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

Graham Rahal survives Road America to finish eighth

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Graham Rahal and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing faced a roller coaster of a race during the Kohler Grand Prix at Road America on Sunday.

He was a rocket off the initial start, jumping from sixth on the grid up to fourth exiting turn 1, but was almost immediately ordered to surrender a position for blocking. He quickly slipped back to sixth, and then began plummeting down the order as he battled an oversteer condition that saw his car chew through its rear tires more quickly than others.

Forced to abandon the planned three-stop strategy, he and the No. 15 Gehl Honda team switched to a four-stop plan that saw him drop well outside the top ten at times.

However, they kept plugging away and rebounded nicely in the second half of the race to eventually finish in eighth. While he would have liked to finish higher up the order, Rahal knows that he and the team got everything they could out of it.

“The car was a handful today. I knew about five laps in that I didn’t have the pace for a three-stop strategy,” Rahal revealed post-race. “We tried as best we could to work with what we had during the race and overcome it. I would have obviously liked to have finished better, but eighth is about as good as we could do today. We struggled with a very loose race car all weekend and just couldn’t put a dent in the problem. We worked awfully hard but just missed it this weekend.”

The eighth-place finish keeps Rahal in the championship hunt. Rahal now sits seventh in the standings, 11 points behind fifth-place Josef Newgarden and 72 behind championship leader Scott Dixon.

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Ed Jones continues steady run with seventh at Road America

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Dale Coyne Racing’s Ed Jones has made waves in the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season with a string of solid performances that belie his rookie status.

And Sunday’s Kohler Grand Prix at Road America was no different.

The 22-year-old battled an oversteering car most of the weekend at Road America, and had to navigate a little carnage late in the race as Alexander Rossi and Ryan Hunter-Reay both fell through the field with front wing problems.

However, Jones weathered all storms to finish an impressive seventh, his fifth finish inside the top 10 this year, and his best finish since his third place at the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade MotorOil.

“It was a really tough race,” Jones said of the effort. “We had a loose car yesterday. It was loose, but fast, for qualifying, and today again the car was really loose. I was hanging on the whole race, but the team had some good pit stops and we were able to move up.

“Obviously, the strategy was pretty similar to everyone else. Everyone was aggressive out there. It was hard racing but we came out with a seventh place and we moved up a little bit in the points.”

The seventh-place run sees Jones maintain his position in the top ten in the championship. He currently sits tenth in the standings, three points ahead of Chip Ganassi Racing’s Max Chilton.

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Vilander replaces Bird at AF Corse for Nurburgring WEC round

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AF Corse has confirmed that Toni Vilander will race the No. 71 Ferrari 488 GTE in next month’s FIA World Endurance Championship round at the Nürburgring in place of Sam Bird, who is tied up with Formula E commitments in New York.

Vilander currently races full-time in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with Risi Competizione, and appeared at the 24 Hours of Le Mans two weeks ago.

The Finn won the WEC GT drivers’ title in 2014 and last raced full-time in the series in 2015, but will return at the Nürburgring in place of Bird, who confirmed on Monday that he would be prioritizing his Formula E commitments on the July 16 weekend.

Vilander is relishing the opportunity to race alongside Davide Rigon in the No. 71 Ferrari, and is eager to bounce back from an early retirement at Le Mans.

“I’m happy to be able to return to the FIA WEC with the 488 GTE of AF Corse team. This is my chance to cancel the disappointment of the 24 Hours of Le Mans as soon as possible,” Vilander said.

“Car number 71 is in the top places of the championship standings, and I will give all I have to achieve the best possible result at Nürburgring, to help Ferrari in the manufacturers’ championship and Davide Rigon in the drivers’ ranking.”

British GP expands to four-day schedule, F2/GP3 practice set for Thursday

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The British Grand Prix weekend will expand to a four-day schedule next month as Formula 2 and GP3 practice running gets shifted to Thursday.

On-track running for all Formula 1 events traditionally takes place across three days – Friday to Sunday, bar Monaco, where practice is on Thursday – with support events following a similar format.

Silverstone has confirmed its schedule of events for the British Grand Prix weekend, with F2 and GP3 practice slated for Thursday July 13.

F2 practice will run from 15:30 to 16:15 local time at Silverstone on the Thursday, followed by GP3 running from 16:45 to 17:30.

Both support series will hit the track again on Friday for their respective qualifying sessions, taking place after F1’s second practice in the afternoon.

The remainder of the race weekend will go ahead as usual for F2 and GP3, having one race each on both Saturday and Sunday.

The F1 schedule for the weekend remains unchanged, with FP1 and FP2 on Friday, FP3 and qualifying on Saturday, and the race on Sunday.

Both Renault and Williams will take part in special show-runs during the grand prix weekend as part of their 40th anniversary celebrations.

You can see the full British Grand Prix schedule here.