KV duo can’t escape the pack in Alabama

Leave a comment

Tony Kanaan (pictured) and Simona de Silvestro of KV Racing Technology made serious noise two weeks ago at St. Petersburg, but after sub-par qualifying results, both were unable to break out of mid-pack traffic and had disappointing finishes on Sunday at Barber Motorsports Park.

“It was just a long day,” said Kanaan, who finished 13th in the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. “I started the race on the primary tires in order to get them out of the way and was hoping to get more speed out of the red alternates to pick up some track position, but once I got stuck in traffic in the middle of the pack, there was nothing I could do.

“[We] lost a handful of spots during our pits and managed to get some of them back at the end of the race, but it was still not our day.”

De Silvestro, who finished 18th, echoed her teammate’s comments on being stuck in traffic.

“At the start [of the race], I kind of got pushed out and lost a few positions and had to work my way back up,” she said. “You know, we were always fighting with different people and different tires and it was really hard to get by, so we kind of got stuck there and it wasn’t great. But, we’ll go on to the next one and hopefully we’ll be alright there.”

With Long Beach coming up next, the team will aim to improve upon their runs there last year. Kanaan had himself a great drive, rising from 19th on the grid to finish fourth, while Rubens Barrichello (now back in Brazil) and E.J. Viso (now with Andretti Autosport) finished ninth and 12th respectively.

NHRA: John Force-like motor explosions get contagious during Sunday’s Gatornationals

Photo and video courtesy NHRA
Leave a comment

John Force is rubbing off on others – but probably not the way they or he would like.

The 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion has had spectacular motor explosions in each of the first three races of the new NHRA season, including during Friday’s qualifying for this weekend’s Gatornationals.

During Sunday’s quarterfinals of eliminations, Force’s teammate (and son-in-law and president of John Force Racing) Robert Hight squared off with fellow Funny Car driver Matt Hagan.

As the duo closed in on the finish line, both cars experienced spectacular motor explosions of their own – virtually side-by-side and nearly at the same time.

Hight’s car was the first to explode, tossing its body high in the air. A split-second later, Hagan’s car exploded, also sending the body flying.

Check out the NHRA video:

Hight wound up losing the race.

Hagan, meanwhile, and his crack pit crew rolled their backup car off the hauler, put in a new motor and went on to race through the semifinals and into the finals, losing to race winner “Fast Jack” Beckman.

“We had a pretty great race day, to be honest,” Hagan said. “I’ve never been to the finals in Gainesville.

“We obviously had a huge blow up in the second round, then to watch these guys pull the other car back out and put it together in the amount of time they had, then turn a win light on against Capps (Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps in the semifinals), then to be able to go to a final, it was huge and it speaks for itself.”

As for Hight, here’s his take on what happened with the motor explosion:

“I couldn’t see (Hagan) over there and it wasn’t like it was hazing the tires or anything else. As it turns out it wasn’t spinning at all. It kicked two rods out when it blacked the bearings in the crank then it hit the valves and blew up.

“The thing gave me no indication at all before that. What really scared me was once I got it under control and I look over and see his body is off his car. I am thinking ‘Oh man, he got gathered up in me.’ Then I stood up and looked and his injector was sideways so I realized he had an explosion as well. We are just lucky we didn’t get into each other.”

As for the guy who has had so much trouble in the motor department, John Force, he lost in the first round of Sunday’s eliminations to daughter Courtney Force.

John Force planned on shutting the motor off on his car at around the 700-foot mark of the 1,000-foot dragstrip, not wanting to risk another motor explosion – even though it meant a likely loss to his daughter.

Now John Force and his entire four-car team, including Courtney Force, Robert Hight and daughter and Top Fuel driver Brittany Force, will be off for extensive testing to try and determine what’s been causing the motor explosions.

“We have to evaluate it and go test,” Force said. “We’ll figure it out.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski