Indy pole sitter Carpenter hosts NHRA champion Brown

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Indianapolis 500 pole sitter Ed Carpenter and his team hosted reigning NHRA Top Fuel champion Antron Brown in his garage today at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where Brown got to climb into the cockpit of  Carpenter’s No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet.

“It’s just good times to come hang out and support Ed for pulling that pole off,” said Brown, who became the first African-American driver to win a major motorsports title last season. “That was an incredible feat for him and his team, and it’s just cool to be out here with this experience.

After a brief word with the Ed Carpenter Racing squad, Brown hopped into the No. 20 and Carpenter showed him some of the ins and outs of IndyCar technology. The drag racer was very impressed by it all.

“Everything that these cars have evolved into, the way these new cars are – so much safer, so much more sound,” Brown enthused. “The paddle shifters, [having] everything in your steering wheel – that’s what we need in NHRA, everything in the steering wheel.

“They’re racing these small, turbocharged engines and they’re still going the speeds they go. It’s just phenomenal. It tells you how far it’s come in this day and age…That’s pretty special.”

As for the prospect of a potential ride swap in the future, Carpenter sounded open to the idea and said that while he and Brown’s machines may look to have a total contrast, there’s still commonalities between them.

“I’m sure we could both adapt [to the other] if we had enough time,” said Carpenter, IndyCar’s sole owner/driver. “Like anything, seat time is key. But when we were just standing in the garage and looking at the car with all the bodywork off, there’s a lot of technology and a lot of things that aren’t totally different even though [drag racing] is a totally different discipline.”

Neuville wins Rally Australia; Ogier takes FIA WRC title

Sebastien Ogier. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) Belgium’s Thierry Neuville won Rally Australia by 22.5 seconds on Sunday as torrential rain added drama to the last day of the last race of the World Rally Championship season.

Neuville entered the final day with an almost 20 second advantage after inheriting the rally lead Saturday when his Hyundai teammate, defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen crashed and was forced to retire for the day.

His lead was halved by Jari-Matti Latvala early Sunday as monsoon-like rain made conditions treacherous on muddy forest stages on the New South Wales coast. The rain stopped on the short Wedding Bells stage where Neuville was almost 5 seconds quicker than his rivals, stretching his lead to 14.7 seconds entering the last stage.

COFFS HARBOUR, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 17: Thierry Neuville of Belgium and Nicolas Gilsoul of Belgium compete in their Hyundai Motorsport WRT Hyundai i20 coupe WRC during Day One of the WRC Australia on November 17, 2017 in COFFS HARBOUR, Australia. (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)

That stage was full of incident. The driver’s door on Neuville’s Hyundai i20 coupe swung open in the middle of the stage and Neuville had to slam it closed as he approached a corner.

Latvala’s Toyota then crashed seconds from the end of the stage, allowing Estonia’s Ott Tanak, in a Ford, to take second place overall and New Zealalnd’s Haydon Paddon, in a Hyundai, to sneak into third.

Sebastian Ogier was fourth after winning the final, power stage but the Frenchman had already clinched his fifth world title before Rally Australia began. Neuville’s win was his fourth of the season, two more than Ogier, and was enough to give him second place in world drivers’ standings for the third time in five years.

Ogier owed his drivers’ title to his consistency: he retired only once and finished no worse than fifth all season.

Neuville admitted the last day was touch and go as the rain made some stages perilous, forcing the cancellation of the second to last stage.

“That was a hell of a ride,” Neuville said. “Really, really tricky conditions.

“I kept the car on the road but it was close sometimes. I knew I could make a difference but I had to be clever. You lose grip, you lose control and the car doesn’t respond to your input.”