Pre-Chris Griffis Test Mazda Road to Indy news and notes

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A few minor bits and pieces of news around the IndyCar Series and the Mazda Road to Indy have popped up over the last couple weeks. Here’s a quick roundup, since the last one we did a couple of weeks ago:

  • Besides Tony Kanaan having his first running in Chip Ganassi Racing IndyCar machinery, Francesco Dracone completed his two-day test with Dale Coyne Racing at Sebring as well. Dracone had an accident on the first day but was able to return on the second. The Italian ran two less than distinguished races for Conquest Racing in 2010.
  • Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing has announced it will expand its operations into Pro Mazda, beyond its USF2000 team. The team has revealed two of its 2014 drivers. Neil Alberico will move up from Cape’s USF2000 team to Pro Mazda, while Jake Eidson will be set for a full USF2000 season for Cape after running in F1600 in 2013. Both are Team USA Scholarship recipients; Alberico won in 2011 and Eidson, along with Mazda MX-5 Cup Shootout winner Joey Bickers, are 2013 winners.
  • Pabst Racing Services has signed 18-year-old Colorado driver Will Owen for its USF2000 team. Belardi Auto Racing signed French driver Nico Jamin as its fourth USF2000 driver for 2014.
  • CoForce International, LLC, founded by Pro Mazda veteran driver Anders Krohn, announced a partnership with the Team Pelfrey organization. Krohn, CoForce CEO, will serve as the team’s director of performance and driver development and business partner Jonathan Baker, CoForce CFO, will serve as director of business development for Team Pelfrey and the new Pelfrey Performance initiative.
  • Juncos Racing will have Spencer Pigot, Alfonso Celis, Jose Gutierrez and Kyle Kaiser testing the team’s Pro Mazda cars at next week’s Chris Griffis Memorial Mazda Road to Indy test at Barber Motorsports Park. All bar Celis raced in the 2013 Pro Mazda season, with Gutierrez making a handful of starts for Juncos.
  • Englishman Harrison Scott will also be at next week’s Griffis test, with a team to be announced. A full entry list for the Dec. 9-10 test should be made available soon.

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.