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Martin Truex Jr.'s dominant 600 victory was almost just more bad luck

Sports / Auto Racing /

CONCORD, N.C. -- Martin Truex Jr. was so utterly dominant in Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 that Jimmie Johnson said Truex "was playing with us."

Johnson was right. His comment implied that Truex, while driving away with the easiest victory ever seen at Charlotte Motor Speedway, did so with a hint of mischief.

And maybe Truex did.

When Truex was ...Read more

Rookie Alexander Rossi wins 100th Indy 500

Sports / Auto Racing /

INDIANAPOLIS -- Alexander Rossi, who didn't know four months ago he would even race in the IndyCar Series, stretched his final tank of fuel just long enough Sunday to win a wild 100th Indianapolis 500.

Rossi, a Californian who had prepared for a career in Formula One, coasted across the Indianapolis Motor Speedway finish line after going easy ...Read more

Martin Truex wins Coca-Cola 600 in dominating fashion

Sports / Auto Racing /

CONCORD, N.C. -- Martin Truex Jr. turned in a performance for the ages Sunday night on his way to winning the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Truex started on the pole and led 392 of 400 laps and 588 of 600 miles -- the most in one race in NASCAR history -- to win for the first time this season and virtually secure himself a place in...Read more

Townsend Bell, Ryan Hunter-Reay mishap knocks them from Indy 500 contention

Sports / Auto Racing /

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Andretti Autosport team won the Indianapolis 500 with rookie Alexander Rossi -- but only after two of its other drivers took themselves out of contention.

Ryan Hunter-Reay and Townsend Bell were running first and second when they pitted just past the halfway point.

As they were leaving the pits, Bell tried to pass Hunter-...Read more

Rookie Alexander Rossi wins Indianapolis 500

Sports / Auto Racing /

INDIANAPOLIS -- After parking in Victory Lane, Alexander Rossi removed his helmet and sat motionless in his race car for a moment, seemingly to fully grasp what had just happened.

And why not? Rossi, 24, had won the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 as a rookie after a stunning turn of events in the closing laps.

The native of Nevada City,...Read more

Indy 500 start is unique and dangerous

Sports / Auto Racing /

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis 500 is steeped with traditions but only one kept Michael Andretti awake the night before a race: The start.

"It's all you think about," said Andretti, a former IndyCar driver and now team owner. "You run that start through your mind about a million times. There's nothing like it."

In a format as dangerous as it...Read more

Kimball can almost see his big moment coming

Sports / Auto Racing /

INDIANAPOLIS -- It's a dream Charlie Kimball plays in his head over and over. The Camarillo, Calif., native has just captured the Indianapolis 500, and he imagines what it's like indulging in the traditions accorded the winner.

"Dreams of milk in Victory Lane, dreams of the wreath, dreams of coming back first thing Monday morning and getting ...Read more

Team Penske brings NASCAR, IndyCar stars together under one roof

Sports / Auto Racing /

MOORESVILLE, N.C. -- Simon Pagenaud doesn't get many second glances from the local citizenry as he goes about his daily routine in the Lake Norman area -- whether he's working out at the gym or eating at a restaurant.

"I don't have any issues, really," said Pagenaud, a race-car driver whose focus this weekend is on the Indianapolis 500, not the...Read more

Options abound for great stories in 100th Indy 500

Sports / Auto Racing /

INDIANAPOLIS -- James Hinchcliffe's return from near-fatal injuries in 2015 to the Indianapolis 500 pole in 2016 provided the sort of story befitting a milestone running of the iconic race.

Will the 100th running Sunday provide a similar fairy-tale outcome? This race offers plenty of possibilities, both historic and emotional.

End Of A Drought...Read more

Aerodynamic improvements help Honda close gap at Indy 500

Sports / Auto Racing /

INDIANAPOLIS -- Honda-powered Indy cars remain easily distinguishable from their Chevrolet counterparts by a hump on the engine cover.

That's how they showed up last year with the debut of aero kits, and the appearance hasn't changed much. But development has helped minimize performance differences ahead of Sunday's 100th running of the ...Read more

Keeping it tight at Indy

Sports / Auto Racing /

INDIANAPOLIS -- Tony Kanaan, the veteran Brazilian seeking his second Indianapolis 500 victory, topped the speed chart Friday in final practice for the 100th running of the race.

Kanaan, who reached 226.280 mph during his fastest lap, is a 41-year-old fan favorite who finally won the Indy 500 in 2013 after 11 failed attempts.

"I'm very happy ...Read more

Carl Edwards-Kyle Busch peace talks: Everything's better with chocolate

Sports / Auto Racing /

CONCORD, N.C. -- It was a sweet ending to what had been a pretty sour interaction.

This was back in late April, shortly after Sprint Cup driver Carl Edwards bumped Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch in Richmond to win the Toyota Owners 400.

Edwards didn't wreck Busch, but second-place Busch likely would have won that race had Edwards not ...Read more

Zebra shark predicts Dale Earnhardt Jr. will win Coca-Cola 600

Sports / Auto Racing /

Dale Earnhardt Jr., NASCAR's fan-favorite driver, tops the charts even with creatures of the sea.

Freedom, the resident zebra shark at Sea Life Charlotte-Concord (N.C.) Aquarium , predicted Friday that Dale Jr. will win Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The shark chose Dale Jr. over Jimmie Johnson by "picking" the No. 88 flag...Read more

At 100, Indy 500 is the place to be

Sports / Auto Racing /

Two years ago, USA Today polled its readers for their bucket lists of sports events they most wanted to attend at least once.

The top vote-getter wasn't the Super Bowl or the Masters or the Olympics.

It was the Indianapolis 500.

The iconic race returns Sunday for the 100th running of the Memorial Day weekend classic, which draws more than a ...Read more

NASCAR drivers' council raising its profile in second year

Sports / Auto Racing /

CONCORD, N.C. -- NASCAR's drivers' council means different things to different people.

For Dale Earnhardt Jr., it's about possibilities. For Brad Keselowski, it's about working together. For Joey Logano, it's about the nuts and bolts of the sport. For Kevin Harvick, it's communication.

The nine-driver council, in only its second year of ...Read more

Indy's 100th celebration is a great opportunity, but then what?

Sports / Auto Racing /

INDIANAPOLIS -- The problem with the party of the century is the possibility of an epic hangover.

Sunday is a real chance for the Indianapolis 500 to regain some of the luster worn away by politics, changing tastes and the retirements of American heroes.

It provides the opportunity for a series to showcase an excellent product in front of ...Read more

The Charlotte Observer's annual list of NASCAR's 25 most influential people, places and things

Sports / Auto Racing /

This has been a season of change in NASCAR.

A new aero package has changed the quality of racing, mostly for the better. A charter system for teams and a more-empowered driver's council are altering the landscape of the sport's power structure. Before the season is over, a new title sponsor for the Cup series will be announced.

All this change...Read more

NASCAR driver Austin Dillon comfortable following Dale Earnhardt in No. 3

Sports / Auto Racing /

In the years between Dale Earnhardt's death on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500 and 2014, no one drove the No. 3 car at NASCAR's top level.

Still, Earnhardt fans showed up to races decked out in his gear.

The No. 3 has been back on the track in the Sprint Cup Series since 2014, when Austin Dillon took it over, and fans of the No. 3 remain ...Read more

Kyle Busch looking for first Cup victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway

Sports / Auto Racing /

Kyle Busch has a chance to accomplish something pretty special over the next two weeks.

Busch has 37 career Sprint Cup victories in 402 starts. He has also won at each of NASCAR's current 23 tracks except two -- Charlotte Motor Speedway and Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.

Those tracks, as it happens, are the next two next on the schedule: Sunday's Coca-...Read more

Benny Parsons, Rick Hendrick lead NASCAR Hall of Fame voting

Sports / Auto Racing /

Two drivers, two team owners and one of the sport's pioneers were voted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame's Class of 2017 on Wednesday.

Benny Parsons, who won the 1973 Cup championship and died in 2007, and Mark Martin, owner of 96 victories across NASCAR's three national series, join team owners Rick Hendrick and Richard Childress in the class. ...Read more