Front-wing damage ends Kanaan’s Triple Crown dream

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Another inch or two and maybe Tony Kanaan’s bid to win IndyCar’s Triple Crown is still alive. Instead, it’s done after a 13th-place finish in today’s Pocono IndyCar 400 at Pocono Raceway.

The Indianapolis 500 champion needed to win this afternoon at Pocono in order to put himself into position to race for $1 million at the season finale in October at Auto Club Speedway.

And Kanaan was a threat to do just that, staying toward the front of the field up to Lap 106, when he made an attempt to pass eventual race winner Scott Dixon in Turn 1 for the lead.

Kanaan pulled off the pass but not before the right side of his front wing clipped Dixon’s left rear wheel guard. At first, it appeared that the Brazilian had gotten away with it but onboard cameras on his No. 11 KV Racing Technology Chevrolet showed the wing coming loose and on Lap 110, Kanaan was called in to replace the nosecone.

With the stop coming under green flag conditions, Kanaan lost a lap and fell out of contention.

“I apologized to the crew several times,” he said in a team release. “I made a mistake and it cost us big. I had a run on Dixon, but didn’t really think that I was closing that fast on him.”

Kanaan, who led 15 laps on Sunday, could still bag some Triple Crown cash later this fall. A $250,000 bonus for winning two of the three Crown events remains in play for both himself and Dixon at ACS.

Still, the former IZOD IndyCar Series champion regretted how Pocono wound up for him and his team.

“We had a car that was capable of winning this race and putting us in a position to contend for the Triple Crown and the $1 million prize,” he said. “We still have a chance to win in Fontana and collect $250,000, but I just feel bad for the crew because they worked so hard to give me a very competitive car.”

NHRA: Brittany Force cleared to race this weekend in Phoenix after bad wreck 2 weeks ago

Photo: John Force Racing
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Drag racing is a Force family tradition. So, too, is not keeping a Force family member down.

Just 12 days after the most serious wreck of her six-year drag racing career, Brittany Force and John Force Racing announced late Thursday afternoon that the defending 2017 NHRA Top Fuel champion has been medically cleared and will indeed race in this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix, Arizona.

“I flew into Phoenix early this (Thursday) morning and headed straight out to the race track to meet up with my team,” Force said. “I suited up and got belted back into my car that I ran all last season.

“It honestly felt good to be strapped back in and I was surprised how comfortable I was. I’m looking forward to getting back in my car tomorrow (Friday’s first two rounds of qualifying) and getting back in the swing of things with my guys.”

The 31-year-old Force, one of four daughters of 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force, suffered a concussion and bruising after the hard crash she was involved in on February 11 in the first round of eliminations of the season-opening NHRA Lucas Oil Winternationals in Pomona, California.

Shortly after leaving the starting line in a race vs. Terry Haddock, Force’s dragster crossed from the right to left lanes, impacted the retaining wall with a very hard lateral crash, bounced off, spun, went on its side and briefly caught fire after crossing the finish line wheels-up.

While she is still recovering from the bruising, Force feels strong enough to get back behind the wheel. Getting back in the race car could be the best medicine of all, since she has three runner-up finishes in Phoenix, including back-to-back second-place showings in both the 2016 and 2017 national events.

The three-day event kicks off Friday with qualifying rounds at 4 and 6:30 p.m. ET, the same times as Saturday’s qualifying. Final eliminations begin at 1 p.m. ET Sunday.