Malaysian Grand Prix organizers' extensive renovations to the Sepang International Circuit ahead of Sunday's Formula 1 race include nine corners being altered, primarily in terms of banking.

The whole venue was resurfaced earlier this year with organizers updating drainage and run-off areas, ironing out bumps and changing the challenge of some corners. Sepang International Circuit CEO Razlan Razali said the changes are so sweeping, for the drivers "it will be as if they've come to Sepang circuit for the first time."

Jarno Zaffelli, founder of Italian racetrack design company Dromo that carried out the work, said tires will respond differently to the new surface.

"Almost all corners will be more demanding in terms of vertical load while the last corner will do the opposite, with reverse camber and low speed, the grip will rely mainly on the tires," he said.

Nine corners have been updated, with more than 2,000 feet of curbs rebuilt to FIA and FIM spec.

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The most dramatic changes have been made at the Turn 15 final corner hairpin (above), where the inside of the corner has been raised by three feet to change the racing line and potentially improve overtaking opportunities.

The lateral gradient is now -4% compared to +2% at the apex, which should also improve drainage at a corner where a pool of standing water would form when heavy rain fell in the past.

Turns 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 12 and 13 have also had their gradients altered, with organizers aiming to improve drainage and/or driveability of the corners.

The most significant of those changes are raising the inside of Turn 2 (below) – which previously featured a significant dip – to make the apex curb more visible, and reprofiling the banking on the inside of the fast Turn 5 sweeper.

The bumps that were a characteristic of the rundown to Turn 1 and Turn 4 have been ironed out through the resurfacing.

Following FIA race director Charlie Whiting's inspection, the homologation report said: "The entire track surface and the fast lane of the pits have been resurfaced to very high standards. In a number of locations the levels of the track have been re-profiled to make the corners flow better or to improve drainage.

"This is high quality work. The works carried out to the circuit appeared excellent. The general condition of the installations was first class."

Last week, the FIA said track bosses have "taken every reasonable precaution" to prevent the problems encountered at a MotoGP test earlier this year. The test was thwarted by problems with the track drying and then water seeping back through the surface, but measures have since been put in place ahead of this weekend's race.


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16C 0630 XLWhile we wait to see where Tony Kanaan, Juan Montoya, Carlos Munoz and Max Chilton land in 2017 and if Gabby Chavez, Conor Daly, Spencer Pigot, R.C. Enerson and J.R. Hildebrand can remain in the Verizon IndyCar Series, it's also necessary to point out that IndyCar's waiting room is overflowing with youthful, hungry talent.

And they pretty much have nowhere to go.

At least a dozen drivers from the Mazda Road to Indy, past and present, own IndyCar aspirations but opportunities seem limited to the second seat at Dale Coyne and possibly the third car at Schmidt Peterson. Depending on what A.J. and Larry Foyt decide, there's at least one opening in the ABC Supply stable and if Chilton leaves Ganassi to go with Trevor Carlin, one of the primo seats in the series might even be up for bid.

carpenter montoyaIt sounds like Ed Carpenter has his sights set on Montoya or Kanaan to replace Josef Newgarden in the #1 slot for the Fuzzy's Chevrolet, with Hildebrand also a logical candidate and Pigot hopeful of staying on board for Indy and road racing duty. But that still leaves no less than 12-16 imminently qualified drivers going for three or four rides.

And, following the 19-year-old Enerson's seamless and eye-opening transition from Lights to IndyCar this season, it's certainly not out of the question for promising kids to get hired – especially if they bring a little money.

So here's a list (in alphabetical order) of Indy Lights' vets, past and present, that are either praying for a winning lottery ticket or another engine manufacturer to come along so they can move up to the big stage that currently sports far too few car owners.

MATT BRABHAM: The third generation of this famous family finally got into the Indy 500 and did a nice job but the 22-year-old is tired of driving the Honda two-seater and wants a full-time shot with no passengers.

SCOTT HARGROVE: This 21-year-old native of British Columbia lost the 2014 Pro Mazda title by a hair and has been scrambling to find Lights' rides ever since but IndyCar needs to cultivate a good, young Canadian and they have one in this kid.

JACK HARVEY: Runner-up twice in the Lights' championship, the 23-year-old Brit knows how to get to the front (2012 British Formula 3 champion) and has plenty of savvy, just not much money.

04CJ4754 XLED JONES: The 21-year-old native of Dubai (pictured) is headed for at least three IndyCar starts in 2017 after winning the Indy Lights' crown with Trevor Carlin, who figures to partner with KV racing in 2017.

KYLE KAISER: Only 20, the Californian captured a pair of Lights' races in 2016 and wants to follow Enerson's lead and head for IndyCar in 2017.

SAGE KARAM: It's hard to believe the ex-Ganassi driver is still only 21 and it's harder to believe that nobody has picked up the Nazareth native who dazzled everyone in his 2015 Indy 500 debut and several times as a rookie in 2016. Dario Franchitti believes in him, but sadly no car owners feel that way at the moment.

SEAN RAYHALL: The 21-year-old Georgian triumphed twice in the 2015 Lights' season and then had a good IndyCar test at Sonoma before heading off to sportscars in 2016 to make a living.

FELIX ROSENQVIST: Scored three wins in only 10 starts in the 2016 Lights' campaign and backed that up with an IndyCar test at Mid-Ohio that still has the Ganassi guys raving. The 24-year-old Swede is a two-time Macau Grand Prix winner and has that "can't miss" look but you wonder if anybody in the IndyCar paddock is paying attention.

FELIX SERRALLES: The 24-year-old native of Puerto Rico had two Lights' victories in 2016 and may have enough funding to move up.

DEAN STONEMAN: Appeared to be on the fast track to F1 before battling and beating cancer and the 26-year-old Brit made it to Victory Lane twice during the '16 Lights' season.

SANTI URRITIA: The 20-year-old from Uruguay won four Lights races this year but lost the $1 million prize as champion to team tactics, so he needs funding.

ZACH VEACH: After sitting out a year, the 21-year-old American came storming back with three victories in Lights in 2016 and then blew everyone away with his IndyCar test for ECR at Sonoma.

lefebure COTA 0916 11555Starworks Motorsport owner Peter Baron has locked down a delivery date to receive his new-for-2017 Riley Mk 30 LMP2 chassis. Baron's Mk 30 will be powered by a Gibson V8 engine and run in FIA World Endurance Championship specification for use in IMSA's WeatherTech SportsCar Championship series, and any other international events Starworks adds to its calendar.

"We're shored up for a car delivery in December," Baron told RACER. "Bill [Riley] is going to do some testing with it and then we'll get it a few weeks before the Roar Before the 24. One way or the other, we'll put something together for the Rolex [24]."

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The Florida-based entrant says finishing the 2016 WeatherTech Championship season, which concludes Saturday night at Petit Le Mans, and other duties have planning for Starworks' 2017 Prototype campaign somewhat difficult.

"Thing have been really busy lately, we've been running a lot of PC cars and have a championship we're trying to get, so with the season about to be over, I'll have a lot more time to dedicate to the P2 car," he added. "I've seen all the [P2] announcements from JDC and PR1, and I've been like, 'Dammit, I need to get something out there.'

"I'm like a cockroach; you can't kill me. I'll keep on surviving. It will take some creative juggling, but I will get something together and we'll be out there."

Baron is known for putting together highly creative driver line-ups to start each season at the Rolex 24 At Daytona. WEC P1 champions Allan McNish and Brendon Hartley, Formula 1 veteran Rubens Barrichello, IndyCar champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, and recent Formula E signee Felix Rosenqvist have all piloted Starworks entries in recent years, and given the chance to nominate his leader for January's championship opener, Baron would go with Renger van der Zande.

"Nobody knew who Renger was when he came over and started driving for me, and now he's the guy all of our drivers want to partner with," he said of the Dutchman who leads the PC standings for Starworks with Alex Popow (ABOVE). "He's ready to be a leader and every package I can come up with will have Renger in it at the top."

2014BarberSpringTrainingMPruettMon317 372Andretti Autosport is expected to announce its acquisition of championship-winning engineer Eric Bretzman from Chip Ganassi Racing. Bretzman, who served as Scott Dixon's race engineer for 12 years (pictured with Dixon in 2014) and won three IndyCar championships and the 2008 Indy 500 with the New Zealander, was reassigned to Ganassi's NASCAR program in 2015 to help turn around the engineering side of its fading Sprint Cup operation.

With Ganassi's Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray now safely in The Chase, and Andretti in need of an engineering rebound after a tough 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season, the signing of Bretzman could rank among the biggest off-season scores made by any team.

Attempts to reach Bretzman for comment were unsuccessful.

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It's believed Bretzman will work in the capacity of a technical director overseeing Andretti's IndyCar engineering program, and possibly some of its other racing endeavors, rather than return to the timing stand to engineer one of its IndyCar entries for the year.

At the time of his relocation from Ganassi's IndyCar program to its NASCAR operation, CGR managing director Mike Hull praised Bretzman's ability as a fixer.

"What he brings to them is a clear determination to really answer questions and solve problems," Hull said at the start of 2015. "Find a clear and direct answer and direction for everything that goes on, on a daily basis. That is what an engineer at Chip Ganassi Racing does best; he takes that cultural mindset with him when he goes to work with our people in North Carolina."

Bretzman will be tasked with the same kind of engineering lift at Andretti, and unlike his recent foray in Sprint Cup, he'll return to a series where his experience was directly responsible for two decades of success.

garage andrettiIn concert with the rest of Andretti's excellent engineering staff, there will be heightened expectations for the Honda-powered entries piloted by Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti, and the rest of the to-be-confirmed 2017 lineup with Bretzman involved.

Coming off a 2015 season where the team served as one of Honda's most prominent performers when RHR and Munoz combined for three wins, Andretti Autosport spent the majority of 2016 searching for missing speed.

Despite the valiant efforts led by Andretti's drivers and engineers, a single win, albeit at the Indy 500 with Alexander Rossi, was the lone bright spot among far too many races where ill-handling cars blighted the program's capabilities. By adding Bretzman in a senior engineering role to spearhead a turnaround, a return to form would seem inevitable.

And on a lighter note, with Eric's younger brother Ben having just won his first IndyCar championship with Simon Pagenaud at Team Penske, the Bretzman rivalry will resume as Andretti Autosport seeks its first title since 2012.

Honda will wait until it gets to Sepang before deciding whether to introduce its last Formula 1 upgrade of the season for the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button will take penalties when the update is introduced so Honda chief Yusuke Hasegawa would like to avoid introducing it at the firm's home race in Japan.

Honda has three tokens remaining and wants to focus the update on the internal combustion engine. But it could spend the tokens on other areas if the ICE results from the dyno are not strong enough.

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Honda is also considering the possibility of only one car getting the update because of the associated penalties.

Ahead of this weekend's race in Malaysia, Hasegawa said: "We are not 100 percent certain if we will install any power unit updates for this race. But we'll look to make our final decision at the track based on the balance of performance and reliability."

Though McLaren has been increasingly competitive in recent races, it has not managed to get both cars into the points in a grand prix since Monaco in May.

Recent incidents and failures include Button retiring with brake damage following a first-lap crash in Singapore and being eliminated on lap one in Belgium after a collision with Pascal Wehrlein, plus Alonso failing to set a time in qualifying in Belgium because of a power unit issue.

McLaren racing director Eric Boullier said the team's focus for Malaysia is on getting both cars to the checkered flag as it looks to consolidate sixth place in the constructors' championship as a minimum.

"After a recent run of mixed fortunes on one side of the garage, our aim for the remaining races has to be to iron out reliability niggles and finish with both cars," he said.

"If we can achieve reliability on both sides of the garage, I'm hopeful for a positive weekend. We've proved recently that our package is a firm contender in the midfield pack and we have the potential to finish ahead of some strong teams. So we'll keep fighting to maintain our position and move closer to the front of the grid."

Although Sepang, with its long straights, could prove a challenge for McLaren, Button remains hopeful of an encouraging weekend.

"Although it's traditionally seen as a high-speed circuit, which isn't usually something that our package favours, we do have a good car under braking which is necessary to handle the tight corners after the long, fast straights," he said.


4 Force India/Mercedes 112
5 Williams/Mercedes 111
6 McLaren/Honda 54
7 Toro Rosso/Ferrari 47
8 Haas/Ferrari 28


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The Haas Formula 1 team has traced the problem that stopped Romain Grosjean from starting the Singapore Grand Prix to a connector falling off, and designed a fix for Malaysia.

Grosjean encountered a brake-by-wire system problem on the way to the grid in Singapore and there was not enough time to remedy it before the lights went out. Team principal Gunther Steiner said the subsequent investigation had revealed a "very simple" cause.

"It was a connector that fell off," said Steiner. "To get to the connector you have to take the gearbox off and, obviously, there was no time to do that. Sunday night after the race in Singapore, we took the gearbox off and it was as simple as reconnecting it.

"We'll manufacture a device in Europe to be sent via air freight to Malaysia to ensure the connector doesn't fall off again. It will be fitted on the car before we get on track in Malaysia."


Steiner believes Grosjean's miserable Singapore GP weekend was a one-off and expects the Franco-Swiss to bounce back in Malaysia.

Grosjean suffered two crashes as he struggled with the handling of his Haas on Friday and Saturday and then failed to start the race because of the brake-by-wire problem. He has scored all of the American newcomer's points this season but was beaten by teammate Esteban Gutierrez in three of the four races before Singapore and complained on numerous occasions on team radio about the car's handling.

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When suggested to Steiner that Grosjean can be a "delicate flower" in terms of his character, the team boss replied: "Yes, we all know that but I think he reacts pretty well.

"He gets emotional about it, but he gets it back. He will recover and be back as good as he can at the next race in Malaysia. He's frustrated but I spoke with him before and said, 'Let's get better in Malaysia, let's see the glass half full.'"

Steiner added Haas did not run a new front wing it brought to Singapore but plans to do so in Malaysia.

"We didn't run the new front wing because the drivers weren't sure how to set the car up with the new wing," he said. "We need to re-test it in Malaysia. It's very difficult to test something in Singapore due to the walls. The readings of the data are sometimes different because you get different aero data when you're running between two walls."


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Ebben GT1Above: Cliff Ebben was not to be beat Sunday as he took his fourth GT-1 SCCA Runoffs championship. Credit: Jay Bonvouloir

To close out the 2016 SCCA National Championship Runoffs presented by Garmin VIRB, the powerful GT-1 field filled the hills around Lexington, Ohio, with thunder emanating from the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Cliff Ebben, of Freedom, Wisconsin, claimed his fourth SCCA National Championship with the victory.

Ebben, in the No. 36 McMahon Group/Stumpf Ford/Lamers Ford Mustang was the Tire Rack pole sitter. After racing earlier this weekend in the SCCA Pro Racing sanctioned Trans Am Series event at VIRginia International Raceway, Ebben led the GT-1 field to the start Sunday afternoon at the Runoffs and was overtaken by defending Runoffs GT-1 champion Michael Lewis, of Escondido, California, in the No. 12 Goodyear/Peg's Jaguar XKR.

Lewis and Ebben toured the 2.258-mile, 13-turn track nose-to-tail for the first half-dozen laps, with Ryan McManus, of Westfield Center, Ohio, in the No. 07 The McManus Agency/Goodyear Chevrolet Corvette falling nine-seconds back in third. But beginning on lap eight, Ebben started poking the front of his car alongside Lewis.

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Just before the race's halfway point, Ebben managed a good run out of Turn 9 heading into Thunder Valley and got alongside Lewis. The duo was side by side as they entered the left-hand bend at Turn 11 with Ebben on the outside. The two touched, Lewis spun, and Ebben headed off to what would ultimately be his fourth GT-1 Runoffs championship.

"Everything went real smooth today," Ebben said. "It's been a while since I've won at the Runoffs. It's nice the weekend ended up well. This win is as good as ever."

After the spin, Lewis collected himself, but had fallen into the clutches of McManus in third. Putting his head down, Lewis pulled away intent on chasing down Ebben. But that wouldn't be possible this day, and Lewis finished second.

"We made some changes and the car was better today, but it wasn't ultimately enough," Lewis said after the race.

After McManus lost contact with Lewis, he came under pressure from Dave Ruehlow, of Hartland, Wisconsin, in the No. 31 Ruehlow Racing Chevrolet Corvette. Ruehlow's car had come into its own during the second half of the race and he was able to overtake McManus on his way to a Sunoco Hard Charger award and third-place finish.

"I had a great time out there," Ruehlow said about his first Runoffs podium. "About 10 laps in, my car kind of came alive. I got comfortable out there and started reeling McManus in. I stayed on his bumper, we had some good racing, I got around him, and at the end I was just trying to keep my tires going."

McManus finished fourth and fifth went to Todd Peterson, of Boulder, Colorado, in the No. 2 Peterson Machining Inc. Ford Mustang.

The 53rd SCCA National Championship Runoffs presented by Garmin VIRB, the Pinnacle of American Motorsports, crowns Sports Car Club of America's Club Racing National Champions this year at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, from Friday, September 23 through Sunday, September 25.

While the live broadcast of all 28 National Championships is available live at, each race will be on demand in the coming weeks.

Provisional results for Sunday's SCCA GT-1 National Championship at the 53rd SCCA National Championship Runoffs presented by Garmin VIRB at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, with finish position, starting position in parentheses, driver, hometown, car and laps complete.

1, (1), Cliff Ebben, Freedom, WI, Ford Mustang, 23.

2, (2), Michael Lewis, Escondido, CA, Jaguar XKR, 23.

3, (4), Dave Ruehlow, Hartland, WI, Chevrolet Corvette, 23.

4, (3), Ryan McManus, Westfield Center, OH, Chevrolet Corvette, 23.

5, (5), Todd Peterson, Boulder, CO, Ford Mustang, 23.

6, (7), Jeffrey Hinkle, Destin, FL, Dodge Challenger SRT, 22.

7, (6), Kenneth Davis, Escondido, CA, Chevrolet Corvette, 10.

DNS, (8), Mark Boden, Winnetka, IL, Porsche 997 GT3 Cup, 0 .

Overall Time of Race: 32:55.554
Average Race Speed: 94.638 mph
Margin of Victory: 8.588 seconds
Fastest Race Lap: Michael Lewis, 1:22.866 (98.096 mph)
Sunoco Hard Charger: #31 Dave Ruehlow
Lap Leaders: Laps 1-10, #12 Michael Lewis; 11-23 #31 Cliff Ebben

Kevin Harvick NASCAR New Hampshire 2016

Kevin Harvick won at New Hampshire to advance to the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup round of 12 stage of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Harvick continued where he left off in Chicagoland with his aggressive approach, moving up to third by two-thirds distance after starting 19th on the grid.

"One of our main goals this year was to not stress ourselves out so bad," Harvick said. "I feel like the performance of the car and the things that we're doing are good enough to be competitive, and we just need to not make mistakes and go from there."

He traded places with defending champion Kyle Busch but after the penultimate restart, Harvick moved into second behind Joe Gibbs Racing driver Matt Kenseth, who was aiming to be the first driver to win three consecutive races at New Hampshire.

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Harvick passed Kenseth on the final restart with five laps to go, hanging onto the lead to take the checkered flag.

"Man, that worked out really good," said Harvick, who won for the second time at Loudon. "The car was pretty good on the restarts. Once we got clean air there at the end, it wound up being really good up front. I'm just really proud of our team. They did a great job."

Kenseth was told by NASCAR before the final restart not to slow down in the restart zone, which they believed he had done on the previous restart. 

"They made it sound like I slowed down the last time," Kenseth said. "But in my opinion, the leader is always supposed to have the advantage. He's the leader. He earned that advantage. They said I slowed down a little bit last time, which I've got to re-watch it.

"I don't really think I did, but if I did at all, it's because the inside car (Truex) was laying back a little bit, and you want to make sure he gets up to your nose so it's a fair restart. If he's back at your door and anticipates a little bit, it's not a fair restart. He's going to be equal to you or a little bit better."

"[On the final restart] I saw Kevin at my door, and I should have known better," Kenseth added. "I should have went deep in the box and waited, and the acceleration was probably better down there anyway, but I didn't. I went right at the first line, and he anticipated a little bit of that and got rolling good through the gears, and then I got through the gears bad. I spun the tires in second (gear), I spun the tires in third, so I had a really bad restart besides all that."

Kyle Busch finished third as his gamble to take an extra pit stop compared to many of the Chase competitors gave him rubber to charge through the field.

Former champions Brad Keselowski and Kurt Busch were out of contention for much of the race but benefitted from the final caution flag stops to take fourth and fifth place, respectively.

Polesitter Carl Edwards finished sixth overall, picking up a late-race penalty for crossing into the pit entry too late, hampering his chances of victory.

Furniture Row driver Martin Truex Jr. was the pacesetter for much of the race but the decision was made by the crew of Truex to only change two tires instead of four at the second set of caution pit stops so a few laps after the restart, Kenseth seized the lead.

Truex then dropped down to seventh ahead of Jimmie Johnson as he was overtaken on his final two restarts, having chosen the inside line when the outside of the track had more grip.

Non-Chase driver Kasey Kahne was forced to start at the back, but his charge through the field and timing at pit stops allowed him to progress to ninth place.

Kyle Larson was fastest in all three practice sessions but failed to convert this into race pace – coming home 10th ahead of Joey Logano.

Chase Elliott finished 13th, having been in the top five for much of the race while Denny Hamlin looked set to finish in the top 10 for 10 consecutive races for the first time in his career. But a series of pit lane penalties near the end of the race ended his hopes of continuing that streak.

Austin Dillon had a strong end to the race to take 16th while fellow Chase contender Jamie McMurray lost out in the final pit stops to finish 19th.

Tony Stewart and Chris Buescher had races to forget as they finished well outside the top 20, leaving them in real danger of not making the round of 12 stage of the Chase.


1 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 300
2 Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 300
3 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 300
4 Brad Keselowski Team Penske Ford 300
5 Kurt Busch Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 300
6 Carl Edwards Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 300
7 Martin Truex Jr. Furniture Row Racing Toyota 300
8 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 300
9 Kasey Kahne Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 300
10 Kyle Larson Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 300
11 Joey Logano Team Penske Ford 300
12 Ryan Blaney Wood Brothers Racing Ford 300
13 Chase Elliott Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 300
14 Alex Bowman Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 300
15 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 300
16 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 300
17 Aric Almirola Richard Petty Motorsports Ford 300
18 Danica Patrick Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 300
19 Jamie McMurray Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 300
20 Ryan Newman Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 300
21 A.J. Allmendinger JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 300
22 Clint Bowyer HScott Motorsports Chevrolet 300
23 Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 299
24 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Roush Fenway Racing Ford 299
25 Paul Menard Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 299
26 Michael McDowell Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing Chevrolet 298
27 Casey Mears Germain Racing Chevrolet 298
28 Matt DiBenedetto BK Racing Toyota 298
29 Landon Cassill Front Row Motorsports Ford 298
30 Chris Buescher Front Row Motorsports Ford 298
31 Brian Scott Richard Petty Motorsports Ford 298
32 David Ragan BK Racing Toyota 297
33 Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Racing Ford 297
34 Regan Smith Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet 297
35 Cole Whitt Premium Motorsports Chevrolet 294
36 Reed Sorenson Premium Motorsports Toyota 293
37 Jeffrey Earnhardt Go FAS Racing Ford 290
38 Trevor Bayne Roush Fenway Racing Ford 282
39 Josh Wise The Motorsports Group Chevrolet 268
40 Michael Annett HScott Motorsports Chevrolet 236

Originally on

Quotes courtesy NASCAR Wire Service

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Honda driver Graham Rahal coped best with the hot conditions to finish second.