Trio back in the thick of the Chase

Jimmie Johnson poses with an ESPY award as he arrives at the 2011 ESPY Awards in Los Angeles in...

Jimmie Johnson poses with an ESPY award as he arrives at the 2011 ESPY Awards in Los Angeles in this July 13, 2011 file photo. (REUTERS FILES/Danny Moloshok)

Dean McNulty, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:01 PM ET

TORONTO - It was a day of redemption for three drivers — Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards — in race three of the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship at Dover International Speedway on Sunday.

Busch recovered from a 22nd-place finish last week at New Hampshire to win in the No. 22 Penske Dodge — only his second victory of the 2011 season.

The win moved Busch from ninth to fourth in the standings.

But the biggest move had to come from five-time champion Johnson who had been in less than championship form in the first to Chase races.

In fact, many Cup observers were already writing the obituary for the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet team who had fallen to 10th place in the standings. Johnson himself said before Sunday’s AAA 400 that anything less than a podium finish and his five-season run might be all but over.

Sunday’s second place, however, with races coming up at his traditionally best tracks — Kansas and Charlotte — put Johnson right back in the hunt, with the driver moving up to fifth, for an unprecedented sixth championship season.

And Edwards, who had the car to beat in the first half of this season in the No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, showed with a strong third that he must be considered back in the race for his first title as he moved into a tie with Kevin Harvick — who finished 10th Sunday — at the top of the leader board.

Biggest losers at Dover were Tony Stewart, who finished 25th after winning the first two Chase races, Dale Earnhardt Jr. who finished 24th and Ryan Newman in 23rd.

POWER’S LUCK RUNS OUT

Will Power’s luck — he has five Top 5 finishes including three wins in the past six IZOD IndyCar races — ran out on Lap 66 of the Indy 300 at Kentucky Motor Speedway on Sunday when his No. 12 Penske Racing Dallara was hit on pit lane by Ana Beatriz, allowing rival Dario Franchitti to take over the championship lead.

Ed Carpenter was the surprise winner in No. 67 Sarah Fisher Racing Dallara.

But the real story was Franchitti catching an unbelievably lucky break when Power and Beatriz came together. A poor race — by his No. 10 Ganassi Racing team’s standards — had Franchitti back in 11th place when the green flag flew.

But his second-place finish combined with Power’s 19th, puts him 18 points in front with only the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway oval left on the calendar.

FINISH LINES

Toronto’s Kyle Marcelli ended his America Le Mans Series season with a podium finish with driving partners Tomy Drissi and Chapman Ducote when he picked up second place in the LMPC class at Road Atlanta’s Petit Le Mans Saturday. The 1,000 mile endurance race overall winner and ALMS 2011 champion was the Pugeot team of Franck Montagny, Stephane Sarrazin and Alexander Wurz in the LMP1 class. ... Carl Edwards pulled away from Brad Keselowski and Clint Bowyer after a restart on Lap 168 of 200 to win Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Dover ... Ron Hornaday scored his 50th NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win Saturday in the Kentucky 225 at Kentucky Speedway ... Gold-medal winning X-Games motocross driver Travis Pastrana said Sunday that he hopes to race in as many as 20 stock car races — both in the K&N Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series — next season. “The goal is definitely to race as much as possible,” he said. Pastrana’s NASCAR debut was put on hold earlier this season when he broke his ankle at the X-Games in Los Angeles. ... Stefan Wilson won the Firestone Indy Light Series Kentucky 100 on Sunday. Only five cars were still running at the race conclusion.

NASCAR SPRINT CUP

Kurt Busch won just his second race of the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup season but it was enough to lift the No. 22 Penske Racing Dodge team to fourth in the Chase for the Championship after three of 10 events in stock car’s version of the playoffs.

Bush beat back bitter rival Jimmie Johnson in the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet over the final 43 laps of the AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway.

Johnson’s second, however, moved him back into contention for a sixth NASCAR crown.

Carl Edwards moved into a tie at the top of the points parade with Kevin Harvick after finishing third in the No. 99 Roush Fenway Ford.

IZOD INDYCAR SERIES

Ed Carpenter earned his first IZOD IndyCar Series victory in the No. 67 Sarah Fisher Racing Dallara by edging out four-time champion Dario Franchitti by a mere 9/100ths of a second at the Kentucky Speedway.

It was the first win for team owner Sarah Fisher.

Franchitti’s second-place finish vaulted him past points leader Will Power with one race left in the 2011 season.

Power, who started the race on the pole, collided with Ana Beatriz on the first set of pit stops damaging the No. 12 Penske Racing machine.

He wound up 19th and 18 points back of Franchitti.

Scott Dixon was third in the No. 9 Ganassi Dallara.

Canada’s James Hinchcliffe had the best finish of his rookie career, a fourth in the No. 06 Newman Hass racing Dallara.


Videos

Photos