Sunday's roundup: Shortened race decides final 3 Chase spots

John Marshall
Associated Press

Avondale, Ariz. — Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. advanced to the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship finale after surviving a long Sunday that ended with a rain-shortened race at Phoenix International Raceway.

The race was delayed nearly seven hours by a series of storms, forcing the penultimate race in the Chase to start under the lights at the mile oval.

More rain forced NASCAR to called it after 219 laps, with Harvick second behind winner Dale Earnhardt Jr., Busch fourth and Truex 14th. They will join Jeff Gordon next weekend in the finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, with the series title decided by finishing order among the four drivers.

Carl Edwards finished 12th, leaving him five points out of the final spot for the Chase finale. Joey Logano, Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski also missed the finale.

Gordon had the only spot at Homestead locked up before the race, thanks to his win at Martinsville two weeks ago.

That left seven drivers fighting for three spots, including three sets of teammates.

The long rain delay included numerous stops and starts around pit road, with drivers going on to their cars a couple times, only to be forced back into the garage area.

Once the race started, Kurt Busch put himself in a difficult position, forced to the back after being penalized for jumping the start.

He worked his way back toward the front, reaching the top 10 near the race’s midpoint.

That put all the Chase contenders near the front, hoping they could make the move to get into the top three with Gordon.

The Chase pressure ratcheted up with about 120 laps left when Joey Gase slid up into the wall, causing a caution.

With rain moving toward the track Harvick, Kyle Busch and Truex were in the final four, and Edwards five points behind the final spot.

The caution stretched out as crews tried to clean the track and the drivers were held in a yellow holding pattern as rain started to fall at PIR.

“We can’t let it end like this,” Edwards told his team on the radio.

The cars ran under caution for several more laps before being sent to pit road as the track was red flagged.

The rain picked up after that, ending the race with Earnhardt in the lead, three drivers happy and four others wondering what might have happened had the race continued.

Worsham wins NHRA

Del Worsham raced to his first Funny Car season title and went on to take the event victory in the season-ending Auto Club NHRA Finals.

Worsham, who races for Ypsilanti-based Kalitta Motorsports, beat playoff rival Jack Beckman in the semifinals to secure the season title and join Kenny Bernstein and Gary Scelzi as the only driver to win championships in both nitro categories.

Worsham, the 2011 Top Fuel champion, beat Tommy Johnson Jr. in the final round for his fourth victory of the season, 30th in Funny Car and 38th overall.

“When I put this trophy next to my other one at home it will be real,” Worsham said. “Every time I looked up there was a Schumacher car sitting there in my face. I was nervous about it. I was counting points. I am not going to tell you it was like any other race, because it wasn’t. I know the points are the same as the first round at Charlotte, but the circumstances here were much greater.”

Worsham won the final with a 3.900-second run at 328.14 mph in a Toyota Camry.

Andrew Hines won his second consecutive and fifth championship in Pro Stock Motorcycle when his closest rival, Jerry Savoie, lost in the second round.

Shawn Langdon won the Top Fuel event, Allen Johnson topped the Pro Stock field, and Eddie Krawiec won in Pro Stock Motorcycle. Langdon outran season champion Antron Brown in the final with a 3.715 at 332.43, Johnson beat Vincent Nobile with a 6.541 at 210.18 in a Dodge Dart, and Krawiec topped Matt Smith with a 6.888 at 194.21 on a Harley-Davidson.

Rosberg wins Brazilian Grand Prix

Nico Rosberg is dominating the tail end of the Formula One season, cruising to his second straight victory at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Too bad it’s a bit too late.

Rosberg led from start to finish at Interlagos to beat Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton, who already wrapped up the season-long drivers’ title last month in Texas. Rosberg has won both races since then, also finishing first in Mexico, and has grabbed the last five pole positions.

“I pushing now just as I was at the beginning of the season,” Rosberg said after his fifth win of the season. “I don’t have an exact explanation for why it’s going so strongly now. But I just want to keep it going.”

He can make it three in a row in the final race in two weeks in Abu Dhabi, although this victory was enough to clinch second place in the standings.

Pressed repeatedly to explain his form, the German had a simple explanation.

“I think I’ve just raised my game,” he said. “That’s it.”

The race itself had little excitement as Rosberg and Hamilton spent the entire afternoon 1-2, remaining that way through three pits stops. Hamilton turned some of the fastest laps near the end but couldn’t catch his teammate and rival.

Rosberg finished in 1 hour, 31 minutes, 9.090 seconds, 7.7 seconds ahead of Hamilton.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. gets congratulations after winning the rain-shortened NASCAR Sprint Cup series auto race Sunday in Avondale, Ariz.