With some help from his father and former Sprint Cup champion Bill Elliott, JR Motorsports newcomer Chase Elliott (pictured) shot to the top in the first day of NASCAR Nationwide Series Preseason Thunder testing at Daytona.
18-year-old Chase, one of multiple first-time winners in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series last year, led a 1-2-3 finish atop the speed charts for JRM with a lap at 187.993 mph – just ahead of “Awesome Bill from Dawsonville” and his best lap at 187.974 mph. Regan Smith completed JRM’s trifecta with his lap at 187.950 mph.
Drafting had a bigger presence in today’s first day of Nationwide testing, as opposed to yesterday’s Sprint Cup sessions. However, while packs were prevalent, teams were not allowed to utilize two-car, tandem drafting – with Elliott Sadler telling NASCAR.com’s Kenny Bruce that violating the edict would draw a black flag.
Ty Dillon, taking over the Richard Childress Racing ride that used to belong to his older brother and Sprint Cup rookie Austin Dillon, was fourth-fastest with his hot lap at 187.805 mph. He also ran the most laps this afternoon with 76. Roush Fenway Racing’s Trevor Bayne (187.743 mph) rounded out the Top 5, leading the Fords.
This morning’s leader, Dylan Kwasniewski, was ninth-quickest in the afternoon (187.064 mph), one spot behind Turner Scott Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson (187.243). David Ragan, who will drive in the NNS’ season opener at Daytona for Biagi-DenBeste Racing was sixth (187.512), with Chris Buescher (seventh, 187.398) and Jamie Dick (10th, 186.962) completing the Top 10 speeds.
A second day of testing for the NNS at Daytona will begin tomorrow at 9 a.m ET.
NATIONWIDE PRESEASON THUNDER – SATURDAY AFTERNOON TIMES
Valtteri Bottas is confident of scoring a good result in tomorrow’s Russian Grand Prix after qualifying third at the Sochi Autodrom on Saturday.
Bottas finished as the ‘best of the rest’ in Q3 behind the leading Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, beating the Ferrari drivers to secure P3 for the start of tomorrow’s race.
After a difficult run of form, Bottas believes that he can capitalize on this good qualifying result and make the most of the Williams car’s suitability to the track in Sochi.
“It was a strong job by the team today,” Bottas said. “We managed to set-up the car well and maximize our performance.
“I felt very good in the car all day and managed to get in a rhythm quickly and put in consistent lap times despite the limited number of laps we had completed in practice.
“Tomorrow is where it really matters but I have put myself in a very good position to capitalize.”
Bottas’ teammate, Felipe Massa, was less impressive in qualifying as a mistake and traffic caused him to drop out in Q2, finishing P15.
“I made a mistake at turn eight in my first timed lap in Q2, and then in my final two attempts I came up against a lot of traffic which lost me a lot of time,” Massa explained.
“On my final run my tires were gone at the rear and that was the end of my chances. It’s a shame and I’m very disappointed, but I have a quick car around here so we need to have a good strategy and use our pace to move up into the points tomorrow.”
The Russian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 6:30am ET on Sunday.
Alexander Rossi claimed his third win in as many GP2 Series rounds in Saturday’s feature race at the Sochi Autodrom.
Since winning the last feature race at Monza in Italy, Rossi has made his Formula 1 debut with Manor and also raced for the team at the iconic Suzuka Circuit in Japan.
As part of his deal with Manor, Rossi has returned to GP2 for this weekend’s round in Russia as he bids to finish as runner-up to impending series champion Stoffel Vandoorne.
Vandoorne was expected to be crowned champion on Saturday, but Rossi managed to delay the Belgian’s celebrations by storming to victory as darkness forced officials to shorten the race.
Carnage on the first lap saw four drivers retire from the race, with damage caused to the barrier at turn 3 by Jordan King resulted in a 30 minute red flag delay.
Once the race restarted, a shortened distance of 15 laps was confirmed, but full points were still to be awarded.
Pole-sitter Alex Lynn managed to pull clear through the first stint, and after falling behind Rossi in the first round of pit stops, the DAMS driver regained the advantage soon after.
However, when Lynn crashed out, Rossi was able to pull clear of the chasing Pierre Gasly and Vandoorne just behind to record his third win in as many race weekends by three seconds.
Rossi will start tomorrow’s sprint race from eighth place on the grid which is reversed, handing pole to Frenchman Arthur Pic who finished P8 on Saturday.
You will be able to read all about Alexander’s success in his exclusive NBC Sports blog on Wednesday. To read his pre-Sochi thoughts, click here.