Four of IndyCar’s best spend their off weekend, well, racing something else

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We mentioned earlier this week that Justin Wilson, of Dale Coyne Racing, would spend his off weekend from his day job in the IZOD IndyCar Series racing a sports car at Watkins Glen.

He’s not alone in trying out another set of wheels.

Dragon Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais (pictured) will race against Wilson in the GRAND-AM Rolex Series’ Daytona Prototype class. Bourdais, like Wilson, will race in a Ford Riley DP. Bourdais will drive for the Starworks Motorsport team with co-drivers Ryan Dalziel and Alex Popow.

Bourdais’ French countryman Simon Pagenaud, of HP Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports, is also racing this weekend. He’s taking on the Pikes Peak Hill Climb in his 500-plus horsepower Honda Odyssey minivan.

Lastly, NBC Sports Network IndyCar analyst Townsend Bell is back behind the wheel this weekend. Bell is driving a 600-plus horsepower Ford Fiesta in Global Rallycross at the X Games in Munich. He’ll drive for the OMSE2 team with Royal Purple sponsorship; that’s the same team that will partner with Dreyer & Reinbold and SH Racing for an entry at the Los Angeles X Games in August.

The rest of the IndyCar community – who have been on the road non-stop since the weekend before Brazil, in April – are taking some well-deserved R&R this 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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