NTT DATA provides Kanaan, Hand a chance in Ganassi’s second DP at Indy

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For the second straight year, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates is bringing out a second car as a “ringer” for the GRAND-AM Rolex Series’ Brickyard Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Those fearing a repeat of Juan Pablo Montoya and his aggressive nature, though, need not worry as the fiery Colombian won’t be in the No. 02 Riley BMW. Instead, Tony Kanaan and Joey Hand will take the reins of the NTT DATA-sponsored Daytona Prototype.

Kanaan, the 2013 Indianapolis 500 champion, also raced in this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona in a GT class Porsche, while Hand won the Rolex 24 overall with Ganassi in 2011. Hand is a factory BMW driver who competes in the American Le Mans Series with the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing BMW Z4 program, and also in the DTM in Germany.

The No. 02 has not raced since this year’s Rolex 24, when it featured Hand, Ganassi’s two usual IndyCar drivers Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti, and Montoya’s NASCAR Sprint Cup teammates Jamie McMurray. The opportunity for it to come out again at the Brickyard is thanks to the expanded partnership with NTT DATA, which sponsored Ryan Briscoe’s Ganassi IndyCar at this year’s Indianapolis 500.

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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