Busch Bros. pace Friday practice for Sprint Cup at Charlotte

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After posting the second-fastest time during today’s opening practice session for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Kurt Busch (pictured) topped final practice for tomorrow’s Bank of America 500 with a lap of 190.759 miles per hour in the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet.

Kansas winner Kevin Harvick, who won the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte this past May, was P2 in “Happy Hour” at 189.613 mph. Brad Keselowski (189.401 mph), Clint Bowyer (189.268 mph), and Kyle Busch (189.155 mph) rounded out the Top 5, while tomorrow’s pole sitter, Jeff Gordon, was 10th in the session (188.653 mph).

Kyle Busch wound up pacing the aforementioned opening practice in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, topping out at 189.447 miles per hour. He’ll look to overcome a poor outing last weekend at Kansas, and will start ninth tomorrow alongside his brother Kurt in 10th position.

Matt Kenseth, who leads Jimmie Johnson in the championship by three points going into tomorrow’s race, was eighth and 23rd in the two Friday practice runs. Johnson was 10th and eighth.

Fernando Alonso completes first test with United Autosports

Photo: United Autosports
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Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso enjoyed his first outing with United Autosports, with whom he will contest the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, in their Ligier JS P217 LMP2 chassis.

The McLaren Formula 1 driver completed the test at Motorland Aragon in Spain alongside co-driver Phil Hanson, who will be a teammate with Alonso at next year’s 24-hour Daytona enduro. Filipe Albuquerque, a former GT class winner at the Rolex 24, was also on hand to help Alonso and the team ahead of Alonso’s first run in an LMP2 car, which comes only a couple days after he made his LMP1 testing debut with Toyota. Albuquerque races with Mustang Sampling Racing in IMSA, but will return to United’s European Le Mans Series program for all but one race in 2018.

“I had a great first test with United Autosports. Obviously, we are on a really tight schedule between now and Daytona, but it was nice to jump in the car for the first time,” said Alonso, who will rejoin the team at the official Roar Before the 24 test on January 5-7.

Alonso added, “There’s quite a few switches and things to study so it was important to do this initial shakedown before Daytona, so I could fully learn about the car. I’m happy with everything – the car felt great and the team were fantastic. The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so today has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”

Team owner Zak Brown, who also serves as executive director of McLaren Technology Group and helps lead the McLaren Formula 1 effort, shared Alonso’s enthusiasm and was not surprised he was able to acclimate himself relatively quickly.

“Fernando’s first test with United Autosports went awesome as expected. He is a world champion and it is a pleasure to have him in our car,” he said of Alonso’s debut with the team.

Alonso is currently schedule to contest the Rolex 24 with the aforementioned Hanson and McLaren test driver Lando Norris.