Carl Edwards leads final Sprint Cup practice, Keselowski up to speed, Danica 5th-fastest

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JOLIET, Il. – Brad Keselowski can cancel the APB (All-Points Bulletin): he found the speed he’s been missing this weekend.

The 2012 Sprint Cup champ was second-fastest in the final Cup practice session Saturday at Chicagoland Speedway, covering the 1.5-mile track at 186.335 mph.

Carl Edwards was the fastest at 186.413.

Keselowski and teammate Joey Logano struggled in Friday’s practice, recording the 25th- and 28th-fastest speeds of all 43 drivers on-track.

Things didn’t improve much in Saturday morning’s practice, as Keselowski was 20th-fastest and Logano was 25th-fastest.

But that wasn’t the case for Keselowski in happy hour.

However, Logano is still mired in a quest for more speed, as he managed to record just the 18th-fastest speed in the final practice (184.451 mph).

As for the rest of the field in Saturday’s last session, Sprint Cup rookie Kyle Larson was third-fastest (185.918), followed by Jimmie Johnson (185.835).

Danica Patrick was the biggest surprise of the session, recording the fifth-fastest speed at 185.618 mph, followed by Kasey Kahne (185.312), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (185.300), Matt Kenseth (185.293), Kurt Busch (185.160) and Paul Menard (185.147).

Menard was the fastest in Saturday’s earlier practice.

Other notables in the final practice session included:

* Jeff Gordon was 12th-fastest (184.862), followed by Kevin Harvick (184.723).

* Kyle Busch was 15th-fastest (184.679).

* Several other Chase drivers struggled to get up to speed: Greg Biffle (17th, 184.489), Aric Almirola (20th, 184.388), Denny Hamlin (21st, 184.181), Ryan Newman (22nd, 184.037), A.J. Allmendinger (24th, 183.830) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (26th, (182.673).

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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.