Young NASCAR drivers in controversy at famous short track race

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Two of NASCAR’s rising stars were at the center of a major issue during Sunday’s Snowball Derby short-track race in Pensacola, Florida.

Chase Elliott, the son of former Sprint Cup champion Bill Elliott and a part-timer in the Camping World Truck Series, appeared to have won the prestigious Super Late Model race as he crossed the line first. However, a post-race inspection found that Elliott’s car had an illegal block of tungsten ballast.

That was a violation of the Derby rules, as tungsten is considerably more expensive than lead and organizers want to keep costs down. Elliott was subsequently disqualified, which handed the victory to Erik Jones (pictured) after his car passed post-race inspection.

For the 17-year-old Jones, it marks a successful end to a year that saw him become the youngest winner ever in CWTS competition at Phoenix International Raceway in November.

“A win is a win and we’ll take it,” Jones said according to SBNation. “Going through tech, things started slowing down and I was starting to get nervous because I thought that maybe we could end up winning this deal now. And it’s certainly the same emotion that we would have if we had gone out there and won on the track.”

It marks Jones’ second straight Derby win after defeating Sprint Cup star Kyle Busch for the win in 2012; this past November at Phoenix, Jones drove one of Busch’s Trucks to his historic victory.

BREAKING: John Force taken to hospital after Phoenix eliminations crash

Photo courtesy NHRA
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16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force has been taken to a local hospital for evaluation and examination following a wicked crash with fellow Funny Car driver Johnnie Lindberg.

The crash occurred during the quarterfinals of Sunday’s final eliminations in the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix.

Force was headed for a win when the engine on his Peak Chevrolet Camaro blew up just as it crossed the finish line, destroying the body. Lindberg, meanwhile, lost traction about one-third of the way down-track, but then got back into the gas to try and catch Force.

Force appeared to lose control of the body-less car and went across from the left lane he was in to the right-hand lane, where he hit the retaining wall in front of Lindberg.

Lindberg tried to avoid Force, but couldn’t. To make matters worse, the body on Lindberg’s car then came off and Force’s and Lindberg’s cars got tangled up in Lindberg’s parachute, sending both chassis’ into the left retaining wall.

Lindberg emerged from his Funny Car under his own power and was checked at the medical center before heading back to his pit.

Force, meanwhile, was helped out of his mangled wreck by the NHRA Safety Safari and was transported by ambulance to the hospital due to the severity of the impact.

Even though Force will be credited with the round win, he obviously will not be able to continue for the remainder of the eliminations.

To add insult to injury, NHRA officials charged Force with oiling down the racetrack, his third of the season in just the first two races. That will cost him 15 points in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series standings and a fine of $4,000.

Here are several posts from social media, including video of the incident from NHRA:

This is the second time Force has had an engine explode and the body blew off in the last two weeks. He also wrecked during the qualifying Feb. 9 for the season-opening Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, California. Here’s the video of that wreck:

MORE: John Force taken to hospital as a precaution after Funny Car motor explodes.

Force’s daughter, Top Fuel driver Brittany Force, suffered a hard wreck at Pomona, but recovered in time to race this weekend in Phoenix.

We’ll update Force’s condition when it becomes available.

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