Montoya leads first day of Cup practice at Indy

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Former Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya led the first day of practice for the Sprint Cup Series at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Montoya, who also competed in five Formula One United States Grand Prix at IMS, turned in a hot lap of 185.410 miles per hour in the No. 42 Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing Chevrolet.

That was well ahead of Kurt Busch in the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet, who posted the second-quickest time on Friday with a lap at 184.347 mph. Austin Dillon, fresh off his victory Wednesday night at Eldora in the Camping World Truck Series, hit P3 with a lap at 183.944 mph in the No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet.

Former Brickyard 400 winner Paul Menard was fourth-quickest (183.700 mph) in another RCR Chevy, the No. 27, and Hendrick Motorsports’ Kasey Kahne was fifth on the charts in the No. 5 Chevy (183.640 mph).

Penske Racing’s Joey Logano led the Fords with the sixth-quickest lap (183.337 mph), while Michael Waltrip Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. led the Toyota camp with his lap (182.567 mph), which was good for eighth overall. Defending race winner Jimmie Johnson was 13th on Friday (181.591 mph).

The Cup contingent will have a two-hour final practice tomorrow at 9 a.m. ET. Qualifying for Sunday’s race will begin later that afternoon at 2:10 p.m. ET.

F1 2017 driver review: Kevin Magnussen

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Kevin Magnussen

Team: Haas
Car No.: 20
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: P7 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 19
Championship Position: 14th

Kevin Magnussen’s move to Haas proved to be a win-win situation for both parties through 2017 as they banished the struggles of the previous Formula 1 season.

For Magnussen, the move came after a difficult one-season stint with Renault who despite offering him a way back into F1 after a year on the sidelines were unable to produce a car allowing the Dane to fight far up the order.

Haas had not expected to be able to be that much further ahead, but Magnussen nevertheless immediately offered an uplift in performance after replacing Esteban Gutierrez, who failed to score a single point through 2016.

Magnussen picked up Haas’ first points of the season with a solid drive in China, and was able to capitalize on the bonkers Baku race to take P7, which would ultimately be his best result of the season.

Consistency was a real issue for Haas throughout the year as it continued to have teething problems most new teams encounter, and while Magnussen was more able to drive around the problems than teammate Romain Grosjean, he lacked the ultimate pace of his teammate.

That said, Magnussen’s season highlight came in Mexico, a track Haas expected to be its worst of the season. The ex-McLaren driver qualified on the last row but produced a stunning display to finish eighth, soaking up pressure from Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton late on.

The signs are positive moving forward. Next year should be Haas’ best yet thanks to the stability in the regulations, presenting a good opportunity for Magnussen to prove his star quality.

Season High: Taking P8 in Mexico when Haas expected to be slowest.

Season Low: Lagging home P15 at Spa as Grosjean hit the points.