AJ Allmendinger’s promising day ends with disappointment (video)

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What looked like a promising day for AJ Allmendinger, who started from the outside of the front row in Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Sonoma Raceway, morphed into a disappointing end result, finishing 37th.

“We led a lot of laps today and we were good enough to win the thing, no doubt,” Allmendinger said. “It’s just disappointing the way our day ended and to leave Sonoma with a car that’s tore up.

“I’m proud of my guys and all the hard work they put into this weekend. It’s just tough. We were hoping to bring home a win today.”

Allmendinger was running 20th at the time on Lap 86 when he quickly took on the look of a human pinball. First, Allmendinger’s Chevy was hit by Dale Earnhardt Jr., at least the second incident Junior was involved in during the race, having also taken out Matt Kenseth earlier.

Allmendinger then spun and was clipped by both Kasey Kahne and Brian Vickers, suffering damage across the entire front end and fenders.

He promptly fell to 31st place and pretty much kissed hopes of his and JTG Daugherty Racing’s first career Sprint Cup wins goodbye.

Allmendinger had dominated much of the first half of the race, leading 35 laps of the 110-lap event.

The video of Allmendinger’s late-race incident is below.

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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.