Joey Logano hits 204.5 mph to lead first Sprint Cup practice at Michigan

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Team Penske’s Joey Logano rang up a lap of 204.545 miles per hour in the final minutes to take top honors in first Sprint Cup practice at Michigan International Speedway.

With qualifying coming up later this afternoon, speed was the emphasis in this session as 26 drivers broke the 200 mph mark. Leading the way were Ford drivers Logano and Carl Edwards, whose lap of 204.111 mph was good enough for second.

Overall, Ford drivers had five of the Top 10 fastest speeds in first practice. In addition to Logano and Edwards, the Blue Oval was represented in that bracket by Edwards’ teammates at Roush Fenway Racing, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (fifth, 203.229) and Greg Biffle (eighth, 202.817), as well as Logano’s Penske teammate, Brad Keselowski (10th, 202.617).

Brian Vickers was able to get his Toyota to third on the speed charts with a lap of 203.920 mph. Following him was top Chevrolet pilot Kurt Busch in fourth (203.897). Three more Chevy drivers also made the Top 10: Dale Earnhardt Jr. in sixth, Paul Menard in seventh, and Jeff Gordon in ninth.

The pace from the Roush camp has to be a promising sign for them after their dismal performance at Michigan in June. But late last month, Edwards, Biffle and Stenhouse all tested at the two-mile oval and if these initial speeds are any indication, it would appear that they found some things in that test.

In his first session with the beleaguered No. 14 Stewart Haas Racing team, Jeff Burton was 25th-fastest (200.339). He had to spend some time in the garage due to an early parts failure on the rear end gear of the car.

Jimmie Johnson, who won at MIS in June, also had to spend time in the garage thanks to a severe vibration on his car. He only turned seven laps in the session and was 39th on the charts.

Other notables include Ryan Blaney, who was 27th in first practice as he begins his Friday subbing for Trevor Bayne in the No. 21 Wood Brothers car; and Camping World Truck Series champ Matt Crafton, who was 37th in the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing car of Martin Truex Jr.

Truex is currently with girlfriend Sherry Pollex as she undergoes surgery for ovarian cancer.

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES AT MICHIGAN – First Practice Times

Danica says goodbye: ‘Definitely not a great ending’ but ‘I’m for sure grateful’

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INDIANAPOLIS – Danica Patrick’s final racing news conference didn’t but at least she didn’t lose her sense of humor about it.

“Is that like the Oscars when they close the show out?” Patrick joked when her opening address was drowned out by the midrace broadcast of Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 in the media center. “Take my mic away. I’ll leave. I promise. I don’t really want to be here because I’m pretty sad, but all right. I guess I’ll stop there.”

That was about as lighthearted as it got, though, for the most accomplished female driver in racing history after the final start of her career. That naturally made for some reflection, too.

“I will say that I’m for sure very grateful for everybody,” she said. “It still was a lot of great moments this month. A lot of great moments this year.”

Patrick was the first woman to lead both the Indianapolis 500 (in her 2005 debut) and the Daytona 500 (in 2013 when she also was the first female to qualify on pole position in NACAR history).

But she couldn’t bookend that with similarly memorable finishes. After crashing out of her final two Cup races in the November 2017 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway and the 2018 Daytona 500, Indy concluded the same way.

“Definitely not a great ending,” she said. “But I kind of said before I came here that it could be a complete disaster, as in not in the ballpark at all. And look silly, then people may remember that. And if I win, people will remember that.

“Probably anything in between might just be a little part of the big story. So I kind of feel like that’s how it is. I’m appreciative for all the fans, for GoDaddy, for Ed Carpenter Racing, for IndyCar. Today was a tough day. A little bit of it was OK. A lot of it was just a typical drive.”

Beforehand, Patrick seemed relaxed while smiling and laughing outside her car with a tight circle of close friends and family that included her parents and boyfriend Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers quarterback.

“For sure, I was definitely nervous,” she said about her first Indy 500 start in seven years. “I found myself most of the time on the grid being confused what part of prerace we were in. I was like, ‘I remember this,’ and ‘Where are the Taps?’ and ‘When is the anthem?’ but I had all my people around me, so I was in good spirits.”

And with that, she bid adieu.

“Thank you guys,” she said. “Thank you for everything. I’ll miss you. Most of the time. Maybe you’ll miss me just a little. Thanks, guys.”