Brian Scott fastest in first of two NNS practices Friday at Chicagoland

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JOLIET, ILLINOIS – Brian Scott paced the field in the first of two Nationwide Series practices Friday at Chicagoland Speedway.

Scott covered the 1.5-mile track 50 miles south of Chicago at a speed of 172.806 mph.

NNS rookie Chris Buescher was second-fastest at 172.623 mph, followed by Chase Elliott (172.568), Brendan Gaughan (172.342) and Kyle Larson (171.810)

Sam Hornish Jr. was sixth-fastest at 171.723 mph, followed by Kasey Kahne (171.396), Ryan Reed (171.238), Ty Dillon (171.189) and Trevor Bayne (171.086).

Larson and Kahne are the only two Sprint Cup regulars participating in Saturday’s Nationwide event, the EnjoyIllinois.com 300.

Cale Conley was 11th-fastest (170.946).

Camping World Truck Series rookie Erik Jones, making his Nationwide Series debut this weekend, was 12th-fastest (170.827 mph).

Ryan Blaney was 13th-fastest (170.767), followed by Elliot Sadler (170.557), Regan Smith (170.154), Ryan Sieg (170.036), James Buescher (169.827), Mike Bliss (169.699), Dylan Kwasniewski (169.263) and Dakoda Armstrong (168.587).

Kwasniewski parted ways with crew chief Pat Tryson earlier this week, with former Turner Scott Motorsports car chief Shannon Rursch being promoted to replace Tryson.

Although 40 cars are entered for Saturday’s race, only 33 took part in the first practice session of the day on Friday. The second practice session is due to go from 6:30 to 8 pm ET.

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Ferrari, Mercedes launch 2018 F1 cars

Photo: Getty Images
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The title combatants from the 2017 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season both launched their 2018 challengers earlier on Thursday, with Scuderia Ferrari revealing the SF71H and Mercedes AMG Petronas revealing the W09.

For Ferrari, the SF71H represents an evolution of last year’s SF70H, which helped produce Ferrari’s best season in several years.

They presented a strong challenge to Mercedes for the championship, even leading the way at various points, with Sebastian Vettel recording five wins along the way. But, mechanical failures and crashes hampered their efforts late in the season, and they settled for second in the driver’s championship (with Vettel) and the constructor’s championship.

Entering 2018, the team is emphasizing the importance of building momentum with every race to ultimately secure their first constructor’s crown since 2008 and their first driver’s crown since 2007.

“There are no challenges actually. There are no challenges in the plural. There is just one challenge, which is the final challenge,” asserted team principal Maurizio Arrivabene. So that’s work that you build and you don’t build that work in one or two races. We’ve seen over the last few years, in the last championships, that you work race by race, and you always try to do the best you can.”

Technical director Mattia Binotto detailed some of the updates on the 2018 car, such as an new power unit and new suspension designs in anticipation of new tire constructions.

“We worked a lot on the power unit, we worked on its reliability and performance. We worked on the packaging, on suspensions in the rear axle because there will be new tires the following season, so we also tried to design the car to accommodate the new tires,” he explained.

Binotto added, “In regards to aerodynamics, we maintained our concept of having the inlets on the radiators, and everybody’s copying that, but we tried to make an additional step forward and what we showed today is not the same element of last year, but it is something more developed.”

Mercedes, meanwhile, will look to take it’s fifth consecutive driver’s and constructor’s championships with the W09. The team even took the car to the track for its launch, conducting a filming day at Silverstone Circuit.

“It is always a very exciting time because what has been designed is coming together and coming alive,”  team principal Toto Wolff said during the launch.

Despite facing challenges with last year’s car, the W08, the team elected to follow a similar design concept with the aerodynamics to improve on the car’s strengths while simultaneously addressing its weak points.

“We like some of the character traits from our diva,” Wolf quipped. “The W08 was the fastest car on the grid, scoring the highest number of pole positions and winning the most races last year. So we were careful not to lose the car’s many strengths just to overcome the difficulties.”

Both Ferrari and Mercedes are expected to slug it out again for the 2018 driver’s and constructor’s championships.

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