Everything you need to know for Sunday’s Brickyard 400 at Indy

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After the final off-weekend of 2014, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ drivers and teams will be working with extra motivation this week as they prepare to run at the world’s greatest racecourse.

If you’re a diehard, then you know by now that stock car racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway doesn’t always produce the most compelling on-track action.

Even so, it’s still Indy, and that means the Brickyard 400 is a race that everyone wants to win.

As former Cup driver and current NBCSN racing analyst Kyle Petty once said of Indy: “Stock cars, IndyCars, school buses – and that would be a heck of a place for a school bus race – no matter what they run there, it’s going to be big.”

And with five Chase Grid spots still up for grabs with seven regular season races to go, Sunday’s race is going to be very big indeed.

Courtesy of NASCAR’s public relations and statistics teams, here’s all the notes and numbers to keep in mind for Round 20 of the 2014 Sprint Cup championship…

INDIANAPOLIS-SPECIFIC STATISTICS

Greg Biffle (No. 16 NESN 30th Anniversary Ford)
· Three top fives, six top 10s
· Average finish of 13.2
· Average Running Position of 11.8, fourth-best
· Driver Rating of 94.6, eighth-best
· 58 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most
· 472 Green Flag Passes, 12th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 169.929 mph, seventh-fastest
· 1,027 Laps in the Top 15 (71.3%), seventh-most
· 205 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), 10th-most

Clint Bowyer (No. 15 5-Hour Energy Toyota)
· Two top fives, two top 10s
· Average finish of 13.3
· Average Running Position of 14.8, 10th-best
· Driver Rating of 84.6, 11th-best
· 487 Green Flag Passes, 10th-most
· 727 Laps in the Top 15 (56.8%), 11th-most
· 172 Quality Passes, 12th-most

Kyle Busch (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota)
· Two top fives, seven top 10s
· Average finish of 11.6
· Average Running Position of 12.8, eighth-best
· Driver Rating of 96.5, fifth-best
· 48 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most
· 502 Green Flag Passes, fifth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 170.047 mph, fifth-fastest
· 1,044 Laps in the Top 15 (72.5%), fifth-most
· 265 Quality Passes, fourth-most

Carl Edwards (No. 99 Fastenal Ford)
· One top five, three top 10s
· Average finish of 13.2
· Driver Rating of 84.4, 12th-best
· 44 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most
· 519 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most
· 721 Laps in the Top 15 (50.1%), 12th-most
· 234 Quality Passes, sixth-most

Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet)
· Four wins, 11 top fives, 16 top 10s; three poles
· Average finish of 8.8
· Average Running Position of 11.5, third-best
· Driver Rating of 102.0, third-best
· 105 Fastest Laps Run, third-most
· 497 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 170.505 mph, second-fastest
· Series-high 1,105 Laps in the Top 15 (76.7%)
· 284 Quality Passes, second-most

Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota)
· One top five, three top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 16.9
· Driver Rating of 88.3, 10th-best
· 41 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 170.004 mph, sixth-fastest
· 738 Laps in the Top 15 (57.7%), 10th-most
· 190 Quality Passes, 11th-most

Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet)
· One win, four top fives, seven top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 10.9
· Average Running Position of 14.4, ninth-best
· Driver Rating of 90.2, ninth-best
· 904 Laps in the Top 15 (62.8%), eighth-most

Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet)
· Four wins, five top fives, six top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 15.6
· Series-best Average Running Position of 10.8
· Series-best Driver Rating of 109.8
· Series-high 173 Fastest Laps Run
· 1,057 Laps in the Top 15 (73.4%), fourth-most

Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Great Clips/Shark Week Chevrolet)
· Three top fives, five top 10s
· Average finish of 14.2
· Average Running Position of 12.8, seventh-best
· Driver Rating of 96.4, sixth-best
· 78 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most
· 1,085 Laps in the Top 15 (75.3%), third-most
· 271 Quality Passes, third-most

Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota)
· Six top fives, eight top 10s
· Average finish of 15.1
· Average Running Position of 12.4, fifth-best
· Driver Rating of 95.8, seventh-best
· 1,100 Laps in the Top 15 (76.4%), second-most
· 247 Quality Passes, fifth-most

Juan Pablo Montoya (No. 12 SKF Ford)
· One top five, two top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 20.3
· Average Running Position of 12.5, sixth-best
· Driver Rating of 96.7, fourth-best
· 106 Fastest Laps Run, second-most

Tony Stewart (No. 14 Mobil 1 Chevrolet)
· Two wins, seven top fives, 11 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 7.9
· Average Running Position of 11.1, second-best
· Driver Rating of 104.1, second-best
· Series-high 571 Green Flag Passes
· 1,037 Laps in the Top 15 (72.0%), sixth-most
· Series-high 292 Quality Passes

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Indianapolis Motor Speedway Track Data
Season Race #: 20 of 36 (07-27-14)
Track Size: 2.5-miles
Banking/Turns 1 & 2: 9 degrees
Banking/Turns 3 & 4: 9 degrees
Banking/Straights: 0 degrees
Frontstretch Length: 3,330 feet
Backstretch Length: 3,300 feet
Race Length: 160 laps / 400 miles

Top 10 Driver Ratings at Indianapolis
Jimmie Johnson…………………… 109.8
Tony Stewart……………………….. 104.1
Jeff Gordon………………………… 102.0
Juan Pablo Montoya………………. 96.7
Kyle Busch…………………………… 96.5
Kasey Kahne………………………… 96.4
Matt Kenseth………………………… 95.8
Greg Biffle……………………………. 94.6
Kevin Harvick………………………… 90.2
Denny Hamlin……………………….. 88.3
Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2013 races (nine total) among active drivers at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Qualifying/Race Data
2013 pole winner: Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 187.531 mph, 47.992 secs., 07-26-13
2013 race winner: Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 153.485 mph, (02:36:22), 07-28-13
Track qualifying record: Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 187.531 mph, 47.992 secs., 07-26-13
Track race record: Bobby Labonte, Pontiac, 155.912 mph, (02:33:56), 08-05-00

Indianapolis Motor Speedway History
· Indianapolis Motor Speedway has existed since 1909, and is the original “Speedway,” the first racing facility to incorporate the word into its name.
· With a permanent seating capacity for more than 250,000-plus people and infield seating that raises capacity to an approximate 400,000, it is the largest and highest-capacity sporting facility in history.
· The first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was August 6, 1994 – won by Jeff Gordon.
Notebook
· There have been 20 NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway; one per year from 1994 through 2012.
· 132 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway; 104 in more than one.
· Four drivers have competed in all 20 races at Indianapolis: Jeff Burton, Jeff Gordon, Bobby Labonte and Mark Martin.
· Rick Mast won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Indianapolis in 1994 with a speed of 172.414 mph.
· 17 drivers have Coors Light poles at Indianapolis, led by Jeff Gordon with three.
· Two drivers have won consecutive Coors Light poles at Indianapolis: Jeff Gordon (1995 and 1996) and Ernie Irvan (1997 and 1998).
· Youngest Indianapolis Coors Light pole winner: Reed Sorenson (07/29/2007 – 21 years, 5 months, 24 days).
· Oldest Indianapolis Coors Light pole winner: Mark Martin (07/26/2009 – 50 years, 6 months, 17 days).
· 12 different drivers have won at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, led by Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson with four each.
· Jimmie Johnson is the only driver to have posted consecutive wins at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (2008 and 2009).
· Youngest Indianapolis winner: Jeff Gordon (08/06/1994 – 23 years, 0 months, 2 days).
· Oldest Indianapolis winner: Bill Elliott (08/04/2002 – 50 years, 8 months, 11 days).
· Hendrick Motorsports leads the series in wins at Indianapolis in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with eight; followed by Richard Childress Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing with three each.
· Four different manufacturers have won at Indianapolis; led by Chevrolet with 15 victories; followed by Ford with three, Dodge and Pontiac each have one.
· Chevrolet has won the last 11 consecutive NSCS races at Indianapolis.
· 15 of the 20 winners were either past, future or reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions.
· Eight race Brickyard winners went on to win that season’s NASCAR Sprint Cup championship.
· Only three of the 20 (15%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Indianapolis have been won from the Coors Light pole: Kevin Harvick (2003), Jimmie Johnson (2008) and Ryan Newman (2013).
· The pole and third starting positions are the most proficient starting positions in the field, each producing three winners – more than any other starting positions at Indianapolis.
· Four of the 20 (20%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Indianapolis have been won from the front row: three from the pole and once from second-place.
· 12 of the 20 (60%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Indianapolis have been won from a top-10 starting position.
· Three of the 20 (15%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Indianapolis have been won from a starting position outside the top 20.
· The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Indianapolis was 27th, by Jeff Gordon in 2001.
· NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace leads the series in runner-up finishes at Indianapolis with three; followed Bobby Labonte, Mark Martin and Matt Kenseth with two each.
· Jeff Gordon leads the series in top-five finishes at Indianapolis with 11; followed by Tony Stewart with seven.
· Jeff Gordon leads the series in top-10 finishes at Indianapolis with 15; followed by Tony Stewart and Mark Martin with 11 each.
· Juan Pablo Montoya leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Indianapolis with a 6.429.
· Tony Stewart leads in average finishing position at Indianapolis with an 7.933.
· Six of the seven active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race winners at Indianapolis Motor Speedway participated in at least one or more races before visiting Victory Lane. Jeff Gordon won the Brickyard 400 in his first start at Indianapolis.
· Ryan Newman competed at Indianapolis Motor Speedway 12 times before winning in 2013; the longest span of any the seven active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners.
· Joe Nemechek leads the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Indianapolis without visiting Victory Lane at 18.
· Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory (MOV) in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was the August 3, 1997 race won by Ricky Rudd over Bobby Labonte with a MOV of 0.183 second.
· Only one of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races have resulted with a green-white-checkered finish at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Scheduled No. of Laps/Actual No. of Laps): 2004 (160/161).
· None of the 20 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway have been shortened due to weather conditions.
· Qualifying has not been cancelled due to weather conditions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
· Reed Sorenson (07/29/07) is the only driver to post his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light pole at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
· Paul Menard (07/31/11) is the only driver to have posted his first career series win at Indianapolis.
· Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers in laps led at Indianapolis with 488 laps led in 20 starts.
· Danica Patrick became the first female driver to compete in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2013; she started 33rd and finished 30th.
· Shawna Robinson (08/05/01) is the only other female driver to attempt to compete in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Indianapolis, but she failed to qualify for the event.

NASCAR in Indiana
· There have been 22 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races among three tracks in Indiana: 20 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, one at Funks Speedway (Winchester), and one at Playland Park Speedway (South Bend).
· 79 drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as Indiana. Eight of 79 have posted a win in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
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Ricky Brabec wins 2017 Sonora Rally (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

Ricky Brabec wins Sonora Rally. Photo: Sonora Rally
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Honda rider Ricky Brabec, who won a stage at this year’s Dakar Rally, has captured the victory in last week’s Sonora Rally, held March 21-24 in Sonora, Mexico.

He led all four of the special stages in a start-to-finish romp for victory.

Despite Joan Barreda and Steve Hengeveld’s injuries that ruled them out of the rally, Brabec still had to focus on the job at hand.

“You are really racing against yourself out here, against the terrain,” he said in a release.  “I’m much more familiar now with open up a course than I was back in January at Dakar when I had to do it for the first time.”

Fellow Honda riders Mark Samuels and Andrew Short completed the podium. Samuels won the Sonora Rally’s Dakar Challenge, which presents a free opportunity for a rider to enter the 2018 Dakar Rally.

“The hard work of getting to Dakar is still ahead of me, but I will do everything in my power to make America proud,” Samuels said.

Polaris ATR rider Dave Sykes won the UTV class, with Eric Pucelik and Mike Shirley winning the Cars class.

On background, the Sonora Rally is the only event of its kind in North America. The rally raid format requires street legal vehicles to transit along untimed “liaison” sections and timed “special stages” over multiple days, with the lowest combined time winning the event. Now in its third year, the Sonora Rally realizes the vision of founders Scott Whitney and Darren Skilton to bring a world class rally raid event to these shores (2016 recap).

Brabec’s winning ride is captured in the below video, via Race-Dezert.

Meanwhile, because photos do this event more justice than words do, those are below (All Photos: Sonora Rally)

Webber: Alonso may not see out the season with McLaren

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Mark Webber never had the easiest time in Formula 1, particularly his latter years as the number two driver at Red Bull Racing to Sebastian Vettel.

That being said, he was never on the verge of leaving it directly until he announced his plans to move to Porsche’s LMP1 Team, where he raced for three years from 2014 to 2016 before retiring at the end of last season.

But the Australian pondered whether Fernando Alonso might not be able to see out the season with McLaren Honda, if the team and manufacturer’s woes continue.

“Alonso may not stay with the team,” Webber told Belgian outlet Sporza. “Maybe Stoffel (Vandoorne) soon will have a new teammate.”

“I could see it happen that Alonso does not drive out the season. He is very frustrated. Fernando doesn’t start for a sixth or seventh place; he wants to fight for the podium.”

Webber added that for Vandoorne’s sake, starting in a team with lower expectations might not be the worst thing for him. It may allow the Belgian rookie to learn without extra pressure, since the onus is focused on the team.

For Alonso though, time is of the essence for what’s left of his career in F1. This is his last season under contract with McLaren Honda and he made no secret of his frustration for how well he drove at Melbourne, yet the car wasn’t up for it.

“Well the race was good, one of my best races driving like that,” Alonso told NBCSN post-race. “The car’s uncompetitive and to be close for a point was a nice surprise. It was good fuel saving as well. I was surprised to keep it in the points. A suspension (issue) stopped us from getting this point.

“I feel very well prepared, driving at the best of my career, and I’m fighting for one point. That’s disappointing and frustrating. But so long as I’m driving at my best, it’s a problem for the team… not me.”

Rosberg, Button soak up their first weekends out of F1 (PHOTOS)

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Since 2008, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel have won seven World Championships. The two drivers that won titles in that period not named Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel – Nico Rosberg (2016) and Jenson Button (2009) – were both enjoying their first weekends not on a Formula 1 grid as full-time drivers for the first time in more than a decade this weekend as the 2017 season commenced at Melbourne’s Albert Park.

Rosberg made a visit to preseason testing in Barcelona a few weeks ago for his first appearance as spectator since winning the World Championship. But he watched from home this weekend with his family and posted a few thoughts during both qualifying and the race:

We’re now quite familiar with Rosberg’s home TV set and coffee table. This is the first time Rosberg has been out of an F1 race since 2005, the year he won the first GP2 championship.

Button meanwhile paid a visit to California for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series weekend at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana… once he got off his couch. He checked in with seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson at Fontana.

Do you guys know if there's anything good to watch on tele this weekend? @storm_and_rogue_pomskies

A post shared by Jenson Button (@jensonbutton_22) on

Given McLaren Honda’s struggles, Button is probably smart to have got out when he did. He’d been on the grid since 2000, save for a couple races out in 2005 when BAR-Honda was barred from competing after being disqualified from the San Marino Grand Prix.

Meanwhile for Rosberg, he watched as Mercedes was unable to win the season opener for the first time since 2013.

DJR Team Penske wins three of four Supercars races at Melbourne

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DJR Team Penske has won its first Virgin Australia Supercars Championship races over the weekend during the Australian Grand Prix, with Scott McLaughlin and Fabian Coulthard taking the first three wins in the four-race, non-championship race weekend.

While Penske’s teams have long succeeded in North America and have had some international success, notably a Formula 1 win at the 1976 Austrian Grand Prix with John Watson, success has thus far eluded them since arriving in Supercars two years ago as majority shareholders of Dick Johnson Racing.

McLaughlin had the honor of beating Coulthard to the first win in race one of the weekend, before Coulthard doubled up with wins in races two and three. The first two races were one-two finishes, though, and McLaughlin said he’d received a text from Roger Penske in the wake of the victory.

“I got a text from Roger straight away and they’re all pretty happy,” McLaughlin told Supercars.com.

“They’re thanking me but I should be thanking them for giving me the opportunity.”

The first race was marred by this incident between Nick Percat and Lee Holdsworth, Percat having lost his brakes entering Turn 1 and crashing into Holdsworth, who was an innocent bystander.

But once the race resumed, McLaughlin held off Coulthard for the victory.

Coulthard led from start-to-finish in race two after his second straight pole position. He did the same in race three, albeit not in a Penske 1-2 as Jamie Whincup came second for Red Bull Holden Racing Team Commodore. McLaughlin was third.

A left-front puncture stopped Coulthard making it three in a row in the fourth race, and with steering damage, McLaughlin was resigned to 17th. Chaz Mostert took the win his Supercheap Ford, ending his own winless spell that dated to August of 2015.

Also of note from the weekend, ex-IndyCar driver Simona de Silvestro in her Team Harvey Norman Nissan Altima finished 13th in race one, her best finish yet in her first full season in the series.

The Supercars series is back in action at Symmons Plains Raceway on April 7-9.  Coulthard sits second in the series championship, 51 points back of Whincup’s teammate, Shane van Gisbergen.