Dale Earnhardt Jr. leads Chevy onslaught in first Sprint Cup practice at Charlotte

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It was a Chevrolet onslaught, led by Dale Earnhardt Jr., in Thursday’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup practice session at Charlotte Motor Speedway for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600.

Earnhardt paced the 45 drivers who took to the 1.5-mile tri-oval with a speed of 193.264 mph, more than 1 mph faster than second-fastest Kevin Harvick at 192.164 mph.

Seven Chevrolet drivers were part of the 10 fastest drivers in the session, led by Earnhardt and Harvick and followed by Jimmie Johnson third-fastest (192.014), Martin Truex Jr. fifth-fastest (191.775), Paul Menard (191.042), Kurt Busch (191.042), and Danica Patrick was ninth-fastest at 190.799 mph.

The fastest non-Chevy driver was Ford-powered Ricky Stenhouse Jr. with the fourth-fastest seed (191.782), teammate Carl Edwards was 10th-fastest at 190.577 mph, and Kyle Busch was the fastest and only Toyota driver in the top 10, with the sixth-fastest speed at 191.673 mph.

Qualifying for the Coca-Cola 600 takes place later Thursday night, starting at 7:10 p.m. ET. In addition, there will be two Nationwide Series practices from 4 to 5 pm ET and 5:30 to 6:50 pm ET.

By tradition, there will be no on-track activities at CMS on Friday. Sprint Cup drivers have two practice sessions on Saturday at 9:30 to 10:20 a.m. ET, and again from 1 to 2 p.m. ET.

Nationwide Series drivers will qualify Saturday morning at 10:40 a.m. ET, followed by the History 300 race at 3 p.m. ET.

The Coca-Cola 600, the longest and most grueling race of the Sprint Cup season, will begin at 6 p.m. ET on Sunday.

Check back here with MotorSportsTalk for more updates as they become available later today.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

IMSA: Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring Update – 3 hours in

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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The opening hours of the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring have been action-packed, with the early hours highlighted by racing that we would not expect from an endurance race.

For example, Acura Team Penske’s No. 7 ARX-05, currently fourth with Graham Rahal at the wheel, has had a couple run-ins with traffic, both from the Prototype and GT classes, as shown below.

Reports on happenings in the first three hours from all three classes are below.


Turn 1, Lap 1 proved to be a disaster for one of the contenders in Prototype. Olivier Pla, starting on the outside of the front row in the No.2 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan DPi, tried to pass polesitter Tristan Vautier, in the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Cadillac DPi-V.R, on the outside.

Vautier held his ground when Pla tried to pinch him against the inside wall, with the two making contact and sending Pla into a slide across the outside of the corner. Although he limped around back into the pits, the team ultimately uncovered a terminal gearbox issue, cause by the contact, and retired car, ending their race before it ever had a chance to get going.

The lone caution of the opening hours also came in the Prototype class. Sebastian Saavedra, in the No. 52 Ligier JS P217 Gibson for AFS/PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports, spun exiting Turn 17. In trying to avoid, Frank Montecalvo, in the GT Daytona class No. 64 Ferrari 488 GT3 for Scuderia Corsa, drifted out wide, but made contact with the right-front of Saavedra, which launched Montecalvo airborne and into the tire barriers exiting the corner.

Montecalvo emerged unhurt from the spectacular incident, while Saavedra returned to the pits for a new front nose on the No. 52 Ligier, and continued on.

Vautier, meanwhile, continued on unscathed and led the opening stint.

Just over three hours in, Eric Curran leads in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac for Action Express. The No. 22 ESM Nissan sits second in the hands of Nicolas Lapierre, with Jordan Taylor third in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac.

GT Le Mans (GTLM)

BMW Team RLL has dominated the opening hours of the 12 Hours of Sebring, with their No. 24 BMW M8 GTLM leading the way early on. Nicky Catsburg is currently behind the wheel.

Risi Competizion currently holds down second, with Alessandro Pier Guidi currently at the helm of their No. 62 Ferrari 488 GTE. Ford Chip Ganassi Racing holds third with Ryan Briscoe in the No. 67 Ford GT, though they had a clumsy run-in with the sister No. 66 in the pits early on, with both cars bumping each other exiting the pits.

However, no damage was done and both carried on.

GT Daytona

The polesitting No. 51 Ferrari from Spirit of Race also had a messy start to their 12 Hours of Sebring, with Daniel Serra getting together with the No. 15 3GT Racing Lexus RC F GT3, in the hands Jack Hawksworth at the time. The contact cut the right-rear tire of Serra, forcing an early pit stop. They now sit 16th in class.

Montaplast by Land Motorsport leads in the way in the No. 29 Audi R8 LMS GT3, with 17-year-old youngster Sheldon van der Linde at the helm. Running second is Corey Lewis in the Paul Miller Racing No. 48 Lamborghini Huracan GT3, with 3GT Racing sitting third with Kyle Marcelli in the No. 14 Lexus.