Opening round of the NASCAR playoffs featured similar results, drama at Singapore changed the championship battle and car owner Roger Penske ends season with a 1-2-3 finish and his 15th championship in IndyCar.
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series: Tales of the Turtles 400
JOLIET, ILLINOIS – Playoffs kicked high in gear at Chicagoland Speedway Sunday, but the story remained the same out in front as Martin Truex, Jr. kicked off round one of the playoffs with his fifth win of the season, beating Chase Elliott by 7.179 seconds and led 77 of 267 laps.
Truex, Jr.’s second straight victory at the 1.5-mile circuit advanced him into the Round of 12 and extended his championship lead by 27 points over Kyle Larson.
Truex, Jr. was enthusiastic about his win after overcoming a pit road speeding penalty and receiving the short end of the stick at Darlington and Richmond.
“This is the playoffs, this is what it’s all about. My team is unbelievable.,” Truex, Jr. said. “I’m so proud of everybody. The speeding penalty, I was like ‘oh no, here we go again’ after last year we had to come from the back, but the car was amazing. We kept our heads down and kept digging and fighting and just did what we always do and here we are.”
Kyle Busch led the most laps with 85, but was nowhere near in contention with the leaders at the end and came home in 15th.
Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin and Larson rounding out the top five.
Kurt Busch, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Kasey Kahne and Ryan Newman are currently the bottom four after Sunday’s race with Busch’s 19th place being the highest of the four.
Round two of the playoffs will take place at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire Oct. 1. Hamlin won the most recent race at the “Magic Mile” July 16.
Formula One – Singapore Grand Prix
MARINA BAY – Early wet conditions and an opening lap carnage changed the entire world championship battle as Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen along with Max Verstappen and Fernando Alonso crashed in the first corner during Sunday’s Singapore Grand Prix at the Marina Bay Street Circuit.
Verstappen came out of the grid slow, giving both Ferrari drivers an opportunity to overtake him. Verstappen went low to avoid an aggressive Vettel but it backfired.
Verstappen collided with Raikkonen’s right rear wheel to start the carnage. Then a spinning Raikkonen came across Verstappen again, taking him and Alonso out of the fight.
Vettel’s car spun backwards moments later, ending his night with an 18th place finish. The accident only benefited points leader Lewis Hamilton who led wire-to-wire for his 60th career win and extended his points lead over Vettel by 28 points with six rounds remaining.
Daniel Ricciardo and Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas finished second and third.
Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz, Jr. finished a career-high fourth, followed by Sergio Perez, Jolyon Palmer, Stoffel Vandoorne, Lance Stroll, Romain Grosjean and Esteban Ocon.
The Formula One drivers will take a week off before traveling to Sepang, Selangor, Malaysia for the 19th and final Malaysian Grand Prix Oct. 1. Neither Hamilton or Vettel finished last year’s race as Ricciardo captured his lone 2016 victory at Malaysia.
Verizon IndyCar Series – GoPro Grand Prix at Sonoma
SONOMA, CALIFORNIA – Roger Penske’s drivers have been the class of the field all season in IndyCar and Sunday’s finale at Sonoma Raceway was the icing on the cake as Hendersonville, Tennessee native Josef Newgarden wrapped up his first season with Team Penske as the Verizon IndyCar Series Champion.
Newgarden finished second behind teammate and 2016 champion Simon Pagenaud. Will Power crossed the line in third for a Penske 1-2-3 effort.
Both Pagenaud and Newgarden led a combined 82 of 85 laps with each leading 41.
Newgarden ended his championship season with four wins and nine podium finishes in 17 starts.
Chip Ganassi Racing driver Scott Dixon came up short of winning his fifth title, finishing fourth and because of Pagenaud’s victory, Dixon dropped from second to third in the final standings.
Penske’s fourth driver, Helio Castroneves came home fifth in what could be his final race with the team he’s raced for since 2000.
Graham Rahal, Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Sebastien Bourdais and Conor Daly wrapped up the top 10.
Newgarden’s championship extended Penske’s all-time American Open Wheel Racing championship record to 15. He also became the first American to win the championship for Penske since Sam Hornish, Jr. in 2006.