1. Ryan Newman earns the never-give-up award. After hearing he’ll lose his ride with Stewart-Haas Racing next year, Newman won the pole position in record time at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and then captured his first Brickyard 400. Just as impressive was how Newman showed no ill will toward team co-owner and friend Tony Stewart over how, as Newman put it, “I got fired” for 2014.
2. Brad Keselowski’s bid to repeat as NASCAR Sprint Cup champion is in peril. Keselowski tumbled four spots, to 13th, in the Cup standings after finishing 21st in the Brickyard 400. The Penske Racing driver has only six races left to make NASCAR’s Chase for the Cup title playoff either by finishing in the top 10 in points or being one of two wild-card drivers with the most wins among those 11th to 20th in points. The good news: Keselowski is only six points behind 10th-place Jeff Gordon. The bad news: Keselowski has yet to win this year.
3. Like it or not, Jimmie Johnson is primed for a sixth title. Johnson had the Brickyard 400 firmly in hand until his Hendrick Motorsports crew stumbled on his final pit stop, enabling Newman to win. Yes, the points will be reset at the start of the Chase for the 12 drivers involved, but the dominance of Johnson and his No. 48 Chevrolet was on full display at Indy. A good chunk of NASCAR Nation, tired of Johnson’s winning ways, doesn’t want to hear that the Californian is again at the top of his game. But he is.
4. Formula One’s Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes are hitting their stride. Skeptics rolled their eyes when Hamilton left stalwart McLaren for the 4-year-old Mercedes team this year, and it’s indeed been a struggle at times. But Hamilton won the Hungarian Grand Prix from the pole -- his third consecutive pole -- for his first victory with the team and the 2008 world champion hasn’t started worse than second in his last six races. It’s unlikely Hamilton will win a second title this year, but the British driver made it clear he’s again a threat with Mercedes’ power.
5. Drag racing’s Tony Schumacher remains poised for a record eighth top-fuel title. The “Sarge” got knocked out in the first round of eliminations Sunday in Sonoma but he’s already clinched a berth in the National Hot Rod Assn.'s late-season playoff. Schumacher, with three wins this year, is third in the standings, 104 points behind Sonoma winner Shawn Langdon. Expect Schumacher to be gunning for another championship at the season-ending NHRA Finals in Pomona in early November.