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Auto racing roundup: Chase Elliott repeats at Watkins Glen; John Force wins 150th Funny Car title in NHRA

UPDATED: Sun., Aug. 4, 2019

Chase Elliott celebrates his victory with his pit crew after winning a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Watkins Glen International, Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019, in Watkins Glen, N.Y. (John Munson / Associated Press)
Chase Elliott celebrates his victory with his pit crew after winning a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Watkins Glen International, Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019, in Watkins Glen, N.Y. (John Munson / Associated Press)
Associated Press

Make it two in a row for Chase Elliott at Watkins Glen International in New York.

A year after racing to his first career NASCAR Cup victory at The Glen, Elliott won a second time in the No. 9 for Hendrick Motorsports, besting Martin Truex Jr. just as he did a year ago. The Glen hadn’t had a repeat winner in nearly a decade, since Marcos Ambrose in 2011-12.

It was a two-car race for more than half the 220.5-mile distance and the entire final 40 laps around the high-speed 2.45-mile natural terrain layout.

Truex began to exert some pressure after sitting behind Elliott for more than 10 laps in the final segment. Elliott held his ground until Truex’s No 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota closed with six laps to go, waiting to pounce on a mistake that never came.

With two laps left, Truex still couldn’t get close enough to make a move as Elliott drove flawlessly, winning by 0.454 seconds.

Elliott, the pole-sitter, led 80 of 90 laps and snapped a long slump.

Denny Hamlin was third, Erik Jones fourth for Gibbs and Ryan Blaney fifth in his No. 22 Penske Racing Ford after starting from the rear of the field.

Seven-time champion Jimmy Johnson finished 19th as he struggles to make the playoffs.

Truex was chasing a sweep of the two traditional road races on the schedule. He won at Sonoma in June for the second straight time and has five straight top-two finishes on road courses.

Elliott won the first two stages, dominating the first, and Truex moved into contention about a third of the way through the race.

Truex began to challenge Elliott for the lead entering the first turn on Lap 55, moving briefly inside on the 90-degree, downhill right-hander but backed off to wait for another shot. They were alone at the front of the field, 12 seconds ahead when Elliott dived to pit road on Lap 60 for his final stop. Truex followed suit the next time around and was back behind Elliott, a bit farther back this time.

Truex stayed back but like last year began to close the gap with 20 laps left. Elliott, who overcame some mistakes in the closing laps a year ago that nearly opened the door for Truex, maintained a steady lead of just a few car-lengths ahead for almost the entire stage, the two 5 seconds ahead of Hamlin in third.

The race was stopped when Johnson, desperate for a good finish, spun out coming out of the carousel turn, a sweeping right-hander, and seconds later Bubba Wallace spun Kyle Busch, who was running 10th on Lap 62. Busch and Wallace had banged each other while racing down the front straightaway before Wallace had the last tap, sending Busch’s No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota around entering the first turn. Busch, who started third, finished 11th.

Elliott and Truex were back in front for the restart on Lap 66, but Truex challenged right off the green flag, the two exchanging bumps speeding up through the esses as Elliott never relinquished the lead.

In this photo provided by the NHRA, Funny Car legend John Force competes in the NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways in Kent, Wash., Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019. Force raced to his record-extending 150th Funny Car victory Sunday. The 70-year-old Force won for the first time since the Colorado event last year, beating Ron Capps in the final with a 3.971-second run at 320.58 mph in the Peak Auto Lighting Chevrolet. (Marc Gewertz / Associated Press)
In this photo provided by the NHRA, Funny Car legend John Force competes in the NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways in Kent, Wash., Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019. Force raced to his record-extending 150th Funny Car victory Sunday. The 70-year-old Force won for the first time since the Colorado event last year, beating Ron Capps in the final with a 3.971-second run at 320.58 mph in the Peak Auto Lighting Chevrolet. (Marc Gewertz / Associated Press)

NHRA

John Force raced to his record-extending 150th Funny Car victory in the NHRA Northwest Nationals in Kent, Washington.

The 70-year-old Force won for the first time since the Colorado event last year, beating Ron Capps in the final with a 3.971-second run at 320.58 mph in the Peak Auto Lighting Chevrolet.

“It’s been 25 races, since Denver last year,” Force said. “(Crew chief Brian) Corradi and Daniel Hood and (Tim) Fabrisi have had to put up with me all year, not happy with the way the car steered, how I sat in it, not happy with so many things. And then I got the monkey on my back and it drives you nuts. You go to bed every night, but the monkey taught me so much, that you need to focus on your car if you want to do good.

“I’m just doing stuff all the time and I don’t even know my car. And you know Corradi and Coil said. `You’ve got to get to know your car. You’ve got to live it, you’ve got to love it. You’ve got to study the drivers.’ I said I do all that, but I wasn’t. So sometimes you need a slap in the face. And that was the monkey that made me focus.”

The 16-time season champion won for the ninth time at Pacific Raceways.

“Give me a good race car, I can race,” Force said. “I may not be as young as these kids and a hot shot on that tree, but I can still get it done. I’m glad it’s over and I can calm down now and not live with that, thinking you’d never get it. I know I’ve only got a few years left. I want to enjoy it. I want to have fun. And when you can’t win … I’ve been trained to win and it’s just it’s just not fun.”

Force’s first career win came June 28, 1987, in Montreal – exactly 700 Funny Car races ago.

Austin Prock won in Top Fuel, and Matt Hartford topped the Pro Stock field.

Prock won for the first time in his career, beating points leader Steve Torrence in the final with a 3.875 at 307.86. Hartford denied Greg Anderson’s bid to sweep the Western Swing, going 6.606 at 209.33 in the final round in a Camaro.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain crosses the finish line as he wins the Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix at the Hungaroring racetrack in Mogyorod, northeast of Budapest, Hungary, Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019. (Andrej Isakovic / Associated Press)
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain crosses the finish line as he wins the Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix at the Hungaroring racetrack in Mogyorod, northeast of Budapest, Hungary, Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019. (Andrej Isakovic / Associated Press)

Formula One

Lewis Hamilton overtook Max Verstappen near the end of the Hungarian Grand Prix to earn his 81st Formula One race victory and extend his championship lead.

The Mercedes driver is now only 10 wins behind seven-time F1 champion Michael Schumacher’s record of 91.

Mercedes made a strategic gamble with about 20 laps to go to bring Hamilton in for a second tire change, while Red Bull decided to keep Verstappen out on track in the hope he could defend on a difficult track for overtaking.

It proved a Mercedes masterstroke.

The much quicker tires helped Hamilton swallow up Verstappen’s 20-second lead and he finally got past the Red Bull on lap 67 of 70, having failed to overtake him several times earlier in the race.

Sebastian Vettel finished behind Verstappen in third place for Ferrari ahead of teammate Charles Leclerc and McLaren’s Carlos Sainz Jr.

Verstappen held his lead from pole position under pressure from Hamilton and his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas heading into Turn 1. But it was Hamilton who ended on top to clinch a seventh career win in Hungary, while Verstappen earning a consolation point for the fastest lap.

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