Tony Stewart: Costly speeding penalty was “100% driver error”

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As the final stretch of Sunday’s Pocono 400 loomed, Tony Stewart looked like he’d be one of the contenders as the remaining laps ticked away.

Instead, he was forced to swallow a 13th-place finish after he was caught speeding on pit road during a Lap 118 caution.

The penalty sent him to the tail end of the lead lap for the Lap 123 restart, and while Stewart did well to collect a Top-15 in the end, he was still annoyed with himself over his mistake.

“It was 100 percent driver error,” he told TNT. “I don’t know how I got through the lights like I did, but I got to where I blew through all the lights and didn’t have any on the [tachometer], so I had no clue I was over though. But it was 100 percent driver error.

“I gave my guys grief last week with a sixth-place run, thought we should run in the top-three, and then I threw it away this week…I had an awesome car all day, all from Friday through Sunday. It was a great race car, just the driver screwed it up this weekend.”

Stewart’s gaffe marked the end of a tough mid-race sequence for Stewart-Haas Racing.

Shortly before the Lap 118 caution, Stewart and Harvick had been running first and second when the latter suffered a flat tire on Lap 116 and was forced to pit under green.

Harvick has won twice this season, but has had several more potential victories go by the boards due to instances of bad luck. So it went again in Pocono for “Happy,” who ultimately finished one spot behind Stewart in 14th place.

Between Harvick’s flat tire and Stewart’s penalty was Kurt Busch overshooting his pit box. However, the Outlaw was able to battle back and pick up a much-needed third-place finish.

As for SHR’s fourth driver, Danica Patrick, she suffered through a trying afternoon. On Lap 137, she was running second out of sequence when she hit the wall in Turn 2.

But she did manage to have a role in the outcome of the race – although probably not the role she desired. Race leader Brad Keselowski tried to use her lapped car to blow off a piece of debris on his own with five laps left.

Keselowski lost momentum, however, and opened the door for Dale Earnhardt Jr. to make the race-winning pass. Patrick finished 37th.

Kubica, di Resta complete Williams F1 tests in Hungary

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Robert Kubica and Paul di Resta have both completed one-day tests for Williams in a 2014-spec Formula 1 car as part of the team’s evaluation for its 2018 line-up.

Williams is known to be considering a number of drivers to partner Lance Stroll at the team next year, including existing racer Felipe Massa.

Massa is thought to be going up against Kubica and di Resta for the 2018 drive, with the latter duo taking part in a private test at the Hungaroring in Budapest this week to aid the team’s evaluation.

After missing out on a 2018 Renault drive due to lingering questions about his physical condition six years after his rally accident, Kubica tested for Williams at Silverstone last week before getting back behind the wheel of the 2014 FW36 car in Hungary on Tuesday.

Kubica’s test was called “productive” by Williams, with the Pole handing duties over to Mercedes DTM racer di Resta on Wednesday.

Di Resta raced in F1 with Force India between 2010 and 2013 before returning to DTM, but made a surprise return at this year’s Hungarian Grand Prix with Williams when Massa was taken ill. Di Resta impressed on short notice, putting himself in contention for a full-time return to F1 in 2018.

Williams has one of the few remaining seats on offer in F1 for 2018, with Massa’s future known to be in question after a quiet campaign thus far.

The Brazilian had been due to retire from F1 at the end of last year, only for Williams to recall him after Valtteri Bottas’ late move up to Mercedes following Nico Rosberg’s surprise retirement.

Massa has made clear he would like to keep racing in F1 next year, but only if the deal is right and if Williams is determined to keep him.

While Massa, Kubica and di Resta appear to be the three leading contenders for the seat, Williams technical chief Paddy Lowe made clear in Japan there was a “large range” of drivers under consideration.

“You’ve probably seen a number of names that are floating around that we’re looking at, but honestly, the range is almost unlimited,” Lowe said.

“We will consider all ideas. We’re not in a super hurry to do so, and we’ll just make sure we land the best line-up we can.”