(Photo courtesy Alexander Rossi official Twitter page)

Little ‘go’ for Alexander Rossi, Conor Daly, Sergio Perez in biggest go-kart race in world

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What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

And for IndyCar drivers Alexander Rossi and Conor Daly and Formula One pilot Sergio Perez, good riddance for that.

Reigning Indianapolis 500 winner Rossi, fellow Verizon IndyCar Series driver Conor Daly and F1’s Perez took part in the 20th annual SKUSA SuperNationals in Las Vegas, the largest go-kart race in the world.

In Sunday’s main event of the week, the 25-lap KZ2, all three world-class drivers exited early and finished in the final three spots of the 30 drivers entered.

But look at the bright side for drivers like race winner Paolo De Conto and runner-up Anthony Abbasse: in addition to their strong finishes, they also have tremendous bragging rights that they bested Daly, Rossi and Perez.

All three drivers made early exits in the race due to a variety of mechanical failures:

* Perez, who drives for Force India in F1, was making a detour between last week’s race in Brazil and next weekend’s season finale in Abu Dhabi. He finished 28th of the 30-driver field, completing just seven of the scheduled 25 laps. It was Perez’s first SuperNationals since 2002, where he finished 11th in a field that included present IndyCar stars Graham Rahal and James Hinchcliffe.

* Daly, who signed last week to race for A.J. Foyt Racing in 2017 in IndyCar, finished 29th (second-to-last), managing to complete just five laps before retiring.

* Rossi finished last, completing just four laps before he also called it quits.

But on the other hand, the three drivers shouldn’t feel all that bad in the whole big scheme of things: Twelve other drivers also recorded DNFs, meaning just half (15) the drivers in the starting field took the checkered flag.

Here’s a compilation of a number of social media posts from all three drivers and others that capsulized the five day event:

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.”