Everything you need to know about the 2014 Chasers at Texas

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From a non-Chase competitor winning to two of the Chasers suffering major problems, the Eliminator Round opener at Martinsville left a mark on the run to the Sprint Cup Championship Race.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s triumph has now ensured that two of the four Championship combatants will make it in on points. With a fifth Cup title on his mind, Jeff Gordon is leading the Chase Grid. And two winless drivers, Ryan Newman and Matt Kenseth, are currently in position to advance to Homestead with a shot at the big prize.

But with the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway on the horizon, it’s going to take a big effort from somebody to upset the likes of Hendrick Motorsports, Team Penske, and the Hendrick-powered Kevin Harvick – all of whom have been a cut above performance-wise on the big ovals all season long.

Courtesy of NASCAR’s public relations and statistics teams, here’s everything you need to know for Sunday’s AAA Texas 500.

TEXAS-SPECIFIC STATISTICS

1 – Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet)
· Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 109.3
2014 Rundown
· Four wins, 13 top fives, 21 top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 10.1
· Led 24 races for 873 laps
Texas Motor Speedway Outlook:
· One win, nine top fives, 12 top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 17.2 in 27 races
· Average Running Position of 13.9, 10th-best
· Driver Rating of 92.3, ninth-best
· 323 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most
· 4,067 Laps in the Top 15 (63.9%), eighth-most

2 – Ryan Newman (No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet)
· Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 85.4
2014 Rundown
· Four top fives, 15 top 10s
· Average finish of 13.0
· Led 7 races for 41 laps
Texas Motor Speedway Outlook:
· One win, three top fives, five top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 19.1 in 22 races
· Average Running Position of 20.1, 22nd-best
· Driver Rating of 73.1, 21st-best
· 1,479 Green Flag Passes, second-most

3 – Joey Logano (No. 22 AAA Insurance Ford)
· Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 106.9
2014 Rundown
· Five wins, 16 top fives, 21 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 11.3
· Led 21 races for 976 laps
Texas Motor Speedway Outlook:
· One win, four top fives, four top 10s
· Average finish of 18.4 in 12 races
· Average Running Position of 19.3, 20th-best
· Driver Rating of 77.1, 19th-best

4 – Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota)
· Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 91.8
2014 Rundown
· 12 top fives, 20 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 13.3
· Led 19 races for 470 laps
Texas Motor Speedway Outlook:
· Two wins, 13 top fives, 17 top 10s
· Average finish of 8.3 in 24 races
· Series-best Average Running Position of 9.4
· Series-best Driver Rating of 106.1
· 353 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most
· 1,448 Green Flag Passes, fifth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 173.587 mph, second-fastest
· Series-high 5,045 Laps in the Top 15 (79.3%)
· 742 Quality Passes, second-most

5 – Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota)
· Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 90.9
2014 Rundown
· One win, six top fives, 15 top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 14.9
· Led 15 races for 286 laps
Texas Motor Speedway Outlook:
· Two wins, five top fives, nine top 10s
· Average finish of 10.8 in 17 races
· Average Running Position of 12.4, sixth-best
· Driver Rating of 93.8, seventh-best
· 179 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-most
· 1,380 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 173.154 mph, 10th-fastest
· 3,931 Laps in the Top 15 (69.0%), 10th-most
· 742 Quality Passes, second-most

6 – Carl Edwards (No. 99 Aflac Ford)
· Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 81.4
2014 Rundown
· Two wins, seven top fives, 13 top 10s
· Average finish of 14.7
· Led 11 races for 135 laps
Texas Motor Speedway Outlook:
· Three wins, six top fives, eight top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 15.5 in 19 races
· Average Running Position of 12.4, seventh-best
· Driver Rating of 96.9, sixth-best
· 361 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most
· 1,240 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 173.402 mph, fourth-fastest
· 4,573 Laps in the Top 15 (71.9%), fifth-most
· 716 Quality Passes, fifth-most

7 – Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Ford)
· Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 103.4
2014 Rundown
· Six wins, 14 top fives, 17 top 10s; five poles
· Average finish of 13.5
· Led 26 races for 1,518 laps
Texas Motor Speedway Outlook:
· One top five, three top 10s
· Average finish of 19.5 in 12 races
· Average Running Position of 18.1, 18th-best
· Driver Rating of 78.8, 18th-best
· 164 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-most

8 – Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet)
· Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 108.3
2014 Rundown
· Three wins, 11 top fives, 17 top 10s; eight poles
· Average finish of 14.0
· Led 24 races for 1,817 laps
Texas Motor Speedway Outlook:
· Three top fives, 11 top 10s
· Average finish of 13.6 in 23 races
· Average Running Position of 16.0, 15th-best
· Driver Rating of 83.3, 14th-best
· 1,461 Green Flag Passes, third-most
· 3,706 Laps in the Top 15 (58.2%), 12th-most
· 685 Quality Passes, seventh-most

9 – Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M’s Toyota)
· Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 90.2
2014 Rundown
· One win, eight top fives, 14 top 10s; three poles
· Average finish of 16.8
· Led 15 races for 453 laps
Texas Motor Speedway Outlook:
· One win, seven top fives, eight top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 13.4 in 18 races
· Average Running Position of 10.8, third-best
· Driver Rating of 102.2, fourth-best
· 353 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most
· Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 173.610 mph
· 4,448 Laps in the Top 15 (73.8%), sixth-most
· 641 Quality Passes, 10th-most

10 – AJ Allmendinger (No. 47 Clorox Chevrolet)
· Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 70.7
2014 Rundown
· One win, two top fives, five top 10s
· Average finish of 19.9
· Led 5 races for 68 laps
Texas Motor Speedway Outlook:
· Two top 10s
· Average finish of 21.7 in 11 races
· Average Running Position of 22.1, 28th-best
· Driver Rating of 68.5, 25th-best

11 – Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet)
· Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 97.5
2014 Rundown
· Four wins, 12 top fives, 18 top 10s
· Average finish of 12.5
· Led 16 races for 379 laps
Texas Motor Speedway Outlook:
· One win, four top fives, 13 top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 15.0 in 24 races
· Average Running Position of 13.1, ninth-best
· Driver Rating of 90.4, 10th-best
· 216 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most
· 1,346 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 173.243 mph, eighth-fastest
· 4,624 Laps in the Top 15 (72.7%), fourth-most
· 736 Quality Passes, fourth-most

12 – Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Red Vest Chevrolet)
· Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 98.5
2014 Rundown
· Three wins, 10 top fives, 18 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 15.2
· Led 16 races for 1,119 laps
Texas Motor Speedway Outlook:
· Three wins, 10 top fives, 16 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 9.5 in 22 races
· Average Running Position of 11.4, fourth-best
· Driver Rating of 103.6, second-best
· Series-high 522 Fastest Laps Run
· Average Green Flag Speed of 173.393 mph, fifth-fastest
· 4,666 Laps in the Top 15 (73.3%), third-most
· 681 Quality Passes, eighth-most

13 – Greg Biffle (No. 16 Ortho Fire Ant Killer Ford)
· Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 78.7
2014 Rundown
· Three top fives, 10 top 10s
· Average finish of 16.0
· Led 7 races for 110 laps
Texas Motor Speedway Outlook:
· Two wins, eight top fives, 13 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 14.7 in 21 races
· Average Running Position of 12.0, fifth-best
· Driver Rating of 102.2, third-best
· 473 Fastest Laps Run, second-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 173.543 mph, third-fastest
· 4,797 Laps in the Top 15 (75.4%), second-most
· Series-high 784 Quality Passes

14 – Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet)
· Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 88.0
2014 Rundown
· One win, three top fives, 11 top 10s
· Average finish of 17.1
· Led 12 races for 218 laps
Texas Motor Speedway Outlook:
· One win, five top fives, six top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 17.7 in 20 races
· Average Running Position of 14.9, 13th-best
· Driver Rating of 85.4, 13th-best
· 223 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most
· 1,398 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most
· 3,957 Laps in the Top 15 (62.2%), ninth-most
· 688 Quality Passes, sixth-most

15 – Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet)
· Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 86.6
2014 Rundown
· One win, six top fives, nine top 10s
· Average finish of 19.9
· Led 13 races for 204 laps
Texas Motor Speedway Outlook:
· One win, three top fives, 12 top 10s
· Average finish of 16.3 in 23 races
· Average Running Position of 15.3, 14th-best
· Driver Rating of 86.5, 12th-best
· 193 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most
· 1,451 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most

16 – Aric Almirola (No. 43 Farmland Ford)
· Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 72.6
2014 Rundown
· One win, two top fives, seven top 10s
· Average finish of 21.5
· Led 5 races for 23 laps
Texas Motor Speedway Outlook:
· One top 10
· Average finish of 19.6 in seven races
· Average Running Position of 21.4, 24th-best
· Driver Rating of 68.2, 26th-best

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Texas Motor Speedway Track Data
Race 34 of 36
1.5-mile oval
24 degrees of banking, turns
5 degrees of banking, straights
Frontstretch length – 2,250 feet
Backstretch length – 1,330 feet
334 laps, 501 miles

Top 10 Driver Ratings at Texas
Matt Kenseth, 106.1
Jimmie Johnson, 103.6
Greg Biffle, 102.2
Kyle Busch, 102.2
Tony Stewart, 99.2
Carl Edwards, 96.9
Denny Hamlin, 93.8
Clint Bowyer, 92.7
Jeff Gordon, 92.3
Dale Earnhardt Jr., 90.4
*Ratings compiled from 2005-2014 races (19 total) among active drivers at Texas

Qualifying/Race Data
2013 pole winner: Carl Edwards, Ford, 196.114 mph (27.535 seconds), 11.01.2013
2013 race winner: Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 151.754 mph (3 hours, 18 minutes, 5 seconds), 11.03.2013
Track qualifying record: Kyle Busch, Toyota, 196.299 mph (27.509 seconds), 04.12.2013
Track race record: Greg Biffle, Ford, 160.577 mph (3 hours, 7 minutes, 12 minutes), 11.14.2012

Texas Motor Speedway History
· Construction on Texas Motor Speedway began in 1995.
· The first NASCAR national series race at TMS was a NASCAR Nationwide Series event on April 5, 1997 – won by Mark Martin.
· The first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race was on April 6, 1997 – won by Jeff Burton.
· The track underwent a repave between the 2001 and 2002 seasons.
· In 2011, the spring NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race was moved from Sunday to Saturday night under the lights at Texas Motor Speedway.
· Texas Motor Speedway hosted its first Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on November 6, 2005 – won by Carl Edwards.

Texas Motor Speedway Notebook
· There have been 27 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Texas Motor Speedway, one NSCS event from 1997 – 2004 and two races per year since 2005.
· 138 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas; 111 in more than one.
· Jeff Gordon is the only drive to have made all 27 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Texas Motor Speedway.
· Jeremy Mayfield was the first Coors Light pole winner, in 1998 with a speed of 185.906 mph. The inaugural Coors Light pole at Texas Motor Speedway in 1997 was cancelled due to weather conditions.
· 19 drivers have Coors Light poles at Texas, led by Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman and Martin Truex Jr. with two each.
· Two drivers have won consecutive Coors Light poles at Texas Motor Speedway: Bobby Labonte (2003 and 2004) and Ryan Newman (2005 sweep).
· Youngest Texas Coors Light pole winner: Brian Vickers (11/05/2006 – 23 years, 0 months, 12 days).
· Oldest Texas Coors Light pole winner: Bill Elliott (4/08/2002 – 46 years, 6 months, 0 days).
· 18 different drivers have won at Texas Motor Speedway, led by Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson with three each.
· Seven drivers have multiple wins at Texas Motor Speedway: Carl Edwards (three), Jimmie Johnson (three), Greg Biffle, Jeff Burton, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart each have two.
· Roush Fenway Racing leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in wins at Texas Motor Speedway with nine; followed by Hendrick Motorsports with five and Joe Gibbs Racing with four.
· Three of the 27 (11.1%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Texas Motor Speedway have been won from the Coors Light pole; Kasey Kahne (2006), Jimmie Johnson (2012) and Kyle Busch (2013).
· The third-place starting position is the most proficient starting spot in the field at Texas Motor Speedway, producing more wins than any other starting position (five) – most recent: Jimmie Johnson (fall 2013).
· Six of the 27 (22.2%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Texas Motor Speedway have been won from the front row: three from the pole and three from second-place.
· 21 of the 27 (77.7%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Texas Motor Speedway have been won from a top-10 starting position.
· Four of the 27 (14.8%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Texas Motor Speedway have been won from a starting position outside the top 20.
· The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Texas Motor Speedway is 31st, by Matt Kenseth in 2002.
· Youngest Texas winner: Joey Logano (03/30/2003 – 23 years, 10 months, 14 days).
· Oldest Texas winner: Dale Jarrett (04/01/2001 – 44 years, 4 months, 6 days).
· Jimmie Johnson leads the series in runner-up finishes at Texas Motor Speedway with five; followed by Matt Kenseth with four.
· Matt Kenseth leads the series in top-five finishes at Texas Motor Speedway with 13; followed by Jimmie Johnson with 10.
· Matt Kenseth leads the series lead in top-10 finishes at Texas Motor Speedway with 17; followed by Jimmie Johnson with 16 and Dale Earnhardt Jr. with 13.
· Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Texas Motor Speedway with an 8.818. Johnson is the only active driver with an average starting position at Texas in the top 10.
· Two active drivers have a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series average finish in the top 10 at Texas: Matt Kenseth (8.250) and Jimmie Johnson (9.455).
· There have been three NSCS green-white-checkered finishes at Texas Motor Speedway: fall 2006 (334/339), spring 2008 (334/339), and fall 2012 (334/335).
· Qualifying has been cancelled due to weather conditions twice in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Texas Motor Speedway; the inaugural event in 1997 and spring 2007. The race has never been rain shortened.
· Casey Mears has participated in the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Texas Motor Speedway without posting a DNF (20).
· Jeff Burton (4/06/1997) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (4/02/2000) won their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career race at Texas Motor Speedway.
· David Ragan (4/09/2011) and Martin Truex Jr. (11/04/2007) posted their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light poles at Texas Motor Speedway.
· 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski (11/02/2008) and Trevor Bayne (11/07/2010) made their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career starts at Texas Motor Speedway.
· Two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have posted consecutive wins at Texas Motor Speedway: Carl Edwards (2008 sweep) and Denny Hamlin (2010 sweep).
· 11 of the 12 active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers who have won at Texas Motor Speedway participated in at least two or more races before visiting Victory Lane. Dale Earnhardt Jr. won at Texas in his first appearance; Carl Edwards and Ryan Newman won in their second appearance at TMS.
· Jeff Gordon competed at Texas Motor Speedway 16 times before winning in the spring of 2009; the longest span of any the 12 active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners.
· Only three of the 12 winning drivers have made 10 or more attempts before their first win at Texas Motor Speedway: Jeff Gordon (16) Kyle Busch (15) and Kurt Busch (13).
· Kevin Harvick and Joe Nemechek lead the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Texas Motor Speedway without visiting Victory Lane at 23 each.
· Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Texas Motor Speedway was the (4/4/2004) race won by Elliott Sadler with a MOV of 0.028 second ahead of Kasey Kahne.
· Two female drivers have made NSCS starts at Texas Motor Speedway: Shawna Robinson and Danica Patrick.
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· Tony Stewart leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in Laps Led at Texas Motor Speedway with 801 laps led in 24 starts.
· Jeff Gordon leads all active NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers in Laps Completed at Texas Motor Speedway with 7,990 laps.
· One NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver has won at Texas Motor Speedway in two different manufacturers: Jeff Burton (1997 – Ford; 2007 – Chevrolet)

NASCAR in Texas
· There have been 36 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races among three tracks in the state of Texas.
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· 80 drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as Texas.
· 10 drivers from Texas have won at least one race in NASCAR’s three national series. Six of the nine Texas native NASCAR winners have won in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
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Behind the scenes of how the biggest story in racing was kept a secret

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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
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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