NASCAR: David Starr signs 3-year deal for Xfinity ride with TriStar

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Veteran NASCAR driver David Starr competed part-time with TriStar Motorsports last year in the Xfinity Series.

Now, he’ll compete with them full-time for the next three seasons as part of a new deal announced today by the team.

Zachry Group will serve as primary sponsor for Starr and his No. 44 Toyota Camry, which will have Greg Conner as crew chief.

“We are looking forward to having David back behind the wheel of one of TriStar Motorsports Toyota Camrys in 2015,” said team owner Mark Smith in a release.“David will be an instrumental part in the continued growth of our team.”

Starr ran 13 Xfinity races last year for TriStar with a top finish of ninth at Talladega. Many of those races saw him drive the same No. 44 car that he’ll now be in every weekend.

Known primarily for his long career in the Camping World Truck Series (where he’s won four races in 317 starts), Starr has never ran a full Xfinity schedule.

The 14 Xfinity events he ran overall in 2014 were the most that he’s done in a single year. Altogether, he’s made 41 starts in NASCAR’s No. 2 national series.

“Words cannot express how excited I am to partner up with Zachry Group for the next three seasons in the NASCAR Xfinity Series,” Starr said in a statement. “It will be an honor and privilege to represent a company with such integrity and commitment to their customers, employees and communities where we work.”

Starr will be teammates with Cale Conley, Blake Koch, and Mike Bliss. Conley joined TriStar last December, while Koch and Bliss were both confirmed to return earlier this month.

Eddie Pardue will be Conley’s crew chief on the No. 14 team. Bruce Cook has the same role for Koch and the No. 8 team, and Paul Clapprood will continue to work with Bliss on the No. 19 team.

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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