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#1 26-12-2017 11:32:00

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BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Two drivers arrive at Michigan this week fresh off

BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Two drivers arrive at Michigan this week fresh off announcements of their Darlington paint schemes.During those events, the typical optimism reigned. There was at least the mention of one of these drivers winning the Labor Day weekend race. The Southern 500 remains one of the biggest events on the NASCAR calendar not only for prestige, but also because it sits as the next-to-last shot for drivers to win their way into the Chase for the Sprint Cup.The drivers spoke with at least some hope of winning and earning such a berth.Those drivers: Greg Biffle and Kasey Kahne.Yes, that Greg Biffle. The one who drives for Roush Fenway Racing and has led just 21 laps in three races in 2016 and has one top-5 this year. He does have 19 career wins, but sits 22nd in the points. Biffle enters the Pure Michigan 400 this weekend at Michigan International Speedway winless in his last 116 starts.Yes, that Kasey Kahne. The one who drives for Hendrick Motorsports and has led no laps this year. Zip. He has two top-5s and his consistent finishes between sixth and 20th (14 in 23 races this year) has him 17th in the points. Kahne, who has 17 career Cup wins, enters Michigan winless in his last 70 starts.Neither driver has had much fun the last couple years in trying to find speed to get back to Victory Lane. They hope their fortunes will turn this weekend.You can lead a lap easily, Kahne said. You dont even have to be fast to lead a lap, and we havent led a lap. ... Its terrible to not lead a lap in this series, as good a team as we have and a company we race for.We need to figure out a lot of things.Many drivers in their careers find themselves mired in a slump. Biffle, second in the 2005 championship standings and third in 2008, feels his team has started to turn things around.His three top-10s this year came in consecutive races at Daytona, Kentucky and New Hampshire in July.Were here to win, Biffle said. Kasey Kahne is in this sport to win. Were all in this sport to win. The commitment level of all those drivers, were here to win and not just race.The last couple of years [before 2016], I felt like our cars really werent capable of winning. ... Did I think that was my ability? Absolutely not.Biffle feels that way because during his years at Roush Fenway, he had seasons where he had more wins than Matt Kenseth and seasons where he had more wins than Carl Edwards. Those drivers now consistently win at Joe Gibbs Racing.I feel like I can win races, Biffle said. I know I can win races. Thats why Im still in the uniform. And I will tell you this: I will probably retire before I say I cant win races anymore.Biffle has one more year left in his deal at Roush Fenway. Kahne is signed through 2018 and has sponsorship backing him specifically from Great Clips. Kahne doesnt view Hendricks hiring of 18-year-old William Byron as a sign Hendrick is grooming his replacement.If I havent performed by 2018, its time to do something different, said Kahne, who finished fourth in the 2012 championship standings in his first year at Hendrick. Its just the way racing and life is.Kahne said it comes down to having the speed he needs to go fast. He hasnt had, in recent years, the feel in the cars he yearns to have.Its been going on for a long time on my front, Kahne said. Its just not where I want to be in the sport. ... You can look at it and tell were just about kind of as good as we are.Something needs to happen, whether the car gets changed or the setup gets changed -- things have to happen for us to be much better. Were working hard and were just 13th to 18th. Thats just where were at.The working hard is the cause of the frustration, Biffle said.Last year was just ... bad, Biffle said. What is the frustrating part about last year is everybody was working so dang hard. That happens.When you run bad, or you dont have fast cars, you work three times as hard and three times as much as other teams.Dealing with that frustration forces a driver to focus on whats ahead. He said a driver must enter Michigan this weekend believing he can win if everything goes right.Our team is capable of running between fifth and 15th right now, we feel like, Biffle said. We want to run more consistently in the top 5. Thats what produces wins.Biffles last back-to-back races in the top 5 came in June 2013; Kahnes came in November 2013.Because of NASCARs rules, drivers dont get to test except for Goodyear tests and the occasional NASCAR test, where one driver from each organization can get behind the wheel. Teams often rely on simulation programs to determine their next move on how to make the cars go fast.When you get behind and you cant test, its hard to get that feel back that youre looking for, Kahne said. When you dont have it, you cant go fast.Its different for everybody. Every driver drives different. Im missing out on something and I need it to go fast.While the drivers know they have three final chances to make the Chase by winning a race -- Michigan and Darlington are followed by the regular- season finale at Richmond -- they also know that making the Chase doesnt cure all ills.Biffle and Kahne both made the Chase in 2014, with winless Biffle finishing 14th in the standings and Kahne -- who had won in the next-to-last regular-season race at Atlanta -- at 15th. Last year, neither made the Chase, with Kahne 18th in the final points and Biffle 20th.Kahne said the biggest role he plays remains working as hard as he can and respecting the work his team puts in on a daily basis.Im more focused on just getting better week to week, Kahne said. Making the Chase would be great, but if you cant finish in the top 15, then whats it really matter in the Chase? Youre going to be out in the first round anyway. Dee Ford Jersey . The team said Saturday that Lopez was hurt during its 121-120 overtime loss at Philadelphia on Friday. The Nets said they would issue another update next week after consultation with their doctors. Joe Montana Jersey . Brett Kulak and Jackson Houck of the Vancouver Giants were each charged with assault causing bodily harm on Aug. 18, according to the B.C. court services. http://www.chiefsfootballpro.com/Chiefs … ez-Jersey/ . Irving scored 23 points, Tristan Thompson had 20 points and 10 rebounds and the Cavaliers beat the Denver Nuggets 117-109 on Friday night. Kareem Hunt Jersey . -- The St. Johns IceCaps weathered a wild first period with the help of goaltender Jussi Olkinuora, before finding offensive inroads in the second. Chris Jones Jersey . Here are his mid-season NBA awards.  MVP: (KEVIN DURANT-Thunder) - Has been sensational this season and more importantly, the most consistent player in the league. Considering that his team has been without star guard Russell Westbrook and with the free agent departure of sharpshooter Kevin Martin, hes had to carry the majority of the load to not only keep his team afloat but more importantly, at an elite level. YAS MARINA, Abu Dhabi -- Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton are fighting for the world championship this weekend. ESPN will be keeping track of both mens interactions with the press, social media and track performances to build up to Sundays grand prix showdown. (Local times displayed)-----Sunday15:40 - Nate Saunders? The traditional end-of-season photograph has been taken on the start-finish straight. Jenson Button and Felipe Massa sat front and centre, flanked by the title contenders. Both men looking calm and collected.?Some interesting gamesmanship follows -- as they all walk to the drivers parade truck, Rosberg rolls in as if it was a wrestling ring and sits himself on the railings at the front of the truck. Thats Hamiltons usual spot, and his teammate awkwardly lingers for a moment as Rosberg waves to the crowd. Eventually Rosberg smirks and walks away from that position to the rear of the truck, allowing Hamilton to take his usual position, where he likes to sit so he can wave to the fans in the grandstand and not be distracted by other drivers.Speaking on the parade, Rosberg says: I try to keep things business as usual... Im feeling very, very good, Im liking the car. Still doing his best to keep his mind focused on anything but the championship showdown we are edging closer and closer towards. ?15:20 - Laurence Edmondson The atmosphere is building in the Yas Marina paddock ahead of todays season finale. Neither Lewis Hamilton nor Nico Rosberg can take a walk in the paddock without 20 camera lenses being pointed in their direction. Sunglasses, hat and headphones is Hamiltons usual race day attire and hell have the volume turned up to 11 today as he tries to block out the rest of the world out and stay in the zone. Meanhwile, Rosberg has already picked up one trophy this year for the most fastest laps of the season -- as long as he adds a second piece of silverware on the podium after the race he will be crowned world champion.Saturday20:00 - Nate Saunders?A vital pole position for Hamilton, but Rosberg is still the man in the pound seats going into tomorrow -- third or above is good enough for a maiden world championship. Hamilton looked very happy with himself after qualifying, he is arguably driving better at the moment than at any point during the season. But his work is still cut out for him tomorrow.Both men took to Twitter after qualifying, and Rosberg still seems to be a picture of calm going into the biggest grand prix of his career.?15:30 - Laurence Edmondson The view from Turn 19: FP3 wasnt the most revealing of sessions, but watching trackside in the final sector it was clear that Mercedes still has an edge over the opposition. Hamilton and Rosberg opted not to go for a second run on a set of fresh ultra-soft tyres at the very end of the session -- hence their deficit to Vettel, Verstappen and Raikkonen who did -- but they did set a time on the compound earlier in the session. I picked Turn 19 to watch in the hope that the off-camber corner (and looming steel barrier on the exit) might reveal a weakness in one of the two, but both cars looked painted to the tarmac throughout.By the time the drivers reach this section of track, the rear tyres have the potential to be on the absolute limit. The stop start nature of the final sector can cause drivers to overheat the compound, reducing grip just when the driver needs it most to launch the car towards the final two corners. Even though Vettel and Raikkonen were faster than the Mercedes drivers overall, they both lost time to Hamilton and Rosberg in this sector and its largely down to a struggle with traction on the exit of the corners. Only Verstappen was quicker, but he did so with the rear of the car stepping out as he pinned the throttle just past the apex. There were no such dramas for Rosberg or Hamilton, who both kept their cars perfectly in control as they used every last centimetre of track on offer. Dont be fooled by the headline times, qualifying is still Mercedes to lose.?14:50 - Laurence Edmondson Team boss Toto Wolff plays down suggestions that there could have been an ulterior motive to Mercedes decision to swap mechanics from both sides of the garage earlier this year. Hamilton had suggested there may have been more to the decision than met the eye during a press conference on Thursday (see below(.11:15 - Laurence Edmondson The view from inside the Mercedes garage on Saturday morning. FP3 starts at 14:00 with pole position decided from 17:00 onwards ...Friday21:30 - Laurence Edmondson A close shave! It turns out Felipe Nasr nearly collided with Hamilton during FP2 when he came across the Mercedes exiting the pits while he was on a fast lap. One of our Brazilian colleagues, Luis Fernando Ramos, was kind enough to translate what Nasr had to say about it after the session: Unfortunately I didnt get a clean run on the ultra-softs. I had to stop my first try and the second mainly because Hamilton was exiting the pits and I nearly crashed into his car. It was really close! So I lost all the maximum of my tyre for a fast lap. I wouldnt say he wasnt paying attention, it was the nature of that corner because its in the middle of Turn 3 and there was also another car on the inside. So there were three cars in the corner and I only just passed between them and it was really close. Both Hamilton and Mercedes will be glad that one didnt end differently. ?19:30 - Laurence Edmondson Hamilton will run a tribute to his friend, mentor and former doctor Aki Hintsa, who died last week at the age of 58 following a battle with cancer. The Mercedes driver gave a heart-felt answer to a question about Hintsa on Thursday - here is a part of what he said: To have finished his life so early was definitely tough to see but coming here this weekend, whilst I have that fighting spirit in my heart from the last races Ive done, I come here with almost double the power in the sense that I feel that I want to win this race more so for him. We were texting every single race through his battle and particularly the last race [in Brazil] on Sunday.dddddddddddd. Yeah, so coming here this weekend, whilst its an emotional time, Im here to try and do him proud, do well for him as he had helped prepare and the belief he had in me.19:15 - Laurence Edmondson Toto Wolff is facing questions about Hamiltons comments regarding Mercedes decision this year to mix up its mechanics from the two sides of the garage (see below). He makes it very clear that he made the decision based on what was right for the F1 teams 1,500 employees and not what was right for Hamilton alone. Mercedes has always maintained that the switch was carried out to stop the garage splitting into two cliques behind each driver. It seems as though this is a touchy issue between Mercedes and Hamilton and we may not have heard the end of it just yet ...19:00 - Laurence Edmondson The F1 track action for the day is done and dusted. The gap between Hamilton and Rosberg in the crucial second session (the only one held in the same conditions as qualifying and the race) was just 0.079s in Hamiltons favour, suggesting were in for a close battle. Red Bull was over half a second off the pace of the Mercedes on one-lap pace, but looked very competitive over long runs. A bad start for either Rosberg or Hamilton could see them struggle in the race if they fall behind on the run down to Turn 1.14:30 - Laurence Edmondson Advantage Hamilton after FP1 ... although it must be said its a fairly irrelevant advantage at this stage. First practice in Abu Dhabi is one of the least useful practice sessions of the year. The conditions are way hotter (due to the sun being up) than qualifying or the race, which are held as the sun is setting. Hamilton set his best time on the softs, Rosberg on the ultra-softs, but again that discrepancy is not unusual for an FP1 session. FP2 should give a much better indication, but Hamilton can take some encouragement from the two Red Bulls being roughly a tenth off Rosbergs best effort. If Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo can finish between him and Rosberg on Sunday, that is Hamiltons? most obvious route to a fourth title.13:30 - Nate Saunders Hamilton becomes the first of the Mercedes drivers to spin this weekend -- swapping ends on the exit of Turn 5 after a long run on the ultra-soft tyre. An easy thing to do on Pirellis softest compound after that many laps, especially on a track still lacking grip at this stage of the weekend.?13:00 - Nate Saunders Rosberg leaves the garage ahead of the first practice session of the biggest F1 weekend of his career.?Thursday22:00 - Nate Saunders Nico Rosberg is feeling the love from local fans this weekend. The championship leader had quite a contingent of fans in the paddock today...20:00 - Nate Saunders? Lots of chatter in the paddock about the press conference, and notably a lot of difference in opinion towards Hamiltons demeanor and attitude throughout. Some thought he was in a bad mood -- especially early on -- while others claimed he was on good form, smiling and joking throughout the session. The pair did talk highly of the respect in their relationship, with Hamilton even going as far as saying he is proud of what his old karting friend has achieved in recent seasons. There were also a few moments of light-hearted humour between them, which hasnt always been the case in 2016.?18:15 - Laurence Edmondson On a Thursday the FOM camera men get a bit of practice in watching the safety car and medical car put their sighter laps in. For reasons Ive never really understood, the action of the two Mercedes road cars is beamed into the media centre for us to watch. However, this weeks edition of Thursdays track action happened to pan away to the Mercedes team garage where we saw Toto Wolff addressing a packed garage of Mercedes mechanics and engineers in what looked like a motivational speech ahead of the first practice day tomorrow. Anyway, the screens are now showing safety car driver Bernd Maylander hold an impressive slide coming out of the Turn 7 hairpin. ?17:30 - Laurence EdmondsonEveryone loves an Abu Dhabi sunset ...17:00 - Laurence Edmondson Although the pair spend a lot of time in the same engineering room, its rare that Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg attend the same press conference. In many ways their answers mirrored their approaches this season. While Rosberg stuck to the same well-worn mantra of taking it one race at a time and not thinking about the title (even when just one race remains on which the title rests), Hamilton was laid back and willing to further from the script in his responses.The most obvious example followed a long but quite pointed question about Mercedes decision to swap five mechanics between the two sides of the garage at the start of the year. While Rosberg talked about team spirit and everybody pulling in the same direction, Hamilton clearly still feels there was more to the decision than reached the media as he told the press to wait for a future autobiography to learn the truth behind the decision. When it hits the shelves at the end of his career it will be an interesting read!Undoubtedly the pressure is on Rosberg, but he seems to be handling it well. A couple of Hamiltons answers resulted in raised eyebrows or a sideways glance, but other than that he is dealing with the magnitude of the event well.16:00 -Nate Saunders? Facing the media for the first time ahead of the weekend and on their own, Rosberg and Hamilton make their way in together and immediately sit on the front row. The press conference host asks if they will stand and shake hands for the photographers in attendance. Neither man proffers their hand to the other, while Rosberg verbally says he does not want to.The two men lightened up as the press conference continued...WednesdayTo be updated throughout the weekend. Cheap NFL Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys Wholesale NFL Jerseys Jerseys From China Wholesale NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys Cheap Jerseys ' ' '



26-12-2017 11:32:00




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