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Everything you need to know for Saturday’s NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte

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Winning Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race won’t earn drivers a ticket to this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup or even any championship points.

But a $1 million winner’s prize and bragging rights at Charlotte Motor Speedway – the home track for many in the stock car industry – should ensure that they’ll be plenty motivated to go all-out.

19 drivers are already set for the All-Star Race, with three more coming through Friday’s Sprint Showdown (the top two finishers transfer to the All-Star) and a fan vote.

Qualifying consists of a three-lap run for each driver that must feature a four-tire stop; pit road speed limits will not be in effect. As for the main event, it will be made up of five segments – the first four running for 20 laps each, and the final one running for 10 laps.

Courtesy of NASCAR’s public relations and statistics teams, here’s all the notes and numbers to keep in mind going into the weekend.

NASCAR SPRINT ALL-STAR-SPECIFIC STATISTICS

Greg Biffle (No. 16 3M Ford)
· Two top fives, three top 10s
· Average finish of 13.5
· Average Running Position of 10.5, 11th-best
· Driver Rating of 78.4, 12th-best
· 34 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most
· 211 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 179.280 mph, ninth-fastest
· 581 Laps in the Top 15 (69.2%), 10th-most
· 183 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), 11th-most

Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet)
· One win, five top fives, seven top 10s
· Average finish of 10.3
· Average Running Position of 8.7, fourth-best
· Driver Rating of 86.4, fifth-best
· 48 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most
· 267 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 179.310 mph, seventh-fastest
· 676 Laps in the Top 15 (80.5%), fifth-most
· 246 Quality Passes, sixth-most

Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M’s Toyota)
· Three top fives, four top 10s; three poles
· Average finish of 11.3
· Series-best Average Running Position of 6.5
· Series-best Driver Rating of 110.3
· 80 Fastest Laps Run, second-most
· Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 180.575 mph
· 639 Laps in the Top 15 (85.2%), seventh-most

Carl Edwards (No. 99 Fastenal Ford)
· One win, three top fives, five top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 11.1
· Average Running Position of 10.4, 10th-best
· Driver Rating of 82.8, sixth-best
· 59 Fastest Laps Run, third-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 179.187 mph, 10th-fastest
· 586 Laps in the Top 15 (77.1%), eighth-most
· 178 Quality Passes, 12th-most

Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet)
· Three wins, six top fives, nine top 10s
· Average finish of 9.7
· Average Running Position of 8.8, sixth-best
· Driver Rating of 81.6, eighth-best
· 53 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most
· 282 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 179.684 mph, fifth-fastest
· Series-high 776 Laps in the Top 15 (92.4%)
· 258 Quality Passes, third-most

Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Patriotic Chevrolet)
· Four wins, eight top fives, eight top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 6.2
· Average Running Position of 6.9, second-best
· Driver Rating of 106.3, second-best
· Series-high 143 Fastest Laps Run
· 275 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 180.223 mph, second-fastest
· 735 Laps in the Top 15 (87.5%), second-most
· 248 Quality Passes, fifth-most

Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet)
· One win, two top fives, four top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 11.5
· Average Running Position of 10.9, 12th-best
· Driver Rating of 79.7, ninth-best
· 43 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most
· 284 Green Flag Passes, fifth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 179.366 mph, sixth-fastest
· 586 Laps in the Top 15 (69.8%), eighth-most
· 243 Quality Passes, seventh-most

Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Home Depot Husky Toyota)
· One win, five top fives, 10 top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 6.5
· Average Running Position of 8.7, fifth-best
· Driver Rating of 88.3, third-best
· 44 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most
· 286 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 179.295 mph, eighth-fastest
· 692 Laps in the Top 15 (82.4%), fourth-most
· 253 Quality Passes, fourth-most

Joey Logano (No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford)
· Two top fives, three top 10s
· Average finish of 4.3
· Average Running Position of 8.4, third-best
· Driver Rating of 87.3, fourth-best
· Average Green Flag Speed of 179.726 mph, fourth-fastest

Jamie McMurray (No. 1 Bass Pro Chevrolet)
· Average finish of 14.8
· Average Running Position of 12.7
· Driver Rating of 63.5, 23rd-best
· 211 Green Flag Passes
· 391 Laps in the Top 15 (67.4%)

Ryan Newman (No. 31 CAT-Quicken Loans Chevrolet)
· One win, three top fives, seven top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 9.6
· Average Running Position of 9.5, eighth-best
· Driver Rating of 79.1, 11th-best
· 21 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most
· 304 Green Flag Passes, second-most
· 710 Laps in the Top 15 (84.5%), third-most
· 266 Quality Passes, second-most

Martin Truex Jr. (No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet)
· Average finish of 12.5
· Average Running Position of 14.8
· Driver Rating of 64.6, 21st-best
· 128 Green Flag Passes
· 184 Laps in the Top 15 (49.7%)

Brian Vickers (No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota)
· One top five, one top 10
· Average finish of 9.3
· Driver Rating of 79.6, 10th-best
· 64 Green Flag Passes
· 113 Laps in the Top 15 (66.5%)

source:

Charlotte Motor Speedway Data
Track Size: 1.5 miles
· Banking Turns: 24 degrees
· Banking/Frontstretch: 5 degrees
· Banking/Backstretch: 5 degrees
· Frontstretch: 1,980 feet
· Backstretch: 1,500 feet

Top 10 All-Star Driver Ratings
Kyle Busch…………………………. 110.3
Jimmie Johnson…………………… 106.3
Matt Kenseth………………………… 88.3
Joey Logano………………………… 87.3
Kurt Busch……………………………. 86.4
Carl Edwards………………………… 82.8
Joe Nemechek………………………. 82.4
Jeff Gordon………………………….. 81.6
Kasey Kahne………………………… 79.7
Brian Vickers………………………… 79.6
Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2013 NASCAR Sprint All-Star races (nine total).

2013 Race Winner: Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 90.672 mph, (01:29:20), 05-18-13
Margin of Victory: 1.722 seconds

NASCAR Sprint All-Star Wins List
1985 – Darrell Waltrip
1986 – Bill Elliott
1987 – Dale Earnhardt
1988 – Terry Labonte
1989 – Rusty Wallace
1990 – Dale Earnhardt
1991, 1992 – Davey Allison
1993 – Dale Earnhardt
1994 – Geoff Bodine
1995 – Jeff Gordon
1996 – Michael Waltrip
1997 – Jeff Gordon
1998 – Mark Martin
1999 – Terry Labonte
2000 – Dale Earnhardt Jr.
2001 – Jeff Gordon
2002 – Ryan Newman
2003 – Jimmie Johnson
2004 – Matt Kenseth
2005 – Mark Martin
2006 – Jimmie Johnson
2007 – Kevin Harvick
2008 – Kasey Kahne
2009 – Tony Stewart
2010 – Kurt Busch
2011 – Carl Edwards
2012 – Jimmie Johnson
2013 – Jimmie Johnson

NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race Notebook
· There have been 29 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Races.
· The first NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race was in 1985.
· 28 have been held at Charlotte Motor Speedway. In 1986, the event was held at Atlanta Motor Speedway, and won by Bill Elliott. That season was also the first year for what is now known as the Sprint Showdown.
· 91 drivers have run in at least one NASCAR Sprint All-Star race, with 76 competing in more than one.
· Mark Martin has participated in 24 races, more than any other driver. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers in Sprint All-Star starts with 20, followed by Tony Stewart with 15.
· There have been 19 different winners of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race.
· Jimmie Johnson (2003, 2006, 2012 and 2013) leads the series with the most NASCAR Sprint All-Star race wins with four.
· Dale Earnhardt (1987, 1990 and 1993) and Jeff Gordon (1995, 1997 and 2001) are three-time winners of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race.
· NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip won the inaugural NASCAR Sprint All-Star race in 1985 at 161.184 mph.
· The race has featured a field that ranged from 10 drivers in 1986 to 27 in 2002. This year’s field will have 22 participants.
· Davey Allison (1991 and 1992), Terry Labonte (1988 and 1999) and Mark Martin (1998 and 2005) are the only other drivers to post multiple victories in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race.
· Davey Allison (1991, 1992) and Jimmie Johnson (2012, 2013) are the only drivers to ever win consecutive Sprint All-Star events.
· Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2000) and Ryan Newman (2002) are the only drivers to win the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race in their rookie season.
· Jeff Gordon is the youngest winner of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at 23 years, 9 months and 18 days (1995). Mark Martin is the oldest at 46 years, 4 months and 12 days (2005).
· Joey Logano (three starts) leads the series among active drivers with an average finish of 4.3 in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race.
· Eight drivers including Joey Logano, have an average finish in the top 10 for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race: Jimmie Johnson (6.2), Matt Kenseth (6.5), Tony Stewart (8.2), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (8.3), Brian Vickers (9.3), Ryan Newman (9.6) and Jeff Gordon (9.7).
· Terry Labonte won the inaugural Coors Light pole for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race in 1985.
· 16 drivers have won Coors Light poles for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race, led by Bill Elliott with five. Kyle Busch leads all active drivers with three. Carl Edwards won last season’s pole.
· Three drivers have won consecutive Coors Light poles for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race: Davey Allison (1991, 1992) Bill Elliott (1997, 1998) and Kyle Busch (2011, 2012).
· The NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race has been won from the pole position four times; the first three came in consecutive years: Dale Earnhardt (1990) and Davey Allison (1991 and 1992). Kurt Busch posted the fourth win from the pole in 2010.
· The front row starting positions are the two most proficient starting positions in the field, producing more winners (four each) than any other starting positions in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race.
· Eight of the 29 (27.5%) NASCAR Sprint All-Star races have been won from the front row: four from the pole and four from second-place.
· 21 of the 29 (72.4%) NASCAR Sprint All-Star races have been won from a top-10 starting position.
· Two of the 29 (6.8%) NASCAR Sprint All-Star races have been won from a starting position outside the top 20.
· The deepest in the field a NASCAR Sprint All-Star race winner has started was 27th, by Ryan Newman in 2002.
· Hendrick Motorsports drivers have won eight NASCAR Sprint All-Star races: Jimmie Johnson (four), Jeff Gordon (three) and Terry Labonte (one).
· NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt leads the series in top-five finishes in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race with nine; followed by Tony Stewart (eight) and Jimmie Johnson (eight).
· Bill Elliott leads the series in top-10 finishes in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race with 13; followed by Dale Earnhardt with 12. Dale Earnhardt Jr. leads all active drivers with 11 each.
· Five drivers have won the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship in the same year: Darrell Waltrip (1985), Dale Earnhardt (1987, 1990, 1993), Rusty Wallace (1989), Jeff Gordon (1995, 1997, 2001) and Jimmie Johnson (2006, 2013).
· In 2008, Kasey Kahne became the first driver to get into the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race by the Sprint Fan Vote and go on to win the event.
· Seven times from seven different drivers has the winner of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race gone on to win the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway the following weekend: Darrell Waltrip (1985), Davey Allison (1991), Dale Earnhardt (1993), Jeff Gordon (1997), Jimmie Johnson (2003), Kasey Kahne (2008) and Kurt Busch (2010).
· The record for lead changes in a NASCAR Sprint All-Star race is 10 in 2004.
· The record for different leaders in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race is nine in 2002.
· The series best Driver Rating performance by a NASCAR Sprint All-Star race winner was Carl Edwards posting a 141.7 in 2011.

‘Fast Jack’ Beckman back to living up to his nickname at Gateway

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“Fast Jack” Beckman came into this weekend’s AAA Insurance Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park in a big predicament.

He didn’t live up to his colorful nickname during last week’s Carolina Nationals, the opening race of the six-race Countdown to the Championship.

Beckman was actually more like “Slow Jack,” as he failed to advance past the first round at Carolina in last Sunday’s eliminations.

He also failed to advance past the first round in the final pre-Countdown qualifying race, the U.S. Nationals, which he won last season.

All those things combined have put even more pressure on Beckman. He left Charlotte eighth in the 10-driver Funny Car Countdown standings.

2016_Jack_Beckman headshot

Being scored 110 points behind Funny Car points leader Ron Capps, Beckman had his work cut out for him heading into this weekend’s race at Gateway, in Madison, Illinois, just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis.

And as he has done numerous times in his career, when the pressure was on him, Beckman responded, qualifying No. 2 on Saturday for Sunday’s eliminations.

Robert Hight earned the No. 1 qualifier position (3.893 seconds at 328.38 mph), but Beckman wasn’t far behind (3.907 seconds at 325.22 mph).

That’s a big start for Beckman, who won at Gateway in 2012 and ended up second in last year’s championship battle that was won by fellow veteran Del Worsham. Beckman will face Dale Creasy Jr. in the first round of eliminations.

Last season, Beckman won seven races in the 24-race NHRA national event schedule. This season has been much different, as he has just one win (Chicago in July).

But that doesn’t mean he still can’t win each of the five remaining Countdown races – which obviously would go a long way towards earning him his second career Funny Car championship (and in five seasons).

Beckman isn’t panicking after Charlotte. He’s finished first, third and second in three of the last four seasons. He knows he and his Infinite Hero Dodge Charger have the capability to make a serious championship run.

In addition to hoping he wins Sunday, Beckman is defending champion of next week’s Dodge Nationals at Maple Grove (Pa.) Raceway.

“Since you can’t control how the leading cars do, really the goal is simple: you just need to win the race,” Beckman said in a media release. “At some point we have to win the race if we have a chance.

“There’s not any other path to a championship. We lost ground we couldn’t afford to lose (at Charlotte) and we can’t afford to lose any more ground. I don’t see those teams not continuing to perform well and the only way we win the championship is to outperform them. It’s imperative we get back to our capabilities.”

A major change for Saturday’s qualifying effort paid off handsomely with his No. 2 spot for Sunday – although admittedly it was a gamble of sorts for Beckman and crew chief Jimmy Prock.

“We’re still running a five-disc clutch and we have one disc on there that when it works it’s great and when it doesn’t it smokes the tires instantly and becomes too aggressive,” Beckman said. “We’re going to take that one out and take our chances with a brand new disc. We’re taking a calculated risk but I think it’s the only choice we have.

“We have to take baby steps but we have to take them quickly or we run out of races. Before we can go quick consistently we have to get back our predictability and we have to do that by the end of (this weekend’s race at) St. Louis.

“All we can control right now is our lane. Because we’re running out of rounds, every single pass becomes more important. But if you dwell on that, there’s a high likelihood you’re not going to do as well as you want.

“As the season winds down, the pressure goes up, but if you let it affect you, you’re not going to be at your best. The only thing you can do is take a positive mindset every time you go up there.”

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Touring car legend Yvan Muller to leave WTCC after 2016

STRASBOURG, FRANCE - OCTOBER 04:   Yvan Muller of France attends the FIA pre event press conference at rally headquarters after the Shakedown of the WRC France on October 04, 2012 in Strasbourg , France.  (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)
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Touring car racing legend and four-time world champion Yvan Muller will leave the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) at the end of the 2016 season.

Muller made his name in the British Touring Car Championship before making the switch across to WTCC in 2006 with Seat.

The Frenchman claimed his first world title in 2008 before enjoying further successes in 2010, 2011 and 2013, the latter three championships won while behind the wheel of a Chevrolet.

Muller joined Citroen following its arrival in WTCC for the 2014 season, but has been unable to add to his haul of championship as teammate Jose Maria Lopez romped to three straight crowns.

With Citroen set to leave WTCC at the end of the year, Muller has decided that the time is right to follow suit and call time on a stint in the series that has seen him score 47 wins, 119 podium finishes and over 2,600 points.

“I am not sure that age is the main factor when it comes to ending a career. It’s more a matter of desire and motivation,” Muller said.

“With all the testing, the simulator sessions, the physical training and the travel to the race venues, a season of professional motor racing requires a level of personal commitment that I am no longer prepared to put in.

“At the same time, I am at a time of my life where I want to do something else and I am happy to be able to make that decision after eleven seasons of FIA WTCC.

“I’ve had some great experiences over my career. These three seasons with Citroën Racing have been particularly special, even though I never managed to be world champion with this team. But I will always be proud of having helped to build our racing programme and develop the Citroën C-Elysée WTCC. I have also met some great people who are passionate about their job and have a fierce competitive spirit.

“Driving has been part of my daily life for so long that I can’t see myself stopping racing entirely. But I am going to spend more time with my family and developing my team, Yvan Muller Racing. Before that, though, I am going to put everything I’ve got into meeting the team’s goals.”

Lopez is also set to leave WTCC at the end of the year, having agreed a deal to race for Citroen sub-brand DS in Formula E for the all-electric series’ third season.

The 2016 WTCC season closes on November 25 at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar.

Report: Sam Schmidt to receive America’s first driver’s license for semi-autonomous car

2016 Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
May 29, 2016
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Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team owner Sam Schmidt is set to receive America’s first driver’s license for a semi-autonomous vehicle, according to a report from Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Schmidt sustained a spinal cord injury in a testing accident at Walt Disney World Speedway ahead of the 2000 IRL season, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down.

Schmidt went on to establish Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with programs in IndyCar and Indy Lights, both of which he still heads up.

Schmidt has previously completed laps behind the wheel of a modified 2014 Corvette C7 Stingray at Indianapolis in 2014 and in Long Beach last year, dubbed the ‘SAM project’ – semi-autonomous motorcar – developed with Arrow Electronics.

Schmidt controls the car using a breathing tube for acceleration and braking, and steers using his head movements that are picked up by infrared cameras.

Now, the SAM project is set to hit the road, with Las Vegas Review-Journal reporting that Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles will grant Schmidt the first road license for a semi-autonomous car in the country.

The report says that Arrow has worked closely with the Nevada DMV to update regulations so that Schmidt is able to drive on state roads.

“Nevada is leading the nation in promoting autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicle technologies that can bring mobility and independence to people with physical disabilities, including our wounded warriors,” officials from the Nevada DMV said.

Robert Kubica scores podium finish on Renault Sport Trophy debut at Spa

16 KUBICA Robert (POL) HAMON Christophe (FRA) RENAULT RS 01 Team Duqueine action during the 2016 Renault Sport series  at Spa Francorchamps, Belgium, September  23 to 25  - Photo Eric Vargiolu / DPPI
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Robert Kubica enjoyed a successful debut in the Renault Sport Trophy at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on Saturday, finishing third alongside Christophe Hamon.

Former BMW and Renault Formula 1 driver Kubica announced last week that he would be entering the race weekend at Spa after accepting an invitation from the French manufacturer.

Kubica spent five seasons racing in F1 and won the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix for BMW before having his stint in the series cut short after a rally crash ahead of the 2011 season.

Severe injuries sustained to his right arm and hand meant left Kubica spending a lengthy spell in rehabilitation before making his return to motorsport in the World Rally Championship.

The Pole made his final WRC appearance in January at the Monte Carlo Rally before making his circuit racing return in the 12 Hours of Mugello with Mercedes.

Kubica enjoyed his first qualifying session since the 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Saturday ahead of the Renault Sport Trophy weekend, finishing third.

After seeing Hamon complete the first 10 laps of the race and suffer contact, Kubica completed the final 17 behind the wheel of the Renault R.S.01 car.

A late charge saw Kubica rise from P6 with 10 minutes remaining to cross the line third, six seconds behind race winners Raoul Owens and Fredrik Blomstedt.

Curiously, Kubica’s last F1 podium finish also came at Spa in 2010, finishing third for Renault behind Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber.

Kubica will return to Spa on Sunday for the sprint race, where he will race in the Pro class.