(AP Photo/Tom Strattman)

Report: Toyota closing in on new 2015 Camry for Sprint Cup

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If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

That’s the case for the new design of the Toyota Camry for the 2015 Sprint Cup season.

According to Motorsport.com, the first design of the new Camry has been sent back by NASCAR for further revision and development.

But instead of major or radical changes to Toyota’s design, officials at NASCAR’s Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C., are seeking tweaks rather than wholesale changes.

“We had a preliminary submission, but we have more work to do,” David Wilson, president/general manager of Toyota Racing Development, told Motorsport.com. “We’ve been working with NASCAR on the car. They give you the opportunity to see where you are and of course our objective is to get the most performance out of it as possible.”

Wilson believes it will only be a few more weeks before the manufacturer’s next submission to NASCAR is ultimately approved.

“We have to pass their submission criteria, so we’re going to have another go at it and hope to have that put to bed in the middle of August,” Wilson told Motorsport.com. “Then we’ll unveil it to the public and get ready for 2015.”

If the tweaks are approved by NASCAR, the newly redesigned model could potentially make its debut at an upcoming test on Aug. 18 at Michigan International Speedway, one day after the Sprint Cup race there.

Like its manufacturing counterparts at Ford and Chevrolet, Toyota also is working on reducing power in its Sprint Cup motors for 2015 by a NASCAR-mandated 100 hp.

The redesign of the Camry, the third since Toyota entered NASCAR in 2007, has been underway for nearly a year. From indications, the new NASCAR version will be the closest to its production model counterpart seen in dealer showrooms that it’s ever been.

To date, Toyota has won 65 races in the Sprint Cup Series since its debut nearly a decade ago.

“We’re happy, very happy,” Wilson told Motorsport.com. “We’re excited because the new Camry looks great and we look forward to getting it out on the race track because 2015 is going to be a big year for us because we pace the Daytona 500 again.”

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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.