Jeff Gordon in NASCAR’s championship picture
Jeff Gordon pulled into the championship picture Sunday with a win at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, his first of the season.
It was Gordon’s eighth career win at Martinsville, but first since he swept the two races at the track in 2005. He’s tied with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson for Martinsville victories, but both trail Richard Petty (15) and Darrell Waltrip (11) on the career list.
The victory moved Gordon from fifth to third in the Chase for the Sprint Cup title.
Matt Kenseth and Johnson left Martinsville tied atop the standings with three races remaining, and Gordon sits 27 points behind the leaders. Kevin Harvick is 28 points out, while Kyle Busch is 36 points behind.
Kenseth led a race-high 202 laps and was out front on the final restart with 77 laps remaining and Gordon lurking in third. Gordon stalked him for more than 50 laps before finally making the pass for the lead with 21 laps remaining.
Gordon didn’t look back in snapping a 32-race losing streak dating to last year’s season finale at Homestead.
The victory clinched the manufacturers’ championship for Chevrolet, which won for the 11th consecutive season and 37th time overall. Chevrolet did it this year in the debut season of its SS race car.
Kenseth tied his career-best with a second-place finish, closing the gap on Johnson, who was up four points as they came into one of Johnson’s best tracks and one of Kenseth’s worst tracks. He had to drive from the middle of the pack to save his finish after a call not to pit midway through the race backfired.
One day, Sebastian Vettel says this will all sink in. Right now, he’s still too young to appreciate his fourth straight Formula One championship.
The 26-year-old Red Bull driver won the Indian Grand Prix from the pole Sunday in Greater Noida, India. He became the third driver to win four consecutive F1 championships, joining Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher. Vettel is also the youngest four-time world champion by eight years.
“I’m way too young to understand what it means,” he said. “I might be 60 one day, maybe then I will understand, but nobody cares anymore. I care. It’s difficult to realize something that nobody can take away from you.”
The German has won 10 races this season, including the last six. This time, he finished almost 30 seconds ahead of Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg. Romain Grosjean was third for Lotus after starting from 17th on the grid.
John Force won his record 16th Funny Car title, beating daughter Courtney Force in the final round in the NHRA Toyota Nationals in Las Vegas.
The 64-year-old Force has won three straight events and four overall this season to push his record career total to 138.
He won the final with a 4.062-second run at 310.63 mph.
Matt Smith won to wrap up the Pro Stock Motorcycle season title. Antron Brown won the Top Fuel event, and Shane Gray topped the Pro Stock field.
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