Four women will take the green flag at Indianapolis


For the first time since 2011, four female drivers will be racing at the Indianapolis 500. Today, three of them — Dale Coyne Racing’s Ana Beatriz and Pippa Mann (pictured), as well as 33rd and final qualifier Katherine Legge from Schmidt Peterson Pelfrey Motorsports — joined KV Racing Technology’s Simona de Silvestro (24th position) on the starting grid for next Sunday’s race.

Beatriz and Mann will be in the middle and outside of Row 10 respectively, joining rookie driver Tristan Vautier in that spot on the grid. Both DCR competitors posted four-lap averages in the low 224s; Beatriz at 224.184 mph in the No. 18 Ipiranga entry and Mann at 224.005 mph in her No. 63 Cyclops Gear car.

“We were a mile [per hour] slower than we were yesterday, so that broke my heart a little bit, watching the dash,” said Beatriz after her run. “…This is my second time for Bump Day, and it is very stressful.”

“It would have been great to get back out there this afternoon and do some race running, but we were a little too close to the bubble and nervous,” Mann admitted. “However, it was a wonderful feeling as those nerves began to dissipate and we started to smile and realize we’d made it in.”

Legge was on the bubble for much of the afternoon with an average of 223.176 miles per hour, but stayed in the show as it became clear that Michel Jourdain, Jr. would be unable to match that speed.

She had logged less than 20 laps in her car before going out to qualify this afternoon and with that in mind, she is looking forward to getting more laps in on Friday (Carb Day), which will be her last chance to practice before the race.

“I’m not under any illusions that we’re likely to win, but stranger things have happened, and I have a really good race car,” she said. “It’s going to be about being smart; it’s going to be about getting through the field. We ran in traffic today for 10, 15 laps. The car feels pretty very good.

“If we have a decent Carb Day, I think top 10 has to be our goal. I really think the car is capable of that, so then it’s just down to me.”

NHRA Gatornationals: John Force has another spectacular motor explosion

Photo courtesy NHRA
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Legendary NHRA Funny Car driver John Force endured yet another spectacular motor explosion – his third in the NHRA’s first three national event races – during Friday’s qualifying at the Amalie Motor Oil Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida.

It’s the kind of consistency the 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ could do without.

The 68-year-old Force came to Gainesville hoping to break the jinx that saw him endure explosions in both the season-opening Winternationals and the second race of the season in Phoenix.

Both motor explosions sent Force to the hospital for examination before he returned to the race track.

Friday, even though the motor in his Chevrolet Camaro blew up again (in the second round of qualifying), at least this time, Force didn’t wind up in the hospital.

He did have his right hand bandaged from a cut suffered in the explosion, but did not have to go to the hospital this time.

He even joked about not having to add yet another ambulance bill to the nearest Gainesville hospital.

But the explosion still proved costly.

“That was another body and that hurts the financial (bottomline),” Force said. “I was out $500,000 to $600,000, and now we are probably out $800,000, going on a million. In drag racing, you have to be tough.”

He ended the day qualifying 14th, not a very comfortable position with two more rounds of qualifying set for Saturday.

Force continues to be mystified why the motors keep exploding.

“I really thought we had it, I thought we were there,” Force said. “In the first round we drove it 500 feet and shut it off. It looked great. We ran it again that run and I was only going to drive it 800 feet even if we didn’t make The Show.”

Force will attempt to improve his qualifying spot during Saturday’s final two rounds to make Sunday’s eliminations.

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