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.

Di Resta to make shock F1 return in Hungary, replacing unwell Massa

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Paul di Resta will make a shock return to Formula 1 race action this weekend in Hungary, replacing Felipe Massa at Williams after the Brazilian was taken unwell.

Massa first showed signs of illness on Friday, visiting the local hospital in Budapest as a precaution before being given the go-ahead to take part in practice on Saturday morning.

Massa completed just 12 laps before coming into the garage and stopping, with doctors then reviewing him a second time and ruling him out.

This means di Resta, who has not started an F1 race in over three years and has never driven Williams’ 2017 car, will make a surprise return in qualifying and the race.

“After feeling unwell during practice in Budapest on Friday and Saturday, Felipe Massa will not drive for the remainder of the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend,” a statement from Williams reads.

“Felipe visited the medical centre and the MH EK Honvedkorhaz hospital for precautionary tests on Friday, after feeling unwell and dizzy during FP2.

“He was cleared to take part in Saturday’s practice session by the FIA medical delegate, but he felt unwell again during FP3 and has made the decision to withdraw from the weekend.

“Williams supports Felipe’s decision and the team will work with him to ensure he makes a full recovery, with a view to return to the race track for the Belgian Grand Prix.

“Following this decision, the team’s Reserve Driver Paul di Resta will drive alongside Lance Stroll for the remainder of the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend.”

More to follow.

Vasseur: ‘Good choice’ for Sauber to extend Ferrari F1 partnership

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Sauber Formula 1 chief Frederic Vasseur has explained the decision to cancel a planned technical partnership with Honda for 2018 and extend its long-running agreement with Ferrari.

Sauber has enjoyed an engine supply from Ferrari since 2010, but announced in April that it would be linking up with Honda for 2018 as part of an extensive technical partnership.

The deal hit the rocks following the departure of long-standing CEO and team boss Monisha Kaltenborn, with Sauber’s owners uneasy about teaming up with Honda given its public F1 struggles.

Ex-Renault F1 chief Vasseur was brought in to replace Kaltenborn, and moved to cancel the deal with Honda and secure a new agreement with Ferrari, as announced on Friday.

“Sauber and Honda signed a memorandum of understanding a couple of weeks ago but things move forward quite fast in our world,” Vasseur said.

“I think that the situation was a bit unclear also regarding the collaboration between McLaren and Honda and on our side the engine supplier had to find a solution for the gearbox. We had a deal with McLaren and the situation was a bit more complicated.

“On the other end, the collaboration with Ferrari is based on a long-term relationship and we had the opportunity to discuss with Ferrari to get the new-spec engine and I think it was a good choice and we found a mutual agreement with Honda to stop the collaboration.”

Vasseur believes the decision will help Sauber’s long-term growth, with the team currently lagging behind at the rear of the field following a period of uncertainty.

“The short term, that will be difficult to achieve something. It’s a long-term project for sure,” Vasseur said.

“But I think the basics are there. The facility is impressive compared to the other teams. I think we are in a good move. The wind tunnel is a good one and the team, I think that Sauber is still in F1 an iconic name and there is a real team spirit, quite comparable to the team spirit I had last year at Enstone.

“Everybody is really dedicated, pushy, and now that the financial structure is stabilized I think we can have some hope for the future.”

Vettel quickest as Ferrari pulls clear in final Hungary F1 practice

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Sebastian Vettel headed up a Ferrari one-two in final Formula 1 practice for the Hungarian Grand Prix on Saturday morning, the Italian marque pulling clear of rivals Red Bull and Mercedes at the Hungaroring.

After seeing Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo lead both of Friday’s practice sessions, Vettel was able to vault to the front of the pack with an unofficial lap record, laying down an ominous pace heading into qualifying.

Vettel posted a fastest lap time of 1:17.017 to finish almost half a second clear of the pack, leading home Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen at the head of the timesheets.

Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton tried in vain to try and match Ferrari’s headline pace, lagging to third and fifth respectively.

While Bottas was able to finish nine-tenths of a second off Vettel’s time, Hamilton was 1.4 seconds back, the pair being split by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

Friday pace-setter Ricciardo had a session to forget as he suffered a gearbox issue, forcing him to park up at the side of the track with just seven laps on the board, his time nevertheless good enough for P8.

Stoffel Vandoorne continued McLaren’s good weekend by finishing sixth-fastest, with teammate Fernando Alonso ninth overall. Renault also got both of its cars into the top 10 as Nico Hulkenberg and Jolyon Palmer finished seventh and 10th respectively.

Felipe Massa was forced to halt his running halfway through the session after being taken unwell again, putting his participation in the remainder of the race weekend in doubt.

Williams has Paul di Resta on standby as its reserve driver should Massa be declared unfit.

Massa cleared for Hungary FP3 despite Friday hospital visit

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Felipe Massa received late clearance to take part in Saturday’s final Formula 1 practice session for the Hungarian Grand Prix after a visit to hospital on Friday.

Massa was taken to the local hospital in Budapest following second practice at the Hungaroring after feeling unwell, putting his participation in the rest of the weekend for Williams in doubt.

The Brazilian was ultimately cleared by the FIA medical delegate, allowing him to take part in FP3 on Saturday morning, but he will be subject to another check-up ahead of qualifying.