Force India Formula 1 driver Sergio Perez’s run to sixth place on Sunday in Malaysia was made all the more impressive by the fact he had been battling severe sickness all weekend long due to a stomach infection.
Perez was ill from the Thursday onwards at Sepang, but managed to qualify ninth before finishing as the leading midfield driver in the race, crossing the line sixth.
The Mexican feared he may be forced to retire mid-race due to how he was feeling, but was thankful to pick up another decent haul of points for Force India.
“It was probably the hardest race of my career, on a weekend in which I feared I would need to give up. It is an amazing result just to make it to the finish,” Perez said.
“I just kept going out of willingness to do it and I have to thank the doctors for helping me out.
“Having a good start was the key to my race and so was passing [Stoffel] Vandoorne during the first few laps. After that, I was able to manage my race and it was all pretty uneventful.
“We were able to extend the first stint and manage our tires well. I was only under pressure from [Sebastian] Vettel, but that was not really my fight.
“We scored some more important points for the team and I am happy to come home with a good result after such a difficult weekend.
The magic of dirt racing wins for Kyle Larson continued Thursday night at Knoxville Raceway, where he scored his third consecutive World of Outlaws victory at the famed half-mile track to open “The One and Only.”
After starting 10th, Larson sliced through the field and passed pole-sitter Logan Schuchart to lead the final eight laps in the No. 57 of car owner Paul Silva.
“Just an awesome race,” Larson said after earning $10,000 for his second consecutive NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series victory (after winning at Pevely, Missouri, last Saturday), his sixth Outlaws victory this season and 14th of his career.
“I was able to track Logan down and hit the bottom really well in (turns) 1 and 2 and got a run on him. It felt like I needed to take advantage of that before we got to heavier traffic and slid him and felt some contact. So, glad to see him not in the wall or anything like that. Just, hard work there. Heartbeat is up again.”
The One and Only continues Friday night with another $10,000 feature race that will set the starting lineup for Saturday’s Brownells Capitani Classic, which pays $50,000 to win.
The event is the Outlaws’ richest purse of 2020 and subs in for the annual Knoxville Nationals, which was canceled for COVID-19 concerns. Larson, a two-time Knoxville Nationals runner-up, has said winning The One and Only would be on the same as Knoxville’s signature event because of its tough three-day format.
Through the first of three nights, Schuchart and Larson are tied for second in The One and Only points standings, which factor in qualifying, heats, dash and feature races. Aaron Reutzel, an All Star Circuit of Champions stalwart who finished third Thursday, leads with 430 points.
A crash in Thursday’s 25-lap feature eliminated past Outlaws champions Brad Sweet and Donny Schatz after Cory Eliason spun in front of Sweet in Turn 1 to start the wreck, which also collected Sweet’s teammate, James McFadden. Sweet and Schatz finished outside the top 20, which moved Schuchart into the points lead for the 2020 season.
Schuchart still seemed slightly miffed after finishing second to Larson.
“As the race went on, I felt like I wasn’t hitting my marks as good,” he said. “I would have liked to of had a little bit better of a race with Kyle there. I wish his slide job was a little better there, but he’s got a reputation to live up to. That’s where you let other people make the rules and maybe we’ll get him next time.”