3 Jan

MOTORSPORTS ROUNDUP Local drivers have it rough at Fontana

first_imgThe bump turned Gordon around a nifty 180 degrees on the front stretch. For a few seconds, Gordon adeptly steered the car parallel to the outside wall until it careened across the track and onto the infield. “It was my spotter’s fault,” Gordon said. “He didn’t tell me somebody was on the outside and I drifted up. I had the 41 (Reed Sorenson) on the inside. I saw him, but I never saw Bowyer come around the outside. “About the time I hit Bowyer, he was like, `Somebody is on the outside.’ I was like, `It’s too late.’ ” Ricky Rudd, who won his first NASCAR race at Riverside in 1983 and is retiring after this year, also had an early exit. On lap 179, he was sent flying off the track in a chain-reaction collision that started when Jeff Gordon tapped Jeremy Mayfield from behind. Rudd’s No. 88 Snickers/Generation Max Ford suffered the worst damage of the six cars involved, and the 50-year-old walked away gingerly clutching his left wrist. He was driven via ambulance to a local hospital for evaluation. From news services Jimmie Johnson was the poster boy for local-kid-makes-good. The native of El Cajon, an eastern suburb of San Diego, won his Nextel Cup-leading fifth race of the season on Sunday at his “home” track. As for the other drivers with Southern California ties, the Sharp Aquos 500 couldn’t have gone much worse. Start with Orange native Robby Gordon. On lap 87, his No. 7 Original Road House Grill/Jim Beam Ford went for a backward spin, literally, when he brushed against the No. 07 Jack Daniel’s Chevrolet of Clint Bowyer. It was a less-than-storybook ending to the 900th start of his career, second only to Richard Petty’s 1,185 in NASCAR history. Former Inland Empire resident David Gilliland was involved in the same six-car collision that ended Rudd’s night. Although Gilliland was able to continue in the race, his No. 38 M&M’s Ford sustained some body damage and, after climbing to 11th with under 40 laps to go, he settled for a 25th-place finish. Bakersfield native Kevin Harvick dropped behind Kurt Busch, from 11th to 12th, in the season points standings with a 12th-place finish. Detroit Indy Grand Prix Tony Kanaan, the leader after a late restart, had enough fuel to win the shortened race and avoid a last-lap melee that collected IndyCar Series points leader Scott Dixon and Kanaan’s Andretti Green Racing teammate, Dario Franchitti. It was Kanaan’s series-best fifth victory this season and 12th of his career. Danica Patrick avoided the wreckage and earned her first career second-place finish. Dan Wheldon was third. Despite the crash, which dropped Franchitti from fourth to sixth, he ended the day three points ahead of Dixon heading into Sunday’s final race at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. Kanaan, 39 points behind his teammate, remains mathematically alive in the championship hunt. Dutch Grand Prix Justin Wilson won the Champ Car race at Assen, Netherlands, holding off Jan Heylen of Belgium to clinch his first race of the season. Bruno Junqueira was third. Sebastien Bourdais’ hopes of clinching a fourth straight title were hampered after a poor start forced him to drop from pole position. It was the Frenchman’s first loss in four races in Europe. Bourdais, who finished seventh, still has a 58-point lead over Wilson heading into the next race on Oct. 21 in Surfers Paradise, Australia. NHRA U.S. Nationals Jeff Arend led qualifying in Funny Car and Max Naylor was tops in Pro Stock at O’Reilly Raceway Park in Clermont, Ind. Top Fuel leader Tony Schumacher and Pro Stock Motorcycle racer Chip Ellis also led their events. John Force and Warren Johnson, the winningest drivers in NHRA history, failed to make the cut. Top Fuel contenders Whit Bazemore and J.R. Todd also failed to qualify. Staff writer J.P. Hoornstra contributed to this notebook160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img