Kansas Update: Joey Logano, Dale Jr. up front at Kansas

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Joey Logano took the lead from Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Lap 122, and held it at the halfway point of tonight’s 5-Hour Energy 400 at Kansas Speedway for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Ominous skies and lightning around the 1.5-mile oval caused NASCAR to issue a brief delay to the start for threatening weather, but the threat ultimately passed and the race got underway.

Pole sitter Kevin Harvick proceeded to assert control of the race almost immediately, and started to lap the backmarkers shortly after Lap 10 of the 267-lap race.

He held the point going into the night’s first cycle of pit stops, in which he went in for service on Lap 43. However, four laps later, the caution came out when Kansas native Clint Bowyer got loose off of Turn 2 and spun.

Bowyer went into the path of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Ryan Blaney (who is making his Sprint Cup debut tonight), but both evaded the wayward Toyota, which came to a stop on the backstretch without hitting anything.

Brad Keselowski was the leader, but in a strange event, he was the only car on the lead lap when the caution was triggered. That meant Harvick, even though he was in second position, received the “lucky dog” free pass.

After much of the field took the wave-around to get back on the lead lap, Keselowski and Harvick battled for P1 on the restart at Lap 52. But Harvick made sure the fight was a quick one as he re-claimed the position.

A short time later on Lap 60, David Ragan got loose and spun off of Turn 4. Ryan Truex hit him and then slammed Landon Cassill on the inside, leaving all of them with significant damage.

Subsequent pit stops under yellow saw many take advantage of the chance to pit, but Harvick and Keselowski chose to stay out and lead the field to the restart at Lap 67.

Another spin, this time involving Denny Hamlin, brought out the yellow again at Lap 71, but Harvick again pulled away from the field after the green came back.

Jeff Gordon then appeared to be homing in on Harvick after starting 13th before he stopped on schedule at Lap 101 to begin the next cycle of green stops. Two laps later, Harvick came in for service at Lap 103.

On Lap 110, Marcos Ambrose lost control off of Turn 4 and went for a spin in the infield grass but managed to escape with little to no damage. Harvick and several of the leaders that had already pitted were caught out by the spin, but since Harvick was the top driver one lap down, he again got the free pass.

The ensuing stops shook up the running order a bit, with Dale Earnhardt Jr. beating everyone out of the pits thanks to a two-tire stop. However, the race was kept under yellow for an extended period when the outside lights along the Kansas backstretch lost power and went out.

After polling the drivers, NASCAR determined that the backstretch was still bright enough to safely race thanks to the inside lights, and Earnhardt led Kasey Kahne, Tony Stewart, Logano, and Jimmie Johnson to the restart at Lap 119, while Harvick took the green in 17th place.

On Lap 122, Logano went to the inside of Earnhardt on the tri-oval and completed the pass for the lead in Turn 1. At halfway, Logano held a lead of about one second on Kahne, who took second from Earnhardt as the stint continued. Stewart was in fourth, and Jamie McMurray was in fifth.

F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on NBCSN, NBC Sports App this week

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After five years and 98 Grands Prix broadcast since 2013, NBC Sports Group’s coverage of Formula 1 concludes with the 2017 season finale from Abu Dhabi at the Yas Marina Circuit this week.

The lights come on for the day-into-night Grand Prix of the year as the sun sets on five years of broadcasts, original content and additional digital specific features such as Paddock Pass.

For Abu Dhabi this week, all of the race, qualifying and second free practice will be live on NBCSN with first and third free practice live on the NBC Sports App. The race returns is back in the usual morning a.m. time slots after three mid-day races in Austin, Mexico City and Sao Paulo, and a pair of overnight affairs in Kuala Lumpur and Suzuka. Formula 2 coverage of its season finale from Abu Dhabi also airs both on NBCSN and online.

With this the final race of the season before F1’s winter break, there’s still a handful of things to get sorted even though Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes have wrapped their respective championships.

Sebastian Vettel (Brazil) and Max Verstappen (Mexico) have won the last two races, with Hamilton’s most recent win coming at Circuit of the Americas. Will it be any of these three that wrap the year on a high or could any of their teammates – Kimi Raikkonen, Daniel Ricciardo or Valtteri Bottas – upend the script?

Mercedes has won the last three races in Abu Dhabi, Hamilton winning in 2014 and 2016 with Nico Rosberg taking the 2015 crown.

Vettel and Hamilton have three wins apiece in Abu Dhabi, Vettel having taken all of his with Red Bull in 2009, 2010 and 2013, and Hamilton adding a 2011 McLaren triumph to his last two with Mercedes. Raikkonen (2012, Lotus) and Rosberg are the other Abu Dhabi winners, and while both Vettel and Raikkonen have won in Abu Dhabi, Ferrari never has in the first eight races here.

The last place up for grabs in the constructor’s battle is for sixth, with Toro Rosso (53 points), Renault (49) and Haas (47) separated by only six total points. Toro Rosso and Renault got into a nasty war of words in Brazil, and will part ways after the weekend.

Felipe Massa signs off his career in F1 for the second and expected final time at Williams, and with Toro Rosso having confirmed Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley last week, his seat is one of only three left to fill for 2018, and the most attractive.

McLaren and Honda also bring to an end their partnership after three troubled seasons, but on the bright side will look to score points for a third straight race together, which hasn’t happened since the Hungarian, German and Belgian Grands Prix of 2016.

As ever, and perhaps for the final time as a collective unit, Leigh Diffey, David Hobbs and Steve Matchett will be on the call with Will Buxton reporting from the pits and paddock.

Here’s the F1 schedule, with stream links and TV network if applicable:

  • Practice 1: Friday, Nov. 24, 4 a.m.-5:30 a.m. ET (Streaming)
  • Practice 2: Friday, Nov. 24, 8 a.m.-9:30 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Practice 3: Saturday, Nov. 25, 5 a.m.-6 a.m. ET (Streaming)
  • Qualifying: Saturday, Nov. 25, 8 a.m.-9:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Pre-Race: Sunday, Nov. 26, 7 a.m.-8 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Race: Sunday, Nov. 26, 8 a.m.-10 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Post-Race: Sunday, Nov. 26, 10 a.m.-10:55 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Race (Replay): Sunday, Nov. 26, 7 p.m.-9 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • F2 Race: Sunday, Nov. 26, 6 a.m.-7 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • F2 Race (Replay): Sunday, Nov. 26, 9 p.m.-10 p.m. ET (NBCSN)