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‘Motor Sports’ Articles

IndyCar’s Ryan Hunter-Reay continues recent hot streak by leading Friday practice at Mid-Ohio

Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio

LEXINGTON, Ohio (Friday, July 28, 2017) – Ryan Hunter-Reay continued his recent surge, setting the pace on the first day of practice for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.

The Andretti Autosport driver was fastest in the second of two 45-minute sessions on the 13-turn, 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with a lap of 1 minute, 4.2961 seconds (126.428 mph) in the No. 28 DHL Honda. Hunter-Reay is hopeful it bodes well for a strong showing in Sunday’s race.

“Today, it was a good run. Car was good,” said the 36-year-old Floridian, whose best finish in 11 previous races at Mid-Ohio was third place on two occasions, including 2003 when he logged the first of what are now 37 career podium finishes.

HONDA INDY 200 AT MID-OHIO: Practice 1Practice 2 Combined practice results

“We just made some improvements on it, made the right steps through the session, some (changes) session to session,” said Hunter-Reay, who has finished third (Iowa Speedway) and sixth (streets of Toronto) in the past two races. “We didn’t test here a week ago, so it’s nice to see we have the pace from last year, that we were able to roll in and improve from last year.”

Three Verizon IndyCar Series championship contenders trailed Hunter-Reay on the day’s time sheet. Josef Newgarden was second at 1:04.4375 (126.150 mph) in the No. 2 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet. Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing was third in the No. 9 NTT Data Honda (1:04.4910, 126.045 mph) and Simon Pagenaud fourth in the No. 1 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet (1:04.5625, 125.906 mph).

Dixon leads the standings after 12 of 17 races. The four-time series champion is three points ahead of Helio Castroneves, 19 in front of reigning series champion and 2016 Mid-Ohio winner Pagenaud and 23 up on Newgarden.

“I think it’s a good start for the No. 9 NTT Data car,” Dixon said. “Finishing P3 overall today isn’t bad, but you always want to be at the top at the end of the day. I love racing here, I love Mid-Ohio and all its challenges. I hope we can continue to improve tomorrow and put on a good show Sunday.”

Both practice sessions ran issue-free other than light rain that brought all cars to pit lane for 15 minutes in the afternoon practice. A final pre-qualifying practice is scheduled for 9:55 a.m. ET Saturday (live stream on RaceControl.IndyCar.com), ahead of Verizon P1 Award knockout qualifying to determine the pole winner at 2 p.m. (live on NBCSN).

Sunday’s race will be the 33rd for Indy cars on the scenic, undulating permanent road course since 1980. Live coverage begins at 3 p.m. on CNBC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network, with an encore re-air at 7 p.m. on NBCSN.

Sato named recipient of prestigious Prime Minister’s Award in Japan

The honors keep coming for Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato.

Today in his native Japan, the Andretti Autosport driver was named the recipient of the prestigious Prime Minister’s Award for his groundbreaking victory May 28 in the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.

Sato became the first Japanese driver to win the Indy 500, outlasting three-time winner Helio Castroneves in a thrilling battle to the finish. The 40-year-old will return home to officially be presented with the award by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Aug. 4.

“It means a lot personally but I think it’s great for the sport,” Sato said. “I really appreciate the support I am getting and this award is certainly an absolute honor to have it. I just couldn’t be happier.”

Sato is just the 33rd recipient of the Prime Minister’s Award, an appropriate number since 33 cars traditionally compete in the Indianapolis 500.

Season champion to be honored in NBCSN prime-time telecast

INDYCAR is helping its loyal fans share in the celebration crowning the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series champion with an hour-long program airing in prime time Sept. 28 on NBCSN.

The show will honor the driver and team who win this year’s title, as well as other award winners, and include a recap of this riveting season that has already seen nine different drivers win in the first 12 races. It is part of an extensive INDYCAR plan to properly fete the 2017 champion.

INDYCAR and NBCSN are also increasing promotion of the championship battle – which currently sees the top four drivers in the standings separated by a mere 23 points – in the races leading to the season finale, the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma on Sept. 18.

“The battle for the Verizon IndyCar Series championship has been decided in the final laps of the season for the past 11 years running, and we expect that to be the case again in 2017,” said C.J. O’Donnell, chief marketing officer for INDYCAR. “We have a comprehensive promotional plan that will heighten the excitement and anticipation in the remaining few races. Our broadcast and communications strategy provides a solid platform to champion our heroes and thrill our fans.”

The Astor Cup, the century-old trophy that has been presented to the Verizon IndyCar Series champion annually since 2011, will travel to the three races before the finale – the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway on Aug. 20, the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Valvoline at Gateway Motorsports Park on Aug. 26, and the INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen at Watkins Glen International on Sept. 3. The Astor Cup will be on display at those events for fans to see and to serve as an inspiration for the contending drivers.

The 2017 champion will also embark on a national media tour at the conclusion of the season. The INDYCAR community will honor this year’s champion driver and team in a March 2018 event at St. Petersburg, Florida, that will serve to commemorate the 2017 award winners while at the same time ringing in the beginning of the exciting new season at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Mazda Road to Indy recap

Oliver Askew led every lap to win the first of two Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda races this weekend at Mid-Ohio and extend his points lead. Askew, driving for Cape Motorsports, won by 1.3282 seconds over Parker Thompson (Exclusive Autosport) and 1.9339 seconds over Rinus VeeKay (Pabst Racing). Askew leads VeeKay by 29 points with two races remaining this season.

Anthony Martin grabbed the lead on the opening lap and drove on to victory in the first of three Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires races this weekend. Martin (Cape Motorsports) edged Victor Franzoni (Juncos Racing) by 0.3847 of a second at the finish, moving five points ahead of Franzoni for the championship lead in the procress.

Santi Urrutia (Belardi Auto Racing) won the pole position for the first of two Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires races this weekend with a lap of 1:11.3694 (113.898 mph). Colton Herta (Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing) qualified second for Saturday morning’s race (1:12.0283).

 

PRACTICE RECAP WRITTEN BY & COURTESY OF INDYCAR COMMUNICATIONS

 

Quotes from Friday’s IndyCar practice at Mid-Ohio

“What They’re Saying” from Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio practice

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 1 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet): “The Menards Chevy was good today. We were able to fine tune a few things throughout the day. We had good speed in the car, but it’s a matter of getting the balance right. Our knowledge base is good for the track. We had good success a year ago. It’s nice for me to feel better physically this year. I had a little tweak of my back here last year that made it a pretty difficult weekend, but this year all is well. I’m looking forward to qualifying tomorrow. It’s such a chess match here and that’s a fun challenge.”

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 2 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet): “I think we had a pretty good session. It’s fun driving the PPG car. It’s my first time driving it. Simon (Pagenaud) had a lot of good luck in it last year. I think he won three races in this car. I’m excited to drive it – looks good, feels fast. We were quick in the first session, too. We ended up seventh. But this track is such a game of when you run, you know, where in the tire life you are at what stage of the session. The track just keeps getting quicker and quicker as you run. You got to be the last man standing here almost. I think that’s going to be the case tomorrow in qualifying. You got to try and time everything as best you can, be the last person across the line. For us, I think we’ve had some good success this year on road courses. We probably could have had even more success at a couple other places that didn’t fully materialize. But I think we’re there, thereabouts. I think the whole group at Team Penske is fast. We have to make sure to stay on top of it as always and not let something good slip away. We have good cars this weekend. We have to try to capitalize on that.”

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet):
“We accomplished a lot today with the Hitachi Chevy – lots of good data to help us make the car even better. It’s important in this series to keep working at it. If you don’t, then you get passed by. I feel good about how the car was today and how it will be tomorrow. Qualifying is extremely important here, so we’ll have to be on top of our game.”

CONOR DALY (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “I think we found a few things that we need, but we also weren’t able to take advantage of our (Firestone alternate) red tires as well as we would have liked. I think the car’s balance is a little bit different on the reds than on the (Firestone primary) blacks, so hopefully we can try and sort that out. But I think it’s a positive day for us. It’s close, it’s very, very close. We need two-tenths to be in the top 10, so that’s very typical of Mid-Ohio, so hopefully, we can get some of that out of it.”

MAX CHILTON (No. 8 Gallagher Honda): “Typical day in INDYCAR today really for the team. We were right up there today in the first practice this morning after unloading fast, and then made some changes and weren’t up there in the afternoon. That’s how close the racing is here. One change can send you back. I do like this track as it’s very challenging. The Gallagher team will be up for qualifying tomorrow.”

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 NTT Data Honda):
“I think it’s a good start for the No. 9 NTT Data car. Finishing P3 overall today isn’t bad, but you always want to be at the top at the end of the day. I love racing here. I love Mid-Ohio and all its challenges. I hope we can continue to improve tomorrow and put on a good show Sunday.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 10 NTT Data Honda): “Honestly, we didn’t have near as bad of a day as it looks in the practice results. We still have some work to do with the No. 10 NTT Data Honda on (Firestone alternate) red tires, but on the (Firestone primary) blacks we were as fast as the leaders. We just couldn’t ever get a clean, fast lap on black tires to show the No. 10 NTT Data Honda’s real speed.”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “It was a good day for the Verizon Chevrolet team. We felt like we’re in a good place in terms of spend and balance. Mid-Ohio is a track that is on my list. I’ve not gotten a win here and I really want to change that. We’ve been on the pole here, been up front and led laps, but haven’t gotten the win. We’ll see what qualifying brings tomorrow, but you don’t want to be too far back here or it becomes very difficult to get into position to win.”

CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet):
“The second session was a little bit of a mess. I think we did just one run because we had some electrical issues in the car, so the first part of the session we were just figuring out what happened there. Then we put (Firestone alternate) red tires on and it started raining, and then the last few laps, the tires weren’t the same. So we have to look to tomorrow to still improve.” (About his overall day): “It’s hard to judge. When the session didn’t go nice and smooth, the thing is we’re still missing a little bit to be in the top 10.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Honda) : “We are lacking some performance. Even this morning that was the case.” (About setting the second fastest lap time in Practice 1): “We ran new tires at the very end of the session and certain guys didn’t. While we were up there on the lap times, perhaps we were putting a Band-Aid on the situation a little bit. With that being said, I don’t think we are far off. I have got to somehow figure out how to get the rear of the car under control. It’s been biting us on a lot of road courses. We just can’t seem to figure it out. We have to work hard tonight and improve the Steak ‘n Shake car for tomorrow.”

ESTEBAN GUTIERREZ (No. 18 UNIFIN Honda): “It was a bit tricky in Practice 1 this morning. We struggled to find some speed. We then made some changes for Practice 2 and that was a positive change. We did a pretty fast time on the primary tires, but then on the Firestone red (alternate) tires, I got traffic on the optimum lap so we couldn’t really put the lap together there. I think we have a good baseline and we’ll work tonight to try and find some more speed for tomorrow.”

ED JONES (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda): “It was a bit frustrating. I think there’s a lot more potential than our result on the time charts today. We tried a few things and they didn’t go the way we wanted. There was also some traffic and the bit of rain that delayed the session that didn’t help. I think we need to make some changes to the car for tomorrow, and if we get things right, we can be right up in the top 10.”

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): “We definitely made some changes that were positive and had a solid morning practice session. We also tried some things that just didn’t work out as well as we hoped, especially on the (Firestone alternate) red tires in the afternoon. I didn’t get quite the feel of the car I was looking for, so we’ll see if we can revert back to what we had and get back into the top 10. I’m excited to see what the rest of the weekend brings.”

JR HILDEBRAND (No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet):
“We definitely didn’t have the speed we were looking for today, so it was a bit frustrating. We understand where we need to improve and we’ve got a lot of data to look through. We’ll put our heads together tonight to figure out how to make as much use out of the practice session tomorrow morning before we qualify.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda): “I think it was a productive day. As typical at Mid-Ohio, we started off around five seconds off the pace, and then through the session it dramatically improved for the track evolution. We need to understand the balances better, but I think we made some good progress today for the Ruoff Home Mortgage team. Hopefully, we carry on this momentum and have a good day tomorrow.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 27 Andretti Autosport Honda): “Today was a good start for the No. 27 team, but we need to make some fine adjustments if we want to qualify in the (Firestone) Fast Six tomorrow. Overall, the whole team showed good pace, so I think we are on the right track.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “Today, it was a good run. Car was good. We just made some improvements on it, made the right steps through the session, some session-to-session. We didn’t test here a week ago, so it’s nice to see we have the pace from last year, that we were able to roll in and improve from last year. All in all, pretty good day. I have a lot of work to do tomorrow. We know everybody else is going to be improving. It’s amazing if you look at the Practice 1 session times, just how close everything is. There’s no margin for error. So it’s going to be that way again tomorrow. Just happy to have a nice, productive day. Look forward to another one of those tomorrow hopefully.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Tresiba Honda): “Overall it wasn’t a good day at all for the No. 83 car. We missed the setup a little bit and we missed the timing. We really could’ve used that little bit of track time we lost this afternoon with the rain to get the car a little better. The nice thing is that the No. 9 car is quick, so we’ll have their data to learn from. I’m really encouraged by the stops in pit stop practice – the guys really crushed it today. We’ll carry that momentum forward to figure out what we need to do to qualify well tomorrow and finish up front on Sunday.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 98 Andretti Autosport/Curb Honda):
“It was a good day today. I think we made a pretty good step forward each session in terms of car setup. I’m missing a little bit of speed compared to Ryan (Hunter-Reay), but I think we know where that is. Overall, I think it was a pretty positive day for the whole team and we will have a strong showing tomorrow for qualifying.”

 

PRACTICE QUOTES WRITTEN BY & COURTESY OF INDYCAR COMMUNICATIONS

 

Kasey Kahne ends 102-race dryspell, wins wildest Brickyard 400 in double-overtime as darkness sets in

 

POST-RACE PRESS CONFERENCE WITH KASEY KAHNE

61,973 Kasey Kahne 2017 Brickyard 400 winner On how special to win at Indy came to live there in 1999 dream come true 7 23 2017

61,974 Kasey Kahne 2017 Brickyard winner If you are the leader going into overtime, should you and have to win that race 7 23 2017

61,975 Kasey Kahne 2017 Brickyard 400 winner His team had not won for 2 years did he think he could win again 7 23 2014

61,976 Kasey Kahne He said three weeks ago he still had wins in you but did you think it would be at IMS 7 23 2017

61,980 Kasey Kahne His approach to the upcoming NASCAR Playoffs for the #5 car going forward 7 23 2017

61,983 Kasey Kahne Qwner Rick Hendrick is non committal on plans for the #5 car for 2018 His thoughts on it 7 23 2017

61,985 Kasey Kahne Being at Hendrick Motorsports you have to perform Who has he leaned on during the tough times while there 7 23 2017

61,986 Kasey Kahne He has had bad luck all season but the good luck was on him and his car all day coming from 19th to win 7 23 2017

 

Kasey Kahne #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet leading the race (photo credit Sean Gardner of Getty Images, courtesy NASCARmedia.com)

Kasey Kahne passing finish line to win (photo credit Daniel Shirey of Getty Images, courtesy NASCARmedia.com)

Kasey Kahne & his crew kissing the bricks (photo credit Brian Lawdermilk of Getty Images courtesy NASCARmedia.com)

 

Speedway, Indiana — In NASCAR or any of the professional motorsports series, it does not matter if you are popular with the fans, media or sponsors. The bottom line is you win or at least put your car consistently in the Top 5-10 spots every week and a driver should be fine.

But if your team goes 2 years without a win and are constantly having bad luck, not qualifying, not running up front and not finishing in the Top 5-10 spots, you are going to hear rumors that the car owner wants to dump you.

The case I just stated in this case pertains to NASCAR Monster Cup driver Kasey Kahne. One of the Hendrick Motorsports drivers, the 37-year-old Kahne has not won a race since Atlanta in 2014, a span of 102 races. He often wondered if he could win, would win a race ever again.

That stretch ended in Sunday’s Brickyard 400 race as Kahne took advantage of several restarts, accidents and key pit stops go from his starting spot of 19th to win the 24th edition of the event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He edged out Brad Keselowski in a key restart to kiss the bricks. That was the wildest Brickyard 400 ever with its double overtime finish and the race ending up just after sundown. Matter-of-fact, the race ended in almost total darkness as IMS does not have lights.

Early on in one of NASCAR’s jewel races, Kyle Busch looked like he would dominate and win again, building up big advantage leading 87 of the first 110 laps.

But he and Martin Truex Jr. got into an accident on a restart with 49 laps remaining.

Truex and Busch hit each other and crashed hard in Turn 1. With both leaders out of the race, it became anyone’s trophy to take home.

From there, the race became a collection of cautions, red flags and complete utter chaos.

Which set up the double-overtime finish.

In the second overtime restart, Keselowski was the leader and Kahne was running second. Kahne took control by blowing out front and down the backstretch before a multi-car crash caused a caution. However, Kahne had already passed the overtime marker before NASCAR threw out the caution flag. The 3-hour, 39-minute race had finally ended.

The chaotic, wacky, weird but exciting race had a little of everything — 14 cautions and 55 caution laps, both race records, three red flags and a 1-hour, 47-minute rain delay. Nineteen of the 40 cars did not see the finish line.

The 2018 edition of the Brickyard 400 will be moved to the month of September. Some ask why the change? To change things up a bit, to get more fan interest, to get the race away from the heat of the summer, et. al.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race – Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Brickyard 400

 

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

 

Speedway, Indiana

 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Final finishing order from the race

 

1. (19) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 167.

2. (11) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 167.

3. (8) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 167.

4. (7) Joey Logano, Ford, 167.

5. (14) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 167.

6. (2) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 167.

7. (15) Daniel Suarez #, Toyota, 167.

8. (27) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 167.

9. (26) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 167.

10. (39) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 167.

11. (23) Danica Patrick, Ford, 167.

12. (34) Cole Whitt, Chevrolet, 167.

13. (29) Aric Almirola, Ford, 167.

14. (37) * Timmy Hill(i), Chevrolet, 167.

15. (3) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 167.

16. (17) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 167.

17. (5) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 166.

18. (24) Michael McDowell, Chevrolet, 166.

19. (28) Ty Dillon #, Chevrolet, 165.

20. (22) Trevor Bayne, Ford, Accident, 162.

21. (20) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, Accident, 162.

22. (31) Landon Cassill, Ford, Parked, 162.

23. (10) Ryan Blaney, Ford, Accident, 162.

24. (35) * Gray Gaulding #, Chevrolet, Accident, 162.

25. (38) Joey Gase(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 162.

26. (36) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 162.

27. (4) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, Accident, 158.

28. (25) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, Accident, 154.

29. (12) Kurt Busch, Ford, Accident, 149.

30. (18) Clint Bowyer, Ford, Accident, 148.

31. (9) Erik Jones #, Toyota, Accident, 148.

32. (40) * BJ McLeod(i), Chevrolet, 135.

33. (6) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, Accident, 110.

34. (1) Kyle Busch, Toyota, Accident, 110.

35. (21) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, Accident, 106.

36. (13) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, Accident, 76.

37. (33) * JJ Yeley(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 70.

38. (30) David Ragan, Ford, Accident, 56.

39. (16) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, Engine, 43.

40. (32) Corey LaJoie #, Toyota, Accident, 9.

 

Average Speed of Race Winner:  114.384 mph.

Time of Race:  03 Hrs, 39 Mins, 00 Secs. Margin of Victory:  Caution.

Caution Flags:  14 for 55 laps.

Lead Changes:  10 among 7 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   Kyle Busch 1-71; E. Jones # 72-80; R. Blaney 81-86; Kyle Busch 87-102; M. Truex Jr. 103-110; M. Kenseth 111-131; E. Jones # 132; B. Keselowski 133-151; K. Kahne 152-161; B. Keselowski 162-165; K. Kahne 166-167.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Kyle Busch 2 times for 87 laps; B. Keselowski 2 times for 23 laps; M. Kenseth 1 time for 21 laps; K. Kahne 2 times for 12 laps; E. Jones # 2 times for 10 laps; M. Truex Jr. 1 time for 8 laps; R. Blaney 1 time for 6 laps.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 18,78,21,4,22,20,1,42,48,88

Stage #2 Top Ten: 18,78,21,77,4,20,22,11,2,1

 

 

RACE NOTES:

 

* Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Next Race: Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Brickyard 400

The Place: Indianapolis Motor Speedway

The Date: Sunday, July 23

The Time: 2:30 p.m. ET

TV: NBC, 2 p.m. ET

Radio: IMS Radio Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 400 miles (160 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 50),

Stage 2 (Ends on lap 100), Final Stage (Ends on lap 160)

*

Denny Delivers: Hamlin Sends Joe Gibbs Racing To Victory Lane For First Time This Season

Denny Hamlin led 54 laps in his backup car, beating second-place Kyle Larson to the start/finish line by .509 seconds to deliver Joe Gibbs Racing its first visit to Victory Lane this season in Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

 

The win was the 30th of Hamlin’s career and his third at New Hampshire. He had not won a race in 28 starts since taking the checkered flag in last year’s season finale at Richmond International Raceway. The No. 11 Toyota driver becomes the 25th driver to win 30 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races. Of note: All non-active drivers with more than 30 Monster Energy Series wins who have been eligible for enshrinement are in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

 

JGR’s struggle to get a win was perplexing considering the organization racked up a series-best 12 victories in 2016, and Martin Truex Jr. from JGR technical partner Furniture Row Racing has tallied three checkered flags and 14 stage wins this season.

 

Hamlin will attempt to continue the momentum for JGR in Sunday’s Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (2:30 p.m. ET on NBC, IMS and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). In 11 starts at Indy, Hamlin has four top fives, six top 10s and a 13.4 average finish. He placed fourth at The Brickyard last year and claims three consecutive top-five finishes there.

*

Triple Threat: Kyle Busch Tries For Third Straight Brickyard Win

Kyle Busch will try to capture the second straight win for Joe Gibbs Racing when he goes for his third consecutive victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Sunday.

 

In addition to winning the last two races at the Brickyard, Busch has placed in the top-two there in four of the last five races. In 12 career Indy starts, Busch has two wins, five top fives, 10 top 10s and a 9.0 average finish (second-best).

 

Among active drivers at Indianapolis, Busch has the second-best average running position (10.8) and driver rating (105.5).

Busch has won at least one race every season since he began running in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series full-time in 2005.

*

Hometown Hoosier: South Bend’s Ryan Newman Hopes For Another Indy Win

South Bend, Indiana’s own Ryan Newman returns to his home track for Sunday’s Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Brickyard 400. In 16 starts at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Newman has one win, two top fives and three top 10s.

 

The No. 31 Richard Childress Racing driver virtually secured a spot in the Monster Energy Series playoffs by winning at Phoenix earlier this season.

*

Larson Dazzles With Ability To Mow Through The Field

Starting from the back the last two races hasn’t been a problem for Kyle Larson. At Kentucky, he began the race 40th and finished runner-up. A week later, Larson placed runner-up again after starting 39th. In the two races, he completed a combined 177 green flag passes (90, Kentucky; 87, New Hampshire).

 

The No. 42 Chevrolet driver is enjoying a breakout fourth full-time season. Through 20 races, he boasts two wins, seven runner-ups, nine top fives and 12 top 10s. Larson sits second in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points standings, 38 markers behind leader Martin Truex Jr. He also ranks second in average running position (8.8), driver rating (106.2).

 

Larson has finished in the top 10 in all three of his starts at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, including a career track-best fifth-place showing last season.

*

Johnson Hopes To Pick Up Another Indy Win

Not many drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series are better than Jimmie Johnson, period. Not many drivers are better than Johnson at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, either.

 

The No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet pilot leads active competitors at the 2.5-mile track with four wins. He also has six top fives, seven top 10s and a 14.6 average finish in 15 career starts at The Brickyard.

 

Johnson’s performance has trailed off lately with only two top-10 finishes (both 10th) since winning at Dover six races ago, but he still is tied for the series lead with three wins and ranks second with 16 playoff points.

 

He is one win away from tying Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip for fourth on the all-time list with 84 victories.

*

7 Races Left Until Playoffs

Seven races remain for drivers to earn berths in NASCAR’s playoffs.

 

The following drivers would get in if the season ended today: Martin Truex Jr. (three wins, 28 playoff points), Jimmie Johnson (three, 16), Kyle Larson (two, 13), Brad Keselowski (two, 13), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (two, 10), Kevin Harvick (one, eight), Ryan Blaney (one, eight), Denny Hamlin (one, seven), Kurt Busch (one, five), Ryan Newman (one, five), Austin Dillon (one, five), Kyle Busch (178 points above Joey Logano on the cutoff line, five playoff points), Chase Elliott (+115, two), Jamie McMurray (+100), Clint Bowyer (+54), Matt Kenseth (+42, two).

 

The first four out would be: Logano (42 below Matt Kenseth on the cutoff line), Erik Jones (-97), Daniel Suarez (-120) and Trevor Bayne (-155).

 

Remember, a win gets a driver into the playoffs. Below is a list of winless drivers who have visited Victory Lane at upcoming tracks:

Indianapolis: Ky. Busch, McMurray, Paul Menard

Pocono: Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne, Chris Buescher

Watkins Glen: Ky. Busch, AJ Allmendinger

Michigan: Ky. Busch, Earnhardt Jr., Kenseth, Kahne

Bristol: Ky. Busch, Kenseth, Earnhardt Jr., Kahne

Darlington: Ky. Busch, Kenseth

Richmond: Ky. Busch, Kenseth, Bowyer, Earnhardt Jr., Kahne

Jeff Gordon To Drive Pace Car For Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Brickyard 400: Four-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon will serve as the honorary pace car driver for Sunday’s Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Gordon is third on the all-time Monster Energy Series wins list with 93 victories.

Kyle Busch won the pole for the race photo taken April 19, 2010 by Raniel Diaz . Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

*Kyle Busch won the Coors Light Pole Award for the 24th Annual Brickyard 400 with a lap of 48.051 seconds, 187.301 mph.

* This is the 23rd pole in 446 NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series races for him.

* This is his fourth pole  and 17th Top-10 start in 2017.

* This is his second pole in 13 races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

* Race started at 2:46 pm.

* The race was halted by a red flag at 3:00 pm due to threatening weather and lightning from the Northwest area of Brownsburg, Indiana. Rain finally fell at 3:21 pm.

* The race had 3 stages where a winner is named. Laps 50, 100, 160.

* The competition Lap to pit is #20.

* Three infractions before the race which put these cars to the end of the starting row: 48 Jimmie Johnson and 12 or 23 ? for a gear chance. #15 Joey Gase for an engine change.

 

 

 

Kasey Kahne celebrating on top of his car at (photo by Matt Sullivan of Getty Images courtesy NASCARmedia.com)

 

Kasey Kahne's pit crew before the race looking over his car (megasportsnews.com photo)

19-year-old William Byron wins at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in first attempt; holds off veteran Paul Menard in Lilly Diabetes 250

 

 

William Byron takes the checkered flag (photo credit Daniel Shirey of Getty Images courtesy NASCARmedia.com)

Speedway, Indiana — When you think of the NASCAR XFINITY Series, there are several veteran drivers who are expected to win every race: Elliott Sadler, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Paul Menard, Ty Dillon and Justin Allgaier.

Would think and expect a 19-year-old rookie to beat them? No, but it happened on Saturday afternoon at the famous racetrack of them all, The Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

In a very competitive race due to the new aero package setup, rookie William Byron, driving the #9 Liberty University-Chevrolet, held off veteran NASCAR Monster Energy Series veterans Menard and Logano to win the 6th annual Lilly Diabetes 250. He led 26 of 100 laps and captured his third win of the season. He also the highest finishing rookie in the race.

Byron became the youngest series winner at Indianapolis Motor Speedway at the age of 19 years, 7 months and 23 days, which beats the old record that was held by  Dillon at 22 years, 4 months and 29 days.

The Charlotte, North Carolina native with those three victories, has himself ahead of the other championship eligible drivers in NASCAR’s second-tier series. He now has 12 Top-10 finishes in 2017.

Byron, who attended Charlotte Country Day School, while taking online classes through sponsor Liberty University, graduating in May 2016, still has some points to pickup to get into the series’ championship playoffs. He trails Sadler, the leader, by 40 points.

1. Elliott Sadler: Leader (0 wins)

2. William Byron: -40 (3 wins)

3. Justin Allgaier: -133 (1 win)

4. Brennan Poole: -192 (0 wins)

5. Daniel Hemric: -207 (0 wins)

6. Cole Custer: -230 (0 wins)

7. Matt Tifft: -251 (0 wins)

8. Ryan Reed: -257 (1 win)

9. Dakoda Armstrong: -297 (0 wins)

10. Michael Annett: -298 (0 wins)

11. Blake Koch: -321 (0 wins)

12. Brendan Gaughan: -336 (0 wins)

Saturday’s race was run in stages. The first stage winner at 30 laps was Byron. Second stage winner was Sadler at Lap 60.

The race also had it’s dangerous and scariest moments, especially in the pits.

Justin Allgaier took the trophy for those moments where he ran into his jack man; drove off too quickly with the lugnuts on his right front tire not secure. The wheel locked up a few seconds later and fell inward and during that same pitstop, he broke off the gas hose when he drove off.

The official race result showing the Top 10 finishers:

1. William Byron

2. Paul Menard

3. Joey Logano

4. Elliott Sadler

5. Cole Custer

6. Ryan Reed

7. Brennan Poole

8. Daniel Hemric

9. Brandon Jones

10. Ty Dillon

 

William Byron celebrates his first win at Indianapolis (photo credit Daniel Shirey courtesy NASCARmedia.com)

Elliott Sadler, 2014 photo was the race's pole-sitter By I, the copyright holder of this work, hereby publish it under the following license, Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https commons.wikimedia.or

RACE NOTES:

* Coors Light Pole Winner: Elliott Sadler

Age: 42

Team: #1 OneMain Financial Chevrolet

Owner: Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Crew Chief: Kevin Meendering

Sadler won the Pole Award for the 6th Annual Lilly Diabetes 250 with a lap of 54.452 seconds, 165.283 mph.

This is Sadler’s 17th pole in 347 NASCAR XFINITY Series races.

This is his first pole and eighth Top-10 start in 2017.

This is his first pole in six races at the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

* There were 16 lead changes involving 8 different drivers. The 16 breaks the old record of 9 set in 2014. The 8 drivers breaks the old record of 6 in 2015.

* Byron has had a very successful run in less than two years driving in the Camping World Trucks Series and the XFINITY Series. In 42 starts, he has 10 wins and 28 Top-10 finishes. Just remarkable!

* Menard finishing second, posted his sixth Top-10 finish in six races at IMS. It is his second Top-10 this year.

* Logano, finishing third, posted his fifth Top-10 finish in five races at IMS.

* There were a couple of penalties handed out before the race even began. Ryan Sieg, driving the #39 RSS Racing Chevrolet, for missing a drivers meeting. Furthermore, Spencer Gallagher, driving the #23 Allegiant Airlines Chevrolet, had unapproved adjustments on his car. Both had to start after the last row of cars.

* Time of the Race was 1 hour, 58 minutes, 50 seconds.

* Average Speed was 126.227MPH.

* Margin of victory by Byron was 0.108 seconds.

* Everyone qualified for the race.

* Caution flags, 5 for 22 laps.

* Next series race is July 29 at Iowa Speedway.

* NASCAR XFINITY Series

Next Race: Lilly Diabetes 250

The Place: Indianapolis Motor Speedway

The Date: Saturday, July 22

The Time: 3:30 p.m. ET

TV: NBCSN, 3 p.m. ET

Radio: IMS Radio Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 250 miles (100 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 30),

Stage 2 (Ends on lap 60), Final Stage (Ends on lap 100)

*

NASCAR XFINITY Series

New Competition Package Highlights The Return To Indianapolis Motor Speedway

The NASCAR XFINITY Series returns to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the sixth annual running of the Lily Diabetes 250 this Saturday, July 22 (3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, IMS and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), but this time the teams and competitors will be working with a new competition package specific for this event.

Designed specifically for the 100-lap race at Indianapolis the modifications are as follows:

  • The 2016 spoiler and splitter will be reimplemented (teams must run the ear flaps on both sides)
  • New aero ducts will be supplied by NASCAR at the track, and will be attached to the front bumper
  • A 7/8-inch restrictor plate will be used.

The new package is designed to create close racing and passing opportunities for competitors. The key to the package are the aero ducts, which will move air out of the front wheel wells and create a larger wake (punch a bigger hole in the air behind the vehicle). This will increase the draft envelope by approximately 25%, which will allow the trailing car to race closer to the leading car.

*

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Is A Record Breaking Playground For Kyle Busch

The list of accolades that follow Kyle Busch’s name in the NASCAR XFINITY Series is quite long, and this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway the Las Vegas, Nevada, native looks to add a couple more records to the list.  First off, he will attempt to become the first driver in series history to win five consecutive poles (he has four: 2013-2016) at a single track. Then, if he accomplishes that feat, he will try his hand at becoming the first driver in series history to win three consecutive races from the pole at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Kyle Busch already leads the series in wins at Indianapolis with three (2013, ’15 and ’16); Brad Keselowski (2012) and Ty Dillon (2014) are the only drivers to win in the series at IMS.

Busch has been dominant at IMS in his five starts. He leads the series in poles (four), wins (three), top fives (four), average starting position (1.2), average finishing position (5.4) and laps led (268).

Keep in mind, Busch became the first driver to sweep both the NASCAR XFINITY Series and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races at IMS from the pole last season.

*

Playoff Bubble: Who Is In And Who Is Out Following New Hampshire

With just nine races left until the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoffs, time is running out for drivers and teams to lock themselves into the post-season.

Three drivers are locked in on wins (William Byron, Justin Allgaier and Ryan Reed), leaving nine spots up for grabs.

Five of the nine winless championship contending drivers currently in on points have built such large point leads over the 13th-place driver in the standings it would take a major collapse for them not to make it into the post-season – Elliott Sadler (+331 points ahead of 13th), Brennan Poole (+139), Daniel Hemric (+132), Cole Custer (+107) and Matt Tifft (+98).

The next two drivers, Michael Annett (+66) and Dakoda Armstrong (+62) have also put a sizable difference between themselves and 13th place, but are not out of the woods yet.

The two drivers sitting right on top of the playoff bubble following New Hampshire are Blake Koch (+35) and Brendan Gaughan (+9) as both are currently in on points but a poor finish could change that.

Ryan Sieg is sitting in the first spot outside of the playoffs in 13th, just nine points back from Gaughan. JJ Yeley is also in the hunt for the final playoff spot as he is just 15 points behind Gaughan.

Of the nine drivers currently in the playoffs on points but without a win, three will be making their series track debut at Indianapolis this weekend – Daniel Hemric, Cole Custer and Matt Tifft.

Of the aforementioned drivers, who has the best chance to break through and get their first win of the season this weekend? Here are their average finishing positions at IMS – Michael Annett (7.5), Elliott Sadler (10.8), Brennan Poole (11.0), Brendan Gaughan (16.0), Ryan Sieg (18.0), Dakoda Armstrong (18.7), JJ Yeley (24.5) and Blake Koch (30.7).

* Two cars started from the rear of the pack. #39 car driven by Ryan Sieg for missing the driver’s meeting. Also, car #23 Spencer Gallagher for unapproved adjustments on his car.

* Lap stages for the race are 30, 60, 100. A winner will emerge from each stage. Overall winner at the end.

Friday night preliminary leaders at NHRA Mopar Mile-High Nationals include Courtney Force, Kalitta, Skillman & Krawiec

MORRISON, Colo. — Courtney Force powered to the Funny Car qualifying lead Friday night at the 38th annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway.

 

Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel), Drew Skillman (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are also provisional qualifying leaders in their respective categories at the 14th of 24 events on the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

 

Force set both ends of the track record after a 3.889-second pass at 328.30 mph in her Advance Auto Parts Chevy Camaro during the first qualifying session. She is aiming for her sixth No. 1 qualifier of the season and is currently chasing her first win of 2017.

 

“It’s important to make a solid pass early at a track like this, but the coolest part is my team taking full advantage of the great conditions that we had today,” Force said. “I’m really proud of my guys and I know we are going to put in the effort to try and have another great run tomorrow.”

 

John Force landed second in Funny Car qualifying with a 3.899 at 301.87 in his Peak Performance Chevy Camaro. Robert Hight rounded out the top three in preliminary qualifying, securing a 3.973 at 315.56 in his Auto Club of Southern California Chevy Camaro.

 

Kalitta leads the Top Fuel category with an elapsed time track record run of 3.767 at 323.97 in his Mac Tools dragster during his second pass of the day. He is searching for his second No. 1 qualifier on the year and 49th of his career.

 

“I was confident coming into the day, but knew nothing would be easy at a track like this,” Kalitta said. “I tip my hat to my guys after not even making a run in the first round to having the type of run we were able to have in the second qualifying session.”

 

Steve Torrence sits second in the preliminary qualifying after a 3.775 run at 323.97 in his Capco Contractors dragster, while Tony Schumacher is third with a 3.776 pass at 326.63 in his U.S. Army dragster.

 

In Pro Stock, Skillman currently holds the top spot after driving to a 6.925 run at 197.94 in his Ray Skillman Chevrolet Camaro during the only Pro Stock session of the day due to inclement weather. He is looking for his first No. 1 qualifier of the season following his first victory in 2017 in Chicago.

 

“We worked really hard these past few days and changed a lot on the car to get it ready for tonight and it obviously showed with the results tonight,” Skillman said. “I have some work to do and know there’s some improvement with my driving, but we have to come out with the same mindset tomorrow and see what happens.”

 

Erica Enders is second in preliminary qualifying with a 6.944 at 198.17 in her Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro. Greg Anderson is in the third spot with a 6.958 run at 196.70 in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro.

 

Krawiec finished atop the Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying order after posting time of a 7.178 at 185.66 in his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson during his only pass of the day. He is aiming for his 35th career No. 1 qualifier and the second of this season.

 

“We definitely left a little out there, mainly because we underestimated the track and the amount of power we needed for a good run,” Krawiec said. “I do think we have room to improve and we know which direction to go, we just have to learn how to run on air like this on a track this unique.”

 

Hector Arana Jr. is in the No. 2 slot after a 7.191 at 186.36 in his Lucas Oil Buell during his second pass of the day, while Jerry Savoie sits at third with a 7.206 at 183.37 in his White Alligator Racing Suzuki.

 

Qualifying continues at 4:00 and 6:30 p.m. on Saturday.

 

***

 

MORRISON, Colo. — Friday’s results after the first day of qualifying for the 38th annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway, 14th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.  Qualifying will continue Saturday for Sunday’s final eliminations.

 

Top Fuel — 1. Doug Kalitta, 3.767 seconds, 323.97 mph; 2. Steve Torrence, 3.775, 323.97; 3. Tony Schumacher, 3.776, 326.63; 4. Brittany Force, 3.782, 318.84; 5. Shawn Langdon, 3.795, 313.37; 6. Leah Pritchett, 3.801, 318.09; 7. Clay Millican, 3.910, 251.44; 8. Bob Vandergriff, 3.913, 274.16; 9. Antron Brown, 3.941, 308.50; 10. Terry McMillen, 4.022, 293.92; 11. Scott Palmer, 4.082, 230.53; 12. Terry Haddock, 4.224, 275.56; 13. Troy Coughlin Jr., 6.287, 111.69; 14. Greg Carrillo, 7.483, 108.78.

 

Funny Car — 1. Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.889, 328.30; 2. John Force, Camaro, 3.899, 301.87; 3. Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.973, 315.56; 4. Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 3.981, 300.06; 5. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.989, 319.82; 6. Jonnie Lindberg, Camry, 3.993, 319.98; 7. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.010, 322.65; 8. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.016, 303.37; 9. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.024, 319.60; 10. J.R. Todd, Camry, 4.078, 308.35; 11. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.266, 219.47; 12. Del Worsham, Camry, 4.320, 232.07; 13. Todd Simpson, Charger, 4.342, 248.07; 14. Jeff Diehl, Toyota Solara, 4.398, 295.79; 15. Jim Campbell, Charger, 5.316, 133.38; 16. Matt Hagan, Charger, 5.544, 113.27.

 

Pro Stock — 1. Drew Skillman, Chevy Camaro, 6.925, 197.94; 2. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.944, 198.17; 3. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.958, 196.70; 4. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.959, 198.06; 5. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.959, 197.48; 6. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.966, 197.65; 7. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.968, 196.13; 8. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.981, 196.87; 9. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.984, 196.10; 10. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 7.004, 196.33; 11. Alan Prusiensky, Dart, 7.080, 194.60; 12. Deric Kramer, Dart, 7.494, 181.62; 13. Richie Stevens, Dart, 7.648, 141.53; 14. Tanner Gray, Camaro, 12.716, 69.10.

 

Pro Stock Motorcycle — 1. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 7.178, 185.66; 2. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 7.191, 186.36; 3. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 7.206, 183.37; 4. Matt Smith, Victory, 7.217, 185.49; 5. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 7.225, 185.89; 6. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 7.229, 183.32; 7. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 7.270, 183.05; 8. Cory Reed, Victory, 7.275, 181.37; 9. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 7.276, 183.92; 10. Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, 7.294, 181.28; 11. Melissa Surber, Buell, 7.387, 183.79; 12. David Hope, Buell, 7.410, 179.92; 13. Mike Berry, Buell, 7.444, 177.63; 14. Lance Bonham, Buell, 7.477, 178.31; 15. Andie Rawlings, Suzuki, 8.162, 165.56; 16. Angelle Sampey, Victory, 10.283, 79.50.  Not Qualified: 17. Angie Smith, 11.113, 75.25.

 

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RACE RECAP WRITTEN BY & A COURTESY OF NHRA COMMUNICATIONS

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