Cruisin’ the Beach – at 180 mph

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The famous 1.97-mile Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach circuit has a little bit of everything from long straights and 90 degree corners to tight braking areas that can create serious trouble. It’s a street circuit, so there will be no elevation changes for the drivers to navigate through like they did two weeks ago at Barber Motorsports Park, but there’s more than enough to keep drivers on their toes.

Turn 1 is the best area on the course to pass as it comes off the famous dog-leg frontstretch of Shoreline Drive, but it’s not the only passing zone.  Turn 6’s location on the end of a short straight doesn’t give the drivers as much time to plot and execute a pass, so if one is not quick on the brakes, they’re liable to lose a spot if someone else is close by. Turn 9 can see a lot of jockeying for position as well.

There are also several tight spots on the circuit, chiefly the “Fountain” complex at Turns 2 and 3 and the famous Turn 11 hairpin, which is very critical to get right as it leads into the long blast down Shoreline Drive. Trouble in these corners can be very problematic, and could lead to stack-ups if there are multiple cars around.

Click above to go for a lap around this legendary track, and catch the 39th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach this Sunday at 4 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports Network.

NHRA: Brittany Force cleared to race this weekend in Phoenix after bad wreck 2 weeks ago

Photo: John Force Racing
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Drag racing is a Force family tradition. So, too, is not keeping a Force family member down.

Just 12 days after the most serious wreck of her six-year drag racing career, Brittany Force and John Force Racing announced late Thursday afternoon that the defending 2017 NHRA Top Fuel champion has been medically cleared and will indeed race in this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix, Arizona.

“I flew into Phoenix early this (Thursday) morning and headed straight out to the race track to meet up with my team,” Force said. “I suited up and got belted back into my car that I ran all last season.

“It honestly felt good to be strapped back in and I was surprised how comfortable I was. I’m looking forward to getting back in my car tomorrow (Friday’s first two rounds of qualifying) and getting back in the swing of things with my guys.”

The 31-year-old Force, one of four daughters of 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force, suffered a concussion and bruising after the hard crash she was involved in on February 11 in the first round of eliminations of the season-opening NHRA Lucas Oil Winternationals in Pomona, California.

Shortly after leaving the starting line in a race vs. Terry Haddock, Force’s dragster crossed from the right to left lanes, impacted the retaining wall with a very hard lateral crash, bounced off, spun, went on its side and briefly caught fire after crossing the finish line wheels-up.

While she is still recovering from the bruising, Force feels strong enough to get back behind the wheel. Getting back in the race car could be the best medicine of all, since she has three runner-up finishes in Phoenix, including back-to-back second-place showings in both the 2016 and 2017 national events.

The three-day event kicks off Friday with qualifying rounds at 4 and 6:30 p.m. ET, the same times as Saturday’s qualifying. Final eliminations begin at 1 p.m. ET Sunday.