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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Toro Rosso extends contract for technical director James Key

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Scuderia Toro Rosso technical director James Key will continue with the team for the foreseeable future, following a contract extension announced on Tuesday.

Key joined the team in 2012 and has seen the Faenza-based squad solidify its role in the upper midfield, with occasional surprise finishes that have pushed the team near the top three or four teams on the grid.

“I am delighted to continue with Toro Rosso and remain part of the Red Bull family,” he said. “This is a team which I have great respect for and have thoroughly enjoyed working with for the past 5 years; now I look forwards to continuing our project into the future.

“STR is unique, facing the challenges of being spread over two countries and fulfilling the roles of both a team in its own right and an important part of the Red Bull driver program: they are challenges that the team takes in its stride and, whilst doing so, continues to grow and improve year on year.

“Most importantly, the people I have had the pleasure to work with at STR are second to none: professional, ambitious and focussed, they have all worked incredibly hard to improve the team’s performance and will continue that hard work with the same dedication and optimism in the coming years too. I would like to thank Franz Tost and Red Bull for their continued support and confidence. We have more work to do, and I look forwards to taking the next steps with Toro Rosso towards our goals.”

Team principal Franz Tost added, Formula 1 is a team sport, but one in which an individual can still make a difference. So far, in his time with us, James has proved that he can indeed make that difference, leading the technical side of the operation.

“Not only has he been adept at producing chassis-aero packages that are well regarded throughout the paddock, he has also shown the management skills necessary to get the most out of all the various departments that work together both here in Faenza and in Bicester. I am therefore delighted that James will be with us for the foreseeable future to continue this fruitful process.”

Teams load up on supersoft tires for Italian GP

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There’s almost no variety in team Pirelli tire selections for the Italian Grand Prix, with nearly all teams going with two sets of softs and 10 sets of supersofts for next week’s race. All teams have selected just one set of mediums.

The only variance comes with Mercedes, Force India and Haas going with three sets of softs and nine supersofts. The rest are all the same choice, two softs and 10 supersofts.

Monza comes a week after Spa this week.

Pirelli’s tire breakdown is below.

Jackie Joyner-Kersee to serve as Gateway grand marshal

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The Verizon IndyCar Series’ return to Gateway Motorsports Park for the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Valvoline will feature quite an excellent grand marshal, in the form of three-time Olympic gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

The full release from the track is below.

An Olympic champion has been selected to give the command to start engines for the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Valvoline comes to Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Illinois on August 26. Jackie Joyner-Kersee, considered to be one of the greatest athletes of all time, will serve as the grand marshal for the Verizon IndyCar Series event.

“I am humble,” said Joyner-Kersee, who is a native of East St. Louis, Illinois. “I do not take this honor for granted to be the INDYCAR race’s grand marshal at Gateway Motorsports Park. Very few people are asked to give the command and I am grateful to be one of the few. Thank you!”

Track-and-field star Joyner-Kersee has won three Olympic gold medals, as well as one silver and two bronze. She was the first American to win gold for the long jump and the first woman to earn more than 7,000 points in the seven-event heptathlon, making her the most decorated female athlete in Olympic track and field history.

As a teen, she won the National Junior Pentathlon championships for consecutive years and received widespread honors in high school in various sports, including track, basketball and volleyball. During her junior year, she set the Illinois high school long jump record for women, with a 6.68-meter jump. Joyner-Kersee attended the University of California, Los Angeles on a full scholarship and continued to gain fame on both the court and field. In 1981, at the age of 19, she began to focus on training for the Olympics, specifically for the heptathlon — an Olympic track-and-field competition comprised of seven separate events, including the 200-meter run, 800-meter run and 100-meter hurdles. She graduated from UCLA in 1985.

Joyner-Kersee won a silver medal in the heptathlon at the 1984 Summer Olympics, as well as gold and bronze medals in the long jump in 1988 and 1992, respectively, and is currently the heptathlon world record-holder.
Following her retirement from competition, she founded the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Youth Center Foundation. The mission of the foundation is to instill youth in the a Greater East St. Louis area with the dream, drive and determination necessary to succeed in academics, athletics and leadership. “Winners In Life.”

Chuck Wallis, Vice President of the Bommarito Automotive Group, will serve as honorary starter and will wave the opening green flag.

Kimi Raikkonen confirmed at Ferrari for 2018 F1 season

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Scuderia Ferrari has confirmed that Kimi Raikkonen will remain with the team for the 2018 Formula 1 season after being given a new one-year contract.

Raikkonen, 37, has raced with Ferrari since 2014, and has been on a one-year rolling contract since the end of 2015.

The Finn has been a regular focus for the F1 driver market’s ‘silly season’ given his age and struggle for form compared to teammate Sebastian Vettel, who currently leads the drivers’ championship.

Raikkonen has scored 86 less points than Vettel through the opening 11 races of the 2017 season, but has nevertheless done enough to secure a new contract, confirmed by Ferrari on Tuesday.

“Ferrari announces that Scuderia Ferrari has renewed its technical and racing agreement with Kimi Raikkonen,” a brief statement from Ferrari reads.

“The Finnish driver will therefore race for the Maranello team in the 2018 Formula One World Championship.”

Raikkonen is the first of the big-name free agents to have his plans for 2018 confirmed, with Vettel, ex-Ferrari racer Fernando Alonso and Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas yet to announce a drive for next year.

Raikkonen first joined Ferrari in 2007, winning the F1 drivers’ championship in his first season, but left at the end of 2009 to take some time out from the sport.

A return in 2012 with Lotus saw Raikkonen display plenty of his old spark, taking two wins for the financially-hamstrung team before leaving at the end of 2013 over a pay row.

Raikkonen moved back to Ferrari for 2014 alongside Fernando Alonso, with Vettel arriving the following year.

Questions over Raikkonen’s motivation and ability have been rife for some time, but without any outstanding candidates for a seat available as things stand, the news is not overly surprising.

Nevertheless, it does defuse some of the silliness of ‘silly season’, with Vettel’s confirmation at Ferrari seemingly set to follow.