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Hamilton concerned about Ferrari pace, passing opportunities in Hungary

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Lewis Hamilton talked down his chances of a sixth Hungarian Grand Prix win after qualifying fourth on Saturday, believing that Ferrari’s pace advantage combined with a procession in the race could put victory out of reach.

Hamilton appeared to be in the running for a record-equalling 68th career pole after topping Q2, only for Ferrari to up its pace through Q3 and sweep to a front row lock-out.

Hamilton made a mistake on his first Q3 lap, causing him to err on the side of caution with his final effort, leaving him fourth on the grid behind Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.

“This hasn’t been the easiest weekend for us. The car didn’t feel completely underneath me during practice but we made some changes into qualifying and the feeling started to improve,” Hamilton said.

“We knew Ferrari would be quick after seeing their pace this morning, so considering that fact I think we did pretty well to lock out row two.

“My laps in qualifying were generally good but I made a mistake in Turn 4 on the first run in Q3, so after that it was all about getting in a banker lap to make sure I set a time.

“Looking to the race, maybe strategy or the tires will come into play in a bigger way. Ferrari seems to have the upper hand this weekend and this race is usually a procession on a circuit where it is hard to follow, so there aren’t many opportunities to gain positions.

“But we will be giving it everything we can.”

The Hungarian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 7am ET on Sunday.

2016 Knoxville Nationals champ Jason Johnson succumbs to injuries from sprint car crash

Photo courtesy Jason Johnson Racing official Facebook page
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Former Knoxville Nationals champion sprint car driver Jason Johnson has died from injuries suffered in a crash Saturday night in a World of Outlaws race at Beaver Dam (Wisconsin) Raceway).

Known as the “Ragin’ Cajun” for his aggressive style of racing, Johnson, 41, passed away this morning, according to an announcement by WoO. He was one of the most respected and well-liked drivers on the circuit by both fellow competitors and fans.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Johnson, a Eunice, Louisiana resident, was racing for the lead in the main event on the one-third-mile clay track with eventual race winner Daryn Pitman, when Johnson crashed on Lap 18 shortly after a restart.

Johnson’s car left the track surface in Turn 3 and flew through at least one billboard adjacent to the racetrack, according to media and witness reports.

It took rescue workers several minutes to extricate Johnson, who was taken by ambulance to a local hospital before being airlifted to Aurora Summit Hospital in Summit, Wisconsin, according to the Journal Sentinel report.

How many will remember Johnson:

Johnson, who won the 2016 Knoxville Nationals – the sport’s biggest race – in Iowa in storybook fashion, had been a primarily part-time racer on various sprint car circuits from 1998 until he went full-time on the Outlaws series, capturing Rookie of the Year honors in 2015.

MORE: Knoxville win should be big boost to Jason Johnson’s season, career

Johnson had 12 wins on the Outlaws circuit, including two victories this season.

The Journal Sentinel also posted a statement from SLS Promotions, which promoted Saturday’s race:

“Everyone at SLS Promotions offers our deepest, most sincere thoughts, prayers and condolences to Bobbi Johnson (Jason’s wife), Jaxx Johnson (the couple’s son) and the entire Johnson family and JJR Racing team.

“Jason was a great competitor and true ambassador for the sport. It was an honor and a privilege to work with him during his time on the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series trail. Jason will never be forgotten”

Other notables also commented on his death on social media:

According to the Journal Sentinel, Johnson is the second driver in four years to die at the small track northwest of Milwaukee. In September 2014, Scott Semmelann, 47, was killed there while practicing for an Interstate Racing Association event.

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