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Tuesday, September 17, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  International sports

Auto racing roundup: Chase Elliott uses Dover win to earn berth in next playoff round

UPDATED: Sun., Oct. 7, 2018, 7:20 p.m.

Associated Press

Chase Elliott pulled away to win in overtime Sunday at Dover (Delaware) International Speedway for an automatic berth into the next round of the NASCAR Cup playoffs.

Elliott was the surprise winner in a race that had been dominated by Stewart-Haas Racing drivers until a pair of wrecks over the final laps jumbled the field and set the stage for Elliott. He kept his No. 9 Chevrolet off pit road – and drove into victory lane.

Elliott raced to his first career Cup win this season at Watkins Glen and earned a bit of redemption Sunday from a tough finish in last fall’s Dover race. Elliott was passed by winner Kyle Busch with two laps left in the race and fell to 0 for 70 in his career.

Elliott rubbed his head and leaned against his car, crestfallen as he replayed the final laps in his mind. Jimmie Johnson walked over to offer some encouragement and let Elliott vent.

It was one big celebration on Sunday.

“It definitely makes it sweeter, for sure,” Elliott said. “You don’t appreciate it in those moments.”

Elliott was greeted in victory lane with a hug from team owner Rick Hendrick and retired star Jeff Gordon also was there to congratulate the winning driver. Elliott’s father, Hall of Fame driver Bill Elliott, was not at the race.

“He’s been so close here,” Hendrick said. “It’s really good to see him get this win and move on. He’s like his dad. He really knows when to race. I’m really fortunate to have him in our camp.”

The top eight drivers after the next two races move on to the next round and Aric Almirola, Clint Bowyer, Kyle Larson and Alex Bowman are the bottom four after the first playoff race in the round of 12.

SHR was in control with Kevin Harvick early and Almirola late. Harvick led 286 laps and was on pace to sweep the Dover races until tire issues derailed his run and he finished sixth. Almirola, who led 64 laps late and had his second career Cup win in sight, was running sixth off a restart when he got loose and connected with Brad Keselowski. That triggered a multi-car wreck that collected championship contenders and brought out the red flag to force overtime.

Denny Hamlin was second, followed by playoff driver Joey Logano. NASCAR playoff drivers took 10 of the top 15 spots.

Formula One

Lewis Hamilton stormed to victory at the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka, claiming his fourth straight Formula One win and moving a step closer to a fifth world championship.

Starting from the pole, the Mercedes driver was never seriously challenged and crossed the finish line 12.919 seconds ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was third, 14.295 seconds back.

Hamilton has won six of the past seven Formula One races and now leads Sebastian Vettel by 67 points with four races left.

NHRA

Steve Torrence won the AAA Texas NHRA Nationals at Texas Motorplex in Ennis, Texas, for his third straight victory to open the playoffs and first career win in his home event.

Torrence beat Terry McMillen in the final with a 3.786-second pass at 325.92 mph. Torrence has eight victories this season and 24 overall. He leads the standings by 103 points.

Robert Hight won in Funny Car, Tanner Gray in Pro Stock and L.E. Tonglet in Pro Stock Motorcycle in the third of six events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship.

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