Brian Scott leads Nationwide “Happy Hour” at Chicagoland

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Richard Childress Racing claimed the top two spots in this afternoon’s final practice session for tomorrow’s NASCAR Nationwide Series STP 300 at Chicagoland Speedway. Brian Scott led the session with a fast lap at 173.751 miles per hour, followed by teammate Austin Dillon at 173.483 miles per hour.

Scott and Dillon are two of this week’s four “Dash 4 Cash” qualifiers, who are eligible for a $100,000 bonus if they are the highest-finishing driver in the group. The other two qualifiers are Michael Annett and last week’s Sprint Cup winner at New Hampshire, Brian Vickers.

RAB Racing’s Alex Bowman was third-quickest this afternoon at 173.371 mph, followed by a pair of Roush Fenway Racing drivers in Trevor Bayne (fourth, 173.371) and Travis Pastrana (fifth, 173.210). Pastrana is doing double duty in the Windy City this weekend, as he is also competing in a Traxxas TORC off-road event at the Route 66 Raceway (which is conveniently located adjacent to Chicagoland’s 1.5-mile oval).

Sunday’s race may be a pivotal one in the NNS points battle. Championship leader Regan Smith, who has seen his lead over Sam Hornish Jr. shrink down from 58 points to a mere five in the last four races, was 14th-quickest in “Happy Hour” (170.363), while Hornish was ninth-quickest (172.068).

Qualifying will take place tomorrow morning before the race.

Williams confirms Kubica and Sirotkin for Abu Dhabi F1 test

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Williams has confirmed that Robert Kubica will enjoy his third Formula 1 test outing with the team at the end-of-season running in Abu Dhabi next week as rumors grow regarding a possible race seat for 2018.

Almost seven years after his last F1 start, Kubica’s remarkable return from severe injuries sustained in a rally accident saw him enjoy two private tests with Renault before completing running with the team in a 2017-spec car in Hungary over the summer.

Reservations over Kubica’s capabilities prompted Renault to pass on giving him a seat, instead opting to hire Carlos Sainz Jr. for next year, only for Williams to become an alternative for the Pole.

Kubica tested a 2014-spec Williams at both Silverstone and the Hungaroring in recent months, and will now sample a 2017 car when he tests at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit next Tuesday and Wednesday.

Kubica will share track time with regular Williams racer Lance Stroll and Russian youngster Sergey Sirotkin, who has worked with Renault over the past two years but also missed out on a 2018 seat.

“Williams Martini Racing is pleased to confirm it will run Robert Kubica and Sergey Sirotkin for the Abu Dhabi Pirelli tire test, alongside current race driver Lance Stroll,” a statement from the team reads.

“The Pirelli tire test will take place over two days at the Yas Marina circuit during the week following the 2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

“On day one Robert Kubica will drive the FW40 in the morning session, before Lance Stroll takes over in the afternoon.

“On day two Sergey Sirotkin will drive in the morning and afternoon sessions before handing over to Robert in the late afternoon.

“The test is aimed at evaluating 2018 candidate tires on behalf of the Formula 1 tire supplier Pirelli.

“Williams is excited to have this opportunity to assess the new tyres across such an interesting range of drivers: Lance, as confirmed race driver for 2018, Robert with his huge experience, and Sergey as a very promising young talent in Formula 1.”

Williams denied earlier this week it has signed Kubica to partner Stroll for 2018, but indications are the deal looks very likely to go ahead, subject to the relevant paperwork and contracts being finalized.