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SPA, Belgium – Lewis Hamilton has been training hard during Formula One’s midseason break. His goal is clear: He wants to catch leader Sebastian Vettel with nine races left. Hamilton, who won from the front at the Hungarian Grand Prix last month, begins his work at Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix, where he will be looking to secure his fourth consecutive pole position. The Mercedes driver is fourth overall and has 48 points to make up on Vettel, the three-time defending champion.
A classic Mercedes-Benz race car driven by Formula 1 legend Juan Manuel Fangio has sold for 19.6 million pounds ( $29.6 million) at auction. The 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196 single-seater was driven by the five-time world champion racer when he clinched his second title in 1954. The Argentine drove the car to victories in the 1954 German and Swiss Grand Prix races. Robert Brooks, chairman of Bonhams auctioneers, which handled the deal, called the car the most important historic Grand Prix racing car offered for sale. The auction house said the steel-colored car is in a “remarkably unspoiled” condition and that its parts are believed to be complete and workable after proper preparation. It was sold to a private buyer at a classic cars auction in southern England’s Goodwood. – AP
As they get ready for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, England, this weekend, a sense of urgency seems to be creeping into the Ferrari, Lotus and Mercedes paddocks. The talk Thursday was dominated by the abrupt announcement that Red Bull’s Mark Webber is leaving Formula One after the season. But for the teams competing for the drivers’ championship, the focus remains on Webber’s teammate, Sebastian Vettel.
Auto Racing: Sebastian Vettel was so far ahead of the pack in the Canadian Grand Prix that only the walls and the curbs were in his way. The three-time defending Formula One champion improved his chances at a fourth straight season title Sunday, surviving an early brush with a wall and late trouble in Turn 1 to earn his first victory at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal. Vettel’s Red Bull left from pole position and led almost the entire way to finish 14.4 seconds ahead of Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari.
MONACO – Even though he matched his father in winning the Monaco Grand Prix, Nico Rosberg believes he’s a long way from completing another father-and-son double by clinching the world title as well. Rosberg kept his cool amid the chaos to win the crash-marred race on Sunday to give Mercedes its first victory of the season. The win also matched the feat of his father, Keke Rosberg, who won in Monaco in 1983 – a year after he won his only F1 title.
Auto racing: Fernando Alonso won the Spanish Grand Prix in front of his home fans in Barcelona, Spain, on Sunday to close the gap on championship leader Sebastian Vettel and get back in the Formula One title race. Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen finished second for the third straight race, with Alonso’s Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa in third.
Takuma Sato became the first Japanese driver to win an IndyCar race on Sunday in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in California. The win came in Sato’s 52nd career start, and was the first for A.J. Foyt Racing since Airton Dare won at Kansas in 2002. Only the Texan wasn’t on hand to make his first-ever trip to Long Beach’s Victory Lane. A sciatic nerve that will require surgery forced him to watch the race on television at home.
NBA: Carmelo Anthony scored 25 points on 9-for-23 shooting against the rugged Indiana defense, and the New York Knicks clinched the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference with a 90-80 victory over the visiting Pacers. Chris Copeland added 20 points and J.R. Smith had 15 for the Knicks, who will host seventh-seeded Boston next weekend.
Kasey Kahne’s bumper-banging battle with Brad Keselowski was just the warm-up act in an action-packed race on Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tenn. Former teammates Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano exchanged words after the race – in person and on Twitter – because Hamlin spun Logano as Logano was racing for the lead.
Formula One is sometimes derided by critics as predictable, yet even the biggest skeptics may concede that the 2013 season is cloaked in uncertainty. At the completion of the last preseason tests, reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel said: “We have never had a winter that was less conclusive than this one.”
SAO PAULO – Sebastian Vettel found himself spinning around on the track just after the start, watching helplessly as other cars whizzed past him. His Formula One title hopes seemed to be drifting away with them. It was only the start of Vettel’s problems Sunday in what he called the toughest race of his career. But he overcame all of them and came away with the only prize that mattered – his third straight championship title.
SAO PAULO, Brazil – Michael Schumacher’s main goal entering his final Formula One race is to have some fun. The seven-time world champion will finish F1’s most successful career at the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday, hoping that he can enjoy the moment without the pressure of having to do well on the track.
Brad Keselowski is leaving his cellphone behind. Keselowski plans to ditch his phone during NASCAR’s Sprint Cup finale Sunday. His decision comes days after NASCAR fined him $25,000 for having the phone in his race car. It was discovered because he tweeted during a red flag at Phoenix International Raceway.
Jimmie Johnson regained the lead on the final restart, beating Brad Keselowski in an ending two-lap shootout to win Sunday in Fort Worth, Texas, and add to his NASCAR Sprint Cup points lead with two races left. Johnson led 168 laps, but found himself chasing toward the end. The third restart in the late laps proved to be the charm for the No. 48 Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson’s expectations are high at Martinsville Speedway, and his results keep showing why. The five-time series champion raced to his seventh career victory on NASCAR’s trickiest oval Sunday in Martinsville, Va., and the triumph helped him erase a seven-point deficit and supplant Brad Keselowski as the points leader with three events remaining.
The championship contenders said Talladega Superspeedway would be the wild-card race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. That was an understatement.
Denny Hamlin stepped out of his car, pointed into the air and took a mighty swing of an invisible baseball bat. Like Babe Ruth did before him (or so the legend goes), Hamlin had called his shot. The top winner in NASCAR’s regular season earned his series-leading fifth victory of the year Sunday at Loudon, N.H., backing up a tweet of “We will win” with a mistake-free and dominating run at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the second event of the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
MONTREAL – The Formula One winners’ club keeps getting bigger in an unprecedented season that has had seven different winners in the first seven races. Lewis Hamilton thinks he is seeing the sport’s future.
Welcome to the Hendrick family, Kasey Kahne. Kahne pulled away to victory in the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday night in Concord, N.C., winning NASCAR’s longest race for the third time and gaining his stripes for Hendrick Motorsports the only way that matters – taking the checkered flag.
IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard is an optimist when it comes to putting 33 cars in this year’s Indianapolis 500. A.J. Foyt is a believer, too.