Toyota Owners 400

Joey Logano makes late-race charge to victory at Richmond (VIDEO)


When the dust settled, Joey Logano was smiling and several of his rivals were fuming.

All in all, just another short-track Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway.

Logano was fourth on the final restart with nine laps to go, but roared past Jeff Gordon, teammate Brad Keselowski, and Matt Kenseth to claim the Toyota Owners 400 and his second checkered flag of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.

But as Logano celebrated, Keselowski took exception to Kenseth’s racing in the final laps and brake-checked him on the cool down lap. When they returned to the pits, Keselowski angrily pointed at Kenseth before making a playful leap onto the hood of Logano’s car (which was parked at the time, thankfully).

And while that played out, TV cameras captured another argument in the garage between Casey Mears and Marcos Ambrose. The tiff escalated when Mears grabbed Ambrose by his firesuit and then climaxed with Ambrose punching Mears in the face before the two were broken up.

Ambrose and Mears finished 18th and 19th respectively, which shows just how fierce the tempers can be in Richmond’s tight quarters.

As for Logano’s charge to victory, it was an impressive one.

His big move to the front started with five to go, when he used the inside line to pass Gordon for third in Turn 3. As the leaders headed down the frontstretch, Keselowski got loose and was able to save it but had to give up second to Logano.

Then in Turn 1, Logano hunted down Kenseth on the inside and was able to complete the pass off of Turn 2. From there, it was all academic.

“I’m more surprised than anyone else – this is probably one of my worst racetracks,” Logano said to Fox Sports. “But I guess not today.

“What a crazy finish. I had a really bad restart and I was like, ‘Man, I really screwed up, I’m not going to win.’ And then, once they started battling ahead of me – and [Kenseth] did a real good job of blocking [Keselowski] at the top – we were able to capitalize basically. When they were blocking the top, I was able to get some air on the bottom and then get past.”

Gordon, the Sprint Cup points leader, ultimately finished second at a distant 9.9 seconds behind Logano. Kyle Busch made a late run to finish third ahead of fourth-place Keselowski, and Kenseth was kicked back to fifth at the finish.

Keselowski eventually explained why he took umbrage at Kenseth, who played strong defense for the lead against both Keselowski and Gordon before Logano ultimately got them all.

“I had a shot at winning the race and he ran me off the track, but you race to win and he was definitely racing to win,” Keselowski said. “But you hope that when somebody races to win, they’ll at least win the race if they’re gonna wreck you or run you off the race track.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr., who finished seventh, had a front-row seat to the issues on the cool-down lap and tried to figure it all out – at least, for a moment.

“[Kenseth] is mad at [Keselowski] and so, he slammed on the brakes after the checkered. [A.J. Allmendinger] ran into [Kenseth], I ran into [Kenseth],” he said. “That was – I don’t know what that was all about. Get over it [laughs].”

Sound advice from Earnhardt, considering that the monstrous Talladega Superspeedway looms next weekend. That’s definitely not the best place to take revenge on the Sprint Cup circuit.

Unofficial Results
1. Joey Logano, led 46 laps
2. Jeff Gordon, led 173 laps
3. Kyle Busch
4. Brad Keselowski, led 114 laps
5. Matt Kenseth, led 35 laps
6. A.J. Allmendinger
7. Dale Earnhardt Jr., led seven laps
8. Ryan Newman
9. Carl Edwards
10. Martin Truex Jr.
11. Kevin Harvick, led 23 laps
12. Brian Vickers
13. Jamie McMurray
14. Kasey Kahne
15. Greg Biffle
16. Kyle Larson
17. Aric Almirola
18. Marcos Ambrose
19. Casey Mears
20. David Gilliland
21. Justin Allgaier
22. Denny Hamlin
23. Kurt Busch
24. Paul Menard
25. Tony Stewart
26. Landon Cassill, led one lap
27. Austin Dillon
28. Alex Bowman
29. David Reutimann
30. David Ragan
31. Ryan Truex
32. Jimmie Johnson
33. Michael Annett
34. Danica Patrick
35. David Stremme
36. Travis Kvapil, led one lap
37. Joe Nemechek
38. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
39. Josh Wise

40. J.J. Yeley, Lap 380, Engine
41. Cole Whitt, Lap 367, Running
42. Reed Sorenson, Lap 225, Electrical
43. Clint Bowyer, Lap 159, Suspension

Malaysia considers dropping F1 race: ‘The product is no longer exciting’

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - OCTOBER 02:  Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes F1 WO7 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo leads Daniel Ricciardo of Australia driving the (3) Red Bull Racing Red Bull-TAG Heuer RB12 TAG Heuer, Sergio Perez of Mexico driving the (11) Sahara Force India F1 Team VJM09 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo and the rest of the field at the start during the Malaysia Formula One Grand Prix at Sepang Circuit on October 2, 2016 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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The future of the Malaysian Grand Prix has been thrown into doubt following comments from government officials and the CEO of the Sepang International Circuit, saying F1 “is no longer exciting”.

Malaysia joined the F1 calendar back in 1999 and traditionally held the second round of the season from 2001.

The race shifted to a fall date for 2016 so that the track could complete an extensive redevelopment program, meaning it was held two weeks after the grand prix in neighboring Singapore.

Sepang signed a new three-year deal to host F1 in March 2015, but doubts have been raised about hosting the race beyond 2018.

Circuit CEO Datuk Ahmad Razlan Ahmad Razali told the New Straits Times that amid declining ticket sales and a falling global TV audience, Malaysia was considering dropping the race.

“Maybe it will do Malaysia good to take a break,” he said.

“I think the product is no longer exciting. It’s being dominated by one team.”

Malaysian government official Khairy Jamaluddin, the minister of youth and sports, sent out a series of tweets supporting Razlan’s comments.

Jamaluddin also revealed that officials considered making the grand prix at Sepang a night race, but found the costs to be too high.

The 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix is scheduled for September 17.

With Hamilton non-score, Rosberg could win maiden F1 title this weekend in Mexico

AUSTIN, TX - OCTOBER 23:  Nico Rosberg of Germany and Mercedes GP celebrates finishing in second during the United States Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas on October 23, 2016 in Austin, United States.  (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)
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Nico Rosberg will venture to Mexico for this weekend’s grand prix knowing that he could be crowned Formula 1 world champion for the first time on Sunday.

Rosberg has long insisted that he is taking his bid for the drivers’ championship ‘one race at a time’, and after finishing second to Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in the United States Grand Prix, he is one step closer to a maiden crown.

Rosberg arrived in Austin, Texas with a 33-point lead in the drivers’ championship, meaning he could afford to finish second (and even third once) in the remaining four races and still win the title.

Rosberg battled back from a poor start to finish second at the Circuit of The Americas, meaning his lead now stands at 26 points with three races to go.

Mathematically, it means that Rosberg can in fact win the championship in Mexico this weekend, but only if he wins and Hamilton retires or finishes outside of the points.

Should Hamilton not score and Rosberg win, his lead would rise to 51 points with 50 remaining from the races following Mexico in Brazil and Abu Dhabi.

Rosberg has only been in a position to clinch the championship once before in his F1 career: the 2014 season finale in Abu Dhabi, where he lost out to Hamilton.

Naturally, Rosberg’s main aim in Mexico will simply be beating Hamilton on-track, having been left frustrated after failing to do so in Austin.

“I just feel that it’s a pity that it didn’t work out with a win this weekend,” Rosberg said.

“I was going for that. It would have been awesome here in America but it didn’t work out.

“Lewis did a great job this weekend, all the way through, qualifying and race so it just wasn’t to be.

“I’ll live with second place now and next race is another great opportunity.”

Sainz stars with charge to P6 at COTA, enjoys late battle with childhood hero Alonso

AUSTIN, TX - OCTOBER 23: Carlos Sainz of Spain driving the (55) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR11 Ferrari 060/5 turbo leads Felipe Massa of Brazil driving the (19) Williams Martini Racing Williams FW38 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo on track  during the United States Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas on October 23, 2016 in Austin, United States.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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Carlos Sainz Jr. produced one of the stand-out displays in Sunday’s United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas to finish sixth, matching his best result of the 2016 Formula 1 season so far.

Sainz qualified 10th for Toro Rosso on Saturday at the Circuit of The Americas, but rose up to P8 in the early stages after Nico Hulkenberg and Valtteri Bottas dropped back due to contact.

Sainz managed to jump Felipe Massa at the second round of pit stops to run seventh before Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen retired, handing the Spaniard fifth.

After seeing off pressure from Massa, Sainz went wheel-to-wheel with his childhood racing hero, Fernando Alonso, in the final two laps, but was unable to keep the McLaren driver back.

Nevertheless, Sainz was delighted to finish sixth, particularly when Toro Rosso predicted he would finish outside of the points.

“I think we put on everything we could do. Our predictions were P12 or P13 because [we were] starting on super-softs,” Sainz told NBCSN.

“But we made it last, close to Williiams, on softs, created a good gap to Fernando. We got a bit lucky with the safety car. Suddenly we were ahead of Williams and McLaren. With softs it would be difficult.

“We committed to go to the end. I did all I could until the end. I just had to hold on to it!”

Sainz’s result was made all the more impressive by the fact he was racing with a year-old Ferrari power unit that had been significantly outdeveloped by the rest of the grid.

“You cannot mind. The team and I are evident with how Fernando passed me – it was evidence was the second worst engine overtook us like they were the best one!” Sainz said.

“To hold onto P6 here, after this weekend, with the long straights was just amazing.”

The result matches Sainz’s sixth-place finish at the Spanish Grand Prix in May as his best of the 2016 season.

Lewis Hamilton ‘petrified’ of car failure throughout USGP

AUSTIN, TX - OCTOBER 23:  Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP celebrates his win on the podium during the United States Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas on October 23, 2016 in Austin, United States.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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Lewis Hamilton felt “petrified” of suffering a car failure during Sunday’s United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas amid memories of his Malaysia heartbreak.

Hamilton’s hopes of winning a fourth Formula 1 championship in 2016 were dented in Malaysia earlier this month when his engine failed while leading the race by 20 seconds.

Hamilton arrived in Austin 33 points behind Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg in the drivers’ championship, having not won a race since the end of July.

Hamilton scored pole on Saturday at the Circuit of The Americas before a good start in Sunday’s race saw him surge clear early on.

Despite coming under light pressure from Daniel Ricciardo at the beginning and Rosberg in the closing stages, Hamilton remained in control to pick up his fifth USGP victory.

“This one feels great. I feel super chilled right now,” Hamilton told NBCSN after the race.

“It’s not an ecstatic feeling; it’s more mellow and relieved the car made it.”

With the memory of his retirement in Malaysia still in his mind, Hamilton was wary of another issue on his car rearing its head in Austin.

“The whole race I was petrified the car wouldn’t make it. I was dreaded by the sound I heard in Malaysia,” Hamilton said.

“Lose power, or a gear, or gearbox or something. It was weighing on me the whole race. It’s the longest afternoon but we got the job done.”

Hamilton cut Rosberg’s lead in the drivers’ championship to 26 points, but would not be assured the title even if he won the remaining three races of the season. Rosberg can be assured of the title with two seconds places and a third.

However, Hamilton isn’t dwelling on the points permutations: “I just want my car to keep going! But I need to do the job. I can’t control what happens with these guys. This is a relatively easy feat. Staying ahead and winning races is my target.”