Late wreck ends hope of top-5 finish for Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in dirt track race

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Going back to his midget car roots, NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. shook off a couple of late-race mishaps to finish eighth in Saturday’s fifth annual Great Clips Battle at the Center at the Southern Illinois Center of the DuQuoin (Ill.) State Fairgrounds.

Joey Saldana of Brownsburg, Indiana, led the last five laps of the 40-lap main event around the 1/6-mile racetrack to take home the victory in the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series event.

Bryan Clauson finished second, followed by Justin Peck, Spencer Bayston, Daniel Robinson, Andrew Felker, Kevin Ramey, Stenhouse, Tim Siner and Jody Rosenboom.

On Lap 26, as Stenhouse tried to make a run for the lead, he was involved in a four-car tangle involving race leader Clauson, Christopher Bell (running second at the time) and 2012 POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series champ Andrew Felker.

While the other three drivers would continue on, Bell’s car was wrecked beyond repair and he retired from the event at that point.

With three laps left in the race, Stenhouse was collected in a six-car pileup that ended his hopes of a top-five finish, but still managed to wind up with a decent eighth-place showing in the 21-car field.

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Valtteri Bottas wins chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix

Mark Thompson/Getty Images
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SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas won a chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix while six-time series champion Lewis Hamilton finished fourth after getting a late time penalty Sunday.

The Formula One race was interrupted three times by a safety car, and nine of 20 drivers abandoned, including both Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon – who tried to overtake Hamilton on the outside with 10 laps left, touched wheels and flew off track.

Hamilton was given a 5-second time penalty for causing the collision, having earlier been hit with a three-place grid penalty after an incident in Saturday’s qualifying was reviewed by stewards.

SHOW OF SUPPORT: Drivers take knee before race

Bottas led all 71 laps in the eighth victory of his career. It was the second consecutive victory in the season opener for the Finn, though he won four months earlier in 2019 after this season’s start was delayed by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Lando Norris of McLaren F1 celebrates after his first podium finish (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).

Bottas started from pole position and Hamilton from fifth, but it looked like a straight fight between the two Mercedes drivers as has been the case so often in recent years.

But late drama in Spielberg ensured otherwise and Hamilton’s time penalty meant Charles Leclerc took second place for Ferrari, and Lando Norris sent McLaren’s garage into raptures – and threw all social distancing rules out of the window amid the euphoria – with third place.

It was the 20-year-old British driver’s first career podium, and his superb final lap was the fastest of a dramatic season opener.

Norris became the youngest British driver to secure a podium finish and the third-youngest ever in Formula One.

Valtteri Bottas leads Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton during the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).