So far, it’s been a Brad Keselowski kind of day in New Hampshire.
After leading this morning’s second Sprint Cup practice and then winning the pole for today’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race, the 2012 Cup champion topped final Cup practice for Sunday’s Camping World RV Sales 301.
Keselowski turned in a lap of 133.254 miles per hour in his No. 2 Redd’s Apple Ale/Team Penske Ford that was enough to lead late flyers from Jeff Gordon (132.771), Denny Hamlin (132.739), and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (132.526).
Kevin Harvick completed the Top 5 (132.512), and he was followed by Jamie McMurray, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch (Sunday’s pole sitter), Kasey Kahne and Martin Truex Jr.
Other notables from the session include: Jimmie Johnson in 11th, Tony Stewart in 15th, NBC Sports’ own Jeff Burton in 17th, defending race winner Brian Vickers in 25th, and Danica Patrick in 27th.
Aric Almirola, last week’s winner in Daytona, was 31st-fastest in “Happy Hour” (130.707) driving his backup No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford.
During this morning’s second practice, Almirola suffered a tire failure and crashed his primary car; as a result of the incident, he’ll have to start Sunday’s race from the rear of the field.
Today’s Nationwide race will go off at 3:30 p.m. ET, and Sunday’s main event for Sprint Cup is set for a 1 p.m. ET start.
NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES AT NEW HAMPSHIRE – FINAL PRACTICE TIMES
So much of Danica Patrick’s fame can be traced to Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
It’s where she became a household name 13 years ago when she became the first woman to lead the Indianapolis 500 and emerged as a transcendent athlete.
It’s where everything started. This Sunday, it’s where everything will end, too.
In her last warmup before starting the final race of her career, Patrick had a bumpy final practice Friday on Carb Day. She was eighth fastest, but her Dallara-Chevrolet was in the garage most of the session because of an electrical problem in the engine. After returning during the final 10 minutes of the session, Patrick’s No. 13 seemed to be OK.
“At the end of the day, these are things you’re actually glad for, because if this had happened Sunday, we would have been done,” she said. “I’m glad to get the issues out of the way early on. Overall, today felt good. We made some changes when I went out the second time, and I’m feeling good about starting seventh on Sunday.”
Though she has had her share of success – along with a fourth in her debut, there was a third in 2009 and six top 10s in seven starts — Patrick has learned well how to handle frustration at the 2.5-mile track, too.
Fuel mileage might have kept her from winning her debut, a pit collision ruined 2008, and an unstable setup made 2010 a wild ride.
For a review of her up-and-down history at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and her legacy in racing, watch the video essay above that ran during Friday’s NASCAR America Motorsports Special on NBCSN.