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.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10-3 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 7 p.m. to USA Network. Peacock will have flag-to-flag coverage.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III