Harvick fastest in Saturday AM Cup practice at Phoenix

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Inclement weather is expected for today in and around Phoenix, but the Sprint Cup contingent at Phoenix International Raceway caught a break this morning by getting in their second practice of the weekend.

PIR received rain overnight but early morning track drying was able to get the one-mile oval ready in time for the scheduled 9 a.m. MT start of the session.

Kevin Harvick, who has won two of the last three Sprint Cup events at PIR and will start 13th in Sunday’s main event, was fastest in the 50-minute run with a lap of 26.133 seconds in the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet.

Chip Ganassi Racing’s tandem of Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson posted identical hot laps of 26.310 seconds behind Harvick, while Dale Earnhardt Jr. (26.342) and pole sitter Brad Keselowski (26.347) were fourth and fifth-fastest respectively.

Harvick also had the fastest 5 and 10-lap averages in this practice as well, which should bode well for him tomorrow.

Whether the wet stuff can stay away from PIR for the remainder of today’s activity remains to be seen. The Nationwide Series is set to qualify shortly for their 200-lap event later this afternoon at 3:45 p.m. ET. In between is Sprint Cup “Happy Hour” final practice at 2 p.m. ET.

During this morning’s broadcast, Fox Sports relayed word from NASCAR that the 2 p.m. ET Cup practice may be pushed up by 15 minutes to avoid the possible rain.

The National Weather Service in Phoenix has the chance of rain in the Phoenix region today at “near 100 percent” and lists the possibility of up to a half-inch of rainfall.

Lewis Hamilton comes home to Mercedes factory after fourth title

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On Monday, the Formula 1 schedule finally allowed teams to be in Europe before heading to Abu Dhabi for this weekend’s season finale.

And as such, that provided a window for now four-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton to return to the Mercedes AMG Petronas factories in Brackley and Brixworth to be celebrated for taking the driver’s title, as Hamilton an Valtteri Bottas delivered Mercedes its fourth straight constructor’s title.

Hamilton was at Brixworth, the home ofΒ Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) and its highly successful Mercedes-Benz Power Units first before heading to Brackley, where he was welcomed with a “guard of honor” as the entire team came out to greet him.

The champion was overwhelmed at the response and the welcome.

“This a very emotional day. I was not expecting this, thanks everyone for the warm welcome,” he said. “Today is something that I will never forget, turning up at the front gate of the factory and seeing everyone out on the street to welcome me – I’m blown away.

“This has been an incredible year, it’s been an incredible journey together. There’s a huge amount of respect and appreciation I have for everyone. I’ve been in the sport for a long time now, but to see the work ethic in Brixworth and Brackley really inspires me. Every time I come around, I see everyone operating at 100%, which encourages me to bring my best performance.

“Thank you all for helping me achieve my dreams, it would not have been possible without you. This is the best championship year, because we’ve been fighting another team and because we’ve had the difficulties and challenges we’ve had – that just makes it so much greater.”

A social roundup of images and videos are below, all via Hamilton and the Mercedes team on social media.