Vegas qualifying rained out; Keselowski on pole

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With rain washing away NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying today at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, reigning Cup champion Brad Keselowski will start on pole for Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 400.

The first 36 starting positions for Sunday’s race will be set by last year’s owner points, meaning that Keselowski and Michael Waltrip Racing’s Clint Bowyer will be occupying the front row. The final seven spots are being filled by either owner points or qualifying attempts from this year. NASCAR will begin to use 2013 points in the event of qualifying cancellations starting next weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway.

A pre-qualifying Cup practice session was also scratched because of the weather, meaning that an entire day of track time was lost. While teams were able to test on Thursday at LVMS, today’s rainout will add a little more importance to the two Cup practices set for tomorrow as the garage continues to figure out the new Generation 6 machines.

“Certainly, we’d like to have all the track time we can get,” Keselowski told NASCAR.com. “It’s the same for everybody, the same circumstances, and it’s all about how you adapt to it.”

Row 2 will feature championship leader Jimmie Johnson and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne, while Row 3 features Greg Biffle (who led Thursday’s test session at LVMS) and Denny Hamlin. As for the two most popular drivers in the Cup series, Dale Earnhardt Jr. will go off 12th and Danica Patrick will start 37th on the grid.

You can check out the full starting lineup here.

F1 2017 driver review: Max Verstappen

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Max Verstappen

Team: Red Bull Racing
Car No.: 33
Races: 20
Wins: 2
Podiums (excluding wins): 2
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 1
Points: 168
Laps Led: 133
Championship Position: 6th

Max Verstappen rise as a once-in-a-generation talent continued through the 2017 Formula 1 season, even if reliability issues meant we were made to wait for his best form to arrive.

Verstappen stole the show in a wet-dry Chinese Grand Prix by charging from 16th to seventh in the opening lap before ultimately finishing third for Red Bull, yet he would not grace the podium again until the Malaysian Grand Prix at the start of October.

A combination of power unit problems and on-track clashes saw Verstappen retire from seven of the 12 races in the intermittent period, with incidents in Spain and Austria being avoidable.

Perhaps most embarrassing of all was his stoppage due to a power unit failure in front of a grandstand swathed in orange at the Belgian Grand Prix, a race tens of thousands of Dutch fans had attended to cheer Verstappen on.

But when Verstappen got things right, it was – as he frequently quoted – simply, simply lovely. There was plenty left in the tank, as proven by his sheer domination of the races in Malaysia and Mexico as he took the second and third wins of his career.

Perhaps even more impressive was Verstappen’s victory over Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo in the qualifying head-to-head battle this year, an area the Australian has traditionally been strong in. Verstappen outqualifed his teammate 13-7 – it wasn’t even close…

All in all, Verstappen once again proved that on his day, he is one of the finest talents to grace F1 in recent years. With the right car underneath him next year, a title fight is certainly possible and will be the target – but there is always room for improvement.

And that is the scary part: Verstappen is only going to get better and better.

Season High: Dominating in Malaysia after an early pass on Lewis Hamilton.

Season Low: Crashing out on Lap 1 in Austria.