Harvick leads Thursday Las Vegas test (UPDATED)

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Kevin Harvick has carried in some Phoenix momentum early in the Las Vegas weekend.

The Stewart-Haas Racing driver led Thursday’s four-hour test session for this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

In 42 laps, Harvick was the only driver to set a lap north of 190mph, at 190.148 at the 1.5-mile oval.

Harvick’s pace was best on a day that provided the first real chance at a race weekend for teams to get a better handle on the new aerodynamic adjustments implanted by NASCAR’s competition department.

Changes to the intermediate track rules package, per NASCAR, include statically setting the race car ride height, a square leading edge on the splitter, side skirt and rear fascia adjustments and an eight-inch rear spoiler. A 43-inch by 13-inch radiator pan rounds out changes for 2014.

“We were three or four tenths off [at the start of the test] and had to kind of abort on what we were doing and go a different route,” Harvick said, via a NASCAR release. “The next route was not as good and the third route finally wound up being good.”

Harvick’s old ride – the Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet now driven by Austin Dillon – clocked in second at 189.540.

Chevrolets and Toyotas dominated the top 10, with Trevor Bayne in third the only Ford among the fastest runners of the day. Bayne’s best speed was 188.620.

Ryan Newman (RCR) and Danica Patrick (SHR) completed the top five.

Spots 6-10 were occupied by Cole Whitt (Swan Racing), AJ Allmendinger (JTG Daugherty Racing), Clint Bowyer and Jeff Burton (Michael Waltrip Racing) and 2013 Las Vegas winner Matt Kenseth (Joe Gibbs Racing).

Josh Wise (Phil Parsons Racing) and Michael McDowell (Leavine Family Racing) were respectable 11th and 12th in the single-car, lesser budget operations.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was 19th. 48 cars took times on the day, ahead of the weekend.

Alex Zanardi showing signs of interaction three months after crash

Alex Zanardi recovery
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
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MILAN — Italian racing driver turned Paralympic gold medalist Alex Zanardi has started responding to treatment with signs of interaction, more than three months after he was seriously injured in a handbike crash.

Zanardi has spent most of that time in intensive care after crashing into an oncoming truck during a relay event near the Tuscan town of Pienza on June 19.

“For several days now. Alex Zanardi has undergone cognitive and motor rehabilitation sessions, with the administration of visual and acoustic stimuli, to which the patient responds with momentary and initial signs of interaction,” the San Raffaele hospital in Milan said in a statement Thursday.

The hospital said that is “significant progress” but added that his condition remains serious, and that it would be “absolutely premature” to make a long-term prognosis.

Zanardi, 53, suffered serious facial and cranial trauma in the crash and was put in a medically induced coma. Doctors have warned of possible brain damage.

He was operated on several times to stabilize him and reconstruct his severely damaged face and the Milan hospital added that he recently had undergone another surgery to reconstruct his skull and would have another one in the coming weeks.

Zanardi lost both of his legs in an auto racing crash nearly 20 years ago. He won four gold medals and two silvers at the 2012 and 2016 Paralympics. He also competed in the New York City Marathon and set an Ironman record in his class.