Mike Helton to drivers: Let Sprint Cup season finale, race for title unfold naturally


During the final driver’s meeting of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, NASCAR president Mike Helton urged all competitors in today’s Ford Ecoboost 400 to keep the battle for the championship in mind as they race.

Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin, and Ryan Newman are ready to compete for the title today. The highest finisher among this Championship 4 will be victorious.

“Today is historic,” Helton said inside a packed tent at Homestead-Miami Speedway. “We’ll go into today’s race and come out later this afternoon with a champion. I ask each team on the track to remind yourselves constantly through the day that…It is very important that today’s race unfolds naturally, please, so that the fans can enjoy the event and when the race is over with, we can all celebrate our 2014 championship.”

A few minutes later, Sprint Cup race director David Hoots also gave his orders to the drivers and teams:

“If you have a problem, use the warmup lane on the entrance or the exit of pit road. If you have a problem during the course of the race, get down and out of the racing groove as quick as possible, stay there, come in and get the problem fixed – let’s not mess up the race track for the rest of the competitors.

“Entering the pit road, you come off the fourth turn. You’re not permitted to pass the caution car if you’re the leader at the head of the line…Exiting the pits, use the warm-up lane to Turn 2, you know the painted marks over there where you can come up on the race track.

“You’ve done a real good job the last couple of months slowing down when the yellow comes out and providing a lot of room around the track service teams. Let’s continue to do that, and we’ll have a great afternoon. Are there any questions?”

There were none. A quick prayer followed, and that was that.

Green flag is scheduled for later today at 3:17 p.m. ET.

X44 Racing win 2022 Extreme E championship as Abt Cupra score first race victory

2022 Extreme E Uruguay
Extreme E

Abt Cupra Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Klara Andersson scored their first win in the Extreme E Energy X Prix in the 2022 finale in Uruguay as Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Vida Carbon Racing drivers Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez survived a chaotic finale to edge the 2021 champion Rosberg X Prix team of Johan Kristoffersson and Mikhaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, by two points.

“There are so many emotions,” Andersson said in Extreme E’s coverage. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long. In my second race, first full weekend to be at the top of the podium: it’s big.”

Andersson was behind the wheel at the finish.

Rosberg Racing entered the event with a 17-point advantage over X44, but the standings were close enough that four teams remained in contention in Round 5.

“It’s a crucial weekend for us,” Loeb said in Extreme E’s coverage prior to the race. “We are not in the best position to win the championship, but the only thing we can do is try to win the race and score as many points as possible.”

The top two title contenders each crashed in qualification and were relegated to the Crazy Race, Extreme E’s version of the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). For the moment, they had the steepest hill to climb, but then the other two championship contending teams, Chip Ganassi Racing and Acciona Sainz Racing failed to advance from their heats.

Only one team advances from the Crazy Race, so the X44 drivers were in a must-win situation to simply keep hope alive.

More: Extreme E 2023 schedule

Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Gutierrez ran wheel to wheel into the first turn at the start of the LCQ.

The Rosberg racer experienced crash damage in that turn that damaged her front steering, but managed to limp back to the pits at the end of her two-lap stint. The team attempted to fix the steering, but incurred a penalty for having too many mechanics in the pit area.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez took the early lead, but knew she would need to sit through a five-second penalty for an incident earlier in the weekend. The female half of the gender equal pair erased the penalty by entering the Switch Zone with a five-second lead before turning the car over to Loeb.

That was all the nine-time World Rally Championship titlist needed to give him the advantage needed to win the Crazy Race.

But the championship was not over yet. X44 Racing needed to finish third or better in the five-car finale to earn enough points for the title and after advancing from the LCQ, they were forced to take the worst grid position.

A chaotic start to the Finale saw Loeb run as high the lead and low as fourth after getting pushed off course during his first lap. And that is how he entered to Switch Zone.

On her first lap, Gutierrez slammed into Molly Taylor. With one lap remaining, X44 and Gutierrez were still in fourth and the title hope was quickly evaporating, but it was announced halfway through the lap that the third-running Andretti United team would suffer a penalty for a Switch Zone infraction. The seven-second deduction for Timmy Hansen braking too late in the zone made the difference in the title.

Coming off a disappointing Copper X Prix when Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour crossed under the checkers first, but were relegated to fifth by penalty, the McLaren pair scored their first podium of the season in second.