Andretti's team closes Indy weekend with wild finish
Michael Andretti's team finally overcame its May curse.
The rain held off Sunday to give Danica Patrick a second chance, and James Jakes waved off his qualifying attempt, giving Marco Andretti one more shot to make the Indianapolis 500.
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Patrick and Marco Andretti took advantage of the good fortune and qualified for the centennial anniversary race at the Brickyard.
Patrick posted a four-lap average of 224.861 mph after it looked like she might not even get to qualify on Bump Day. Andretti delivered an even more clutch performance in the final run of the day, going 224.628 to bump his way back onto the 33-car grid.
"It was either going to be into the wall or into the show," the 24-year-old son of the team owner said. "It was a bummer that we were in this position."
Perhaps it should have been expected — given the family history at Indianapolis. Marco Andretti's grandfather, Mario, won the 1969 Indy 500 but never reached Victory Lane there again. Michael led more laps at Indy than any other non-winner, and Marco wound up as the 500 runner-up when Sam Hornish Jr. passed him in the closing yards of the 2006 race.
But as much consternation as the Andrettis have endured at this 2.5-mile oval, this might have been their worst month ever at Indy. Andretti Autosport's five-car stable struggled to reach the top of the speed charts all week, then wound up in deep trouble Saturday. It took 10 qualifying attempts to get John Andretti's No. 43, into the race.
Other prominent second-day qualifiers included Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe, who will start next to Patrick in the 27th spot.
Patrick and Simona De Silvestro will be joined by two other women in the field — rookie Pippa Mann of England and Ana Beatriz of Brazil. Mann and Beatriz will both be on the last row.
All-Star win drives up Edwards' value
Carl Edwards' victory in the Sprint All-Star Race on Saturday night was a very, very expensive win. Not for Edwards, who claimed the $1 million prize with his first win in NASCAR's annual showcase event. But his celebratory drive through the infield grass at Charlotte Motor Speedway tore up the front of his Ford, and rebuilding that car will be costly for Roush-Fenway Racing.
That's just a small part of it, though.
Edwards couldn't have picked a better year to be a free agent. He's the current Sprint Cup Series point leader, with one win and nine top-10 finishes in 11 races this season, not including the All-Star victory. He's also got three wins in the second-tier Nationwide Series, and finished second Sunday at Iowa after flying through the night to the event from the All-Star race.
There's talk in the garage that some of the top teams have interest in Edwards, most notably Joe Gibbs Racing, which has room to add a fourth car. But others don't think he has any intention of leaving Roush-Fenway Racing.
"What I'm trying to do is focus on that because we have a championship to win this year," Edwards said. "That's the No. 1 goal."
■ Ricky Stenhouse Jr. held off Edwards and Brad Keselowski to win Sunday's Nationwide series race in Iowa. Stenhouse took the lead from Edwards 233 laps into the 250-lap event and held on for his first career Nationwide win.
Report: Armstrong encouraged doping
Lance Armstrong's former teammate, Tyler Hamilton, said Armstrong and other team leaders encouraged, promoted and took part in a doping program in an effort to win the Tour de France in 1999 and beyond, according to a report that aired Sunday night on 60 Minutes.
Hamilton said he saw Armstrong take performance-enhancing drugs, EPO and testosterone and also saw him receive a banned blood transfusion in 2000. "I feel bad that I had to go here and do this," Hamilton said in his first public admission of doping throughout his career. "But I think at end of the day, like I said, long-term, the sport's going to be better for it."
Armstrong long has denied doping and has never tested positive. On Sunday, his attorney, Mark Fabiani, released a statement deriding the CBS report. "CBS chose to rely on dubious sources while completely ignoring Lance's nearly 500 clean tests and the hundreds of former teammates and competitors who would have spoken about his work ethic and talent," Fabiani said.
The 60 Minutes report used unidentified sources to report that another Armstrong teammate and close friend, George Hincapie, testified to the grand jury investigating doping within cycling that he and Armstrong supplied each other with EPO and discussed having used testosterone to prepare for races.
Armstrong posted a statement in support of Hincapie on the Web site: "We are confident that the statements attributed to Hincapie are inaccurate and that the reports of his testimony are unreliable."
Canucks up 3-1 in series vs. Sharks
Sami Salo scored twice and Ryan Kesler added a goal as the Vancouver Canucks capitalized on three two-man advantages in the second period to beat the host San Jose Sharks 4-2 Sunday in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals to take a 3-1 series lead. The Canucks scored the three goals in a span of 1:55, needing only 37 seconds on the three 5-on-3s to beat Antti Niemi three times.
Hopkins becomes sport's oldest champ
Bernard Hopkins became the oldest fighter to win a major world championship, taking the WBC light heavyweight title late Saturday night from Jean Pascal at the age of 46. Hopkins (52-5-2) broke the age record set by George Foreman in a heavyweight title victory over Michael Moorer in 1994. Hopkins won at 46 years, 4 months, 6 days. Foreman was 45 years, 10 months.
"I won't retire until I'm 50," Hopkins said.
The last word
Alex Lloyd finished fourth in the Indianapolis 500 last year, but as qualifying wound down on Sunday, he faced the prospect of not getting into the field this year. With nine minutes left in qualifying, Lloyd was on the outside looking in. But he made it, and the near miss gave the Manchester, England, native some perspective:
"Every other race is important, but Indy is what gets me up in the morning. All of a sudden, when you have the realization that we might not make this race, when we crossed the line and I knew I was safe, the feeling was beyond anything I've ever felt in my career."