Passing zones make for exciting Sao Paulo course

Leave a comment

The 2.6-mile Anhembi Park circuit at Sao Paulo, Brazil — site of this Sunday’s Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300 presented by Nestle (11 a.m. ET, NBC Sports Network) — is a sprawling street course that is punctuated by multiple straightaways that lead into passing opportunities.

It all starts at the Sambadromo main straightaway, which is shorter than the other straights on the circuit but is still long enough to provide a passing attempt if the driver is close enough. They’ll have to be quick about it, however, as the Sambadromo leads into a left/right complex known as the S of Samba. It’s a narrow spot and there’s been plenty of mayhem there in recent races, particularly on starts and restarts when everyone’s bunched up.

The next major passing zone comes at Turn 5, which follows a longer jaunt down the Avenue Olavo Fontoura that gives drivers more time to draft, set up, and pass for position at the right-hander.

But the biggest opportunity this course has to offer comes as drivers roar down the nearly one-mile-long backstretch. That extended sprint culminates with a sharp right-hand hairpin at Turn 11. Expect plenty of side-by-side jockeying through this particular corner; also, don’t be surprised to see the driver that gets passed going into Turn 11 attempt a crossover move that can help get the position back as they head down the Sambadromo.

Over the years, we’ve heard complaints of street circuits being too narrow and providing very little chances for passing outside of pit road. There are no such problems with this course, and you can expect Sunday’s event to be an exciting one.

NHRA Gatornationals: John Force has another spectacular motor explosion

Photo courtesy NHRA
Leave a comment

Legendary NHRA Funny Car driver John Force endured yet another spectacular motor explosion – his third in the NHRA’s first three national event races – during Friday’s qualifying at the Amalie Motor Oil Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida.

It’s the kind of consistency the 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ could do without.

The 68-year-old Force came to Gainesville hoping to break the jinx that saw him endure explosions in both the season-opening Winternationals and the second race of the season in Phoenix.

Both motor explosions sent Force to the hospital for examination before he returned to the race track.

Friday, even though the motor in his Chevrolet Camaro blew up again (in the second round of qualifying), at least this time, Force didn’t wind up in the hospital.

He did have his right hand bandaged from a cut suffered in the explosion, but did not have to go to the hospital this time.

He even joked about not having to add yet another ambulance bill to the nearest Gainesville hospital.

But the explosion still proved costly.

“That was another body and that hurts the financial (bottomline),” Force said. “I was out $500,000 to $600,000, and now we are probably out $800,000, going on a million. In drag racing, you have to be tough.”

He ended the day qualifying 14th, not a very comfortable position with two more rounds of qualifying set for Saturday.

Force continues to be mystified why the motors keep exploding.

“I really thought we had it, I thought we were there,” Force said. “In the first round we drove it 500 feet and shut it off. It looked great. We ran it again that run and I was only going to drive it 800 feet even if we didn’t make The Show.”

Force will attempt to improve his qualifying spot during Saturday’s final two rounds to make Sunday’s eliminations.

Follow @JerryBonkowski