Vettel hoping to seal fourth title with victory in India

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Sebastian Vettel has rejected the idea of settling for fifth place in next weekend’s Indian Grand Prix as the German driver looks to seal his fourth world championship and become just the third driver in F1 history to win four consecutive titles.

The German driver needs a top five finish in the race to clinch the drivers’ championship, but he is keen on winning a third race in India in order to finish the job in style.

“I will race there with winning on my mind,” Vettel told the official Formula One website. “Why is it that people always underestimate races? Nothing is easy – not even P5 – and nothing comes for free. There is always a huge amount of work involved.”

Vettel also said that it was not possible for Red Bull – a team that has enjoyed notable success over the past five years – to focus on anything but winning the race.

“It is never our style to say: ‘Well, let’s focus on finishing fifth.’ We always attack as much as we can – it is in the DNA of the team.”

That said, Vettel did squander the chance to win the Japanese Grand Prix back in 2011 in favor of easing off to finish third and seal his second championship. Furthermore, Vettel won his third crown in 2012 by finishing the Brazilian Grand Prix in sixth, giving him a three-point advantage over Fernando Alonso in the final standings. However, under the circumstances, this did require a great amount of effort following a tangle at turn four that saw him drop to the back of the field.

Red Bull can also secure their fourth successive constructors’ championship in India, with Ferrari having to outscore the defending world champions by nineteen points to stay in contention heading to Abu Dhabi.

NHRA shocker: Englishtown ceases drag racing operations, including NHRA national event, effective immediately

Photo courtesy NHRA
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If put in baseball terms, Wednesday morning’s news from the NHRA is comparable to Yankee Stadium closing down for good.

One of the most popular and longest-running race tracks on the NHRA national event circuit — Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, New Jersey — announced in a statement that “it will no longer host any drag racing events at its facility, effective immediately. This includes the 49th Annual NHRA Summernationals, scheduled to take place this June.”

This is massive — and terrible news — for NHRA fans, particularly those on the East Coast, as the track more commonly known simply as “Englishtown” has long been a destination point for fans in the New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland area for decades. That not only includes NHRA national events, but also local bracket racing at the track.

Few details on the decision to stop all drag racing events are known. However, the track has long struggled being landlocked and unable to expand its runoff area for cars that have problems stopping under their own power. That is especially problematic for Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars, which are the most powerful cars in the sport and, due to the 10,000 horsepower they produce, often need longer stopping distances.

NHRA Funny Car driver Scott Kalitta was killed in a crash at Old Bridge Raceway on June 21, 2008, when his car was unable to stop in the runoff area and collided with a portable crane past the runoff area.

NHRA spokesperson Jessica Hatcher told NBC Sports in an email Wednesday morning that the sanctioning body will not look to find a replacement venue for Englishtown on the 2018 racing schedule.

As a result, the 2018 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule will shrink from 24 to 23 going forward with Englishtown’s departure.

” ‘Stunned’ is the perfect word to describe how we are all feeling right now,” Hatcher said. “For 2018, we are focusing on the remaining 23 events and do not foresee any additional changes to the schedule.”

New NHRA president Glen Cromwell said in a media release, “NHRA drag racing events have been held at the track in Englishtown for almost 50 years. The Summernationals have played an important part of our heritage and we hope that fans in the area will try to make it to another of our events.

“Our focus remains on making the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series a memorable experience for our fans, racers, sponsors, partners and tracks.”

The nearest venues to Englishtown that will host NHRA events this season are Maple Grove Raceway outside Reading, Pennsylvania (105 miles west of Englishtown) and New England Dragway in Epping, New Hampshire (310 miles northeast).

The Napp family, which owns Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, issued a statement that the facility will remain open and continue business as usual going forward — with the exception of eliminating all drag racing events, both national and local.

“Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, the Napp family owned and operated business announced today a reorganization of the company’s business operations,” the statement said. “To achieve this goal, Raceway Park will no longer conduct quarter mile or eighth mile drag racing events effective immediately.

“Raceway Park will retain and use the ‘stadium’ portion of the facility including the VIP hospitality tower and grandstands and continue most of its operations including the spring and fall auto swap meets, numerous car shows, both motocross racing and practice, kart racing, as well as drifting, a full schedule of road course activities, mud runs, monster truck shows, musical concerts, & festival events and more. The long standing Old Bridge Township Airport, owned and operated by Raceway Park will also continue to operate as normal.”