are here.
  • Overall, the USF2000 field grows by one from the projected 18 up to 19 with F4 driver Jacob Loomis moving up to Team Pelfrey’s No. 82 Tatuus USF-17 Mazda, filling in for Ayla Agren. Agren’s full-season teammates Robert Megennis and Kaylen Frederick paid tribute to Agren, who is still here this weekend, with tribute cool shirts.
  • Meanwhile the Pro Mazda field dips by two. Neither Phillippe Denes, who was seventh in points heading into the weekend, nor Kevin Davis is here. It leaves the field at 15 cars, including series debutantes Kris Wright (who has tested with JDC Motorsports), Dave Zavelson and Kevin Bury. Zavelson’s car number switches from 4, listed initially, to 2.
  • Max Hanratty, who returns, has a new livery on his No. 6 ArmsUp Motorsports entry.
  • Anthony Martin is confident any issues with his Cape Motorsports Pro Mazda car at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course have been sorted. The Australian proved that point by leading the opening practice session with a best time of 2:13.1661 in mixed conditions. Full times from that are linked here.
  • The reduced USF2000 field sees a couple drivers here who may be back later this year but others who may be done for the year. Agren, out at Team Pelfrey this weekend, is here and working towards a return later this season. Her past teammate at Pelfrey, Luke Gabin, is also here and is unsure whether he’ll be back in action for Exclusive Autosport.
  • Meanwhile Darren Keane, who makes his debut with Newman Wachs Racing in USF2000 this weekend, is expected to return to the team for remaining races. He’ll miss Iowa Speedway but plans to return at Mid-Ohio. Ozz Negri coaches Keane in USF2000; Tom Dyer, another Acura NSX GT3 driver, coaches the Pelfrey USF2000 drivers.

PWC

  • The PWC grid drops by a couple this week with a couple changes in the GT and GTA ranks. Bentley Team Absolute is down to one car with Yufeng Luo not here in his No. 78 Bentley Continental GT3, leaving only Adderly Fong. Fong, however, will miss the Mid-Ohio weekend owing to a schedule clash with the China GT Championship. Pablo Perez Companc, who was also due to race in GTA in the No. 69 Mercedes-AMG GT3, is another no-show this weekend.
  • K-PAX Racing has eclipsed the 100-podium plateau in recent rounds. The team’s three-car lineup resumes this weekend with Alvaro Parente, Bryan Sellers and Mike Hedlund, Parente and Hedlund having just returned from the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
  • Austin Versteeg makes his debut in the GTS class No. 13 ANSA Motorsports KTM X-BOW GT4, a car that’s won this season in the hands of Nico Jamin. Jamin is here this weekend in his Andretti Autosport Indy Lights car.
  • PWC had several test and practice sessions during the day.

Wickens set to substitute for Aleshin until further notice at Road America

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ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Robert Wickens will temporarily fill in for Mikhail Aleshin at this weekend’s KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America.

The Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team released a statement on Thursday afternoon confirming Aleshin’s absence for at least Friday owing to immigration issues, with that potentially set to stretch into the remainder of the weekend if the situation is not resolved.

The statement is below.

Hinchcliffe has also posted a tweet going into the weekend. The two participated in a ride-swap earlier this year where Wickens made his IndyCar test debut at Sebring (recap here) and Hinchcliffe ran in Wickens’ DTM car in Italy after the St. Petersburg opener (recap here).

The two drivers were teammates in A1 Grand Prix about a decade ago; Wickens has race experience at Road America as he finished seventh in a Formula Atlantic race in 2007. Hinchcliffe was 14th in the same race.

Beyond his DTM commitments, Wickens raced in this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona with Starworks Motorsport, and ran 100 laps during the week in a PC class Oreca FLM09 he shared with a handful of others. Conor Daly and Sean Rayhall were among the notables in the other car.

Barrichello: F1 needs ‘a little cuddle’ to rediscover romanticism

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Rubens Barrichello believes that Formula 1 needs “a little cuddle” in order to rediscover some of its romanticism that has been hurt by an influx of pay drivers on-track and a lack of fan engagement off-track.

Barrichello raced in F1 between 1993 and 2011, making a record 322 starts and twice finishing as runner-up in the drivers’ championship.

The Brazilian spent a year in IndyCar before moving into his national Stock Car championship in 2013, where he continues to race, and made his debut at the 24 Hours of Le Mans last weekend.

Barrichello remains a keen observer of F1, and expressed his dismay about the influx of pay drivers to the sport who bring large amounts of financial backing to secure a seat, having lost his drive with Williams at the end of 2011 as a result.

“It was difficult to adjust [to life after F1] because I wasn’t expecting it to be honest with you. And it is the story of Formula 1 nowadays,” Barrichello told reporters in Le Mans last week.

“There are just drivers there that are using their balloon and package of money to get in. This is a little bit less romantic in my opinion. Whenever I lost my place, it was to that.

“t was difficult for the first couple of days. I ended up signing for IndyCar and it was a good decision. I should have waited another 10 days to actually talk to all of the teams, because I just went in, boom, I got the first offer and I said OK I’m racing.

“It’s almost like it was the girlfriend just gives you a no and then you just get the next one that gives you a yes. It was that kind of thing.”

Barrichello went on to say that he believes F1 should work harder to be closer to the fans, having seen first hand in Brazilian Stock Cars how much interacting closely with his followers can mean.

“I think Formula 1 needs to be closer to the public. What they made last week with the [Senna] helmet in the middle of the chicane, that’s already closer,” Barrichello said.

“To be honest with you, in Stock Cars, we have an hour of signing before the race. All I hear is: ’Rubens I’ve been after you for 19 years, I could never get close to you’. And I have a chance to hug them, I have a chance to say thank you very much. So this is great.

“And that’s what Formula 1 needs, a little cuddle, people together a little more. Because Formula 1 is almost a ‘no’. ‘Can I have a pass?’ ‘No.’ It’s not that we need the whole paddock full of people, but we need a little more together.”

Barrichello is confident that Ross Brawn, his former team boss and F1’s new sporting managing director, has the ability to bring some of the romanticism back to F1 in the coming years.

“I think Ross has what it takes to bring that back to Formula 1,” Barrichello said.

“I saw a picture on Instagram the other day. It was James Hunt inside of Niki Lauda’s Ferrari, just for fun.

“Somebody would have a fight if that happened nowadays! ‘Get the f**k out of there, rah rah rah!’

“So for sure, it’s less romantic, but Formula 1 is getting back. What I saw from Lewis [Hamilton in Montreal], I really enjoyed.”

F1 Paddock Pass: Azerbaijan Grand Prix (VIDEO)

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Formula 1 returns to Europe this weekend with the renamed Azerbaijan Grand Prix from the Baku City Circuit. The track is the second longest on the schedule and the race is renamed after being called the European Grand Prix last year (all times for the weekend via NBCSN or CNBC here).

Here with the latest from the paddock in Baku is the latest edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, with F1 pit reporter and insider Will Buxton joined by producer Jason Swales.

Swales celebrates his 300th Grand Prix on site this weekend, a major milestone after his 250th was celebrated a couple seasons ago at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas. As you can see below, McLaren Honda’s Fernando Alonso has joined in the festivities.

There’s plenty of fun to recap and plenty of important angles to preview in this week’s show, which you can see below in three parts.