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


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

IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta: How to watch, start times, schedule, entry list

AUTO: NOV 13 IMSA - Motul Petit Le Mans
David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Start times, TV schedule: The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will conclude the 2022 season this weekend with the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta, which also will mark the end of the line for the DPi class.

The premier Daytona Prototype international category, which started in 2017, will be replaced by the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with its LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to Le Mans.

For the third time in four years, an Acura will be crowned the champion in DPi as the No. 10 of Wayne Taylor Racing holds a 19-point edge over the No. 60 of Meyer Shank Racing.

Last year, WTR’s No. 10 entered the season finale with a 19-point lead but lost the title to the No. 31 Cadillac of Action Express.

Full-time WTR drivers Filipe Albuquerque and Ricky Taylor (who will be joined by Brendon Hartley in the No. 10 this weekend) have a series-leading four victories this season. The MSR duo of Tom Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves this weekend) won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and have five runner-up finishes this year.

Championship scenarios in the other four categories:

GTD Pro: Points leaders Matt Campbell and Mathieu Jaminet will clinch the title by starting in their No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.

–GTD: There are 140 points separating the top four teams with Roman De Angelis and the No. 27 Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3 leading by 45 points.

–LMP2: John Farano is first in the driver standings by 33 points over Dwight Merriman and Ryan Dalziel. In the team standings, the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports leads by 19 points over the No. 8 Tower Motorsport (Farano’s team).

–LMP3: No. 54 CORE autosport drivers Jon Bennett and Colin Braun lead by 83 points over the No. 74 Riley Motorsports of Gar Robinson.

Here are the start times, starting lineup, schedule and TV info for the IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta (all times are ET):

Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta start times, schedule, TV info

When: Saturday, 12:10 p.m. ET

Race distance: Ten hours on the 12-turn, 2.54-mile road course

TV: Noon-3 p.m., NBC; 3-10:30 p.m., USA Network. Peacock, the NBC Sports App,and NBCSports.com will have streaming coverage of the event from flag to flag beginning at noon. Leigh Diffey and Dave Burns are the play by play announcers with analysts Calvin Fish, Townsend Bell, James Hinchcliffe and Brian Till. The pit reporters are Kevin Lee, Hannah Newhouse, Dillon Welch and Matt Yocum.

IMSA.com live TV qualifying stream: Friday, 3:35 p.m. ET.

IMSA Radio: All sessions are live on IMSA.com and RadioLeMans.com; SiriusXM live race coverage will begin Saturday at noon (XM 207, Internet/App 992).

Forecast: According to Wunderground.com, it’s expected to be 63 degrees with an 85% chance of rain at the green flag.

Entry list: Click here to see the 48-car field for the IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta

Daily schedule IMSA Petit Le Mans

Here’s a rundown of the Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia:

Wednesday, Sept. 28

9:30 a.m.: Mazda MX-5 practice

10:25 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup

12:30 p.m.: Prototype Challenge practice

1:15 p.m.: Mazda MX-5 practcice

2 p.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup practice

3:30 p.m.: Michelin Challenge practice

Thursday, Sept. 29

8 a.m.: Prototype Challenge practice

9 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup qualifying

9:50 a.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

11:40 a.m.: Prototype Challenge qualifying

12:10 p.m.: Michelin Challenge practice

1:50 p.m.: Mazda MX-5, Race 1

2:55 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

5 p.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup, Race 1

6 p.m.: Michelin Challenge qualifying

7:30 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

Friday, Sept. 30

8 a.m.: Prototype Challenge race

9:50 a.m.: Mazda MX-5, Race 2

10:55 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup, Race 2

1:10 p.m.: IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race

3:40 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship qualifying

Saturday, Oct. 1

9:15 a.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

12:10 p.m.: Petit Le Mans