Simon Pagenaud wraps up IndyCar’s top rookie award

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“At the pinnacles of performance, it’s overly mental,” Clary said. “If you have the right mindset and the right drive to do something … you can kind of carry that over to other sports. One thing people don’t realize is how in shape you have to be to drive these cars and endure the heat for hours on end, and I think I’m in shape to do that, and I think I have the right mental state. It’s just going to come down to refining those skills.

“Can I do that? I don’t know. Am I going to take a great shot at it? Absolutely.”

Clary cited Formula One’s Sebastian Vettel among his favorite drivers, but didn’t want to pick a race winner. He was impressed by meeting J.R. Hildebrand, who immediately gave Clary his cell phone number in case he ever had questions or needed help.

“That meant a lot to me, that it wasn’t just another hand he was shaking,” Clary said. “He was genuinely interested in what was going on and wanted to help me.”


THE BOSS: Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson served the grand marshal of the Sonoma race, and the former NBA star enjoyed his first prolonged exposure to motor sports at the track roughly 60 miles from his hometown.

“There’s a lot of commonality _ great athletes in both arenas,” Johnson said. “This is a really cool sport.”

Johnson got a ride on the track a few months ago, “and I will tell you, my food did come up. I wasn’t prepared for those turns. The upper loop was tough on a former basketball player.”

Johnson can’t appear anywhere in public without hearing questions about the Sacramento Kings’ future, and he didn’t blink at a report the Kings are now thinking about moving to Virginia Beach after their prolonged flirtation with Anaheim.

“We’re not giving up,” Johnson said. “I don’t think Virginia Beach would be a better place. I don’t think the grass is greener in Virginia Beach than in Sacramento.”


NINER PRIDE: From his firesuit to his paint job, J.R. Hildebrand’s afternoon in Sonoma was all about his devotion to the San Francisco 49ers and their coach.

Hildebrand’s car was painted in the Niners’ garnet and gold, and his firesuit was an interesting interpretation of their uniform: tan pants, a red jersey with a No. 4 on the back below his name in the Niners’ traditional font _ and even the jersey stripes on the shoulders.

Hildebrand is from nearby Sausalito, just across the Golden Gate Bridge from the City, but his Panther Racing team also is part-owned by Jim Harbaugh. The team gear certainly didn’t hurt Hildebrand: He finished eighth.

Harbaugh couldn’t attend the race, however. The Niners were busy beating the Broncos in a preseason game in Denver.

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