NASCAR: Johnson fastest in Saturday AM Cup practice at Michigan

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Speed will not a problem at Michigan International Speedway for Hendrick Motorsports.

Three Hendrick drivers are starting in the first four rows for Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400, and this morning in Sprint Cup practice, three Hendrick drivers were among the Top 5 fastest speeds.

HMS teammates Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon were at the very top this morning, with Johnson posting a lap of 202.054 miles per hour and Gordon not far behind with his lap of 201.726 mph.

Gordon decided to end his practice early, later telling Fox Sports that they didn’t want to overtax his No. 24 Chevy.

“I think we’re just kind of looking at the big picture here of what we’re going to be tuning for in the race, which we feel like that next practice is going to be a lot closer to those race conditions,” he said.

“[Then there’s] reliability. We’re just recognizing that reliability here, even though it’s just 400 miles, it’s going to be crucial. So we didn’t want to put too many laps on it.”

Sunday’s polesitter, Kevin Harvick, was third-fastest for Stewart Haas Racing with a lap of 201.556 mph. Then came Ganassi rookie Kyle Larson in fourth (201.489) and another HMS driver, Kasey Kahne (201.354) in fifth.

Counting SHR’s Tony Stewart in sixth (201.106) and Ganassi’s Jamie McMurray in eighth (200.758), that made seven Chevrolet drivers in the Top 10 with Hendrick-built engines.

Brian Vickers (Toyota; 200.826) was seventh, while Austin Dillon (Chevy; 200.758) and Denny Hamlin (Toyota; 200.412) completed the Top 10 in ninth and 10th respectively.

Final Sprint Cup practice will take place later today at 12:30 p.m. ET.

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES AT MICHIGAN – SATURDAY MORNING PRACTICE TIMES

Verstappen doesn’t want F1 season to end after recent run of form

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Max Verstappen says he is not ready for the 2017 Formula 1 season to come to an end after enjoying a run of strong form through the closing stages of the campaign.

Verstappen endured a rocky run of form through to the end of the European season that saw him suffer a number of reliability issues and score just a single podium finish, taking third in China back in April.

However, the Dutchman has rallied to score more points than any other driver in the last five races, including victories in Malaysia and Mexico, as well as a podium finish in Japan.

Verstappen heads into next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix chasing a third win of the year to sign off, but joked he does not want the season to end just as he’s got into a good groove.

“We will, of course, try and end the season with a strong result in Abu Dhabi,” Verstappen said. “Last year was actually quite a good race after skipping a pit stop following a spin at Turn 1, it was hard to manage the tires to the end of the race but we did it and finished fourth.

“I would say that my favorite part of the track is at Turns 2 and 3, the fast left, right. It’s also very cool driving underneath the hotel and racing in the darkness with all the lights.

“The final sector at Yas Marina is actually quite technical so you have to be really precise there, but it should also be our strongest part of the track.

“There are quite a few overtaking opportunities to make the race interesting, before the long straight at the hairpin and then at the end of the straight under braking for the next chicane section.

“Abu Dhabi is the last race on the calendar, but I don’t actually want the season to end. I’m really fired up at the moment and I just want to keep going.

“The nice thing will be to spend some time with friends and family over the winter break and then I will look ahead to January and get back into training before it all starts again.”