Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Sprint Cup Championship 4 set after Logano wins a wild Can-Am 500

AVONDALE, Ariz. — After more than three hours of racing, NASCAR's championship field was decided over two frenzied overtime restarts.

Matt Kenseth probably should have won the Can-Am 500 on Sunday to earn an automatic berth into next week's title-deciding race. But the first attempt at a two-lap sprint to the finish went haywire and Kenseth collided with Alex Bowman.

Just like that, Joey Logano was the new leader, and defending NASCAR champ Kyle Busch was second, which is how they finished. Any 1-2 finish would have put both in the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Logano will try to give Roger Penske a season sweep during its 50th anniversary season. Simon Pagenaud won the IndyCar title in September.

"I've never felt this good about a win before," Logano said. "I feel like I just won the Daytona 500 again."

Busch will face Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson, who is seeking a record-tying seventh championship, in Homestead.

JGR, which was trying to get all four of its Toyotas into the final, wound up with two and Busch wasn't feeling celebratory. He believed his contact with Bowman triggered the accident that wrecked Kenseth's season.

"It's really unfortunate and devastating to have the race come down like that," Busch said.

The race went to overtime after Michael McDowell spun his car into the wall. Needing to stay ahead of Logano and Busch, Kenseth took the lead on the restart from the outside. Thinking he was okay heading into the first turn as his spotter, Chris Osborne, said the coast was clear, Kenseth tried to get the inside line and was clipped from behind, sending him into the wall. Osborne tweeted an apology, but Kenseth refused to blame him.

"It's a team effort. Win as a team, lose as a team," he said. "Things happen in a hurry."

PIT ROAD PENALTIES: NASCAR enforced a rule against passing the pace car when a driver dips onto pit road for a stop. Martin Truex and Johnson were penalized, their cars held for a lap on pit road. "This is absolutely ridiculous, NASCAR," Johnson said on his radio.

FORMULA ONE: Lewis Hamilton won the Brazilian Grand Prix in Sao Paulo, forcing a showdown for the season title with Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg in Abu Dhabi in the finale in two weeks. The race was stopped by two crashes in driving rain during the first 28 of 71 laps. All but a half-dozen of the early laps were run behind a safety car with drivers struggling to see through the tire spray. Rosberg could have claimed his first F1 title by winning, but still leads the season overall standings with 367 points to 355 for Hamilton, so even if Hamilton wins the last race, Rosberg can claim the title by finishing second or third.

NHRA: Jason Line won the Pro Stock season title and Jerry Savoie took the Pro Stock Motorcycle crown for the first time in the season-ending Auto Club NHRA Finals in Pomona, Calif. Line wrapped up his third season championship when he reached the semifinals, where he lost to Greg Anderson.

Championship 4

Who advanced (seeded order)

1. Joey Logano (Phoenix win)

2. Jimmie Johnson (Martinsville win)

3. Carl Edwards (Texas win)

4. Kyle Busch (qualifies on points)

Who was eliminated

5. Denny Hamlin

6. Matt Kenseth

7. Kevin Harvick

8. Kurt Busch

Season finale

Ford Ecoboost 400, 2:30 Sunday, Homestead-Miami Speedway (267 laps, 400.5 miles). TV: Ch. 8


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