Jason Line Wins Delayed Brainerd, Qualifies No. 1 at U.S. Nationals

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., August 31, 2014 So far, Summit Racing Pro Stock driver Jason Line is really enjoying the 60th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals. On Sunday, Line picked up the trophy for the rain delayed NHRA Nationals that were originally slated to take place in Brainerd two weeks ago, and he capped off the final day of qualifying for the event by securing the 37th No. 1 qualifier award of his career.

Two elimination rounds were completed at Brainerd International Raceway, Minnesota-native Line’s home track, before rain put an early ending to the event and necessitated completion of the final two rounds during qualifying at the U.S. Nationals. On Saturday, Line defeated first-time semifinalist Dave River and was awarded a final-round meeting with Jeg Coughlin that would take place Sunday afternoon during the fourth round of qualifying.

Along the way to the Brainerd final, Line was also picking up a whole pile of bonus qualifying points. He was the quickest car in the first, second and third sessions with a 6.623 at 208.78 followed by a 6.593, 210.01 and then a best time of 6.589, 209.98.

The weather in Indianapolis seemed to mimic the Brainerd conditions, and although that worked well for Line and his thundering Summit Racing team, it also came with a few rain showers here and there. After a bit of a delay, the Brainerd final was completed as Line, with lane choice, clocked a remarkable .005-second reaction time to leave his opponent stinging and then finished the job with a cool 6.596, 207.40 that was again the quickest of his competitors. His challenger crossed the finish line with a 6.635, 207.72. The long-awaited Brainerd trophy finally belonged to Line, and the icing on the cake was another three bonus points to further pad his points lead as the regular season of NHRA’s Mello Yello Drag Racing Series nears completion.

“I knew I had to be good, because they’re a good team,” said Line, in regard to his .005 reaction time. “They definitely stepped it up on the last run, and he’ll be a contender tomorrow – but today we got the best of him.

“Our Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro ran well. She has been very fast. I look forward to tomorrow. It feels a little strange to win Brainerd at the U.S. Nationals, but nonetheless, it’s the first good thing I’ve ever done at Indy, so it feels pretty good. The celebration wasn’t quite what I had envisioned, but I got the Brainerd trophy, so it’s all good. I know my family and friends were watching at home, and I’m sure they enjoyed it as well.”

The win was the fourth of the season for Line and the 35th of his career. It was also the third consecutive win for Line, who also earned the trophy for Summit Racing in Sonoma and Seattle. The three-in-a-row is something Line has never before accomplished, and on Labor Day Monday at Lucas Oil Raceway, Line will have the chance at nabbing his fourth consecutive trophy.

Tomorrow, we have to do the same thing we did today: let the left foot out on time and have the fastest car,” said Line, who clocked a 6.614 in the final session and will race Rodger Brogdon in round one. “One part of that I think we have under control. The other part is definitely a little bit of a variable, but we’ll do the best we can. We have a good car. Today was a good day, and I won’t call it best ever, but it’s been the best Indy weekend I’ve had by a long shot. I have very few good memories here, and now I have one. Hopefully tomorrow we can make another.”

Event Schedule (All Times Eastern):
Monday, September 1:            Final eliminations starting with Top Fuel at 11:00 a.m.

Television Coverage (All coverage on ESPN2 – all times Eastern):
Monday, September 1:            Eliminations, 12:00 noon – 6:00 p.m.

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Mopar Driver Hagan Unleashes 3.99-Second Run, Captures No. 1 Spot at NHRA U.S. Nationals

Runner-Up Finish for Coughlin in Rescheduled Brainerd Pro Stock Final

 

  • Matt Hagan drives Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T to record setting 3-second run at Indy to take Funny Car No. 1 qualifier position
  • Hagan claims second-straight Indy pole and third of his career at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis
  • Hagan and Jack Beckman qualify 1-2 in their HEMI-powered Dodge machines
  • Jeg Coughlin Jr. finishes runner-up in rescheduled Brainerd final elimination at NHRA U.S. Nationals
  • Allen Johnson posts second-quickest run in Q5, moves to No. 6 in qualifying

 

Brownsburg, Indiana (Aug 31, 2014) – On the final day of qualifying for the historic 60th Annual National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) U.S. Nationals on Sunday, Mopar Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car driver Matt Hagan made a little history of his own. Hagan raced his HEMI-powered Mopar Express Lane machine to the No. 1 qualifier spot with a 3.998-second elapsed time (e.t.), setting the track record and becoming the first driver to run in the three-second range at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.

The top spot is Hagan’s first of the season, 16th of his career and second consecutive at the U.S. Nationals, and third overall at Indy. The Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) driver will line up his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T against Bob Bode in the first round of U.S. Nationals eliminations on Monday.

Hagan was ranked second after the first two qualifying sessions, but was bumped down to third in Q3 on Saturday after a bang under the hood resulted in a fiery end to his special 50th anniversary 426 HEMI engine tribute Dodge Charger body. Undaunted, Hagan and his team unleashed their record-setting 3.998 pass in their first attempt in the squad’s regular Mopar Express Lane body, recording just the 30th three-second run in NHRA Funny Car history and the 11th by a Mopar Dodge, putting the brand in a tie for the most three-second passes by a single manufacturer. Hagan finished with a 4.103/311.63 mark in Q5.

“She was trucking,” said Hagan of his Mopar Dodge. “Just a great, solid run. Everything was so smooth. Those fast runs are smooth like that. For (crew chief) Dickie Venables and my whole group of guys, they were up late last night working on this car. We had a little boom at the other end last night. They put it back together right, and put a great race car underneath me. My hat is off to them.”

Hagan was joined in the top-five by Mopar Dodge teammate Jack Beckman, who captured the provisional pole on Saturday with a 4.004/312.13 run and will start No. 2 after his DSR stablemate took the No. 1 position. Beckman smoked the tires in both Q4 and Q5 on Sunday and will open eliminations by battling No. 15 qualifier and fellow Dodge driver Blake Alexander (4.144/299.46). Monday brings Beckman’s final shot at overtaking Tim Wilkerson and cracking the top-10 in points in order to clinch a playoff berth in the NHRA “Countdown to the Championship.”

Ron Capps, winner of the rain-delayed Brainerd event final, which occurred during Q3 of the U.S. Nationals on Saturday, will start fifth at Indy thanks to the 4.026/320.36 he used to defeat final-round foe John Force. Gunning for a possible “hat trick” at Indy (the Brainerd victory, the Traxxas Funny Car Shootout win and the U.S. Nationals championship title), Capps was denied in the first round of the Traxxas Shootout on Sunday, losing to Courtney Force despite a strong 4.043/319.37 effort. The DSR Dodge driver will attempt to go two out of three at Indy, with a round one match against Chad Head in the U.S. Nationals eliminations on tap.

DSR teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. also suffered defeat in the opening round of the Traxxas Funny Car Shootout on Sunday, as his 4.313/265.17 was not enough to take out Alexis DeJoria. Johnson rebounded with a 4.059 e.t. in Q5 to earn three bonus points and will start Monday from the No. 11 spot on the strength of his 4.053/316.67 in Q3. Johnson can greatly assist teammate Beckman by taking out Wilkerson, his first-round foe in eliminations. No. 13 qualifier Jeff Arend (4.082/314.02) will post his GrimeBoss Charger against Del Worsham.

In Pro Stock action, some unfinished business was wrapped up as Jeg Coughlin Jr. drove his HEMI-powered Dodge Dart to a runner-up finish against Pro Stock points leader Jason Line in what doubled as the final elimination of the rescheduled Brainerd national event and the fourth qualifying session for the NHRA U.S. Nationals. It is the JEGS.com Mopar driver’s third runner-up result of the season and the 40th of his career. Coughlin’s e.t. of 6.635 seconds at 207.72 miles per hour was good enough to put him seventh in the qualifying session but not enough to beat Line’s session-best 6.596/207.40 pass. Line remained No.1 qualifier with the low e.t. run of the event with his 6.589 /209.98 pass.

“I’m not upset with it a bit because it’s a tough field out here and there are a lot of teams that have worked so hard this year,” Coughlin said. “We’ve had a great year between now and the first 17 races of the season, with a handful of wins and another handful of runner-ups. I think we’re positioning ourselves well, not only for game day here at the 60th annual U.S. Nationals, but also for the Countdown.”

Coughlin posted his best effort in the final qualifying session with a 6.623/208.07 to put him ninth overall and pair him with Aaron Stanfield for the first round of eliminations on Monday at the U.S. Nationals.

“This weekend has been, as Allen (Johnson) would say as well, a non-stop thrash,” said Coughlin of the hard work put in by the Mopar team to improve the competitiveness of the cars through each session. “I can’t thank both teams enough for the effort they have put in to try and get our cars up in the top four like we had set out as our goal. We didn’t quite get there with our qualifying efforts, but the show is not over yet. Fortunately here at Indy, both lanes are very, very competitive. I feel confident going into race day tomorrow that we’ve got a Dodge Dart that can shoot right through the field.”

After a challenging start to the weekend, HEMI-powered teammate Allen Johnson made his best run of the meet in the “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” Dodge Dart on his final attempt by posting the second-best pass of the session at 6.610/208.81 to put him sixth on the Pro Stock eliminations ladder. He’ll have lane choice over Chris McGaha for the opening round.

“We’ve struggled since we got here, but these guys just beat on it and beat on it, and with that last run of the weekend we’re right there and very competitive,” said Johnson, who was much more upbeat about the setup of his Dodge Dart for eliminations. “I feel sure that we can take what we did just then and maybe improve even a little bit more tomorrow. Even if we’re not qualified as well as we’d want, we’ll go into Monday with one of the best cars for race day, so we’re looking forward to going out there and seeing if we can’t bring home that first trophy from Indy.”

“It’s been a long, hard route, but damn we sure needed all five runs to get where we’re at now from where we started the weekend,” added Johnson, who is hoping to make his way to his first career final elimination at Indianapolis. “It’s an exciting, long weekend, but everyone has worked their butts off and really wants this.”

V. Gaines, who finished runner-up at this event last year, will start from the 13th spot on the ladder with his best effort of 6.629/208.71 in his HEMI-powered Dodge Dart. Gaines will see Dave Connolly as his first round opponent. Part-time Pro Stock entrant Matt Hartford qualified his Dodge Avenger 15th with a 6.661/207.85 run and will line up against Vincent Nobile for the first round.

ESPN2 will televise six hours of eliminations coverage starting at noon ET on Monday, Sept. 1, from the 60th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, the 18th of 24 events on the NHRA Mello Yellow Drag Racing series schedule, and final national event before the NHRA “Countdown to the Championship” begins.

2014 NHRA Points Standings

(Following qualifying at the Indianapolis NHRA U.S. Nationals)

PRO STOCK (season wins in parentheses)

1.            Jason Line* – 1368 (4)

2.            Erica Enders-Stevens* – 1304 (4)

3.            Allen Johnson* – Dodge Dart – 1298 (4)

4.            Jeg Coughlin Jr.*  – Dodge Dart – 1254 (2)

5.            Dave Connolly* – 1171 (1)

6.            Shane Gray* – 1108

7.            Vincent Nobile* – 1073 (1)

8.            V. Gaines – Dodge Dart – 805

9.            Chris McGaha – 782

10.          Greg Anderson – 719

FUNNY CAR (season wins in parentheses)

1.            John Force* – 1360 (3)

2.            Robert Hight* – 1340 (5)

3.            Ron Capps* – Dodge Charger R/T – 1148 (2)

4.            Tommy Johnson Jr.* – Dodge Charger R/T – 1087 (1)

5.            Alexis DeJoria* – 1068 (2)

6.            Matt Hagan* – Dodge Charger R/T – 1054 (1)

7.            Courtney Force* – 1053 (2)

8.            Cruz Pedregon* – 963 (1)

9.            Del Worsham – 941

10.          Tim Wilkerson – 883

11.          Jack Beckman – Dodge Charger R/T – 873

*clinched a “Countdown to the Championship” playoff berth

 

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WALSH CLAIMS NO. 1 QUALIFYING POSITION DURING NHRA PRO MOD DRAG RACING SERIES ACTION AT CHEVROLET PERFORMANCE U.S. NATIONALS AT INDIANAPOLIS

BROWNSBURG, Ind.  – Don Walsh secured the No. 1 qualifying position during the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series portion of the 60th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. This weekend’s Pro Mod racing is presented by JEGS.

Walsh powered his late model Chevy Camaro to a top performance of 5.863 seconds at 252.61 mph to on Saturday to claim the top qualifying spot. It was his fifth career No. 1 qualifier and first since 2012. His run held up following the final session on Sunday and he will meet Bill Glidden, the son of legendary Pro Stock driver Bob Glidden, in the first round of eliminations on Monday.

Troy Coughlin, the 2012 NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing series world champion, completed a 5.866 at 248.52 in his 2012 Corvette on Saturday to claim the second seed. He will face Houston winner Mike Janis in the first round. Jeff Naiser qualified third in his ‘69 Camaro with a 5.892 at 241.54 and opens against Jim Bell. Steven Whiteley was fourth with a 5.894 at 245.40 in his ’68 Camaro. He will pair up with Pete Farber in round one.

* * *

BROWNSBURG, Ind. — Monday’s first-round pairings for eliminations for the 60th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway Park at Indianapolis, the seventh of 10 events in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series.  Pairings based on results in qualifying, which ended Sunday. DNQs listed below pairings.

Pro Modified — 1. Don Walsh, Chevy Camaro, 5.863, 252.61  vs. 16. Bill Glidden, Ford Mustang, 5.995, 239.40; 2. Troy Coughlin, Chevy Corvette, 5.866, 248.75  vs. 15. Mike Janis, Camaro, 5.971, 243.37; 3. Jeff Naiser, Camaro, 5.892, 241.54  vs. 14. Jim Bell, Camaro, 5.964, 245.76; 4. Steven Whiteley, Camaro, 5.894, 245.40  vs. 13. Pete Farber, Dodge Daytona, 5.953, 243.46; 5. Von Smith, Camaro, 5.906, 242.02  vs. 12. Steve Matusek, Camaro, 5.947, 243.50; 6. Rickie Smith, Camaro, 5.924, 245.14  vs. 11. Danny Rowe, Camaro, 5.946, 243.72; 7. Mike Castellana, Camaro, 5.926, 237.96 vs. 10. Mike Knowles, Camaro, 5.937, 240.47; 8. Dan Stevenson, Camaro, 5.935, 242.10  vs. 9. Kevin Fiscus, Mustang, 5.937, 246.17. Did Not Qualify: 17. Eric Latino, 5.998, 243.37; 18. Jimmy Keen, 6.010, 237.38; 19. Jason Hamstra, 6.011, 240.59; 20. Harold Martin, 6.021, 243.33; 21. Jim Laurita, 6.037, 240.89; 22. Jimmy Widener, 6.045, 236.42; 23. Jim Whiteley, 6.056, 235.47; 24. Kenny Lang, 6.107, 235.15; 25. Michael Biehle, 6.130, 243.63; 26. Gerry Capano, 6.187, 233.44; 27. Clint Satterfield, 6.227, 242.76; 28. Chris Juliano, 6.260, 226.09; 29. Jay Payne, 6.404, 233.16; 30. Mark Martino, 6.597, 181.32; 31. Doug Winters, 6.688, 223.88; 32. Dave Pierce, 7.527, 212.93; 33. Chip King, 8.138, 127.15.

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Russell Wins Tire Rack ProSolo Finale Super Challenge and ProSolo Championship

LINCOLN, Neb. (Oct. 31, 2014) – Paul Russell, of San Diego, California, was the Super Challenge winner at the Tire Rack® SCCA ProSolo® Finale at Lincoln Airpark. The Challenge win allowed Russell to claim the 2014 ProSolo Super Challenge Championship. Kim Whitener, of Fort Worth, Texas, was the Ladies Challenge winner earning her the ProSolo Ladies Challenge Championship title.
The Finale brought together the best ProSolo drivers from around the country to Lincoln, Nebraska, to help decide season-long championships in both Super Challenge and Ladies Challenge groups.
The final class runs on Sunday morning were delayed by lighting and a brief downpour. Following the 20-minute intermission, competition got back underway on the pair of rain-drenched courses. The wet conditions forced each driver into a slower pace, but served as more practice in preparation for the Challenge portion of the meet.
Directly preceding the Challenge rounds was the inaugural Speedway Motors SCCA Classic American Muscle Invitational. Josh Leisinger, of Souix Falls, South Dakota, took home the win, in a competition that was very popular among drivers.
“This is my first SCCA event,” Leisinger said. “The track is huge and fast. The surface was awesome and each of the SCCA folks were very helpful.
“With the invitational nature of this competition, there were a lot of fast cars here with some tough competition. I had to be on my ‘A’ game and couldn’t take any of the other drivers lightly. Using the ‘Christmas Tree’ was something different and created some more strategy for the competition.”
The CAM Challenge was not only popular amongst those who competed, but also spectators at the event. The classic, high-powered Detroit iron attracted the attention of the other ProSolo competitors, but also some locals who have never been to National-level Solo events.
Chuck Jones, of Lincoln, Nebraska, was an SCCA member in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Through his recent attendance at Nebraska Region SCCA events, as well as today’s event, as a spectator, Jones said he is starting to fall back in love with racing.
“When I was a kid I used to go out to stock cars races in which Speedway Motors sponsored cars,” Jones said. “I’ve grown up with the company, in some ways. They have a car here that they are sponsoring, which is awesome.”
Doug Grote, of Lincoln, Nebraska, is a first-time attendee at an SCCA Solo event. Grote said he was alerted to the event by a customer of his muffler shop.
“I’m really impressed,” Grote said. “I did some work on a Mini Cooper for a couple from Washington who told me about this event. We decided to come out and see it. Hopefully, we can make it out to the Nationals for the rest of the week.
“The overall atmosphere is really cool. The customers from Washington said this is the Super Bowl of autocross, so we wanted to see what it was all about.”
Russell (Kart Modified, Seventhgear.com Tony Kart) started Challenge competition as the No. 3 seed and beat Glen Hernandez (Street Index RWD, Evolution/Chase Race/Petrel Data Systems Chevrolet Corvette) in the opening round.
In the second round, Russell scored the victory over another SR-classed car driven by Eric Peterson (Solo Pro Driving/Atomic Empire Toyota Spyder). Eric Strelnieks (Super Street Modified, Hoosier/OSGiken/Jungle Cat Racing Mazda RX-7) was the next opponent for Russell, in the quarter-finals.
Russell’s semi-final matchup was against Jeff Stuart (C Street, Berry Family Racing/Racetraceapp.com Nissan 370Z). Russell came out on top, earning him a trip to the finals against Nick Barbato (Street Touring R, KARCEPTS/Adidas Motorsports Honda S200).
Barbato’s road to the final started with wins over Tom Berry (SP/SM Index A, Berry Family Racing/Hoosier Mitsubishi Evo IX) and Kinch Riendl (Street Touring Compact, Riptidehosting.com/RDP Hosting Honda Civic Si) in the first two rounds, respectively.
In the quarter-finals, Barbato met and beat Paul Kozlak (Street R Index RWD, Red Haus Racing Chevrolet Corvette) in their head-to-head battle. Barbato earned his spot in the finals after taking out Mark Hill (Bump Class, Jayhawk Racing/Ive Got Grip Mitsubishi EVO XI).
In the Super Challenge final, Russell showed he was the class of the field by besting Barbato on both the east and west courses. With the win, Russell earned enough points to take home his first season-long Super Challenge title. In the third-place runoff, Hill completed the podium positions after beating Stuart.
“The first couple rounds I got lucky,” Russell said. “The other drivers threw up a couple red lights, which really helped. I then met up with Strelnieks, and we were close in the Championship standings. So, that match-up would pretty much decide the season-long winner.
“After the first run I was 0.1-second quicker than him. On the second run, I’m still not sure how I was able to hold him off. After that is was just all about being smooth and fast.”
Whitener (Ladies Class 3, Black Armor Helmets/Texas Track Works Honda Civic) entered the head-to-head Challenge bracket at the top qualifier after taking the win in class competition. Whitener began her march to the final by after scoring the opening round win against Laura Campbell (Ladies Class 3, Honda S200).
In the quarter-finals, Whitener faced off against Linda Duncan (Ladies Class 2, MiniUSA MINI Cooper). Whitener came out on top beating Duncan to finish line on both the east and west mirror-image courses.
The win promoted Whitener to a semi-final matchup against Jocelin Huang (Ladies Class 2, The Alignment Guy Porsche GT3). Whitener eliminated Huang from the competition for the bracket win, earning her a final showdown with Gwen Habenicht (Ladies Class 2, Audi TT).
From the No. 15 seed, Habenicht did what it took to win her matchup against No. 2 seed Christine Grice (Ladies Class 1, Berry Family Racing/Chase Cam Mitsubishi Evo IX). Her next win came against Rachel Baker (Pixie Posse Racing Karcepts, Honda CRX) in the quarter-finals.
Habenicht earned her spot in the bracket final after eliminating Chris Peterson (Ladies Class 2, Atomic Empire Toyota Spyder).
In the final, Whitener got the best of Habenicht and came away with the win and 2014 ProSolo Fletcher Cup as the Ladies Challenge Champion. This title makes Whitener the third woman to win three ProSolo Ladies Challenge Championships in a row. In the third-place runoff, Peterson took the win over Huang and completed the podium positions.
“The Ladies Classes are hard,” Whitener said. “When I started out I was at the bottom of the pack. Running against top-notch competition makes one a better driver. You can look through the record book and see all the National Championship drivers you are competing against.
“We made some setup changes last night, which really helped us today. Luckily, we had the CAM Invitational to dry the courses out. The courses were fun and fast, but also technically challenging.”
Information on the Tire Rack SCCA ProSolo Finale can be found at http://www.scca.com/events/index.cfm?eid=6994. More information on the entire Tire Rack SCCA Solo program is available at www.scca.com/Solo.
Follow SCCA on Twitter @SCCAOfficial and like the Club on Facebook at Facebook.com/SCCAOfficial.
Image: Paul Russell, foreground, lines up against Nick Barbato in the Super Challenge Final of the Tire Rack SCCA ProSolo Finale.
Credit: Rupert Berrington
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JOHN FORCE WINS TRAXXAS SHOOTOUT AGAIN

INDIANAPOLIS – John Force drove his Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang to victory in the time NHRA Mello Champion faced fellow teammate and son-in law Robert Hight in the final round and ran a solid 4.061 second pass at 317.19 mph to Robert’s slightly off-pace 4.178 second run at 304.32 mph. This was John’s second Traxxas Nitro Shootout victory as he won the inaugural event in 2012. This was also John’s eighth victory in an NHRA all-star bonus event and earned $100,000 for the win today.

“I want to thank the fans for sticking this out, it was a killer crowd last night and today and we need these crowds as they stayed with us all did with on again and off again rain. I also want to thank the driver and the teams in our sport and also NHRA, Mello Yello and Mike Jenkins from Traxxas for putting up the money. They do such a fantastic job putting on these events. We’ve been working hard all week and putting in long hours but that what it takes. My granddaughter Autumn wanted her daddy (Robert Hight) to win but I promised her if I won, her grandpa would give her the trophy. It was a win-win situation for us going into the Traxxas final, we couldn’t lose,” said John Force.

Going into Monday’s final eliminations, John will race from the top half of the field from the No. 8 spot. Unfortunately, he will once again face his teammate Hight in the opening round due to Robert qualifying No. 9. Both drivers have identical 4.042 second elapsed times but Force gets the better position based on miles per hour 319.75 mph to 316.15 mph.

“I was mentally all screwed up the last couple of days. I got so confused going up against Capps last night in that Brainerd final. We pulled the car back to make the show but it has a personality but it didn’t on that run with Capps and we lost. Then today against Wilkerson in the opening round of the Traxxas Shootout, I asked Jimmy (Prock, crew chief) ‘how are we going to race it, we got whipped yesterday and we still didn’t qualify and we’re not in now,’ that’s why I got confused on what sessions counted and what sessions didn’t and we thought the final session counted and not the other but we got the Traxxas win and the money. I wanted to three-peat but I’ll never get Brainerd back but all-in-all, the fans are great to us,” said John Force.

For crew Jimmy Prock, the weekend has been challenging in tuning the 8000 horsepower Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang. With five qualifying sessions mixed in with a rescheduled final round match-up and the Traxxas Shootout, a lot of factors come into play when setting up the engine, clutch and chassis during the NHRA U.S. Nationals.

“The car didn’t run very well in the final last night with Capps, the engine was down on power. The temps were warmer today and we adjusted for that and going into the final, Hight’s crew and us just adjust to the conditions,” said Jimmy Prock

With 233 final round appearances, John Force is chasing win number 142. A Funny Car title win at the NHRA U.S. Nationals would be John’s fifth at this prestigious event and his 79th victory behind the wheel of his Ford Mustang. This would eclipse the record legendary Blue Oval Pro Stock driver Bob Glidden and make John Force the winningest Ford backed driver in history.

In the opening session of the day Robert Hight blasted past Cruz Pedregon for a first round win in the Traxxas Nitro Shootout and he also solidified his qualifying spot at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals. He posted a 4.042 second run at 316.15 mph. He will go into race day as the No. 9 qualifier and will race John Force.  Hight is 2-1 against Force this season beating him in the final round of Gainesville and Denver.

“Tomorrow will be a tough race but whoever wins first round will be the No. 1 seed going into the Countdown. That is a big deal. I have changed my approach to racing him. He has won everything multiple times so you know he is never nervous. He has done it all. I want to get some of his records so I just put the pressure out of my mind and go up there relaxed and ready to go,” said Hight, the defending U.S. Nationals winner.

Hight lost the Traxxas Shootout final on Saturday to Force when a magneto went out on the Auto Club Ford Mustang killing the power to one of the ignition switch and robbing Hight’s Mustang of some much needed power. The first time specialty race finalist was philosophical about the loss.

“John Force Racing won today so that is what matters. The money all goes to the same place. I knew when I hit the throttle we were in trouble. We just didn’t have enough power. I don’t know if we would have outrun him but it would have been a lot closer. It was a big win for our team and a nice boost to the moral going into Monday’s race,” said Hight.

Today was a better day for Courtney Force and her Traxxas Ford Mustang team. The third-year driver came into Sunday’s events not qualified in the top twelve and starting from scratch on their qualifying runs.

“It was extremely nerve-wracking coming into today with the Traxxas Nitro Shootout coming up and having a car that was not yet qualified in the field. We wanted to get down there and we wanted to make a decent run for our qualifying efforts and we wanted to go after that $100,000. Our Traxxas team got this car put together and we had run a 4.10 the day before so we knew it was capable of making a pretty good pass,” said Force.

Force staged her Traxxas Ford alongside Brainerd winner Ron Capps in the fourth qualifying session which also posed as the first round of the Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Funny Car. Being Force’s sponsor’s race, the pressure was on.  The 26-year-old took down the veteran driver without an issue, posting a 4.005 ET at 322.73 mph to Capps’ 4.043 ET at 319.37 mph. Force’s 322.73 is also the track speed record for Funny Car at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianpolis.

“We tuned it up a little and we were able to take down Capps in the first round of the Traxxas Shootout, which was kind of nice. He beat my dad last night and it was cool to get the win today over him, especially since he’s got such a good hot rod out there. It’s nice to be able to outrun him. After that round, knowing we were qualified and set the track speed record which was the run that put us in the top half of the field in the No. 3 spot made us feel good and helped us to move forward and focus on the second round,” said Force.

Force moved on to face her teammate and brother-in-law Robert Hight in the next round of the Traxxas Nitro Shootout, the fifth and final qualifying session of the weekend. It was a pedal fest when both cars had trouble getting a full pull down the race track. Force posted a 5.374 ET at 162.31 to Hight’s 4.768 ET at 264.08 mph.

”We weren’t able to get around Robert, our car went up and spun the tires, but we’re going to learn from it and look at the positives, the fact that we had two good runs down this race track.

“I really wanted to get that win for Traxxas. It would have been exciting for my team since they are my primary sponsor, but luckily two of our John Force Racing cars went to the final round and my dad was able to get the win. A big thank you to Traxxas for bringing back the excitement of Indy, having the race within a race and bringing back the chance for that big $100,000 paycheck. Thank you to them and we look forward to hopefully getting it next year,” said Force.

Force’s 4.005 ET from the fourth qualifying session will line her up to race Bob Tasca III in the first round of eliminations. This will be the 12th time the two have matched up in eliminations, the third time this season and the seventh time they have squared off in the first round. Force is 9-2 to Tasca in previous events.

“We have a tough competitor in the first round against Tasca. It’s the U.S. Nationals, it’s all tough. We’re excited and we’re ready for it and we’re hoping for a good race tomorrow,” said Force.

Brittany Force and her Castrol EDGE Dragster will race from the top half of the field during Monday’s final eliminations at the 60th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals. The 2013 NHRA Auto Club Rookie of the Year qualified in seventh position with a solid run of 3.786 seconds at 328.30 mph. Force will face Larry Dixon in the opening round and is looking for revenge as she lost a close race to him just two weeks ago in Brainerd, Minnesota.

Having secured a birth in the Countdown to the Championship, Brittany Force would like to go rounds tomorrow and make another trip to the finals. The sophomore Top Fuel driver and the Castrol EDGE team has improved dramatically during this season under the guidance of Todd Smith and Dean “Guido” Antonelli.

“We know the conditions we qualified in today will be the same as tomorrow’s eliminations. Todd Smith and Guido Antonelli are working on tuning the car and getting it to run in these conditions come Monday. On our first run today, it hazed the tires so my guys made some adjustments. On our final qualifying session, the Castrol EDGE dragster ran a 3.856 and was on a good pass until something broke just before the finish line. We ran that great 3.78 pass on Saturday night but we’re not going to see those conditions tomorrow,” said Brittany Force.

With this being Brittany’s second U.S. Nationals racing in Top Fuel, she’s just a pumped as she was during her rookie season. She knows her car is capable of winning this historic race and would like to claim the first Top Fuel victory for Castrol EDGE and John Force Racing at the historic “Big Go” NHRA U.S. Nationals.

“It’s definitely still exciting and it will be years from now just because it’s out biggest race of the season and it’s Indy. I remember coming out here and watching my dad win the Big Bud Shootout and other bonus races. It’ll always be the biggest race of the season and it’s the one we look forward to all year. There’s so much going on, I love it and I’m excited to be out here and we’re hoping to go some rounds and win this tomorrow,” said Brittany Force.

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KEVIN HARVICK WINS GREAT CLIPS 300 TO BENEFIT FEED THE CHILDREN

Kevin Harvick led 159 laps Friday night to win the Great Clips 300 to benefit Feed The Children, his second straight NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. It was Harvick’s third career Nationwide win at the superspeedway, tying him with Mark Martin for the track’s all-time win leader.

“It’s just one of those race tracks where I like the challenge of everything you get to do here, and (crew chief) Ernie (Cope) and I have found a great setup here over the years, and it’s still working today,” Harvick said. “This thing was bad-fast. The car was flawless.”

Joey Logano came on strong at the end to finish second, while Kyle Larson was third.

“The last six, seven laps the light switched turned on and I started catching him, and I just ran out of time,” Logano said. “I wish there was five or seven more laps – I could have got to him and tried to do something with him. We were catching him two to three tenths a lap there at the end, having some fun with it, but (it was) too little, too late.”

The win was Harvick’s third of the season in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, leaving crew chief Cope to wish he had the veteran for a full season. Instead, Cope has several different drivers taking turns at the helm of the No. 5 car, forcing him to set up the car completely different based on each driver’s different driving style.

“I love racing with Kevin,” Cope said. “You know you’ve always got a chance to win when he’s driving the car. We got done with practice last night, and I said, ‘Are we all right?’ And he said, ‘I’m gonna smash ‘em tomorrow night.’”

It’s that kind of confidence, along with his domination on track, that makes team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. happy to have Harvick as part of the team, regardless how big or small the role.

“He’s not only a great driver who gets in and drives the heck out of it, but he raises the whole company, and that’s pretty unique,” Earnhardt Jr. said.

Chase Elliott started on the pole position and fell back as he fought loose conditions throughout the night, finishing fifth position as the top rookie of the race.

“We started off good, and just kind of waited on the 5 (Harvick) to get there, and then when he did, just tried to learn a little bit from him,” Elliott said. “I feel like we did.”

Racing action continues Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Oral-B USA 500, slated to begin at 7:30 p.m. Great seats are available for a thrilling night of racing action by calling (877) 9-AMS-TIX or visiting atlantamotorspeedway.com.

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J.D. Johnson Breaks Four Year Drought, Claims NCRA Sprint Win!

Park City, Kansas – August 30, 2014 – J.D. Johnson took the lead coming out of turn two on the start and never looked back as he led wire to wire in claiming his first tour victory since 2010 in winning the National Championship Racing Association of Park City, Kansas presented by Precise Racing Products sprint car feature Saturday night at 81 Speedway in Park City as the tour kicked off the first of two nights of racing action this Labor Day weekend.

Nebraska’s Tyler Drueke and Ty Williams started on the front row for the twenty-five lap feature but it was Johnson using the low line in turns one and two to take the lead as the green flag fell. Johnson would open up a half stretch lead by lap two while fourth starting Jeremy Campbell worked passed Drueke for the runner up position.

Johnson, aboard the Jeff Whitehead owned #8 Whitehead Motorsports sprinter, began approaching slow cars on lap eight allowing Campbell to lose to within five car lengths of the leader.  Johnson made quick work of the slower cars and once again opened a half stretch advantage at the races midway point.

Campbell, who came into the night with a 35 point lead over defending tour champion C.J. Johnson, would lose the runner up position on lap thirteen as motor gremlins that struck him during heat race action, slowed his pace once again allowing Drueke to reclaim the second position.

Drueke looked to run down the leader and there was no stopping J.D. Johnson on this night as he went on to take the half stretch victory for this first series triumph since July of 2010.

C.J. Johnson would get by Campbell for third with four laps to go while Williams rounded out the top five.

The two, eight lap heat races for the fourteen car field were won by Drueke and Williams.

The tour will now load up and head north to the Belleville High Banks in Belleville, Kansas for their annual Sunday night, Labor Day weekend event.

NCRA Sprints

81 Speedway/Park City, Kansas

August 30, 2014

14 Cars

1st Heat: 1) Tyler Drueke, 2) Raymond Seeman, 3) J.D. Johnson, 4) C.J. Johnson, 5) Rick Wright, 6) Jeff Stasa, 7) Kaden Taylor

2nd Heat: 1) Ty Williams, 2) Jeremy Campbell, 3) Scott Lehman, 4) Jon Freeman, 5) Cody Forshee, 6) Jake Greider, DQ) Jimmie Hobbs

A Feature: 1) J.D. Johnson, 2) Tyler Drueke, 3) C.J. Johnson, 4) Jeremy Campbell, 5) Ty Williams, 6) Jon Freeman, 7) Raymond Seeman, 8) Jeff Stasa, 9) Cody Forshee, 10) Rick Wright, 11) Scott Lehman, 12) Jake Greider, 13) Kaden Taylor

 

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Power Wins First Verizon IndyCar Series Championship

FONTANA, Calif. (Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014) – Will Power earned his first Verizon IndyCar Series championship with a ninth-place finish in the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway.

Will Power celebrates his 2014 IndyCar Series championship at the Auto Club Speedway. (Courtesy: Verizon IndyCar Series)

 

Power, who entered the 18th race of the season with a 51-point lead over Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves, had been the championship runner-up in 2010, 2011 and 2012. It was the ninth consecutive year that the series champion was determined in the season finale.

 

“It’s 15 years of hard work. I was crying as I crossed the (finish) line,” said Power, who finished 62 points ahead of Castroneves. “It’s surreal. It’s just a fantastic way to finish the season.”

 

Power provided Team Penske its 13th Indy car championship and the first since 2006 with Sam Hornish Jr.

 

“Tonight showed everyone the strength of our team,” said team owner Roger Penske, who has won the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race 15 times.

 

Tony Kanaan, the 2004 series champion, won the 250-lap by 3.6750 seconds over Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate and 2013 champion Scott Dixon.

 

Kanaan was the 11th different winner of the season, which tied the Indy car single-season record set in 2000 and matched in 2001. Ed Carpenter, who won at Auto Club Speedway in 2012 and was runner-up in 2013, placed third and Juan Pablo Montoya finished fourth.

 

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Kanaan, who claimed his first victory since the 2013 Indianapolis 500. “We had a team meeting this afternoon and (team owner) Chip Ganassi said if you win you can brag about it for seven months.”

 

Castroneves, who started from the pole and led 41 laps, was assessed a drive-through penalty for a pit lane entry violation on Lap 218 that put him a lap down. He finished 14th in the race and second in the championship for the fourth time in his career.

 

“It’s another second, but well done to Will,” said Castroneves, a three-time Indianapolis 500 winner. “It stings a little bit, but it motivates me to come back stronger next year and win a championship.”

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‘Jay Leno’s Garage: The Ultimate Car Week’ Premieres Aug. 31 – CNBC

‘JAY LENO’S GARAGE: THE ULTIMATE CAR WEEK’ PREMIERES SUNDAY, AUGUST 31 AT 10PM ET/PT ON CNBC

One-Hour Special Marks the First Time Leno Hosts a Show Since ‘The Tonight Show’

Jay Leno in red car

ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, NJ— August 29, 2014 —CNBC – the fastest growing cable network among P18-49 and P25-54 in primetime* – will premiere “Jay Leno’s Garage: The Ultimate Car Week” on Sunday, August 31 at 10PM ET/PT. Based on his Emmy-winning web series “Jay Leno’s Garage,” this special takes viewers into the heart of Monterey Week, America’s ultimate automotive event. Hosted by legendary comedian and one of the greatest car collectors in America, Jay Leno provides a unique perspective on the business and sport of cars and car collecting, which culminates once a year at Pebble Beach’s Concours d’Elegance, featuring over 200 of the world’s most prized collectibles.   Leno scouts for vintage gems, gets exclusive first looks at several new vehicles and visits Laguna Seca racetrack, where he’s the first person to hit the gas on the new 2015 Corvette Z06. “Jay Leno’s Garage: The Ultimate Car Week” is produced for CNBC by Open 4 Business Productions in association with Big Dog Productions.  Jay Leno and Todd Mesirow are the executive producers. Like us on Facebook: http://facebook.com/CNBCprime and follow us on Twitter: @CNBCPrimeTV
 

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Tony Stewart to return at Atlanta

Three-time Sprint Cup champion has missed past three races

Tony Stewart to return at Atlanta

MORE: NASCAR statement on Tony Stewart’s return
RELATED: Full coverage of Tony Stewart incident

Tony Stewart will return this weekend in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway and make his first Sprint Cup start since Pocono Raceway on Aug. 3.

Stewart will speak to the media at 1 p.m. ET at the infield media center at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He will be joined by Stewart-Haas Racing Executive Vice President Brett Frood. That availability will be streamed live on NASCAR.com.

In a statement, NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell said: “Tony Stewart has received all necessary clearances required to return to all racing activities, and therefore is eligible to compete this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. NASCAR has remained in constant contact with his race team, and we will stay very close to this situation as Stewart returns to competition.”

NASCAR President Mike Helton will participate in a media availability in the Atlanta Motor Speedway media center on Friday at 2 p.m. ET. NASCAR will have no further comment until that time. That availability will be streamed live on NASCAR.com.

FULL SERIES COVERAGE

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Standings
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Stewart was involved in a sprint car racing incident earlier this month that resulted in driver Kevin Ward Jr. suffering fatal injuries at Canandaigua Motorsports Park, a half-mile dirt track on the Ontario County Fairgrounds. The investigation regarding the incident is ongoing. Stewart’s racing plans outside NASCAR have been canceled and will not resume until further notice.

Stewart has not raced in the past three Sprint Cup events. Jeff Burton filled in at Bristol and at Michigan, guiding the No. 14 team to finishes of 15th and 37th at each track, respectively. At Watkins Glen, NASCAR Nationwide Series regular Regan Smith piloted the No. 14 Chevrolet to a 37th-place finish. Stewart was on the initial entry list for Atlanta that was released Monday.

Stewart-Haas Racing officials said at Michigan on Aug. 15
that there was no timetable for Stewart’s return to NASCAR racing and that the decision would be the driver’s call to make.

After sitting out the past three races, Stewart is 26th in points. To be eligible for this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, a driver must attempt to qualify for all 26 races leading up to the Chase and be in the top 30 in points.

However, according to NASCAR, for rare instances the requirement can be waived as long as the driver is in the top 30. It is not known if Stewart would receive a waiver.

Stewart currently has 537 points while 30th-place David Gilliland has 376.

Stewart is returning to a track where he has fared well in his career. In 26 starts, he has three wins, 10 top-five finishes, 15 top-10 finishes and a pole. In the past nine years, he also has the third-highest driver rating at the track (100.2).

The Oral-B USA 500 is scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 31, at 7:30 p.m. ET, with coverage on ESPN.

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