Jamie McMurray is halfway leader in Bristol night race

Leave a comment

Jamie McMurray is leading at the halfway point of Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Brad Keselowski is running second, followed by Jimmie Johnson.

Kasey Kahne was leading at Lap 237 when his car got extremely tight, allowing McMurray to take the lead while Kahne dropped to fourth place at the midpoint.

Kevin Harvick, who had the lead before Kahne, also started having issues with his car, dropping as far back as ninth before moving back up to fourth at halfway.

Jeff Gordon made contact early in the race with Kurt Busch, sustaining significant tire rub. Gordon remained on the racetrack, waiting for a caution to come out, but none occurred in the next few ensuing laps.

On Lap 125, Kyle Busch appeared to get loose, spun and collected Aric Almirola and Clint Bowyer. While Busch was able to get his car repaired on pit road, Almirola’s car was towed to the garage and Bowyer’s had heavy damage that his team was attempting to repair.

MORE: Kyle Busch, Aric Almirola involved in Bristol crash at quarter mark

Then on Lap 161, Harvick was battling Denny Hamlin for the race lead. Harvick tried to tuck in behind Hamlin, who was leading at the time, but apparently misjudged the distance between the two cars.

Harvick spun Hamlin, who was then hit by Dale Earnhardt Jr., knocking both of the latter two drivers out of the race.

Hamlin threw his HANS device when Harvick circled around the track two laps later, which will likely result in a penalty from NASCAR in the coming days.

MORE: Harvick wrecks Hamlin, Dale Jr. collected

Ironically enough, Harvick emerged from the fray with what he was hoping to do in the first place: he got the lead.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Daniel Ricciardo to decide soon about moving from Red Bull to another F1 team

Getty Images
Leave a comment

LE CASTELLET, France (AP) Daniel Ricciardo says over the next six weeks he wants to decide between staying at Red Bull or joining another Formula One team for next year.

Ricciardo said on Thursday at the French Grand Prix, “It would be nice to go on the summer break knowing what I am doing.”

F1 is working its way toward its three-week break in August with speculation mounting that Mercedes, Ferrari, and McLaren are interested in luring Ricciardo away from Red Bull for 2019.

“I will be honest, everyone is talking about Mercedes and Ferrari as potential places for me to go, and I am aware that there will be interest from other teams,” he said.

The Australian driver has won seven races in his four-plus seasons with Red Bull. He is fourth in the standings behind leader Sebastian Vettel heading into the race at the Paul Ricard Circuit near Marseille.

Ricciardo’s stock has risen in recent months after his victories in Shanghai and Monaco. His Monaco win was particularly impressive because Ricciardo had to deploy some masterful defensive driving to protect his lead after losing an estimated 25 percent of his engine power.

Ricciardo said he had not directly spoken to rivals Ferrari and Mercedes, but he hedged when asked if his manager had.

“People talk, have coffees, I will leave that one open-ended,” he said with a laugh.

Ricciardo called the decision on whether to go or stay with Red Bull the biggest choice of his career following his decision to leave his native Australia and continue his racing career in Europe over a decade ago.

“For sure the priority is to get a car to win the world title because I really believe I can,” he said. “I am slightly careful because it is easy to think the grass is greener and maybe it is, but I also have it pretty good where I am.

“People do like a change but just to make change for the sake of making a change is not enough for me. I need to find some substance behind it to jump ship.”

Red Bull announced recently it would be ending its 12-year partnership with engine-maker Renault and switching to Honda motors for next year.

Ricciardo was hesitant to endorse or criticize the change, saying he was going to “try to keep putting the pieces together if it is a good move.”

But with the question of the engine manufacturer out of the way, Ricciardo said Red Bull would likely be looking to resolve its drivers’ lineup for next year.

“I haven’t been pushed yet, but I would say that there will be some movement in the next week,” he said. “Whether that is something that gets put down on paper (or not), for sure the discussions will start to ramp up in the next few days.”