Vettel aiming for seventh or higher from pit lane in Austin

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AUSTIN – Sebastian Vettel has said that finishing anywhere inside the top seven in tomorrow’s United States Grand Prix would be a good result as he will start from the pit lane due to a complete power unit change.

Red Bull confirmed earlier this week that it would be overhauling Vettel’s engine, prompting the FIA stewards in Austin to hand him a pit lane start regardless of his qualifying position.

Although Vettel was not expected to run in qualifying, the team sent him out to ensure that he finished inside the 107% time required to qualify for a grand prix. He finished the session in 17th place, marking his first Q1 exit in over five years.

However, with a good long-run pace on show in practice on Friday, the German driver could yet fight his way up into the points.

“It’s difficult to say where we are compared to the others teams,” Vettel said after qualifying. “It doesn’t seem too bad, depending on the conditions which are currently good.

“In the race tomorrow I think we can move up, our race pace seems okay, but it will be tight. It will be difficult to overtake, as we don’t have the ideal straight line speed, hopefully we can get some points tomorrow. Seventh would be a good result.”

His teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, finished qualifying in fifth place behind the Mercedes and Williams drivers, and looks set to be mathematically ruled out of the drivers’ championship following this weekend’s race in the United States in light of Mercedes expected dominance.

“I’m pretty happy with the top five,” Ricciardo said after qualifying. “Realistically we’re fighting for the last spot on the podium, if Mercedes have a clean race, and we’ve put ourselves in a good position for that.

“We were close to Felipe [Massa], but hopefully the clean side of the grid will help me out a bit, so we’ll see what happens.

NBC/NBCSN SCHEDULE FROM UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX

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.