Joey Logano fastest in Thursday’s first of two Nationwide Series practices at Darlington

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Joey Logano isn’t sitting on his laurels from winning this past Monday’s rain-delayed Duck Commander 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Logano on Thursday afternoon was fastest in the first of two practice sessions for Friday’s VFW Sports Clips Help a Hero 200 Nationwide Series race at Darlington Raceway.

With no Sprint Cup practice scheduled for Thursday, Logano covered the legendary 1.366-mile, egg-shaped track at 169.380 mph, the only driver to exceed 169 mph.

Kyle Busch was second-fastest (168.700), followed by Kyle Larson (168.613), Chris Buescher (168.371) and Dakoda Armstrong (186.301).

Here’s the entire list of Thursday’s first practice session. We’ll be back later today with results from Thursday’s second NNS practice, as well.

1 Joey Logano 169.380

2 Kyle Busch 168.700

3 Kyle Larson 168.613

4 Chris Buescher 168.371

5 Dakoda Armstrong 168.301

6 Kevin Harvick 168.135

7 Brian Scott 167.957

8 Elliott Sadler 167.848

9 Ty Dillon 167.785

10 Regan Smith 167.163

11 Matt Kenseth 166.925

12 Landon Cassill 166.580

13 Chase Elliott 166.450

14 Jeremy Clements 166.428

15 JJ Yeley 166.219

16 James Buescher 165.995

17 Brendan Gaughan 165.827

18 Ryan Reed 165.442

19 Trevor Bayne 165.259

20 David Starr 165.231

21 Mike Bliss 165.076

22 Cale Conley 164.937

23 Ryan Sieg 164.655

24 Josh Wise 164.248

25 Mike Wallace 164.133

26 Dylan Kwasniewski 163.077

27 Eric McClure 162.732

28 Jeff Green 162.297

29 Todd Bodine 162.056

30 Tanner Berryhill 161.795

31 Derrike Cope 161.143

32 Jeffrey Earnhardt 160.617

33 Matt DiBenedetto 160.596

34 Matt Carter 159.130

35 Tommy Joe Martins 158.433

36 Joey Gase 157.494

37 Carlos Contreras 157.328

38 Mike Harmon 152.073

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Michael Andretti looking forward to new Australian Supercars venture

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If it seems like Michael Andretti is out to conquer the world, he is – kind of.

The former IndyCar star turned prolific team owner has won three of the last four Indianapolis 500s and five overall, second only to Roger Penske’s 16 Indy 500 triumphs.

Along the way, in addition to expanding his own IndyCar and Indy Lights operation, the son of Mario Andretti and the primary shareholder of Andretti Autosport has also branched out into Global RallyCross and Formula E racing in recent years.

And now, Andretti has further expanded his brand internationally, following Penske to the world down under — as in the world of Australian V8 Supercars.

Andretti has teamed with Supercars team owner Ryan Walkinshaw, along with veteran motorsports marketer and executive director of McLaren Technology Group and United Autosports owner and chairman, Zak Brown.

Together, the three have formed Walkinshaw Andretti United, based in suburban Melbourne, Australia. The new team kicks off the new season with the Adelaide 500 from March 1-4.

“It’s just extending our brand and putting it out there,” Andretti told NBC Sports. “The Supercars are such a great series.

“It all started with Zach Brown calling me and said ‘You have to talk to Ryan Walkinshaw. He’s got something interesting to talk to you about.’

“We talked and literally in like a half-hour, we said, ‘Let’s figure out how we’re going to make this work.’ And then Zack was like, ‘Hey, what about me?’ And then Zack came in as a partner and it’s cool now that we have the Walkinshaw Andretti United team.

“I’m really excited about that program, the guys at the shop are excited about it, we’ve been doing a lot of things to try and help it because it’s such a cool series and the cars are so cool.

“I went down there to Bathurst, which was to me one of the coolest tracks in the world. I wish I could have driven it, I really do. It looks like a blast.

“It’s amazing how big that series is when you go down there. It’s one of the biggest sports in Australia. It was just a great opportunity for us to extend our portfolio.”

Admittedly, Andretti had some extra incentive to want to get involved in the Supercars world: Penske joined forces with legendary Dick Johnson Racing in September 2014.

The organization came together quickly and the rebranded DJR Team Penske went on to win the 2017 V8 Supercars championship.

“Roger was down there the last few years,” Andretti said, adding that fact as incentive to get his own organization into the series. “So it’s cool to go race head-to-head with Roger. That was also in the back of our minds.”

This is no start-up venture for Andretti. The roots of the new venture began in 1990 as the Holden Racing Team, which went on to become one of the most successful organizations in Australian V8 Supercar racing, having won the drivers’ championship six times and the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship’s top race, the Bathurst 1000 (essentially Australia’s version of the Indy 500), seven times.

Last season, Holden Racing team morphed into Triple Eight Race Engineering and was renamed Mobil 1 HSV Racing.

And now the company has been renamed once again for the 2018 campaign under the Walkinshaw Andretti United banner.

The team will be composed of two Holden ZB Commodores with drivers James Courtney and Scott Pye, as well as a Porsche 911 GT3-R in the Australian GT championship.

What’s next for Andretti’s motorsports portfolio? Right now, it’s pretty full, but you can bet running for championships from Australia (Supercars) to globally (GRC) to Indianapolis (Indy 500) to the U.S. (Verizon IndyCar Series) are at the top of this year’s list.