Brian Vickers fastest in first Sprint Cup practice at Pocono

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Brian Vickers’ late lap of 180.854 miles per hour enabled him to lead the first practice session for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Pocono Raceway this afternoon.

Vickers re-claimed P1 in the session after being briefly knocked off by Brad Keselowski’s lap of 180.223 miles per hour. That wound up being second-quickest, ahead of Kevin Harvick in third (179.813), Kurt Busch in fourth (179.226), and Jimmie Johnson (179.183), who won this race last June.

Many drivers used the session as an opportunity to get used to the reprofiled Turn 2 at Pocono a.k.a. “the tunnel turn.” A new stretch of apron now sits where curbing used to be, but in Harvick’s eyes, it hasn’t made much impact in regards to driving it.

“With more downforce, obviously the tunnel turn is a lot faster than it used to be,” he told Fox Sports. “That big curb took away a reference getting into the corner, but all in all, it really hasn’t changed a whole lot.”

Jamie McMurray, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer, and rookie Kyle Larson rounded out the Top 10 speeds.

Other notables included Danica Patrick in 12th, Sprint Cup points leader Matt Kenseth in 18th, and last August’s Pocono winner, Kasey Kahne, in 20th.

The session was red-flagged for almost 20 minutes after a weeper emerged in Turn 1 with less than 50 minutes remaining.

However, track crews quickly dried up the standing water and the session went back green with about half an hour to go.

Qualifying for Sunday’s Pocono 400 will take place later today at approximately 4:40 p.m. ET.

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES AT POCONO – PRACTICE 1 TIMES

Travis Pastrana leads flag-to-flag in Nitro Rallycross as the series returns to America

Pastrana Nitro Rallycross
Barry Chin / Getty Images
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Travis Pastrana waited until the final trip around ERX Motor Park to take his Joker Lap – a longer way around the course that all drivers must do at least once in a race – and came out cleanly to win his first Nitro Rallycross race of 2022. With this win, Pastrana is the third driver to visit Victory Lane in the first three rounds of the 2022-23 season.

“This is the closest to a motocross track,” Pastrana told Katie Osborne on Peacock. “Thank you so much for a beautiful facility. It’s been a rough start to the season and I’m so thankful to be back out here. We had a good run in the side-by-side and now for this. This is much needed.”

Another thing needed was the sense of improvement. And Pastrana earned that affirmation each time he completed a lap around the course.

“I get my lap times read out and they said ‘fastest time of the week,’ ‘fastest time of the week’ (each time around) ” Pastrana said. “This is really special. We’re a long way behind in the championship, but welcome to America.”

In a pre-race press conference, Pastrana said that as Nitro Rallycross heads back to America, it was time for an American to win and he made good on his promise. Pastrana took the early lead over Robin Larsson and let the back of his Subaru hang out, taking risks he might not otherwise take if not for his need to win.

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Larsson’s second-place finish completed a perfect sweep of the podium in three rounds. In fact, he has not yet finished worse than second after winning the opening round at Lydden Hill in the United Kingdom and finishing second at Strangnas in Sweeden.

Fraser McConnel rounded out the podium for his best result of the season. He finished fourth in each of the first two rounds.

Last year, Pastrana finished second in this race to Scott Speed before narrowly edging his teammate for the championship.

Andreas Bakkerud crashed in prelims, but rebounded to finish just off the block in fourth. Bakkerud won the second round ahead of his teammate Larsson.

Oliver Bennett completed the top five.

Minneapolis is the first of three rounds scheduled in the United States. Next on the schedule is Glen Helen, Calif. on Octo 30 and then Phoenix at Wild Horse Pass on November 12th. Nitro Rallycross will then head to Saudi Arabia in December to continue their 2022-23 season.