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NASCAR penalizes seven Cup teams practice time at Michigan

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Six teams will be docked practice time in Saturday’s first practice session, and one team will lose time in the final practice session at Michigan International Speedway, NASCAR announced.

Martin Truex Jr. will lose 15 minutes of practice in the first session for being late to pre-race inspection last weekend at Watkins Glen.

Kyle Busch, Daniel Suarez and Ryan Newman each will lose 15 minutes in the first practice Saturday because they didn’t come to a complete stop in the inner loop during last weekend’s practice at Watkins Glen.

Bubba Wallace and BJ McLeod will miss 15 minutes in the first practice Saturday because their cars were late to pre-qualifying inspection Friday at Michigan.

First Cup practice Saturday is from 8:35 – 9:25 a.m. ET on CNBC.

Michael McDowell will be docked 15 minutes of the final practice Saturday because his car failed pre-qualifying inspection twice Friday at Michigan.

Final Cup practice Saturday is from 11:30 a.m. – 12:20 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports App and online.

NASCAR America: Parker Kligerman runs well in the pack

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In this week’s Running with the Pack segment on NASCAR America, Landon Cassill had a special pick: the driver sitting to his right, Parker Kligerman.

Kligerman gave the Gaunt Brothers No. 96 a 24th-place finish and completed all 90 laps at Watkins Glen International.

“We go into these races thinking top 25 is basically a win for a small team like ours with only a handful of starts for this race team in the Cup series,” Kligerman said after his selection. “We actually went out there and did it. Had top 20 speed at times.”

The Running in the Pack segment showcases cars and drivers who are able to beat competitors with greater resources. Kligerman finished in front of RCR’s Austin Dillon and the Wood Brothers’ Paul Menard – as well as Jimmie Johnson and Joey Logano, who had problems during the race.

There were a few drivers who had races get away from them, however. AJ Allmendinger (15th) and Michael McDowell (18th) finished among the top 20, but their skill on road courses suggested they could have challenged for a top 10.

“When you think about Michael McDowell – Allmendinger – when they go to a road course, you’ve got to know the pressure is immense on those two because that’s what they circle at the beginning of the year,” Kligerman said.

Kasey Kahne faded from his 10th-place position on the grid to 21st at the checkers, and that left Kligerman as the best example of a driver who was able to overachieve.

“It’s tough to survive an entire road course race smooth, with no mistakes,” Cassill said.

For more, watch the video above.

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Chase Elliott fastest in final Cup practice at Watkins Glen

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Chase Elliott was fastest in the final practice for Sunday’s Cup race at Watkins Glen International (2:30 p.m. ET on NBC).

Elliott posted a top speed of 124.520 mph in the final minute of the session.

Elliott bested Denny Hamlin (124.365 mph), Aric Almirola (123.979), William Byron (123.977) and Michael McDowell (123.911).

Defending race winner Martin Truex Jr. was 10th fastest (123.457).

AJ Allmendinger was 27th fastest (122.031).

Kyle Larson recorded the most laps in the session with 35 and was 25th on the speed chart.

Kyle Busch had the best 10-lap average at 122.345 mph. Elliott was second at 122.334 mph.

Click here for the speed chart.

Erik Jones leads opening Cup practice at Watkins Glen

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WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Erik Jones posted the fastest lap in the first of two Cup practices Saturday morning at Watkins Glen International.

Jones topped the field with a lap of 125.165 mph on the 2.45-mile road course.

He was followed by Kyle Busch (124.255 mph), Joey Logano (123.654), Clint Bowyer (123.545) and Martin Truex Jr. (123.434).

Daniel Suarez was sixth on the speed chart with a lap of 123.427 mph and was followed by Denny Hamlin (123.389), Jamie McMurray (123.176), Michael McDowell (123.126) and AJ Allmendinger (123.067).

Click here for full practice report

Ryan Newman hit the wall in the esses but his team planned to make repairs. Hamlin brushed the wall in Turn 7 but the damage was minor.

Jimmie Johnson ran the most laps at 25. He was 17th on the speed chart with a top lap of 122.718 mph. Kevin Harvick was 19th on the speed chart with a top lap of 122.665 mph.

Final Cup practice will be from 1 – 2:15 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Bump & Run: Most memorable crashes where drivers walked away

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Bubba Wallace walked away from his crash at Pocono Raceway. What are crashes that stand out to you where drivers walked away?

Nate Ryan: Michael McDowell in April 2008 qualifying at Texas Motor Speedway; Jimmie Johnson in the August 2000 Xfinity race at Watkins Glen International; Mike Harmon in August 2002 Xfinity practice at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Dustin Long: Austin Dillon’s crash after the finish of the July Daytona race in 2015. Michael McDowell‘s crash at Texas, and Michael Waltrip‘s Bristol crash in 1990.

Daniel McFadin: Since we’re about to go to Watkins Glen, it would have to be Jimmie Johnson’s Xfinity Series wreck there in 2000 when he lost his brakes going into Turn 1 and plowed into a foam barrier. Johnson celebrated being uninjured by standing on top of his car like he was in Victory Lane.

Dan Beaver: Michael Waltrip’s 1990 crash at Bristol in the Busch series. They literally picked up most of his car by hand and put it on the rollback. Mike Harmon’s 2002 Bristol accident was eerily similar.

Hendrick Motorsports placed three cars in the top 10 at Pocono, the first time the organization has done that this year. How soon do you believe it will be before a Hendrick car wins?

Nate Ryan: It still feels as if the team will spring a major leap forward in the playoff opener at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but some incremental improvements are clearly being made in the interim. With as well as he’s run the past two weeks, Chase Elliott could be a contender at Michigan International Speedway, one of his better tracks.

Dustin Long: Michigan next month could be a good place for the organization, particularly Chase Elliott, to score its first victory of the season. 

Daniel McFadin: I wouldn’t place any bets on a Hendrick driver until they visit Bristol. Jimmie Johnson has top 10s in three of the last four visits there and he and Alex Bowman finished in the top five there in April. 

Dan Beaver: Chase Elliott is beginning to show the speed he had at the end of 2017. It’s too soon to know if the No. 9 is going to be able to maintain it, but Michigan in two weeks could produce his first Cup victory.

Who are you taking this weekend at Watkins Glen? The Big 3 or the field?

Nate Ryan: Martin Truex Jr. is the defending race winner, and Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch both run well there. There are a few in the field (Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin) who can challenge them, but none is performing well enough to be given a better shot than the top three.

Dustin Long: I think the Big 3 will be challenged but one of the three will win.

Daniel McFadin: The Big 3 until they’re bested on a regular basis.

Dan Beaver: There are so too many unknowns on a road course that factor into victory. The Big 3 are just as susceptible to losing track position as the rest of the field, so I’ll take the field.