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Sebastian Vettel dominates to capture Nations Cup at the Race of Champions

Kyle Busch, left, Team America, looks on as Sebastian Vettel, of Team Germany, right, lifts his individual competition and team trophies and after beating Busch to win the ROC Miami on Sunday, January 22, 2017.
Kyle Busch, left, Team America, looks on as Sebastian Vettel, of Team Germany, right, lifts his individual competition and team trophies and after beating Busch to win the ROC Miami on Sunday, January 22, 2017. cjuste@miamiherald.com

Let’s face it, the Race of Champions is equal parts auto racing and novelty — and that’s not a bad combo.

The auto racing part includes some of the best drivers in the world from various tours (Formula One, NASCAR, etc.). That’s the gravitas of this event.

Then there’s the novelty part.

The two days of racing took place in a baseball stadium, Marlins Park, complete with a drone flying around throughout, pillars that spouted fire as the cars crossed the finish line and a mini-course layout that included sharp turns and curves.

Over the two days, there were two non-serious wrecks, and to the happy relief of everyone the drone never crashed.

Sunday’s racing was highlighted by an America vs. The World showdown, and The World won — particularly Germany.

Colombian motor sport great Juan Pablo Montoya has won the Race Of Champions trophy for the first time at Miami's Marlins Park. Montoya prevailed after a win over ‘Mr Le Mans’ Tom Kristensen, who reached his fifth ROC Grand Final

After a slow start in Saturday’s competition, Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel of Team Germany dominated by winning all eight of his races Sunday to capture the Nations Cup trophy for Germany. Leading the U.S. were NASCAR’s Busch brothers — Kurt and Kyle.

“I found a rhythm,” said Vettel, the youngest world champion in Formula One history when he captured the title at age 23. Since then he has gone on to win three more world titles.

“Sometimes, you wake up and it works, sometimes it doesn’t,” Vettel said. “I just wanted to get some time on the track and it worked out well.”

Just because they were in a baseball stadium did not keep the drivers from celebrating in usual auto racing fashion — wheelies, smoke-filled donuts, confetti and victory champagne being sprayed here, there and everywhere.

Virtually all the drivers extolled the uniqueness and fun of racing in a baseball stadium.

Vettel, 28, said it was the smallest place he had ever raced and suggested, “Maybe a basketball court will be next.”

Kurt Busch added: “I was definitely soaking up the atmosphere.”

The man who prevented the U.S. from defeating The World was Petter Solberg of Norway, who won the last race.

Solberg would be ready to race on any size track as long as it is in South Florida.

Something about the weather being a little nicer and warmer than in Norway.

Will the race, in its 28th running, come back to Miami next year?

Race of Champions founder and president Fredrik Johnsson was not committing one way or the other.

He acknowledged attendance for the two days at Marlins Park was light — probably 11,000 or so each day.

“We definitely have the option to come back,” Johnsson said. “It’s difficult to draw people the first time you do something.

“We will make a decision at a later time, but it’s definitely possible.”

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