|Race winner Red Bull Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany lifts the trophy on the podium after the Singapore F1 Grand Prix at the Marina Bay street circuit in Singapore September 25, 2011. (REUTERS/Tim Chong)
The coronation of Sebastian Vettel as 2011 Formula One world champion didn't come as expected at the end of the Singapore Grand Prix.
The 24-year-old German was prevented from earning his second consecutive title by Jenson Button's fine drive that brought his McLaren Mercedes home in second place.
Button's finish meant that Vettel is now still a single championship point from clinching the title.
Not that Vettel wasn't equal in the Red Bull Renault through the twists and turns of the Singapore temporary street course, because he was. At one point before a mid-race safety car brought the grid to him, Vettel was out front by almost 15 seconds.
And that Button was able to close to within 1.7 seconds of Vettel was due way more to that fact that the Red Bull car had caught a gaggle of back markers near the end of the 61-lap race.
"Towards the end I faced five cars with lots of groups, so it was not that big a margin but I was in control," Vettel said.
That Vettel was able to dominate so thoroughly shows that it would take a real miracle for this F1 season not to be over -- championship-wise -- in Japan.
Vettel, himself, said that the Red Bull team is so good at this point he was never worried even as Button creeped up behind him in Singapore.
"The car was fantastic," he said. "We were in a comfortable position for most of the race."
So the racing world will just have to wait two weeks before it is official that Vettel will become the 14th member of the multiple F1 world champions club.
For the second consecutive race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship, NASCAR drivers were fighting the gas gauge as much as they were fighting one another at the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Four-time champion Jeff Gordon looked to have the race in hand until his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet team couldn't get a full tank of gas into the car on the final pit stop.
And, again for the second week in a row, Tony Stewart saved enough fuel to bring the No. 14 Stewart Haas Racing Chevrolet to Victory Lane and a commanding lead in the Chase.
Stewart's win was only because Clint Bowyer gambled and came up snake eyes, running out of gas with two laps remaining.
CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR
The NASCAR Canadian Tire Series championship was never in doubt as Scott Steckly finished second in the final race Saturday at Kawartha Speedway in the No. 22 Canadian Tire Dodge to claim his second national title.
But D.J. Kennington did give it the old college try as he did all he could do to defend his 2010 championship in the No. 17 Castrol Edge Dodge.
Kennington was the fastest car all day, but with Steckly's huge point lead going into the race, it was all over almost before it started.
J.R. Fitzpatrick had a great race, finishing third in the No. 84 Equipment Express Chevrolet, but a pit road penalty cost him a chance to challenge Kennington.
Kerry Micks took fourth in the No. 02 Dickies/Beyond Digital Imaging Ford, with Mark Dilley rounding out the Top 5 in the No. 9 Rheem/Exide Dodge.
NASCAR Sprint Cup sophomore Joey Logano is blaming his season-long slump in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota on tires. Logano told the Sporting News that the new tires Goodyear had this year in NASCAR's top loop didn't fit his driving style. Funny, it didn't seem to hurt fellow sophomore Brad Keselowski ... After watching the night race on the streets of Singapore, it reaffirms my belief that the IZOD IndyCar Series is going in the right direction by doing more events in downtown cores like Toronto, St. Petersburg, Long Beach and now Baltimore.