Photo courtesy INDYCAR

INDYCAR: Conor Daly to fill in for Gabby Chaves in Sunday’s race at Toronto

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Harding Racing on Tuesday announced that Conor Daly will drive for the team in Sunday’s Honda Indy Toronto.

The second-year team (Harding ran three races in the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season) will have the 26-year-old Daly in the No. 88 Chevrolet-powered Dallara for the annual race on the streets of Exhibition Place in downtown Toronto.

Daly will be replacing Gabby Chaves in the race in a one-off appearance, but also with an eye toward next season as well.

“At this point in the season, we are focusing all our attention on the 2019 season,” Harding Racing team president Brian Barnhart said in a media release. “If we can expand to a two-car team, all remaining races and testing will offer driver evaluation opportunities to determine who will become Gabby’s teammate in 2019.

“Gabby is still fully employed and still under contract with Harding for the remainder of this year and in 2019.”

Chaves has qualified for all of the first 11 races on the 17-race 2018 IndyCar schedule. His best start has been eighth at St. Petersburg, with his best finish being 14th (at both St. Petersburg and in the Indy 500). In three outings with Harding in 2017, Chaves scored a best finish of fifth at Texas Motor Speedway – Chaves and Harding also finished ninth at the Indianapolis 500 last year.

The Toronto race will be Daly’s second appearance on the IndyCar circuit this season. He started 33rd and finished 21st in the Indianapolis 500 for Dale Coyne Racing.

This will be Daly’s fourth career start at Toronto, with his best finish being 12th in 2015.

Overall, Daly has 40 starts in his IndyCar career with one podium finish.

Sunday’s race will be televised live on NBCSN, with the green flag slated to fall at 3:42 p.m. ET.

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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.