Five things NASCAR’s 2013 Chase is missing

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NASCAR’s 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup opens this weekend at Chicagoland Speedway, and it won’t be a moment too soon to actually be discussing cars on track and not controversy. We hope, at least.

And while there’s still a great amount of talent distributed among the 12 Chasers, I can’t help but acknowledge what we’re missing out on in the 2013 edition of the Chase, the tenth edition of NASCAR’s 10-race playoffs.

  • Defending champion Brad Keselowski. Love him or hate him, Keselowski provided a needed jolt of energy to last year’s Chase as the upstart, brash member of the younger generation threatening the establishment. It all started with the famous “Tweet heard round the world” during the red flag at Daytona, five race wins in the next 35 races, and concluded with downing a huge glass of Miller Lite on live TV. In 2013, it’s been a different story, as inconsistency has plagued the No. 2 Penske Racing team, now racing Fords, from the start.
  • And 2011 champion Tony Stewart, a three-time champ. Stewart’s lone media availability since his sprint car accident was a riot, and I only watched it on the live stream via NASCAR.com. I can’t imagine how much more uproarious it was in person. I’ll let a tweet from Jenna Fryer of the Associated Press sum up the lack of “Smoke” in the Chase:
  • And four-time champion Jeff Gordon. Sensing a theme, here? Like Keselowski, Gordon didn’t win in the 26 regular season races preceding the Chase, and ultimately, that doomed him more than anything. Still, this marks only the second time in 10 Chases (finished 11th in points in 2005) that Gordon has missed out, and the angst surrounding his absence is felt by a wide range of individuals. We can only hope this wasn’t his last shot.
  • Denny Hamlin. This is a new case, because Hamlin has missed out for the first time in his career after seven consecutive appearances in his first seven full seasons. The disclaimer here is that Hamlin, has of course, had a tumultuous season filled with fines, injuries and a general lack of performance. This has to be particularly frustrating given the efforts of teammates Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch, who each have a shot at the title for Joe Gibbs Racing.
  • A road course. The lack of a road course in the Chase isn’t new – there’s never been one in 10 Chases. Still, it’s another layer of variety that could be added instead of yet another mile-and-a-half 400-miler that would likely be decided after the last Green-White-Checkered. NASCAR has added more road course races to the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series ranks and the action there is some of the best you’ll see all season across any of NASCAR’s three major series. If a rethink of the Chase tracks occurs, I’m sure I wouldn’t be alone in suggesting this variable gets added to the equation.

UPDATE, 4:40 p.m. ET: Post-script: Well, so much for Jeff Gordon missing out. He’s just been added to the Chase as a 13th driver. And I don’t know what to think anymore.

Hamilton has considered quitting F1, but now ‘loving it more than ever’

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Lewis Hamilton has revealed he considered quitting Formula 1 in order to pursue interests outside of the sport, but currently has no plans to retire, saying he is “loving it more than ever”.

Hamilton, 32, is currently fighting for his fourth drivers’ title against Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, and leads the championship by 28 points with six races remaining.

The Briton enjoys a celebrity profile outside of the sport unmatched by any of his peers, and has interests in fashion and music that he has long expressed a desire in pursuing once his racing career has finished.

After winning last weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix, Hamilton returned to Europe to attend the fashion week events in London and Milan before jetting to Malaysia next week to continue his championship bid.

Appearing on UK chatshow The Jonathan Ross Show, Hamilton discussed his future plans and admitted he had considered turning his back on F1 in the past.

“You try and go as long as you can. It’s not a sport you can go back to,” Hamilton said.

“When you’re in Formula 1, you’re in the spotlight, you’re at the top of the world – then it’s downhill from there on.

“You don’t earn the same money, there’s not a huge amount of opportunities because you’ve been in that world for so long. I’ve been there since I was eight.

“For me at the moment, for these past five, six years I’ve really been trying to work on what I enjoy outside of the sport so that when I stop I can walk away and still have other things.”

When asked directly if he was planning to retire soon, Hamilton said: “No. There have been talks about it, and I definitely have thought about it.

“There have definitely been times when I’ve thought there are other things I want to do, but then we’re in the heat of this battle right now and I’m loving it more than ever.

“The training, all the work that you put into something, and then you get to really show your abilities, it’s the greatest feeling ever.

“So I’m going to keep going for as long as I can and see what I can do.”

Hamilton existing contract with Mercedes expires at the end of the 2018 season, the Briton having made his F1 debut back in 2007.

Rossi expecting to ‘suffer’ with injury in MotoGP Aragon race

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Valentino Rossi is expecting to “suffer” in Sunday’s MotoGP race at Motorland Aragon as he competes just 23 days after suffering a double leg-break in a training accident.

Rossi was forced to miss the last race at Misano due to the injury and was expected to miss the Aragon Grand Prix, only to make a shock return and be cleared by MotoGP’s medical staff on Thursday.

Rossi qualified a remarkable third on Saturday for Yamaha, less than two-tenths of a second behind pole-sitting teammate Maverick Viñales, surprising himself in the process.

“It’s a surprise for me and us, because I didn’t know what to expect,” Rossi said.

“A week ago I started to think maybe it was possible to ride here, and I did some laps with the R1 [bike] thinking it could be possible but with some pain. But the leg has improved every day.

“My position on the bike isn’t perfect but quite close to the normal one, at first we changed some things but now I’m using the normal footpeg and seat position and for sure it’s better.”

Despite impressing in qualifying, Rossi is less hopeful of his chances across a race distance, but is ready to give his all in the race.

“We still need to work a bit because with the race tire my pace isn’t fantastic but we’ll try,” Rossi said.

“On Friday morning when I woke up I was in pain, then this morning when I woke up it was better. So if tomorrow continues in the same way, I can do the race.

“But the bike is a bit more demanding on the race tires. For sure I have to suffer, but I’ll try.”

Ricciardo confident Red Bull hasn’t missed last F1 win chance in 2017

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Red Bull Formula 1 driver Daniel Ricciardo is confident the team has not missed its last chance to win a race in 2017 after losing out to Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in Singapore.

Red Bull ran strongly throughout the Singapore race weekend, with Ricciardo boldly stating the team would win after qualifying third for the race.

A wet-dry affair marred by a start-line crash allowed Hamilton to sweep from fifth to first, while Ricciardo was left to settle for P2 for the third straight year in Singapore.

With none of the remaining circuits appearing to suit Red Bull’s RB13 car as well as Singapore, Ferrari and Mercedes are expected to share the spoils through the final six races of the year.

However, Ricciardo is sure that Red Bull will get another opportunity to add to its surprise victory in Baku earlier this season, which came about in surprising circumstances.

“Malaysia, obviously there were a few incidents last year but I think our general pace wasn’t too bad so we might be stronger than we think there,” Ricciardo said, looking ahead to next weekend’s race in Kuala Lumpur.

“Malaysia, Japan and then we’ll see. I think we can be podium cars, probably Malaysia, Japan, Austin.

“We might need some alternate conditions to really give us raw pace to fight for a win.

“I’m not going to sit here and say we’re not going to win one.

“I believe we’ll get at least one chance somewhere.”

F1 teams allowed to use current-year cars for demos from 2018

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Formula 1 teams will be allowed to use their latest-spec cars at demonstrations organized by the sport from 2018, the FIA has confirmed.

F1 hit the streets of London, England ahead of the British Grand Prix in July for a live demonstration that attracted a crowd of over 100,000 fans.

Due to restrictions on the use of current cars outside of official testing and grand prix weekends, all teams were required to appear with older chassis models in London, most coming from 2015, the most recent year allowed to be used freely.

The restrictions meant that Haas, which only became an F1 team in 2016, could not field a car at all in London.

As part of the updated sporting regulations approved by the World Motor Sport Council and issued by the FIA earlier this week, a rule tweak was confirmed to let teams use their current-year cars at “demonstration events organized by the Commercial Rights Holder”.

Teams are still allowed to complete two filming day events with their current cars, with the majority opting to use one prior to pre-season testing to act as a shakedown of their new models.

While no further demonstrations such as the one in London have been confirmed by F1 yet, they are understood to be in the works after the success the July event enjoyed.