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James Hinchcliffe is getting used to partying in New Orleans. The veteran IndyCar driver was a guest at one of the biggest Mardi Gras parades in February. So, he looked like a natural tossing beads Sunday after winning the inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana.
Juan Pablo Montoya got some extra mileage out of his season-opening IndyCar series victory, thanks to a rain out of qualifying Saturday in the inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana in Avondale. The grid order for today’s race outside New Orleans was set on points for the season. And because there has been only one race, drivers will start in the order they finished in St. Petersburg, Florida, two weeks ago.
Denny Hamlin passed teammate Matt Kenseth for the lead with 28 laps to go Sunday and went on to end Toyota’s 32-race winless streak in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Virgnia. The driver for Joe Gibbs Racing held off a five-lap, bumper-to-tail challenge from Brad Keselowski for his 25th career race and fifth at the smallest and oldest track in the premier series.
Joey Logano passed Matt Crafton entering the first turn to start a two-lap sprint to the finish and won an exciting NASCAR truck race at Martinsville (Virginia) Speedway on Saturday. The Daytona 500 champion won for the first time in the series to become the 26th driver to win in all three of NASCAR’s top series.
Kurt Busch’s comeback from his season-opening suspension is gathering speed. Busch won the pole for Sunday’s NASCAR race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, turning a lap of 185.142 mph in his Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet to edge teammate Kevin Harvick.
Lewis Hamilton hopes to have several challengers, rather than just his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg, when he defends his Formula One title this season. Last year’s battle was intense, with Hamilton and Rosberg feuding as their title scrap went down to the final race in Abu Dhabi. But everyone else was lagging way behind and Mercedes was mostly unchallenged, winning 16 out of 19 races and finishing nearly 300 points clear in the constructors’ championship. Matching that, let along surpassing it, is a very tall order and Hamilton expects the competition to be sterner when the new season starts on March 15 in Melbourne. The 30-year-old British driver says “the more people I get to race (against) the merrier. Bring it on.” – Associated Press
Stock cars in Cowtown or technologically advanced open-wheel cars in trendy Austin. Beer or champagne. Deep in the heart of Texas on Sunday, NASCAR and Formula One both will have races going on at the same time. The scenes are drastically different. The eighth of 10 races in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship will wrap up a NASCAR weekend tripleheader at Texas Motor Speedway, which has been hosting that series since opening in 1997. Formula One will have the third U.S. Grand Prix at Circuit of Americas, the first going head-to-head against a race a three-hour drive away in Fort Worth. F1 anticipates a crowd near 100,000 and NASCAR drew 138,000 last year. Also today, the Dallas Cowboys, who typically draw more than 90,000, play at home. – AP
Tony Stewart has never been fond of predictions and when asked, he almost always gives the same response: “If I knew the answer to that, I’d probably be a bookie in Las Vegas.” Yet when it comes to teammate Kevin Harvick’s chances of advancing out of the next round of NASCAR’s playoffs, the co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing sounded like an oddsmaker.
SOCHI, Russia – Lewis Hamilton cruised to victory in the inaugural Russian Grand Prix on Sunday, leading a 1-2 finish for Mercedes-Benz that clinched its first Formula One constructors’ title and stretched his lead in the championship. Nico Rosberg placed second despite having to pit early in the race and trails his teammate by 17 points in the drivers’ standings, with three races remaining.
Joey Logano pulled away on the restart to win a green-white-checkered finish Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon and advance to the second round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship. Logano and Team Penske teammate Brad Keselowski have both advanced to the next round. Four drivers will be eliminated after every third race, and a win guarantees a driver an automatic berth into the next round. The first cutoff race is next week at Dover International Speedway.
Scott Dixon surged ahead with three laps left for a victory at Sonoma Raceway in California on Sunday, while IndyCar points leader Will Power recovered from a mid-race spin to finish 10th heading to the season finale. Power leads teammate Helio Castroneves by 51 points heading to the double-points finale at Fontana on Saturday. Castroneves struggled to an 18th-place finish at Sonoma.
Soccer: By the time the MLS All-Star game rolls around tonight in Portland, coach Caleb Porter will have had two training sessions with his All-Stars. Porter is hoping his side has some fast learners.
With a fifth Brickyard 400 victory on the line Sunday, Jeff Gordon looked like the driver he was 20 years ago. Gordon nailed the final restart of the race – no given because restarts have been Gordon’s Achilles’ heel – to pass Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne with 17 laps remaining at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis.
The reminders that Jeff Gordon won here 20 years ago plaster Indianapolis Motor Speedway. There’s a massive banner that drapes the grandstand containing Gordon’s image with the years of his four Brickyard 400 victories listed. Stroll past the merchandise tent and there’s a blast from 1994: Gordon, dressed in his red, yellow and green “Rainbow Warrior” firesuit for a 20th anniversary T-shirt photo, arms raised high in celebration.
Juan Pablo Montoya is back at Indianapolis Motor Speedway – one night only, an encore of sorts, in a guest-starring role for Team Penske. The Colombian is entered in the Brickyard 400 for the explicit purpose of winning at Indy in NASCAR and giving team owner Roger Penske one of the few trophies missing from his collection.
IndyCar ran two races in Toronto on Sunday, where rain wreaked havoc on both the schedule and driver strategy. The series had planned to run one race Saturday until rain washed it out.
Juan Pablo Montoya noticed the Colombian fans waving flags and wildly cheering for him as he zipped toward the checkered flag. Moments after celebrating, Montoya ducked his way through the crowd waiting at Victory Lane and headed toward the grandstands to sign autographs and pose for pictures. “I had to say thanks for coming,” he said.
The day race at Daytona International Speedway ended up at night. And now the night race will go off during the day.
It had been 31 years since a driver won both Daytona races in the same season when Jimmie Johnson pulled off the Sprint Cup Series sweep. A year later, his teammate wants to complete the feat. But for Dale Earnhardt Jr. to win the Coke Zero 400, he can’t race the way he did at Talladega Superspeedway in May.
Formula One returned to business as usual Sunday as Nico Rosberg led Lewis Hamilton at the Austrian Grand Prix in Spielberg, Austria, for the sixth 1-2 finish by Mercedes. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo won the Canadian GP two weeks ago and Williams’ Felipe Massa took the pole position for Sunday’s race, but this had little effect on Mercedes, which had missed out on the front row of the grid for the first time this season.