Joey Logano leads Champ. 4 in Sprint Cup final practice; Johnson fastest overall

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All that’s left is to crown a NASCAR Sprint Cup champion.

Jimmie Johnson paced the last final practice of the 2014 season at Homestead-Miami Speedway with a top lap of 175.200 mph, while Joey Logano led the Championship 4 that will race for the title Sunday with the seventh-fastest lap overall (173.127).

Logano may say or may have already said a quick prayer after this session, but it appears he avoided a potential disaster on one of his runs. Team Penske tweeted the following:

When asked where he stood going into Sunday’s Ford Ecoboost 400, Logano felt he was in pretty good shape but did not have as much speed on short runs as he would like.

“It doesn’t quite have the take-off speed that we need, so we just have to find a little bit there,” Logano told Fox Sports. “I feel like the long run is where the Shell-Pennzoil Ford is really fast. To be able to just maintain speed for a long time, I think that’s key here at Homestead.

“…There’s a lot of room to race here, so you have a lot of green flag runs. Just because I tell myself that doesn’t make me feel good, but you have seen that in the past quite a bit, so I feel pretty good about it.”

Logano also talked about needing to find a way to make the middle and bottom groove work for him, even though he acknowledges that the top groove is the preferred way around the 1.5-mile oval.

“You’ve gotta be able to move around a little bit, and I feel like our car can do that too,” he added.

Following him on the time sheets was Practice 2 leader and fellow title contender Kevin Harvick in P8 overall with a lap of 173.099 mph. A little farther back were Ryan Newman in 12th (172.806) and Denny Hamlin (172.756) in 13th.

In regards to 10-lap averages, Johnson’s first 10 circuits in “Happy Hour” netted the fastest average of 171.446 mph. But among the Championship 4, Hamlin was tops at 170.095 mph, which also came during his first 10 laps; Harvick was seventh (Laps 18-27, 169.380), Newman was eighth (Laps 1-10, 169.222), and Logano was 12th (Laps 26-35, 169.043).

Green flag for Sunday’s race is scheduled to fall at 3:17 p.m. ET.

Kyle Larson wins High Limit Sprint race at Tri-City Speedway ahead of Rico Abreu

Larson High Limit Tri-City
High Limit Sprint Car Series
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A late race caution set up a 14-lap shootout at Tri-City Speedway in Granite City, Illinois with Kyle Larson winning his second consecutive High Limit Sprint Car Series race over Rico Abreu.

Starting eight on the grid after a disappointing pole dash, Larson missed several major incidents as he worked his way to the front. On Lap 1 of 35, a five-car accident claimed Tyler Courtney and Michael “Buddy” Kofoid, who both took a tumble and before collecting three other cars. Once that red flag was lifted, it didn’t take long for drivers to get tangled again as the leader Danny Dietrich experienced engine trouble on Lap 8. When he slowed rapidly, second-place Brent Marks collided with his back tire, ending the day for both.

Larson moved up to fourth with this incident.

Another red flag on Lap 21 for a flip involving Parker Price-Miller set up the dash for the win.

“My car felt really good and then we got that red,” Larson said from victory lane. “I was kind of running through the crumbs before that in 3 and 4; I could tell the top was getting really sketchy. Parker was making mistakes up there.

“When the red came out, I could see there was a clean lane of grip – not just marbles. It’s hard to see when you’re at speed. I figured Rico was going to run the top and he did. I got to his inside a couple of times and I was like ‘please don’t go to the bottom,’ and I threw a slider on him. Then he went to the bottom and I thought I was screwed until he spun his tires really bad off the corner and I was able to hit the top okay and get another run and slide him. I got good grip off the cushion.”

The victory makes Larson the first repeat winner in the series’ five-race history. He beat Justin Sanders earlier this month at Wayne County Speedway in Orrville, Ohio.

With 10 laps remaining, Larson caught and pressured Abreu. The two threw a series of sliders at one another until Abreu bobbled on the cushion and lost momentum.

“Anytime you race Rico and he’s on the wall like that, you have to get aggressive,” Larson said. “He’s pushing so hard that just to stay in the striking zone if he makes a mistake, you have to push hard too.”

For Abreu, it was his second near-miss this season. He was leading at Lakeside in the 2023 opener until a tire went flat in the closing laps.

“I felt like I made a lot of mistakes at the end,” Abreu said. “It’s just hard to judge race pace. You’ve got Kyle behind you and [Anthony] Macri and these guys that have had speed all year long. I was racing as hard as I could and the mistake factor is more and more critical.”

Cory Eliason earned his career-best High Limit finish of third after starting deep in the field in 13th.

Macri lost one position during the race to finish fourth with Sam Hafertepe, Jr. rounding out the top five.

Visiting from the NASCAR Cup series, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished 19th in the 25-car field after advancing from the B-Main.

2023 High Limit Sprint Car Series

Race 1: Giovanni Scelzi wins at Lakeside Speedway
Race2: Anthony Macri wins at 34 Raceway
Race 3: Kyle Larson wins at Wayne County Speedway