Watkins Glen not very hospitable to Danica Patrick: First, motor breaks, then she wrecks in practice

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Heading into this weekend, Watkins Glen International threw out the welcome mat for Danica Patrick, but then abruptly pulled it back twice on Friday.

It was bad enough that Patrick was slated to start Sunday’s Cheez-It 355 at The Glen from the back of the 43-car field due to an engine change in her No. 10 Chevrolet after Friday’s first of two practice sessions.

But then things went from bad to worse in the last two minutes of the second practice session late Friday afternoon.

Patrick was coming out of the carousel on the nearly 2.5-mile road course when she plowed head on into a tire wall. According to Fox Sports 1, it was a cut left front tire that prevented her from turning.

As a result, the engine change became secondary in nature as Patrick will now have to go to a back-up car for Saturday’s qualifying session and Sunday’s race day.

Patrick apparently caused some damage to the motor in her car after reportedly missing a shift and causing the engine to over-rev during the first 90-minute practice session, SHR competition director Greg Zipadelli told NASCAR.com.

The damage apparently was significant enough that the team had to change the engine, thus relegating her to the back of the field in Sunday’s race, regardless of how she qualifies Saturday.

The only benefit for Patrick for a good qualifying run Saturday would be she could earn a better pit stall than last on pit road.

Patrick, who finished 20th in her Sprint Cup debut at The Glen last season, was no faster than 32nd-fastest during Friday’s first practice on the nearly 2.5-mile road course before her wreck.

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Verstappen doesn’t want F1 season to end after recent run of form

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Max Verstappen says he is not ready for the 2017 Formula 1 season to come to an end after enjoying a run of strong form through the closing stages of the campaign.

Verstappen endured a rocky run of form through to the end of the European season that saw him suffer a number of reliability issues and score just a single podium finish, taking third in China back in April.

However, the Dutchman has rallied to score more points than any other driver in the last five races, including victories in Malaysia and Mexico, as well as a podium finish in Japan.

Verstappen heads into next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix chasing a third win of the year to sign off, but joked he does not want the season to end just as he’s got into a good groove.

“We will, of course, try and end the season with a strong result in Abu Dhabi,” Verstappen said. “Last year was actually quite a good race after skipping a pit stop following a spin at Turn 1, it was hard to manage the tires to the end of the race but we did it and finished fourth.

“I would say that my favorite part of the track is at Turns 2 and 3, the fast left, right. It’s also very cool driving underneath the hotel and racing in the darkness with all the lights.

“The final sector at Yas Marina is actually quite technical so you have to be really precise there, but it should also be our strongest part of the track.

“There are quite a few overtaking opportunities to make the race interesting, before the long straight at the hairpin and then at the end of the straight under braking for the next chicane section.

“Abu Dhabi is the last race on the calendar, but I don’t actually want the season to end. I’m really fired up at the moment and I just want to keep going.

“The nice thing will be to spend some time with friends and family over the winter break and then I will look ahead to January and get back into training before it all starts again.”