Massa still stewing over Perez incident in Canada

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Felipe Massa has told Sergio Perez to accept the blame for their crash during the Canadian Grand Prix two weeks ago.

The two drivers were battling over fourth position when they came together at the first corner on the final lap of the race. The stewards deemed Perez to have been at fault, and handed him a five place grid penalty for this weekend’s race in Austria.

However, the FIA is set to re-assess the evidence in a meeting with Force India tomorrow, but Massa is adamant that he is not at fault.

“It was a big one,” he explained on Thursday in Austria. “I think it’s always the worst feeling when you don’t have brakes, you can’t stop the car and the wall is just coming in front of you. I think that’s a very scary moment. I’m happy that I’m fine, and this is the most important thing.”

Massa feels that Perez did not race cleanly, and quite clearly broke the rules.

“The thing is that I was on his tow, and I was using the DRS, so he didn’t go to the left; he stays on the right, so the only possibility I had was to go left,” he said. “Like everybody that he was trying to save the position, they go to the left. I even passed Alonso on the other side because he went to the left, but he went at the right time to the left.

“When I moved to the left, he moved after, and then he hit my car, and I was still flat out when we touched. And this is the rules saying when somebody moves the car behind and puts their front wing inside of your rear tires, you cannot turn the car anymore. He didn’t follow.

“It will not change my opinion. If you know the rules, this is what I just said, these are the rules, and it’s coming from the FIA. If you know the history, most of the time it’s always the young drivers, especially him, cause these problems, cause these accidents, which is dangerous.”

The Brazilian inferred that Perez should be given a race ban to teach him a lesson.

“We saw that another driver had a lot of problems in the past, and he lost the race in Spa because of the accident he caused, and he learned. This is something that he [Perez] needs to learn.

“I hope he learns otherwise he’ll pay more penalties in the future.”

However, he is happy to sit down with Perez and talk about the incident, but doubts the Mexican will want to after ignoring him in the hospital in Canada after their clash.

“I’m totally ready,” Massa said. “I have no problem with him or to anybody, but I didn’t do anything wrong. He did. He was dangerous.

“I was very disappointed with him in the hospital, and then I said that it was dangerous and he needs to learn. He just turned and left.”

Perez has also maintained his innocence, meaning that the FIA will have to assess its telemetry and data once again to make an informed decision as to who was at fault in Montreal.

NHRA shocker: Englishtown ceases drag racing operations, including NHRA Summernationals, 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.”

From a driver’s perspective, veteran NHRA racer Shawn Langdon, who is switching from a long career in Top Fuel to Funny Car this season for Kalitta Motorsports, won in Top Fuel at Englishtown in 2013 and laments the decision to drop drag racing there.

“It really caught me by surprise because I had not heard a thing about that,” Langdon said. “It’s unfortunate because that place has such rich history and so many great things have come out of that race in the past. It was a track that meant a lot to the Kalitta family and with Scott. They always wanted to win one for Scott. We’d have loved to have the opportunity to go back to the track and win that race for Scott.”