Pure Michigan 400

Everything you need to know for Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan

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One of NASCAR’s fastest tracks is coming up this weekend for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, as the 2-mile Michigan International Speedway plays host Sunday for the Quicken Loans 400.

With a wide racing surface, sweeping corners, and long straightaways, MIS emphasizes sheer horsepower.

With no restrictor plates to hold back performance, drivers are often going well north of 200 miles per hour into the turns.

But those high speeds put lots of stress on their equipment, particularly the engines. Reliability in that department is always critical but especially so at this track.

Courtesy of NASCAR’s public relations and statistics, here’s everything you need to know for Round 15 of the 2014 Sprint Cup regular season…

MICHIGAN-SPECIFIC STATISTICS

Greg Biffle (No. 16 3M Military Salute Ford)
· Four wins, 10 top fives, 14 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 11.2
· Series-best Average Running Position of 8.3
· Series-best Driver Rating of 110.0
· 311 Fastest Laps Run, second-most
· 1,261 Green Flag Passes, 10th-most
· Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 177.840 mph
· Series-high 3,047 Laps in the Top 15 (86.1%)
· 849 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), second-most

Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet)
· Two wins, four top fives, nine top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 21.2
· Average Running Position of 15.5, 11th-best
· Driver Rating of 89.6, 11th-best
· 174 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most
· 2,165 Laps in the Top 15 (61.2%), ninth-most
· 550 Quality Passes, 12th-most

Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M’s Toyota)
· One win, four top fives, six top 10s
· Average finish of 16.5
· Average Running Position of 14.1, seventh-best
· Driver Rating of 92.0, seventh-best
· 137 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most
· 1,249 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 177.018 mph, seventh-fastest
· 2,386 Laps in the Top 15 (67.4%), sixth-most
· 669 Quality Passes, seventh-most

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 National Guard / Superman Chevrolet)
· Two wins, six top fives, 10 top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 16.3
· Average Running Position of 12.8, sixth-best
· Driver Rating of 97.0, fifth-best
· 182 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most
· 1,379 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 177.234 mph, fifth-fastest
· 2,347 Laps in the Top 15 (66.3%), seventh-most
· 749 Quality Passes, fourth-most

Carl Edwards (No. 99 Fastenal Ford)
· Two wins, nine top fives, 15 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 8.3
· Average Running Position of 10.2, third-best
· Driver Rating of 104.7, third-best
· 198 Fastest Laps Run, third-most
· 1,290 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 177.639 mph, fourth-fastest
· 2,925 Laps in the Top 15 (82.7%), second-most
· Series-high 850 Quality Passes

Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet)
· Two wins, 18 top fives, 25 top 10s; five poles
· Average finish of 12.5
· Average Running Position of 14.4, ninth-best
· Driver Rating of 89.8, ninth-best
· 159 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most
· 2,195 Laps in the Top 15 (62.0%), eighth-most
· 609 Quality Passes, 10th-most

Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota)
· Two wins, five top fives, seven top 10s
· Average finish of 15.0
· Average Running Position of 14.2, eighth-best
· Driver Rating of 89.7, 10th-best
· 98 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 176.841 mph, ninth-fastest
· 1,913 Laps in the Top 15 (60.9%), 11th-most
· 633 Quality Passes, ninth-most

Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet)
· Four top fives, nine top 10s
· Average finish of 16.8
· Average Running Position of 11.5, fourth-best
· Driver Rating of 101.4, fourth-best
· Series-high 357 Fastest Laps Run
· Average Green Flag Speed of 177.796 mph, second-fastest
· 2,583 Laps in the Top 15 (73.0%), fourth-most
· 691 Quality Passes, fifth-most

Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet)
· One win, seven top fives, nine top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 16.4
· Average Running Position of 15.6, 12th-best
· Driver Rating of 89.3, 12th-best
· 170 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most
· 1,340 Green Flag Passes, fifth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 177.130 mph, sixth-fastest
· 2,033 Laps in the Top 15 (57.4%), 10th-most
· 665 Quality Passes, eighth-most

Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota)
· Two wins, 12 top fives, 18 top 10s
· Average finish of 9.6
· Average Running Position of 10.0, second-best
· Driver Rating of 105.6, second-best
· 164 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 177.665 mph, third-fastest
· 2,868 Laps in the Top 15 (81.0%), third-most
· 801 Quality Passes, third-most

Tony Stewart (No. 14 Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1 Chevrolet)
· One win, 12 top fives, 20 top 10s
· Average finish of 11.7
· Average Running Position of 12.7, fifth-best
· Driver Rating of 95.9, sixth-best
· 100 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 177.009 mph, eighth-fastest
· 2,447 Laps in the Top 15 (73.3%), fifth-most
· 685 Quality Passes, sixth-most

Brian Vickers (No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota)
· One win, two top fives, eight top 10s; three poles
· Average finish of 14.9
· Driver Rating of 91.5, eighth-best
· Average Green Flag Speed of 176.779 mph, 12th-fastest

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Michigan International Speedway Track Data
Race 15 of 36
Track Size: 2 Miles
Banking: 18 degrees in turns, 5 degrees in frontstretch, 2 degrees in backstretch
Frontstretch Length: 3,600 feet
Backstretch Length: 2,242 feet
Race Length: 200 laps/400 miles

Top 10 Driver Ratings at Michigan
Greg Biffle – 110.0
Matt Kenseth – 105.6
Carl Edwards – 104.7
Jimmie Johnson – 101.4
Dale Earnhardt Jr. – 97.0
Tony Stewart – 95.9
Kyle Busch – 92.0
Brian Vickers – 91.5
Jeff Gordon – 89.8
Denny Hamlin – 89.7
(Ratings compiled from 2005-2013 races among active drivers at MIS)

Qualifying/Race Data
2013 pole winner: Carl Edwards, Ford, 202.452 mph, 35.564 seconds (06/14/13)
2013 race winner: Greg Biffle, Ford, 139.278 mph, 2hr52min19secs
Track qualifying record: Joey Logano, Ford, 203.949 mph, 35.303 seconds, 08/16/13
Track race record: Dale Jarrett, Ford, 173.997 mph, 2hr17min56secs, 06/13/99

Michigan International Speedway History
· Michigan International Speedway sits on more than 1,400 acres in the “Irish Hills” of Southeastern Michigan. Ground-breaking took place on Sept. 28, 1967.
· The first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan was held June 15, 1969 – won by Cale Yarborough at a speed of 139.254 mph.
· The track was known as Michigan Speedway during the time Roger Penske was the primary owner (1996-99).
· The two-mile speedway underwent a repave in 2012.

Michigan International Speedway Notebook
· There have been 89 NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Michigan International Speedway since the first race there in 1969. Other than 1973, which had just one race, there have been two races each season since 1969.
· The first race was 500 miles in length; the second was scheduled for 600. The track was re-measured to 2.04 miles for the last race in 1970 and both races in 1971 – with the race distance being 402 miles. All other races have been scheduled for 400 miles.
· 366 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway; 269 in more than one.
· Bill Elliott leads the series in starts at Michigan with 61. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 42 starts.
· Donnie Allison won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Michigan in 1969 with a speed of 160.135 mph.
· 45 drivers have Coors Light poles at Michigan, led by David Pearson with 10. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with five.
· Six drivers have won consecutive Coors Light poles at Michigan. David Pearson holds the record for most consecutive poles at Michigan with five; fall 1976 through 1978.
· Four active drivers have posted consecutive Coors Light poles at Michigan: Terry Labonte (1983 sweep), Bill Elliott (1984 sweep and 1988 sweep), Bobby Labonte (2003 sweep), and Brian Vickers (fall 2008 – 2009 sweep).
· Youngest Michigan pole winner: Joey Logano (08/16/2013 – 23 years, 2 months, 23 days).
· Oldest Michigan pole winner: Mark Martin (08/19/2012 – 53 years, 7 months, 10 days).
· 35 different NSCS drivers have won at Michigan International Speedway, led by David Pearson with nine wins; Greg Biffle leads all active drivers with four.
· Eight drivers have posted consecutive wins at Michigan International Speedway, including four consecutive by Bill Elliott (1985 sweep and 1986 sweep).
· Youngest Michigan winner: Joey Logano (08/18/2013 – 23 years, 2 months, 25 days).
· Oldest Michigan winner: Harry Gant (08/16/1992 – 52 years, 7 months, 6 days).
· Roush Fenway Racing has the most wins at Michigan in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with 13: Mark Martin (four), Greg Biffle (four), Carl Edwards (two), Matt Kenseth (two) and Kurt Busch (one).
· Eight different manufacturers have won in the NSCS at Michigan; led by Ford with 34 victories; followed by Chevrolet with 20.
· 17 of the 89 (19.1%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Michigan have been won from the Coors Light pole; the most recent was Joey Logano in 2013.
· The Coors Light pole position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (17) than any other starting position at Michigan International Speedway.
· 25 of the 89 (28%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Michigan have been won from the front row: 16 from the pole and eight from second-place.
· 67 of the 89 (75.2%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Michigan have been won from a top-10 starting position.
· Six of the 89 (6.7%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Michigan have been won from a starting position outside the top 20.
· The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Michigan was 32nd, by Mark Martin in the spring of 2009.
· Jeff Gordon leads the series in runner-up finishes at Michigan with eight; followed by Darrell Waltrip with seven.
· NASCAR Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough leads the series in top-five finishes at Michigan with 21; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 18.
· Mark Martin leads the series in top-10 finishes at Michigan with 31; followed by Bill Elliott with 29.
· Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Michigan with a 9.292.
· Carl Edwards leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average finishing position at Michigan with an 8.316. Matt Kenseth (9.621)is the only other active driver with an average finish in the top 10.
· All active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners at Michigan International Speedway participated in at least one or more races before visiting Victory Lane. Tony Stewart won at Michigan in his third appearance, the fewest previous starts among the active NSCS winners.
· Kevin Harvick competed at Michigan International Speedway 19 times before winning in the fall of 2010; the longest span of any the active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners.
· Among the active NSCS Michigan winners Kevin Harvick (19), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (17) Kyle Busch (13), Jeff Gordon (11), Brian Vickers (11) and Joey Logano (10) all made 10 or more attempts before their first win.
· Joe Nemechek leads the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Michigan without visiting Victory Lane at 40.
· Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory (MOV) in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Michigan International Speedway was the June 10, 2001 race won by Jeff Gordon over Ricky Rudd with a MOV of 0.085 second.
· There have been two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races resulting with a green-white-checkered finish at Michigan International Speedway (Scheduled No. of Laps/Actual No. of Laps): fall of 2011 (200/203); and fall of 2012 (200/201).
· Four of the 89 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Michigan International Speedway have been shortened due to weather conditions; the most recent was the event on 6/18/2006.
· Qualifying has been cancelled due to weather conditions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Michigan International Speedway four times; most recently the spring of 2008 race.
· Three drivers have posted their first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light pole at Michigan International Speedway: Jeff Burton (8/18/1996), J.J. Yeley (6/17/2007) and Marcos Ambrose (6/17/2012).
· Two active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver have posted their first career start at Michigan International Speedway: Carl Edwards (8/22/2004) and Landon Cassill (6/13/2010).
· Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in laps led at Michigan with 954 laps led in 42 starts.
· Four female drivers have competed at Michigan International Speedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Janet Guthrie, Robin McCall, Shawna Robinson and Danica Patrick. Of the four female drivers to compete at Michigan, Guthrie has the best finish (10th), but Patrick has the best average finish (18th).
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NASCAR in Michigan
· There have been 94 NASCAR Sprint Cup races at four racetracks in Michigan.
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· 98 drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as Michigan.
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Conor Daly’s IndyCar gets painted

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Conor Daly
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Conor Daly will compete full-time in the Verizon IndyCar Series this year in a ride for Dale Coyne Racing.

Daly will make laps in the No. 18 Honda sponsored by Jonathan Byrd’s. The 24-year-old driver tweeted out a picture today of his race car getting painted for the season, which starts on March 13.

Daly has six IndyCar races under his belt so far.

USF2000 reintroduces National Class for 2016

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The National Class is officially back in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda series for 2016.

Yes, when Eric Filgueiras and Spencer Racing announced they’d be in the National Class, that kind of gave it away that the class would be back without it being formally introduced.

Luckily though, the series has released the news today. A formal release is below:

Drivers seeking to make their way onto the Mazda Road to Indy now have an alternate, lower-cost route onto the first rung, the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, with today’s confirmation that the National Class will be returning in 2016.

The Mazda Road to Indy is unique in the world of auto racing, offering a scholarship-funded path all the way from karting via USF2000, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires to the Verizon IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500.

Eligible to drivers at least 20 years of age before or during the 2016 season, the National Class will be open to all Sports Car Club of America-legal FC (Formula Continental) cars, from any chassis manufacturer, dating back to 2000. Any aerodynamic devices approved by the SCCA are permitted, although in the interests of safety all cars must be fitted with a nosebox crash structure, wheel tethers, Staubli devices, approved head surrounds and seats and yellow light system as required by all other current USF2000 cars.

Cars will be permitted to run either the same 2.0-liter Mazda MZR engine per the USF2000 Championship Class regulations or sealed 2.0-liter Ford Zetec motors as prepared by Elite Engines or Quicksilver RacEngines with National Class mapping. Any SCCA-legal 6″ and 8″ wheels may be used, although all cars must run on Cooper tires.

Entry fees will be discounted 50 percent below the Championship Class rate, and each race winner will earn a free entry for an upcoming event in the same season. The second-place finisher will claim a 50 percent reduction in the entry fee for an upcoming race. In addition, race winners equipped with the MZR engine will take home a $1,000 award from Mazda.

As an added benefit and based on a minimum average car count of five entries per race weekend, the 2016 National Class champion will receive an “entry ticket” to the Mazda Road to Indy $200K Scholarship Shootout in the fall of this year where champions of select junior level-open wheel and karting series from around the world will compete for a Mazda scholarship to enter the USF2000 Championship Class in 2017.

The point system will be the same used by the Masters Class (formerly Expert Class) in the Pro Mazda championship.

“We are excited to bring back the National Class and allow drivers to sample the Mazda Road to Indy,” said Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. “RC Enerson began his path on the ladder system in the National Class. It’s a great first step onto the platform for many drivers, and we are excited to offer this year’s champion an entry into the Shootout as well as a full-season entry package to USF2000 in 2017 in either the Championship or National Class.”

The Mazda Road to Indy will head to Barber Motorsport Park for Spring Training on March 5 (Indy Lights) and 6/7 (USF2000/Pro Mazda). The 2016 season will kick off on the Streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., on March 11-13 in support of the Verizon IndyCar Series.

Report: Scott Tucker arrested by FBI in payday lending scheme

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - JANUARY 30:  The #95 Level 5 Motorsports BMW Riley driven by Scott Tucker, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Richard Westbrook and Raphael Matos during The Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway on January 30, 2011 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images)
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For four years from 2010 to 2013, Scott Tucker and Level 5 Motorsports were American Le Mans Series regulars, first in the Prototype Challenge class and then the LMP2 class. They won, a lot, and were a regular championship-contending effort, plus those who worked for the team had nothing but positive things to say about the operation that was run.

That said, the funding of the team was always perpetually questioned, as Tucker was always allegedly involved within the payday lending business, and had reportedly abusive practices towards customers.

This has been something of a bubbling story for five years but per Reuters, on Wednesday, Tucker and one of his lawyers were arrested by the FBI for their alleged exploitation.

Per Reuters, an indictment filed in Manhattan federal court outlined millions that went to Tucker, who then used it for various luxury items. Allegedly, more than $67 million went to the Level 5 Motorsports race team.

Level 5’s last IMSA series start came under the unified TUDOR United SportsCar Championship umbrella in January 2014, when the team won the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the GT Daytona class. The team withdrew from the championship following that race.

Social Roundup: IndyCar tests at Sonoma, Fontana

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Simon Pagenaud
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There has been an awakening. Have you felt it?

The engines of the Verizon IndyCar Series have roared back to life this week, a month before the season opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

After a test at Phoenix International Raceway two days ago, two more tests are occurring today in California, at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana and at Sonoma Raceway.

At Auto Cub Speedway is Ryan Hunter-Reay, Carlos Munoz and James Hinchcliffe.

In Sonoma is the entirety of the Chip Ganassi Racing team and Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud from Team Penske.

Here’s a look at how the day is progressing at each test through social media. We’ll update throughout the day. If you’re attending either test, tweet us pictures at @MotorSportsTalk or @danielmcfadin of how you’re taking in the beginning of the 2016 season.

Sonoma Raceway

Auto Club Speedway