While NASCAR soap opera simmers, championship on line

Motor sports: Will Logano, Bowyer try to wreck Gordon? Will Keselowski hold on to first? Tune in Sunday

The Associated PressNovember 17, 2012 

Joey Logano wants an apology from Jeff Gordon, and Clint Bowyer is so angry with Gordon, he won’t even discuss the very public feud.

Meanwhile, on NASCAR’s undercard, Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson are racing for the Sprint Cup championship in Homestead, Fla.

The season finale is shaping up to be a knockdown, drag-out, heavyweight fight and it might not have anything to do with the title bout. Keselowski goes into the race Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway with a 20-point lead over the five-time champion, and needs only to finish 15th or better to win his first Cup title.

He took a big step Friday by qualifying third in his Penske Racing Dodge. Johnson was 10th in a Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.

“I totally expected him to out-qualify us, to be quite honest,” Keselowski said. “I was going to be fine with that. At least we were prepared for the worst and that’s not what happened, so I guess we’re OK.”

The pole went to Logano, who is driving his final race for Joe Gibbs Racing. He turned a lap of 176.056 mph in the No. 20 Toyota he’s driven for the last four years, beating Marcos Ambrose, who turned a lap of 175.342 in his Richard Petty Motor-sports Ford.

Logano turns his car over next week to Matt Kenseth, and Logano moves to Penske Racing, where he’ll be teammates with Keselowski on one of the youngest lineups in the Cup garage. But on Sunday, he’ll be trying to close his JGR tenure with a win and won’t be trying to help his future teammate.

“Goal number one is to win the race, no matter what,” Logano said.

Logano knows all too well about getting in the way of goals – it happened to him last weekend at Phoenix when Gordon intentionally wrecked Bowyer as retaliation for contact earlier in the race.

The incident triggered a garage-area melee between the crews for Bowyer and Gordon, and NASCAR on Monday fined Gordon $100,000 and docked him 25 points in the standings.

Gordon is unapologetic for wrecking Bowyer, explaining Friday their issues date back to Martinsville, Va., in April when Bowyer took out both Gordon and Johnson as they raced each other for the lead.

PIT STOPS

James Buescher won NASCAR’s Truck Series championship by avoiding trouble in the season finale. Cale Gale won the 200-mile race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, edging Kyle Busch at the line. The more significant celebration, though, was saved for Buescher, who crossed the line 13th, good enough to claim the points race. …Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel posted the fastest laps in the first two practice sessions at the U.S. Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, with a top time of 1 minute, 37.718 seconds on the new Circuit of the Americas track. Vettel leads Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso by 10 points with two races remaining.

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