Everything you need to know for Sunday’s Pocono 400 at the “Tricky Triangle”

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The halfway point of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regular season is upon us this weekend at Pocono Raceway, which hosts the Pocono 400 on Sunday afternoon.

Perhaps the most unique track on the Sprint Cup circuit, the triangular 2.5-mile oval boasts three turns of different radii, three different sets of banking (14 degrees in Turn 1, 8 degrees in Turn 2, 6 degrees in Turn 3), and three different lengths of straightaway.

All of these characteristics make finding a solid set-up all the way around very tough – or rather, tricky. This place is nicknamed the “Tricky Triangle,” after all.

Courtesy of NASCAR’s public relations and statistics teams, here’s everything you need to know for Round 14 of the 2014 Sprint Cup championship…

POCONO-SPECIFIC STATISTICS

Greg Biffle (No. 16 3M Ford)
· One win, three top fives, six top 10s
· Average finish of 16.4
· Average Running Position of 14.2, ninth-best
· Driver Rating of 88.1, 12th-best
· 97 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most
· 1,434 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 161.042 mph, 12th-fastest
· 2,221 Laps in the Top 15 (67.5%), seventh-most
· 711 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), sixth-most

Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet)
· Two wins, 10 top fives, 14 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 15.2
· Average Running Position of 10.6, third-best
· Driver Rating of 104.7, third-best
· 306 Fastest Laps Run, second-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 161.616 mph, third-fastest
· 2,378 Laps in the Top 15 (75.9%), fifth-most
· 674 Quality Passes, ninth-most

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet)
· Seven top fives, 11 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 16.3
· Average Running Position of 14.8, 12th-best
· Driver Rating of 89.1, 11th-best
· 63 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 161.073 mph, 10th-fastest
· 1,995 Laps in the Top 15 (60.6%), 11th-most

Carl Edwards (No. 99 Kellogg’s/Cheez-It Ford)
· Two wins, five top fives, eight top 10s
· Average finish of 13.3
· Average Running Position of 14.4, 10th-best
· Driver Rating of 97.3, sixth-best
· 176 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 161.300 mph, sixth-fastest
· 2,117 Laps in the Top 15 (64.3%), eighth-most
· 663 Quality Passes, 10th-most

Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet)
· Six wins, 19 top fives, 29 top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 10.0
· Average Running Position of 10.3, second-best
· Driver Rating of 101.1, fourth-best
· 125 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most
· 1,396 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 161.473 mph, fourth-fastest
· 2,481 Laps in the Top 15 (75.4%), third-most
· 778 Quality Passes, third-most

Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota)
· Four wins, eight top fives, 10 top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 12.6
· Average Running Position of 11.0, fifth-best
· Driver Rating of 109.1, second-best
· Series-high 434 Fastest Laps Run
· Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 161.830 mph
· 2,257 Laps in the Top 15 (78.2%), sixth-most

Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet)
· Five top fives, nine top 10s
· Average finish of 14.0
· Average Running Position of 14.1, eighth-best
· Driver Rating of 89.6, ninth-best
· 1,564 Green Flag Passes, second-most
· 2,042 Laps in the Top 15 (62.0%), 10th-most
· 712 Quality Passes, fifth-most

Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet)
· Three wins, 10 top fives, 16 top 10s; three poles
· Average finish of 8.8
· Series-best Average Running Position of 9.7
· Series-best Driver Rating of 109.3
· 271 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 161.731 mph, second-fastest
· Series-high 2,610 Laps in the Top 15 (79.3%)
· 775 Quality Passes, fourth-most

Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet)
· Two wins, five top fives, seven top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 17.0
· Average Running Position of 14.6, 11th-best
· Driver Rating of 92.8, eighth-best
· 296 Fastest Laps Run, third-most
· 1,407 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 161.404 mph, fifth-fastest
· 1,988 Laps in the Top 15 (60.4%), 12th-most
· 701 Quality Passes, eighth-most

Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota)
· Three top fives, 10 top 10s
· Average finish of 14.9
· Average Running Position of 13.4, seventh-best
· Driver Rating of 89.6, 10th-best
· 1,405 Green Flag Passes, 10th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 161.143 mph, ninth-fastest
· 706 Quality Passes, seventh-most

Ryan Newman (No. 31 WIX Filters Chevrolet)
· One win, nine top fives, 12 top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 11.7
· Average Running Position of 11.0, fourth-best
· Driver Rating of 96.4, seventh-best
· 1,409 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 161.157 mph, eighth-fastest
· 2,527 Laps in the Top 15 (76.8%), second-most
· Series-high 823 Quality Passes

Tony Stewart (No. 14 Mobil 1 / Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet)
· Two wins, 12 top fives, 22 top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 11.0
· Average Running Position of 11.9, sixth-best
· Driver Rating of 98.5, fifth-best
· 83 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most
· 1,524 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 161.293 mph, seventh-fastest
· 2,416 Laps in the Top 15 (73.4%), fourth-most
· 792 Quality Passes, second-most

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Pocono Raceway Data
Season Race #: 14 of 36 (06-08-14)
Track Size: 2.5-miles
Banking/Turn 1: 14 degrees
Banking/Turn 2: 8 degrees
Banking/Turn 3: 6 degrees
Frontstretch Length: 3,740 feet
Backstretch Length: 3,055 feet
Shortstretch Length: 1,780 feet
Race Length: 160 laps / 400 miles

Top 10 Driver Ratings at Pocono
Jimmie Johnson…………………… 109.3
Denny Hamlin………………………. 109.1
Kurt Busch………………………….. 104.7
Jeff Gordon………………………… 101.1
Tony Stewart…………………………. 98.5
Carl Edwards………………………… 97.3
Ryan Newman……………………….. 96.4
Kasey Kahne………………………… 92.8
Kevin Harvick………………………… 89.6
Matt Kenseth………………………… 89.6
Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2013 races (18 total) among active drivers at Pocono Raceway.

Qualifying/Race Data
2013 Coors Light Pole winner: None due to weather
2013 race winner: Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 144.202 mph, (02:46:26), 06-09-13
Track qualifying record: Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 180.545 mph, 49.819 secs. 08-04-13
Track race record: Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 145.384 mph, (03:26:21), 06-12-11

Pocono Raceway History
· Opened in 1968 as a three-quarter-mile track, Pocono Raceway held the first race on the 2.5-mile track in 1971.
· The first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race was in 1974 – won by Richard Petty, Dodge, 115.593 mph, 08/04/1974.
· The 2.5-mile track was repaved during the fall of 2011.

Pocono Raceway Notebook
· There have been 72 NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Pocono Raceway, one race from 1974 through 1981, and two per year since. This marks the 40th anniversary of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing at Pocono.
· 2012 marked the first season the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Pocono were scheduled for 400 miles. Prior to 2012 all NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races were 500 miles at Pocono Raceway.
· 315 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway; 221 in more than one.
· Ricky Rudd leads the series in starts at Pocono with 55. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 42 starts.
· Buddy Baker won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Pocono in 1974 with a speed of 144.122 mph.
· 39 drivers have Coors Light poles at Pocono, led by Bill Elliott and Ken Schrader with five each; Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers with three.
· Five drivers have won consecutive Coors Light poles at Pocono. Bill Elliott holds the record for most consecutive poles at Pocono with three; fall 1984 and both races in 1985.
· Two active drivers have posted consecutive Coors Light poles at Pocono: Denny Hamlin (2006 sweep) and Joey Logano (fall 2011 and spring 2012).
· Youngest Pocono pole winner: Joey Logano (08/07/2011 – 21 years, 2 months, 14 days).
· Oldest Pocono pole winner: David Pearson (06/10/1984 – 49 years, 5 months, 19 days).

· 31 different drivers have won at Pocono Raceway, led by Jeff Gordon with six wins.
· Six drivers have posted consecutive wins at Pocono Raceway, including three consecutive by Bobby Allison (1982 sweep and spring 1983) and Tim Richmond (1986 sweep and spring 1987).
· Youngest Pocono winner: Joey Logano (06/10/2012 – 22 years, 0 months, 17 days).
· Oldest Pocono winner: Harry Gant (06/17/1990 – 50 years, 5 months, 7 days).
· Hendrick Motorsportshas the most wins at Pocono in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with 15: Jeff Gordon (six), Tim Richmond (three), Jimmie Johnson (three), Kasey Kahne (one), Geoff Bodine (one) and Terry Labonte (one) – including the last three consecutively.
· Eight different manufacturers have won in the NSCS at Pocono; led by Chevrolet with 28 victories; followed by Ford with 21.
· 15 of the 72 (20.8%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Pocono have been won from the Coors Light pole; the most recent was Jimmie Johnson (June, 2013).
· The Coors Light pole position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (15) than any other starting position at Pocono Raceway.
· 24 of the 72 (33.3%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Pocono have been won from the front row: 15 from the pole and nine from second-place.
· 50 of the 72 (69.4%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Pocono have been won from a top-10 starting position.
· Five of the 72 (6.9%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Pocono have been won from a starting position outside the top 20.
· The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Pocono was 29th, by Carl Edwards in the spring of 2005.
· Mark Martin leads the series in runner-up finishes at Pocono with seven; followed by Jeff Gordon with six.
· Mark Martin leads the series in top-five finishes at Pocono with 20; followed by Jeff Gordon with 19.
· Mark Martin leads the series in top-10 finishes at Pocono with 34; followed by Jeff Gordon with 29.
· Denny Hamlin leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Pocono with a 6.500.
· Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average finishing position at Pocono with a 8.833.
· Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards are the only two active drivers towin at Pocono in their first appearances.
· Joe Nemechek leads the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Pocono without visiting Victory Lane at 38; followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Matt Kenseth with 28.
· Since the advent of electronic scoring in 1993 the closest margin of victory (MOV) in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Pocono Raceway was the July 23, 2000 race won by Rusty Wallace over Jeff Burton with a MOV of 0.126 second.
· There have been three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races resulting with a green-white-checkered finish at Pocono Raceway (Scheduled No. of Laps/Actual No. of Laps): spring of 2005 (200/201); fall of 2005 (200/203); spring of 2010 (200/204).
· Six of the 72 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Pocono Raceway have been shortened due to weather conditions; the most recent was the event on 8/5/2012.
· Qualifying has been cancelled due to weather conditions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Pocono Raceway five times; most recently the spring of 2013.
· Casey Mears (8/1/2004) posted his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light pole at Pocono Raceway.
· One active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver has posted his first career win at Pocono Raceway: Denny Hamlin (06/11/06).
· Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in laps led at Pocono with 972 laps led in 42 starts.
· Two female drivers have competed at Pocono Raceway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Janet Guthrie and Danica Patrick.

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NASCAR in Pennsylvania
· There have been 105 NASCAR Sprint Cup races among nine tracks in Pennsylvania.

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· 141 drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as Pennsylvania.

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Azerbaijan GP red flagged after 22 laps following chaotic sequence

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The Azerbaijan Grand Prix has been red flagged for debris following a chaotic sequence of laps that saw three safety cars be deployed following multiple incidents, leaving the track covered in debris.

The first safety car was called after Daniil Kvyat stopped out on-track, with the marshals able to recover it with relative ease, but the bunched field on the restart soon descended into chaos.

Debris from Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari caused a second safety car period to be called within a lap, but the marshals were again able to clear this easily, allowing Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton to lead the field away for the second restart.

Hamilton and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel made contact twice behind the safety car, leaving debris on-track at Turn 15, with both drivers blaming each other for the incident.

The greater clashes came on the first lap of green flag running as Force India teammates Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon clashes at Turn 3, the latter bumping Perez into the wall. Both were required to pit for repairs, and while Ocon could get back out, Perez was less fortunate, retiring from the race.

A third safety car was called, with the stewards then deciding to throw a red flag to allow the debris on the track to be cleared.

More to follow…

Hunter-Reay leads warmup at Road America

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A weekend that has been dominated by Chevrolet and Team Penske so far saw Honda jump to the top during morning warmup. Ryan Hunter-Reay was fastest for Andretti Autosport, followed by Max Chilton for Chip Ganassi Racing. Hunter-Reay’s teammate Alexander Rossi ended the session third, making it a Honda 1-2-3 in the morning warmup.

Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud was the quickest of the Chevrolet camp in fourth, followed by A.J. Foyt Racing’s Carlos Munoz in fifth.

Only 19 of the 21 drivers turned laps during the session, with Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon and Andretti Autosport’s Takuma Sato failing to put laps in. Dixon’s No. 9 NTT Data Honda was suffering from fuel pressure problems that kept it in the garage, while Sato was feeling under the weather during the morning, and the No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda team elected not to go out.

Coverage of the Kohler Grand Prix begins at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

 

Follow Kyle Lavigne.

Nato takes F2 sprint win in Baku after Leclerc penalty

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Norman Nato picked up his first win of the 2017 FIA Formula 2 season on Sunday after a post-race penalty denied Charles Leclerc a weekend double in Baku.

Ferrari junior Leclerc took an emotional victory on Saturday just days after the death of his father, and charged from P8 on the reverse grid to take the lead from Nato late on.

However, the Monegasque driver was denied the first perfect weekend in the category (including GP2) in eight years when he was hit with a 10-second time penalty for failing to slow under yellow flags.

Despite the penalty, Leclerc was still classified second behind Nato, with Nicholas Latifi completing the podium for DAMS.

Jordan King took fourth place for MP Motorsport, while Sergey Sirotkin was fifth on his stand-in weekend at ART Grand Prix ahead of fellow Russian Artem Markelov.

Nobuharu Matsushita took seventh ahead of Luca Ghiotto, while Ralph Boschung and Sergio Sette Camara rounded out the top 10.

With second place, Leclerc extended his F2 championship lead to 42 points after chief title rival Oliver Rowland retired after leading the early part of the race.

The F2 season resumes in two weeks’ time in support of the Austrian Grand Prix in Spielberg.

Lauda on Hamilton’s Baku pole lap: ‘I’ve never seen anything like it’

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Formula 1 legend and Mercedes non-executive director Niki Lauda was quick to heap praise on Lewis Hamilton after qualifying in Azerbaijan on Saturday, saying he had “never seen anything like” the Briton’s Q3 pole lap.

Hamilton charged to the 66th pole of his F1 career at the Baku City Circuit on Saturday after a last-ditch effort took his four-tenths of a second clear of Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.

Hamilton was overjoyed by the lap, having struggled to tame the Baku circuit during its inaugural race in 2016, and three-time world champion Lauda was equally as impressed.

“We had some problems on Friday, but the team really did a fantastic job to set the car up in the right way. And Lewis with his lap today… I’ve never seen anything like it,” Lauda said, as quoted by the official F1 website.

“It was not plain sailing at all, but a lot of thinking, digging, back to the factory, and in the end the improvement the engineers and mechanics did to the car is outstanding.

“And then Lewis, what he did today, no one else I think can do that.

“He’s fantastic, especially thinking about his lap time here, because the difference he makes to everybody – it’s only Lewis.”

Hamilton will go in search of his fifth win of the season in Baku on Sunday, with coverage of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 8am ET.