So long, Avenger: Dodge Dart to make highly-anticipated NHRA Pro Stock debut at this weekend’s Gatornationals

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After back-to-back Pro Stock championships in 2012 and 2013, a Mopar-record 27 national event wins and 28 No. 1 qualifying positions, the Dodge Avenger is on its way out in the NHRA Pro Stock class.

Two of the class’s top teams, five-time and defending PS champ Jeg Coughlin Jr. and former PS champ Allen Johnson will debut brand new HEMI-powered 2014 Dodge Darts in this weekend’s Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla.

While Dodge as a company dropped out of NASCAR after the 2012 season, the company and its Mopar brand is still very strong in the two-lane blacktop series, with several Charger R/Ts in Funny Car and Dodge Challengers in the Sportsman class.

With the Dart, Chrysler Group LLC worked hand-in-hand with Johnson, Coughlin and other Pro Stock drivers to develop a state-of-the-art ride that promises to be as competitive – if not more so – than the four-door Avenger, which became one of the most competitive rides on the NHRA PS circuit during its tenure.

While Johnson and Coughlin will debut their new cars this weekend, other drivers will join the Dart club in the coming races, including Vieri Gaines (also known as V. Gaines), who is closing in on the completion of his new ride.

“We are very excited to launch the Dodge Dart, and along with our Mopar fans, to see what Allen (Johnson) and Jeg (Coughlin Jr.) can accomplish with this new vehicle as they vie for a third championship in the high-performance and ultra-competitive Pro Stock division,” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar, Chrysler Group’s service, parts and customer-care brand. “The new Dart is a testament of how Mopar uses the motorsports program as a technological proving ground with Chrysler’s own leading-edge technology and production processes. We have great expectations for its on-track success.”

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Button calls for F1 to ‘move on’, hand Vettel no further punishment

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Recent Formula 1 driver Jenson Button believes the sport should “move on” from Sebastian Vettel’s clash with Lewis Hamilton in Baku and hand the Ferrari driver no further punishment for his sideway swipe.

Vettel drove towards Hamilton under the safety car in Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix, resulting in a 10-second stop/go penalty during the race for dangerous driving, the harshest available penalty bar exclusion.

The FIA confirmed on Wednesday that it would be re-examining the incident to see if any further action is warranted, with Hamilton telling NBCSN after the race in Baku that it would set a dangerous precedent if more was not done to punish Vettel.

Taking to Twitter on Thursday, Button – who spent 17 seasons racing full-time in F1 and most recently made a one-off return in Monaco with McLaren – offered his view of the situation, saying that the sport’s bosses should move on and not give Vettel any further punishment.

Recap: Green Bay Packers QB Brett Hundley takes in Kohler Grand Prix

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When professional athletes decide to experience sports outside of the one where they make their living, it never ceases to entertain. Case and point: Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Hundley.

The 24-year-old Hundley spent the weekend at Road America, taking in the Kohler Grand Prix. His time at the facility began on Thursday, where he first paid a visit to Team Penske driver Will Power, who gave him a quick tutorial.

Will Power shows Brett Hundley a steering for a Verizon IndyCar Series machine. Photo: IndyCar

The next part of Hundley’s day saw him take a two-seater ride with none other than Mario Andretti. And, unsurprisingly, it left a big impression.

Mari Andretti takes Brett Hundley around Road America in the Verizon IndyCar Series two-seater. Photo: IndyCar

“The first lap, I’m screaming, and it’s the warm-up lap! And then the second lap: I’m just bright-eyed, going through corners. I give so much respect, that’s an awesome sport, man!” Hundley said in a media debrief afterward.

However, the day was not finished. Later on, Hundley showed off his arm strength and throwing accuracy by attempting to throw a football through the passenger side window of a moving Chevrolet Corvette. And while it took a few attempts, he eventually hit his mark.

Hundley stayed through Sunday and dawned a photographer’s bib in order to take in more of the action.

In fact, he even inadvertently photobombed second-place finisher Josef Newgarden during his post-race interview.

A video chronicling Hundley’s visit can be viewed here and additional photos from his weekend can be found on his Instagram page.

 

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Merhi confirmed for WEC return with Manor at the Nürburgring

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CEFC Manor TRS Racing has confirmed that Roberto Merhi will return to the FIA World Endurance Championship for next month’s 6 Hours of Nürburgring, replacing Jean-Eric Vergne.

Merhi previously raced for Manor in both Formula 1 and the WEC, making his most recent appearance with the British marque at last November’s 6 Hours of Bahrain.

Merhi’s last racing outing came in the Formula 2 double-header in Spain and has flirted with a move into Formula E, but was confirmed on Wednesday to be making his racing return at the Nürburgring on July 16.

Merhi will deputize for Vergne in the No. 24 Oreca 07 Gibson while the Frenchman is in New York for the city’s inaugural Formula E event.

FIA to re-examine Vettel/Hamilton Baku F1 clash

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The FIA has confirmed that it will re-examine the clash between Formula 1 title rivals Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton in Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix to see if further action is warranted.

Vettel and Hamilton made contact twice behind the safety car in Baku, with the second incident deemed to be an act of dangerous driving on Vettel’s part.

The FIA stewards in Baku handed Vettel a 10-second stop/go penalty for the clash – the harshest available penalty besides disqualification – but faced calls to issue a stricter punishment post race.

Hamilton said that the incident set a dangerous precedent for F1 and wider motorsport, but Vettel believed his rival deserved a penalty for allegedly brake testing him.

On Wednesday, the FIA confirmed that it would be re-examining the incident in a meeting on July 3, with a verdict set to be delivered ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix.

“Following the recent incident at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in which Car 5 (Sebastian Vettel) was involved in a collision with Car 44 (Lewis Hamilton), on Monday 3rd July, the FIA will further examine the causes on the incident in order to evaluate whether further action is necessary,” a short statement from the FIA read.

“A statement regarding the outcome of this process will be made available before the upcoming Austrian Grand Prix (7-9 July).”