Trevor Bayne tops Sprint Cup final practice at Talladega

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A pair of Fords led the way in final practice for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway, as Trevor Bayne followed up leading yesterday’s first Nationwide practice by topping today’s Cup “Happy Hour” with a lap of 199.015 mph.

Following him in second was Carl Edwards, who posted a lap of 198.965 mph – .012 of a second off of Bayne’s best.

Tony Stewart was the fastest Chevrolet driver in the session and posted the third-quickest lap of 198.912 mph. In fourth was the fastest Toyota man in Kyle Busch at 198.516 mph, and Kurt Busch was P5 (198.413) in his Chevy.

The Busch brothers got in extensive work on the 2.66-mile oval during “Happy Hour,” with Kurt logging 29 circuits and Kyle turning in 28.

However, Chevy continues to have the power in numbers, as seven drivers in their ranks situated themselves within the Top 10. Kasey Kahne, Danica Patrick, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Jimmie Johnson rounded out that particular bracket.

Meanwhile, Martin Truex Jr. – who led this afternoon’s first Cup practice – did not post a lap in the No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet, seemingly content that he’ll have a piece worthy of gaining the pole in tomorrow’s much-anticipated knockout qualifying session.

Perhaps he decided to spend the rest of his Friday at a nearby fishing hole? At least that’s what his brother and Sprint Cup rookie, Ryan, indicated in a tweet after the first session:

Qualifying for the Aaron’s 499 is scheduled for tomorrow shortly after 1 p.m. ET.

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES AT TALLADEGA – FINAL PRACTICE TIMES

Williams confirms Kubica and Sirotkin for Abu Dhabi F1 test

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Williams has confirmed that Robert Kubica will enjoy his third Formula 1 test outing with the team at the end-of-season running in Abu Dhabi next week as rumors grow regarding a possible race seat for 2018.

Almost seven years after his last F1 start, Kubica’s remarkable return from severe injuries sustained in a rally accident saw him enjoy two private tests with Renault before completing running with the team in a 2017-spec car in Hungary over the summer.

Reservations over Kubica’s capabilities prompted Renault to pass on giving him a seat, instead opting to hire Carlos Sainz Jr. for next year, only for Williams to become an alternative for the Pole.

Kubica tested a 2014-spec Williams at both Silverstone and the Hungaroring in recent months, and will now sample a 2017 car when he tests at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit next Tuesday and Wednesday.

Kubica will share track time with regular Williams racer Lance Stroll and Russian youngster Sergey Sirotkin, who has worked with Renault over the past two years but also missed out on a 2018 seat.

“Williams Martini Racing is pleased to confirm it will run Robert Kubica and Sergey Sirotkin for the Abu Dhabi Pirelli tire test, alongside current race driver Lance Stroll,” a statement from the team reads.

“The Pirelli tire test will take place over two days at the Yas Marina circuit during the week following the 2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

“On day one Robert Kubica will drive the FW40 in the morning session, before Lance Stroll takes over in the afternoon.

“On day two Sergey Sirotkin will drive in the morning and afternoon sessions before handing over to Robert in the late afternoon.

“The test is aimed at evaluating 2018 candidate tires on behalf of the Formula 1 tire supplier Pirelli.

“Williams is excited to have this opportunity to assess the new tyres across such an interesting range of drivers: Lance, as confirmed race driver for 2018, Robert with his huge experience, and Sergey as a very promising young talent in Formula 1.”

Williams denied earlier this week it has signed Kubica to partner Stroll for 2018, but indications are the deal looks very likely to go ahead, subject to the relevant paperwork and contracts being finalized.