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66-year-old Mark Thompson to make first Cup start in 25 years Sunday at Talladega

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Veteran race car driver Mark Thompson will make his first start in a NASCAR Cup race in more than a quarter-century in Sunday’s Alabama 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

The 66-year-old Thompson, of Cartersville, Georgia, will drive the No. 15 Premium Motorsports Chevrolet. Veteran crew chief Tommy Baldwin will be atop the pit box.

It will be Thompson’s second career Cup start. In his Cup debut, he finished 39th at Pocono in 1992

“Talladega is my most favorite track in all of NASCAR,” Thompson said. “It’s convenient to my home which is in Cartersville, Ga., and it’s only about 75 miles from my home.

“As a pilot, I can fly over there quite quickly and easily. I like the track, it’s just an enjoyable place to drive. I’ve driven about 20 to 30 races at Talladega over my career in the ARCA and Xfinity Series and I’m looking forward to getting in the 15 Cup car this weekend”.

The U.S. Army veteran and pilot will be sponsored by Phoenix Air, an international charter flight service, which is based in Cartersville.

Thompson, a veteran of the ARCA Series, became the oldest pole winner (63 years old) at Daytona International Speedway for the season-opening ARCA race there in 2015.

The Alabama 500 takes the green flag Sunday at 2 pm ET and will be televised on NBC.

Denny Hamlin posts fastest lap in Saturday morning Cup practice

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LOUDON, N.H. – Denny Hamlin had the fastest lap in Saturday morning’s Cup practice at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, leading the field with a lap of 132.942 mph.

He was followed by Ryan Blaney (132.526 mph), Martin Truex Jr. (132.462), Kyle Busch (132.406) and Kevin Harvick (132.356).

Harvick ran the most laps at 50. Harvick told NASCAR on NBC broadcaster Rick Allen in the garage that he ran so many laps to see how much the speed falls off as the tires wear. Jimmie Johnson was next with 42 laps run.

There were no incidents in the 50-minute session.

Ryan Blaney had the best 10-lap average at 131.767 mph.

Click here for the speed chart.

Start time of Sunday’s Cup race moved up to 1 pm ET

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LOUDON, N.H. – The start time for Sunday’s Cup race has been moved up to 1 p.m. ET because of the threat of rain, NASCAR announced.

NBCSN will broadcast the race. NBCSN’s coverage begins at noon ET.

The wunderground.com forecast for 1 p.m. ET Sunday calls for a 49 percent chance of scattered thunderstorms. There is a threat of rain throughout the day.

Kurt Busch won the pole for Sunday’s race.

Two Cup teams to be penalized practice time Saturday at New Hampshire

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LOUDON, N.H. – Denny Hamlin and Kasey Kahne each will miss 15 minutes of Saturday’s final practice session at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for inspection issues, NASCAR announced.

Hamlin is being penalized for failing pre-qualifying inspection twice last weekend at Kentucky. Kahne is being penalized for failing pre-qualifying inspection twice Friday at New Hampshire.

Final practice is scheduled to go from 12:35 – 1:25 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

NASCAR’s Saturday schedule for New Hampshire Motor Speedway

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Today’s schedule at New Hampshire Motor Speedway includes two Cup practice sessions and the Xfinity Series race at the “Magic Mile.”

Here’s the full schedule with TV and radio info.

(All times are Eastern)

Saturday, July 21

7 a.m. — Xfinity garage opens

8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. — Cup garage open

10:05 – 10:55 a.m. — Cup practice (CNBC)

11:05 a.m. — Xfinity qualifying; multi-vehicle/three rounds (CNBC)

12:35 – 1:25 p.m. — Final Cup practice (NBCSN)

1:30 p.m. — Xfinity driver/crew chief meeting

3:30 p.m. — Xfinity driver introductions

4 p.m. — Lakes Region 200 Xfinity race; 200 laps/211.6 miles (NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)