Simona de Silvestro

Tough starts for de Silvestro, Pagenaud, Tagliani (VIDEO)

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Some of the drivers who paced practice at Barber weren’t able to convert in qualifying.

Simona de Silvestro led Saturday morning practice but estimated her KV Racing Technology car didn’t handle Firestone’s alternate red tires as well as the primary blacks.

“On the reds we had a really big balance change,” she said. “It was a really big difference so we’ll have to try and work on that for tomorrow’s warm-up and the race. I think on the blacks we were really quick; even on the older ones. Hopefully we can make up some positions.”

Schmidt Hamilton’s Simon Pagenaud had a couple sessions in the top five but for the second race running was left befuddled by missing the Fast Six, and being outqualified by Schmidt Peterson rookie teammate Tristan Vautier.

“My car was good, we just barely missed it in qualifying,” Pagenaud said. “We’ll just keep digging a little deeper because we aren’t far off at all. I know we’ll have a good car for the race tomorrow.”

Barracuda Racing/BHA’s Alex Tagliani, second on Friday, said a mysterious issue cost him a shot at advancing.

“Honestly it’s difficult to be upset because we have such a great car,” he said. “We were on a projected (1 minute) 6.8 lap and something happened, we were either out of fuel or power, but lost a bunch of time on the backstraight into Turns 12 and 13.”

Pagenaud, de Silvestro and Tagliani start 13th through 15th on Sunday.

NHRA: New book a celebration of life, love and drag racing

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The overpowering smell from nitromethane that powers Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars in the National Hot Rod Association oftentimes brings fans to tears after getting a whiff of the stuff.

Now there’s a new inspirational book that will also bring tears to the eyes of die-hard drag racing fans.

Veteran crew chief Jim Oberhofer has released “Top Fuel For Life, Life Lessons From A Crew Chief,” a touching homage to both his late wife and persevering and overcoming adversity in the highly competitive world of NHRA drag racing.

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Oberhofer wears a number of hats as vice president of one of the sport’s most veteran and successful teams, Kalitta Motorsports, including serving as crew chief for Top Fuel driver Doug Kalitta’s dragster.

Oberhofer relates a number of stories about overcoming adversity in the book, but none more touching than how he watched his beloved wife “Tammy O” lose a long and painful battle to stage 4 metastatic lung cancer.

While Oberhofer has spent his life using wrenches and tools working on 10,000-horsepower engines, his new book shows that he is also a very gifted writer.

Known in the sport as “Jim O,” Oberhofer describes the fight his wife went through in gritty and descriptive prose, but with a foundation built upon what the love of his life meant to him – and continues to mean to him more than two years since she passed away.

“When you take a long hard look at your life, I guarantee you that being a winner has little to do with crossing the finish line,” Oberhofer said. “After many mistakes and a whole lot of heartache, I learned that happiness comes from a deeper, simpler place. That’s the big win.”

“Top Fuel For Life” is available on Amazon for $19.95.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Report: Ecclestone believes F1 could be sold by year’s end

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Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone on Tuesday said the racing series is up for sale and has as many as three potential buyers.

Ecclestone told The Associated Press that a deal could still be struck by year’s end.

“I think so, maybe this year,” Ecclestone said. “There are three people mentioned to buy. So it’s a case of whether CVC or Mr. Mackenzie wants to sell.”

Ecclestone was referring to F1’s largest and controlling shareholder, CVC Capital Partners co-chairman Donald Mackenzie.

But even if F1 is sold, the 84-year-old Eccelstone doesn’t plan on going anywhere.

“The people that I’ve spoken to … have asked me if I would stay,” Ecclestone told AP.

Follow @JerryBonkowski