Jeff Gordon posts quickest lap in final Sprint Cup practice at N.H.

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For the first time all weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, someone else besides Brad Keselowski got to the top of the leaderboard.

With roughly five minutes to go in final Sprint Cup practice for tomorrow’s Sylvania 300, Jeff Gordon popped a lap of 135.357 mph that knocked Keselowski (135.256) off of P1.

Gordon has some work to do to advance from 13th on the grid, but it looks like he’ll have a car capable of getting the job done. Yesterday, he said he felt like he and his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team were capable of stopping Keselowski from claiming his third consecutive win.

Kevin Harvick’s lap of 135.236 mph was good enough for third in the session. Joey Logano was fourth (135.102) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. followed him in fifth (135.054).

The Top 7 speeds belonged to Chase competitors, including Jimmie Johnson in sixth and Matt Kenseth in seventh. Non-Chase competitors Danica Patrick, Paul Menard and Jamie McMurray (who will start alongside Keselowski on the front row tomorrow) completed the Top 10.

Five more Chasers – Ryan Newman, Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne, Kurt Busch, and A.J. Allmendinger – comprised Positions 11-15. Among the other Chasers, Denny Hamlin was 19th, Aric Almirola was 21st, Greg Biffle was 24th, and Carl Edwards was 26th.

Biffle had a rough session in particular as he lost control of his No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford Fusion off of Turn 2. However, while he slid through the backstretch grass, he avoided the inside wall.

Two other incidents took place in the final practice. Early on, Corey Lajoie sustained damage to his No. 77 Randy Humphrey Racing Ford when he made contact with the wall in Turn 4.

Then, during the final minute of the session, Tony Stewart spun his No. 14 Stewart Haas Racing Chevrolet SS while going through Turn 4. But like Biffle, he was able to avoid a run-in with the wall.

Tomorrow’s main event is scheduled to begin shortly after 2 p.m. ET.

Meyer Shank Racing wins second consecutive Rolex 24 at Daytona to begin GTP era

Rolex 24 Meyer Shank
James Gilbert/Getty Images
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The Grand Touring Prototype era began just as the previous one ended as Meyer Shank Racing’s Acura captured its second consecutive Rolex 24 at Daytona with star Tom Blomqvist emphatically starting and finishing the race.

The No. 60 ARX-06 won the 24-hour endurance classic at Daytona International Speedway by 4.190 seconds over Filipe Albuquerque of Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport, giving Acura a sweep of the top two spots.

The Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac V-LMDh cars took the next two spots with Renger van der Zande (the No. 01) and Earl Bamber (No. 02) as four of the nine new GTP cars finished on the lead lap within 12 seconds of each other – quashing the prerace hand-wringing of mass failures for the highly technical cars in the debut of the hybrid prototype premier category.

There were major problems for the manufacturer newcomers Porsche Penske Motorsport and BMW M Team RLL, whose two pairs of cars all finished at least a dozen laps down or more because of major mechanical problems in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season opener.

But there were no such failures for Acura despite the manufacturer skipping any endurance testing with the new LMDh car.

It’s the third Rolex 24 at Daytona victory for co-owner Mike Shank, who won his first in 2012.

Just as he capped the 2022 season by winning the Petit Le Mans season finale in the No. 60 Acura to clinch the final championship of the DPi division for MSR, Blomqvist was behind the wheel again for his third overall victory in IMSA.

“That was crazy,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee. “I knew we had a fantastic car. I’ve been working hard. Unbelievable. Massive, well done, everyone being part of this project and worked together on this project. What a car we’ve built.

“I was just a bit nervous. The 10 was definitely second fastest car, but we held them off.”

It was the second consecutive Rolex 24 victory for MSR’s trio of Blomqvist, Simon Pagenaud and Helio Castroneves, who were joined this year by Colin Braun (winning his first Rolex 24 overall).

Castroneves joined select company in winning the Rolex 24 in three consecutive years (his first win was with Wayne Taylor Racing in 2021). Castroneves and Pagenaud are entering their second consecutive year as teammates for Meyer Shank Racing’s Dallara-Hondas in the NTT IndyCar Series.

“Can you believe that?” Castroneves told Lee. “Big props to everyone. Everyone did an amazing job. Everybody worked so hard together. We got it! Another one. I can’t believe it. This is absolutely a dream come true.”

The four-time Indy 500 winner led the team in his signature fence-climbing celebration afterward — just as he had when he finished MSR’s victory in last year’s Rolex 24 and when he won the 2021 Indy 500 for the team.

“It’s always fun to climb the fence with Helio,” said Pagenaud, who drove the second-to-last stint before Blomqvist closed it out: “The competition as amazing. It was tough out there. So much fun. Hope you had as much fun as we had. I’m going to savor this one.”

Winners in other classes were the No. 55 ORECA 07 of Proton Competition (which triumphed on a last-lap pass by James Allen on Ben Hanley), WeatherTech Racing’s No. 79 Mercedes in GTD Pro, Heart of Racing’s No. 27 Aston Martin in GTD and AWA’s No. 17 in LMP3.