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NHRA: Cancelled Englishtown race to be held at Virginia Motorsports Park

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The 2018 NHRA Mellow Yello Drag Racing Series schedule is now whole again.

Two weeks ago, Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, New Jersey, shocked the drag racing world when it announced it was immediately and permanently cancelling all NHRA and sportsman drag racing at the track.

Among events cancelled was the 49th NHRA Summernationals, which was scheduled for June 8-10. OBTRP had been hosting drag racing at its facility about an hour southwest of New York City for 52 years.

The loss of Englishtown dropped the NHRA schedule from its original 24-race lineup to 23. NHRA said it likely would not return to 24 races until 2019.

But in an equally surprising move as Englishtown’s departure, NHRA on Tuesday announced there indeed will be 24 national events after all in 2018.

Virginia Motorsports Park in Petersburg, Virginia, has been named to replace Englishtown on the NHRA national schedule.

“We’re excited to return to Virginia Motorsports Park under its new ownership and the VMP team is eager to host our drivers, sponsors and fans,” NHRA president Glen Cromwell said in a media release.

VMP was recently purchased by Tommy Franklin and family and were one of the first groups to step forward to attempt and fill the void left by Englishtown’s departure from the schedule.

The last NHRA national event held at VMP was in 2009. Franklin is looking forward to having his track back on the NHRA national event schedule.

“We are thrilled to get the opportunity to host an event in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series,” said Franklin. “We want to have the fastest track in the series and make this a premier destination for drivers and fans alike. It’s going to be a fantastic event!”

Tickets will go on sale in March.

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.