Top-5 runs help Kurt Busch, Newman keep pace in race to Chase

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Chase hopefuls Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman had to walk out of Pocono Raceway with solid results, and both of them came through as Busch finished third and Newman finished fourth after his Brickyard 400 triumph last weekend at Indianapolis.

Busch’s third-place run was his fifth Top-5 and ninth Top-10 of the campaign, which both mark single-season records for the single-car Furniture Row Racing team. It could serve as a springboard for something bigger next weekend on the road course at Watkins Glen, where Busch tested last Monday.

“We ran up front and put ourselves in position to win,” Busch said about his day. “It’s exciting for us because we are in this mix of trying to race our way into the Chase. There’s a number of teams within striking distance of making the Chase. It’s very competitive out there and you have to do it with top-five finishes like this.

“No one is going to back into the Chase, you’re going to have to earn it.”

Busch, who has yet to win this year, sits 13th in the standings at just 11 points out of 10th-place Greg Biffle. As for Newman, he now has the second Wild Card holder, Martin Truex Jr., directly in front of him after Pocono.

Truex finished 15th on Sunday, but dropped two spots to 14th in the championship and is now just nine points ahead of Newman. Both of them have one regular season win, but Newman seemed to feel he could’ve been in contention for a second one today if not for pit road issues.

“It’s a good run – not as good as it could have been,” said Newman. “We struggled in the pits today but overall, a good effort. Racing a lot of the guys around us [in the standings], it’s where it’s important to get the victory.

“…We have a win and we are fighting for a Top 10 or Wild Card spot, but nonetheless, it was a good effort. Just a horrible day in the pits for us. We have to get that figured out.”

Sergio Perez wins rain-delayed race in Singapore over Leclerc; Verstappen seventh

Sergio Perez Singapore
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SINGAPORE — Max Verstappen’s Formula One title celebrations were put on hold after the Red Bull driver placed seventh at a chaotic Singapore Grand Prix, won by his teammate Sergio Perez on Sunday.

Perez’s second win of the season saw him finish 7.6 seconds ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, with Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. in third place.

Perez was investigated for a potential safety car infringement but still kept the win after a 5-second time penalty for dropping too far back after being warned.

Verstappen had won the past five races but needed to win here and finish 22 points ahead of Leclerc to be crowned champion for a second straight season. That could happen next weekend at the Japanese GP.

Verstappen made a mistake after the second safety car restart, following AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda’s crash on Lap 36. When Verstappen tried to overtake Lando Norris’ McLaren, he locked his tires and needed to pit again.

Leclerc started from pole position with Verstappen going from eighth after a team blunder in qualifying.

The race start was delayed by more than an hour to clear water off the Marina Bay Circuit track following heavy rainfall. Drivers had to finish the 61-lap race within a two-hour window; 59 laps were completed.

Tricky conditions saw the virtual safety car deployed three times and DRS was allowed with about 30 minutes remaining.

Perez made a good start and jumped past Leclerc while Verstappen dropped several places. The first safety car was on Lap 8 when Zhou Guanyu’s Alfa Romeo was cut off by Nicholas Latifi’s Williams.

Perez got away cleanly at the restart, while Verstappen climbed into seventh behind Fernando Alonso – whose 350th F1 race ended disappointingly when his engine failed on Lap 21, bringing out the first VSC.

With the track still damp, drivers decided against changing to quicker tires – apart from Mercedes’ George Russell, who struggled for grip.

Hamilton made a rare mistake on Lap 33 and thudded into the crash barrier. Soon after, the leading drivers changed tires in a flurry of stops. They did so just before the safety car was deployed again following Tsunoda’s error.

Verstappen overtook Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin right at the end for seventh place.