NASCAR AMERICA: Sprint Cup youngsters get more Sonoma experience (VIDEO)

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Seeking valuable road racing experience, five Sprint Cup drivers are also competing this weekend in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West undercard at Sonoma Raceway.

Second-year Cup driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr., plus Cup rookies Kyle Larson, Austin Dillon, Michael Annett, and Justin Allgaier, will all take part in the Carneros 200.

So far, it appears they’re making the most of things – especially Stenhouse, who led both K&N West practices this afternoon on the 1.99-mile Northern California road course.

Stenhouse and Larson were 1-2 in the first practice, with Stenhouse’s 1:18:916 bettering Larson’s 1:19.050. Greg Pursley, Austin Cameron, and Brandon McReynolds (son of former Cup crew chief and current TV analyst Larry McReynolds) completed the Top 5 speed in that session.

In the final practice, Stenhouse and Larson were once again quickest. Both of them lowered their lap times as well; Stenhouse posted a 1:18.243 and Larson turned in a 1:18.380.

Allgaier, a late addition to Saturday’s race, was third on the time sheets in final practice. McReynolds was fourth and David Mayhew was fifth.

Earlier today on NASCAR AMERICA, Leigh Diffey and Ricky Rudd talked about the young Cup racers opting to run the K&N West event and how it can help them in Sunday’s Sprint Cup Toyota/Save Mart 350. You can hear their thoughts in the clip above.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.