Trent Owens in as Almirola’s crew chief at Petty

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Trent Owens has been announced as the crew chief for Aric Almirola’s No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford in the Sprint Cup Series, marking his first full-time crew chief opportunity in NASCAR’s top series.

Owens, a five-time winner in Nationwide Series competition, served as crew chief for Kyle Larson this past season at Turner Scott Motorsports’ NNS operation.

Larson, who will compete for Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year honors for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing in 2014, earned nine Top-5s and 17 Top-10s under Owens’ guidance.

Additionally, Owens helped Larson take his inaugural Camping World Truck Series win back in April at Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway.

“This is a great opportunity to join a Sprint Cup organization and a race team that can win,” Owens said in a statement. “The No. 43 team has proven they can race up front.

“We just need to find a little more consistency to make the Chase. I believe we can put ourselves in contention for a Chase spot in 2014.”

Almirola knows Owens from his NNS days when the two competed against each other. He’s hopeful that Owens can help RPM find that missing consistency.

“He’s a very talented crew chief who has accomplished a lot, but he’s still very hungry to do a lot more,” Almirola said in his thoughts. “Our team is the same. We’re getting better, but we need more Top-10’s, Top-5s and wins.

“I believe Trent can help us do that and he’s a positive addition to the team.”

Greg Ebert served as the No. 43’s interim crew chief for the final four races of the 2013 season after Todd Parrott was dismissed following his indefinite suspension for violating NASCAR’s substance abuse policy.

F1: Lewis Hamilton qualifies No. 1 for U.S. Grand Prix, on verge of winning 5th title

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Lewis Hamilton took a big step toward earning his fifth Formula One championship on Saturday, qualifying No. 1 for Sunday’s U.S. Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

Hamilton and his Mercedes have won five of the previous six U.S. Grand Prix’s held at COTA, including the last four races there.

The Great Britain native comes into Sunday’s race leading the F1 point standings and is seeking to tie Juan Manuel Fangio for second-most F1 career championships. Michael Schumacher has the most with seven crowns.

Sebastian Vettel is Hamilton’s sole remaining challenger for the title, trailing Hamilton by 67 points with four races to go, including Sunday’s race.

Vettel must win Sunday’s race or finish within seven points of Hamilton to prevent the latter from winning the title and pushing a possible clinching scenario to next week in Mexico.

Vettel qualified second Saturday, but due to a red-flag three-position grid penalty sustained during Friday’s morning practice, will start fifth on Sunday’s grid.

As a result of Vettel’s penalty, Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen will start alongside Hamilton on the front row for Sunday’s race.

Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate, Vallteri Bottas, will start third, while Daniel Ricciardo will start fourth.

Rounding out the top 10 were Esteban Ocon, Nico Hulkenberg, Romain Grosjean, Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez.

Here’s how qualifying played out:

POS NO DRIVER CAR Q1 Q2 Q3 LAPS
1 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 1:34.130 1:33.480 1:32.237 20
2 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 1:34.569 1:33.079 1:32.298 18
3 7 Kimi Räikkönen FERRARI 1:34.703 1:32.884 1:32.307 15
4 77 Valtteri Bottas MERCEDES 1:34.518 1:33.702 1:32.616 17
5 3 Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:34.755 1:34.185 1:33.494 14
6 31 Esteban Ocon FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:34.876 1:34.522 1:34.145 18
7 27 Nico Hulkenberg RENAULT 1:34.932 1:34.564 1:34.215 18
8 8 RomainGrosjean HAAS FERRARI 1:34.892 1:34.419 1:34.250 17
9 16 Charles Leclerc SAUBER FERRARI 1:35.069 1:34.255 1:34.420 17
10 11 Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:35.193 1:34.525 1:34.594 17
11 55 Carlos Sainz RENAULT 1:34.891 1:34.566 12
12 20 KevinMagnussen HAAS FERRARI 1:34.972 1:34.732 12
13 10 Pierre Gasly SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 1:34.850 DNS 13
14 28 Brendon Hartley SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 1:35.206 DNS 13
15 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:34.766 4
16 14 FernandoAlonso MCLAREN RENAULT 1:35.294 6
17 35 Sergey Sirotkin WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:35.362 6
18 18 Lance Stroll WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:35.480 8
19 9 Marcus Ericsson SAUBER FERRARI 1:35.536 8
20 2 StoffelVandoorne MCLAREN RENAULT 1:35.735 6

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