NASCAR: RCR, Roush teams looking strong in NNS practice at Kentucky

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While the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series are up in New Hampshire, the Nationwide Series has started its stand-alone weekend at Kentucky Speedway with a pair of Friday practice sessions for the VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300.

If the sessions are an indication, Richard Childress Racing and Roush Fenway Racing will be in the hunt come tomorrow night on the 1.5-mile oval outside Cincinnati.

RFR’s Chris Buescher led the first practice earlier this afternoon with a lap of 174.701 mph in the No. 60 Ford Mustang. But right behind him were all three of RCR’s full-time Nationwide drivers: Brian Scott (pictured, 173.980) in second, Brendan Gaughan (173.210) in third, and rookie Ty Dillon in fourth (173.205).

The second practice largely followed the same script, only with RCR part-timer Cale Conley atop the leaderboard with a lap of 175.404 mph in his No. 33 Chevy Camaro.

Trevor Bayne of RFR was second at 175.239 mph, then came Scott in third (175.075), Joe Gibbs Racing’s Sam Hornish Jr. in fourth (174.944), and Buescher again in fifth (174.419).

Hornish may be able to put himself into the mix, however, as he was fifth in the first practice, too. And of course, we can’t forget Nationwide Series points leader Chase Elliott, who had the eighth-fastest time in both sessions.

Elliott holds an 18-point advantage over JR Motorsports teammate Regan Smith going into Saturday night’s main event. Smith, who has never finished higher than 12th in a Nationwide event at Kentucky, was 12th and 16th-fastest today.

Team Penske’s No. 22 Ford won both NNS events last year at Kentucky, and this weekend, it’s in the hands of Michael McDowell. He went 11th-fastest in each of the practices.

Qualifying will go off tomorrow afternoon at 4:10 p.m. ET, followed by the 300-mile race at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Ganassi announces multiyear sponsorship extension with American Legion for No. 10

Chip Ganassi American Legion
David Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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Chip Ganassi Racing announced a new primary sponsorship deal with The American Legion this week, shoring up the funding on its No. 10 Dallara-Honda of Alex Palou.

The 2021 NTT IndyCar Series champion primarily had driven with NTT Data sponsorship the past two seasons. But NTT Data will move next season to McLaren Racing as a primary sponsor for Felix Rosenqvist in 10 races and on the Indy 500 car of Tony Kanaan (who drove an American Legion car for Ganassi at the Brickyard last year).

It was the latest twist in a McLaren-Ganassi saga that included a contract dispute for the services of Palou (who is expected to move to McLaren in 2024 after reaching an agreement to race with Ganassi next year).

Ganassi stayed within its own walls to help plug the sponsorship gap left by NTT Data, re-signing The American Legion to a multiyear extension. The Indianapolis-based non-profit organization, which has been sponsoring Ganassi cars for the past few seasons, also will be associated with other Ganassi drivers, including Indy 500 winner Marcus Ericsson and development driver Kyffin Simpson in Indy NXT.

The Ganassi organization will continue promoting The American Legion’s “Be The One” campaign aimed at reducing veteran suicides. The team launched an online auction for the initiative this week.

“Supporting our nation’s veterans is of immense importance to our organization and we are humbled to continue supporting The American Legion’s mission in ending veteran suicide,” team owner Chip Ganassi said in a release. “We will do absolutely everything we can to help veterans get the support they need while raising public awareness of the ‘Be The One’ platform.”

“We have received an overwhelming amount of support from fans, active-duty military members and veterans as a result of this partnership and we’re pleased to see it grow,” said Dean Kessel, chief marketing officer at The American Legion. “Thanks to the continuous collaboration with the team’s other partners, and the promotion of the ‘Be The One’ initiative, we are discovering more ways to engage with the military community than ever before. We want all veterans to know that it’s okay to ask for help.”