Audi wins Le Mans race marred by death


E MANS, France — Audi won the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the fourth straight year Sunday and dedicated its victory to Allan Simonsen of Denmark — the first driver to die in the showcase endurance race since 1997.

Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish and Loic Duval of Audi No. 2 finished one lap ahead of Toyota No. 8 driven by Anthony Davidson, Sebastien Buemi and Stephane Sarrazin.

“This one is for Allan Simonsen,” a tearful Kristensen said after taking the checkered flag. “A fantastic driver. This is for him.”

The 34-year-old Simonsen was taken to the hospital after his Aston Martin spun out at high speed Saturday only 10 minutes into the race. He skidded into the barrier at the Tertre Rouge corner, where cars typically reach speeds of up to 105 mph. Simonsen died at the hospital soon after arrival, organizers said.

After Simonsen’s accident, Aston Martin Racing stayed in the race at the request of his family.

This was Duval’s first victory at Le Mans but the third for McNish and the ninth for Kristensen, who extended his record for most titles by a driver.

Audi earned its 12th title at Le Mans, four shy of Porsche’s record. The winning trio completed 348 laps in 24 hours on the 8.5-mile Circuit de la Sarthe.

Truex snaps 218-race

losing streak

SONOMA, Calif. — Martin Truex Jr. snapped a 218-race winless streak with an easy victory Sunday on the road course at Sonoma Raceway.

It was just the second win of Truex’s career, first since Dover in 2007. It put Michael Waltrip Racing in Victory Lane for the second year in a row after Clint Bowyer won here last season.

Truex worked his way to the front and used strategy to stay with the leaders. He then pulled away after the final restart and built a healthy lead of more than six seconds over Juan Pablo Montoya, who was running second until he ran out of gas on the final lap.

Jeff Gordon finished third a week after he was wrecked six laps into the race at Michigan.

Carl Edwards was fourth, followed by Kurt Busch, who climbed back from a pair of speeding penalties.

Bowyer wound up fifth in a strong day for the MWR Toyotas.

The race got off to an inauspicious start before it even began with a pit road accident, a mechanical issue for Jacques Villeneuve and an oil line failure for Bobby Labonte.

The accident occurred as the cars were headed onto the track and David Reutimann stopped his car on pit road. Alex Kennedy stopped behind Reutimann, and Paulie Harraka slammed into the back of Kennedy.

The damage wasn’t significant enough to prevent Harraka from making his Sprint Cup Series debut. But it was a short-lived race for the first driver to advance from NASCAR’s diversity program into a Cup race — Harraka spun and crashed his car six laps later.

Meanwhile, a parts failure caused Labonte to dump oil all over pit road before the race and he was forced to take his car to the garage for a quick repair. Labonte made it onto the track for the green flag, but his engine failed on the first lap.

Hinchcliffe wins

IndyCar race in Iowa

NEWTON, Iowa — Andretti Autosport has long been the team to beat at Iowa Speedway.

On Sunday, James Hinchcliffe put an exclamation point on Andretti’s dominance there with perhaps the best race of his career.

Hinchcliffe cruised to victory in the IndyCar Series race on Sunday, leading all but 24 of 250 laps. He became the first three-time winner this season and gave Andretti Autosport its fourth consecutive victory at Iowa’s oval.

Ryan Hunter-Reay, Hinchcliffe’s teammate, battled back from last place to finish second. He was followed by Tony Kanaan, Ed Carpenter and Graham Rahal.

Hinchcliffe took the lead on the opening lap and ceded control only briefly during pit stops. He joined Kanaan, Marco Andretti and Hunter-Reay as Iowa winners for Andretti Autosport since 2010.

But despite his three wins, Hinchcliffe is just fourth in the points standings because of five finishes of 15th or lower.

Series leader Helio Castroneves was eighth. His lead over Hunter-Reay was cut to nine points — the exact number Castroneves earned Saturday by winning the pole through heat qualifying races.