NASCAR: Ambrose quickest in 2nd Nationwide practice

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Preparing to go after his fourth consecutive NASCAR Nationwide Series win at Watkins Glen International, Marcos Ambrose topped the second Nationwide practice this afternoon with a lap of 71.595 seconds.

Ambrose, the man that many believe can win in Sunday’s Sprint Cup race and earn a berth in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, claimed Nationwide wins at the Glen in 2008, 2009, and 2010.

He’s making his first Nationwide start altogether since finishing seventh last year at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Behind Ambrose in Practice 2 was Brad Keselowski, who led Practice 1. Keselowski, who was last year’s Nationwide winner at the Glen, posted a lap of 71.986 seconds that was good for second on the time sheets.

Fellow Sprint Cup regulars Joey Logano (71.991) and Kyle Busch (72.132) were third and fifth respectively in the session, with Nationwide full-timer Brendan Gaughan going P4 between them (72.116).

During the session, rookie pilot Ryan Reed lost control of his No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford over the curbing at Turn 6 and slid hard into the tire barriers near Turn 7.

The impact sent him spinning multiple times before he came to a stop on the track. A caution was immediately thrown, and practice eventually resumed with about 15 minutes to go.

Reed’s team has rolled out the backup car for tomorrow’s Nationwide qualifying (9:40 a.m. ET) and race (2:15 p.m. ET).

Paul Menard, Dylan Kwasniewski, Chris Buescher, Regan Smith, and Matt Kenseth ended up in Positions 6-10. Nationwide Series points leader Chase Elliott was 13th.

MRTI: Keith Donegan earns Mazda Shootout Scholarship

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Dublin, Ireland’s Keith Donegan claimed a $200K scholarship from Mazda after emerging victorious at the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. The 20-year-old Donegan earned an at-large nomination for the scholarship based on his performance at this year’s Formula Ford Festival, in which he finished second in the final, and emerged from a pack of 17 drivers from across the globe to claim the scholarship.

“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said an emotional Donegan, who earlier in his career actually spent two years away from racing as he focused on academics. “The weekend was really good and I enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Mazda and Cooper Tires and everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy. I enjoyed every moment. Throughout the weekend we were consistent and I kept the small things in check. I didn’t make any stupid mistakes and kept my head cool and that really paid off in the end.”

The two-day shootout was held at the Bondurant Racing School in Arizona and saw the nominated drivers tackle the school’s 1.6-mile circuit in Formula Mazda race cars before facing on and off-track assessments. Donegan was selected by a panel of judges that included former driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series TV analyst Scott Goodyear, Mazda drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, and Jonathan Bomarito, as well as Victor Franzoni – the current champion of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – and Oliver Askew, the current champion of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.

Donegan was humbled to be in the presence of drivers who have won scholarships and championships previously, and added that he is grateful to have the opportunity to continue his racing career.

“You see all these champions here today that will go on to great things in the future and I’m sure the names you see here today aren’t going to disappear,” Donegan added. “They will be back up there and I’m sure I will be racing them again some day. It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given and for Mazda to provide that for any young driver. It just gives that bit of motivation that you need because the [U.S.] is where you need to go to become a professional these days. It is such a boost to my career.”

Donegan is now slated to join the 2018 USF2000 championship, with further announcements regarding the team with whom he’ll be racing to come in the future.

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