July 7, 2013

Auto Racing Roundup: Johnson avoids trouble, wins again at Daytona

From staff and news services

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Jimmie Johnson became the first driver in 31 years to sweep the Sprint Cup races at Daytona International Speedway, accomplishing the feat with a dominating run Saturday night for his fourth win of the season.

James Hinchcliffe, Marco Andretti
click image to enlarge

Marco Andretti, right, talks with teammate James Hinchcliffe after winning the pole for Sunday’s IndyCar race at Pocono Raceway. Hinchcliffe qualified third.

The Associated Press

The Daytona 500 winner is the first driver since Bobby Allison in 1982 and the fifth overall to win both races in a season at Daytona.

"I don't think I made a bad move tonight. I'm pretty proud of that," Johnson said. "To tie anything that Bobby did is really special. I'm very proud of that. I've going to take that home and savor it pretty well."

The five-time NASCAR champion was the leader on the restart for a two-lap sprint to the finish in overtime. He held off Kevin Harvick on the restart, then pulled out to a sizeable lead. Tony Stewart moved into second and may have been timing his attempt to make a pass for the lead when a crash in the middle of the pack froze the field.

Harvick was third, followed by Clint Bowyer and Michael Waltrip. Then came Kurt Busch, Jamie McMurray, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Casey Mears and Ryan Newman.

Danica Patrick was in the top 10 for much of the race but was involved in the last-lap crash and finished 14th.

The race was stopped for almost nine minutes for a six-car accident with 11 laps remaining that included yet another vicious hit for Denny Hamlin.

Hamlin's car inexplicably turned right and spun hard into the frontstretch wall. It then turned back into traffic, and Hamlin was tagged hard by A.J. Allmendinger in a hit that caused his car to lift off the ground.

Both he and Allmendinger had to collect themselves after climbing from their wrecked cars, but both were evaluated and released from the infield care center. Hamlin missed four races earlier this season because of a compression fracture in a vertebra in his lower back and he took a hard hit last Sunday at Kentucky.

Also involved in the accident with Hamlin and Allmendinger were Matt Kenseth, Hamlin's Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, and Jeff Gordon.

"I saw the wreck and tried to slow down and miss it, but just not much I could do," Kenseth said.

The race resumed with seven laps remaining. Johnson then made a strange move to the high line to block Marcos Ambrose, and it might have cost him the race as it put teammate Kasey Kahne out front in the bottom lane of traffic.

But as the two Hendrick drivers drag-raced around the track, Ambrose clipped the side of Johnson as he attempted a sudden lane change. Ambrose slammed into the side of Kahne, causing Kahne to spin and hit an inside retaining wall for another caution with five laps left.

Kahne angrily tossed his head-and-neck restraint into his car after climbing from the wreck.

The race resumed in overtime, and neither Harvick nor Stewart could make a move before the race-ending caution.

BEECH RIDGE: Cassius Clark of Farmington edged Mike Rowe of Turner to win the Pro All-Star Series 150-lap feature.

Clark held the lead for the final 42 laps. Travis Benjamin of Morrill finished third, followed by Joey Doiron of Berwick and Corey Bubar of Windham.

Garrett Hall, a recent Scarborough High graduate, won the 35-lap Sports Series feature, earning his second victory of the season. Dan Bean of Alfred took the checkered flag in the Wildcat division, and Brandon Barker of Windham won the Road Runners feature.

INDYCAR: It will be a 1-2-3 start for Andretti Autosport at Pocono Raceway.

Marco Andretti hit a two-lap average speed of 221.273 mph to take the top spot for the first IndyCar race at Pocono since 1989. Ryan Hunter-Reay starts second and James Hinchcliffe is third.

Pocono is considered a hometown track for the Andrettis, who hail from nearby Nazareth. Andretti won his second pole of the season.

FORMULA ONE: Lewis Hamilton earned the pole position for Sunday's German Grand Prix at Nuerburgring, edging three-time defending series champion Sebastian Vettel.

Hamilton set the fastest qualifying time of 1 minute, 29.398 seconds. Vettel had dominated the last two practice sessions but ended up .103 seconds behind Hamilton, who gained his 29th career pole after his team overcame problems with the car during the last two practice sessions, which Hamilton called "disasters."

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