Kenseth stuns Edwards for NASCAR pole in Kansas

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Matt Kenseth pulled a rabbit out of his hat to score the pole for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 400 at Kansas Speedway this weekend.

Kenseth, the last driver to qualify in the No. 20 Home Depot/Husky Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, set a new track record of 191.86 mph to bump former Roush Fenway Racing teammate Carl Edwards off pole.

Edwards, and Kenseth’s new teammate Kyle Busch, watched and stared in utter disbelief (right).

Kenseth’s not known as a qualifying ace – the pole is only his ninth in a Sprint Cup career dating back to 1998 – but the run was one of his most impressive thanks to a new strategy on the 1.5-mile oval.

“You know, I struggled through (Turns) 1 and 2 all day, and I tried something really different there in qualifying,” Kenseth told NASCAR.com. “I watched Ricky and a couple of other guys get through there, and I kind of changed my approach to the corner.

“I knew I got through there pretty good, but I didn’t know it was that good, but, man, I didn’t think I could do any better in 3 and 4. It felt pretty good.”

Edwards, reluctantly, tipped his cap.

“I didn’t think Matt would be a factor, but he pulled that out somehow,” he said.

Behind the bemused front row, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. qualified third in another Roush Fenway Ford, ahead of Sam Hornish Jr. in a third Penske Racing Ford and Kyle Busch in the second of three JGR Toyotas.

Aric Almirola, Michael Waltrip Racing teammates Martin Truex Jr. and Mark Martin, Ryan Newman and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top 10.

Penske’s pair of Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano – reeling from penalties issued by NASCAR earlier this week – qualified 33rd and 22nd respectively.

Lewis Hamilton comes home to Mercedes factory after fourth title

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On Monday, the Formula 1 schedule finally allowed teams to be in Europe before heading to Abu Dhabi for this weekend’s season finale.

And as such, that provided a window for now four-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton to return to the Mercedes AMG Petronas factories in Brackley and Brixworth to be celebrated for taking the driver’s title, as Hamilton an Valtteri Bottas delivered Mercedes its fourth straight constructor’s title.

Hamilton was at Brixworth, the home of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) and its highly successful Mercedes-Benz Power Units first before heading to Brackley, where he was welcomed with a “guard of honor” as the entire team came out to greet him.

The champion was overwhelmed at the response and the welcome.

“This a very emotional day. I was not expecting this, thanks everyone for the warm welcome,” he said. “Today is something that I will never forget, turning up at the front gate of the factory and seeing everyone out on the street to welcome me – I’m blown away.

“This has been an incredible year, it’s been an incredible journey together. There’s a huge amount of respect and appreciation I have for everyone. I’ve been in the sport for a long time now, but to see the work ethic in Brixworth and Brackley really inspires me. Every time I come around, I see everyone operating at 100%, which encourages me to bring my best performance.

“Thank you all for helping me achieve my dreams, it would not have been possible without you. This is the best championship year, because we’ve been fighting another team and because we’ve had the difficulties and challenges we’ve had – that just makes it so much greater.”

A social roundup of images and videos are below, all via Hamilton and the Mercedes team on social media.