Wheldon memorial race raises $100,000 for Alzheimer’s Association

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A wild final lap marked the end of today’s Dan Wheldon Memorial Pro-Am Karting Challenge at New Castle (Ind.) Motorsports Park, which raised $100,000 from its sponsors and participants for The Alzheimer’s Association.

Shortly after the white flag, three of the leading karts in the race made contact with two of them going off-course. The incident enabled both sports car ace Marino Franchitti (subbing for his injured brother, Dario) and IndyCar veteran Ed Carpenter to sneak by for the win.

Franchitti actually crossed the line first, but race officials initially ruled that he had short-cut the course on the final lap. When they realized they were in the wrong about the decision, officials then declared victory for both Franchitti’s Big Machine Records team (co-drivers Scott Borchetta, Mark Borchetta, and Clive Wheldon, Dan’s father) and Carpenter’s Machine of Awesome team (co-drivers Taylor Kiel, Blair Julian, and Adam Rovazzini).

It should be noted that during the 100-minute charity event, teams could buy their way back onto the lead lap with a donation to the Alzheimer’s Association, which added more confusion regarding the finish. But no matter.

In the end, it was all about racing for a great cause that was close to the heart of the late Wheldon, whose mother was diagnosed with the disease in 2008.

“Overall, I’m so happy and just feel blessed to be part of this and carry on Dan’s legacy in so many ways – not only his passion for racing, but also to raise awareness for Alzheimer’s,” said Wheldon’s widow, Susie, who organized the special race.

“It was just great racing all days and a great way to celebrate Dan and his life,” said Marino Franchitti. “I just wish he were here racing with us because he would have been kicking all of our arses.”

Second place went to the American Honda kart of IndyCar pilot Josef Newgarden, Indianapolis TV news personality Dave Furst, Honda public relations man Dan Layton, and 16-year-old competitor Chase Jones.

Rounding out the podium was the SG Football Helmets/AL Consulting kart of IndyCar rookie of the year Tristan Vautier, ex-IndyCar driver P.J. Chesson, Anton Julian and Mark Dismore, Jr.

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.