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.

CHARLOTTE-SPECIFIC STATISTICS

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 / ThankAMillionTeachers.com 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

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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.

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‘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.