Kahne leads final Cup practice for Chicagoland

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While Brian France, Mike Helton and Robin Pemberton talked about the closed-door meeting that took place this afternoon at Chicagoland Speedway, the Sprint Cup contingent was getting in final practice for tomorrow’s GEICO 400 on the 1.5-mile oval in Joliet, Illinois.

Chase contender Kasey Kahne was fastest in the session, turning in a lap at 181.068 miles per hour in the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.

Kahne also had the fastest 10-lap average in “Happy Hour,” with a speed of 178.5 mph across his first 10 circuits.

Juan Pablo Montoya, who will start Sunday’s race in the second row alongside Kahne, was second-fastest in his No. 42 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet with a lap at 181.056 mph.

Three more Chasers – Joey Logano (181.050), Jimmie Johnson (180.741), and Greg Biffle (180.475) – rounded out the Top 5 in the session.

In terms of 10-lap average, Clint Bowyer was second-quickest behind Kahne, followed by Brian Vickers in third, Johnson in fourth, and Brad Keselowski. All five had their best averages in their first 10 laps.

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.