Trevor Bayne gets married, then wins Nationwide race in Iowa

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Step one, get married. Step two, deliver on track.

Maybe that wasn’t originally how 2011 Daytona 500 champion Trevor Bayne drew things up of late, but that’s how they have transpired.

Bayne’s been mired in a bit of a career slump since that shock win in only his second ever NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start. This year, back in a full-time Nationwide Series ride, Bayne took over the No. 6 Ford that Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has driven to back-to-back series championships.

Last Tuesday, he tied the knot with longtime girlfriend Ashton, ahead of the Nationwide race at Iowa Speedway. That was a good thing for the 22-year-old on the personal front.

But it had been a tough slog racing-wise until Sunday in Iowa, which had been rain-delayed by a day. Bayne’s car was set up for long runs and in the final stretch of the race, it absolutely came alive.

Bayne caught in erstwhile dominant race leader Austin Dillon despite being more than two seconds behind him. After a side-by-side battle for a couple laps, Bayne emerged ahead on lap 239 in the 250-lap DuPont Pioneer 250.

“I knew we’d catch (Austin), but once I got to him, you could really see that he was frustrated,” Bayne told NASCAR.com after his first win of the season, and second in his Nationwide career.

“I just stayed behind him for a couple of laps to let him cool off. If he was frustrated, I didn’t want to take a chance on anything. There was a time where I cleared him and I was able to drive away enough to where he couldn’t get back to my bumper and try to cross us over, so that’s where I made the pass.”

Bayne’s win is only the third in 12 starts by a NASCAR Nationwide Series regular this year, with Regan Smith and Sam Hornish Jr., 1-2 in the points standings, scoring the other two. The Nationwide race at Iowa was also the first standalone event of the year for the second-tier series, which often shares Sprint Cup weekends.

Sebastien Ogier in driver’s seat for sixth straight World Rally Championship title

Sebastien Ogier leads the way in the WRC title chase. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) — Thierry Neuville finished the sixth stage of Rally Australia on Friday without a rear left tire, damaging his chances of catching five-time defending champion Sebastien Ogier for the World Rally Championship title.

The Belgian driver entered the rally just three points behind Ogier in the closest title fight in 15 years.

He held the upper hand on his French rival, building a near-10 second gap through the first five stages at Coffs Harbour before hitting a chicane and finishing the stage with only three tires on his Hyundai.

Neuville was fortunate the puncture occurred late enough in the day to finish all six forestry stages and avoid a retirement. But the mistake cost him 40 seconds and gave Ogier, who is 33 seconds ahead of him, a clear run at his sixth straight championship.

In his last start with Ford before a move to Citroen next year, Ogier struggled as the first to drive the dusty, slippery forest routes.

“I pushed like crazy, I was on the limit over the jump and everywhere, I can’t do (any) more,” Ogier said. “I was on the limit.”

With Ogier on sweeping duties the back markers flourished, and Mads Ostberg took the lead in his return to the series.

Ostberg was forced to miss the previous round in Spain to make way for rally winner and nine-time world champion Sebastien Loeb, who was making the last of his three guest appearances for Citroen.

Now back in the seat, Ostberg leads Jari-Matti Latvala by 6.8 seconds in the Australian rally, with sixth-stage winner Craig Breen in third.

Ogier was seventh, 38.2 seconds off the pace, but only needs to finish ahead of Neuville to claim the championship title. Neuville is in 10th place after six stages.

Roles will reverse on Saturday, with Ogier to start further back in the field and do his best on cleaner roads to make up the day-one deficit before Sunday’s final stages.

Andreas Mikkelsen, the 2016 Rally Australia champion, was an early dropout after rolling into a ditch in his Hyundai. Mikkelsen had only just avoided a tractor that had found its way onto the course.

Former winner Molly Taylor and co-driver Malcolm Read were also forced out of their event when their Subaru hit a hay bale at high speed on the morning’s second stage. Both reported soreness but suffered no serious injuries.

The 24-stage rally totals 319 kilometers (197 miles). Ten stages are scheduled Saturday with the final six on Sunday, most of them through forests on the New South Wales state’s north coast about 530 kilometers (325 miles) north of Sydney.