Brad Keselowski, girlfriend Paige White, expecting baby girl

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Now Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch can be linked in another way.

Tough competitors on the track and team owners off it, they’ll share another common trait – both will become a dad in 2015.

Keselowski announced in a blog on his website that girfriend Paige White is due to deliver a baby girl. Keselowski did not give a date for the baby’s arrival. Busch’s wife, Samantha is due to deliver a baby boy in May. This follows the birth of Kyle Larson’s son, Owen, who was born in December.

Keselowski, 30, addressed the matter of having a child before being married in his blog:

“I know that we’re not doing this in the traditional order of things. I will simply say this: I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life, and Paige is a very large part of that. She’s an amazing person. She’s soft-spoken, well-educated and smart. She’s beautiful, which never hurts. Most importantly, she understands who I am and where I’ve come from in ways that most people wouldn’t know or understand. Her family, which is extremely supportive and feels like an extension of my own, came from very humble beginnings, just like mine did. She’s seen the world from a lot of different perspectives that most people never get to see.’’

Keselowski also had a request about his daughter-to-be.

“I do have one request of fans and the media regarding my daughter-to-be,’’ he wrote. “Some of you like me. Some of you dislike me. You all share your thoughts with me via social media, or in person at the tracks. I have no problem with any of that, good or bad. I’m a public figure, and that’s what I’ve signed up for. But the baby girl we’re having hasn’t signed up for any of that. So if you can keep the focus on me, that would mean a lot to us.’’

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.