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Frantic finish for Martin in 400

Driver claims narrow victory at Chicagoland Speedway

July 12, 2009

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Joliet, Ill. — Mark Martin won at Chicagoland Speedway after getting a strong jump off a double-file restart with two laps left to win his fourth race of the season.

The 50-year-old Martin led 195 laps Saturday night, the most at the 400-mile race. He dominated most of the early part of the race until he dropped the lead to Jimmie Johnson with just over 40 laps left. But a frantic finish that saw Johnson and Kurt Busch tangle on the track allowed Martin his chance to regain the lead.

“That was fun,” Martin said. “That’s what life is all about.”

Jeff Gordon’s hard-charging finish notched him second place.

Martin and Gordon are Hendrick Motorsports teammates and earned a $1 million bonus. The teammates also grabbed the top two spots at the LifeLock sponsored race in June, setting up the shot at the big cash prize.

“I saw Jeff coming and I was like, ’Get it, get it,”’ Martin said. “I wanted him to get it. This is really, really special. Incredible what everybody does for us.”

Kyle Busch had a dreadful night, and was unruly on the radio as his No. 18 car was on the track and finished 33rd. He complained all race about his car to his crew and fell to 10th in the points standings.

Martin went from 13th to 11th to propel himself into contention for a spot in the Chase for the championship.

Kasey Kahne was third. Points leader Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top five.

Hamlin briefly took the lead late when he pushed past Johnson off a restart. Johnson got loose and bumped into Busch. Busch slammed back, sparking chaos for the two former Cup champions.

Busch and Johnson also ran into each three races back at Sonoma. Busch finished 17th and criticized Johnson’s performance on the track.

auto racing

Webber tops GP field

Nuerburgring, Germany — Red Bull’s Mark Webber earned pole position for Formula One’s German Grand Prix ahead of Brawn GP’s Rubens Barrichello on Saturday. Webber secured his first career pole with a fastest lap of 1 minute, 32.230 seconds around a slippery Nuerburgring circuit.

Franchitti captures pole

Toronto — Dario Franchitti captured his third pole in five IndyCar Series races on Saturday for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, beating part-time Penske driver Will Power for the top spot for today’s Honda Indy.

Seven drivers made one lap before the session was halted because of rain, and when it resumed 73 minutes later the track was still wet and slippery, and Franchitti was one of several drivers to spin out.

The sun broke through and the track was dry in time for the three rounds of qualifying, and Franchitti’s crew made the right changes to his Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda when it mattered the most.

Power was followed by Graham Rahal, Watkins Glen winner Justin Wilson, Canada’s Alex Tagliani, and Mike Conway.

golf

Kerr up by two at Open

Bethlehem, Pa. — Former champion Cristie Kerr scrambled for a 1-over 72 Saturday to take a two-shot lead over Eun Hee Ji of South Korea after three rounds of the U.S. Women’s Open. Kerr, the 2007 champion, was at 2-under 211, the only subpar score after three rounds at Saucon Valley Country Club as she chases her second title in three years.

Futures Tour player Jean Reynolds closed with back-to-back bogeys at 17 and 18 on the way to a 3-over 74. She’s tied for third at 2-over 215 with Teresa Lu, who had a 1-under 70. In-Kyung Kim (72), Hee Young Park (72), Candie Kung (3-under 68) are tied for fifth at 3-over 216.

Fernandez-Castano first

Luss, Scotland — Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano took the 54-hole lead in the Scottish Open with a 7-under 64. He was atop the leaderboard at 14-under 199, one shot ahead of Martin Kaymer (66) and Retief Goosen (69).

Stricker sizzles, shoots 61

Silvis, Ill. — Steve Stricker vaulted into second place Saturday at the John Deere Classic, tying a course record with a 10-under 61 that left him three strokes behind Darron Stiles through two rounds.

tennis

Seles inducted into Hall

Newport, R.I. — Monica Seles, 35, was enshrined in the International Tennis Hall of Fame during a ceremony on Newport’s grass courts Saturday. She was the world’s No. 1 women’s player for 178 weeks overall and a winner of nine Grand Slam singles titles.

Seles won 53 tournaments in her career, including the 1996 Australian Open.

Seles was enshrined in nearly a 90-minute ceremony along with master’s player Andres Gimeno, the oldest player ever to win the French at 34 years, 10 months. Dr. Robert Johnson was inducted posthumously.

U.S. down 2-1 at Davis Cup

Porec, Croatia — Bob and Mike Bryan defeated Roko Karanusic and Lovro Zovko in doubles to keep the United States alive in the Davis Cup quarterfinals, cutting Croatia’s lead to 2-1.

nba

Thunder sign three players

Oklahoma City — The Oklahoma City Thunder have signed guard James Harden, center B.J. Mullens and forward Serge Ibaka.

boxing

Gatti found dead in hotel

Sao Paulo — Former boxing champion Arturo Gatti was found dead in a hotel room early Saturday. The body of the former junior welterweight champ was discovered in his room at a tourist resort, where Gatti had arrived on Friday with his wife and son.

Swimming

Peirsol sets world record

Indianapolis — Aaron Peirsol took custody of the 200 backstroke world record at the U.S. nationals Saturday night, beating previous owner Ryan Lochte while lowering his second world mark in three days. The silver medalist touched in 1 minute, 53.08 seconds, bettering Olympic champion Lochte’s old mark of 1:53.94 set in Beijing.

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