As Kevin Harvick seeks his third win of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, he’s got another good car in race trim.
The driver of the No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing led Saturday morning practice at 177.291. Brad Keselowski, a former Pocono winner, was second at 177.211 with Brian Vickers third at 177.085.
NASCAR’s most discussed free agent, Carl Edwards, clocked in fourth ahead of Harvick’s SHR teammate and team boss Tony Stewart, who now hasn’t won in more than a calendar year.
Jimmie Johnson, who seeks his third straight win and also won the June Pocono race last year, was eighth. Polesitter Denny Hamlin was 22nd.
Mike Bliss took laps in David Ragan’s No. 34 Front Row Motorsports car; Ragan’s wife is pregnant and expecting this weekend.
Lewis Hamilton believes that this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered as the last race with good-looking Formula 1 cars ahead of the introduction of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection for next year.
Officials from the FIA and F1 Strategy Group confirmed earlier this year that the Halo would be fitted to all cars from the 2018 season in a bid to improve safety standards, with the deaths of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi putting head protection high on the agenda for the series’ chiefs.
Hamilton has long made his opposition to the Halo clear, believing it will ruin the look of F1 cars, and echoed his thoughts ahead of the final Halo-less race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.
“It’s the last year of looking good I think in the cars. It’s the last race where the cars will look good,” Hamilton said.
“I think next year, it’s all downhill from there in terms of how they look.
“But safety will go up at least, and maybe it could be successful in some way.”
Hamilton’s F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel was less bothered about the change, believing the field will adjust and move on.
“The cars will look different next year. Everything I’ve seen so far looks different, but on the other hand it is something we all get used to,” Vettel said.
“But no doubt the cars look better now, but we’ll get used to it, and we’ll work on the aesthetics so it can be better. It is less of a big deal.”
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo shared Vettel’s view, saying: “I don’t think it’s gonna be as dramatic as most people make it out to be.”