NASCAR: Justin Lofton tops 2nd Gateway Truck practice

Leave a comment

In a fill-in role for Gray Gaulding, Justin Lofton was quickest in this evening’s second NASCAR Camping World Truck Series practice session at the 1.25-mile Gateway Motorsports Park outside St. Louis.

Lofton was second-quickest in Practice 1, but moved up to the top spot with a lap of 136.753 mph in the No. 20 Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Chevy Silverado.

Gaulding is the normal driver of that NTS Motorsports-fielded Truck, but was in Pensacola, Florida today to compete in a K&N Pro Series East race. Once he’s done with that, Gaulding will return to Gateway and take over the No. 20 again.

Second-quickest in Practice 2 was Matt Crafton, who won last week at Texas and posted a lap of 136.558 miles per hour. Cole Custer was third in the session (136.397 mph), followed by Joey Coulter in fourth (136.108) and Practice 1 leader Chase Pistone in fifth (135.861).

Erik Jones, German Quiroga, Timothy Peters, John Hunter Nemechek, and Darrell Wallace Jr. made up Positions 6-10 in Practice 2.

The Trucks will have one more practice at 11 a.m. ET tomorrow, followed by qualifying at 5:10 p.m. ET and then the Drivin’ for Linemen 200 at 8:30 p.m. ET.

Neuville wins Rally Australia; Ogier takes FIA WRC title

Sebastien Ogier. Photo: Getty Images
Leave a comment

COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) Belgium’s Thierry Neuville won Rally Australia by 22.5 seconds on Sunday as torrential rain added drama to the last day of the last race of the World Rally Championship season.

Neuville entered the final day with an almost 20 second advantage after inheriting the rally lead Saturday when his Hyundai teammate, defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen crashed and was forced to retire for the day.

His lead was halved by Jari-Matti Latvala early Sunday as monsoon-like rain made conditions treacherous on muddy forest stages on the New South Wales coast. The rain stopped on the short Wedding Bells stage where Neuville was almost 5 seconds quicker than his rivals, stretching his lead to 14.7 seconds entering the last stage.

COFFS HARBOUR, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 17: Thierry Neuville of Belgium and Nicolas Gilsoul of Belgium compete in their Hyundai Motorsport WRT Hyundai i20 coupe WRC during Day One of the WRC Australia on November 17, 2017 in COFFS HARBOUR, Australia. (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)

That stage was full of incident. The driver’s door on Neuville’s Hyundai i20 coupe swung open in the middle of the stage and Neuville had to slam it closed as he approached a corner.

Latvala’s Toyota then crashed seconds from the end of the stage, allowing Estonia’s Ott Tanak, in a Ford, to take second place overall and New Zealalnd’s Haydon Paddon, in a Hyundai, to sneak into third.

Sebastian Ogier was fourth after winning the final, power stage but the Frenchman had already clinched his fifth world title before Rally Australia began. Neuville’s win was his fourth of the season, two more than Ogier, and was enough to give him second place in world drivers’ standings for the third time in five years.

Ogier owed his drivers’ title to his consistency: he retired only once and finished no worse than fifth all season.

Neuville admitted the last day was touch and go as the rain made some stages perilous, forcing the cancellation of the second to last stage.

“That was a hell of a ride,” Neuville said. “Really, really tricky conditions.

“I kept the car on the road but it was close sometimes. I knew I could make a difference but I had to be clever. You lose grip, you lose control and the car doesn’t respond to your input.”