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Formula One Team Haas hopes to return to America fourth in constructors’ standings

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With one race remaining before Formula One Team Haas returns to home soil, they have a mathematical opportunity to move up to fourth in the constructors’ standings if they can do something they have done only once this season: score 12 or more points in this week’s Japanese Grand Prix at the 3.608-mile Suzuka Circuit.

“Hopefully on the flight back, I can think about a lot of points,” team principal Guenther Steiner said earlier this week in a press release. “That always puts your spirits high – when you fly home and you bring something back. We’ve never had a strong United States Grand Prix. I know everyone wants this to happen – to have the American team having a strong home race. Everybody’s working hard for that. Hopefully, this year we can pull it off.”

The laudable, albeit slightly unrealistic, goal has been made possible by the team scoring more points this year than in their two previous seasons combined. Haas earned 29 points in its inaugural 2016 season. Last year, they stretched that to 47 points. Through 16 of 21 races in 2018, Haas has amassed 80 points, which puts them behind fourth-place Renault by 11.

Haas’ best points performance came in Round 9 in Austria when Romain Grosjean placed fourth and Kevin Magnussen was fifth for a combined 22 points.

So far this season, Haas has placed their two drivers Magnussen and Grosjean in the points in the same race three times. The most recent of these came four weeks ago in the Belgian Grand Prix.

Grosjean finished seventh; Magnussen was eighth for a combined 10 points – narrowly missing the mark they need to achieve at Suzuka.

Last week, Haas F1 announced Magnussen and Grosjean would return to the organization for 2019, giving both drivers the security needed to place in the points.

“It’s always good to know what your future’s like,” Grosjean said. “For us, it’s great that it’s been confirmed. It’s a positive thing. We’re looking forward to the future.”

“It’s just nice to know I have a few more years here with Haas F1 Team,” Magnussen said. “I’m looking forward to that challenge and continuing the relationship that we’ve built over the last two years.”

After last week’s announcement, Haas F1 missed placing both drivers in the points by one position.

Magnussen finished eighth while Grosjean was 11th.

But Grosjean is confident entering the Japanese GP.

“Suzuka is definitely my favorite,” Grosjean said. “I always look forward to going there. We want to do well everywhere. We’re going to fight as hard as we can everywhere to get those points and try to beat Renault.

“It’s always difficult to say exactly why. I think it’s the flow, the corners, the high-speed nature of the track. There’s a risk, as well, with all the gravel and the narrow parts of the circuit. Overall though, it’s not one thing, and sometimes you don’t know why you like something, you just do.”

In their brief two-year history, F1 Team Haas has placed both of their drivers in the points one time in Japan.

This will be Grosjean’s eighth Japanese GP. He has three previous top-10s to his credit with a best of third in 2013 a race in which he led a career-best 26 laps. Last year, he finished ninth.

Magnussen will make his fourth start in Japan. He also placed in the top 10 with an eighth-place finish after starting 12th.

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Will Power, Roger Penske collect Indy 500 trophies

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DETROIT (AP) Last year, Will Power finally broke through and won the Indianapolis 500, so he can cross that accomplishment off the list.

Now 37, Power is reaching an age when it’s fair to wonder how much longer he’ll keep at it.

“I’m really enjoying my racing. I’ve never been so motivated. I’m fitter than I’ve ever been, mentally on the game,” Power said. “I think once you get to this part of your career, you realize that you’re not going to be doing this forever. So you’ve got to enjoy it and you’ve got to go for it when you’ve got it, because, you know, probably only another five years at maximum, and you’re retired.”

Whenever Power’s career does wind down, his 2018 Indy 500 win will remain a moment to remember. He was in Detroit on Wednesday night with team owner Roger Penske for a ceremony in which they received their “Baby Borg” trophies for winning last year’s race. The Baby Borgs are replicas of the Borg-Warner Trophy that honors the Indy 500 winner.

Power finished second at Indy in 2015, and his victory last year made him the race’s first Australian winner. It was Penske’s 17th Indy 500 win as an owner, part of a banner year for him. Penske also won a NASCAR Cup title with driver Joey Logano.

“When you think about 2018, we had 32 race wins, 35 poles. I think we led almost 5,400 laps, with all the series,” Penske said.

On Wednesday, Penske collected another significant trophy, and he’ll be celebrated again in a couple weeks. He’s being inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Feb. 1.

“It’s amazing that a guy from the north can get into the Hall of Fame in the south,” Penske joked. “No, it’s special. … NASCAR has helped us build our brand over the years, certainly, with the reputation it has, and the notoriety we get, being a NASCAR team owner.”

Penske’s most recent Indy 500 title came courtesy of Power, who long preferred road courses to ovals but certainly looked comfortable at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year.

“The 500 was one record that he didn’t have, and I think you saw the excitement he and his wife, and the whole team, when he was able to win the race,” Penske said. “He’s probably the best qualifier we’ve ever had, as a road racer, and no question his expertise. He didn’t like ovals to start with, but I think today, he loves racing on ovals.”

Power seems content with all aspects of his racing life at the moment. The aftermath of an Indy 500 victory can be a whirlwind, and it would be understandable for a driver to be weary of it eight months later, but for Power, it’s a new experience.

“I’ve been looking forward to this event for a few months now, to actually get the Baby Borg. You have the face on it – I didn’t realize that, you actually get your own face on it,” Power said. “It makes you realize the significance of the event, when you think about all the things that come with winning the 500.”

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Follow Noah Trister at http://www.Twitter.com/noahtrister