UPDATED: Rain washes out Truck and Cup qualifying, tonight’s Truck race iffy at Chicagoland Speedway

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UPDATE No. 2 (6 pm ET): Friday’s qualifying for Sunday’s MyAFibStory.com 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race has also been washed out by rain. With Kyle Busch being fastest in the early afternoon practice session earlier in the day, he will start Sunday’s race from the pole. Ryan Newman will start on the outside pole.

“Practice went well for us,” Busch said. “Our guys got us to where we needed to be. … TRD made some improvements for this weekend’s race. There’s a lot of things that need to happen in the race Sunday for us to get off to a good start and carry for the next 10 weeks.”

UPDATE (4:30 pm ET): Qualifying for tonight’s Camping World Truck Series has been cancelled due to rain. The starting lineup will be set based upon Thursday’s practice session. Also at this time, it’s looking more doubtful that the Sprint Cup qualifying session scheduled for 6:45 pm ET will take place, which could prompt NASCAR to set the field for Sunday’s race off Friday’s sole practice session. Kyle Busch was fastest in that session.

ORIGINAL STORY:

JOLIET, Ill. — NASCAR officials are muttering a very nasty four-letter word here at Chicagoland Speedway: R-A-I-N.

Shortly after Friday afternoon’s Sprint Cup practice session ended, a misty drizzle descended upon the 1.5-mile track, located about 50 miles southwest of downtown Chicago.

The drizzle is a definite threat to not only this afternoon’s qualifying sessions for the Sprint Cup Series, as well as for the Camping World Truck Series race which is scheduled for later tonight. Truck qualifying was scheduled to go off at 3:15 pm ET, but it’s delayed indefinitely at this writing.

Cup qualifying is slated for 6:45 pm ET, about an hour before the green flag is scheduled to drop for the Lucas Oil 225 Truck race.

Unfortunately, the drizzle is a sign of things to come: a large front of storms is approaching the Chicago area. The front stretches back more than 150 miles to west of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. And there’s another front behind that which extends to past Ford Dodge in the upper-middle part of the state.

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Jack Miller wins the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix as Fabio Quartararo stops his downward points’ slide

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Jack Miller ran away with the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi as Fabio Quartararo stopped his downward slide in the championship when a last-lap accident from his closest rival in the standings caused Francesco Bagnaia to score zero points.

Starting seventh, Miller quickly made his way forward. He was second at the end of two laps. One lap later, he grabbed the lead from Jorge Martin. Once in the lead, Miller posted three consecutive fastest laps and was never seriously challenged. It was Australian native Miller’s first race win of the season and his sixth podium finish.

The proximity to his home turf was not lost.

“I can ride a motorcycle sometimes,” Miller said in NBC Sports’ post-race coverage. “I felt amazing all weekend since I rolled out on the first practice. It feels so awesome to be racing on this side of the world.

“What an amazing day. It’s awesome; we have the home Grand Prix coming up shortly. Wedding coming up in a couple of weeks. I’m over the moon; can’t thank everyone enough.”

Miller beat Brad Binder to the line by 3.4 seconds with third-place Jorge Martin finishing about one second behind.

But the center of the storm was located just inside the top 10 as both Quartararo and Bagnaia started deep in the field.

Quartararo was on the outside of row three in ninth with Bagnaia one row behind in 12th. Neither rider moved up significantly, but the championship continued to be of primary importance as Bagnaia put in a patented late-race charge to settle onto Quartararo’s back tire, which would have allowed the championship leader to gain only a single point.

On the final lap, Bagnaia charged just a little too hard and crashed under heavy braking, throwing away the seven points he would have earned for a ninth-place finish.

The day was even more dramatic for the rider who entered the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix third in the standings. On the sighting lap, Aleix Espargaro had an alarm sound, so he peeled off into the pits, dropped his primary bike and jumped aboard the backup. Starting from pit lane, he trailed the field and was never able to climb into the points. An undisclosed electronic problem was the culprit.

For Quartararo, gaining eight points on the competition was more than a moral victory. This was a track on which he expected to run moderately, and he did, but the problems for his rivals gives him renewed focus with four rounds remaining.

Next week, the series heads to Thailand and then Miller’s home track of Phillip Island in Australia. They will close out the Pacific Rim portion of the schedule before heading to Spain for the finale in early November.

It would appear team orders are not in play among the Ducati riders. Last week’s winner Enea Bastianini made an aggressive early move on Bagnaia for position before the championship contender wrestled the spot back.

In his second race back following arm surgery, Marc Marquez won the pole. His last pole was more than 1,000 days ago on this same track in 2019, the last time the series competed at Motegi. Marquez slipped to fifth in the middle stages of the race, before regaining a position to finish just off the podium.

In Moto2 competition, Ai Ogura beat Augusto Fernandez to close the gap in that championship to two points. Fernandez holds the scant lead. Alonso Lopez rounded out the podium.

Both American riders, Cameron Beaubier and Joe Roberts finished just outside the top 10 in 11th and 12th respectively.