Rare Franchitti-RHR-Power top three in IndyCar qualifying (VIDEO)

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As Dario Franchitti, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Will Power are generally regarded as three of IndyCar’s best, you’d think the three of them would lock out the top three in qualifying more frequently.

It didn’t happen once in 2012. The closest situation came in Brazil a year ago when Power qualified on pole, Franchitti second and Hunter-Reay fifth.

Power – who has now qualified first, second and third in the first three races of 2013 – felt miffed at missing one potential last flier in Long Beach qualifying.

“We got caught out there at the end,” said Power. “Tim (Cindric) came over the radio and said that you’re barely going to make one more lap. I thought he meant fuel, not time, but it was time. So I got to the start of my last lap, and it was the checkered flag.”

Franchitti, who makes his 250th start this weekend, praised the depth of the entire field, not just his two closest rivals in qualifying.

“The depth of the field right now is as good as I’ve ever seen it, and I was lucky enough, as Helio was, to race in the late ’90s against some of the best ever and it’s bloody hard work,” said Franchitti.

“You have to absolutely risk everything to get that last little bit out of the car,” added Hunter-Reay. “It’s that close. It’s enjoyable though. It’s fun. Stressful, for sure.”

BREAKING: John Force taken to hospital after Phoenix eliminations crash

Photo courtesy NHRA
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16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force has been taken to a local hospital for evaluation and examination following a wicked crash with fellow Funny Car driver Johnnie Lindberg.

The crash occurred during the quarterfinals of Sunday’s final eliminations in the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix.

Force was headed for a win when the engine on his Peak Chevrolet Camaro blew up just as it crossed the finish line, destroying the body. Lindberg, meanwhile, lost traction about one-third of the way down-track, but then got back into the gas to try and catch Force.

Force appeared to lose control of the body-less car and went across from the left lane he was in to the right-hand lane, where he hit the retaining wall in front of Lindberg.

Lindberg tried to avoid Force, but couldn’t. To make matters worse, the body on Lindberg’s car then came off and Force’s and Lindberg’s cars got tangled up in Lindberg’s parachute, sending both chassis’ into the left retaining wall.

Lindberg emerged from his Funny Car under his own power and was checked at the medical center before heading back to his pit.

Force, meanwhile, was helped out of his mangled wreck by the NHRA Safety Safari and was transported by ambulance to the hospital due to the severity of the impact.

Even though Force will be credited with the round win, he obviously will not be able to continue for the remainder of the eliminations.

To add insult to injury, NHRA officials charged Force with oiling down the racetrack, his third of the season in just the first two races. That will cost him 15 points in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series standings and a fine of $4,000.

Here are several posts from social media, including video of the incident from NHRA:

This is the second time Force has had an engine explode and the body blew off in the last two weeks. He also wrecked during the qualifying Feb. 9 for the season-opening Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, California. Here’s the video of that wreck:

MORE: John Force taken to hospital as a precaution after Funny Car motor explodes.

We’ll update Force’s condition when it becomes available.

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