Matt Kenseth is threatening for another Sprint Cup victory this afternoon and currently leads the Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Kenseth took over the lead following pit stops under yellow at Lap 123 after Denny Hamlin suffered a right front tire failure and slowed on the track. Taking two tires, Kenseth came out of pit road ahead of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brad Keselowski, Tony Stewart, Juan Pablo Montoya and Carl Edwards, all of which also took two instead of four in a bid for track position. Kurt and Kyle Busch, the early pace setters in the race, opted for four tires and were put back in seventh and eighth place at the subsequent restart (Lap 129).
At halfway (Lap 150), Kenseth led Stewart by about a second, followed by Kurt Busch in third, Stewart in fourth, and Kyle Busch in fifth.
Keselowski started on pole, but was quickly overtaken by Kyle Busch, who would hold the point until Lap 62. At that point, Kurt Busch took advantage of his little brother getting loose coming off Turn 4 and took the lead down the front stretch.
Roughly ten laps later, the first run of green flag stops began and eventually ended with Kurt Busch still up front. A caution for debris at Lap 79 bunched up the field again, but Kurt Busch re-opened a gap between himself and the field upon the return of the green flag at Lap 83.
Joey Logano suffered a left-rear tire failure in the opening laps and hit the wall to bring out the first caution of the day. Shortly after the restart at Lap 9, Marcos Ambrose was spun by Kevin Harvick coming out of Turn 4 and was hit by Casey Mears on the frontstretch, bringing out the yellow again at Lap 14.
With action pretty much limited in both practice sessions due to the diesel spillage in free practice one and rain in free practice two for the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi, teams could only do limited wet-weather runs.
Williams Martini Racing tried to make the best of the circumstances, as one of only five teams that completed laps in FP2 (McLaren, Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Ferrari) with eight cars.
Felipe Massa led second practice but it was an essentially meaningless session.
“It was quite a stunted session today which stopped us from completing all of the work we wanted to,” said Rob Smedley, Williams’ head of vehicle performance. “We had planned to run in the wet but we had a strange situation this afternoon in that half of the circuit was much wetter than the other half which made most of the tests null and void.
“We have been working on the wet set-up of the car and so wanted to get out at the end of FP2 to see the progress we have made. In a similar vein to our low speed corner work in Singapore, we seem to be making progress. We got through all of the bits and pieces we wanted to get through in terms of control systems and power unit set-up, and we have to go into tomorrow with a good plan for FP3 to get the car set-up for qualifying and the race.”
Valtteri Bottas finished third in Sochi a year ago, while Massa seeks a rebound after a fuel flow issue in qualifying resigned him to a Q1 elimination and an 11th place finish.
Three weeks after announcing his retirement from motorsport, Johnny Cecotto Jr. will return to racing this weekend at the GP2 round in Sochi, Russia.
Cecotto said on Twitter that “today my career ends” on September 17, announcing that he had lost his backing provided by the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
However, the GP2 veteran will return to racing this weekend with Trident, having last raced for the Italian team at Monza one month ago. He will partner Ferrari junior driver Raffaele Marciello once again.
Cecotto’s return is just one of a number of driver/team stories heading into the GP2 race weekend at Sochi:
- American driver Alexander Rossi returns to GP2 with Racing Engineering this weekend following his two-race stint in F1 with Manor. He will also take part in grands prix in the USA, Mexico and Brazil before returning to GP2 once again in Abu Dhabi.
- Julian Leal has announced his retirement from GP2, and is replaced by debutant Dean Stoneman at Carlin. Stoneman won at Sochi in GP3 last year en route to second place in the championship.S
- Sean Gelael will race for Carlin once again, having missed the round at Monza due to a Formula Renault 3.5 clash.
- Nicholas Latifi returns to GP2 this weekend with MP Motorsport, racing alongside Rene Binder.
- Nathanael Berthon also returns, racing for Team Lazarus.
- Hilmer Motorsport will miss the round in Sochi altogether, reducing the grid down to 24 cars.