NASCAR: Stenhouse tops final Bristol Cup practice ahead of qualifying later today

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With qualifying for Saturday’s Irwin Tools Night Race coming up later today at Bristol Motor Speedway, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has put up the fastest lap in Sprint Cup final practice.

Late in the 50-minute session, the Roush Fenway Racing driver zipped around the half-mile oval at 131.048 mph in the No. 17 Ford Fusion.

Defending Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson went second-fastest behind Stenhouse (131.012), and was followed by Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne in third (130.869), Richard Petty Motorsports’ Aric Almirola (130.780) in fourth, and Practice 1 leader Kyle Larson of Chip Ganassi Racing in fifth (130.762).

Michigan winner Jeff Gordon, Jamie McMurray, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, and Bristol spring race winner Carl Edwards were sixth through 10th respectively in the session.

Final practice was slowed briefly by a bizarre caution that involved Richard Childress Racing’s Paul Menard. A notebook was left on the car and as Menard made his way through the Bristol high banks, it fell off and scattered papers everywhere.

Fox Sports’ Wendy Venturini later reported on NASCAR Live that those papers were actually notes from Menard’s car chief regarding the set-up of the No. 27 Chevrolet. The car chief had to go to the safety crew afterwards to retrieve what papers they were able to collect. Menard was 18th-quickest in the session (128.597).

Qualifying for tomorrow night’s 500-lap main event will go off this afternoon at 5:40 p.m. ET.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Bristol – Final Practice Times

Formula One: Recapping the past week’s news

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While the FIA Formula 1 World Championship is still two months away from beginning its 2018 season, this past week did bring about news items that filled out the 2018 grid and shed some light on individual team and car launches as the season-opening Australian Grand Prix draws closer.

Below is a recap of F1 news from this past week:

Williams Signs Sirotkin for 2018 Drive, Names Kubica as Reserve Driver

The saga of the second seat at Williams Martini Racing was finally resolved early on in the week, with former Renault Sport F1 Team test driver Sergey Sirotkin officially confirmed as a teammate to the incumbent Lance Stroll in 2018.

The announcement concluded months of speculation that saw multiple drivers test for the team in an auditioning capacity. Most notably, Robert Kubica looked to be a main contender for the seat before Sirotkin emerged as the favorite.

However, Kubica, who has not raced in Formula 1 since a devastating rally accident in 2011 left him with brutal injuries to his right arm, was named as a reserve and development driver for the team.

This announcement also completes the 2018 Formula 1 driver lineup, with all 11 teams having their seats now filled. Among those who were left without F1 drives are Paul Di Resta, who drove for Williams at the Hungarian Grand Prix in relief of Felipe Massa and even tested with them during the Winter months, and Antonio Giovinazzi, who filled in for Pascal Wehrlein at the Australian and Chinese Grands Prix.

Former Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat is also without a race seat for 2018, but did sign on with Scuderia Ferrari as a development driver.

Mercedes, McLaren Reveal Dates for Their 2018 Car Launches

While most teams have not yet released dates for when their 2018 cars will be publicly launched, three notables have.

Mercedes AMG Petronas will introduce its 2018 challenger on February 22nd, the same day Ferrari is doing so, while McLaren will unveil its car one day later on the 23rd.

Testing will commence on February 26th at Circuit de Catalunya.

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