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Five thoughts on IndyCar at Houston, NASCAR at Kansas and more

October 07, 2013|By Jim Peltz
  • Workers remove Dario Franchitti from his wrecked car Sunday.
Workers remove Dario Franchitti from his wrecked car Sunday. (Juan DeLeon / Associated…)

Looking back at a chaotic Sunday in motor-racing, including the IndyCar race at Houston and the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kansas, five things come to mind:

Dario Franchitti might understandably mull retirement now. This is mere speculation. But his frightening crash into the catch fence -- which left the Scot with a spinal fracture and broken right ankle, and injured 13 spectators -- might give him serious pause. After all, Franchitti is 40 and he's won all there is in IndyCar: Three Indianapolis 500s and four series championships. Then again, racers by nature hunger for that next victory regardless of their record.

Don't count Helio Castroneves out of the IndyCar title hunt just yet. The three-time Indy 500 winner, seeking his first championship, had a disastrous weekend at the Houston doubleheader with mechanical problems in both races. He arrived with a 49-point lead over Scott Dixon and left trailing him by 25 points. Now it comes down to the finale at Fontana on Oct. 19. But remember: A year ago Will Power went to Fontana with a 17-point lead and lost the title to Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Let's hope Kyle Busch remains a factor in NASCAR's Chase. Love him or hate him, Busch keeps things interesting. At Kansas he had run-ins with Juan Pablo Montoya in the Cup race and Brad Keselowski in the Nationwide race, and Busch outwardly complained about the Kansas Speedway surface and the tires on his No. 18 Toyota. When Busch spun and crashed at Kansas, leaving him with a 34th-place finish, his sarcasm was classic Busch: "Just fine and dandy," he said on his car radio. Busch fell to fifth in the Chase and he's 35 points behind leader and teammate Matt Kenseth.

John Force will come to Pomona in search of more history. With his second consecutive funny car victory, this one in Reading, Pa., the 64-year-old Force now has a 65-point lead over Matt Hagan in the championship standings with two events left: Las Vegas on Oct. 24-27 and Pomona on No. 7-10. If Force can hold on to the lead, he'll break his own record and earn a remarkable 16th funny car championship.

The Formula One season is now an extended coronation of Sebastian Vettel. The Red Bull driver won his fourth consecutive race in South Korea -- and his eighth on the year -- giving him a comfortable 77-point lead over Fernando Alonso in the title standings. There are five races left in the season, but the 26-year-old German is likely to lock up his fourth consecutive championship well in advance, almost certainly before the U.S. Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, on Nov. 17.


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