Weekend wrapup: Somber days for F1; Logano keeps rolling in NASCAR Chase

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The Japanese Grand Prix weekend saw four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel announce his departure from Red Bull, and Lewis Hamilton continue his momentum in this year’s championship with a win over Mercedes teammate and title rival Nico Rosberg.

All of which has now been rendered inconsequential for sad reasons, as Marussia driver Jules Bianchi – who delivered a thrilling drive at Monaco this year to give his small team their inaugural World Championship points – is now fighting for his life.

One lap after Adrian Sutil had spun off and hit the tire barrier at Suzuka Circuit, Bianchi lost control of his car and hit the recovery vehicle that was trying to lift Sutil’s Sauber and bring it behind the guardrail.

Bianchi was taken via ground to the Mie General Hospital and underwent surgery for a severe head injury per the FIA. Meanwhile, podium celebrations for Hamilton, Rosberg, and third-place finisher Vettel were subdued.

“Everything that happened with the racing on track is secondary today,” Vettel said following the race.

Two days later, the racing world is still waiting for some piece of good news on Bianchi’s condition (Marussia has asked for patience on that subject). But for the Frenchman’s on-track peers, they’ll eventually have to put the situation aside – not forget – and get back to work. The Russian Grand Prix at Sochi is less than four days away.

F1 took another blow as well besides Bianchi’s horrible wreck. Andrea de Cesaris, who started 208 Grand Prix over 14 seasons and raced for teams such as McLaren, Jordan, and Tyrrell, died in a motorbike crash on Sunday in Italy.

#ForzaJules. Rest in peace, Andrea. Our thoughts and prayers are with both of their families.

MORE FROM SUZUKA: Felipe Massa on dangerous conditionsNiki Lauda has no concerns on race procedureFerrari goes pointless for first time in four yearsJenson Button gives McLaren a boost with fifth-place run.

On the other side of the world, NASCAR had a tough act to follow in Kansas City.

The week had started with a win for the Chiefs on Monday Night Football. Then one day later, the Royals rallied to win the American League Wild Card and went on to a 2-0 lead in the AL Division Series by the time the Sprint Cup Series was set to stage its Contender Round opener at Kansas Speedway (hours after the checkered flag, the Royals would finish off the Los Angeles Angels in the ALDS with a Game 3 win).

But NASCAR’s Chase delivered a compelling race that featured big trouble for several big names such as defending Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Brad Keselowski.

Surviving it all was Keselowski’s Team Penske amigo, Joey Logano, who held off yet another valiant effort from gonna-be-a-spoiler Kyle Larson to earn his second win in the Chase  – and more importantly, a ticket to the Eliminator Round.

Logano was cognizant of the trouble that his championship rivals were having on Sunday, but he said that didn’t stop him from going for victory even though he was already likely to be in a good points spot.

“When I see other Chase guys having troubles, that’s when you say, ‘Holy cow, this is really about a solid finish here today – you know how the race goes second, third, fourth, fifth-place finish would be great,'” he said. “It sets you up pretty good for getting to the next round. But you dangle a checkered flag in front of me, I’m going to go.

“We were able to have a fast enough car that I knew we could do it. I wasn’t going to put my car in a bad spot but I was going to be aggressive about it and try to put other people in a bad spot to make those passes. We were able to do that today.”

Meanwhile, next Saturday’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway now looms large for the aforementioned Dale Jr., Johnson and Keselowski, who face big points deficits behind the eighth-place Eliminator cutoff.

And Junior already has his mindset ready if this Twitter reply to NASCAR on NBC analysts Jeff Burton and Kyle Petty is an indication:

MORE FROM KANSAS: Hendrick Motorsports’ rough outingKyle Busch gets best-ever Cup finish at KansasKyle Larson’s first win is comingMartin Truex Jr. earns season-best resultStory remains the same for Kevin Harvick.

16 years after taking the inaugural Petit le Mans himself, Wayne Taylor saw his sons, Jordan and Ricky, pick up a Petit victory of their own.

The Taylor brothers became the first American-born overall winners in the race’s history on Saturday night, co-driving the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP with Max Angelelli to an 11-second victory over Action Express Racing’s No. 5 Corvette DP after 10 hours around Road Atlanta.

AXR didn’t leave empty-handed though as their full-time duo in the No. 5, Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa, clinched both the drivers’ and team championship during Saturday’s event.

They also earned a $100,000 bonus by capturing the team title in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship’s North American Endurance Cup, a “series within a series” comprised of four iconic events: The Rolex 24 at Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring, 6 Hours of Watkins Glen, and the Petit.

The Verizon IndyCar Series had several of its stars also on the Petit grid. That contingent was led by KV Racing Technology pilot Sebastien Bourdais, who contributed to AXR’s second-place finish with the No. 5 car.

MORE FROM PETIT: DeltaWing soars to best-ever result on home ground

IndyCar entry lists for Harvest GP at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

IndyCar entry lists Indianapolis
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There are 25 drivers on the NTT IndyCar Series entry lists at Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course with a few new yet familiar faces for the Oct. 2-3 race weekend.

Four-time champion Sebastien Bourdais will make his season debut in the No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet (shifting Dalton Kellett to the No. 41) with AJ Foyt Racing, which he is joining full time next season. James Hinchcliffe, who had run three races with Andretti Autosport, will return in place of Zach Veach in the No. 26 Dallara-Honda. Helio Castroneves will drive Arrow McLaren SP’s No. 7 Dallara-Chevy for Oliver Askew, who is out with concussion-like symptoms.

Sage Karam, who has two IndyCar starts this year at IMS (the road course on July 4 and the Indy 500 on Aug. 23), also will return to the series in Dreyer & Reinbold’s No. 24 Dallara-Chevrolet.

HARVEST GP ENTRY LISTS: Friday l Saturday

Friday and Saturday of the Harvest GP presented by GMR will mark the second and third races this season on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. While the July 4 race on the circuit was 80 laps, Friday’s distance is 85 laps, and Saturday will be a 75-lap event.

Championship leader Scott Dixon led 26 of 80 laps to win the July 4 race at the IMS road course. With three races remaining in the series, the five-time series champion enters with a 72-point lead on Josef Newgarden.

Click here to see who’s on the IndyCar entry lists in Race 1 and in Race 2 for the Harvest GP presented by GMR at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.


START TIMES AND TV INFO FOR INDYCAR AT INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY ROAD COURSE (all times ET):

Thursday

IndyCar NTT Series practice: 2:25-3:40 p.m., NBC Sports Gold

IndyCar qualifying, Race 1: 6:20 p.m. (two groups/12 minutes apiece), NBC Sports Gold

Friday

—IndyCar Harvest Grand Prix, Race 1: 3:30 p.m. (green flag, 5 p.m.), USA Network, NBC Sports Gold

Saturday

—IndyCar qualifying: 10:20 a.m. (two groups/12 minutes apiece), NBC Sports Gold

—IndyCar Harvest Grand Prix, Race 2: 2:30 p.m (green flag, 2:31 p.m.)., NBC, NBC Sports Gold