Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts - Practice

NASCAR: Jeff Gordon unconcerned about Penske’s qualifying success

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In the aftermath of Team Penske’s third front row sweep of the season in Sprint Cup qualifying, Jeff Gordon said he’d be more worried if the Penske duo of Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano were beating him when it counts.

Keselowski and Logano have won this season (in Logano’s case, twice), but Gordon’s Hendrick Motorsports outfit has been the dominant team as of late with five victories in the last six Sprint Cup points races.

The one they didn’t win in that span was last weekend at Sonoma – and HMS still had all four of its drivers finish within the Top 10 behind winner Carl Edwards.

Gordon qualified third for tomorrow night’s Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway, and while he was complimentary of what the Penske camp has done in qualifying, he also wasn’t exactly shaking in his driving shoes.

“At this point, we’ve kind of gotten used to it and we’re always going to work hard and try to beat it,” he said. “They’re really doing an amazing job with their cars for qualifying.

“But we seem to have something for them when they drop the green flag for the race. So whatever it is doesn’t seem to correlate to race runs as much.”

Gordon also indicated that Keselowski and Logano have capitalized on short runs to get their wins so far in 2014.

“Those guys are just so spectacular in qualifying but it doesn’t – they’ve won races, don’t get me wrong – but they’ve typically won races when it’s a real short run and they’ve got to get it done in [those],” he said.

That’s partially true overall. Logano’s win over Gordon at Texas was in Green-White-Checkered mode, and his win later on at Richmond came after he started fourth on the final restart with nine laps left (he took the lead with four to go). However, Keselowski’s win over Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Las Vegas was done with the final 42 laps under green-flag conditions.

At any rate, Gordon will be seeking his first win at Kentucky tomorrow night, which would also allow him to say that he’s won at every active track on the Sprint Cup circuit.

It’s a goal that the four-time series champion would be happy to reach.

“It would be very cool,” he said. “Most of my energy is spent with do we have a shot at winning at this track. I feel like we have run solid here the last few times we have been here.

“I feel like as good as our cars are this year that this is probably the most legitimate shot that we’ve had of crossing that one off the list.

“It would mean a lot. It would be quite an accomplishment and it’s something that I would love to say I have done.”

Folger to make MotoGP debut with Tech3 in 2017

JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA, SPAIN - APRIL 22: Jonas Folger of Germany and Dynavolt Intact GP  rounds the bend during the MotoGp of Spain - Free Practice at Circuito de Jerez on April 22, 2016 in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain.  (Photo by Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images)
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Yamaha Tech3 has confirmed that rising German talent Jonas Folger will make his MotoGP debut with the team in 2017, stepping up from Moto2.

Folger, 22, finished sixth in last year’s Moto2 riders’ championship, and already has one pole position and two podiums to his name after four races in 2016.

The Kalex rider will make the jump up to MotoGP for 2017, joining the Yamaha satellite team on a one-year deal with an option for a second.

“I am super excited about the news and I still can’t believe this is happening,” Folger said.

“I have been racing for years in the motorcycling world championship and to make the move up to the premier class is a dream come true plus I’d like to thank all my sponsors that have stuck by me all these years.

“Furthermore, it’s an honor to make this step with Yamaha, Hervé Poncharal and Tech3 team who have such a long and deep history in the paddock. I will try my absolute best to repay the faith the team has put in me, and I’m really looking forward to the new adventure.

“However, I will remain completely focused for the rest of the year in the intermediate class but I can’t wait for Valencia where I will sample the Yamaha YZR-M1 for the first time.”

Folger will get his first taste of the Tech3-run Yamaha bike at the traditional end of season MotoGP test in Spain this November.

Hamilton asks fans to trust and respect Mercedes team

SOCHI, RUSSIA - MAY 01:  Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP leaves the paddock after the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on May 1, 2016 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)
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Three-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton has called on his fans to trust and respect the Mercedes team amid unfounded allegations of sabotage in the past two races.

Hamilton suffered an issue on his power unit in qualifying for both the Chinese and Russian Grands Prix, helping teammate Nico Rosberg on his way to a streak of four successive victories to start the season.

Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff responded to claims on social media that the team was deliberately hindering Hamilton’s efforts by calling the accusers “lunatics”, before Mercedes itself wrote an open letter to its fans in response to the claims.

Hamilton has now issued a message of his own via his Facebook page on Friday:

Dear All,

I want you to know how grateful I am for all of your support. I’d like to ask that you please trust in my team, as I do. This is my family. These guys have been the greatest, hardest working people for me, and that is why I am now 3x World Champion.

Please don’t put any more thought into my team doing anything unjust towards me, and understand that it would be in no ones best interest for that to be the case. We’ve had the best 3 years together, and whilst it’s not going to plan right now, all will unfold in its own time.

I trust these guys 1000% and my mechanics are incredible, the best in the business. I respect them so please do the same. They are the guys that are going to make winning this championship possible.

Thank you once again.

Hamilton will bid to end Rosberg’s winning streak and get back into the title hunt when F1 arrives in Europe next weekend for the Spanish Grand Prix.

Button confused by Red Bull’s decision to drop Kvyat

SOCHI, RUSSIA - APRIL 30: Jenson Button of Great Britain and McLaren Honda in the garage during final practice ahead of the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on April 30, 2016 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)
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2009 Formula 1 world champion Jenson Button questioned Red Bull’s decision to drop Daniil Kvyat for Max Verstappen as of the Spanish Grand Prix, saying the team has “short memories”.

Red Bull announced on Thursday that Kvyat would be returning to Toro Rosso, its B-team, as of the next race in Barcelona, with Verstappen moving in the opposite direction.

The decision sparked mixed reactions on social media, with many pointing out that Kvyat had been on the podium just three weeks ago in China.

Button made the exact same point in a couple of tweets sent from his Twitter account on Thursday.

IMS confirms 100th Indy 500 reserved seats are sold out

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Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials have confirmed Friday that the 100th Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil will have a sellout crowd, with confirmation all reserved seats have been sold.

“Every Indianapolis 500 is special, but the buzz surrounding the 100th Running has been building for nearly a year, ever since the checkered flag fell on the 99th,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said in a release. “Our fans are the best in sports and their incredible support of this year’s race will make it a truly historic day for ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.’”

Further information is linked here, via the IMS website.