56th Daytona 500

Denny Hamlin comes up just short of Speedweeks sweep

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Jerry Seinfeld has an old line of his comedy routine, where he said he’d rather finish last than secure a Silver medal in the Olympics.

He makes a gesture where he shows the Gold medalist with his face inches ahead, the Silver’s just behind. And that difference is what allows the Gold medalist to be recognized, and the Silver to become a mere afterthought.

Tonight, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was the Gold medalist, and Denny Hamlin was the Silver medalist in the Daytona 500.

And Hamlin seemed as though he’d rather finish last than finish second.

“Well there’s a lot to be disappinted about but there’s a lot to be happy about,” Hamlin said.

After winning the Sprint Unlimited last Saturday night, then taking his Budweiser Duel win on Thursday, Hamlin entered Sunday as race favorite. A win on Sunday would have made him the first in history to pull off the Daytona Speedweeks trifecta sweep.

Hamlin started from the second row and enjoyed a consistent race, within the top 10 for most of it but really putting himself in position to win late.

How he held up was a story in itself, where he had intermittent radio outages. So he had to essentially had to drive by himself with no audio help from his spotter.

“I had to wing it those last 150 laps on my own, with not having a spotter,” Hamlin said. “I didn’t know whether to back up more. That’s why we lost our luster. It was just me trying not to wreck anyone. Trying to spot all six corners by itself.”

He tried making his move off Turn 4 on the final lap, but to no avail. The gap of 0.092 of a second, albeit under caution, was the furthest gap between a winner and second place finisher in the three major races at Daytona this weekend.

And for Hamlin, it never felt so far away.

“I’m a little disappointed,” he sighed.

Still, after the nightmare 2013 he endured, being disappointed with second is a good sign for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver, who is an early candidate to be “most improved” in 2014.

Pippa Mann, breast cancer survivors paint IMS’ start/finish line pink

Photo: IndyCar
Photo: IndyCar
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We’ve written a fair bit on MotorSportsTalk about the efforts Pippa Mann has done in working with the Susan G. Komen Foundation for breast cancer awareness. Susan G. Komen has supported Mann’s last two runs at the Indianapolis 500, when she’s driven the No. 63 Honda for Dale Coyne Racing.

This being National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the awareness hit a new level with Mann working alongside breast cancer survivors to paint the start/finish line at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s iconic Yard of Bricks pink for the day.

IMS president Doug Boles also joined in the opportunity.

View a selection of photos and social posts below. More is linked here, via IndyCar.com.

Mercedes set to clinch F1 constructors’ championship in Russia

SOCHI, RUSSIA - OCTOBER 08:  Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP speaks with members of the media in the paddock during previews to the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on October 8, 2015 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
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For the second year in a row, Mercedes is poised to wrap up the Formula 1 constructors’ championship in Sochi at this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix.

Mercedes won its first F1 teams’ title in Russia last year, having returned to the sport as a works constructor in 2010. When it last enjoyed such status in the 1950s, there was no championship for the teams.

Just as it did in 2014, Mercedes has dominated proceedings in F1 this season, winning all but three races and sweeping to eight one-two finishes to leave drivers Lewis Hamilton (pictured) and Nico Rosberg battling for the drivers’ title for the second straight year.

Now, Mercedes seeks the knock-out blow in the constructors’ title race by officially wrapping it up in Sochi this weekend.

To do so, the team must simply outscore rivals Ferrari by three points this weekend. The lead currently stands at 169 points, with 215 still on offer. After Sochi, there will be 172 remaining.

“We return to Russia with positive memories from last season, when the team sealed the first constructors’ title for Mercedes-Benz with a one-two finish,” team boss Toto Wolff said.

“A repeat performance in Sochi would be fantastic and this is absolutely the target – but we are under no illusions that it will come easy. The job is not done yet.”

The tire allocation for this weekend’s race could pose problems to Mercedes just as it did in Singapore, potentially allowing Ferrari to spoil the party and delay the victory celebrations at Brackley.

However, if the form book is to be trusted, Sochi could be playing host to another Mercedes party on Sunday night with a second world title in the bag for the Silver Arrows.