97 Taurus front end issues

Hey Guys (and Gals, must be politically correct :) ), I've got a problem that's got my stumped.. here's the details of the car, the problem is described below

97 Taurus GL, 3.0 Vulcan engine, ~110,000 miles.
I've been having the groaning noise under moderate braking coming from the front end, it's a low pitched groan, but it seems to be only when there is a moderate or heavy braking application. I also sometimes experience a sharp "crack" noise (coming from the passenger side) when doing tight turns (just one crack)... I'm not sure if the two are related...
I thought that the crack noise was a strut bearing, so I replaced struts, springs, and bearings on both sides (they were due for a change anyway). I've also recently had the wheel bearings changed, so I'm pretty sure it isn't that, and the brakes/rotors are quite new..
The groaning noise doesn't happen all the time (it's hard to explain the sound, it sounds like twisting metal in a car crusher kindof), my first 5-10 minutes in the car it doesn't show, and then it starts...
What should I be checking for? anyone had a similar experience?
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Teknical opined in

PAd groan isnt uncommon.. depends on materials.
Crack sound is likely a shift in suspension fastening... something wasnt reinstalled quite tight enough.
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