Maldonado has rare shot to extend points-scoring streak in Brazil

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You may wonder how it’s possible to tie the 1989 cult baseball classic “Major League” in with a modern-day Formula One driver.

However, it is possible by virtue of one smart-alecky line from Bob Uecker as announcer Harry Doyle when he wisecracks about the then-hapless Cleveland Indians: “Well, the Indians with a chance to extend their winning streak to… two!”

Lotus’ Pastor Maldonado is in that same situation heading into Brazil this weekend, with a chance to extend his points-scoring streak to… two.

Ordinarily this wouldn’t be that big a deal, except for the fact that in Maldonado’s four seasons in F1, it’s something he’s only achieved once in 74 career starts.

In 2012, Maldonado finished fifth at Abu Dhabi and followed it up with ninth in the first U.S. Grand Prix at Austin. When it came to the season finale in Brazil that year, the then-Williams driver was unable to make it three in a row.

But 2012 was a fascinating season for Maldonado because thus far, it’s been the only season of four he’s scored points in more than one race (five total Grands Prix, including his Spanish Grand Prix win). In both 2011 (10th at Spa) and 2013 (10th at Hungary), Maldonado has scored only once all year, and he’s now equaled that with a ninth at Austin this past weekend.

He has that chance to go two-in-a-row this weekend at a track that, as mentioned above, he has yet to score. He’s optimistic racing in South America, and not far from his native Venezuela, that he’ll be able to deliver once more in the Lotus E22.

“Interlagos may not have the most impressive infrastructure but it is a great, historic circuit,” he said in the team’s pre-race advance. “I really love the track, the atmosphere and the people – there will be a lot of Venezuelans there! Hopefully we can have a great race and put on a good show for the South American fans.”

With setup balance hard to achieve – Maldonado said ideally, you’d want Monza-spec for one part of the lap and Hungaroring-spec for another – he thinks a wet race would spice things up even more.

“We’ve seen some epic races in Interlagos where wet weather has been a factor, and thunderstorms are present. We all know the amount of rain which can fall in Sao Paulo and the Interlagos track even has grooves cut into it to help the water flow off the track!” he said. “It’s a challenging circuit in the dry and even more so in the wet, but there have been some amazing races over the years because of this. Whatever the weather, we’ll be pushing for the best result possible.”

And if said result is in the top-10 for the second straight race, it will be a somewhat monumental occurrence.

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.