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.

Sergio Perez wins rain-delayed race in Singapore over Leclerc; Verstappen seventh

Sergio Perez Singapore
Clive Rose/Getty Images,
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SINGAPORE — Max Verstappen’s Formula One title celebrations were put on hold after the Red Bull driver placed seventh at a chaotic Singapore Grand Prix, won by his teammate Sergio Perez on Sunday.

Perez’s second win of the season saw him finish 7.6 seconds ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, with Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. in third place.

Perez was investigated for a potential safety car infringement but still kept the win after a 5-second time penalty for dropping too far back after being warned.

Verstappen had won the past five races but needed to win here and finish 22 points ahead of Leclerc to be crowned champion for a second straight season. That could happen next weekend at the Japanese GP.

Verstappen made a mistake after the second safety car restart, following AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda’s crash on Lap 36. When Verstappen tried to overtake Lando Norris’ McLaren, he locked his tires and needed to pit again.

Leclerc started from pole position with Verstappen going from eighth after a team blunder in qualifying.

The race start was delayed by more than an hour to clear water off the Marina Bay Circuit track following heavy rainfall. Drivers had to finish the 61-lap race within a two-hour window; 59 laps were completed.

Tricky conditions saw the virtual safety car deployed three times and DRS was allowed with about 30 minutes remaining.

Perez made a good start and jumped past Leclerc while Verstappen dropped several places. The first safety car was on Lap 8 when Zhou Guanyu’s Alfa Romeo was cut off by Nicholas Latifi’s Williams.

Perez got away cleanly at the restart, while Verstappen climbed into seventh behind Fernando Alonso – whose 350th F1 race ended disappointingly when his engine failed on Lap 21, bringing out the first VSC.

With the track still damp, drivers decided against changing to quicker tires – apart from Mercedes’ George Russell, who struggled for grip.

Hamilton made a rare mistake on Lap 33 and thudded into the crash barrier. Soon after, the leading drivers changed tires in a flurry of stops. They did so just before the safety car was deployed again following Tsunoda’s error.

Verstappen overtook Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin right at the end for seventh place.