After Daytona trouble, Truex wants better headlines from Phoenix

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Prior to Sunday’s Daytona 500, Furniture Row Racing newcomer Martin Truex Jr. had thought that he was to have his best opportunity to win The Great American Race.

And then, on Lap 30, everything went south for him when his motor did. Considering that he’d qualified on the front row for Daytona, you figure that was particularly galling for him.

But what’s done can’t be undone. And so, Truex is looking ahead to this weekend’s race at Phoenix International Raceway, where he hopes to make headlines for the right reasons.

“My thoughts are toward the future,” he said in a team release. “I don’t like to think about what happened on Sunday in Daytona, but a post-race Phoenix headline that reads ‘From Last to First’ would be just fine with me.”

Truex has never won at PIR but comes off a Top-10 finish there last fall in one of his final performances with Michael Waltrip Racing. Like everybody else, he’ll have to find his way around NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying format.

Depending on the track length, the format consists of either two or three rounds. In Phoenix’s case, it’ll be two, with the fastest 12 drivers from the 30-minute opening round moving on to compete for the pole position in Round 2.

Truex figures once people get used to it, the format will “evolve rather quickly” as the assorted minds of the garage come up with ways to make it work for their drivers and teams.

“Regarding the new qualifying system, I am excited about it because [crew chief] Todd [Berrier] is really innovative and he comes up with what seems to be crazy ideas,” he said.

“I think the biggest challenge with this new format is making all the qualifying runs on one set of tires. You are going to need to run hard enough to advance and not too hard to wear out the tires so you can be fast at the end.”

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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