Perez captures first McLaren top five with excellent Indian GP drive

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It will inevitably get overlooked in the Sebastian Vettel championship coronation, but in fifth place in yesterday’s Indian Grand Prix, Sergio Perez had his best drive yet for McLaren.

Perez and teammate Jenson Button have struggled to extract the maximum of a difficult chassis this season and Button had the team’s only prior top-five finish, fifth at China way back in April.

But Perez ran in the top three early during the first pit stop sequence, and surged from seventh to fifth late in a DRS-assisted double move at Turn 4 on Lewis Hamilton and the ailing Kimi Raikkonen, whose tires had gone off.

“In the closing laps, it was a fantastic feeling to get past Kimi [Raikkonen] and Lewis [Hamilton] in a single move,” he said. “I just braked as late as I could for Turn 4 to try and keep Lewis behind – and I managed to do it. It’s been a tough season, but today’s result is a promising sign and really motivates the whole workforce ahead of the last three races, where we’ll be doing our best to get more strong finishes under our belts.”

There’s been some discussion regarding Perez’s future at McLaren, but a quote from Sam Michael read during the NBCSN race broadcast did all but confirm the same driver lineup for the last season of McLaren Mercedes, before the team switches to Honda in 2015.

Perez, obviously, did himself no harm on Sunday. The Mexican scored the first three podium finishes of his career a year ago for Sauber.

“Unlike the past two or three weekends, I was finally able to enjoy a clean race without any bad luck! Fifth place is a great result for me. Without question, I have a lot of pressure on my shoulders, but it’s always sweeter when you perform well while under pressure. I’m extremely satisfied,” he said.

Steve Torrence takes NHRA points lead with Gatornationals victory

NHRA Gainesville Steve Torrence
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Two-time defending NHRA Top Fuel champion Steve Torrence took the points lead Sunday in the AMALIE Motor Oil Gatornationals, beating his father, Billy, in the final round at Gainesville Raceway.

Torrence had a 3.809-second run at 322.11 mph to win for the third time this year and 39th overall. He is now on track for another championship despite missing the season opener.

“We’ve got some good momentum and to be in the points lead, it’s a testament to how hard these guys work,” Steve Torrence said after the NHRA Gainesville victory. “We’ve just got to stay focused and concentrate on what the task at hand is, and that’s trying to win a championship. These guys give me an unbelievable race car and you just try not to screw it up.”

Ron Capps won in Funny Car, Alex Laughlin in Pro Stock and Matt Smith in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Capps raced to his second win this year and 66th overall, beating Tim Wilkerson with a 3.937 at 323.12 in a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat.

Laughlin topped Aaron Stanfield with a 7.068 at 204.76 in a Chevrolet Camaro for his first win this season and fourth in his career. Smith rode to his first victory in 2020 and 25th overall, topping Andrew Hines with a 6.843 at 196.99 on an EBR.