It’s time for Barracuda, Tagliani to catch a break

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We’ve written it before this year, and we’ll try it again going into the IZOD IndyCar Series’ race this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. Can the racing gods give Alex Tagliani and Barracuda Racing a break?

Tagliani is the twice-defending pole winner at Texas, and could use any sort of golden horseshoe or lucky leprechaun appearance to turn around what has been an entirely frustrating year.

Pace in practice has often been masked by a poor draw for qualifying groups. Then in races, it seems as though there’s been a target on the back of the No. 98 Barracuda Honda for Bryan Herta’s team. That was evident last weekend in Detroit, when in both races contact from other cars sent him into the wall.

“It was a pretty disappointing and shocking weekend for Barracuda Racing in Detroit,” Tagliani admitted. “Having had a really good racecar, I have to say it’s probably one of the most heart-breaking weekends this team has had.

“We were involved in multiple incidents. We were always at the wrong place at the wrong time and we couldn’t really capitalize on how strong the Barracuda Racing car was. I guess we’re lucky in a sense, that Texas is right around the corner and we don’t have to wait too much to get back on track.”

That’s just more motivation to come out firing at the track where the winner shoots pistols from Victory Lane.

“I’m hopeful that we can have an amazing weekend at Texas Motor Speedway,” Tagliani said. “Last year we were on the pole. We think we know what to do to the car to make it even more competitive this year, so it should be an exciting weekend.”

NHRA: John Force-like motor explosions get contagious during Sunday’s Gatornationals

Photo and video courtesy NHRA
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John Force is rubbing off on others – but probably not the way they or he would like.

The 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion has had spectacular motor explosions in each of the first three races of the new NHRA season, including during Friday’s qualifying for this weekend’s Gatornationals.

During Sunday’s quarterfinals of eliminations, Force’s teammate (and son-in-law and president of John Force Racing) Robert Hight squared off with fellow Funny Car driver Matt Hagan.

As the duo closed in on the finish line, both cars experienced spectacular motor explosions of their own – virtually side-by-side and nearly at the same time.

Hight’s car was the first to explode, tossing its body high in the air. A split-second later, Hagan’s car exploded, also sending the body flying.

Check out the NHRA video:

Hight wound up losing the race.

Hagan, meanwhile, and his crack pit crew rolled their backup car off the hauler, put in a new motor and went on to race through the semifinals and into the finals, losing to race winner “Fast Jack” Beckman.

“We had a pretty great race day, to be honest,” Hagan said. “I’ve never been to the finals in Gainesville.

“We obviously had a huge blow up in the second round, then to watch these guys pull the other car back out and put it together in the amount of time they had, then turn a win light on against Capps (Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps in the semifinals), then to be able to go to a final, it was huge and it speaks for itself.”

As for Hight, here’s his take on what happened with the motor explosion:

“I couldn’t see (Hagan) over there and it wasn’t like it was hazing the tires or anything else. As it turns out it wasn’t spinning at all. It kicked two rods out when it blacked the bearings in the crank then it hit the valves and blew up.

“The thing gave me no indication at all before that. What really scared me was once I got it under control and I look over and see his body is off his car. I am thinking ‘Oh man, he got gathered up in me.’ Then I stood up and looked and his injector was sideways so I realized he had an explosion as well. We are just lucky we didn’t get into each other.”

As for the guy who has had so much trouble in the motor department, John Force, he lost in the first round of Sunday’s eliminations to daughter Courtney Force.

John Force planned on shutting the motor off on his car at around the 700-foot mark of the 1,000-foot dragstrip, not wanting to risk another motor explosion – even though it meant a likely loss to his daughter.

Now John Force and his entire four-car team, including Courtney Force, Robert Hight and daughter and Top Fuel driver Brittany Force, will be off for extensive testing to try and determine what’s been causing the motor explosions.

“We have to evaluate it and go test,” Force said. “We’ll figure it out.”

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