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Saturday, November 16, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Auto racing roundup: Truex wins Chase playoff opener

Martin Truex Jr., left, and his girlfriend, Sherry Pollex, pose for photos in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race at Chicagoland Speedway, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016, in Joliet, Ill. (Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press)
Martin Truex Jr., left, and his girlfriend, Sherry Pollex, pose for photos in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race at Chicagoland Speedway, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016, in Joliet, Ill. (Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press)
Associated Press

Martin Truex Jr. went from a completely unraveled tire that left him a lap down to the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup championship lead for the first time in his career.

He can thank a late caution in what has been an emotional year for the small-team driver.

Truex shot to the front after a late re-start and pulled away to give Furniture Row Racing a NASCAR Sprint Cup playoff-opening victory Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois.

“I’ve had a lot of practice at it,” Truex said about the on-track obstacles. “I think my approach really changed two years ago when (girlfriend) Sherry got diagnosed with cancer. My approach to all those things changed and made me a better driver.”

Rookie Chase Elliott appeared on his way to an easy win until Michael McDowell blew a tire and spun out to bring a caution with five laps left.

Truex restarted fourth and Elliott fifth, and Truex quickly got to the front and held off Joey Logano on the final lap for his third victory of the season. Truex is guaranteed to move on when the Chase field is cut from 16 to 12 in two weeks.

Truex led early in the race only to have his tire come completely unraveled. It led to an unscheduled stop that left him a lap down in the 400-mile race.

IndyCar

Simon Pagenaud gave Roger Penske an IndyCar championship to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of one of the most storied organization in motorsports.

The Frenchman won his first career IndyCar title in his sophomore season driving for Penske.

He did it in dominating fashion by winning the season finale Sunday at Sonoma (California) Raceway, where he needed only a smooth finish to put a wrap on this breakthrough season.

Fomula One

Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg celebrated his 200th Formula One start by taking victory in the Singapore Grand Prix and regaining the championship lead from teammate Lewis Hamilton.

Rosberg held on to beat a fast-finishing Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull by just four-tenths of a second at the Marina Bay street circuit while Hamilton took third place, narrowly in front of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.

Rosberg’s third successive win has taken him back to the top of the drivers’ championship, eight points ahead of Hamilton with six races left.

NHRA

John Force won the Countdown-opening NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Concord, North Carolina, for his 146th career victory and third of the season.

The 67-year-old Force, a 16-time season champion, powered his Chevy Camaro Funny Car to a 3.946-second run at 324.05 mph to beat No. 1 qualifier Tommy Johnson Jr. in the final.

Antron Brown won the Top Fuel final, Jason Line won in Pro Stock, and Chip Ellis in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

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