Bahrain a landmark race for Rosberg, Button and Formula 1

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The Bahrain Grand Prix has experienced a difficult time in Formula 1 over the past ten years. Despite dwindling attendances and political unrest that resulted in the cancellation of the 2011 race, the kingdom has made it to a landmark stage with this weekend’s event marking the 10th anniversary of the inaugural grand prix in Bahrain.

As part of the celebrations to mark a decade of Formula 1, the race at the Bahrain International Circuit will be a night race for the first time, starting at 6pm. Already in practice and qualifying, there has been a noticeable improvement to the atmosphere and image of the event, and the officials are keen on making the night race a yearly event.

However, this is also an important race in the history of Formula 1 itself. Today’s grand prix is the 900th world championship event, with the first being the 1950 British Grand Prix. The 800th was also a night race at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, which was marred by the Renault crash-gate saga.

Jenson Button is also celebrating a big milestone today as it will be his 250th grand prix start. The British driver made his debut at the 2000 Australian Grand Prix, and won the 2009 world championship with Brawn GP. Having won his 200th race (the 2011 Hungarian GP), Button has a habit of living up to the big occasion, but from P6 on the grid he might have to settle for third place at best today.

For pole-sitter Nico Rosberg, this race is his 150th start in Formula 1. The German driver made his debut at this circuit in 2006 with Williams, where he set the fastest lap. Should he manage to win today’s race, he would equal his father’s tally of five victories in Formula 1. Given the pace of the Mercedes car, it is hard to bet against either Rosberg or teammate Lewis Hamilton taking the checkered flag first.

The 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 10:30am ET today.

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.