NASCAR: Allmendinger leads final Cup practice at Watkins Glen

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It’s only one day of practice, but pre-race favorite A.J. Allmendinger appears to be shaping up to contend in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen International.

Gunning for a win that can get him into the Chase, Allmendinger posted a lap of 68.538 seconds in the No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet to top final Cup practice.

He was followed by another Watkins Glen favorite (perhaps a heavier one) in Marcos Ambrose, who was second in the session with a lap of 68.541 seconds.

Kyle Busch also continued to show good pace, running third with a lap of 68.553 seconds. Pocono winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. was fourth (68.767) and Ambrose’s Richard Petty Motorsports teammate, Aric Almirola, rounded out the Top 5 (68.788).

Clint Bowyer was sixth, Joey Logano seventh, Jimmie Johnson eighth, Jamie McMurray ninth, and Greg Biffle 10th. Practice 1 leader Kevin Harvick was 28th in this session and ran the most laps with 32.

Final practice ended a few minutes early due to Danica Patrick going off-course at Turn 5 and into the nearby tire barriers. Patrick’s backup No. 10 Stewart Haas Racing Chevrolet was quickly taken off the transporter and will be pressed into service for the remainder of the weekend. You can read more about her rough Friday here.

Also having problems in final practice were the Chip Ganassi Racing duo of McMurray and rookie Kyle Larson.

A possible power steering line failure caused McMurray to smoke badly and slow on track early on. Later, Larson reportedly suffered similar issues on his own car; he was only 27th-fastest in the final practice.

The Sprint Cup drivers will qualify tomorrow morning at 11:40 a.m. ET. As with all road courses, the Glen will feature the two-round version of NASCAR’s knock-out qualifying system.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Watkins Glen – Practice 2 Times

Hamilton: Abu Dhabi ‘the last race with good-looking cars’ in F1

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Lewis Hamilton believes that this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered as the last race with good-looking Formula 1 cars ahead of the introduction of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection for next year.

Officials from the FIA and F1 Strategy Group confirmed earlier this year that the Halo would be fitted to all cars from the 2018 season in a bid to improve safety standards, with the deaths of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi putting head protection high on the agenda for the series’ chiefs.

Hamilton has long made his opposition to the Halo clear, believing it will ruin the look of F1 cars, and echoed his thoughts ahead of the final Halo-less race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

“It’s the last year of looking good I think in the cars. It’s the last race where the cars will look good,” Hamilton said.

“I think next year, it’s all downhill from there in terms of how they look.

“But safety will go up at least, and maybe it could be successful in some way.”

Hamilton’s F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel was less bothered about the change, believing the field will adjust and move on.

“The cars will look different next year. Everything I’ve seen so far looks different, but on the other hand it is something we all get used to,” Vettel said.

“But no doubt the cars look better now, but we’ll get used to it, and we’ll work on the aesthetics so it can be better. It is less of a big deal.”

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo shared Vettel’s view, saying: “I don’t think it’s gonna be as dramatic as most people make it out to be.”