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Lewis Hamilton retakes Formula One title lead after winning French Grand Prix; Martin Truex Jr. conquers Sonoma's road course

Lewis Hamilton retakes Formula One title lead after winning French Grand Prix; Martin Truex Jr. conquers Sonoma's road course
Lewis Hamilton driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes WO9 leads Max Verstappen driving the (33) Aston Martin Red Bull Racing RB14 TAG Heuer on track during the Formula One Grand Prix of France at Circuit Paul Ricard on June 24, 2018 in Le Castellet, France. (Charles Coates / Getty Images)

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton won the French Grand Prix from pole position to retake the lead of the Formula One title race on Sunday.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen in his Ferrari crossed second and third to complete the podium at the Paul Ricard Circuit.

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Defending champion Hamilton was never challenged after he reached the first corner a split second before Sebastian Vettel knocked into Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas.

Vettel needed a new front wing for his Ferrari and had to work his way from the back of the pack to settle for a fifth-place finish behind Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo.

Hamilton has 145 points after eight races. Vettel, who entered the race with a one-point lead, leaves trailing by 14.

It was Hamilton's 65th career win. Only Michael Schumacher has more victories with 91.

While Hamilton thanked his team for its “great work” via the radio after crossing the line, Vettel lamented that he “had lost the race on the first lap.”

Starting from third behind both Mercedeses, Vettel tried to squeeze past Bottas at the first corner but instead crunched his front wing into his rear left tire.

Moments later there was more trouble when Pierre Gasly ran his Toro Rosso into the back of Esteban Ocon's Force India, knocking them both out of the race and bringing out the safety car.

Vettel limped back to the pits to get a new nose piece while Bottas got a new tire for the one that was shredded by the nudge from the four-time former champion.

Bottas had to restart at the back of the pack with Vettel, whom race officials gave a five-second penalty for causing the collision.

While Hamilton kept in front of the two Red Bulls, Vettel dropped Bottas behind and made quick work of the slower cars on the track to join the top five drivers by lap 21.

But Vettel couldn't close the gap with the Red Bulls and was passed by Raikkonen on fresh tires.

Hamilton has pulled level with Vettel with three wins each this season

Hamilton dominated the race, qualifying and Friday's practice sessions boosted by an engine upgrade that Mercedes had expected to roll out in Canada, when Hamilton finished fifth and lost his lead to race winner Vettel.

Road warrior: Martin Truex Jr. conquers Sonoma's road course

Martin Truex Jr. won the NASCAR Cup Series race in Sonoma on Sunday, using a clever pit strategy to cruise to his second career victory on the challenging road course.

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Truex easily held off Kevin Harvick for his second win in three weeks and his third victory of the season in his Furniture Row Racing Toyota.

The defending Cup Series champion waited to pit until the 81st lap, a full eight laps later than Harvick. Truex and his crew chief, Cole Pearn, appeared to use a bit of trickery on the decision, bluffing an earlier move to the pits and enticing Harvick into pit lane instead.

The decision left fresher tires on Truex's car down the stretch and allowed him to pass Harvick for the lead around the final hairpin turn with 20 laps to go.

“That was all Cole,” Truex said. “I'll do whatever he wants to do. Awesome job by him today. Honestly, all you're doing is begging, hoping that the caution doesn't come out and hope the engine stays together.”

Truex's victory in his manufacturer's title race was the 18th of his career. He earned his second career victory at Sonoma in 2013 for Michael Waltrip Racing, making him the only racer to win twice in the past decade at Sonoma.

Cup Series leader Harvick went to the pits shortly after Truex passed him, but never got the caution that would have been necessary for him to catch up. Clint Bowyer finished third and Chase Elliott was fourth.

Truex began his racing career as a kid running go-karts on road courses, and those lifelong skills are showing. After winning at Watkins Glen last year and taking Sonoma this year, his three career road course victories are second among active drivers to the four wins on non-oval tracks by Kyle Busch, who finished fifth in Sonoma.

Blake Alexander raced to first NHRA Top Fuel victory

Blake Alexander raced to his first Top Fuel victory Sunday in the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals.

Alexander had a 4.011-second pass at 297.81 mph to beat Terry McMillen in the final.

“It felt really good,” Alexander said. “I got a little emotional because I've tried to do this my whole life. I've come close but have lost sponsors, thought I was never going to drive the car again and basically we have gone through everything to climb back to the top.”

Matt Hagan won in Funny Car, Tanner Gray in Pro Stock, and Eddie Kraweic in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Hagan edged points leader Courtney Force with a 4.094 at 288.21 in a Dodge Charger R/T for his first victory of the season.

Gray won for the third tiome this season and eighth overall, topping Erica Enders with 6.615 at 209.62 in a Chevrolet Camaro. Krawiec raced to his third victory at Summit Motorsports Park. He beat Jerry Savoie with a 6.923 at 195.05 on a Harley-Davidson.

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