Engine failure ends promising first Cup run for Kyle Larson

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Heralded young gun Kyle Larson acquitted himself well in his first-ever Sprint Cup race last night at Charlotte Motor Speedway before an engine failure knocked him out late and relegated him to a 37th-place result.

Larson, who will take over the No. 42 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet full-time next season, started 21st in the No. 51 Target Chevy but was able to move up and settle into the Top 15 in the race’s first half. However, Larson’s motor dropped a cylinder with about 100 laps to go and forced the dirt-track phenom to try and limp the car home before it finally let go on Lap 247.

Nonetheless, it was still a good debut in Larson’s eyes. Learning was the top priority for the 21-year-old and it appears that he did just that.

“It’s a little similar to the Nationwide [Series] car, but the track changed a lot more,” Larson told David Scott of The Charlotte Observer. “It moved around a lot more. Some runs were loose and free, some were tight. I learned a lot about driving in the dirty air.”

Larson wasn’t the only one making his Cup debut last night. Richard Childress Racing Nationwide driver Brian Scott turned in a 27th-place result, four laps off the pace of winner Brad Keselowski. Also debuting was Blake Koch, whose night was cut short on Lap 216 due to a vibration on his car; he finished 38th.

Position of F1 start lights altered to compensate for safety halo

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The position of start lights will be altered on Formula One tracks this season, in a bid to ensure the drivers’ line of vision is not impeded by the controversial halo protection device.

The halo is a titanium structure introduced this year in a bid to ramp up driver safety, forming a ring around the cockpit top. It is designed to protect the drivers’ head from loose debris and offer better safety during eventual collisions.

Although drivers largely understand the need for it, very few like it. They are worried it impedes visibility, it looks ugly and also that fans will no longer be able to identify a driver properly from his race helmet. Drivers also take longer to climb in and out of their cars.

Formula One’s governing body has addressed concerns and asked every circuit “to make the lights at a standard height above the track,” FIA race director Charlie Whiting said.

“Pole position seems to be the worst case scenario with the halo,” Whiting added at the season-opening Australian GP. “Maybe the driver can’t quite see the lights, or see only half of them, and he might have to move his head too much.”

The new start lights were positioned lower for Friday’s first two practice sessions at Albert Park. Drivers were also allowed the rare chance to rehearse grid starts at the end of both sessions.

“We haven’t normally allowed practice starts on the grid here because it’s quite a tight timetable,” Whiting said. “What I thought would be a good idea was to give the driver sight of those lights, rather than for the first time on Sunday evening.”

A repeat set of lights has been moved from its usual position halfway up the grid to a more convenient position to the left.

“Those repeat lights were normally halfway up the grid, and they were fitted round about 2009, when the rear wings became higher on the cars,” Whiting said. “But now the wings have been lowered, there’s no need for those halfway up the grid.”