Ryan Truex’s status for Michigan uncertain; Harvick tops in 2nd Cup practice (UPDATED)

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UPDATE (1:21 p.m. ET): While we wait for official word on Ryan Truex’s availability to race tomorrow at Michigan, Mike Massaro of ESPN has now tweeted that Truex’s potential replacements in the No. 83 BK Racing Toyota may not be able to do the job because they can’t fit in the driver’s seat.

Replying to USA Today’s Nate Ryan, Massaro tweets that it “sounds” like J.J. Yeley may now be the backup for Truex if he is not able to compete in tomorrow’s Pure Michigan 400.

Massaro had reported during today’s Sprint Cup final practice that BK was looking at Johnny Sauter and Matt Crafton as potential subs.

The No. 83 did not turn a lap in that final practice session.

UPDATE (11:43 a.m. ET): ESPN’s Mike Massaro has provided an update on Ryan Truex’s status for tomorrow’s Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

According to Massaro’s report during Sprint Cup final practice, Truex was complaining of pain around his right collarbone – which he broke last spring – and was also suffering from a headache.

He has not yet been cleared to drive, so his BK Racing team is trying to come up with a backup plan just in case.

Per Massaro’s report, BK is looking at Camping World Truck Series drivers Johnny Sauter and Matt Crafton to potentially drive Ryan Truex’s No. 83 on Sunday if necessary.

However, Crafton is apparently “first choice” since he got track time yesterday filling in for Martin Truex Jr. in his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing car. Truex was absent in order to be with his girlfriend as she underwent surgery for ovarian cancer.

The second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice of the weekend at Michigan International Speedway was marred by a hard practice crash involving Cup rookie Ryan Truex.

The BK Racing driver wrecked while coming out of Turn 2. USA Today writer and NBCSN contributor Nate Ryan reports that Truex walked away from the crash with medical personnel, but NASCAR later confirmed that Truex would be taken to a local hospital for further evaluation.

MRN Radio’s Dave Moody has tweeted a shot of the rather significant damage on Truex’s No. 83 Toyota after the incident. Needless to say, it was a good hit:

Before his crash, Truex was one of 33 drivers that broke the 200 mile per hour mark during this morning’s practice – which was led by Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick and his lap of 203.183 mph in the No. 4 Chevrolet. SHR teammate Kurt Busch was right behind Harvick in second with his lap of 203.109 mph.

Sunday’s pole sitter, Jeff Gordon, was third on the speed charts (203.069). Fourth was Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. (203.017), and Richard Petty Motorsports’ Marcos Ambrose completed the Top 5 (202.891).

Watkins Glen winner A.J. Allmendinger, Kyle Larson, front row starter Joey Logano, Jamie McMurray, and Greg Biffle filled Positions 6-10. Logano, who ran 17 laps in the practice, said he and his team were trying to take care of their equipment ahead of Sunday.

“It’s just so fast right now and there’s so much grip that it’s nothing like we’re gonna race later on,” he told ESPN. “It’s frustrating because if you sit in the garage, you’re going crazy and you feel like you’re missing out on something.

“But if you’re out there on the race track, you feel like you’re hurting your motor and you’re hurting things, because it’s qualifying speeds out there pretty much. The RPMs are so high, you don’t want to hurt your motor and not finish this thing.”

Final practice for the Cup contingent will take place later this morning at 11 a.m. ET.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Michigan – Second Practice Times

IndyCar’s 2018 full-field grid nearing completion

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Following Wednesday’s confirmation of the all-Canadian tandem at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, each of the eight full-time teams in the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season have announced at least one driver for 2018, leaving very few remaining question marks.

What stands confirmed is below:

CONFIRMED

  • Team Penske (3, Chevrolet): Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power
  • Chip Ganassi Racing (1, Honda): Scott Dixon
  • Andretti Autosport (4, Honda): Ryan Hunter-Reay, Alexander Rossi, Marco Andretti, Zach Veach
  • Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (2, Honda): Graham Rahal, Takuma Sato
  • Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (2, Honda): James Hinchcliffe, Robert Wickens
  • Ed Carpenter Racing (2, Chevrolet): Spencer Pigot, Ed Carpenter (ovals)
  • A.J. Foyt Enterprises (1, Chevrolet): Tony Kanaan
  • Dale Coyne Racing (1, Honda): Sebastien Bourdais
  • Harding Racing (1, Chevrolet): Gabby Chaves

There are four additional drivers confirmed for selected races or an month of May program:

  • Team Penske (1, Chevrolet): Helio Castroneves
  • Andretti Autosport (1, Honda): Stefan Wilson
  • Calmels Sport with SPM (1, Honda): Tristan Gommendy
  • Team TBD (1, TBD): Kyle Kaiser

All told that’s 17 full-season driver and team combinations confirmed and four additional part-time programs, at least, that are set. Several of those driver/team combinations will have engineering and strategist changes, as well.

In a minor note since our last update at Sonoma, Marco Andretti confirmed he won’t run No. 27 next year. Of note, Bryan Herta served as Andretti’s race strategist this year, although the car he was an entrant on was Alexander Rossi’s No. 98 car. Herta will continue his relationship with Andretti Autosport again next season.

WHAT’S LEFT TO SORT? NOT MUCH

Elsewhere, there’s only a handful of remaining question marks as the series hits mid-October, a rarity from past years and an illustration of the urgency to fill seats to get as much preparation time in testing with the new 2018 Dallara universal aero kit as possible.

NBC Sports expects 2016 Indy Lights champion and 2017 IndyCar rookie-of-the-year Ed Jones to be confirmed soon as second driver in Dale Coyne Racing’s No. 19 Honda alongside Sebastien Bourdais, with team personnel and Bourdais both having indicated a preference in keeping the Dubai-based Brit for a second year.

NBC Sports also expects Jones’ successor as Indy Lights champion, Kyle Kaiser, to have his future announced shortly in terms of which team he’ll step up to IndyCar with. It would not be a surprise if Kaiser does graduate along with Juncos Racing, although Kaiser is known to have talked to multiple teams. The Mazda Motorsports scholarship nets him $1 million for a three-race program, including the 102nd Indianapolis 500, with the driver then needing to secure additional funding for further races, as Jones and Pigot both have each of the last two years.

The status of Brendon Hartley has now been thrown up as a slight question mark dependent on how his Formula 1 debut with Scuderia Toro Rosso goes at this weekend’s United States Grand Prix, and if Toro Rosso provides him a further race opportunity in one of the remaining three Grands Prix thereafter. Having been all-but-earmarked for Chip Ganassi Racing’s second seat in 2018, if an F1 offer comes, Hartley’s potential IndyCar bow could get delayed.

A McLaren-named entry competing either in the Indianapolis 500 or full-time seems further off than realistic for next year, McLaren’s Zak Brown told reporters on a teleconference this week. McLaren maintains an IndyCar technical presence though, via its McLaren Applied Technologies outfit.

What’s left then are the dominoes of whether Carlin’s IndyCar plans officially come to fruition as the team has gotten closer than it ever has to doing so, and who emerges in the second seats at A.J. Foyt Enterprises and Ed Carpenter Racing (road and street courses), respectively.

A number of young IndyCar veterans – Max Chilton, Charlie Kimball, Carlos Munoz and Conor Daly namely – are yet to land for 2018 and there’s no guarantee all four of them will be back in IndyCar next season.

There’s also a handful of young drivers, namely RC Enerson, Jack Harvey, Esteban Gutierrez, Santiago Urrutia, Zachary Claman DeMelo, Sage Karam and Matthew Brabham among others, who could well emerge in the frame for seats.

Gutierrez’s status seemed dependent on Mexico City being added to the 2018 calendar, and although the race still could be added, the fact neither is in place at this point doesn’t inspire as much confidence about his presence as a regular on the grid as it did earlier this summer.

All told, there’s not nearly that much to sort out as IndyCar’s grid for 2018 is looking very much close to set at this early stage of a long offseason.