Michael Waltrip Racing’s Ty Norris reinstated by NASCAR

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As part of his team’s punishment for its role in the race manipulation scandal that rocked NASCAR last fall at Richmond International Raceway, Michael Waltrip Racing executive Ty Norris was given an indefinite suspension.

But today, the sanctioning body announced that Norris has been reinstated into the sport, although he does remain on indefinite probation.

Norris’ suspension on Sept. 9, 2013 was one of multiple blows delivered by NASCAR after they found that the team conspired to manipulate the 2013 “regular season” finale at Richmond in a bid to get then-MWR driver Martin Truex Jr. into the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

In addition to Norris’ suspension, NASCAR removed Truex from the Chase. They also docked Truex and teammates Clint Bowyer and Brian Vickers 50 points each, and also fined MWR $300,000.

The Richmond incident gave NASCAR unwanted attention during its most important time of the year, and forced two alterations to the 2013 post-season field. Ryan Newman was lifted into the Chase after the MWR penalties, and then Jeff Gordon was added as a 13th driver.

Truex’s sponsor, NAPA, left MWR at season’s end, forcing the team to draw down to two full-time programs for Bowyer and Vickers. Their third Toyota, since re-numbered as the No. 66, has been relegated to part-time duty with Jeff Burton as its driver. Truex has also moved on as well, and now drives for Furniture Row Racing.

Norris remains an executive vice president of MWR but is no longer involved on the competition side. He now works primarily on the team’s marketing and sponsorship efforts.

“I appreciate NASCAR’s action today and respect their position,” Norris said according to USA Today’s Jeff Gluck. “I am focused forward and dedicated to the success of Michael Waltrip Racing and the continued growth of a sport that has been my home for the past 24 years.”

Valtteri Bottas fastest in Friday F1 practices for Russian Grand Prix

F1 Sochi Valtteri Bottas
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SOCHI, Russia — Valtteri Bottas paced both F1 practices Friday for the Russian Grand Prix on Friday as Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton was slowed by damaged tires in the first session.

Bottas turned a fast lap of 1 minute, 33.519 seconds in the second session that bettered Hamilton’s 1:33.786.

Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo was more than a second behind Bottas in third at 1:34.577, followed by the McLaren Racing duo of Carlos Sainz Jr. (1:34.723) and Lando Norris (1:34.847).

In the first F1 session at Sochi, Valtteri Bottas set the pace with a time of 1 minute, 34.923 seconds, beating Ricciardo by half a second. Max Verstappen was third quickest in his Red Bull, a further 0.147 back.

Hamilton could only manage 19th fastest after locking up his tires and leaving them with a flat spot. Ferrari again struggled to find pace with Sebastian Vettel ninth and Charles Leclerc 11th.

HISTORY IN SIGHTLewis Hamilton aims to tie Michael Schumacher’s record

The first session was briefly red-flagged when Nicholas Latifi crashed his Williams. Carlos Sainz Jr. spun his McLaren backward into a barrier and broke off his rear wing.

Verstappen spun during the second session but avoided damage to his car.