Truex finishes third, jumps into Cup Top 10

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On Sunday at Watkins Glen, Martin Truex Jr. was in a position to strike if the last-lap battle for the win on Sunday between Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski turned chaotic. Instead, he had to settle for a third-place finish.

“We had so much speed in the short run, and after we put that last set of tires on, we almost got the lead but we just couldn’t quite run with [Busch] after that…After all those restarts, all those heat cycles in the tires,” Truex told ESPN.

“Both the 2 [Keselowski] and the 18 [Busch] were just a tick better than we were on the longer runs and on the older [tires] with built-up air pressures. We just missed it a little bit.”

But Truex was still one of the biggest movers in the Chase picture, as he and Keselowski each climbed four spots in the standings. Truex, who had entered Sunday as one of the two Wild Card holders, elevated himself from 14th to 10th in the championship.

Throw in his victory at Sonoma and it would appear that he’s earned himself some breathing room with four races to go before the Chase begins on Sept. 15 at Chicagoland. But there’s still a fair bit of racing to go before NASCAR’s post-season roster is settled.

Hamilton leads damp first USGP practice at COTA, Hartley debuts

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Lewis Hamilton continued his impressive Formula 1 record at the Circuit of The Americas by topping opening practice for the United States Grand Prix on Friday for Mercedes.

A four-time winner of the USGP at COTA, Hamilton set the pace in damp conditions in first practice after rain hit the Austin area in the lead-up to the start of the session.

After initially venturing out on intermediate tires, Hamilton made the switch to super-softs at the halfway point in FP1, ultimately posting a fastest time of 1:36.335.

Hamilton’s time saw him finish over half a second clear of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who he could beat to the F1 drivers’ championship at COTA this weekend should results go his way.

Mercedes got two cars into the top three as Valtteri Bottas wound up third in the second W08 car, six-tenths back from Hamilton, while Max Verstappen ended FP1 fourth for Red Bull.

Felipe Massa led Williams into the top 10 with an impressive lap en route to fifth, finishing ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne.

Vandoorne was left to lead McLaren’s charge after a hydraulic leak sidelined Fernando Alonso for much of the session, limiting the Spaniard to just four laps in total.

Force India managed to get both its drivers up into the top 10 as Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez finished eighth and ninth respectively, edging out Renault’s Carlos Sainz Jr. who was P10 in his first appearance for the team.

Brendon Hartley enjoyed his first run-out in Toro Rosso’s STR12 car ahead of his grand prix debut on Sunday, taking P14 overall.

The New Zealander had not driven an F1 car since a test with Mercedes in 2012, but put in a solid first display in practice, even though his race hopes are set to be hindered by a grid penalty.

Second practice for the United States Grand Prix is live on the NBC Sports app from 3pm ET today.