Hornish back full-time. Photo: Getty Images

NNS Homestead Update: Logano leads race, Hornish leads championship

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At the halfway point of tonight’s season finale for the NASCAR Nationwide Series, Sam Hornish Jr. had a narrow lead in the driver’s championship as Austin Dillon – the points leader going into the race – dealt with handling problems that was preventing him from charging to the front.

Hornish, the pole sitter for today’s race, led the opening lap and was able to gain a critical bonus point on Dillon, who started 11th at the green flag. The Penske Racing trio of Hornish, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano (who is competing for the NNS owner’s championship today in the No. 22 car against the No. 54 of Kyle Busch) quickly settled into the top three spots early, while Busch and Kyle Larson followed in pursuit.

Larson and Busch managed to both get by Keselowski around Lap 15, while Dillon was only able to make minimal progress in the opening laps (moving up one spot to 10th by Lap 20) before falling back several positions with a loose No. 3 Chevy.

Meanwhile, Larson continued his rise as he passed Logano for second at Lap 33 before setting his sights on Hornish for the lead a few laps later. And on Lap 39, the future driver of Earnhardt Ganassi Racing’s No. 42 Sprint Cup car proceeded to take that lead away after clearing Hornish off Turn 2.

Larson quickly built a considerable lead, while Hornish promptly slid back to fifth behind Busch, Logano and Matt Kenseth before the first caution came out at Lap 47 for debris. On the subsequent stops, Busch was able to take the lead with Kenseth following in second to set up a Lap 52 restart.

Kenseth leaped ahead of the pack off the restart, but the run was short-lived as the yellow came out again for Corey Lajoie’s spin off of Turn 4. Lajoie, who was running 21st and is making his NNS debut today, then bounced lightly off the inside front-stretch wall before coming to a stop.

Under caution No. 2, Dillon opted to come to the pits at Lap 57 for more chassis adjustments to try and cure his car’s handling issues. The decision cost him track position, however, and he had to line up 23rd when the green came out again at Lap 61.

With Hornish lurking in third, Busch and Kenseth dueled for the lead before the former won out at Lap 63. However, Keselowski made a charge for the lead and was ahead of Busch by another debris caution at Lap 66; farther back, Dillon had peeled off five positions to move into 18th at that point.

The race resumed at Lap 70, and Keselowski pulled away as Busch, Logano, Hornish, Larson and Kenseth had it out amongst themselves behind him. When everything shook out after a few laps, it was Logano that had emerged with the runner-up position, and on Lap 83, he shot past Keselowski down the backstretch for P1.

Logano was ahead by about two seconds over Keselowski when yet another debris caution came out shortly before Lap 100 of 200. However, he was able to keep the lead after pit stops, with Busch, Kenseth, Larson and Hornish behind him. Dillon took the Lap 102 restart in 12th position.

Webber: Red Bull decision to drop Kvyat ‘harsh’ but not surprising

NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - APRIL 16:  Mark Webber of Australia and Porsche Team 919 Hybrid talks to the media during previews the FIA World Endurance Championship Six Hours of Silverstone race at the Silverstone Circuit on April 16, 2016 in Northampton, England.  (Photo by Ker Robertson/Getty Images)
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SPA – Ex-Formula 1 driver Mark Webber believes that Red Bull’s decision to drop Daniil Kvyat in favor of Max Verstappen is “harsh” but has been brewing for some time.

On Thursday, Red Bull announced that Verstappen would be moving up from junior team Toro Rosso to take Kvyat’s seat from the Spanish Grand Prix, with the Russian moving in the opposite direction.

Webber enjoyed a turbulent spell with Red Bull in F1 between 2007 and 2013, enjoying a particularly frosty relationship with team advisor Helmut Marko who was instrumental in the decision to promote Verstappen to the senior outfit.

Speaking at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps ahead of this weekend’s FIA World Endurance Championship race, Porsche driver Webber said he was not surprised by the call.

“It was probably on the cards even before Russia, so in a way you probably feel there was something brewing,” Webber said when asked about the decision by NBC Sports.

“They’ve done it. And let’s see if Max can break Red Bull records again. He’s got no choice [to be ready]. He has to be ready.

“[Kvyat has] had a year and 30% there in terms of time. They don’t believe that he’s done enough. In their eyes he hasn’t done enough and they see that one other guy is doing enough.

“Normally you wait until the end of the year but obviously you know that doesn’t happen sometimes, particularly with Red Bull. They change it whenever they feel – bang.

“Helmut just wants performance. He wants to put the fastest guys in the best scenario as quick as possible.

“People just say that the mistakes that Dany made, it was off the back of that, but obviously it was probably accumulating to a point where they were not overly happy with his performance in the build-up.”

Webber said that he felt it was harsh on Kvyat, but believes that part of the move was a ploy by Red Bull to ensure that Verstappen is tied down to them for longer and prevent rivals from signing him for the 2017 season.

“Yeah, I feel it’s harsh but it’s a big business and things move fast and I think also again getting ahead of the ’17 market a bit, making sure everything’s ready,” Webber said.

“It’ll be a complete non-topic in six months as usual in F1, even three months. Everyone moves on.

“In Formula 1 you have nowhere to hide.”

Formula E confirms Moscow cancellation with no replacement round

PARIS, FRANCE - APRIL 23:  In this handout image supplied by Formula E, Daniel Abt (GER), ABT Audi Sport FE01 during the Paris Formula E race on April 23, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Zak Mauger/LAT/Formula E via Getty Images)
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The upcoming round of the FIA Formula E Championship scheduled for June 4 in Moscow has been cancelled, the series confirmed today.

In a release, the series confirmed the cancellation in conjunction with local authorities, citing “recent and unforeseen circumstances related to road closures.”

Additionally, Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag said that owing to the tight time frame, there won’t be a replacement round scheduled.

It leaves the 2015-2016 season at 10 rounds, with three rounds remaining in Berlin (May 21) and two in London (July 2 and 3).

“While it is unfortunate news not to race in Moscow on June 4, we looked at a number of alternative options as a replacement but were not able to find a viable solution on that specific date,” Agag said in a release.

“We explored all possibilities including returning to Monaco, but regrettably couldn’t organize the change of venue on such short notice. I’d like to express my thanks to HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, Mr. Michel Boeri, and the Automobile Club de Monaco who did their utmost to see Formula E return to the streets of the Principality for season two.

“We will now focus on the three remaining races in Berlin and the double-header in London, which I’m sure will deliver a thrilling conclusion in the battle for the championship.”

Marko: Kvyat couldn’t handle pressure from Ricciardo

SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 14: Daniil Kvyat of Russia and Red Bull Racing and Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Red Bull Racing sit on a track barrier during previews to the Formula One Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 14, 2016 in Shanghai, China.  (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)
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Helmut Marko believes that Daniil Kvyat could not cope with the pressure of battling with Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo, reasoning the decision to switch the Russian back to Toro Rosso from the Spanish Grand Prix.

Red Bull announced on Thursday that Kvyat would be returning to Toro Rosso, its B-team, in a swap deal that sees Max Verstappen join the senior operation.

The final straw for Kvyat came in Russia when he hit Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel twice in two corners, leading to crunch talks with team advisor Marko and team boss Christian Horner.

Speaking to Auto Bild, Marko said that he does not consider Kvyat returning to Toro Rosso to be a demotion, but instead a move that will allow him to race under less pressure.

“The decision was made after Russia. It has become increasingly clear that Daniil Kvyat could not withstand the pressure from Daniel Ricciardo, and he has been overdriving the car,” Marko explained.

“We wanted to take him out of the firing line and help his career, instead of harming it. Kvyat partly understands it. I don’t see this as a demotion. Toro Rosso is at a very good level this year.”

Marko said that Verstappen now has to prove himself against Ricciardo, while also hinting that there may be an opening for Toro Rosso’s second driver Carlos Sainz Jr. to move up to Red Bull at the end of the season.

“Max has to challenge Ricciardo now, which is not easy,” Marko said. “Daniel is very strong at the moment.

“At the end of the year the cards will be reshuffled. This also means that Carlos Sainz has a chance to step up.”

NBC F1 announce team to host “Inside F1 Racing” in Chicago, June 15

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On the heels of last year’s successful debut of “Inside F1,” which premiered in November at the Ridgefield Playhouse in Connecticut, the NBC Formula 1 announcing team will have an encore run this June in Chicago.

“Inside F1” with the F1 on NBC booth of lead announcer Leigh Diffey along with analysts David Hobbs and Steve Matchett will be a live theater-style show at the Park West theater in Chicago, on June 15, at 8 p.m.

The show comes a few days after the NBC crew broadcasts the Canadian Grand Prix live from Montreal on June 12, before the first European Grand Prix in Baku, Azerbaijan takes place the following weekend.

“Steve, David & I really enjoy meeting the Formula 1 viewing audience,” Diffey said. “There’s a lot of passionate, knowledgeable F1 fans in America, so to get a theater full of them and discuss the sport we love, makes for a really fun night!”

Tickets are available at http://jamusa.com/events/inside-f1-racing/, or by calling 773-929-1322.

The event sold out last year in a smaller theater; Park West will be a bigger theater this go-around and offer more fans the chance to go.