NASCAR: Kyle Larson fastest in 1st Sprint Cup practice at Bristol

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With less than 10 minutes to go, Kyle Larson posted a lap of 131.083 miles per hour to earn top honors in this morning’s first Sprint Cup practice session at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Larson, who finished 10th at Bristol in the spring, enters this weekend having to recover from a wreck last Sunday at Michigan that knocked him off of the Chase Grid with three races to go in the regular season.

The Chip Ganassi Racing rookie is 19th in the Chase standings at 24 points behind 16th-place Greg Biffle.

“After Michigan, finishing dead last there with that blown right front, that made us stress out a lot and now we kinda really have to get a win,” Larson told Fox Sports this afternoon. “I think that’s our only shot of getting in the Chase now unless we get Top-5s in these next three [races].

“But we’ve got a fast Target Chevy here in practice, so I think this could be a place where we could get a win.”

Three of the Top 5 drivers in first practice were powered by Hendrick engines – Larson, third-place Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (130.504), and fifth-place Dale Earnhardt Jr. of Hendrick Motorsports (130.132).

Running in second behind Larson was the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Denny Hamlin (130.557). A second Toyota driver, Michael Waltrip Racing’s Brian Vickers, wound up fourth on the speed charts (130.495).

Toyota Racing Development president David Wilson acknowledged this week that his company is trying to make up a power deficit before the Chase, but power should not matter so much this weekend at Bristol’s half-mile.

Aric Almirola of Richard Petty Motorsports was the fastest Ford in sixth (130.132). Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Bristol spring race winner Carl Edwards, and Jamie McMurray rounded out the Top 10 drivers.

Final Sprint Cup practice is set to begin at 1:30 p.m. ET.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Bristol – First Practice Times

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.”