Ryan Newman fastest in Sprint Cup final practice at Richmond

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Ryan Newman, one of the major contenders in NASCAR’s most recent visit to Richmond International Raceway last fall, topped the time sheets in this afternoon’s final practice for the Sprint Cup Series at RIR.

Newman’s lap of 21.733 seconds at 124.235 miles per hour in the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet was enough to beat former boss Tony Stewart, who turned in a time of 21.868 seconds (123.468 mph).

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was third-fastest in the one-hour session (21.875/123.429), followed by Joey Logano (21.884/123.378) in fourth, and Kasey Kahne in fifth (21.896/123.310).

An interesting note was that outside of Kahne, the rest of the Top 5 in final practice set their quickest laps late in their runs.

Newman’s hot lap was the 35th out of the 37 circuits he took in the session, while Stewart’s best came on Lap 32 of his 36. Earnhardt had his best on Lap 45 of 46, and Logano’s was on Lap 30 of 33.

In contrast, Kahne’s fastest circuit was almost right off the bat, on Lap 3 of 41.

Carl Edwards, who won last fall’s Richmond race, was sixth in the session followed by defending Richmond spring race champion Kevin Harvick in seventh. Jimmie Johnson, Practice 1 pace-setter Kyle Larson, and Jamie McMurray completed the Top 10.

Qualifying is expected to begin later today at 5:10 p.m. ET, with the two-round format in place on the 3/4-mile RIR short track.


Racing world reacts to Danica Patrick’s Daytona, Indy double news

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Here’s a sampling of quotes and social media reaction to Danica Patrick’s news announced earlier Friday that this would be her last full-time season as a driver, and that she’ll race in the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500 only in 2018.

This ends a full-time stretch in the top flights of NASCAR and IndyCar. She was in NASCAR from 2012 through 2017, and IndyCar from 2005 through 2011.

Her’s her own post on Twitter and Instagram.

Well…. 2018 Daytona 500 and Indy 500 here I come. 🙌🏼

A post shared by Danica Patrick (@danicapatrick) on

IMS President J. Douglas Boles

“We’re glad Danica plans to return to the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil next May,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “Her final career start will make what’s already shaping up to be a terrific Month of May even more interesting for our fans.

“It’s also fitting that Danica is wrapping up her career at the place and in the race where she became a household name and captured the world’s attention in 2005 – the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500. We’re looking forward to seeing her back in an Indy car next May alongside all of the tremendous drivers of the Verizon IndyCar Series.”