NASCAR: Kurt Busch tops Friday Cup practice at Pocono

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Kurt Busch posted a lap of 180.353 miles per hour to lead the way in this afternoon’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice session for the GoBowling.com 400 at Pocono Raceway.

Qualifying is scheduled for 3:40 p.m. ET on the 2.5-mile “Tricky Triangle,” but rain is in the forecast for later today.

If that three-round session is rained out, then the grid will be set on today’s practice speeds with Busch starting Sunday’s main event from the pole position.

“It was good with our race runs and then to go to [qualifying] trim and still have that speed,” Busch told Fox Sports. “You gotta do it over three runs here now – it’s not just that one magic lap to try and sit on the pole.

“We were outside pole here though in June, and we want one spot better, so the Haas Automation Chevy’s fast right now.”

Following Busch in second and third during practice were the Team Penske/Ford duo of Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano.

Keselowski, who lost at Pocono in June when an attempt to have the lapped car of Danica Patrick clean his trash-covered grille went awry, topped out at 180.155 mph. Logano was close behind with his lap at 179.791 mph.

Cup rookie Kyle Larson was fourth-quickest with his lap of 179.508 mph for Chip Ganassi Racing, and Clint Bowyer led the Toyota camp with the fifth-quickest lap (179.372).

Kevin Harvick, A.J. Allmendinger, Brian Vickers, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Jamie McMurray made up Positions 6-10. Other notables from the session included Danica Patrick in 11th and Brickyard 400 winner Jeff Gordon in 15th.

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES AT POCONO – FRIDAY PRACTICE TIMES

F1: Red Bull Racing confirms switch to Honda engines next season

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Honda will become Red Bull’s engine supplier from next season after the Formula One team confirmed its anticipated split with Renault on Tuesday.

The Japanese manufacturer will supply engines for 2019 and 2020, and Red Bull team principal Christian Horner hailed the deal as “an exciting new phase” in the bid to return to the top of F1.

“After careful consideration and evaluation, we are certain this partnership with Honda is the right direction for the team,” Horner said in a team statement. “We have been impressed by Honda’s commitment to F1, by the rapid steps they have made in recent times with our (feeder) team Toro Rosso.”

It is a boost for Honda, which was unceremoniously dumped by McLaren at the end of last year.

Honda has started this season brightly as engine provider for Toro Rosso, and this may have been a key factor in Red Bull finally ditching Renault.

“Honda’s alignment with both Red Bull Formula One teams provides enormous potential,” Horner said. “Honda will have access to a wealth of data from both outfits, with Aston Martin Red Bull Racing leading the way, and the opportunities for faster, more effective and more competitive development are doubled.”

The deal brings to an end Red Bull’s 12-year partnership with Renault.

Although relations became increasingly strained between the two parties in recent years, it was once a dream partnership as Red Bull and Renault won four straight drivers’ and constructors’ championships with Sebastian Vettel behind the wheel from 2010-13.

During that glory era, Vettel and teammate Mark Webber won 47 grand prix. Since 2013, results have somewhat dried up and there have been only 10 race wins.

“We have sometimes had our differences but Renault has always worked tirelessly and to the best of its ability to provide us with a competitive power unit,” Horner said.

He was not always quite so complimentary about Renault. He has regularly and publicly criticized Renault’s reliability in recent years – although it has been hard to judge sometimes.

Red Bull showed good speed toward the end of last season when Max Verstappen won two races, and teammate Daniel Ricciardo won this season’s Chinese GP with a brilliant drive. The difference in speed between Red Bull and Mercedes appears less than before, although Ferrari remains noticeably quicker.

Verstappen’s form has picked up after a poor start to 2018, marred by crashes, and he has taken third place in two of the past three races.

Meanwhile, McLaren’s partnership with Renault has not been as successful as they anticipated after dropping Honda following three fruitless seasons together.

Two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso has failed to finish the past two races and has yet to place higher than fifth. Renault teammate Nico Hulkenberg has a best finish of fourth place.