Everything you need to know about the 2014 Chasers at Talladega

Leave a comment

There’s always a heightened sense of anticipation whenever NASCAR visits Talladega Superspeedway.

But that sense is even sharper this time around as it hosts the finale of the Contender Round in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Coming off a dramatic middle race in Charlotte, the tension will increase even more as those on the bubble battle one last time to make the Top 8 of the Chase Grid.

Kasey Kahne is only up by one point on Matt Kenseth for the eighth and final Eliminator spot.

And behind Kenseth are three of the sport’s biggest names: Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Their only hope appears to be winning on Sunday in Alabama.

Courtesy of NASCAR’s public relations and statistics teams, here’s everything you need to know for the sixth race of the 2014 postseason, the GEICO 500…

TALLADEGA-SPECIFIC STATISTICS

1 – Joey Logano (No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford)
· Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 107.2
2014 Rundown
· Five wins, 15 top fives, 20 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 11.5
· Led 20 races for 916 laps
Talladega Superspeedway Outlook:
· Two top fives, four top 10s
· Average finish of 20.7 in 11 races
· Average Running Position of 16.5, eighth-best
· Driver Rating of 81.7, 11th-best
· Average Green Flag Speed of 193.205 mph, 10th-fastest

2 – Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M’s Halloween Toyota)
· Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 91.9
2014 Rundown
· One win, eight top fives, 14 top 10s; three poles
· Average finish of 16.3
· Led 15 races for 453 laps
Talladega Superspeedway Outlook:
· One win, four top fives, five top 10s
· Average finish of 21.4 in 19 races
· Average Running Position of 18.8, 19th-best
· Driver Rating of 81.1, 13th-best
· 88 Fastest Laps Run, third-most
· 6,094 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most
· 1,782 Laps in the Top 15 (49.3%), sixth-most
· 3,705 Quality Passes, sixth-most

3 – Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet)
· Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 110.2
2014 Rundown
· Three wins, 11 top fives, 16 top 10s; eight poles
· Average finish of 13.5
· Led 23 races for 1,815 laps
Talladega Superspeedway Outlook:
· One win, six top fives, 11 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 15.9 in 27 races
· Average Running Position of 18.9, 21st-best
· Driver Rating of 78.0, 21st-best
· 80 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most
· 6,423 Green Flag Passes, fifth-most
· 1,594 Laps in the Top 15 (44.1%), 10th-most
· 3,382 Quality Passes, ninth-most

4 – Ryan Newman (No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet)
· Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 85.9
2014 Rundown
· Two top fives, 13 top 10s
· Average finish of 13.5
· Led 6 races for 31 laps
Talladega Superspeedway Outlook:
· Four top fives, nine top 10s
· Average finish of 21.5 in 25 races
· Average Running Position of 22.2, 34th-best
· Driver Rating of 69.1, 30th-best

5 – Carl Edwards (No. 99 Subway Ford)
· Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 82.8
2014 Rundown
· Two wins, seven top fives, 13 top 10s
· Average finish of 14.3
· Led 11 races for 135 laps
Talladega Superspeedway Outlook:
· Two top fives, five top 10s
· Average finish of 21.1 in 20 races
· Average Running Position of 23.7, 40th-best
· Driver Rating of 67.3, 32nd-best
· 77 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most

6 – Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet)
· Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 110.3
2014 Rundown
· Four wins, 12 top fives, 20 top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 9.8
· Led 22 races for 740 laps
Talladega Superspeedway Outlook:
· Six wins, 15 top fives, 19 top 10s; three poles
· Average finish of 16.7 in 43 races
· Average Running Position of 18.9, 20th-best
· Driver Rating of 80.6, 15th-best
· 1,644 Laps in the Top 15 (45.5%), ninth-most

7 – Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx One Rate/Deliverminator Toyota)
· Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 90.9
2014 Rundown
· One win, six top fives, 14 top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 15.0
· Led 13 races for 217 laps
Talladega Superspeedway Outlook:
· One win, four top fives, six top 10s
· Average finish of 19.1 in 17 races
· Average Running Position of 17.7, 12th-best
· Driver Rating of 83.1, ninth-best
· 70 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-most
· 5,604 Green Flag Passes, 12th-most
· 1,543 Laps in the Top 15 (47.8%), 11th-most
· 3,443 Quality Passes, eighth-most

8 – Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet)
· Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 88.6
2014 Rundown
· One win, three top fives, 11 top 10s
· Average finish of 16.5
· Led 11 races for 206 laps
Talladega Superspeedway Outlook:
· Three top fives, five top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 21.5 in 21 races
· Average Running Position of 21.7, 32nd-best
· Driver Rating of 70.0, 29th-best
· 5,877 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most
· 3,170 Quality Passes, 12th-most

9 – Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Home Depot Husky Toyota)
· Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 92.2
2014 Rundown
· 11 top fives, 18 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 13.9
· Led 17 races for 467 laps
Talladega Superspeedway Outlook:
· One win, five top fives, nine top 10s
· Average finish of 18.3 in 29 races
· Series-best Average Running Position of 14.0
· Driver Rating of 90.9, second-best
· 6,129 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most
· Series-high 2,361 Laps in the Top 15 (65.4%)
· 4,531 Quality Passes, third-most

10 – Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Wicked Apple Ale Ford)
· Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 103.9
2014 Rundown
· Five wins, 13 top fives, 16 top 10s; five poles
· Average finish of 13.3
· Led 25 races for 1,506 laps
Talladega Superspeedway Outlook:
· Two wins, three top fives, six top 10s
· Average finish of 16.4 in 11 races
· Average Running Position of 20.1, 24th-best
· Driver Rating of 79.7, 17th-best

11 – Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet)
· Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 98.6
2014 Rundown
· Three wins, 10 top fives, 18 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 14.4
· Led 15 races for 1,035 laps
Talladega Superspeedway Outlook:
· Two wins, six top fives, 10 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 17.2 in 25 races
· Average Running Position of 16.6, ninth-best
· Driver Rating of 85.9, seventh-best
· 1,881 Laps in the Top 15 (52.1%), fifth-most
· 3,768 Quality Passes, fifth-most

12 – Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet)
· Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 96.6
2014 Rundown
· Three wins, 11 top fives, 17 top 10s
· Average finish of 12.2
· Led 14 races for 269 laps
Talladega Superspeedway Outlook:
· Five wins, 10 top fives, 14 top 10s
· Average finish of 15.0 in 29 races
· Average Running Position of 14.8, third-best
· Driver Rating of 90.3, third-best
· 78 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most
· 6,487 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 193.225 mph, ninth-fastest
· 2,155 Laps in the Top 15 (59.7%), third-most
· 4,160 Quality Passes, fourth-most

13 – AJ Allmendinger (No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet)
· Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 70.8
2014 Rundown
· One win, two top fives, four top 10s
· Average finish of 20.1
· Led 5 races for 68 laps
Talladega Superspeedway Outlook:
· One top five, one top 10
· Average finish of 23.4 in nine races
· Average Running Position of 24.1, 44th-best
· Driver Rating of 61.5, 42nd-best

14 – Greg Biffle (No. 16 3M Ford)
· Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 79.0
2014 Rundown
· Three top fives, 10 top 10s
· Average finish of 15.8
· Led 6 races for 109 laps
Talladega Superspeedway Outlook:
· Three top fives, six top 10s
· Average finish of 18.7 in 23 races
· Average Running Position of 20.3, 25th-best
· Driver Rating of 76.8, 22nd-best
· 74 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most

15 – Kurt Busch (No. 41 HAAS Automation Chevrolet)
· Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 85.7
2014 Rundown
· One win, six top fives, eight top 10s
· Average finish of 19.8
· Led 12 races for 183 laps
Talladega Superspeedway Outlook:
· Six top fives, 13 top 10s
· Average finish of 17.3 in 27 races
· Average Running Position of 14.9, fourth-best
· Driver Rating of 87.1, fifth-best
· 7,181 Green Flag Passes, second-most
· 2,262 Laps in the Top 15 (62.6%), second-most
· Series-high 4,905 Quality Passes

16 – Aric Almirola (No. 43 Smithfield Ford)
· Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 72.9
2014 Rundown
· One win, two top fives, seven top 10s
· Average finish of 21.0
· Led 5 races for 23 laps
Talladega Superspeedway Outlook:
· One top 10
· Average finish of 19.1 in nine races
· Average Running Position of 18.6, 17th-best
· Driver Rating of 81.7, 12th-best

source:

source:

Track Data
Race 32 of 36
2.66-mile oval
33 degrees of banking, turns
16.5 degrees of banking, frontstretch
2 degrees of banking, backstretch
Frontstretch length – 4,300 feet
Backstretch length – 4,000 feet
Race length – 188 laps, 500 miles

Top 10 Driver Ratings at Talladega
1. Kyle Larson, 94.8
2. Matt Kenseth, 90.0
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr., 90.3
4. Jeff Burton, 89.1
5. Kurt Busch, 87.1
6. Brian Vickers, 86.9
7. Jimmie Johnson, 85.9
8. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 85.0
9. Denny Hamlin, 83.1
10. David Ragan, 82.1
*Driver ratings compiled from 2005-2014 races among active drivers at Talladega Superspeedway.

Qualifying/Race Data
2013 pole winner: None (inclement weather)
2013 race winner: Jamie McMurray, 178.795 mph (2 hours, 47 minutes, 49 seconds), 10.20.2013
Track qualifying record: Bill Elliott, 212.809 mph, 44.998 seconds, 04.30.1987
Track race record: Mark Martin, 188.354 mph, (2 hours, 39 minutes, 18 seconds), 05.10.1997

Talladega History

· Construction began on what was then known as the Alabama International Motor Speedway on May 23, 1968.

· The first NASCAR Sprint Cup race was held on Sept. 14, 1969 – won by Richard Brickhouse.

· The name changed to Talladega Superspeedway in 1989.

· Fourth repaving completed on Sept. 19, 2006.

Talladega Notebook

· There have been 90 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Talladega Superspeedway, one NSCS event in 1969 and two races per year since 1970.

· Talladega Superspeedway is tied with Michigan International Speedway for holding the ninth most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points paying races (90).

· 438 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega; 299 in more than one.

· Dave Marcis leads the series in starts at Talladega with 61. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 43 starts; followed by Joe Nemechek with 38.

· Bobby Isaac won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Talladega in 1969 with a speed of 199.466 mph. Isaac won the first three poles at the 2.66-mile superspeedway.

· 37 drivers have Coors Light poles at Talladega, led by Bill Elliott with eight. Joe Nemechek leads all active drivers with four; followed by Jeff Gordon with three.

· 10 drivers have won consecutive Coors Light poles at Talladega. Bill Elliott holds the record for most consecutive poles at Talladega with six (1985 – 1987).

· Youngest Talladega pole winner: Brian Scott (05/04/2014 – 26 years, 3 months, 22 days).

· Oldest Talladega pole winner: Mark Martin (10/23/2011 – 52 years, 9 months, 14 days).

· 44 different drivers have won at Talladega Superspeedway, led by Dale Earnhardt with 10. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with six.

· Richard Childress Racing has the most wins at Talladega in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with 12; followed by Hendrick Motorsports with 11.

· Nine different manufacturers have won in the NSCS at Talladega; led by Chevrolet with 39 victories; followed by Ford with 20 and Toyota with three.

· 13 of the 90 (14.4%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Talladega have been won from the Coors Light pole. Jeff Gordon (2007) is the only active driver to be able to accomplish the feat.

· The outside front row (second-place) starting position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (20) than any other starting position at Talladega.

· 33 of the 90 (36.6%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Talladega have been won from the front row: 13 from the pole and 20 from second-place.

· 62 of the 90 (68.8%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Talladega have been won from a top-10 starting position.

· 8 of the 90 (8.8%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Talladega have been won from a starting position outside the top 20.

· The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Talladega was 36th, by Jeff Gordon in the spring of 2000.

· Youngest Talladega winner: Bobby Hillin Jr. (07/27/1986 – 22 years, 1 month, 22 days).

· Oldest Talladega winner: Harry Gant (05/06/1991 – 51 years, 3 months, 26 days).

· Buddy Baker and Tony Stewart are tied for the series’ most runner-up finishes at Talladega with six each.

· NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt leads the series in top-five finishes at Talladega with 23. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 15.

· Dale Earnhardt leads the series in top-10 finishes at Talladega with 27. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 19.

· Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Talladega with a 10.520.

· Dale Earnhardt Jr. leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average finishing position at Talladega with a 15.000.

· There have been seven NSCS races resulting with a green-white-checkered finish at Talladega Superspeedway: spring of 2005 (188/194), fall of 2005 (188/190), spring of 2007 (188/192), fall of 2008 (188/190) spring of 2010 (188/200), fall of 2012 (188/189) and spring of 2013 (188/192).

· Only two of the 90 races at Talladega Superspeedway have been shortened due to weather conditions: spring of 1987 and fall of 1996.

· Qualifying has been cancelled due to weather conditions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Talladega Superspeedway five times; most recently fall of 2013.

· Jamie McMurray (10/06/2002) made his series debut at Talladega Superspeedway.

· Brian Scott (05/04/2014), David Gilliland (10/08/2006) and Travis Kvapil (10/05/2008) posted their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light poles at Talladega.

· 2012 series champion Brad Keselowski (04/26/2009) and Brian Vickers (10/08/2006) posted their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins at Talladega.

· Nine drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series have posted consecutive wins at Talladega; Dale Earnhardt Jr. leads the series in consecutive wins at Talladega after posting four straight from the fall of 2001 – 2003.

· Brad Keselowski is the only active series driver to win at Talladega in his first appearance.

· Matt Kenseth competed at Talladega Superspeedway 25 times before winning the fall of 2012; the longest span of any the 12 active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners.

· Matt Kenseth (25), Tony Stewart (19), Kevin Harvick (18), and David Ragan (12) all made 10 or more attempts before their first win at Talladega.

· Joe Nemechek leads the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Talladega without visiting Victory Lane at 38; followed by Kurt Busch with 27.

· Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Talladega Superspeedway was the (04/17/2011) race won by Jimmie Johnson with a MOV of 0.002 second – the MOV is tied with the 2003 Darlington race as the closest finishes in the NSCS using electronic scoring.

· Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in laps led at Talladega with 844 laps led in 43 starts.

· Three female drivers have competed at Talladega in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Janet Guthrie, Patty Moise and Danica Patrick.

source:

NASCAR in Alabama

· There have been 109 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races among seven different tracks in Alabama.

source:

· 70 drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as Alabama.

· Nine drivers from Alabama have won at least one race in NASCAR’s three national series; five have won in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

source:

Behind the scenes of how the biggest story in racing was kept a secret

Leave a comment

In a world where nobody is able to keep a secret, especially in auto racing, legendary business leader and race team owner Roger Penske and INDYCAR CEO Mark Miles were able to keep the biggest story of the year a secret.

That was Monday morning’s stunning announcement that after 74 years of leadership and ownership of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Hulman George Family was selling the track, the Indianapolis 500 and INDYCAR to Penske.

In an exclusive interview with NBC Sports.com on Thursday, Miles revealed the extreme lengths both sides went to so that nobody found out about this deal ahead of time. That included meeting with Penske at his Detroit offices early on Saturday mornings and late on Sunday nights.

The most important way of keeping it confidential was containing the number of people who were involved.

“We thought it was important to keep it quiet until we were ready to announce it,” Miles told NBC Sports.com. “The reason for that is No. 1, we wanted employees and other stakeholders to hear it from us and not through the distorting rumor mill.

“That was the motivation.

“We just didn’t involve many people. For most of the time, there were four people from Roger’s group in Michigan and four people from here (IMS/INDYCAR) involved and nobody else. There were just four of us. We all knew that none of the eight were going to talk to anybody about it until very late.”

Even key members of both staffs were kept out of the loop, notably Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Doug Boles, who admitted earlier this week he was not told of the impending sale until Saturday when he was at Texas Motor Speedway for the NASCAR race.

Both Penske and Miles realize the way a deal or a secret slips out is often from people far outside of the discussions who have to get called in to work to help set up an announcement.

Miles had a plan for that scenario, too.

“On Saturday, we had to set up a stream for Monday’s announcement,” Miles said. “We came up with an internal cover story so if anybody saw what was going on, there was a cover story for what that was, and it wasn’t that announcement.

“The key thing was we kept it at only those that needed to know.”

It wasn’t until very late Sunday night and very early Monday morning that key stakeholders in INDYCAR were informed. Team owner Bobby Rahal got a call at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Racing legend Mario Andretti was also informed very early on Monday.

At 8 a.m. that day came the official word from Hulman & Company, which owns the Indianapolis 500, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and INDYCAR as well as a few other businesses, that Penske was buying the racing properties of the company. It was an advisory that a media conference was scheduled for 11 a.m. at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

It was a masterful move by both Penske and Miles.

Penske is already famous for keeping one of greatest secrets in racing history in 1993 and 1994. That is when his famed racing team along with Ilmor Engineering created “The Beast” – a 209 cubic-inch, pushrod engine that was designed, developed and tested in total secrecy. A small, select group of Team Penske mechanics were involved in the top-secret project and were told by Penske that if word of the engine leaked out, “it would be like cutting your paycheck.”

Nobody talked.

History repeated itself with the biggest racing story of the 21st Century, the sale of the world’s most famous race course that hosts the largest single-day sporting event in the world – the annual Indianapolis 500.

When INDYCAR held its “Victory Lap” award ceremony on Sept. 26 in Indianapolis, Miles told the crowd of an impending announcement that would be big news for the sport.

Was he coming close to giving away Monday’s announcement?

“No, that was about a sponsor announcement that will be coming along later,” Miles said on Thursday night.

Penske is one of America’s greatest and most successful business leaders. He is also the most successful team owner in auto racing history with 545 wins in all forms of racing including a record 18 Indianapolis 500 wins, a record 16 NTT IndyCar Series championships as well as two Daytona 500 wins and two NASCAR Monster Energy Cup championships just to name a few.

Penske was not the only bidder, but he was the one who made the most sense to the Hulman George Family, because it was important to find an owner who believed in “stewardship” of the greatest racing tradition on Earth more so than “ownership” of an auto racing facility and series.

“There were a number of parties that were engaged in thinking about this with us,” Miles revealed to NBC Sports.com. “There were a couple that got as far as what I call the ‘Red Zone.’

“Then, Tony George reached out to Roger Penske on Sept. 22.

“Price and value were always important, but the thing that nobody could match was the attributes that Roger could bring to the table, in terms of his history of the sport, his knowledge of the sport, combined with his business sense.

“He was viewed as the leader from a legacy or stewardship perspective, which was a very important factor.”

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500 

McLaren IndyCar boss breaks down team’s first test since missing Indy 500

Arrow McLaren Racing SP Photo
Leave a comment

McLaren Sporting Director Gil De Ferran left Sebring International Raceway last Tuesday with a much happier outlook than when he left the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 19.

That was when McLaren and famed two-time Formula One World Champion Fernando Alonso arrived at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway ill-prepared. They failed to make the 33-car starting lineup for the 103rd Indianapolis 500.

That day in May, De Ferran vowed that McLaren would return.

Last Tuesday, what is now known as Arrow McLaren Racing SP after purchasing into Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, De Ferran was back to evaluate the team’s NTT IndyCar Series effort.

Instead of Alonso in the cockpit, it was the team’s recently named full-time drivers for 2020 at the test. That included 20-year-old Pato O’Ward of Monterrey, Mexico, the 2018 Indy Lights champion and 22-year-old Oliver Askew of Jupiter, Florida, the 2019 Indy Lights champion.

O’Ward was in the car for the test with Askew watching from the pit area.

“Pato did a great job, did not put a foot wrong, got on to it straight away and it was all good,” De Ferran told NBC Sports.com. “It was a positive day on all fronts. To work together, to build the team together and embark on this team together was very positive.”

De Ferran is a two-time CART champion with titles in 2000 and 2001 when he was with Team Penske. He also won the 2003 Indianapolis 500 for Team Penske before retiring as a driver at the end of that season.

Since then, he has been involved in numerous Formula One, IndyCar and Sports Car efforts. As McLaren’s Sporting Director, De Ferran is involved in both Formula One and IndyCar.

Arrow McLaren Racing SP also includes partners Sam Schmidt and Ric Peterson. Arrow also has a financial stake in the team in addition to serving as sponsor.

The chance to work with two young drivers is something that has De Ferran excited.

“They are both very young, but they have been around for a while,” De Ferran said. “It’s not like these guys are completely clueless about racing. They have been racing ever since they were kids. Generally speaking, as a trend in motorsports, they start much younger than I did. They move to cars at a younger age and tend to reach this level of the sport at a younger age then when I was coming up.

“Although they don’t have a lot of experience in IndyCar, several members of the team can help in their development. These guys are very accomplished and top-level guys. They have won a lot of races and championships before getting the nod from our team.”

Last week’s test was part of INDYCAR’s evaluation of the new aeroscreen that will be on all cars beginning in 2020. Arrow McLaren Racing SP is a Chevrolet team. Honda team Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser and Sullivan also participated in the test with four-time Champ Car Series champion Sebastien Bourdais as the driver.

This was the only test that Arrow McLaren Racing SP will conduct in 2019. Testing time is severely limited De Ferran said it won’t be back on track until the 2020 regulations take effect.

Arrow McLaren Racing SP has already experienced some controversy after the team said several weeks ago that popular driver James Hinchcliffe would not be driving for the team. He remains on the payroll and is expected to be at the track in a public relations capacity.

That has angered many IndyCar fans who are huge fans of the popular Canadian driver.

“I have nothing more to add to this than what was said at the time,” De Ferran told NBC Sports.com. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s head-down. We have to go racing. We are on a journey here together with this partnership and two young drivers that are very accomplished and have a lot of talent. Our job is to deliver the results on the track.

“That is where my focus is. I’m completely focused on improving every aspect of everything that we do trackside.

“One thing I guarantee you, whatever we start, to have that focus to improve everything that we do we will continue to move forward. It was like that when I was driving, and it was like that throughout my professional career away from the cockpit. We will keep looking for opportunities to improve.

“Eventually, good things will happen.”

It was just Day One on the track, but after seeing this team struggle at last year’s Indianapolis 500, McLaren took its first step in returning as a full-time NTT IndyCar Series team.

“This is the beginning of a journey that we embarked on several months ago now and you do a lot in the background,” De Ferran said. “The guys from SPM and us have put a lot into this partnership. Behind the scenes, we have been working hard together.

“We’re all racers, man. We want to see cars on track. This has been like a little check off the box and it feels good that we were on track.

“We have a long journey ahead, but it’s good to be working together, at the race track, how the car is handling, the engine is working and how the drivers do.

“First day on the track for Arrow McLaren Racing SP. It’s a good day.”

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500