Erik Jones, Ryan Blaney fastest in Eldora Truck practices

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Erik Jones and Ryan Blaney recorded the top speeds in the two practice sessions for Wednesday night’s second annual MudSummer Classic NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Eldora Speedway.

Pole qualifying begins at 5:10 pm ET and will be televised on Fox Sports 1. All drivers will take two laps, with the best lap counted towards the qualifying result.

The main event race at the western Ohio half-mile dirt track begins at 9 pm ET (televised on Fox Sports 1). It will be preceded by five 10-lap heat races that begin at 7 pm ET, followed by a “last-chance” qualifying race at 8:10 pm ET.

Last year’s MudSummer Classic was the first NASCAR race run on dirt since 1970, and the first-ever for the Camping World Truck Series.

In Wednesday’s first practice session, Jones – who won his first NCWTS race at Iowa on July 12 – took to dirt like a duck to water (this is his first race on dirt of his career).

The 18-year-old rookie from Michigan topped the field with a speed of 90.749 mph at a time of 19.835 seconds.

Mason Mingus was second-fastest (90.653 mph), while NCWTS points standings leader Matt Crafton was third (90.221), Tyler Reddick was fourth (90.149) and Kyle Larson rounded out the top-five (90.009).

Sixth through 10th in the first practice session were German Quiroga Jr. (89.632), Darrell Wallace Jr. (89.592), Timothy Peters (89.486), Chase Pistone (89.321) and Johnny Sauter (89.303).

Last year’s winner, Austin Dillon, was 25th-fastest (87.796 mph) out of only 32 trucks that took to the track in the opening session.

As for the second session, what a turnaround it was for Blaney, who is currently second in the NCWTS points standings.

After managing to be no faster than 28th (87.256 mph) in the opening session, Blaney was at the front of the pack in the second practice session with a speed of 87.869 mph.

All speeds in the second session were considerably lower than the opening practice, which saw five drivers exceed 90 mph.

And just like he was in the opening practice, Mingus once again was second-fastest in the second session at 87.771 mph.

Dillon, the 2011 NCWTS and 2013 Nationwide Series champion, also made a huge climb up from the opening session, with the third-fastest effort in the second practice at 87.596 mph.

Fourth fastest in the second practice was Ron Hornaday Jr. (87.125 mph), followed by Austin Dillon’s younger brother Ty, who was fifth-fastest at 87.007 mph).

Sixth- through 10th-fastest were Jody Knowles (86.931), JR Heffner (86.747), Chase Pistone (86.714), Larson (86.647) and Ken Schrader (36.626).

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Lewis Hamilton comes home to Mercedes factory after fourth title

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On Monday, the Formula 1 schedule finally allowed teams to be in Europe before heading to Abu Dhabi for this weekend’s season finale.

And as such, that provided a window for now four-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton to return to the Mercedes AMG Petronas factories in Brackley and Brixworth to be celebrated for taking the driver’s title, as Hamilton an Valtteri Bottas delivered Mercedes its fourth straight constructor’s title.

Hamilton was at Brixworth, the home of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) and its highly successful Mercedes-Benz Power Units first before heading to Brackley, where he was welcomed with a “guard of honor” as the entire team came out to greet him.

The champion was overwhelmed at the response and the welcome.

“This a very emotional day. I was not expecting this, thanks everyone for the warm welcome,” he said. “Today is something that I will never forget, turning up at the front gate of the factory and seeing everyone out on the street to welcome me – I’m blown away.

“This has been an incredible year, it’s been an incredible journey together. There’s a huge amount of respect and appreciation I have for everyone. I’ve been in the sport for a long time now, but to see the work ethic in Brixworth and Brackley really inspires me. Every time I come around, I see everyone operating at 100%, which encourages me to bring my best performance.

“Thank you all for helping me achieve my dreams, it would not have been possible without you. This is the best championship year, because we’ve been fighting another team and because we’ve had the difficulties and challenges we’ve had – that just makes it so much greater.”

A social roundup of images and videos are below, all via Hamilton and the Mercedes team on social media.