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September 18, 2012 | By Jim Peltz
When Dodge announced last month it was leaving NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series after 2012, the automaker was careful to say it would still help its sole Cup team, Penske Racing, try to win a title this year. Dodge might just get that done. Penske's Brad Keselowski has the early lead in NASCAR's 10-race Chase for the Cup championship playoff after winning the Chase opener last weekend at Chicagoland Speedway. And although Keselowski, 28, is only in his third full year in the Cup series, few discount his ability to keep pace with his more experienced Chase rivals, including five-time champion Jimmie Johnson and reigning titleholder Tony Stewart.
September 17, 2012 | By Jack McCarthy
Brad Keselowski is NASCAR's new man to beat. The 28-year-old third-generation driver seized the Chase for the Sprint Cup series lead with a late surge and a 3.1-second victory over favorite Jimmie Johnson in Sunday's Geico 400 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. Whether it lasts is another matter. Nine races remain in the circuit's championship series. "It feels like Round 1 of a heavyweight title bout," said Keselowski, whose father, grandfather and uncle also raced.
September 17, 2012 | By Jim Peltz
Say what you will about the troubled state of IndyCar racing — and there's no shortage of problems to discuss — but the series still can put on a compelling show. That was evident on a hot Saturday night at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, where the Izod IndyCar Series returned for the first time in seven years. The MAVTV 500 was the series' season finale, with drivers Will Power and Ryan Hunter-Reay locked in a close championship battle. So there was a race within the race, with 26 drivers trying not only to win the event but Power and Hunter-Reay trying to finish high enough to capture the title.
September 16, 2012 | By Jack McCarthy
JOLIET, Ill. - Five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson has a leg up on the field in his bid for a sixth title. Johnson claimed the pole for Sunday's Chase for the Sprint Cup race, the first of 10 in the Chase series. He tops a 43-car field for the GEICO 400, topping with his 182.865-mph qualifying lap at Chicagoland Speedway. "I'm very happy that we got a pole qualifying. We laid down a good one today," said Johnson, who never has won at Chicagoland. "We've been close, [but]
September 16, 2012 | By Jim Peltz, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
"I've always had mixed feelings about this place," IndyCar driver Tony Kanaan said of Auto Club Speedway, and it's not surprising. Fellow driver Greg Moore, one of Kanaan's close friends, was killed in a racing crash at the two-mile Fontana track in 1999. "It's not something you want to remember," Kanaan said. "Having said that, every time I'm here I finish in the top five," Kanaan said, then added that the net result was "it's definitely a good feeling to come back. " Kanaan was seeking his first win this year when the Izod IndyCar Series held its season-ending race Saturday night at Auto Club Speedway, the first time Indy-style cars had raced there since October 2005.
August 20, 2012 | By Lance Pugmire, Los Angeles Times
Dario Franchitti this year joined Johnny Rutherford and Bobby Unser, among others, as a three-time Indianapolis 500 winner, and the 39-year-old Scot may ultimately stand with Rick Mears and A.J. Foyt in open-wheel racing's pantheon. Franchitti came to Fontana this week in advance of the 500-mile finale of the Izod IndyCar Series on Sept. 15 at Auto Club Speedway, where he'll try in a high-speed event to close a season that turned disappointing. Franchitti has finished 14th or worse in five of seven races since Indianapolis.
April 3, 2012 | By David Zucchino
The weekend celebration at the Charlotte Motor Speedway was intended to honor Vietnam veterans, some of whom arrived on motorcycles. By the time it ended late Saturday, two veterans -- ages 71 and 66 -- were dead. Their motorcycles collided on the racetrack after the Vietnam Veterans Homecoming Celebration had ended. Witnesses told local newspapers that motorcycles were being driven wildly around the track, some in opposite directions, just before the collision.  Two motorcycles collided at one of the steepest banks on the track, killing Thomas Franklin Hollingsworth, 71, of Piedmont, S.C., and Alan Richard Mockus, 66, of Alto, Ga. Mockus' wife, Deborah Lynn Mockus, who was riding on the back of his motorcycle, was badly injured.
March 24, 2012 | By Jim Peltz
Here's another sparkling entry in the storied career of Hall of Fame NFL coach Joe Gibbs: His NASCAR team's performance in Fontana. Gibbs driver Joey Logano won the Royal Purple 300 at Auto Club Speedway on Saturday, giving Gibbs a record eight consecutive wins at the two-mile oval in NASCAR's second-level Nationwide Series. The streak "means a lot," said Gibbs, who also has a team in NASCAR's elite Sprint Cup Series that includes Logano. "These things are so hard to win. Southern California, we love coming here.
March 22, 2012 | By Jim Peltz
The buzz surrounding Danica Patrick still is running on all cylinders even though the popular driver, essentially a rookie in her first full season in NASCAR's minor leagues, is off to a so-so start on the racetrack this year. So as she pushes further into the long NASCAR season, Patrick is trying to focus more on what she's learning each week than where she's finishing — at least for now. She has yet to post a top-10 finish after four races in NASCAR's second-level Nationwide Series this year.
March 11, 2012 | By Jim Peltz
One year ago, Tony Stewart had a dominant car at Las Vegas Motor Speedway only to see victory slip away on pit-stop strategy that backfired. "We had the fastest thing on the planet," a crestfallen Stewart said then, "and we just gave it away. " Not so Sunday, when Stewart was just as fast and the reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion vindicated last year's setback by winning the Kobalt Tools 400, his first win at Las Vegas. "Just an awesome day," Stewart said. "Our car was so, so strong today on the restarts.
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