NASCAR: Corey Lajoie to make Cup debut; ARCA’s Boston to drive 2 N’Wide races for Gibbs

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Richard Petty Motorsports development driver Corey Lajoie (pictured, celebrating his 2013 ARCA win at Chicagoland Speedway) will be making his Sprint Cup debut this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the small Randy Humphrey Racing team.

RPM has not been able to generate sponsorship to run the son of two-time Nationwide Series champion Randy Lajoie often in 2014. He’s only competed in one Nationwide race and two Camping World Truck Series races this season.

“I’ve got to make my own path,’’ Lajoie said to Motor Racing Network’s Dustin Long. “Maybe start from the bottom and work my way up.

“I thought I would be in this point four years ago, but God’s plans are always going to prevail and you’ve got to go along with it and trust that it is the right one.’’

Randy Humphrey Racing recently gave Red Bull Global Rallycross pilot Nelson Piquet Jr. his first Sprint Cup ride last month at Watkins Glen.

Lajoie won three times in five ARCA starts last year, including the aforementioned Chicagoland win and two more at Pocono and Kentucky.

Speaking of Kentucky, that’s where current ARCA driver Justin Boston will be making his Nationwide debut this weekend. And he’ll have a solid ride under him, too.

Boston will drive the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in Saturday’s race at Kentucky and also in next weekend’s Nationwide race at Dover International Speedway. Sprint Cup driver Matt Kenseth has driven the majority of this year’s Nationwide events in the No. 20 car.

“Our goals are to compete and run all the laps in both of our Nationwide Series starts, plain and simple,” said Boston in a release. “As far as being anxious, it hasn’t really hit me yet.

“If anything, knowing that I get to work with everyone on the No. 20 team is reassuring since they’re such a strong team and I’m excited to see what we can do together.”

Boston has won twice this year in the ARCA series at Toledo and Madison.

F1: Lewis Hamilton qualifies No. 1 for U.S. Grand Prix, on verge of winning 5th title

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Lewis Hamilton took a big step toward earning his fifth Formula One championship on Saturday, qualifying No. 1 for Sunday’s U.S. Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

Hamilton and his Mercedes have won five of the previous six U.S. Grand Prix’s held at COTA, including the last four races there.

The Great Britain native comes into Sunday’s race leading the F1 point standings and is seeking to tie Juan Manuel Fangio for second-most F1 career championships. Michael Schumacher has the most with seven crowns.

Sebastian Vettel is Hamilton’s sole remaining challenger for the title, trailing Hamilton by 67 points with four races to go, including Sunday’s race.

Vettel must win Sunday’s race or finish within seven points of Hamilton to prevent the latter from winning the title and pushing a possible clinching scenario to next week in Mexico.

Vettel qualified second Saturday, but due to a red-flag three-position grid penalty sustained during Friday’s morning practice, will start fifth on Sunday’s grid.

As a result of Vettel’s penalty, Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen will start alongside Hamilton on the front row for Sunday’s race.

Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate, Vallteri Bottas, will start third, while Daniel Ricciardo will start fourth.

Rounding out the top 10 were Esteban Ocon, Nico Hulkenberg, Romain Grosjean, Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez.

Here’s how qualifying played out:

POS NO DRIVER CAR Q1 Q2 Q3 LAPS
1 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 1:34.130 1:33.480 1:32.237 20
2 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 1:34.569 1:33.079 1:32.298 18
3 7 Kimi Räikkönen FERRARI 1:34.703 1:32.884 1:32.307 15
4 77 Valtteri Bottas MERCEDES 1:34.518 1:33.702 1:32.616 17
5 3 Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:34.755 1:34.185 1:33.494 14
6 31 Esteban Ocon FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:34.876 1:34.522 1:34.145 18
7 27 Nico Hulkenberg RENAULT 1:34.932 1:34.564 1:34.215 18
8 8 RomainGrosjean HAAS FERRARI 1:34.892 1:34.419 1:34.250 17
9 16 Charles Leclerc SAUBER FERRARI 1:35.069 1:34.255 1:34.420 17
10 11 Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:35.193 1:34.525 1:34.594 17
11 55 Carlos Sainz RENAULT 1:34.891 1:34.566 12
12 20 KevinMagnussen HAAS FERRARI 1:34.972 1:34.732 12
13 10 Pierre Gasly SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 1:34.850 DNS 13
14 28 Brendon Hartley SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 1:35.206 DNS 13
15 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:34.766 4
16 14 FernandoAlonso MCLAREN RENAULT 1:35.294 6
17 35 Sergey Sirotkin WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:35.362 6
18 18 Lance Stroll WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:35.480 8
19 9 Marcus Ericsson SAUBER FERRARI 1:35.536 8
20 2 StoffelVandoorne MCLAREN RENAULT 1:35.735 6

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