Pocono 400 - Practice

Kasey Kahne seeking to put together complete race at Pocono

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Inconsistency has been the story so far this year for Kasey Kahne, who is looking for a complete race this Sunday at Pocono Raceway.

Kahne won at Pocono last August to solidify his 2013 Chase chances, but coming into Sunday’s Pocono 400, he’s 18th in the championship and winless while his three Hendrick Motorsports teammates – Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. – have all visited Victory Lane this year.

“I think there has been a touch of bad luck and then we just haven’t put together full races,” Kahne said about his season yesterday.

“We’ve had great practices over the last month, maybe a little more than that. We’ve been really good in practice; great at times during the race, but we haven’t put together the full race.”

“And when we have, it’s been one and then we forget how for the next three, and then come back for the fourth one and run pretty well. That side of it’s been tough and we’re all looking at that together to try to make it better.”

Kahne has earned just one Top-5 result (third, Kansas) in the first half of the regular season, and teammate Johnson noted yesterday that he senses some frustration from the Washington native and his No. 5 Hendrick crew.

That disappointment was acknowledged somewhat by Kahne, but he believes that the 5 team is closer to breaking through than some observers may think.

In the meantime, the team’s mission is cut and dry.

“I look at it as we need to score as many points as we can each week,” Kahne said. “Our stretch of tracks that we run really well at started about three weeks ago. It goes for another month, so hopefully we can hit on something over this little span that we have. We haven’t yet, but we are in a good group of tracks for myself and [crew chief] Kenny [Francis] and our team.

“We just have to do the best we can and hopefully as a group, we figure it out and can start putting full races together. If we can do that, we will be in a good spot in a hurry because of the points system and the way that it is now.”

Kahne will start 27th in tomorrow’s race.

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Charlie Kimball

Charlie Kimball
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MotorSportsTalk continues its look through the driver-by-driver recaps following the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season, with a look at Charlie Kimball, who finished 12th this year.

Charlie Kimball, No. 83 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet

  • 2014: 14th Place, Best Finish 3rd, Best Start 6th, 1 Podium, 4 Top-5, 10 Top-10, 0 Laps Led, 16.3 Avg. Start, 12.6 Avg. Finish
  • 2015: 12th Place, Best Finish 3rd, Best Start 6th, 2 Podiums, 3 Top-5, 5 Top-10, 21 Laps Led, 13.3 Avg. Start, 13.1 Avg. Finish

“Super Chuck” – as NBCSN’s Townsend Bell has called him in the past – had another typically “Super Chuck” season. He produced some dizzying heights, made a few mistakes, and posted a lot of consistent runs in the middle that ultimately netted him 12th in points for the season.

We wrote last year that one of the areas where Kimball most needed to improve was his qualifying, and a three-spot year-to-year gain from 16.3 to 13.3 delivered that improvement. Problem was, in a Chevrolet top-heavy grid, Kimball might have been qualifying better, but he was qualifying behind at least seven or eight more fancied Chevrolet runners. In a Honda, you worry if Kimball’s grid positions this year would have dipped into the low teens or high 20s, rather than only just missing advancing into Q2 as was often the case.

While Barber and Mid-Ohio had served as his standout races in the past, the undoubted highlight of Kimball’s 2015 season was his quiet early – then dynamic late – drive to third in the Indianapolis 500. It was a performance that was particularly impressive given he was up against past series champions Juan Pablo Montoya, Will Power and Scott Dixon, who were all vying for the win. Another podium at Sonoma was his first on a road or street course since Detroit race two in 2014, and put him third in points in the two double points races for the year.

But mistakes occurred all too regularly in the 14 standard points events, where he ranked 14th among all drivers. Contacting Dixon in Detroit, surviving a nightmare weekend in Iowa with multiple incidents, and coming together with Graham Rahal in St. Petersburg – even though Rahal was assessed a penalty for avoidable contact – were all moments he’d like to have back.

Kimball’s five years into his IndyCar career and there’s enough evidence to suggest now his breakout 2013 season was an outlier, not the norm. But seasons like 2014 and 2015 prove he still has plenty in hand to cut it at this level, and together with his entire Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing team, an overall asset to the sport.

MotorSportsTalk’s Predictions: Russian Grand Prix

xxxx during previews to the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on October 8, 2015 in Sochi, Russia.
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The 2015 Formula 1 season is slowly nearing its conclusion with just five races remaining, and this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix could see the first silverware of the year be decided.

Mercedes is within touching distance of a second constructors’ championship, knowing that if it outscores Ferrari by just three points in Sochi, the title will be sewn up in Sochi for a second consecutive year.

Lewis Hamilton is also continuing his march to the drivers’ title, and knows that victory in Russia will give him the chance to be crowned a three-time champion next time out in Austin or – more realistically – Mexico.

Ferrari will be hoping to delay the party for as long as possible, though. The tire allocation for this weekend’s race at the Sochi Autodrom – super-soft and soft – does appear to favor the Italian marque, setting up a great battle at the front of the field.

Here’s what the MST writing team had to say ahead of this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix, which is live across NBCSN and Live Extra. For full broadcast details, click here.

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Race WinnerSebastian Vettel. I’m going to be a bit different and tip Vettel to put the softer tire allocation to good use at Sochi and win a fourth race of the year. Ferrari’s recent engine updates appear to finally be coming good, and, most importantly, a fourth win would force team principal Maurizio Arrivabene to make good on his pre-season promise that he would run barefoot up the hill to Maranello – and who doesn’t want to see that?

Surprising FinishFelipe Massa. Williams’ recent form hasn’t been overly impressive, but I reckon Massa and teammate Valtteri Bottas could buck the trend here in Russia.

Most to ProveNico Rosberg. 48 points behind, and defeat to Hamilton here would give the Briton the chance to wrap it up four races early at the United States Grand Prix. It’s time for Rosberg to show a bit of fight.

Additional Storyline to WatchYear two for Sochi. Last year’s race was something of a drab affair both on and off track. The facility in Sochi is very shiny and brand new, albeit a little lifeless. Let’s see how things develop this time around.

Predict the Podium

1. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari
2. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
3. Felipe Massa Williams

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

Race WinnerLewis Hamilton. Peerless here last year and back on form at Suzuka a couple weeks ago. He’ll move closer to the title with another triumph this weekend.

Surprising FinishFelipe Massa. I’ll say the Brazilian bounces back from his debacle here last year where he was bounced in Q1 and missed the points to a podium finish this weekend. The Mercedes-powered cars should be strong and I like Felipe to capitalize.

Most to ProveNico Rosberg. With fading title hopes and after his faux pas last year on the start, must perform in both qualifying and the race if he is to have any hope of snatching the title from his teammate.

Additional Storyline to WatchSochi, year two. The debut last year of the race felt a bit muted anyway given it was a week on from Suzuka and the emotional overhead of Jules Bianchi’s accident was first and foremost. The race debut came during an Olympics year, as well, so it wasn’t even the biggest storyline in Sochi during 2014. In year two, will the race be any more interesting? Will the interest in the race from the locals carry much weight?

Predict the Podium

1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes
3. Felipe Massa Williams