Keselowski holds off Hamlin for NNS win at Texas

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Brad Keselowski secured his sixth NASCAR Nationwide Series victory of the season, leading 105 of 200 laps to win the O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway after a late-race battle with Denny Hamlin.

The win also enabled the No. 22 Penske Racing team to gain the lead in the NNS owner’s championship over the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing team. Kyle Busch, driving the No. 54 today, finished four laps down in 26th place after crashing in Turn 4 during the middle stages of the race.

Put the two results together and the No. 22, which has won 12 times in the NNS this year with four different drivers (Keselowski, A.J. Allmendinger, Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney), is now ahead of the No. 54 by a margin of 26 points in the owner’s race.

“It is good,” Keselowski said of the situation in the owner’s championship. “We have two races left but it isn’t over.”

Sam Hornish Jr. was able to slightly trim his deficit to Austin Dillon in the NNS driver’s championship. Hornish was penalized early on for a pit road commitment violation when he hit a cone, and subsequently lost a lap.

But he was able to get back on pace with the leaders and climbed into the Top 10 at halfway before winding up with a third-place result – two spots ahead of Dillon in fifth. With two races remaining in the season, Dillon now holds a six-point advantage over Hornish for the driver’s title going into Phoenix next weekend.

Matt Kenseth, who will look to take control of the Sprint Cup championship lead tomorrow in the AAA Texas 500, finished fourth.

F1 2017 driver review: Lewis Hamilton

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Following on from the driver reviews from the Verizon IndyCar Series, MotorSportsTalk kicks off its Formula 1 recaps by looking back on Lewis Hamilton’s championship year.

Lewis Hamilton

Team: Mercedes AMG Petronas
Car No.: 44
Races: 20
Wins: 9
Podiums (excluding wins): 4
Pole Positions: 11
Fastest Laps: 7
Points: 363
Laps Led: 527
Championship Position: 1st

Lewis Hamilton may have wrapped up his fourth Formula 1 world title with two races to spare, but his margin of victory was far from representative of what was arguably his greatest championship victory yet.

Mercedes entered 2017 bidding to become the first team to defend its titles across a seismic regulation change, and appeared to be on the back foot early on after Ferrari impressed in pre-season testing and won the opening race through Sebastian Vettel.

Hamilton was left wrestling with a “diva” of a car, as coined by Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff, but was able to get on top of it by the second race of the year in China, taking a dominant win in wet-dry conditions.

The win was representative of Hamilton’s form through the first portion of the season. When he won, he won in style – as in Spain, Canada and on home soil in Great Britain – but the off weekends saw him struggle.

Heading into the summer break, Vettel’s championship lead stood at 14 points, with the pair’s on-track rivalry having already spilled over in Baku when they made contact behind the safety car.

But Hamilton then produced the form that propelled him to titles in 2014 and 2015, breaking the back of the season through the final flyaways. As Vettel and Ferrari capitulated over the Asian rounds, picking up just 12 points when a full score of 75 for three wins was certainly in reach, Hamilton capitalised and put himself on the brink of the title.

While Hamilton’s run to P9 in Mexico was a messy way to wrap up his hardest-fought title to date, getting across the line and the job done was a significant result.

Unlike his last two titles, Hamilton was tasked with an enemy outside of the team in this title race and a car that arguably wasn’t the fastest on the grid.

But his unquestionable talent and ability to dig deep to get himself out of tough situations – Singapore and Brazil being two key examples where the result was far from expected – proved crucial once again.

Hamilton is now in the annals of F1 history as one of its all-time greats. The pole record is his, and only two drivers can boast more world titles than him (Michael Schumacher and Juan Manuel Fangio).

Depending on how long he wants to continue racing, going down as F1’s statistical all-time great is certainly not out of the realm of possibility.

Season High: Charging from the pit lane to P4 in Brazil, a race he could have even won.

Season Low: Dropping out in Q2 in Monaco, only recovering to P7 in the race.