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Can Kasey Kahne turn it around at Pocono? (VIDEO)

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Jeff Gordon’s consistency has him near the top of the Sprint Cup standings. Jimmie Johnson has rattled off back-to-back victories. And Dale Earnhardt Jr. has stayed steady since opening the season with a Daytona 500 win.

All three of those Hendrick Motorsports drivers have assured themselves a place in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. But the fourth driver among them, Kasey Kahne, has been largely anonymous.

His third-place run at Kansas is his only Top-5 finish so far this season. For a time in Sunday’s FedEx 400 at Dover, it appeared he’d collect another one, but a loose condition on his car caused him to fade to 19th at the checkers.

With such inconsistency, Kahne has fallen into the group of drivers battling to “steal” a win that can propel them into the Chase. The good news for him and his No. 5 Hendrick crew is that Sunday’s Pocono 400 at Pocono Raceway presents a prime opportunity.

Last June at the “Tricky Triangle,” Kahne was undone by a first-lap vibration that forced him into the garage. Once the issue was solved and he returned to the track, he threw down the fastest lap of the race 51 times – more than anybody else – but finished 36th.

But when the Cup circus returned to Pocono in August, Kahne followed through and defeated Gordon in the final laps to pick up a second 2013 win that effectively sealed a Wild Card spot in the Chase.

Currently sitting 18th and winless in the championship, Kahne could use some more Pocono magic.

We’ve got 10 drivers currently locked in the Chase Grid. Out of those that are still without W’s, you figure the two drivers that are most likely to chalk one up soon are Matt Kenseth (the current points leader) and Tony Stewart (who always catches fire in the summer).

Plus, there’s always the possibility of the road courses and restrictor-plate tracks yielding a winner that hasn’t always contended everywhere else (think Marcos Ambrose at Sonoma/Watkins Glen or Danica Patrick at Daytona in July).

With all of that in mind, Kahne needs his break-through sooner rather than later. But considering his recent success at Pocono, this weekend could be it.

Formula E: Team Aguri confirms da Costa for second season

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Antonio Felix da Costa has been confirmed for a second season with Team Aguri for the 2015-2016 FIA Formula E Championship, which begins later this month in Beijing.

He won once this past year at Buenos Aires and finished eighth in the points despite missing both the season opener and season finale due to clashes with his DTM schedule.

Said the 24-year-old Portuguese driver, “I am really happy to continue with Team Aguri and Formula E for season two. This championship is earning its respect in the world of motorsport and I am honoured to be involved. Regarding the season, I am really looking forward to getting started.”

Team Aguri team principal Mark Preston added, “It is a great pleasure to have Antonio continuing with the team for season two of Formula E. Antonio brought us our maiden win in Buenos Aires and helped to develop the team from scratch, he will continue to build on that success for season two and beyond.”

The team that bares the name of ex-Formula 1 driver and team owner Aguri Suzuki has not yet confirmed its second driver, which is the last outstanding seat to be filled on the Formula E grid.

Amlin, which had partnered with Aguri last year, is now present with the Andretti Formula E team and its drivers, Robin Frijns and Simona de Silvestro.

Hulkenberg leads shorter than normal FP1 in Russia

Nico Hulkenberg
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Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg posted a 1:44.355 lap of the of the Sochi Autodrom to lead a fairly abnormal, and shorter than usual, first free practice for the Russian Grand Prix.

Hulkenberg posted the time to conclude the usual 90-minute session, to pip Nico Rosberg at 1:44.407 on his final lap. The usual 90-minute session was shortened due to a track delay for cleanup of diesel fuel on course.

Sebastian Vettel, Sergio Perez and Daniel Ricciardo completed the top five.

While the clock started on time for the full 90-minute session, track activity was halted for the opening 30 minutes to clean up diesel spillage on the track at Turn 8.

It left teams and drivers with just a 60-minute first free practice to tackle the Sochi Autodrom, but did not push the session later or affect the timetable for the rest of the day. However, with a damp if not entirely wet track, it made things difficult in FP1.

The delay also meant that teams weren’t able to use an extra set of Pirellis handed out at the start of FP1. Supersofts can be used for the first time in FP2.

During the delay, it did offer a chance for sarcasm, and Manor seized the opportunity following a comment from McLaren Honda’s Fernando Alonso noting that even with Mercedes engines next year, Manor wouldn’t move ahead of them.

NBC’s Will Buxton explained the track surface dilemma drivers would face in this session.

With just under one hour to go in the session, Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson was the first to head out on course, leading several others. Ericsson made the first laps of the weekend at the track where he made his final start for Caterham a year ago.

Both Williams drivers went on course on Pirelli’s wet weather tires for their installation laps. Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg tried the intermediates, and Alonso was first on course in slicks.

No official times were registered until there were less than 40 minutes remaining in the session, with Alonso registering a 2:00.736 time, while putting down a bevy of sparks. He quickly lowered the mark to 1:56.327, and 1:53.854 after that. Ericsson was next in at a 1:58.926, although dropped into the 1:54 range not long after.

Alonso’s teammate Jenson Button clocked in at 1:50.920 with just under 20 minutes remaining and for the first time this year, we could say we had a McLaren Honda 1-2 on track, albeit under abnormal circumstances.

The trsck got busy in the final 15 minutes, with Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen posting a 1:50.870 to lead before Alonso clocked in a 1:49.240.

A 1:47.959 from Williams’ Valtteri Bottas, then a 1:45.987 from Hulkenberg followed in the final 10 minutes as times firmly began to drop. Vettel got down to a 1:45.491 shortly thereafter, and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton came up two tenths shy of the mark at a 1:45.691.

Ericsson reported a power cut near the end of the session down at Sauber but otherwise there were no issues through the field, other than a handful of spins, including one from Hamilton on his final flier at the second-to-last corner.

FP2 begins from 7 a.m. ET on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra.