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Monday Motor Sport Report

By Peter McKay, 18 Aug 2014 Motorsport

Monday Motor Sport Report

Power scores vital win; Brabham foiled; Ambrose improves in Michigan; Marquez beaten!

Will Powers to Milwaukee Mile Indycar victory

CAN we dare to hope? Aussie Will Power, so often a bridesmaid in Indycars in recent years, is fired up to finally go that extra step and snaffle his first championship in the North American open-wheel series.

The signs were excellent during Sunday’s Wisconsin 250 on the Milwaukee Mile, with Power crushing the life out of his rivals with a dominant display that began in qualifying when he stormed to pole position in his Penske Chevrolet.

Power went on to control the 250-lap race and take command of the Verizon IndyCar Series championship.

"Oh, man, I love winning on ovals," Power hollered as he crossed the finish line.

"It's a perfect way to start this three-race chase," added Power, who led 229 laps.

Power saw off challenges by Tony Kanaan and his own Penske teammate Juan Pablo Montoya to win by 2.8 seconds over the Colombian. Ganassi team pair Kanaan and Scott Dixon placed third and fourth.

The other Australian in the field, Ryan Briscoe, was sixth in a Ganassi car.

It was Power’s first victory at Milwaukee, the first on a short oval and the first on an oval since October last year. He collected important bonus points for winning the pole and leading the most laps.

His haul takes his lead over team-mate Helio Castroneves (who was 11th at Milwaukee) from four points before the weekend to 39 heading to the penultimate championship round at the Sonoma road course next weekend.

Despite Power’s assertive victory in Milwaukee, his lead is not unassailable. There are still six contenders for the title, which will be decided on August 30.

Indy Lights: Brabham foiled

IT WAS so nearly an Australian double at Milwaukee.

Australia’s third-gen rising star Matty Brabham looked to have a much needed win in his pocket in the supporting Indy Lights championship round after opening a handy eight-second lead late in the race.

But an untimely yellow caution flag and subsequent restart erased Brabham’s advantage and opened the door to his Andretti Autosport team-mate, Zach Veach, who pounced when the lights went green with just four laps remaining.

When Brabham defended to the inside heading into turn one, Veach boldly found grip around the outside and completed the race-deciding manoeuvre.

Brabham, who qualified third, had seized the lead by catching and passing pole man Veach on lap 40 and edging clear. He led for 57 laps, but wasn’t up front for the most important lap.

"I'm just a little bit disappointed,” Brabham said, “but I still have to be happy we ran such a strong race.

“It was unfortunate that the yellow came out when I was in the lead by eight seconds. Zach (Veach) just got around me and managed to snooker me at the end, so congratulations to him."

With the win, Veach has moved to second in the championship and is closing fast on leader Gabby Chaves.  Rookie Brabham is fourth with two races remaining.

NASCAR:  Ambrose improves in Michigan crash fest

VETERAN Jeff Gordon showed why he is favoured to win another NASCAR Sprint Cup championship, converting pole to another victory at the two-mile Michigan International Speedway.

Earlier, Gordon set the track qualifying mark with a speed of 206.558mph.  Yes miles-per-hour!  Average speed.

In Sunday’s race, Gordon passed Joey Logano on a restart with 17 laps to go and held off the field to pocket his third win of the season.

Kevin Harvick placed second, 1.4 seconds back; Logano finished third, Paul Menard fourth and points leader Dale Earnhardt Jr fifth.

Still searching for his first Sprint Cup win of the year, Marcos Ambrose improved to 12th after qualifying 20th.

Danica Patrick triggered a nine-car wreck on a lap 26 restart when her car got taily – aka “loose” – setting off a chain reaction. Three competitors were forced to the garage.

In a separate shunt, Kyle Larson crunched the wall after a tyre went down, a subsequent fire testing out NASCAR’s newest regulation forbidding drivers to leave their wrecked vehicle until told it is fine to do so by either the sanctioning body itself or track or safety officials.

There is an exception made if the driver sees fire or smoke in the cockpit. Larson, who was experiencing both, made the radio call and quickly evacuated.

Missing from the Sprint Cup field for the second consecutive race was Tony Stewart, still dealing with last week’s tragic incident that claimed the life of young sprint car driver Kevin Ward Jr.

MotoGP at Brno brings the unthinkable

HERE’S the sensational, almost indigestible, news from the Czech MotoGP at Brno – Marc Marquez did not win.

Not only was the defending world champion beaten for the first time in 11 races in 2014, he failed to make the podium.

Honda’s Marquez finished a fading fourth in a race splendidly won by Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa.

Yamaha pair Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi took the minor placings, with Marquez fourth with dramas with front tyre grip.

In a stunning, madhouse finish to the Moto3 race at Brno – with nine riders covered by less than one second – Alexis Masbou broke through to win his first grand prix from Enea Bastianini, Danny Kent and Alex Marquez.

Queenslander Jack Miller took fifth but still increased his championship lead to 23 points.

According to motorcycle writer Mat Oxley, this was the second-closest top-nine blanket finish in grand prix history, across all classes – 0.910sec covering first to ninth. The 1990 Rijeka 125 GP was 0.892sec across the first nine, so it still has the record. Just.

Still on bikes (because the Wheels website is a broad church with no discrimination against machines with two or three wheels), European reports are hinting strongly that the FIM Speedway Grand Prix Championship will return to Australia for the first time since 2002.

The speculation suggests the meeting will be at Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium and is set for October 24 next year, making it the final round of the world championship.