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John Force Racing will sit out for the remainder of the 2020 NHRA season

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After skipping the past two rounds since the NHRA restarted its season, John Force Racing announced Friday that it’s out for the remainder of the 2020 schedule.

In a statement from the team, founder and owner John Force said the impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on his team made it impossible to continue.

“We had to make cuts everywhere,” said Force, the winningest driver in NHRA history. “We ran numbers over and over. In our contracts with sponsors, we have guarantees. They get social media, certain number of races, certain number of race days, activation at races and other commitments. No matter how I looked at it, I couldn’t deliver on those commitments. It just wasn’t fair to them.

“The impact of not being able to deliver on these commitments makes sitting out the rest of the 2020 season the right thing to do. No matter how I looked at it, no matter how much I personally invested, I couldn’t make it.”

The 16-time Funny Car champion said the four-car team, which also includes drivers Robert Hight, Brittany Force and Austin Prock, would return “stronger than ever” next season. Force said he was “really heartbroken” missing the season, but that his team would have shut down if it tried to compete this year.

“I made the decision to live to fight another day,” Force said in the release. “We can’t fight now, we can’t race right now, but with what I have, with the help of my sponsors and my own personal money, I can maintain. I have to protect my family, my employees, my teams and my sponsors. What I built was a team that could win. All I have to do is get to next year.”

Force’s team is one of many in drag racing battered by the pandemic, which also has led to salary cuts and furloughs at NHRA.

There are 12 events remaining in the NHRA’s season, which concludes in November. The next race is the Dodge NHRA Indy Nationals on Aug. 6-9 at Lucas Oil Raceway in suburban Indianapolis, Indiana.

Here’s the release from John Force Racing:

YORBA LINDA, Calif. (July 31, 2020) – After four months of postponement and ever-changing scenarios, NHRA went forward with a revised Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule that restarted with two-consecutive races at the storied Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis in Indiana. Sixteen-time Funny Car world champion and NHRA legend John Force sidelined his four-car team for the restart of the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season. The driver of the PEAK BlueDEF Chevrolet Camaro SS announced today that John Force Racing will remain parked for the 2020 season in order to come back at championship caliber.

“When I first got into racing, I always had a love for cars, I loved the camaraderie of the team, I loved the competition. As I evolved, I realized what it took to become a winner. It took money and that’s when I started chasing corporate America. I had no personal wealth, I had to find sponsors to get me the crew chiefs I needed to win,” said Force, owner and CEO of John Force Racing. “As the winning happened, I found a new love. The fans. The fans are what kept me motivated and made me never ever think anything would come to an end. Even in the hardest of times, I call them crossroads, I got through it with the help of the fans and my sponsors. I went from a one car team to a multi-car team, to having machine shops, chassis shops and paint shops and the technology to win.

“Suddenly, the virus hit, and it changed the world. Robert Hight, President of the company, and I got back from Gainesville and we started working on a plan, we had to reset John Force Racing. Everyone was having to adapt. We had to make cuts everywhere. We ran numbers over and over. In our contracts with sponsors we have guarantees. They get social media, certain number of races, certain number of race days, activation at races and other commitments. No matter how I looked at it I couldn’t deliver on those commitments. It just wasn’t fair to them,” continued Force. “The impact of not being able to deliver on these commitments makes sitting out the rest of the 2020 season the right thing to do. No matter how I looked at it, no matter how much I personally invested, I couldn’t make it.

“At that point, I made the decision to ‘live to fight another day.’ We can’t fight now, we can’t race right now, but with what I have, with the help of my sponsors and my own personal money, I can maintain. I have to protect my family, my employees, my teams and my sponsors. What I built was a team that could win. All I have to do is get to next year. It will look different, but I have all my department leads and my sponsors, Auto Club, Chevrolet, PEAK, Monster, Frank Tiegs owner of Flav-R-Pac and Montana Brand, Cornwell Tools, Parker Store, Baldwin Filters, they’re all supportive,” said Force.

“What I’m saying is that I’m going to prepare to come back next year stronger than ever. Watching all the people that went racing, NHRA, the track, Safety Safari, TV, the media, all the winners, all the teams, thank you for racing and keeping the sport alive. I am really heartbroken I’m not out there. If I had stayed and raced, I couldn’t come back. If I step back now, I can. I want to be with all of you again and I want to be competitive. We will continue to support all our sponsors, doing their promotions as planned and stay relevant on social media for the fans; we are going to continue to build race cars, as we always have, build engines, mount bodies, parts and do everything we can because we are open for business in Indy and California,” concluded Force.

Sergio Perez still has coronavirus; will miss second consecutive F1 race

F1 Sergio Perez out
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SILVERSTONE, England — Sergio Perez will be out for a second F1 race at Silverstone this week after again testing positive for the coronavirus.

The Mexican driver had hoped to return to Formula One after spending seven days in quarantine, but his Racing Point team said this morning he had tested positive.

“He is physically well and recovering,” the team said. “The whole team wishes Sergio and his family well and we look forward to his return.”

That means German veteran Nico Hulkenberg again fills in for Sunday’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix after having also replaced Sergio Perez when he was out for the F1 British Grand Prix at the same venue last week. Hulkenberg did not start that race because of an engine problem.

There are two consecutive weekends of racing at Silverstone as Formula One tries to pack in races following the pandemic-delayed start to the season.

Perez became the first Formula One driver to test positive for coronavirus, and it had been unclear whether he would be available to drive after the period of quarantine was extended to 10 days.

Racing Point also was in the news Friday after being hit with a 15-point penalty in the Formula One constructors’ championship and fined 400,000 euros ($470,000) Friday for using brake ducts based on those from last year’s Mercedes cars.

The stewards ruled that Mercedes was the “principal designer” of the parts, and that Racing Point made only minor changes to computer design data it received from Mercedes.

Rival team Renault filed protests about the legality of the brake ducts, which were added to the “listed parts” under F1 rules for 2020. That means teams must design their own. Racing Point argued it was merely using information about the Mercedes parts to inform its own design.

Racing Point uses customer engines from Mercedes and has admitted basing its 2020 car design on photographs of last year’s Mercedes car. The similarities led to the Racing Point being nicknamed the “pink Mercedes” when it was first seen in testing ahead of the season.

Racing Point can appeal the ruling. The points deduction drops the team from fifth to sixth in the standings, below Renault. The ruling doesn’t affect the points totals for Racing Point’s drivers.