Trevor Bayne edges Brad Keselowski for Iowa Nationwide pole

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A buzzer-beater lap from Roush Fenway Racing’s Trevor Bayne enabled him to take the pole position for tonight’s NASCAR Nationwide Series U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway.

With less than one minute to go in the final round of qualifying, Sprint Cup regular Brad Keselowski took the provisional pole from Bayne with a lap of 23.577 seconds around the 7/8-mile oval.

But there was just enough time for Bayne to take one last shot and he made it count.

As time ran out, the former Daytona 500 champion completed a hot lap of 23.558 seconds to secure his first Nationwide Series pole of the season and the seventh of his career.

“We’ve really been working on our short-run speed,” Bayne told ESPN. “We really feel that qualifying and short-runs are where we’ve struggled the most this year in getting that track position. We didn’t make it to the final round last time we came here to Iowa and I’ve had a pole here before, so I kinda know how to qualify here but we’ve struggled with that short run speed.

“So coming back, we came with a totally different package and Chad and these guys have found some speed in this car. We’ve been in the Top 3 lap times in practices and sometimes that speed can fool you, so going into qualifying, I wasn’t really sure. But somehow we put together three pretty good runs and we were able to get the pole.”

But while Bayne appears to have the pace needed to contend, he and the rest of the field will have to deal with different conditions come race time this evening.

“Everything changes at night here,” said Keselowski. “You take the tape off the front end and the car loses a little bit of downforce, so that’s a big change. The track is going to gain grip when it gets to nighttime, but it’s kind of offset by the downforce change. Those are things you just gotta battle through as a NASCAR driver.”

Regan Smith and Brian Scott will make up the second row on tonight’s grid, followed by Michael McDowell and Nationwide Series points leader Chase Elliott in Row 3.

Bayne, Smith, Scott, and Indianapolis winner Ty Dillon will compete for the final $100,000 Dash4Cash prize as well. However, Dillon was unable to make the final round of qualifying and will be starting 15th.

Green flag for tonight’s 250-lap race at Iowa is scheduled for shortly after 8 p.m. ET.

NASCAR NATIONWIDE SERIES AT IOWA – STARTING LINEUP
U.S. Cellular 250

1. 6-Trevor Bayne
2. 22-Brad Keselowski
3. 7-Regan Smith
4. 2-Brian Scott
5. 20-Michael McDowell
6. 9-Chase Elliott
7. 54-Sam Hornish Jr.
8. 11-Elliott Sadler
9. 60-Chris Buescher
10. 5-Josh Berry
11. 16-Ryan Reed
12. 31-Chase Pistone
13. 62-Brendan Gaughan
14. 42-Dylan Kwasniewski
15. 3-Ty Dillon
16. 01-Landon Cassill
17. 43-Dakoda Armstrong
18. 99-James Buescher
19. 29-Kenny Wallace
20. 39-Ryan Sieg
21. 19-Mike Bliss
22. 93-Kevin Swindell
23. 84-Chad Boat
24. 44-Hal Martin
25. 40-Matt Dibenedetto
26. 28-J.J. Yeley
27. 4-Jeffrey Earnhardt
28. 51-Jeremy Clements
29. 14-Eric McClure
30. 17-Tanner Berryhill
31. 55-Jamie Dick
32. 10-Blake Koch
33. 52-Joey Gase
34. 87-Josh Reaume
35. 89-Morgan Shepherd
36. 70-Derrike Cope
37. 72-John Jackson
38. 23-Carl Long
39. 46-Matt Frahm
40. 93-Mike Harmon

Williams to wait until new year before making 2018 F1 driver decision

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Williams will wait until the new year before making an announcement regarding its Formula 1 driver line-up for the 2018 season.

Williams holds the final vacant seat in F1 for next year, with Felipe Massa retiring at the last race of the 2017 season in Abu Dhabi at the end of November.

The Brazilian’s departure has opened up a seat alongside Lance Stroll for 2018, which looked poised to be taken by Robert Kubica, over seven years after he last raced in F1 before injuries sustained in a rally accident appeared to cut his career short.

Doubts emerged about Kubica’s comeback following a test with Williams in its 2017-spec car in Abu Dhabi after the final race of the season, leading to Russian youngster Sergey Sirotkin becoming the favorite.

Besides Kubica and Sirotkin, ditched Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat is also an option, but Williams has now confirmed it will make no decision on its line-up until the new year.

Sirotkin first entered the frame in F1 in 2013 when he became a development driver at Sauber, with Russian backers SMP Racing pushing to get him a race seat for the following year.

Sirotkin missed out on a full-time role at the team, leading him to focus on racing in Formula Renault 3.5 for 2014 before spending two years in GP2, where he finished third in the standings in both seasons.

Renault struck an agreement to sign Sirotkin in a junior role in 2016, leading to a number of practice run-outs over the last two seasons, but he was passed over for a 2018 race seat when it signed Carlos Sainz Jr.

Williams emerged as an option for Sirotkin following a successful maiden test with the team in Abu Dhabi alongside Kubica, with talks now set to continue over the holiday period.

Sirotkin has not taken on a full-time race program this year, making just a single competitive appearance in the 24 Hours of Le Mans with SMP Racing in the LMP2 class.

Sirotkin has also been involved in the development of the team’s BR Engineering-designed LMP1 car for the 2018 FIA World Endurance Championship season, and is likely to secure a seat should he miss out on the role at Williams.