Pole sitter Kenseth leads “Happy Hour” at Kansas

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STP 400 pole sitter and Joe Gibbs Racing driver Matt Kenseth may well be the man to beat on Sunday at Kansas Speedway after pacing final practice for the event with a lap of 188.712 miles per hour. Kenseth set a new track record on Friday, besting Carl Edwards late for P1 with a lap at 191.864 mph around the 1.5-mile oval.

Richard Petty Motorsports’ Aric Almirola (starting sixth) was second-fastest in “Happy Hour” at 188.554 mph, followed by Juan Pablo Montoya of Earnhardt Ganassi Racing (starting 19th) in third (188.541), Kurt Busch of Furniture Row Racing (starting 13th) in fourth (188.508), and Kasey Kahne of Hendrick Motorsports (starting 27th) in fifth (188.495).

Meanwhile, the Penske Racing duo of Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano continued to hunt for speed one week after their teams were nailed with suspensions and fines after having parts confiscated from their cars at Texas Motor Speedway. Both men qualified outside the Top 20 (Logano in 22nd, Keselowski in 33rd) and in “Happy Hour,” Keselowski and Logano could only muster the 26th and 32nd-fastest laps respectively.

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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