Austin Dillon hasn’t forgotten how to wheel an NNS car, is fastest in final practice at Texas

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Austin Dillon still has it.

The defending Nationwide Series champion, now a full-time rookie in the Sprint Cup Series, paced the 42 cars that took part in Friday’s final NNS practice at Texas Motor Speedway.

This weekend marks Dillon’s first appearance in an NNS race in 2014.

Dillon was the only driver over 185 mph, clocking a best lap at 185.516 mph. Fellow Sprint Cup driver Joey Logano was second-fastest at 184.212 mph.

“Our car was pretty fast,” Dillon told ESPN. “I’m a little loose, which I think is fast, but we’re going to tighten it up a little bit for the race and let it eat. … I’m just here for a win and to have some fun.”

While Saturday’s race will mark Dillon’s first NNS event this season, he told ESPN that the plan is to run several NNS races next season, in addition to his full-time ride in the Cup ranks.

“Hopefully, you’ll see me a little more next year, that’s the plan,” Dillon said.

Trevor Bayne, who will move to the Cup ranks full-time next season with Roush Fenway Racing, was third-fastest at 183.611 mph.

Fourth through 10th were Brendan Gaughan (183.449 mph), Dylan Kwasniewski (183.076), Kyle Busch (182.766), Ty Dillon (182.180), Matt Kenseth (181.984), Brian Scott (181.843) and Chris Buescher (181.757.

Other notable drivers and their position/speeds were Kyle Larson (13th, 181.641) Kevin Harvick (14th, 181.598 mph), Elliott Sadler (15th, 181.568), Ryan Blaney (16th, 181.482), series points leader Chase Elliott (17th, 181.190) and Regan Smith (18th, 180.391).

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WATCH: Red Bull F1 team completes pit stop in zero gravity

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The Red Bull Racing pit crew may have already made headlines last weekend when it completed the fastest pit stop in Formula One history, changing Max Verstappen’s tires in 1.82 seconds, but the team’s most recent stunt took their skills to new heights – quite literally.

With the help of the Russian Space agency Roscomos, a group of the team’s mechanics completed the world’s first zero-gravity pit stop, on-board a IIyushin II-76K cosmonaut training plane.

Using a 2005 BR1, the team filmed the viral video over the course of a week, enduring seven flights and about 80 parabolas – periods in which the plane climbs 45 degrees before falling again at a ballistic arch of 45 degrees, creating a period of weightlessness for approximately 22 seconds.

With such a short time frame between weightlessness periods, the car and equipment had to be both quickly and safely secured before gravity once again took effect. Each filming lasted roughly 15 seconds, and the stunt was the most physically and technically demanding activity the live demo team had ever undertaken.

“It pushed us harder than I thought it would,” said Red Bull Support Team Mechanic Joe Robinson. “You realize how much you rely on gravity when you don’t have any!

“It challenges you to think and operate in a different way – and that was brilliant. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and honestly, I could have stayed and done it all month. It was amazing. I think it’s the coolest, most fun thing the Live Demo team has ever done with a show car.”

Though Red Bull was the first team to perform a pit stop in zero gravity, surprisingly Red Bull was not the first team to put a car through zero gravity. In 1999, McLaren driver David Coulthard and his car experienced zero gravity as part of a promotion for then-sponsor West Cigarettes.

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