Richmond’s personal for Daniel Knost, Kurt Busch’s crew chief

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It sounds like Stewart-Haas Racing crew chief Daniel Knost still feels that Richmond International Raceway owes him one.

Before taking on his current role atop Kurt Busch’s pit box for 2014, Knost was the lead race engineer for Ryan Newman (now at Richard Childress Racing) and last fall at RIR, it looked like Newman was set to win and make the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

But Clint Bowyer’s controversial spin with seven laps to go brought out the caution and sent all the leaders to pit road. Newman lost the lead in the final round of stops and while he claimed a third-place result, he lost out on a Chase bid via tie-breaker to Martin Truex Jr.

Newman was eventually elevated into the Chase after Truex was booted out as part of NASCAR’s penalties against Michael Waltrip Racing for attempting to manipulate the race’s finish.

But in the immediate aftermath, Knost and the rest of his team were forced to watch as the Chase contenders celebrated their post-season berths. The bad taste in his mouth hasn’t appeared to have gone away.

“Once we got into the position we needed to be in, we told Ryan, ‘Hey man, we think we can win.’ So he went out there and got it done and put us in front,” Knost recalled recently. “We played all the right cards at all the right times, but then we felt like it got taken away from us.

“It was really disappointing to know we were on the verge of completing this big, season-long goal that we had and done all the right things, but then have it get away from us the way it did. It was very disappointing emotionally to walk out of the track that night and see the celebration going on and know that you should be a part of that and you’re not.”

This time around, Knost returns to Richmond with the knowledge that his No. 41 team is effectively in the Chase thanks to Busch’s victory at Martinsville.

But a second victory would just about seal the deal as it has for SHR teammate Kevin Harvick, who earned his second win of 2014 two weekends ago at Darlington.

And to do such a thing with Busch on Saturday night at Richmond would probably be very sweet indeed for Knost considering what he and his crewmates went through last fall.

Hamilton leads damp first USGP practice at COTA, Hartley debuts

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Lewis Hamilton continued his impressive Formula 1 record at the Circuit of The Americas by topping opening practice for the United States Grand Prix on Friday for Mercedes.

A four-time winner of the USGP at COTA, Hamilton set the pace in damp conditions in first practice after rain hit the Austin area in the lead-up to the start of the session.

After initially venturing out on intermediate tires, Hamilton made the switch to super-softs at the halfway point in FP1, ultimately posting a fastest time of 1:36.335.

Hamilton’s time saw him finish over half a second clear of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who he could beat to the F1 drivers’ championship at COTA this weekend should results go his way.

Mercedes got two cars into the top three as Valtteri Bottas wound up third in the second W08 car, six-tenths back from Hamilton, while Max Verstappen ended FP1 fourth for Red Bull.

Felipe Massa led Williams into the top 10 with an impressive lap en route to fifth, finishing ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne.

Vandoorne was left to lead McLaren’s charge after a hydraulic leak sidelined Fernando Alonso for much of the session, limiting the Spaniard to just four laps in total.

Force India managed to get both its drivers up into the top 10 as Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez finished eighth and ninth respectively, edging out Renault’s Carlos Sainz Jr. who was P10 in his first appearance for the team.

Brendon Hartley enjoyed his first run-out in Toro Rosso’s STR12 car ahead of his grand prix debut on Sunday, taking P14 overall.

The New Zealander had not driven an F1 car since a test with Mercedes in 2012, but put in a solid first display in practice, even though his race hopes are set to be hindered by a grid penalty.

Second practice for the United States Grand Prix is live on the NBC Sports app from 3pm ET today.