New Hampshire Motor Speedway may run Sprint Cup race in 2015 under the lights


New Hampshire Motor Speedway is considering the possibility of running one of its two annual Sprint Cup races under the lights for the first time in track history.

“What do you think of @NHMS possibly getting a night race?” came a question to Dale Earnhardt Jr. — who then retweeted it to NHMS — and  track president Jerry Gappens on Twitter.

To that, Gappens responded, “Hey @DaleJr @Greenie9374, @nhms is working w/ @NASCAR & @NASCARonNBC on possibility of night racing for 2015. #NewEngland fans would love it.”

We’re not sure if that means if NHMS’s first Sprint Cup weekend of 2015 – it is sandwiched in mid-July this year between the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona and the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis – would get the honor.

Or, perhaps NHMS’s traditional race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup would be under the lights.

Either way, a night race might also mean such an event is held on a Saturday night, allowing fans that travel a distance to attend an easier way to get home for work on Monday.

Holding a night race on a Sunday – even if it means in prime time on TV – might be a bit more difficult for fans to attend logistically.

Regardless, we’re all for it. NHMS is a great little one-mile flat oval in the very picturesque and bucolic hills just north of Concord, N.H.

The place is almost always sold-out or close to it. We feel confident fans would love a night race there.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

NHRA: John Force-like motor explosions get contagious during Sunday’s Gatornationals

Photo and video courtesy NHRA
Leave a comment

John Force is rubbing off on others – but probably not the way they or he would like.

The 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion has had spectacular motor explosions in each of the first three races of the new NHRA season, including during Friday’s qualifying for this weekend’s Gatornationals.

During Sunday’s quarterfinals of eliminations, Force’s teammate (and son-in-law and president of John Force Racing) Robert Hight squared off with fellow Funny Car driver Matt Hagan.

As the duo closed in on the finish line, both cars experienced spectacular motor explosions of their own – virtually side-by-side and nearly at the same time.

Hight’s car was the first to explode, tossing its body high in the air. A split-second later, Hagan’s car exploded, also sending the body flying.

Check out the NHRA video:

Hight wound up losing the race.

Hagan, meanwhile, and his crack pit crew rolled their backup car off the hauler, put in a new motor and went on to race through the semifinals and into the finals, losing to race winner “Fast Jack” Beckman.

“We had a pretty great race day, to be honest,” Hagan said. “I’ve never been to the finals in Gainesville.

“We obviously had a huge blow up in the second round, then to watch these guys pull the other car back out and put it together in the amount of time they had, then turn a win light on against Capps (Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps in the semifinals), then to be able to go to a final, it was huge and it speaks for itself.”

As for Hight, here’s his take on what happened with the motor explosion:

“I couldn’t see (Hagan) over there and it wasn’t like it was hazing the tires or anything else. As it turns out it wasn’t spinning at all. It kicked two rods out when it blacked the bearings in the crank then it hit the valves and blew up.

“The thing gave me no indication at all before that. What really scared me was once I got it under control and I look over and see his body is off his car. I am thinking ‘Oh man, he got gathered up in me.’ Then I stood up and looked and his injector was sideways so I realized he had an explosion as well. We are just lucky we didn’t get into each other.”

As for the guy who has had so much trouble in the motor department, John Force, he lost in the first round of Sunday’s eliminations to daughter Courtney Force.

John Force planned on shutting the motor off on his car at around the 700-foot mark of the 1,000-foot dragstrip, not wanting to risk another motor explosion – even though it meant a likely loss to his daughter.

Now John Force and his entire four-car team, including Courtney Force, Robert Hight and daughter and Top Fuel driver Brittany Force, will be off for extensive testing to try and determine what’s been causing the motor explosions.

“We have to evaluate it and go test,” Force said. “We’ll figure it out.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski