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Tuesday, November 12, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Auto racing roundup: Martin Truex Jr. toast of Sonoma one more time

Martin Truex Jr. celebrates after winning a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race Sunday, June 23, 2019, in Sonoma, Calif. (Ben Margot / Associated Press)
Martin Truex Jr. celebrates after winning a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race Sunday, June 23, 2019, in Sonoma, Calif. (Ben Margot / Associated Press)
Associated Press

Martin Truex Jr. won the NASCAR Cup Series race at Sonoma Raceway in northern California’s wine country for the second straight year Sunday, comfortably holding off teammate Kyle Busch for his fourth victory of the season.

Truex won for the fourth time in the last eight points-paying races, earning his 23rd career victory and extending his team’s impressive season. The late-blooming 38-year-old is a three-time Sonoma champion.

The Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota teammates finished 1-2 for the seventh time in their careers.

“What a season we’ve turned this into,” Truex said. “This group, they’re unbelievable. Hopefully we can keep this going.”

Ryan Blaney was third, with Matt DiBenedetto finishing a career-best fourth. Denny Hamlin was fifth.

Truex and Busch were the class of the final stage in a caution-free race on the hilly road course.

The drivers had little trouble navigating “The Carousel,” the extra turns inserted into the NASCAR layout for the first time since 1997.

Truex got the lead early in the third stage, and Busch didn’t follow Truex into the pits for the final stop. When Busch finally pitted, Truex reclaimed the lead with 23 laps to go.

Truex opened an 8-second advantage and held off a strong push by Busch to win by 1.861 seconds.

“I just dug down deep, tried to be smooth and hit my marks,” Truex said. “It was definitely difficult. It felt terrible the last 20 laps. The last 10, it was like being on ice.”

Series points leader Joey Logano had battery problems and had to pit with 15 laps to go. He finished 23rd.

After a week off for the drivers, the championship race resumed with Joe Gibbs Racing reasserting its dominance on the hilly road course in Northern California wine country.

The track has another degree of difficulty with the return of the difficult three-turn Carousel, which hasn’t been used for a NASCAR race since 1997. Truex was initially uncertain how his team’s years of success in Sonoma would be affected by the new layout.

Turns out he didn’t need to worry, not even about Busch.

“He was obviously saving a lot,” Busch said of his teammate. “I knew he was going to have enough to be able to most likely hold us off, and I was right. I just tried everything I could.”

IndyCar Series

Alexander Rossi took the lead in the first turn of the first lap, and then drove away from the rest of the field to win Sunday’s IndyCar race at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

Rossi led 54 of 55 laps, only relinquishing the lead when he made pit stops, and finished more than 28 seconds ahead of Will Power. Josef Newgarden finished third, followed by Graham Rahal and Scott Dixon.

It was the second win of the season and seventh career victory for Rossi, who also won at Long Beach earlier this year. Rossi also has three second-place finishes this year.

Rossi started the race on the front row, next to pole-sitter Colton Herta. He passed Herta right after the green flag dropped, and quickly built a big lead.

Formula One

Lewis Hamilton comfortably won the French Grand Prix from pole position in Le Castellet, France, to clinch a sixth victory this season and extend his championship lead over Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas to 36 points.

Hamilton has hit a purple patch as he chases a sixth Formula One world title. This was his fourth consecutive win and 79th overall – only 12 behind Formula One record-holder Michael Schumacher’s tally of 91.

Bottas, who made a poor start from second on the grid, finished in second place. He was a massive 18 seconds behind Hamilton, who on Saturday took a record-extending 86th pole .

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc placed third, almost catching Bottas on the last lap.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen placed fourth ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who took a point for the fastest lap.

NHRA

Bob Tasca III won consecutive Funny Car events for the first time in his career, beating Jack Beckman in the final round of the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio.

A week after winning in Bristol, Tennessee, for his first victory in nearly seven years, Tasca edged Beckman with a 4.383-second pass at 245.09 mph in a Ford Mustang for his sixth career win.

“I never gave up and I thank the people that never gave up on me,” Tasca said. “I always knew if I could get the right car under me we could do great things. I woke up this morning and was as confident as I ever was, and when you make four runs in the 3.00s in very challenging conditions, there was no reason why we couldn’t have won. I’m glad we got it done.”

Steve Torrence won in Top Fuel, Chris McGaha in Pro Stock and Andrew Hines in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Torrence, the defending season champion and current points leader, powered to his sixth win in the last seven races and 33rd in his career. He beat Pat Dakin with a 3.832 at 323.27.

McGaha raced to his first win of the year and eighth overall, topping Alex Laughlin with a 6.620 at 210.11 in a Chevrolet Camaro.

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