Kenseth, Logano top final Sprint Cup practice; Tony Stewart 18th-fastest

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HAMPTON, Ga. – Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano put the Happy in Happy Hour Saturday evening at Atlanta Motor Speedway, setting the top speeds in the final tuneup for Sunday’s Oral-B USA 500.

Kenseth topped the 43 drivers that took laps with a speed of 188.251 mph, followed by Logano at 187.869 mph.

Kenseth, who won a series-high seven races last season, is still looking for his first win of 2014.

Logano, meanwhile, is still riding the momentum from his win last Saturday at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Denny Hamlin was third-fastest (187.114 mph), followed by Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jeff Gordon (186.956) and Jimmie Johnson (186.855).

Sixth- through 10th-fastest were Kyle Larson (186.761), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (186.190), Carl Edwards (186.028), Brad Keselowski (185.834) and Kyle Busch (185.791), who made a significant gain after being 22nd-fastest in the earlier practice in the day.

Marcos Ambrose was 11th-fastest (185.449), followed by Austin Dillon (185.430), Greg Biffle (185.412), Martin Truex Jr. (185.189) and Aric Almirola (185.139).

Brian Vickers was 16th-fastest (185.127), followed by Ryan Newman (184.806), Tony Stewart (184.720), Paul Menard (184.542) and Jamie McMurray (184.480).

Stewart is back to racing after missing the last three events (Watkins Glen, Michigan and Bristol) due to the Kevin Ward Jr. tragedy.

Other notables included:

Kasey Kahne was 21st-fastest (184.407), followed by three Stewart-Haas racing teammates all in a row: Kurt Busch (184.131), Kevin Harvick (183.473) and Danica Patrick (183.339).

Ty Dillon, who will make his first career Sprint Cup start on Sunday, was 28th-fastest (182.362).

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IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.