NASCAR: Almirola crashes, Keselowski fastest in 2nd Cup practice at N.H.

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Last week’s winner at Daytona, Aric Almirola, crashed with around 20 minutes remaining in second practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this morning at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Going into Turn 3, Almirola lost control, spun, and then slammed into the wall. The impact flattened the left side of his primary No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford, and has forced RPM to roll out his backup car.

Almirola later confirmed that a blown tire was the cause of his crash, making him the second driver this weekend to crash after suffering a tire failure. Joey Logano lost his left-rear and hit the wall during Friday’s first practice.

Logano also needed a backup car but was able to qualify sixth yesterday for the Camping World RV Sales 301. Almirola qualified 19th, but will have to start from the back of the grid for Sunday’s main event since his incident took place after qualifying.

“It was fine down the back straightaway and right about the time I was getting on the brakes into Turn 3, I felt [the tire] go down and I was just along for the ride,” Almirola told Fox Sports.

“It’s disappointing. Our [car] was decent – we still had some work to do, but it was decent…We’re gonna have to make our backup car work for us.

“Our backup car may be even better than our primary car. We were struggling a little bit to get this [primary] car to go across the center of the corner like we wanted it to.”

Brad Keselowski was fastest in the 50-minute practice session with a lap of 133.745 mph around the Magic Mile. Jamie McMurray was second-quickest (133.086), followed by Jeff Gordon (133.035), Denny Hamlin (132.901), and Kyle Larson (132.868).

Kyle Busch, who will start on the pole for Sunday’s race, was 19th on the time sheets this morning (132.158). Sprint Cup final practice is scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m. ET.

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES AT NEW HAMPSHIRE – SECOND PRACTICE TIMES

Valtteri Bottas wins chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix

Mark Thompson/Getty Images
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SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas won a chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix while six-time series champion Lewis Hamilton finished fourth after getting a late time penalty Sunday.

The Formula One race was interrupted three times by a safety car, and nine of 20 drivers abandoned, including both Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon – who tried to overtake Hamilton on the outside with 10 laps left, touched wheels and flew off track.

Hamilton was given a 5-second time penalty for causing the collision, having earlier been hit with a three-place grid penalty after an incident in Saturday’s qualifying was reviewed by stewards.

SHOW OF SUPPORT: Drivers take knee before race

Bottas led all 71 laps in the eighth victory of his career. It was the second consecutive victory in the season opener for the Finn, though he won four months earlier in 2019 after this season’s start was delayed by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Lando Norris of McLaren F1 celebrates after his first podium finish (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).

Bottas started from pole position and Hamilton from fifth, but it looked like a straight fight between the two Mercedes drivers as has been the case so often in recent years.

But late drama in Spielberg ensured otherwise and Hamilton’s time penalty meant Charles Leclerc took second place for Ferrari, and Lando Norris sent McLaren’s garage into raptures – and threw all social distancing rules out of the window amid the euphoria – with third place.

It was the 20-year-old British driver’s first career podium, and his superb final lap was the fastest of a dramatic season opener.

Norris became the youngest British driver to secure a podium finish and the third-youngest ever in Formula One.

Valtteri Bottas leads Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton during the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).