(Photo: Jeff Curry/Getty Images)

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.

Vettel, Raikkonen complete hot laps in Ferrari F1 cars at Daytona

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Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen enjoyed their final Formula 1 run-outs of 2016 on Sunday at Daytona International Speedway, taking part in a special demonstration for the Ferrari Finali Mondiali.

The Finali Mondiali acts as the world final for the continental Ferrari Challenge series, bringing together competitors from the North America, Europe and Asia Pacific championships.

As part of the weekend’s running, Vettel and Raikkonen were on hand to complete demonstration laps behind the wheel of recent Ferrari F1 cars, with Vettel also completing some donuts in front of the main granstand at Daytona.

Here are some of the videos and pictures from the event.

Sebastian Vettel dismisses suggestion he could replace Rosberg at Mercedes

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 27: Nico Rosberg of Germany and Mercedes GP is congratulated by Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Ferrari on the podium during the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit on November 27, 2016 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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Sebastian Vettel has brushed off suggestions that he could take Nico Rosberg’s vacant Formula 1 seat at Mercedes next year, saying his focus lies on working with Ferrari to improve on their 2016 season.

Rosberg sensationally announced on Friday that he would be retiring from F1 with immediate effect, just five days after winning his maiden World Championship.

Rosberg’s move has sent the driver market into a late flux, with Mercedes’ Niki Lauda claiming that half of the F1 grid has been in touch regarding the seat despite many of them having contracts.

Vettel has been named as a possible candidate for Rosberg’s seat despite having one year remaining on his Ferrari deal, but when speaking at the Finali Mondiali at Daytona International Speedway, the German stressed he is focused on his current commitments at Maranello.

“I think it’s no secret the fact that me and Kimi Raikkonen have a contract for next season,” Vettel is quoted as saying by La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“Kimi and I are already committed. In 2017 we will be competitive.

“We have not reached the goal this year, but now it will be important to do the job at the factory in the next two months.

“I am confident that we will definitely present an improved package.”

Vettel signed off with a message to Rosberg, wishing the retiring champion “happy holidays!”

Vettel finished 2016 fourth in the drivers’ championship without a win to his name as Ferrari struggled to keep up with Mercedes and Red Bull in the pecking order.

Mercedes is set to begin its search for a replacement on Monday, with the other big-name driver besides Vettel linked to the seat being McLaren’s Fernando Alonso.

Should Mercedes want to promote one of its junior drivers, Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon are both also available, although neither has more than a season of F1 experience.

Hamilton not chasing number one status at Mercedes after Rosberg exit

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 25: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP walks in the Paddock during practice for the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit on November 25, 2016 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
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Lewis Hamilton says he is not chasing number one driver status at Mercedes as the team begins its search for a replacement for Formula 1 World Champion Nico Rosberg.

Rosberg edged out Hamilton for the F1 drivers’ championship in Abu Dhabi last Sunday before sensationally announcing his immediate retirement from the sport five days later.

Mercedes has said it will take its time when looking for a replacement for Rosberg, with the majority of the F1 grid tied up contractually for 2017.

Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel have both been linked with the Mercedes drive in the wake of Rosberg’s departure, leading to questions about whether Hamilton would want another big-name star alongside him.

Mercedes has always stressed that it does not have a number one driver, and Hamilton said that he would not insist on that changing when his new teammate arrives.

“I’ve never been a driver to ever request that,” Hamilton said when asked about number one status.

“I know a lot of the other drivers Sebastian, Fernando make sure that’s in their contract.

“I’ve just always asked to have equal rights. As long as we’re treated fairly, it doesn’t really matter who’s alongside you.

“But of course, we’ve got great team bosses, who I’m sure will choose the right people to be representing the brand.”

Whoever replaces Rosberg will become Hamilton’s fifth teammate in F1, the Briton having previously worked with Alonso, Heikki Kovalainen and Jenson Button during his time at McLaren before joining Mercedes in 2013.

Rosberg: Hamilton’s late-season form ‘the best Lewis I’ve ever seen’

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 27: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes F1 WO7 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo neads Nico Rosberg of Germany driving the (6) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes F1 WO7 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo on track  during the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit on November 27, 2016 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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Nico Rosberg believes that Lewis Hamilton produced some of the best performances of his career towards the end of the 2016 Formula 1 season when the Briton had nothing to lose in the championship fight.

Rosberg clinched his maiden F1 drivers’ championship by five points in Abu Dhabi last Sunday, defeating Hamilton for the first time during their time as teammates.

Rosberg closed out the season with four straight second place finishes, with Hamilton’s run of victories in the same period not being enough to catch up in the standings.

Speaking in a video produced by Mercedes after his championship win, Rosberg said that he felt the most pressure after his final win of the season in Japan, the result that meant he could wrap up the title without taking another victory.

“The changing moment was Suzuka for me, when all of a sudden I had the 33-point lead and that meant it was in my hands, and it’s mine to lose, because it was enough to do second-second-second and third,” Rosberg said.

“That’s when really the pressure started for me because it became real, the chance to win the championship and to beat Lewis. It was real.”

Rosberg was only assured of the title when he crossed the finish line in Abu Dhabi, with Hamilton going deliberately slow in a bid to back the German into the chasing pack.

“Abu Dhabi was intense. It was the most intense experience I’ve ever had in a race car,” Rosberg said.

“Even qualifying, the laps in qualifying, not easy really. And for sure it has an impact on your performance. It’s not possible that you do the same performance as if you’re in Lewis’ position where he has nothing to lose.”

Rosberg believes that the lack of pressure brought the very best out of Hamilton, as he closed out the campaign with four consecutive victories from pole position.

“That’s why he got the pole positions and why I was second in the last couple of races because he’s free, has no weight and nothing to lose,” Rosberg said.

“It was the best Lewis I’ve ever seen, the last few races, because not only was he completely free, but also the most determined and motivated ever, working as hard as ever.

“[It was] massively difficult to beat him in those circumstances.”

Rosberg announced on Friday that he would be retiring from racing with immediate effect, meaning we have likely seen the last of his rivalry with Hamilton in F1.