Cale Conley fastest as RCR juggernaut grabs top three spots in second NNS practice at Chicagoland

Leave a comment

JOLIET, Illinois — Picking up where they left off in the first session a few hours earlier, Richard Childress Racing dominated Friday’s second Nationwide Series practice session at Chicagoland Speedway.

RCR driver Brian Scott was the fastest in the day’s first practice, while teammate Cale Conley mastered the second session – and in commanding form.

In fact, it was a 1-2-3 RCR showing in the second practice.

While Scott ran a top speed of 172.806 mph in the first practice, Conley’s best run in the second practice was mighty stout, being the only driver to exceed 175 mph with a best lap of 175.262 mph.

RCR teammate Brendan Gaughan, who was fourth-fastest in the first practice, improved to second-fastest in the second session, just a tick short of 175 mph at 174.961 mph.

A third RCR driver, Richard Childress’ grandson Ty Dillon, was third-fastest at 174.848 mph. Scott, meanwhile, could only muster 11th-fastest in the second session (172.667 mph, just a hair shy of his first practice speed).

Roush Fenway Racing claimed the fourth- and fifth-fastest spots: Trevor Bayne (174.447 mph) and Ryan Reed (174.402).

Erik Jones, who is making his Nationwide Series debut this weekend, was sixth-fastest at 174.064 mph, followed by Chase Elliott (173.561), Ryan Sieg (173.321), James Buescher (172.999) and Ryan Blaney (172.822).

Other notables in the second session included:

* No. 12 Elliott Sadler (172.557), No. 13 Kasey Kahne (172.172), No. 14 Kyle Larson (172.057), No. 15 Sam Hornish Jr. (172.051) and No. 17 (Regan Smith (171.638).

* Dylan Kwasniewski, who has new crew chief Shannon Rursch for this race (replaced the released Pat Tryson), continued to search for speed. Kwasniewski was only 22nd fastest (169.343 mph), nearly six mph behind pace-setter Conley.

* Only 39 of the 40 drivers entered took practice laps, with Mike Harmon the slowest of the bunch at just 156.101 mph. Tanner Berryhill was scored 40th, but he did not bring his car onto the racetrack for the second session after recording the 28th-fastest speed in the first session.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Valtteri Bottas wins chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix

Mark Thompson/Getty Images
1 Comment

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).