van der Garde elated after making Q2

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Qualifying 15th may not usually be a reason to celebrate, but Giedo van der Garde is delighted to be starting so highly for tomorrow’s Monaco Grand Prix after a fine performance in today’s session.

van der Garde has struggled to make much of an impact on the sport during his first five races, but the adverse weather conditions allowed him to make it through to Q2 for the first time.

“I’m obviously very pleased to put my name into the Q2 timesheets for the first time this year and I want to thank Tony, Cyril and the whole team for the jobs everyone did today,” van der Garde said in a team statement. “In Q1 we went out very early as there were reports of more showers coming. As it turned out that wasn’t the case, but we timed the stop well and had about four more quick laps on the inters at the end of Q1, enough time to put myself into Q2.”

Not willing to settle for P16, van der Garde ran well in Q2 to sit as high as 6th at points. However, as the conditions improved, he was slowly bumped down the order to finish 15th.

“Q2 started with a bit more rain, so we again went for the inters, but after one lap I thought it was dry enough for slicks so we boxed, went onto the supersofts and was the first car to make the switch. For a while we were looking at Q3, but that’s not where we are performance-wise yet, so we’re all really happy with Q2.”

The Dutch driver did outqualify the Williams of Pastor Maldonado as well as Force India’s Paul di Resta, Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez and even Ferrari’s Felipe Massa. For the race, van der Garde is unwilling to make any predictions, simply believing that anything could happen.

“Sunday could be very interesting. I start between the two Williams cars of Bottas and Maldonado and I’ve had good starts all year, so hopefully I can have another good launch, avoid anything like the GP2 mess on Friday, and from there anything’s possible.”

NHRA Gatornationals: John Force qualifies 15th with no motor explosion, says ‘I need to race smart’ Sunday

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There’s good news and bad news for John Force fans.

The good news is the 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ did not suffer yet another motor explosion after enduring his third in three races during Friday’s qualifying session at Gainesville (Florida) Raceway.

In fact, Force intentionally feathered the gas pedal on his Chevrolet Camaro Funny Car to make sure it wasn’t again overtaxed, qualifying 15th with a run of 4.281 seconds at 222.88 mph.

Now for the bad news.

When Sunday’s final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. ET, Force will be matched against daughter and No. 2 qualifier, Courtney Force (3.914 seconds at 332.18 mph).

“It is a little bit of a bummer that I have to race him in the first round,” Courtney Force said of her father. “Tomorrow is a new day and we will have all our stuff ready and we will put on our game faces to go for that win.”

Courtney Force is seeking her second consecutive win, having also won two weeks ago at the second national event of the season in suburban Phoenix.

“I want to have a good side-by-side safe race tomorrow in round one,” Force said. “Our goal is to take my dad down and have a long day at the track winning rounds.

“We want to move the momentum over from Phoenix. I feel like my guys have a good handle on this Advance Auto Parts Camaro.”

But don’t count out dear old dad, an eight-time Funny Car winner at Gainesville.

“I am the kind of guy that, when it is qualifying day, I run it to the edge.,” John Force said. “I run it even if I know it will hurt itself.

“(With his three motor explosions this season) I am rethinking all that. What I am looking is the long haul. To go out here and say I have to win this race or I have to qualify low after as much stuff as we have put on the ground in Pomona and Phoenix and then to come here and do it again is bad. … We want to fix this problem and move on.

“Tomorrow I am going to have to play the odds game. I am going to run it to 700 or 800 feet and hope (Courtney) gets in trouble. I need to race smart.”

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