Great Friday for RLL’s Conway in Long Beach

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Mike Conway’s first day back in IndyCar with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing couldn’t have gone much better.

The Englishman, driving the No. 17 blu eCigs Dallara-Honda as the third RLL entry, was second in both sessions and thus second fastest on the day behind Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Conway observed a solid grip level from this year’s Firestone street course tires thus far, compared to 2012’s.

“Generally the grip feels very good this weekend,” he said. “We are yet to try the reds of course and there are some differences, and we’ll have to adjust for that.”

Immediately he has begun to gel with the rest of the RLL squad, teammates Graham Rahal and James Jakes and their engineers Gerry Hughes and Eddie Jones, respectively.

“It’s great to have, as even just after first session we were close,” said Conway. “We have different styles per corner. Graham is good in 1-2, James in other corners, and we really push off each other and learn.”

For now the race is a one-off with RLL, but Conway is optimistic of other races that don’t conflict with his FIA World Endurance Championship schedule. Conway races an LMP2 class Oreca 03 Nissan for the G-Drive by Delta-ADR squad.

“I think it’s possible; we just have to work on this weekend first, and get a good result,” he said. “WEC is all confirmed and is going ahead. There are races we can do – I think the rest of street courses at least – as I think there is only one conflict.”

Indeed, the only potential conflict between WEC and an IndyCar street race is the weekend of August 31 and Sept. 1. WEC races in Sao Paulo, Brazil, with IndyCar in Baltimore.

Dodge to celebrate 50th anniversary of Hemi motor at NHRA U.S. Nationals

Photo courtesy Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
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When this year’s NHRA U.S. Nationals plays out from August 29 through September 3 at Indianapolis Raceway Park, a lot of folks are going to be channeling one of the most famous lines in motorsports:

“Hey, that thing got a Hemi?”

Dodge and parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles on Thursday – on National Hemi Day, no less – announced that it will celebrate the Hemi’s 50th anniversary of Super Stock cars with the 18th annual Dodge Hemi Challenge during the U.S. Nationals.

Cars that will take part in the Challenge will be 1968 Dodge Dart and Plymouth Barracuda cars – “The most iconic of the Mopar package cars,” touted a Dodge press release – in a head-to-head battle.

The Dart and Barracuda were purpose built for use solely on a drag strip. The 23 entrants in the Challenge will drive their personally owned versions of the ’68 ‘Cuda and Dart.

The winner of the Challenge – which will be held August 30-31 – will take home a $15,000 purse, while cash rewards will be available for all 16 drivers that qualify for final eliminations.

“The Dodge brand is proud to serve as title sponsor of the NHRA Dodge HEMI Challenge, an event that spotlights the legacy and power of the 426 HEMI engine,” said Steve Beahm, Head of Passenger Cars, Dodge//SRT, Chrysler and FIAT, FCA North America.

Beahm added, “This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Dodge Dart and Plymouth Barracuda Super Stock cars that debuted back in 1968 and are still competing today, which makes our support of this edition of the HEMI Challenge extra special.”

One special incentive for contestants is the 42.6-pound NHRA Dodge HEMI Challenge trophy, created in the spirit of the 426 (cubic inch) HEMI engine.

Jimmy Daniels has won the Challenge the last two years and goes for a three-peat in this year’s race within a race. His father, Jim Daniels, won the race in 2010.

The Challenge’s all-time winningest driver is Charlie Westcott Jr. of Parma, Michigan, who captured the Challenge in six different years: 2005, 2006, 2008, 2011, 2012 and 2014.

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