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Johnson Jr., Brown lead NHRA winners at Maple Grove

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MOHNTON, Pa. (AP) Tommy Johnson Jr. won the Funny Car division Sunday in the Dodge NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway.

Johnson powered his Dodge Charger R/T to a 3.895-second pass at 330.63 mph to beat teammate and points leader Ron Capps.

Johnson has raced to the final rounds in all three NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship events so far to move into second place in the standings, 25 points behind Capps with three races left. Johnson has two victories this season and 14th overall.

“You want to have a strong start in the Countdown. We knew that going into it,” Johnson said. “We went from seventh to fourth in Charlotte – a runner-up is good – then we went to St. Louis and got a another runner-up and went to second, and I said I’d be happy with four more runner-ups, but when you look in the other lane and it’s Capps, who’s leading the points, it’s a must-win. You’ve got to gain some ground.”

Antron Brown won in Top Fuel, Vincent Nobile in Pro Stock, and Eddie Krawiec in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Brown raced to a 3.721 at 317.34 to beat Brittany Force’s 3.721 at 324.67. Brown had a better reaction time and won on a holeshot. The defending season champion has six victories this year and 60 overall.

Nobile won for the first time this season, beating Greg Anderson with a 6.575 at 209.85 in a Chevrolet Camaro.

Krawiec had 6.818 at 193.88 on a Harley-Davidson to outlast Cory Reed. Krawiec has four victories this season and 35 overall. He’s second in the standings behind teammate Andrew Hines.

Lewis Hamilton aims to match Michael Schumacher’s F1 win record

Lewis Hamilton Schumacher record
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SOCHI, Russia — Lewis Hamilton has set many Formula One marks over the years, but few are as significant as the Michael Schumacher record he can match Sunday at the Russian Grand Prix.

Victory for Hamilton at the Sochi Olympic Park would see him draw level with Schumacher at 91 career victories, more than any other driver in the 70-year history of F1.

It also would increase Hamilton’s commanding 55-point lead over teammate Valtteri Bottas in the championship standings, putting him closer to a seventh world championship, matching another Schumacher record.

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History is on the side of Hamilton, who won Sept. 13 at Mugello. He’s won four of the six Russian races so far, and all six were won by Mercedes drivers. His closest challenger is likely to be Bottas, who beat Hamilton in the 2017 edition of the Russian Grand Prix.

Elsewhere in the championship hunt, Red Bull driver Max Verstappen’s season has gone up in smoke since his Aug. 9 victory at Silverstone. An overheating engine forced the Dutch driver out of the Sept. 6 race at Monza and then a similar problem struck just before the start at Mugello. Verstappen was far slower off the line than the cars around him and was struck by Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo.

That leaves Verstappen 80 points off Hamilton in the standings and a 25-point deficit to Bottas.

If Hamilton does win to tie Schumachher at Sochi, more fans will see it in person than any other race in a 2020 season mostly run before empty grandstands because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Organizers say the race weekend is sold out but haven’t given final ticket sales figures.

Race promoter Alexei Titov previously told Russian state TV that the stands would be at 50 percent of their capacity, which equates to around 30,000 spectators.

That’s far more than the previous season high of 3,000 fans for the most recent race, the Tuscan Grand Prix at the Mugello circuit.

Unlike at the last two races in Italy, there will be a full entertainment program on offer for fans with concerts featuring some of Russia’s most popular musicians.

Russian organizers say they’re taking precautions to keep fans safe and will have medical staff posted at checkpoints around the venue, and that spectators will have their temperature measured on entry.