BREAKING NEWS: Swan Racing’s future in NASCAR in question

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Just eight races into the Sprint Cup season, the future of the two-car Swan Racing team is looking rather murky, with the potential of everything from reorganization to scaling back involvement, if not outright shutting down.

The team issued a media release early Thursday afternoon — as well as on its Facebook page — announcing that a failure to secure adequate sponsorship has it looking at its options going forward.

“Swan Racing is in the process of reviewing its current situation and the ability to continue to compete in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The team has been unable to secure the kind of sponsorship required to effectively operate the team. As a result, the team management is exploring every available option. We hope to be in position to provide a detailed update in the near future.”

Brandon Davis is the primary team owner, along with minority owners Anthony Marlowe, former NFL star Bill Romanowski and rapper 50 Cent.

Davis bought the team in 2012 and had a one-car Sprint Cup operation last season that featured several drivers including David Stremme (25 starts), Parker Kligerman (two starts), Cole Whitt (seven starts) and Kevin Swindell and Michael Waltrip (one start each) before expanding to two cars this season, driven by Whitt (No. 26 Toyota) and Kligerman (No. 30 Toyota).

The current troubles could be a situation of trying to grow too fast, too soon, going from last year’s one-car operation to this season’s two cars.

Whitt and Kligerman have both qualified for each of the first eight races, but that’s where the good news ends.

Whitt has finished 28th, 27th, 36th, 40th, 18th (season best finish at Fontana), 29th, 31st and 38th. He’s currently 33rd in the Sprint Cup standings.

Kligerman has had a particularly rough go of it. He’s failed to finish five races, with finishes of 29th, 42nd, 40th, 34th, 42nd, 41st, 40th and 30th. He’s currently 38th in the Cup standings.

Maybe 50 Cent can come up with a new rap called “How the Swan turned into an ugly duckling in eight races.”

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Josef Newgarden wins pole for Grand Prix of Alabama

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With time running off the clock, Josef Newgarden lapped Barber Motorsports Park with a speed of 122.773 mph to win his third career pole and first on this track in the Grand Prix of Alabama.

Newgarden was .0128 seconds faster than teammate Scott Dixon in second.

Newgarden has two previous wins at Barber. He won last year’s edition of this race after starting seventh and in 2015 from fifth.

“I didn’t know if that was going to be enough,” Newgarden said after winning the pole.

“Team Chevy has done a good job,” Newgarden said. “They’ve really given us good power this weekend – good driveability. We’re going to need some fuel mileage tomorrow, which I think we’ll have. But it’s going to get mixed up with the rain.”

Dixon’s lap of 122.750 mph was not quite enough.

“I’m sure you could pick out a number of different things on a lap when it’s that close,” Power said about what made the slight difference between him and Newgarden. “A little mistake out of 9; a little lift here or there.”

Sebastien Bourdais (122.605 mph) qualified third, with Ryan Hunter-Reay (122.159) and James Hinchliffe (121.859) rounding out the top five.

Scott Dixon was the last driver in the top six.

Fast 12

Newgarden topped this chart with a speed of 123.475 mph.

He brought Power, James Hinchcliffe, Scott Dixon, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Sebastien Bourdais along with him to the Fast 6.

Marco Andretti (122.480), Alexander Rossi (122.216), Simon Pagenaud (122.050), Robert Wickens (122.042), Zach Veach (121.784) and Ed Jones (120.984) failed to advance.

Round 1, Group 1

Newgarden posted the fastest single lap in round one, group one of qualification for the Grand Prix of Alabama with a speed of 122.550 mph.

Hunter-Reay, Hinchcliffe, Wickens, and Andretti also advance to the fast 12.

Taking the final slot was Jones with a speed of 119.835 mph after an off-course excursion in final practice.

This was Andretti’s first advancement to the fast 12 for the first time since 2014.

Round 1, Group 2

Power had the fastest lap of 121.570 mph.

Bourdais, Veach (who is battling food poisoning-like symptoms), Rossi, and Pagenaud grabbed positions 2-4.

Scott Dixon had an uncharacteristically slow lap of 121.006, but managed to advance to the fast 12 when the session was red-flagged for an incident involving Tony Kanaan.

With three minutes remaining, Kanaan spun into the tire barriers while leaving pit road. Since he brought out the red flag, he lost his qualification time of 119.996 mph.

Takuma Sato had slipped off-course midway through the session and posted only the Ninth-fastest speed of 120.789 mph.

Results are below. The Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama rolls off at 3:00 p.m. ET.