NASCAR Charlotte Auto Racing

Everything you need to know for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte

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After Formula One races through the streets of Monaco in the morning and IndyCar takes on the Indianapolis 500 in the afternoon, NASCAR will host the nightcap in Sunday’s tripleheader of big races with the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Last year’s 600 took a turn for the bizarre when a guide rope for an overhead TV camera came loose and fell onto the track, injuring multiple fans and damaging some cars as well.

At the end of the night, Kevin Harvick won out after taking the lead from Kasey Kahne on the final restart with 11 laps remaining.

Courtesy of NASCAR’s public relations and statistics teams, here’s everything you need to know going into Round 12 of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.


Greg Biffle (No. 16 Fastenal Ford)
· Five top fives, eight top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 17.0
· Average Running Position of 14.6, sixth-best
· Driver Rating of 91.4, sixth-best
· 302 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most
· 1,296 Green Flag Passes, 10th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 176.139 mph, sixth-fastest
· 3,891 Laps in the Top 15 (60.4%), seventh-most
· 689 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), eighth-most

Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Made In America Chevrolet)
· One win, six top fives, seven top 10s
· Average finish of 18.9
· Driver Rating of 84.7, 10th-best
· 204 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most
· 3,434 Laps in the Top 15 (53.3%), 10th-most

Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M’s Toyota)
· Nine top fives, 12 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 15.9
· Average Running Position of 9.7, second-best
· Driver Rating of 107.5, second-best
· 452 Fastest Laps Run, third-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 176.928 mph, second-fastest
· 5,106 Laps in the Top 15 (79.3%), second-most
· Series-high 923 Quality Passes

Carl Edwards (No. 99 Fastenal Ford)
· Five top fives, 11 top 10s
· Average finish of 11.8
· Average Running Position of 14.7, eighth-best
· Driver Rating of 89.8, seventh-best
· 1,463 Green Flag Passes, second-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 175.970 mph, 10th-fastest
· 4,007 Laps in the Top 15 (62.2%), sixth-most
· 735 Quality Passes, fifth-most

Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet)
· Five wins, 16 top fives, 22 top 10s; nine poles
· Average finish of 16.0
· Average Running Position of 15.1, ninth-best
· Driver Rating of 88.8, eighth-best
· 219 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 176.189 mph, fifth-fastest
· 3,855 Laps in the Top 15 (59.9%), eighth-most
· 700 Quality Passes, seventh-most

Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota)
· Four top fives, 10 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 13.2
· Average Running Position of 12.3, fourth-best
· Driver Rating of 93.4, fifth-best
· 220 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 176.102 mph, seventh-fastest
· 4,488 Laps in the Top 15 (74.3%), third-most
· 725 Quality Passes, sixth-most

Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Patriotic Chevrolet)
· Six wins, 12 top fives, 16 top 10s; three poles
· Average finish of 11.6
· Series-best Average Running Position of 7.8
· Series-best Driver Rating of 111.1
· 621 Fastest Laps Run, second-most
· 1,292 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most
· Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 176.938 mph
· Series-high 5,588 Laps in the Top 15 (86.8%)
· 922 Quality Passes, second-most

Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Farmers Insurance / Chevrolet)
· Four wins, nine top fives, 12 top 10s
· Average finish of 11.4
· Average Running Position of 11.3, third-best
· Driver Rating of 102.6, third-best
· Series-high 662 Fastest Laps Run
· 1,432 Green Flag Passes, third-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 176.273 mph, third-fastest
· 4,462 Laps in the Top 15 (69.3%), fourth-most
· 814 Quality Passes, third-most

Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Home Depot Husky Toyota)
· Two wins, eight top fives, 15 top 10s
· Average finish of 13.8
· Average Running Position of 13.9, fifth-best
· Driver Rating of 96.0, fourth-best
· 363 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most
· 1,362 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 176.211 mph, fourth-fastest
· 4,250 Laps in the Top 15 (66.0%), fifth-most
· 785 Quality Passes, fourth-most

Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Ford)
· One win, two top fives, two top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 16.3
· Average Running Position of 16.1, 11th-best
· Driver Rating of 83.0, 12th-best
· Average Green Flag Speed of 175.869 mph, 12th-fastest

Joey Logano (No. 22 Pennzoil Platinum Ford)
· Three top fives, six top 10s
· Average finish of 10.4
· Average Running Position of 14.7, seventh-best
· Driver Rating of 87.3, ninth-best
· Average Green Flag Speed of 175.981 mph, ninth-fastest

Tony Stewart (No. 14 Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1 Chevrolet)
· One win, six top fives, 13 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 13.8
· Average Running Position of 15.9, 10th-best
· Driver Rating of 83.6, 11th-best
· 189 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most
· 1,360 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 176.088 mph, eighth-fastest
· 3,124 Laps in the Top 15 (51.2%), 11th-most
· 610 Quality Passes, 10th-most


Charlotte Motor Speedway History
· Construction began on Charlotte Motor Speedway (CMS) in 1959.
· The track’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup race was held on June 19, 1960 – won by Joe Lee Johnson.
· The track was repaved midseason in 1994.
· The track name changed from Charlotte Motor Speedway to Lowe’s Motor Speedway in 1999. It changed back to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the 2010 season.
· The track was re-paved again before the 2006 season.

Charlotte Motor Speedway Notebook
· There have been 110 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points races at Charlotte Motor Speedway, two races per year since the track opened in 1960. In 1961, there were two 100-mile qualifying points races held the week before the May race. The first six fall races at Charlotte were 400-mile events (1960-65).
· 520 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points paying race at Charlotte Motor Speedway; 371 in more than one. 427 drivers have competed in Coca-Cola 600; 285 in more than one.
· NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty leads the series in starts at Charlotte with 64. Terry Labonte leads all active drivers with 57 starts; followed by Mark Martin with 56. Bill Elliott has made the most Coca-Cola 600 starts with 31; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers in 600 starts with 21.
· Fireball Roberts won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Charlotte Motor Speedway (World 600) in 1960 with a speed of 133.904 mph.
· 41 drivers have Coors Light poles at Charlotte, led by David Pearson with 14. Ryan Newman and Jeff Gordon lead all active drivers in poles at CMS with nine.
· David Pearson and Ryan Newman are tied for the series most Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Sprint Cup Coors Light poles with six each; followed by Jeff Gordon with five.
· 12 drivers have won consecutive Coors Light poles at Charlotte. David Pearson holds the record for most consecutive poles at Charlotte with 11; from the fall of 1973 through 1978.
· Jeff Gordon won five straight Coca-Cola 600 poles at Charlotte between 1994 and 1998.
· Youngest Charlotte pole winner: Jeff Gordon (10/10/1993 – 22 years, 2 months, 6 days).
· Oldest Charlotte pole winner: Bobby Allison (10/11/1987 – 49 years, 10 months, 8 days).
· 45 different drivers have won at Charlotte Motor Speedway, led by Darrell Waltrip, Bobby Allison and Jimmie Johnson with six wins each.
· 30 different drivers have won the Coca-Cola 600, led by NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip with five; Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne lead all active drivers with three each.
· Nine drivers have posted consecutive wins at Charlotte Motor Speedway, including three consecutive by Fred Lorenzen (fall 1964 and both 1965) and four straight by Jimmie Johnson (both in 2004 and 2005).
· A season sweep at Charlotte has occurred eight times, including each season from 2004-2007.
· 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: Darrell Waltrip (1985), Davey Allison (1991), Dale Earnhardt (1993), Jeff Gordon (1997), Jimmie Johnson (2003), Kasey Kahne (2008) and Kurt Busch (2010).
· Youngest Charlotte winner: Jeff Gordon (05/29/1994 – 22 years, 9 months, 25 days).
· Oldest Charlotte winner: Cale Yarborough (10/06/1985 – 46 years, 6 months, 9 days).
· Hendrick Motorsportshas the most wins at Charlotte in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with 17: Jimmie Johnson (six), Jeff Gordon (five), Darrell Waltrip (two), Ken Schrader (one), Terry Labonte (one), Casey Mears (one) and Kasey Kahne (one).
· Eight different manufacturers have won in the NSCS at Charlotte; led by Chevrolet with 41 victories; followed by Ford with 29. Chevrolet also has the most Coca-Cola 600 wins at 22.
· 14 of the 110 (12.7%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Charlotte have been won from the Coors Light pole; the two most recent were Jimmie Johnson in 2004 (Coca-Cola 600) and 2009 (fall event).
· The second-place starting position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (17) than any other starting position at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
· 31 of the 110 (28.1%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Charlotte have been won from the front row: 14 from the pole and 17 from second-place.
· 83 of the 110 (75.4%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Charlotte have been won from a top-10 starting position.
· Nine of the 110 (8.1%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Charlotte have been won from a starting position outside the top 20.
· The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Charlotte was 37th, by Jimmie Johnson in the Coca-Cola 600 of 2003.
· Richard Petty leads the series in runner-up finishes at Charlotte with nine. Kasey Kahne and Matt Kenseth lead all active drivers with three.
· NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Petty and Bobby Allison are tied for the series most top-five finishes at Charlotte with 23. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 16.
· Richard Petty leads the series in top-10 finishes at Charlotte with 31. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 22.
· Ryan Newman leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Charlotte with a 7.038.
· Joey Logano leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average finishing position at Charlotte with a 10.400.
· Joe Nemechek leads the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Charlotte without visiting Victory Lane at 35; followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr. with 28.
· Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory (MOV) in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway was the May 29, 2005 race won by Jimmie Johnson over Bobby Labonte with a MOV of 0.027 second.
· There have been three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races resulting with a green-white-checkered finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but only once for the Coca-Cola 600 (Scheduled No. of Laps/Actual No. of Laps): fall of 2005 (334/336), fall of 2007 (334/337) and the 2011 Coca-Cola 600 (400/402).
· Five of the 110 races at Charlotte Motor Speedway have been shortened due to weather conditions; the most recent was the 2009 Coca-Cola 600 won by David Reutimann and Michael Waltrip Racing. Four of the five races shortened were the 600-mile events (1968, 1997, 2003 and 2009).
· Qualifying has been cancelled due to weather conditions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway twice; the fall race of 2002 and the fall race of 2008.
· Seven NASCAR Sprint Cup Series active drivers have made their first career start at Charlotte Motor Speedway: Michael Waltrip (5/26/85), Elliott Sadler (5/24/98), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (5/30/99), Jimmie Johnson (10/7/01), Brian Vickers (10/11/03), David Reutimann (10/15/05) and Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (5/29/11).
· Four active drivers have posted their first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light pole at Charlotte Motor Speedway: Jeff Gordon (10/10/93), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (5/28/00), Ryan Newman (5/27/01) and Aric Almirola (5/27/12).
· Four active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have posted their first career win at Charlotte Motor Speedway: Jeff Gordon (5/29/94), Matt Kenseth (5/28/00), Jamie McMurray (10/13/02) and Casey Mears (5/27/07).
· Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in laps led at Charlotte with 1,569 laps led in 25 starts.
· Two female drivers have competed at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series:
Janet Guthrie
1976 – Coca-Cola 600, Started 27th, Finished 15th; National 500, Started 26th, Finished 22nd.
1977 – National 500, Started 27th, Finished 9th.
1978 – National 500, Started 31st, Finished 35th.
Danica Patrick
2012 – Coca-Cola 600, Started 40th, Finished 30th.
2013 – Coca-Cola 600, Started 24th, Finished 29th; Bank of America 500, Started 35th, Finished 20th.

NASCAR in North Carolina
· There have been 518 NASCAR Sprint Cup races among 28 tracks in North Carolina.
Charlotte Motor Speedway, Concord – 110
North Wilkesboro Speedway, North Wilkesboro – 93
Rockingham Speedway, Rockingham – 78
Hickory Speedway, Hickory – 35
Asheville-Weaverville Speedway, Weaverville – 34
Occoneechee Speedway, Hillsboro – 32
Bowman-Gray Stadium, Winston-Salem – 29
Southern States Fairgrounds, Charlotte – 17
Charlotte Speedway, Charlotte – 12
Concord Speedway, Concord – 12
Wilson Speedway, Wilson – 12
New Asheville Speedway, Asheville – 8
Dog Track Speedway, Moyock – 7
Raleigh Speedway, Raleigh – 7
Cleveland County Fairgrounds, Shelby – 6
Champion Speedway, Fayetteville – 4
Greensboro Agriculture Fairgrounds, Greensboro – 3
North Carolina State Fairgrounds, Raleigh – 3
Tar Heel Speedway, Randleman – 3
Forsyth County Fairgrounds, Winston-Salem – 2
Harris Speedway, Harris – 2
Jacksonville Speedway, Jacksonville – 2
Tri-City Speedway, High Point – 2
Gastonia Fairgrounds, Gastonia – 1
Harnett Speedway, Spring Lake – 1
McCormick Field, Asheville – 1
Salisbury Super Speedway, Salisbury – 1
Star Lite Speedway, Monroe – 1

· 431 drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as North Carolina.
· 46 drivers from North Carolina have won at least one race in NASCAR’s three national series; 28 have won in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.


Kevin Hart, Ludacris, Marco Andretti head to Abu Dhabi for F1 finale

Marco Andretti
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Marco Andretti has had a good run of attending season finale events.

Obviously, the 28-year-old grandson of Mario Andretti rounded out his 10th season in the Verizon IndyCar Series at its own season finale at Sonoma, finishing 11th and then ending the year ninth in points.

But Andretti told NASCAR Talk’s Nate Ryan, among other reporters, at Phoenix International Raceway where he’d tested his IndyCar and then made the promotional rounds that he’d have a busy next couple weeks ahead.

“I’m watching too many races. I need to be in them!” Andretti said. “(Homestead), I’m going as Jeff Gordon’s guest. Then going to Abu Dhabi Formula 1. (Our season) needs to be longer.”

Last week, he and fellow IndyCar stars Josef Newgarden and James Hinchcliffe made the trip to Homestead-Miami Speedway – incidentally, as did Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton – to witness Jeff Gordon’s final drive before hanging up his helmet after 23 incredible years at NASCAR’s top level.

This week, it was Marco’s turn to hit Hamilton’s usual turf, as he and his friends Ludacris and Kevin Hart made the trip to Abu Dhabi to witness the F1 finale.

Marco, who had a Honda Racing F1 test in the late 2000s but never was able to make the move to emulate both Mario and Michael, each of whom raced in F1, appeared wowed by the Yas Marina Circuit once he arrived from Chicago.

Abu Dhabi F1 quals!! @kevinhart4real @ludacris

A photo posted by Marco Andretti (@marcoandretti) on

Yas is hands down the most insane facility ! #AbuDhabi. Wish I was driving !!

A photo posted by Marco Andretti (@marcoandretti) on

Andretti, Luda, Hart and crew met up with Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo at the weekend.

Andretti is continuing the trip into this week, with further posts via his Instagram page.

Hart – one of this country’s most talented and recognizable comedians at the moment – also appeared to enjoy the atmosphere.

As did Ludacris, who posted this view from a yacht.

The only way to watch the F1 Race in Abu Dhabi. #yachtlife

A photo posted by @ludacris on

The vacation crew found Hamilton after the race on Sunday night.

Hamilton’s friend, another artist in Big Sean, who’d performed the halftime show at the Philadelphia Eagles-Detroit Lions Thanksgiving Day game in Detroit, also made the flight out to Abu Dhabi.

Complete with other more obscure, random celebrities like Rick Astley – who apparently “Rick-rolled” free practice two coverage on the world feed – Edgar Davids and Dwight Yorke, it was a weekend of interesting folks hitting Abu Dhabi. My MotorSportsTalk colleague Luke Smith noted those three, below, in various tweets over the weekend.

Out of Thanksgiving, IndyCar’s open spots are exactly in same place as this time last year

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Now that it’s a new work week and the tryptophan has hopefully worked itself through your system, you’ve had and enjoyed your family time, it’s time for the final few full work weeks of the 2015 calendar before the next round of holidays – Christmas time.

Those who already have confirmed seats for the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season are certainly thankful for what they have.

Meanwhile if we flash back some 12 months to look at the then-available amount of talent waiting in the wings, here’s what stood as the unconfirmed seats:

  • Chip Ganassi Racing, fourth car (along with a formal confirmation of the full lineup)
  • Andretti Autosport, fourth car (plus a possible fifth)
  • Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, second car
  • KVSH Racing/KV Racing Technology, second car
  • CFH Racing, No. 20 road and street course driver alongside Ed Carpenter (ovals)
  • Dale Coyne Racing, both cars
  • Bryan Herta Autosport, first car

Flash forward 12 months later, and the situation is exactly identical. Those exact same seats have yet to be confirmed for 2016.

The only differences from above is that the first three drivers at Chip Ganassi Racing – four-time and defending champion Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan and Charlie Kimball – already have been formally confirmed for 2016, and Sage Karam has not.

Karam’s manager told a little over a week ago that his contract was not retained for 2016; that said, it’s “only” November and conceivably he could return if enough budget is found.

Sebastien Bourdais is still anticipated to return with KVSH Racing for a third season; A.J. Foyt Enterprises also hasn’t formally confirmed, but is expected to keep its same lineup of Takuma Sato and Jack Hawksworth.

Gabby Chaves is expected to return for a second season with BHA, while of the other seats listed above, the second SPM seat is the most intriguing option.

Proof then that the more things change in IndyCar, the more they stay the same. And when there’s very little news on the driver market… there’s very little news on the driver market.

Race Recap: Rosberg’s hot streak continues in Abu Dhabi

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The 2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix may have lacked the drama of the title deciders we have been treated to at the Yas Marina Circuit over the years, but it was nevertheless an important race in setting the scene for the new season.

Nico Rosberg capped off a largely disappointing campaign with a sixth win of the year, completing his first career hat-trick following victories in Mexico and Brazil.

Teammate Lewis Hamilton was left to settle for P2 once again, and although he may have clinched his third world title in emphatic style earlier this year, the Briton will undoubtedly be wary of a renewed charge from Rosberg in 2016 following his impressive run of form.

In the final race recap video of the season, Leigh Diffey, David Hobbs and Steve Matchett review the 2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and the F1 year as a whole ahead of the long winter break.

Lowdon, Booth bid farewell to Manor in Abu Dhabi

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 28:  Manor Marussia Team Principal John Booth and Manor Marussia President and Sporting Director Graeme Lowdon arrive in the paddock before final practice for the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit on November 28, 2015 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
© Getty Images
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Sporting director Graeme Lowdon and team principal John Booth both bid emotional farewells to Manor Marussia Formula 1 Team in Abu Dhabi on Sunday after resigning from their roles last month.

Lowdon and Booth were instrumental in the formation of Virgin Racing in 2010, which ultimately evolved to become Marussia F1 Team.

When Marussia collapsed financially in 2014, Lowdon and Booth managed to keep the team going and revive it as Manor for the new season, securing its place on the grid.

However, following disagreements with team owner Stephen Fitzpatrick over the future of the team, both Lowdon and Booth tendered their resignations, with today’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix marking the final race in their roles.

“This is of course my final race with the Manor Marussia F1 Team,” Booth said.

“At a time like this, there is so much to say but I think the single biggest sentiment I will take away is incredible pride at just how much we punched above our weight for such a small team.

“It was a greater challenge than we ever anticipated, but six years on we are still here fighting.

“I wish the team every success in the future and I will be following their progress with a great deal of satisfaction at what we created together.”

Lowdon took to Twitter to thank the Manor team, but left the door on F1 open by only saying goodbye ‘for now’.

Manor’s final race of the year ended with another double finish as Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi finished 18th and 19th respectively. After the race, both drivers paid tribute to their outgoing bosses.

“I would like to thank everyone in the team for their support, but in particular John and Graeme, who we say goodbye to here today,” Stevens said.

Merhi added: “I would like to thank the whole team, not only for this opportunity but for the hard work throughout the season. We’ve had some difficult times, but I am very proud of us.

“My thanks also to John and Graeme and I wish them well for the future. I am sure we have not seen the last of them!”