Rain cuts Nationwide quals short; Armstrong on pole tonight

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UPDATE (4:10 p.m. ET): A second shower at Daytona International Speedway has forced NASCAR to cancel the remainder of Nationwide Series qualifying for tonight’s Subway Firecracker 250.

As a result, Richard Petty Motorsports’ Dakoda Armstrong has earned his first career Nationwide Series pole. Trevor Bayne will join him on the front row.

With less than eight minutes remaining in the first round of qualifying, a sudden cloudburst over the midway point of the backstretch caused a cluster of cars to spin out and wreck. The incident brought out a red flag.

The drivers involved include: Matt Dibenedetto, Ross Chastain, Scott Lagasse Jr., Blake Koch, Benny Gordon, Robert Richardson, Mike Bliss, Joe Nemechek, and Eric McClure.

“I don’t know if there’s any words to properly describe it,” McClure told Fox Sports afterwards.

“We had no idea it was raining. The spotter caught it right as we came off Turn 2 and saw it. I’m a little disappointed that with all the technology we have and the spotters around the race track that a caution wasn’t thrown. But that’s not my call to make.”

NASCAR promptly declared Round 1 complete and with the onset of more rain, they’ve set the field for tonight’s race based off the results from Round 1.

Chris Buescher and Ryan Reed will start in Row 2, followed by Kyle Busch and Nationwide points leader Elliott Sadler in Row 3. Chase Elliott and Regan Smith are in Row 4, while Darrell “Bubba” Wallace and Kyle Larson roll off from Row 5.

Three of the drivers involved in the Round 1 crash – Koch, Gordon, and Dibenedetto – were unable to make the show.

Sprint Cup qualifying for tomorrow’s Coke Zero 400 is expected to go off at 5:10 p.m. ET, followed by the Nationwide race at 7:30 p.m. ET. Right now, the track is working to get the 2.5-mile oval in shape for Cup qualifying.

NASCAR NATIONWIDE SERIES AT DAYTONA – STARTING LINEUP

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.”