The Kyle show: Busch fastest, Larson next in Cup Happy Hour at ‘Dega

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It was the Kyle and Kyle show in Friday afternoon’s final Sprint Cup practice for Sunday’s Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Or maybe we should call it a half-practice, as only 21 drivers took part in Happy Hour.

The speeds were significantly slower than the morning practice – by more than 5 mph – when Clint Bowyer topped the field at 200.385 mph.

MORE: Clint Bowyer leads first Sprint Cup practice at Talladega

As for the afternoon practice, Kyle Busch was the fastest at 195.205 mph, followed by rookie Kyle Larson (195.118 mph).

Two other drivers surpassed 195 mph: Kasey Kahne (195.106) and Jeff Gordon 195.015).

Because of the small field, there were surprising speed performances from several drivers: Casey Mears was fifth-fastest (194.983), as well as Reed Sorenson (194.856), Denny Hamlin (194.393), Joe Nemechek (194.176), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (194.082) and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (192.827).

The rest of the field was:

11 Justin Allgaier 192.820 mph

12 Ryan Blaney 192.816

13 Josh Wise 191.804

14 Matt Kenseth 191.562

15 Jimmie Johnson 189.947

16 Mike Wallace 189.936

17 Brad Keselowski 189.684

18 Danica Patrick 189.193

19 Michael Annett 188.159

20 Greg Biffle 187.964

21 Joey Logano 160.510

Logano made only one lap, so his speed is not too concerning.

But Johnson’s speed is. The defending and six-time Sprint Cup champ is in a must-win situation Sunday to advance to the Eliminator Round.

Of course, also in must-win situations are Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brad Keselowski and Matt Kenseth.

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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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