Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 - Practice

Announcement of Edwards’ exit from Roush Fenway had some strange timing

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This Sunday morning at Indianapolis got a bit more distracting for Carl Edwards, crew chief Jimmy Fennig, and the No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing team.

Hours away from one of the biggest NASCAR races of the year, Jack Roush revealed that Edwards would not be returning to the team next season. Instead, the Cat in the Hat will have Greg Biffle, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Trevor Bayne in his 2015 stable.

We’ve known that Edwards leaving Roush at the end of 2014 was a distinct possibility, even as Edwards himself has constantly chosen to stay silent on the matter.

But while the announcement isn’t exactly a surprise, the timing most definitely is. In a brief interview with reporters that was captured by Fox Sports, Edwards tried to keep focus on today’s Brickyard 400 and the remainder of the 2014 campaign.

“Our mission is to go win this race today and the championship,” Edwards said. “From a competitive standpoint, that’s the key and so, that’s where I’m at today.”

“When it’s time to talk about [2015], I’ll tell you guys and we’ll do it,” he added before being hustled off to a pre-race sponsor function. But before he went away, Edwards said this:

“It is unfortunate that all of this is happening on a race day. Because that’s the number-one focus.”

Or rather, it should be the number-one focus – especially going into this particular race. Instead, Edwards is having to deal with the aftermath of this announcement and ward off questions about his future.

And when he steps out of his Ford Fusion at the end of today’s race, he’ll likely have to deal with it all again. Even if he wins.

Far be it from me to question a team owner that has made countless decisions through more than 25 years at NASCAR’s top level, but Roush did not do Edwards any favors by announcing this today.

Why now? Why not do this the mid-week before or perhaps the Monday after?

Additionally, you would think Edwards’ solid year would have earned him some courtesy on this matter. He has been Roush’s standard-bearer this season – sixth in points with two trophies from Bristol and Sonoma.

Overall, the team has been a couple of steps behind in performance. Yet Edwards has remained steady and will be among those racing for a championship this fall in the Chase. Heck, he could be the only Roush man in the post-season if Greg Biffle and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. don’t pick up a win themselves in these final seven regular season races.

But apparently, that didn’t matter.

Once Edwards gets inside the car today at IMS, it’ll be down to business. But right now? He and the rest of his team have got to be thinking, ‘We did not need this.’

Formula E: Team Aguri confirms da Costa for second season

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Antonio Felix da Costa has been confirmed for a second season with Team Aguri for the 2015-2016 FIA Formula E Championship, which begins later this month in Beijing.

He won once this past year at Buenos Aires and finished eighth in the points despite missing both the season opener and season finale due to clashes with his DTM schedule.

Said the 24-year-old Portuguese driver, “I am really happy to continue with Team Aguri and Formula E for season two. This championship is earning its respect in the world of motorsport and I am honoured to be involved. Regarding the season, I am really looking forward to getting started.”

Team Aguri team principal Mark Preston added, “It is a great pleasure to have Antonio continuing with the team for season two of Formula E. Antonio brought us our maiden win in Buenos Aires and helped to develop the team from scratch, he will continue to build on that success for season two and beyond.”

The team that bares the name of ex-Formula 1 driver and team owner Aguri Suzuki has not yet confirmed its second driver, which is the last outstanding seat to be filled on the Formula E grid.

Amlin, which had partnered with Aguri last year, is now present with the Andretti Formula E team and its drivers, Robin Frijns and Simona de Silvestro.

Hulkenberg leads shorter than normal FP1 in Russia

Nico Hulkenberg
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Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg posted a 1:44.355 lap of the of the Sochi Autodrom to lead a fairly abnormal, and shorter than usual, first free practice for the Russian Grand Prix.

Hulkenberg posted the time to conclude the usual 90-minute session, to pip Nico Rosberg at 1:44.407 on his final lap. The usual 90-minute session was shortened due to a track delay for cleanup of diesel fuel on course.

Sebastian Vettel, Sergio Perez and Daniel Ricciardo completed the top five.

While the clock started on time for the full 90-minute session, track activity was halted for the opening 30 minutes to clean up diesel spillage on the track at Turn 8.

It left teams and drivers with just a 60-minute first free practice to tackle the Sochi Autodrom, but did not push the session later or affect the timetable for the rest of the day. However, with a damp if not entirely wet track, it made things difficult in FP1.

The delay also meant that teams weren’t able to use an extra set of Pirellis handed out at the start of FP1. Supersofts can be used for the first time in FP2.

During the delay, it did offer a chance for sarcasm, and Manor seized the opportunity following a comment from McLaren Honda’s Fernando Alonso noting that even with Mercedes engines next year, Manor wouldn’t move ahead of them.

NBC’s Will Buxton explained the track surface dilemma drivers would face in this session.

With just under one hour to go in the session, Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson was the first to head out on course, leading several others. Ericsson made the first laps of the weekend at the track where he made his final start for Caterham a year ago.

Both Williams drivers went on course on Pirelli’s wet weather tires for their installation laps. Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg tried the intermediates, and Alonso was first on course in slicks.

No official times were registered until there were less than 40 minutes remaining in the session, with Alonso registering a 2:00.736 time, while putting down a bevy of sparks. He quickly lowered the mark to 1:56.327, and 1:53.854 after that. Ericsson was next in at a 1:58.926, although dropped into the 1:54 range not long after.

Alonso’s teammate Jenson Button clocked in at 1:50.920 with just under 20 minutes remaining and for the first time this year, we could say we had a McLaren Honda 1-2 on track, albeit under abnormal circumstances.

The trsck got busy in the final 15 minutes, with Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen posting a 1:50.870 to lead before Alonso clocked in a 1:49.240.

A 1:47.959 from Williams’ Valtteri Bottas, then a 1:45.987 from Hulkenberg followed in the final 10 minutes as times firmly began to drop. Vettel got down to a 1:45.491 shortly thereafter, and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton came up two tenths shy of the mark at a 1:45.691.

Ericsson reported a power cut near the end of the session down at Sauber but otherwise there were no issues through the field, other than a handful of spins, including one from Hamilton on his final flier at the second-to-last corner.

FP2 begins from 7 a.m. ET on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra.