Veach, Chaves lead Indy Lights test at Sebring

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The first Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires test of 2014 is in the books, with series veterans Zach Veach (Andretti Autosport) and Gabby Chaves (Belardi Auto Racing) leading the timesheets.

Veach’s Tuesday time of 57.832 seconds on the Sebring International Raceway short course held up as the best overall time, with Chaves next at 58.074. Veach is confirmed for his second full season with Andretti, while Chaves, the 2013 season runner-up, is yet to confirm his 2014 team plans as yet.

Veach’s two Andretti teammates were next with former GP2 runner-up Luiz Razia clocking in fifth, best of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ three entries. Times are below; note only 10 cars tested as the Team Moore Racing pairing of Zack Meyer and Raoul Owens did not appear.

1.  26-Zach Veach, Andretti Autosport, 57.832 (Session 2)
2.  5-Gabby Chaves, Belardi Auto Racing, 58.074 (2)
3.  83-Matthew Brabham, Andretti Autosport, 58.150 (4)
4.  27-Vittorio Ghirelli, Andretti Autosport, 58.222 (4)
5.  8-Luiz Razia, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, 58.332 (3)
6.  7-Juan Piedrahita, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, 58.436 (2)
7.  42-Jack Harvey, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, 58.748 (4)
8.  4-Alex Baron, Belardi Auto Racing, 58.771 (2)
9.  24-Scott Anderson, Fan Force United, 58.969 (3)
10. 28-Lloyd Read, Bryan Herta Autosport, 59.335 (3)

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.

Follow @JerryBonkowski