Pressure mounts on Smith as NASCAR Nationwide races in Chicago Sunday

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An off weekend for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series means the NASCAR Nationwide Series will have its day in the spotlight.

The Nationwide Series’ STP 300 at Chicagoland Speedway this Sunday may see the championship lead change hands.

Just five points separates Regan Smith from Sam Hornish Jr. (594-589), and the top five are covered by just 24 points. Austin Dillon (582), Justin Allgaier (574) and Elliott Sadler (570) are all in striking range, as they all seek their first wins of the season.

Sadler dropped the hammer on Smith after Loudon last weekend, when he told Smith directly after a post-race confrontation, point blank, “You will not win this championship, mark my word.” More on that kerfuffle is here from NASCAR.com.

Brian Vickers, who’s sixth in points, looks to ride the momentum of his Cup win at Loudon last weekend and translate it to the Nationwide side. Despite driving for Joe Gibbs Racing, he too is yet to visit victory lane in his full-time ride this year.

Dillon, Vickers, Brian Scott and Michael Annett have some extra incentive this weekend as the four qualifiers for Nationwide’s $100,000 “Dash 4 Cash” bonus. It’s the third of four races in the summer stretch, where the highest-finishing eligible driver wins a $100,000 bonus above and beyond the race purse. In addition, fans can also enter to win $100,000 and a trip to Indianapolis Motor Speedway through the NASCAR Nationwide Series $100k Sweepstakes.

Formula 1: Ricciardo on Monaco pole, Verstappen to start last

Photo: Getty Images
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Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo has dominated all weekend long at the Monaco Grand Prix, leading every single practice session prior to qualifying.

And qualifying was more of the same for the Australian driver, whose quick lap in Q3 came in at 1:10.810, a new track record, to take the pole by more than two tenths of a second over Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

Meanwhile, Ricciardo’s teammate Max Verstappen endured a much more difficult day, which started with a hard crash in FP3.

Verstappen’s Red Bull RB14 suffered extensive damage to the right side, and even more damage was later found in the car’s gearbox. Such repairs ultimately proved too time consuming, and Verstappen will start Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix from last.

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton filled out the top three by qualifying third, with Ferrari and Mercedes also taking the fourth and fifth spots on the grid, with Kimi Raikkonen in fourth and Valtteri Bottas in fifth.

Force India’s Esteban Ocon, McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, and Renault’s Carlos Sainz Jr. take up spots six, seven, and eight on the grid. Sergio Perez made it two Force Indias in Q3, qualifying ninth, while Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly qualified tenth.

Full qualifying results are below. Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix kicks off at 9:00 a.m. ET.

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