Kasey Kahne gets fired up in New Hampshire appearance

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Because of their celebrity and popularity, NASCAR drivers get to do some really cool things when they’re away from the racetrack.

But NASCAR star Kasey Kahne got to do a really hot thing Wednesday when he took a crash course – no racing pun intended – in fire fighting and rescue techniques at the New Hampshire Fire Academy in Concord, N.H.

Our good friend, Boston Globe sportswriter Mike Vega, was on hand when Kahne took part in the event to help promote the July 13 Camping World RV Sales 301 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, which will be dedicated to first responders who made the ultimate sacrifice, being killed while doing their job.

Those first responders include Brentwood, N.H. police officer Stephen Arkell, who was shot and killed last week while responding to a domestic dispute (and resulting house fire and explosion) that received national attention.

Also slated to be honored at the race will be Boston Fire Dept. Lt. Joe Walsh and firefighter Mike Kennedy, who were tragically killed in a blaze on March 26.

Kahne was presented with a custom-made fire helmet emblazoned with his name and title of honorary fire marshal. He then donned regulation fire fighter’s gear and went through a number of scenarios that may have been the first time for him, but are what regular firefighters go through routinely in the course of their jobs.

Click here to read Vega’s account of Kahne’s day.

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F1 2017 driver review: Sebastian Vettel

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Sebastian Vettel

Team: Scuderia Ferrari
Car No.: 5
Races: 20
Wins: 5
Podiums (excluding wins): 8
Pole Positions: 4
Fastest Laps: 5
Points: 317
Laps Led: 286
Championship Position: 2nd

2017 was supposed to be the year Sebastian Vettel finally fulfilled his ambition of emulating Michael Schumacher by returning Ferrari to its championship-winning heyday.

Instead, it ended in disappointment and frustration – once again.

Ferrari arguably made a greater step across the change in technical regulations for 2017 than any other team, living up to its pre-season tag as favorite by winning the opening round in Australia in fashion.

Vettel and Ferrari led their respective championships following the Monaco Grand Prix as the German ended a 16-year win drought for the Prancing Horse in the principality, and even heading into the summer break, a shot at both championships was looking good.

However, cracks had started to appear. Vettel’s remarkable antics behind the safety car in Baku sparked controversy after driving into Hamilton, suggesting the tension of the title fight was beginning to take its toll on the German.

The final run of flyaways was where things really fell apart for Vettel, though. Singapore looked to be a slam-dunk win, only for a start-line crash also involving teammate Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen to put 25 free points in Hamilton’s pocket.

Reliability woes then struck in Malaysia and Japan – two more races Vettel could realistically have won – to make it game over in the title race, with Hamilton wrapping things up in Mexico.

Vettel only finished the year 46 points back from Hamilton, proving the impact the three bad races in Asia had. Realistically, this was a title race that should have gone down to the wire in Abu Dhabi. Instead, Vettel remains a four-time champion, level with Hamilton, who had just one to his name back in 2013 when his rival secured his fourth.

Ferrari’s internal issues will come under the microscope over the off-season, and Vettel himself knows there is plenty to work on. Staying cool under pressure and not letting things boil over as in Baku is the most obvious area for improvement.

But there is reason for hope. If Ferrari can keep up with Mercedes and repeat its impressive step into 2017 through the upcoming off-season, we may well be treated to another Vettel/Hamilton scrap at the front of the field, perhaps settling once and for all who is the greatest driver of the post-Schumacher era.

Season High: A crucial win in Hungary despite battling with a broken steering column.

Season Low: Letting tensions flare in Baku and hitting Hamilton behind the safety car.