Kanaan misses out on MAVTV 500 repeat, but frustrated over race (VIDEO)

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For Tony Kanaan, finishing second in the MAVTV 500 and losing out on a repeat opportunity of his 2014 win in the Verizon IndyCar Series season finale wasn’t the worst part of Saturday’s race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.

The fact the racing was how it was, condensed into closer packs at times before it spread out longer over stints, was the more frustrating part for the series veteran who raced back when average lap speeds were anywhere from 235 mph to north of 240 even, at Fontana.

First off, Kanaan described the missed opportunity in the race, as he just lost out to Graham Rahal before the final accident between Ryan Briscoe and Ryan Hunter-Reay ended the race under yellow.

“It’s hard to tell. I think I was [ahead],” Kanaan told NBCSN’s Kevin Lee. “I’m obviously… when you’re like that, in a close race, you never know. It was a crazy race. I’m glad I’m in one piece. I don’t know when the yellow came out, but I was second at the line. Congratulations to him.”

Then, the sage driver of the No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet offered his opinion on the racing itself.

“It’s a new package, We keep guessing. We guessed on the wrong side,” Kanaan said. “It was great for the fans, but people are not in the race car to see what 215 mph is like doing this.

“I would like you guys to try, the guys that criticize us. It’s tough and stressful. Hopefully we come up with a better solution.”

Kanaan’s second place, on the bright side, is his best result of the season and second podium, with the first having come in the season opener at St. Petersburg where he finished third.

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.