Bourdais, KVSH capture Detroit race on on strategy gamble

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DETROIT – Sebastien Bourdais and KVSH Racing have secured their second straight win in the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Presented by Quicken Loans, having won the second race of the doubleheader weekend last year and now doing so in the first race of the weekend on Saturday.

Although Team Penske dominated the majority of the 70-lap race, they were actually caught out today on another strategy gamble.

Entering the final 26 laps of the race, six cars, Juan Pablo Montoya, Graham Rahal, Scott Dixon, Bourdais and the Dale Coyne Racing twins of Conor Daly and Gabby Chaves went off sequence to not pit and leapfrog the leaders, with Will Power leading those who stopped. In Bourdais’ case, an earlier call from strategist and KVSH Racing team co-owner Jimmy Vasser to get him off sequence would ultimately pay dividends later on.

With the race then running under green flag conditions, that allowed those first six to move ahead, stretch their margins and secure most of the top five positions.

Daly was last to pit after leading his third race of the season but came out just behind Bourdais, after taking fuel only.

Bourdais then emerged ahead of him in the No. 11 Team Hydroxycut KVSH Racing Chevrolet and stretched the lead to a few seconds. But in traffic, Bourdais lost a bit of time which allowed Daly to catch up and get within a second in the No. 18 Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality Honda.

The Frenchman held on though and Daly, while close, was unable to get past and ended 2.0401 seconds behind. It’s Bourdais’ 35th win of his career, tying him with Bobby Unser for sixth on the all-time win list, one ahead of Al Unser Jr.

Montoya completed the podium in third, his first podium since winning the St. Petersburg season opener.

Rahal was fourth with Helio Castroneves in fifth, and Carlos Munoz in sixth.

Simon Pagenaud ran out of fuel on the last lap and fell to 13th.

Still, the Frenchman unofficially leads the points heading into Sunday’s race with 313 points, to Castroneves at 254, Scott Dixon on 247, Munoz and Josef Newgarden on 227. Montoya and Indianapolis 500 champion Alexander Rossi are tied for sixth on 223 – Rossi ended 10th – with James Hinchcliffe on 217, Tony Kanaan on 214 and Charlie Kimball on 213.

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Jack Miller wins the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix as Fabio Quartararo stops his downward points’ slide

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Jack Miller ran away with the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi as Fabio Quartararo stopped his downward slide in the championship when a last-lap accident from his closest rival in the standings caused Francesco Bagnaia to score zero points.

Starting seventh, Miller quickly made his way forward. He was second at the end of two laps. One lap later, he grabbed the lead from Jorge Martin. Once in the lead, Miller posted three consecutive fastest laps and was never seriously challenged. It was Australian native Miller’s first race win of the season and his sixth podium finish.

The proximity to his home turf was not lost.

“I can ride a motorcycle sometimes,” Miller said in NBC Sports’ post-race coverage. “I felt amazing all weekend since I rolled out on the first practice. It feels so awesome to be racing on this side of the world.

“What an amazing day. It’s awesome; we have the home Grand Prix coming up shortly. Wedding coming up in a couple of weeks. I’m over the moon; can’t thank everyone enough.”

Miller beat Brad Binder to the line by 3.4 seconds with third-place Jorge Martin finishing about one second behind.

But the center of the storm was located just inside the top 10 as both Quartararo and Bagnaia started deep in the field.

Quartararo was on the outside of row three in ninth with Bagnaia one row behind in 12th. Neither rider moved up significantly, but the championship continued to be of primary importance as Bagnaia put in a patented late-race charge to settle onto Quartararo’s back tire, which would have allowed the championship leader to gain only a single point.

On the final lap, Bagnaia charged just a little too hard and crashed under heavy braking, throwing away the seven points he would have earned for a ninth-place finish.

The day was even more dramatic for the rider who entered the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix third in the standings. On the sighting lap, Aleix Espargaro had an alarm sound, so he peeled off into the pits, dropped his primary bike and jumped aboard the backup. Starting from pit lane, he trailed the field and was never able to climb into the points. An undisclosed electronic problem was the culprit.

For Quartararo, gaining eight points on the competition was more than a moral victory. This was a track on which he expected to run moderately, and he did, but the problems for his rivals gives him renewed focus with four rounds remaining.

Next week, the series heads to Thailand and then Miller’s home track of Phillip Island in Australia. They will close out the Pacific Rim portion of the schedule before heading to Spain for the finale in early November.

It would appear team orders are not in play among the Ducati riders. Last week’s winner Enea Bastianini made an aggressive early move on Bagnaia for position before the championship contender wrestled the spot back.

In his second race back following arm surgery, Marc Marquez won the pole. His last pole was more than 1,000 days ago on this same track in 2019, the last time the series competed at Motegi. Marquez slipped to fifth in the middle stages of the race, before regaining a position to finish just off the podium.

In Moto2 competition, Ai Ogura beat Augusto Fernandez to close the gap in that championship to two points. Fernandez holds the scant lead. Alonso Lopez rounded out the podium.

Both American riders, Cameron Beaubier and Joe Roberts finished just outside the top 10 in 11th and 12th respectively.