Everything you need to know for Sunday’s Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire

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After a wet and wild ride at Daytona, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series are heading for New England this weekend with a stop at the one-mile New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The low-banked, sweeping corners of the “Magic Mile” makes passing relatively difficult; as such, the matter of gaining and keeping track position is critical to success here. Expect to keep track of varying pit/fuel strategies among the teams, especially late in the running.

Sunday’s Camping World RV Sales 301 could also give us a bit of a glimpse into the Chase this fall, as New Hampshire hosts the second race of NASCAR’s 10-race playoff.

Courtesy of NASCAR’s public relations and statistics teams, here’s everything you need to know for Round 19 of the 2014 Sprint Cup championship…

NEW HAMPSHIRE-SPECIFIC STATISTICS

Clint Bowyer (No. 15 5-Hour Energy Toyota)
· Two wins, four top fives, six top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 15.1
· Average Running Position of 12.4, sixth-best
· Driver Rating of 95.0, sixth-best
· 233 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 124.704 mph, sixth-fastest
· 3,352 Laps in the Top 15 (70.3%), 12th-most
· 452 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), 11th-most

Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet)
· Three wins, seven top fives, 11 top 10s
· Average finish of 15.3
· Average Running Position of 13.7, 10th-best
· Driver Rating of 90.4, 12th-best
· 187 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most
· 920 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 124.559 mph, 10th-fastest
· 3,380 Laps in the Top 15 (62.9%), 11th-most
· 516 Quality Passes, sixth-most

Kyle Busch (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota)
· One win, six top fives, eight top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 15.1
· Average Running Position of 14.0, 12th-best
· Driver Rating of 93.1, seventh-best
· 206 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 124.532 mph, 12th-fastest
· 3,465 Laps in the Top 15 (64.5%), eighth-most
· 480 Quality Passes, eighth-most

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet)
· Seven top fives, 12 top 10s
· Average finish of 15.7
· Average Running Position of 11.7, fifth-best
· Driver Rating of 97.3, fifth-best
· 236 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most
· 1,002 Green Flag Passes, third-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 124.860 mph, fourth-fastest
· 3,976 Laps in the Top 15 (74.0%), fourth-most
· 568 Quality Passes, third-most

Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet)
· Three wins, 16 top fives, 22 top 10s; four poles
· Average finish of 10.6
· Series-best Average Running Position of 7.4
· Driver Rating of 109.2, second-best
· Series-high 433 Fastest Laps Run
· 893 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most
· Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 125.062 mph
· Series-high 4,804 Laps in the Top 15 (89.5%)
· Series-high 618 Quality Passes

Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota)
· Two wins, seven top fives, 10 top 10s
· Average finish of 9.0
· Average Running Position of 10.8, fourth-best
· Driver Rating of 102.9, fourth-best
· 284 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 124.821 mph, fifth-fastest
· 3,547 Laps in the Top 15 (74.4%), seventh-most
· 526 Quality Passes, fifth-most

Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet)
· One win, five top fives, 13 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 13.7
· Average Running Position of 13.0, eighth-best
· Driver Rating of 91.1, 11th-best
· 156 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-most
· 904 Green Flag Passes, 10th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 124.568 mph, ninth-fastest
· 3,430 Laps in the Top 15 (63.9%), ninth-most

Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet)
· Three wins, nine top fives, 17 top 10s
· Average finish of 9.2
· Average Running Position of 9.7, third-best
· Driver Rating of 105.8, third-best
· 430 Fastest Laps Run, second-most
· 938 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 124.866 mph, third-fastest
· 4,453 Laps in the Top 15 (82.9%), second-most
· 602 Quality Passes, second-most

Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Great Clips / Shark Week Chevrolet)
· One win, three top fives, eight top 10s
· Average finish of 17.0
· Driver Rating of 92.4, 10th-best
· 331 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most
· 948 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 124.697 mph, seventh-fastest
· 3,411 Laps in the Top 15 (63.5%), 10th-most
· 487 Quality Passes, seventh-most

Ryan Newman (No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet)
· Three wins, six top fives, 15 top 10s; seven poles
· Average finish of 14.0
· Average Running Position of 13.0, ninth-best
· Driver Rating of 92.5, ninth-best
· 158 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 124.537 mph, 11th-fastest
· 3,935 Laps in the Top 15 (73.3%), fifth-most
· 456 Quality Passes, 10th-most

Tony Stewart (No. 14 Mobil 1 Chevrolet)
· Three wins, 14 top fives, 17 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 11.9
· Average Running Position of 9.1, second-best
· Series-best Driver Rating of 111.0
· 408 Fastest Laps Run, third-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 124.972 mph, second-fastest
· 4,182 Laps in the Top 15 (82.5%), third-most
· 535 Quality Passes, fourth-most

Chase Grid (After 18 of 26 regular season races)
1. Jimmie Johnson, 3 wins, 596 points
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr., 2 wins, 624 points
3. Brad Keselowski, 2 wins, 586 points
4. Joey Logano, 2 wins, 546 points
5. Carl Edwards, 2 wins, 543 points
6. Kevin Harvick, 2 wins, 514 points
7. Jeff Gordon, 1 win, 651 points (Points Leader)
8. Kyle Busch, 1 win, 524 points
9. Denny Hamlin, 1 win, 493 points
10. Aric Almirola, 1 win, 452 points
11. Kurt Busch, 1 win, 422 points
12. Matt Kenseth, no wins, 580 points
13. Ryan Newman, no wins, 534 points
14. Paul Menard, no wins, 516 points
15. Clint Bowyer, no wins, 509 points
16. Austin Dillon, no wins, 494 points

17. Greg Biffle, no wins, 490 points
18. Brian Vickers, no wins, 484 points
19. Kyle Larson, no wins, 482 points
20. Kasey Kahne, no wins, 482 points

source:

New Hampshire Motor Speedway Track Data
Season Race #: 19 of 36 (07-13-14)
Track Size: 1.058-mile
Banking/Turn 1 & 2: 2 to 7 degrees
Banking/Turn 3 & 4: 2 to 7 degrees
Banking/Frontstretch: 1 degree
Banking/Backstretch: 1 degree
Frontstretch Length: 1,500 feet
Backstretch Length: 1,500 feet
Race Length: 301 laps / 318.46 miles

Top 10 Driver Rating at New Hampshire
Tony Stewart……………………….. 111.0
Jeff Gordon………………………… 109.2
Jimmie Johnson…………………… 105.8
Denny Hamlin………………………. 102.9
Dale Earnhardt Jr…………………… 97.3
Clint Bowyer…………………………. 95.0
Kyle Busch…………………………… 93.1
Ryan Newman……………………….. 92.5
Kasey Kahne………………………… 92.4
Kevin Harvick………………………… 91.1
Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2013 races (18 total) among active drivers at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Qualifying/Race Data
2013 Coors Light Pole winner: Brad Keselowski, Ford, 135.922 mph, 28.022 secs., 07-12-13
2013 race winner: Bryan Vickers, Toyota, 98.735 mph, (03:14:10), 07-14-13
Track qualifying record: Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 136.497 mph, 27.904 secs., 09-20-13
Track race record: Jeff Burton, Ford, 117.134 mph, (02:42:35), 07-13-97

New Hampshire Motor Speedway History
· Groundbreaking for New Hampshire International Speedway, as New Hampshire Motor Speedway was originally named, was Aug. 13, 1989.
· The 1.058-mile oval is located on approximately 1,200 acres; the multi-use complex is the largest sports facility in New England.
· The first NASCAR Sprint Cup race was on July 11, 1993 – won by NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace.
· Speedway Motorsports, Inc. agreed to purchase New Hampshire International Speedway from Bob and Gary Bahre on January 11, 2008 and then renamed the track New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

New Hampshire Motor Speedway Notebook
· There have been 38 NASCAR Sprint Cup races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway; one per year from 1993 through 1996 and two per year since.
· 150 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway; 122 in more than one.
· Four drivers have competed in all 38 races at New Hampshire: Jeff Burton, Jeff Gordon, Bobby Labonte and Joe Nemechek.
· Mark Martin won the inaugural Coors Light pole at New Hampshire in 1993 with a speed of 126.871 mph.
· 18 drivers have Coors Light poles at New Hampshire, led by Ryan Newman with seven.
· Five drivers have won consecutive Coors Light poles at New Hampshire: Ken Schrader (1997 sweep); Jeff Gordon (1998-1999); Rusty Wallace (1999-2000); Ryan Newman (twice – 2003-2004 and 2011 sweep); Juan Pablo Montoya (2009-2010).
· Youngest New Hampshire Coors Light pole winner: Brian Vickers (07/17/2005 – 21 years, 8 months, 23 days).
· Oldest New Hampshire Coors Light pole winner: Bill Elliott (07/21/2002 – 46 years, 9 months, 13 days).
· 23 different drivers have won at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, led by Jeff Burton with four.
· Two drivers have posted consecutive wins at New Hampshire Motor Speedway: Jimmie Johnson (2003 sweep) and Kurt Busch (2004 sweep).
· Youngest New Hampshire winner: Joey Logano (06/28/2009 – 19 years, 1 month, 4 days).
· Oldest New Hampshire winner: Mark Martin (09/20/2009 – 50 years, 8 months, 11 days).
· Hendrick Motorsports leads the series in wins at New Hampshire in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with nine; followed by Roush Fenway Racing with seven.
· Five different manufacturers have won at New Hampshire; led by Chevrolet with 18 victories; followed by Ford with 11 and Toyota with four.
· Jeff Burton is the only driver to win the July race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway three consecutive years in a row (1997, ’98 and ’99)
· Five of the 38 (13.1%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at New Hampshire have been won from the Coors Light pole; the most recent was Ryan Newman in 2011.
· The Coors Light pole is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (five) than any other starting position at New Hampshire.
· Eight of the 38 (21%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at New Hampshire have been won from the front row: eight from the pole and seven from second-place.
· 20 of the 38 (52.6%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at New Hampshire have been won from a top-10 starting position.
· Nine of the 38 (23.6%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at New Hampshire have been won from a starting position outside the top 20.
· The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at New Hampshire was 38th, by Jeff Burton in 1999.
· Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart are tied for the series lead in runner-up finishes at New Hampshire with five each.
· Jeff Gordon leads the series in top-five finishes at New Hampshire with 16; followed by Tony Stewart with 14.
· Jeff Gordon leads the series in top-10 finishes at New Hampshire with 22; followed by Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson with 17 each.
· Ryan Newman leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at New Hampshire with an 8.042.
· Denny Hamlin leads NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average finishing position at New Hampshire with an 9.000.
· All 15 active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race winners at New Hampshire Motor Speedway participated in at least one or more races before visiting Victory Lane. Ryan Newman and Joey Logano won at New Hampshire in their second appearance.
· Dale Earnhardt Jr. leads the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at New Hampshire without a win at 29.
· Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory (MOV) in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at New Hampshire Motor Speedway was the July 1, 2007 race won by Denny Hamlin over Jeff Gordon with a MOV of 0.068 second.
· 16 of the 30 NSCS races scored by electronic scoring at New Hampshire Motor Speedway have had a Margin of Victory less than a second.
· Two of the 38 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races have resulted with a green-white-checkered finish at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Scheduled No. of Laps/Actual No. of Laps): 2006 (300/308) and 2013 (301/302).
· Four of the 38 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at New Hampshire Motor Speedway have been shortened due to weather conditions; the most recent was June 28, 2009 – the race was called on Lap 273, 28 circuits shy of the 301 scheduled laps.
· Qualifying has been cancelled due to weather conditions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at New Hampshire Motor Speedway four times: 2001, 2004, 2008 and 2009.
· Two active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have made their first career start at New Hampshire Motor Speedway: Joe Nemechek (7/11/93), and Joey Logano (9/14/08).
· Brad Keselowski (9/19/10) is the only active driver to post his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light pole at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
· Four active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have posted their first career win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway: Joe Nemechek (9/19/99), Ryan Newman (9/15/02), Clint Bowyer (9/16/07) and Joey Logano (6/28/09).
· Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in laps led at New Hampshire with 1,352 laps led in 38 starts.
· Danica Patrick is the only female driver that has competed in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

source:

NASCAR in New Hampshire
· There have been 38 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races in New Hampshire, all at NHMS. Additionally, NHMS has hosted 27 Nationwide and 16 Truck Series races.
· 15 drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as New Hampshire; Jamie Aube is the only one of the 15 to record a victory in NASCAR national series competition. Aube won July 12, 1987 at Oxford Plains Speedway in Oxford, ME; it was his only start that season.

IndyCar takes wraps off 2018 universal aero kit

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After months of renderings, INDYCAR has today revealed in full the new 2018 Dallara universal aero kit.

This replaces the manufacturer aero kits that have been in use from Honda and Chevrolet since 2015.

Dallara was selected to build the kit, which comes on top of the existing base Dallara DW12 chassis that has run in the Verizon IndyCar Series since 2012.

Testing begins tomorrow at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with Juan Pablo Montoya in the Chevrolet powered car, run by Team Penske and with Oriol Servia in the Honda powered car, run by Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.

More to follow.

Mercedes to enter Formula E from season six, quit DTM after 2018

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Mercedes will join the FIA Formula E championship from the start of its sixth season in 2019 after taking up its option on an entry.

Mercedes announced last October that it had secured an option to join the grid as a manufacturer from season five (2018/19), but was still evaluating an entry as of last month.

Despite having until October to make a final decision on taking up the entry, Mercedes announced on Monday that it would be going ahead with plans to join Formula E, starting from season six (2019/20).

As part of a realignment of its motorsport interests, Mercedes also confirmed that it would be quitting DTM, Germany’s leading touring car series, at the end of 2018.

“Mercedes Benz has announced a strategic repositioning of its motorsport activities: the company will conclude its participation in DTM at the end of 2018 and enter Formula E in the 2019/20 season,” a statement reads.

“This new approach will see Mercedes-Benz competing at both ends of the motorsport spectrum: in Formula 1, the pinnacle of motorsport combining high technology and the most demanding competitive challenge; and in Formula E, which embodies the transformation that is underway in the automotive industry.”

“Mercedes-Benz will market future battery powered electric vehicles using the EQ label,” said Dr. Jens Thiemer, Vice President Marketing Mercedes-Benz.

“Formula E is a significant step in order to demonstrate the performance of our attractive battery powered electric vehicles, as well as giving an emotional spin to our EQ technology brand through motorsport and marketing.”

Mercedes head of motorsport Toto Wolff added: “In motorsport like in every other area, we want to be the benchmark in the premium segment and to explore innovative new projects.

“The combination of Formula 1 and Formula E delivers that. Formula E is like an exciting start-up venture: it offers a brand new format, combining racing with a strong event character, in order to promote current and future technologies.

“Electrification is happening in the road car world and Formula E offers manufacturers an interesting platform to bring this technology to a new audience – and to do so with a completely new kind of racing, different to any other series.

“I am pleased that we were able to extend our entry option for one year to the 2019/20 season. This gives us time to properly understand the series and to prepare for our entry in the right way.”

“Today is a great day as we welcome Mercedes to the Formula E family – adding to the increasing number of manufacturers joining the electric revolution,” Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag said.

“This step shows how much the world is changing, not only in motorsport, but the whole automotive industry. We’re witnessing a transformation that will first change our cities, and then our roads.

“Formula E is the championship that embodies that change, and together with all our teams and manufacturers we’ll keep pushing for technologies to have better and more affordable electric cars.”

Even as NASCAR hits Brickyard, Indy 500 chatter still buzzes

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A marathon Brickyard 400 is finally in the books on Sunday, but the allure of the Indianapolis 500 was a talking point among several drivers throughout the weekend within the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series garage.

As evidenced by two recent guest stars who’ve made their maiden Indianapolis 500 bows – Kurt Busch in 2014 and Fernando Alonso in 2017, both with Andretti Autosport (Alonso in a McLaren Honda Andretti) – when a star from another discipline of motorsport shows up for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, people take notice, and a heck of a lot of words get typed.

So who could be next from the NASCAR world making a crack at Indy, or simply paying a visit on race day? It’s always fun to prognosticate and look ahead, even if the chances seem remote and all the stars – and contracts – have to align to make it happen.

KYLE BUSCH

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – JULY 22: Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Skittles Toyota, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award decal after qualifying for pole position for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 22, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

No one doubts the younger Busch brother’s ability, and the 2015 NASCAR Cup champion knows a thing or two about winning at Indianapolis. He won back-to-back Brickyards in 2015 and 2016 and was well on his way to a three-peat in 2017 before he and Martin Truex Jr. collided, continuing his unlucky, unhappy and thus far winless season.

On Friday Busch revealed he had a ride in place for this year’s Indianapolis 500, but said it fell through because his boss wouldn’t allow it. He didn’t specify whether said “boss” was wife Samantha Busch or his Cup series team boss, Joe Gibbs.

“It would be a unique opportunity,” Busch said of the prospects, and such a chance to race it would open up a double possibility with the ‘500 and the Coca-Cola 600 in the same day – same as Kurt did in 2014.

Gibbs seemed to pour water on that idea to ESPN.com reporter Bob Pockrass, saying Busch has “got a full plate” at the moment.

The issue with Busch running Indianapolis seems more a manufacturer-related one. Workarounds are possible but as Busch drives a Toyota in Cup, the likelihood of them being happy seeing him in a Honda – a fellow Japanese manufacturer – or a Chevrolet – a fellow NASCAR competitor – isn’t the best-case scenario. That’s not to say it can’t be done as Kurt Busch raced a Honda in 2014 while competing in a Chevrolet in NASCAR, but all parties would need to clear the way for this to happen.

This actually transitions nicely into a Kyle who could have an easier workaround from a manufacturer standpoint…

KYLE LARSON

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – JULY 22: Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the #17 SunnyD Ford, and Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet, talk during qualifying for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 22, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

It’s the question of when, it seems, not if Larson races the Indianapolis 500. He’s said multiple times he wants to do and his team boss, Chip Ganassi has said he’s open to the idea himself. But it has to make sense from a timing standpoint. Yes, I’ll admit I wrote an admittedly last-ditch-for-2017 column about the idea earlier this year once Larson won at Auto Club Speedway, thus securing his playoff spot. But Ganassi doused water on the idea for this year in a gathering of reporters at St. Petersburg – noting how everyone blows up his social media in March and April for May of the current year, and it goes quiet in June, when the next year planning actually needs to take place.

Larson said this year’s two heavy accidents featuring his Ganassi teammates – IndyCar’s Scott Dixon and IMSA’s Sebastien Bourdais – have temporarily halted his desire.

“I do, but when I see Scott Dixon’s and (Sebastien) Bourdais crash, it makes me think twice about it a little bit. I’ll get the courage up to do it someday,” Larson said this weekend, via NASCAR Talk.

Put aside the accidents for a minute and let’s get back to looking at Larson’s realistic prospects depending on how the manufacturer and car count scenario could shake out. There’s a good possibility Ganassi’s IndyCar program will downsize for the full season next year if one or more of its three non-Dixon drivers doesn’t return. But what that could do would be open the opportunities for a Honda engine lease and an extra chassis to run. Larson, a Ganassi driver, has driven other manufacturers for the team before; he’s won the Rolex 24 at Daytona in a Ford-powered prototype and he races a Chevrolet in NASCAR, so a Honda in IndyCar could work out for him.

KASEY KAHNE

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – JULY 23: Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet, kisses the yard of bricks with his crew after winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 23, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Who says you can’t go home again? It’s easy to forget Kahne was a star on short tracks growing up, and had a handful of Formula Atlantic starts in 2001 before his NASCAR career began, and his Cup career started in 2004.

Kahne’s NASCAR Cup future seems uncertain at the moment but Sunday’s win at the Brickyard 400 was a massive boost for him. It ensures his playoff eligibility this year and helps further his case to see out the rest of his Hendrick Motorsports contract in 2018.

J. Douglas Boles, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway track president, is renowned as a marketer and works incredibly hard from a promotional standpoint across the board. And the opportunity to have the active Brickyard 400 champion racing in the Indianapolis 500 the next year would be something to marvel at.

The reality of a situation would hinge on Kahne’s own desire to get back into open-wheel – he hasn’t been in an open-wheel car in more than a decade and he’s also a father now. But if he’s available, you wonder if it’s worth planting the seed.

DANICA PATRICK

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – JULY 23: Danica Patrick, driver of the #10 Aspen Dental Ford, is introduced prior to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 23, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Yes, I can’t believe I just typed that… and yet I also wonder if it’s possible once again. Like the others mentioned here she has been out of open-wheel for several years. She was IndyCar’s biggest star for a good six or seven years even if her results didn’t back it up.

This much we knew though. She was always good at Indianapolis, a regular top-five finisher and occasional win contender who generally took care of her equipment. She also hasn’t had the spotlight on her ability in the NASCAR side of affairs much, if at all, in recent years. Her results have been floundering at best; the occasional top-10 or top-15 finish is a surprise sprinkled in amidst a flurry of top-20s.

Like Kahne, her NASCAR future will be dictated by sponsorship and with the Nature’s Bakery lawsuit that occurred earlier this year leaving her Stewart-Haas Racing team looking to fill the gaps, you wonder how much more she’s willing to take beyond the rest of this year and into 2018.

Again, if she’s available, and more importantly if she’s interested, a comeback – especially in a year with a new universal aero kit that everyone would be learning – would undoubtedly dominate headlines.

While in this subhead, I’d also note Patrick’s boyfriend Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (pictured above with Larson) would be a popular Indy 500 first-timer – particularly in a car with “BC Forever” logos and Jonathan Byrd’s support, the Byrd family having invested heavily and supported the late Bryan Clauson. It’s no secret Stenhouse and Clauson were close, and if there was a way for Stenhouse to clear the Ford manufacturer hurdle, he’d probably impress if he had the shot at the ‘500.

BRAD KESELOWSKI 

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – JULY 22: Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, stands in the garage during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 22, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

“Kes” actually has an IndyCar test under his belt, his surprise one-off run for Team Penske at Road America in 2016. And after his runner-up finish at the Brickyard on Sunday, he got super close to putting the fabled “blue deuce” into first place and delivering Roger Penske his first ‘400 win.

Last year, Team Penske president Tim Cindric gave it a “20 percent chance” Keselowski could one day race in both the ‘500 and the Coca-Cola 600. Better than nothing, right? It’s hard to see it for next year with Team Penske figuring to have both Helio Castroneves and/or Juan Pablo Montoya in Indianapolis 500 entries, the question being if one or both would be extra cars beyond their full season.

DALE EARNHARDT JR. AND JEFF GORDON

We can pretty much say straight up neither of these two will be racing in the ‘500. But Junior riffed this weekend, “I’ve never been to the Indy 500 obviously, so that would be a great experience. It’s an impressive place.”

Gordon’s driven the pace car for the Indianapolis 500 before, so it’d make sense and would be a natural to bestow the same honor to Earnhardt Jr. given his relationship with Chevrolet. It’s also worth noting new IndyCar team owner Mike Harding ran his Chevrolet for Gabby Chaves with Junior’s stylized No. 88 at this year’s race – and Earnhardt gave it his approval on social media.

It would not be a stretch to see Earnhardt a guest of either his longtime manufacturer or this team at next year’s race.

Just don’t expect to see him in a race car, because that might break the Internet.

FORT WORTH, TX – JUNE 09: Gabby Chaves, driver of the #88 Harding Group Chevrolet, practices for the Verizon IndyCar Series Rainguard Water Sealers 600 at Texas Motor Speedway on June 9, 2017 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)

F1’s 2017 can match 2013’s mark of no back-to-backs this week

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One of the interesting nuggets about this 2017 Formula 1 season, as the year has ebbed and flowed between Mercedes and Ferrari on top with the occasional Red Bull surprise, is that a single driver has not recorded back-to-back victories through the first 10 races.

Sebastian Vettel kicked proceedings off at Melbourne for the Australian Grand Prix, with Lewis Hamilton then winning his first race of the year in Shanghai in the rain at the Chinese Grand Prix.

From there, it’s gone Vettel, Valtteri Bottas, Hamilton, Vettel, Hamilton, Daniel Ricciardo, Bottas and Hamilton heading into this week’s Hungarian Grand Prix.

When looking back in the archives, you only need to look four years ago to 2013 to find the last time a season started with 10 races and no drivers having won back-to-backs Grands Prix – a streak which ran 11 races.

Kimi Raikkonen won at Melbourne to start the year, with Vettel then winning his first race of 2013 in controversial fashion in the infamous “Multi 21” Red Bull team orders fiasco with Mark Webber in Sepang at Melaysia.

Fernando Alonso then won for Ferrari, followed by Vettel, Alonso (that being his most recent Grand Prix win, Spain of 2013), Nico Rosberg, Vettel, Rosberg, Vettel, Hamilton and Vettel. Hamilton’s win at Hungary in 2013 was his first win for the Mercedes AMG Petronas team after switching from McLaren.

But from here, Vettel won the Belgian Grand Prix, Round 11 of that season, for what was his fifth victory of the season… and promptly ran the table from there. After there were no back-to-back winners in 10 races, Vettel won the last nine consecutively. His radio call after winning at Circuit of The Americas – “cherish these times” because you don’t know how long they’ll last – was particularly prescient as he never won again for Red Bull after 2013, then departed for Ferrari in 2015.

A year earlier, the 2012 season set an incredible mark with the first 14 races occurring before a driver recorded back-to-back victories, and again, it was Vettel who was first to win two in a row when he did at Singapore and Japan that season. Prior to that, the campaign opened with seven winners in as many races (Jenson Button, Alonso, Rosberg, Vettel, Pastor Maldonado, Webber, Hamilton) with a handful of those then winning further races from there.

As it sits now, Vettel hasn’t won since Monaco and the Hungaroring in Budapest – a similar low horsepower, high downforce type of track – represents his best chance to win his fourth Grand Prix of the season.

Hamilton, meanwhile, is already a four-time winner this year and a five-time winner in Hungary in his career.

A Vettel win would keep the streak of no back-to-back winners alive, with 11 races without a driver going back-to-back. A Hamilton win would end it at 10 and make him the first driver to put together a streak this year.

Either way, it’s been a refreshing change of pace because here have been the runs drivers have gone on since that 11-for-11 start without back-to-backs in the last five years (three race in a row or more win streaks; there have been several more two in a row streaks):

  • 2013: Vettel wins last nine races in a row (Rounds 11-19)
  • 2014: Hamilton wins four straight (Rounds 2-5), then wins five straight (Rounds 13-17)
  • 2015: Hamilton wins three straight (Rounds 14-16), Rosberg wins three straight (Rounds 17-19)
  • 2016: Rosberg wins four straight (Rounds 1-4), Hamilton wins four straight (Round 9-12), Rosberg wins three straight (Rounds 13-15), Hamilton wins four straight (Rounds 18-21)