Smith, Sadler try to clear the air before Chicagoland

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After Regan Smith spun out Elliott Sadler on the final restart of last weekend’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, an enraged Sadler found Smith in the garage area and vowed that he would not win this year’s NNS title.

The two drivers have since attempted to come to terms via a mid-week phone conversation, but as tomorrow’s STP 300 at Chicagoland Speedway looms closer, Sadler (pictured) admitted on Saturday that he was still upset about the Loudon incident.

“For him to do what he did at New Hampshire, I’m still ticked about it,” Sadler said according to the Associated Press. “But we talked and we agree that our racing’s going to change a little bit between us. But we know that we’re going to be racing around each other a lot between now and Homestead.”

Smith currently leads the NNS championship by a slim margin of five points over Sam Hornish Jr., and Sadler, at 24 points back of Smith (good for fifth place), is still very much in contention as the second half of the season begins. Clearly, it’s probably better for Smith and Sadler to settle into as close to a detente as they can, instead of continuing their feud and potentially wrecking their title hopes in the process.

As for Smith’s view on the situation, the JR Motorsports pilot has chosen to take blame for what happened one week ago on the “Magic Mile.”

“I made the move and I can’t take it back,” Smith said per the AP. “I understand his anger 100 percent, and I know exactly where he was coming from. He was racing for a lot of money [the $100,000 “Dash 4 Cash” bonus] and the opportunity to race for a lot of money again this week.”

“We talked and if it’s a situation where we’re going for it, I’m sure he’s going to race me considerably harder than what he has in the past and that’s to be expected. I would do the same.”

Sadler is the defending race winner at Chicagoland.

IndyCar Grand Prix of Alabama final practice report

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Will Power posted the fastest lap in the third practice session for the Grand Prix of Alabama with a speed of 122.953 mph.

Rookie Robert Wickens (122.552 mph) was second fast, foretelling a continuation of his incredible rookie season.

Scott Dixon (122.237), Ryan Hunter-Reay (122.231) and Alexander Rossi (122.106) rounded out the top five.

The practice was interrupted several times for incidents. 

Ed Jones spun off track in turn five after locking up his brakes with 30 minutes remaining in practice three. He was able to drive back to the pits under his own power.

With 20 minutes still on the clock, Jordan King took a trip into the fence after posting a fastest lap of 121.753 mph. He sustained substantial left side damage to his car and came back to the pits on the hook.

“I’m annoyed really,” King said afterward on the live stream at IndyCar.com. “I slightly locked the inside front, then just stayed off onto the grass and that was it. But I wasn’t really even pushing that hard.”

With two minutes remaining, Charlie Kimball lost power and pulled off the track, bringing an end to the practice session.

Dixon also had an off-road excursion.