Watkins Glen race red-flagged after vicious multi-car wreck (updated with video)

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Sunday’s Cheez-It 355 Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen International has been red-flagged on Lap 57 after a vicious wreck involving several drivers in the track’s carousel.

Based upon a TV replay, it appeared that Ryan Newman bounced off the rear of Greg Biffle’s car as both cars jockeyed for position, took a hard right and slammed into the outside guardrail, all but disintegrating.

The wreckage of Newman’s car then bounced back across the track and made hard contact with Michael McDowell, whose car was pushed into the inside guardrail, with pieces of the suspension on his car breaking free upon impact.

“Wrong place, wrong time,” Newman told ESPN. “From my standpoint, Biffle jumped the curb, got the splitters hopping up on the curb, got out, cut across the grass. I probably could have gave him a little more, but I tried to time it so I could shoot past and he slowed down when he got back on the race track.

“It’s really disappointing. We lost (safety specialist) John Melvin in the last couple of weeks and he did a lot of innovations for our sport and it’s really sad that they haven’t adapted any of them here at this track. The SAFER barrier doesn’t exist here. The ARMCO walls, there’s no concrete walls. It’s a very antiquated racetrack and the safety is not at all up to NASCAR standards. It’s a shame that we have to have accidents like that to prove it. Hopefully, something will change the next time we come back here with our Caterpillar Chevrolet.”

McDowell added, “That’s a bad wreck. It seems when I do it, they’re big.”

Here’s an Instagram photo of what’s left of McDowell’s car, courtesy of Motor Racing Network:

This used to be Michael McDowell's car @wgi #cheezit355 #askmrn

A post shared by Motor Racing Network (@mrnradio) on

The outside guardrail suffered enough damage from the impact that track workers had to perform emergency repairs that extended the delay.

Danica Patrick was also caught up in the wreck, suffering significant left side damage. Rookie Alex Bowman also was involved.

It appeared that all drivers were uninjured and climbed from their race cars before being taken to the track’s medical care facility.

Biffle’s car suffered only minor damage to the rear and was able to continue on.

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F1 2017 driver review: Esteban Ocon

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Esteban Ocon

Team: Sahara Force India
Car No.: 31
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: P5 (Spain, Mexico)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 87
Championship Position: 8th

A shining star in Mercedes’ junior programme, Esteban Ocon vaulted fellow youngster Pascal Wehrlein in the pecking order to secure a seat at Force India for 2017 – and boy, did he live up to the hype.

Ocon arrived at Force India with half a season of racing under his belt after his outings with Manor late in 2016, but wasted little time in settling in, scoring points on debut in Australia after winning a thrilling three-way fight with Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso.

The Frenchman spent much of the year close to teammate Sergio Perez – even if things did get a little too close in Canada, Baku and, finally, Spa, prompting the team to introduce team orders – and impressed the entire paddock with his displays.

While no podium was forthcoming, Ocon was often leading the midfield fight, enjoying three straight finishes ahead of Perez from Japan to Mexico. Given how well Perez is rated on-track in the paddock, to have convincingly beaten him in such fashion did a lot for Ocon’s reputation.

The term ‘Oconsistency’ also came into F1’s dictionary as he set a new record for consecutive finishes from his first race, with his retirement in Brazil ending the streak at 27 grands prix. It was also his first retirement in a single-seater race since the 2014 Macau Grand Prix.

The highlight moment arguably came at Monza, though, when Ocon stuck his Force India third on the grid through torrential rain in qualifying. While he would drop to P6 at the checkered flag, the display nevertheless cemented his place as one of F1’s rising stars.

Mercedes rates Ocon very highly, and with Valtteri Bottas’ future beyond 2018 already being questioned by the paddock, a good season could see the youngster move on up to the top table of F1 for 2019. His progression in the next 12 months will be fascinating to keep track of.

Season High: Lining up P3 on the grid at Monza after a rainy qualifying.

Season Low: Clashing with Perez in Baku, costing Force India a possible podium.