May 5, 2013

Auto Racing Notebook: Caution flag flies with Smith ahead in Nationwide race

The Associated Press

TALLADEGA, Ala. - Regan Smith won the crash-filled Nationwide Series race at Talladega Superspeedway when NASCAR said he was leading at the final caution flag Saturday night.

The race was delayed three hours by rain and slowed by several cautions, and NASCAR cut the distance by 10 laps as darkness closed in on the track. Then Joey Coulter brought out a caution and NASCAR decided to make one attempt at a green-white-checkered finish.

At least 10 cars were jockeying for position in packs of two on the final lap when Brian Vickers was spun hard into the outside wall. Smith, Joey Logano and Kasey Kahne raced three-wide to the finish line and Kahne crossed it first.

But NASCAR decided Smith was leading when the caution came out and was the winner.

SPRINT CUP: Steady rain Saturday washed out qualifying at Talladega Superspeedway, where the field was set by practice speeds.

It put Carl Edwards on the pole for Sunday's race, followed by Martin Truex Jr. and Marcos Ambrose.

They ran a spirited Friday first practice session because everyone had seen the weather radar and knew the laps might count if qualifying was canceled.

"It was like a heat race out there," said Edwards. "Everybody was trying to get their fastest lap, and we got ours with like a minute to go. It was pretty exciting."

Ambrose concurred.

"We were all driving like idiots in that first practice knowing it was probably going to rain," he said.

Joey Logano will start fourth, followed by Ryan Newman and Matt Kenseth.

Denny Hamlin will be seventh in his first race since missing four with a compression fracture in a vertebra in his lower back. Hendrick Motorsports drivers Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne round out the top 10 in Sunday's starting lineup.

Hamlin is planning to start the race but get out of his car at some point and let Brian Vickers take over for him. The two practiced the driver exchange on Friday, with Hamlin getting out of the car through a roof hatch and Vickers coming in through a window.

SAO PAULO 300: American Ryan Hunter-Reay set a track record Saturday to win the pole position for IndyCar's Sao Paulo 300.

The defending IndyCar Series champion had a lap of 1 minute, 20.430 seconds at the Anhembi street track, 0.307 ahead of Venezuelan EJ Viso and 0.461 in front of Scotland's Dario Franchitti.

"It was fun out there today," Hunter-Reay said.

Home-crowd favorite Tony Kanaan was fourth despite an injured right hand that caused him problems throughout the day. He will be participating in his 200th consecutive race Sunday, extending the second-longest run in the series. His KV Racing owner, Jimmy Vasser, holds the record with 211.

Points leader Helio Castroneves and Will Power, winner of all three previous races in Sao Paulo, didn't make it past the first round of qualifying after a mechanical problem with the car of James Jakes kept them from posting a fast lap.

SOUTHERN MAINE MOTORS 150: DJ Shaw of Center Conway, N.H., passed Joey Doiron of Berwick with 30 laps to go and held on to win the Southern Maine Motors 150 in the Pro All Stars Series Super Late Models at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough.

Doiron finished second and Mike Rowe of Turner was third.

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