Keselowski tops New Hampshire Sprint Cup final practice

Leave a comment

So far, it’s been a Brad Keselowski kind of day in New Hampshire.

After leading this morning’s second Sprint Cup practice and then winning the pole for today’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race, the 2012 Cup champion topped final Cup practice for Sunday’s Camping World RV Sales 301.

Keselowski turned in a lap of 133.254 miles per hour in his No. 2 Redd’s Apple Ale/Team Penske Ford that was enough to lead late flyers from Jeff Gordon (132.771), Denny Hamlin (132.739), and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (132.526).

Kevin Harvick completed the Top 5 (132.512), and he was followed by Jamie McMurray, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch (Sunday’s pole sitter), Kasey Kahne and Martin Truex Jr.

Other notables from the session include: Jimmie Johnson in 11th, Tony Stewart in 15th, NBC Sports’ own Jeff Burton in 17th, defending race winner Brian Vickers in 25th, and Danica Patrick in 27th.

Aric Almirola, last week’s winner in Daytona, was 31st-fastest in “Happy Hour” (130.707) driving his backup No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford.

During this morning’s second practice, Almirola suffered a tire failure and crashed his primary car; as a result of the incident, he’ll have to start Sunday’s race from the rear of the field.

Today’s Nationwide race will go off at 3:30 p.m. ET, and Sunday’s main event for Sprint Cup is set for a 1 p.m. ET start.

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES AT NEW HAMPSHIRE – FINAL PRACTICE TIMES

IndyCar 2017 driver review: Sebastien Bourdais

Getty Images
Leave a comment

MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. A dream start occurred for Sebastien Bourdais and the Dale Coyne Racing team upon their reunion, followed by a nightmare in Indianapolis with a huge crash in qualifying, and ended with a rapid recovery to build confidence for 2018.

Sebastien Bourdais, No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda

  • 2016: 14th Place, 1 Win, Best Start 3rd, 1 Podium, 3 Top-5, 11 Top-10, 24 Laps Led, 11.9 Avg. Start, 11.2 Avg. Finish
  • 2017: 21st Place (8 Starts), 1 Win, Best Start 6th, 2 Podiums, 2 Top-5, 5 Top-10, 74 Laps Led, 12.4 Avg. Start, 11.0 Avg. Finish

The 2017 campaign for Sebastien Bourdais upon his return to Dale Coyne Racing will forever be known as both a year of “what could have been” and a year of “what a comeback it was.”

The abnormal season for Bourdais stretched eight races with a three-month break in the middle owing to his own mistake qualifying for the Indianapolis 500, which left him with multiple pelvic fractures and a fracture to his right hip. His car was a rocket ship; but after two laps at 231 mph, Bourdais appeared to over-correct and destroyed the wall at Turn 2 in Indy in a massive 127G impact. It was a horrific looking accident, but one that also saw Bourdais rather lucky to have not been injured worse.

It set forth in motion an incredible recovery that saw Bourdais back testing the Monday after Mid-Ohio, just over two months since the accident, then in race action just over three months later at the 1.25-mile Gateway Motorsports Park oval, and because Bourdais is a regulation badass, he finished in the top-10 straight out of the box. He worked as hard as he did to return earlier than anticipated to avoid an offseason of questions asking if he’d come back and if he’d be strong enough to do so.

The recovery was a welcome story to end the year after the agony at Indy that stopped a potential title run or certainly top-five in points finish in its tracks. A classic Coyne strategy special vaulted Bourdais from last to first and a popular win in his U.S. hometown of St. Petersburg to kick off the year. A second place at Long Beach backed it up and eighth at Barber kept him atop the standings.

But Indy was shaping up to be an important bounce back weekend after Bourdais got taken out in Phoenix, then incurred an engine failure in the IMS road course race. And then, of course, his loud and violent accident qualifying for the ‘500 changed the course of the season.

After three “almost there” but largely unfulfilling years at KV Racing Technology, Bourdais embraced the family atmosphere back at Coyne along with longtime engineers Craig Hampson and Olivier Boisson, determined to continue punching above the team’s weight. He crafted a remarkable story all season and will be keen to fulfill it over the course of a proper full campaign in 2018.