New bonus prize available for IndyCar doubleheaders

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A new partnership between IndyCar and Germany-based car care company SONAX has led to a special award that will be up for grabs during the doubleheader weekends at the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit (pictured, June 1-2), Honda Indy Toronto (July 13-14), and Shell/Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston (Oct. 5-6).

The “SONAX Perfect Finish Award” will pay $50,000 to the driver that wins both feature races during any of those three weekends. But should no one be able to win both races in those weekends, the prize will carry over to the next doubleheader. If no one sweeps at Detroit, the bonus will jump to $100,000 at Toronto, and if no one sweeps there, the bonus goes to $150,000 at Houston.

Talk from drivers and team owners has been generally mixed regarding the doubleheader format — some of it optimistic about providing a better fan experience, some of it critical about the increased demands it will place on teams. But a chance at a substantial bit of cold, hard cash ought to help.

SONAX is also planning to utilize show car and driver appearances at select Sam’s Club outlets starting at the Indianapolis 500, and also work with venues on creating “car corrals” during event weekends to draw in automotive enthusiasts and collectors.

The company is already involved in motorsports as an official supplier for Formula One champs Red Bull Racing, and its brand can also be spotted on the No. 20 Chevrolet of Ed Carpenter. Carpenter’s step-father and series founder Tony George (now a co-owner at Ed Carpenter Racing) holds their American distribution rights.

In addition to backing the doubleheader award, SONAX will now become the series’ “Official Automotive Detail Partner.”

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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