Summit Vegas nationals

Ladies rule NHRA in Vegas: Alexis DeJoria (Funny Car), Erica Enders-Stevens (Pro Stock) win

1 Comment

Sunday was Ladies Day in final eliminations of the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals, as Alexis DeJoria (Funny Car) and Erica Enders-Stevens (Pro Stock) flexed their girl power all the way to victory lane.

It was the second time that two female drivers have earned wins in the same NHRA event, the other time coming when Courtney Force and Enders-Stevens made history in 2012 at Pacific Raceways near Seattle.

Also winning in the fourth race of the 24-race season was Tony Schumacher in Top Fuel.

In conquering The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, DeJoria won her second career national event – and second race of the last three this season – while Enders-Stevens followed up Saturday’s win in the K&N Horsepower Challenge with Sunday’s triumph.

DeJoria recorded a final-round pass of 4.026 seconds at 309.98 mph to defeat Robert Hight (4.083, 315.42), who she also beat to earn her first national event win last month at Phoenix.

“This was definitely a grudge match [with Hight] coming off our win in Phoenix,” DeJoria said. “I was just in shock when we won there. It was gratifying and intense.

“Today my team gave me a good car and got me down the track first. I really appreciate them so much and all they give up to help this team go racing.”

Even with the defeat, Hight took over the Funny Car points lead, having reached the final round in three of this season’s first four races.

DeJoria, meanwhile, leads all Funny Car drivers with two wins and moved up to third in the standings.

As for Enders-Stevens, she was unbeatable in the Horsepower Challenge and then in Sunday’s four rounds of eliminations, her seventh career national event win.

She is now third on the all-time wins list of female drivers in the NHRA behind Pro Stock Motorcycle’s Angelle Sampey and Top Fuel legend Shirley Muldowney.

In addition, Enders-Stevens, who earned $100,000 in winnings and bonuses this weekend, becomes the first female to ever lead the Pro Stock points standings.

“This is storybook,” she said. “We’ve gone a few years without sponsorship; there were definitely more lows than highs. It would have been easy to quit. This is definitely a highlight. Next to winning a championship, this is probably the coolest thing in the world.”

Enders-Stevens covered the track in 6.612 seconds at 208.78 mph, preventing Jason Line (6.633, 208.23) from earning his second win of the season.

In Top Fuel, Schumacher earned his first win after 15 winless events dating back to last season, defeating points leader Doug Kalitta.

“I’m not angry that we hadn’t won in a long time,” Schumacher said. “I was disappointed, but I understand that you have to make leaps and bounds. Kalitta is running great, Antron (Brown) is running good, the Alan Johnson [Al-Anabi] cars are going to be bad to the bone pretty soon. We have to keep forcing the issue.”

Schumacher earned his eighth career win at Las Vegas and his 73rd overall career win (in his 126th final round appearance) with a run of 3.797 seconds at 326.16 mph. Even though he came up short at 3.814s seconds and 321.12 mph, it still was Kalitta’s  third final round appearance in the first four events.

“It was important for us to get this win,” Schumacher said. “There’s a lot of pressure early in the season to get a win and get into the Shootout for a chance to race for $100,000. I love the pressure. We’re a high-pressure, adversity kind of team.”

The next national event takes place in two weeks, from April 11-13, at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway near Charlotte, N.C.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Below are the final finishing order of Sunday’s 15th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, followed by final round results, round-by-round final eliminations, and updated points standings in each pro class following the fourth of this season’s 24 national events:

Final finishing order (1-16):

TOP FUEL:

1. Tony Schumacher; 2. Doug Kalitta; 3. Antron Brown; 4. Steve Torrence; 5. J.R. Todd; 6. Bob Vandergriff; 7. Shawn Langdon; 8. Spencer Massey; 9. Khalid alBalooshi; 10. Terry McMillen; 11. Richie Crampton; 12. Troy Buff; 13. Mike Strasburg; 14. Steve Faria; 15. Clay Millican; 16. Brittany Force.

FUNNY CAR:

1. Alexis DeJoria; 2. Robert Hight; 3. Ron Capps; 4. Cruz Pedregon; 5. Jack Beckman; 6. Courtney Force; 7. Paul Lee; 8. Tony Pedregon; 9. Tim Wilkerson; 10. John Force; 11. Del Worsham; 12. Jeff Arend; 13. Matt Hagan; 14. Chad Head; 15. Jon Capps; 16. Tommy Johnson Jr..

PRO STOCK:

1. Erica Enders-Stevens; 2. Jason Line; 3. Chris McGaha; 4. Jimmy Alund; 5. Shane Gray; 6. Jeg Coughlin; 7. Dave Connolly; 8.  Steve Kent; 9. Larry Morgan; 10. Rodger Brogdon; 11. Deric Kramer; 12. Allen Johnson; 13. V. Gaines; 14. Vincent Nobile; 15. Mark Wolfe; 16. Matt Hartford.

FINAL ROUND RESULTS:

Top Fuel — Tony Schumacher, 3.797 seconds, 326.16 mph  def. Doug Kalitta, 3.814 seconds, 321.12 mph.

Funny Car — Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Camry, 4.026, 309.98  def. Robert Hight, Ford Mustang, 4.083, 315.42.

Pro Stock — Erica Enders-Stevens, Chevy Camaro, 6.612, 208.78  def. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.633, 208.23.

FINAL ROUND-BY-ROUND RESULTS:

TOP FUEL:

ROUND ONE — J.R. Todd, 3.822, 323.74 def. Richie Crampton, 3.837, 312.57; Tony Schumacher, 3.808, 320.13 def. Troy Buff, 3.857, 310.27; Doug Kalitta, 3.844, 320.58 def. Steve Faria, 4.070, 249.26; Antron Brown, 3.758, 322.19 def. Mike Strasburg, 3.996, 305.01; Steve Torrence, 3.785, 326.63 def. Terry McMillen, 3.826, 301.33; Spencer Massey, 3.805, 320.43 def. Clay Millican, 4.212, 207.91; Bob Vandergriff, 3.824, 313.00 def. Brittany Force, 7.525, 68.56; Shawn Langdon, 3.796, 321.88 def. Khalid alBalooshi, 3.810, 319.45;

QUARTERFINALS — Kalitta, 3.837, 322.42 def. Vandergriff, 3.842, 316.97; Schumacher, 4.869, 220.69 def. Massey, 12.908, 68.25; Brown, 3.774, 326.48 def. Langdon, 3.873, 300.80; Torrence, 3.804, 324.83 def. Todd, 3.800, 321.96;

SEMIFINALS — Kalitta, 3.785, 325.37 def. Torrence, 4.941, 178.66; Schumacher, 3.812, 327.43 def. Brown, 3.875, 300.46;

FINAL — Schumacher, 3.797, 326.16 def. Kalitta, 3.814, 321.12.

FUNNY CAR:

ROUND ONE — Robert Hight, Ford Mustang, 4.082, 314.02 def. Jeff Arend, Dodge Charger, 4.768, 170.97; Ron Capps, Charger, 7.856, 82.57 def. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, foul; Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.125, 308.78 def. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 8.354, 80.00; Courtney Force, Mustang, 4.106, 310.05 def. Jon Capps, Chevy Impala, foul; Paul Lee, Charger, 4.132, 300.60 def. John Force, Mustang, 4.137, 302.96; Tony Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 4.171, 291.32 def. Del Worsham, Camry, 4.545, 211.39; Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.071, 305.08 def. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.998, 185.36; Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.757, 207.91 def. Chad Head, Camry, 5.050, 232.79;

QUARTERFINALS — R. Capps, 4.133, 311.63 def. Beckman, 4.135, 311.27; C. Pedregon, 4.104, 297.94 def. C. Force, 4.144, 308.43; Hight, 4.086, 316.82 def. Lee, 4.312, 269.40; DeJoria, 4.125, 307.37 def. T. Pedregon, 4.604, 190.59;

SEMIFINALS — DeJoria, 4.090, 309.34 def. C. Pedregon, 9.007, 82.23; Hight, 4.073, 315.86 def. R. Capps, 4.133, 310.84;

FINAL — DeJoria, 4.026, 309.98 def. Hight, 4.083, 315.42.

PRO STOCK:

ROUND ONE — Jimmy Alund, Chevy Camaro, 7.821, 194.18 def. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 8.110, 178.10; Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.647, 207.91 def. V. Gaines, Dodge Avenger, 7.498, 148.59; Steve Kent, Camaro, 6.673, 206.54 def. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.782, 207.43; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.645, 207.37 def. Deric Kramer, Avenger, 6.705, 206.29; Dave Connolly, Camaro, 6.657, 207.59 def. Matt Hartford, Avenger, 22.863, 24.93; Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.621, 207.69 def. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.702, 206.67; Jeg Coughlin, Dart, 6.697, 207.88 def. Mark Wolfe, Ford Mustang, 12.622, 68.35; Erica Enders-Stevens, Camaro, 6.645, 207.66 def. Larry Morgan, Mustang, 6.693, 206.80;

QUARTERFINALS — Alund, 6.689, 206.92 def. Coughlin, 6.653, 207.82; Line, 6.652, 207.72 def. Connolly, 6.654, 207.91; Enders-Stevens, 6.626, 208.39 def. Kent, 6.674, 206.86; McGaha, 6.644, 207.69 def. Gray, 6.649, 208.46;

SEMIFINALS — Line, 6.645, 207.98 def. Alund, 6.647, 208.10; Enders-Stevens, 6.618, 208.65 def. McGaha, foul;

FINAL — Enders-Stevens, 6.612, 208.78 def. Line, 6.633, 208.23.

UPDATED POINTS STANDINGS:

TOP FUEL

1.  Doug Kalitta, 412; 2.  Antron Brown, 339; 3.  Steve Torrence, 314; 4.  Tony Schumacher, 262; 5.  Spencer Massey, 236; 6.  Khalid alBalooshi, 229; 7.  Shawn Langdon, 223; 8.  Brittany Force, 191; 9.  Richie Crampton, 157; 10.  Bob Vandergriff, 150.

FUNNY CAR

1.  Robert Hight, 367; 2.  John Force, 358; 3.  Alexis DeJoria, 299; 4.  Ron Capps, 241; 5.  Del Worsham, 224; 6.  Courtney Force, 207; 7.  Tommy Johnson Jr., 205; 8.  Matt Hagan, 204; 9.  Jack Beckman, 202; 10.  Bob Tasca III, 194.

PRO STOCK

1.  Erica Enders-Stevens, 344; 2.  Jason Line, 329; 3.  Allen Johnson, 317; 4.  V. Gaines, 276; 5.  (tie) Dave Connolly, 267; Vincent Nobile, 267; 7.  Shane Gray, 237; 8.  Jeg Coughlin, 214; 9.  Chris McGaha, 191; 10.  Jimmy Alund, 169.

Grace Autosport continuing to build program towards May

L to R: Grace Autosports Team Principal Beth Paretta and race driver Katherine Legge launch an all-female Indy 500 team to contest the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 in 2016 (PRNewsFoto/Grace Autosport)
Photo: Grace Autosport
Leave a comment

One of the newest teams planning to field an entry at this year’s 100th Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, Grace Autosport, continues its preparations in what could be a hectic month of February.

The primarily female initiative, led by Beth Paretta with Katherine Legge as nominated driver, has gained traction in the last month or so with further meetings, STEM events and Legge’s standout drive in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-opening race, the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

While announced last May, time is of the essence for securing both an engine lease and a team partner, to go along with the crew already established.

The target to confirm both the engine and team partner is coming up next month.

“[We’d need to finalize] by the beginning of March to give it proper time,” Paretta told NBC Sports in an interview following the Rolex 24.

Paretta was on site at Daytona for the Rolex 24 for a number of meetings with manufacturers and other key industry stakeholders, to continue to promote the Grace Autosport message, brand and team.

“Yes, there were a few key meetings – some planned, some impromptu – which went very well,” she said.

“The awareness still surprises me. I was wearing a Grace Autosport hat in the paddock and a few people asked me about the team. Many people in the racing community have said they think the concept is cool and have offered help.

“I get offers for help from some guys that have worked on teams I’ve worked with in the past, which is lovely.”

Legge’s drive at Daytona in the DeltaWing DWC13 coupe didn’t hurt matters, either.

The Tim Keene-led team opted not to qualify in the treacherous, rain-soaked conditions. Legge started the car and went from 13th and last in the Prototype class field up to third within the first 20 minutes, and led by the end of the first hour.

In a career that’s had occasional standout drives, this was one of them, and came at a good time.

“Her drive in the DeltaWing was just fantastic. While she was leading overall I was talking with some other racing drivers in pit lane and one said, almost dismissively, ‘Well, that car was really fast,’” Paretta said of Legge.

“Yes, it was, but she has been an integral part of the development of that car and part of the reason why it’s become faster. Any IMSA fan knows that the DeltaWing project has had a lot of challenges so I think to see it running up front was a nice surprise for many fans. People like an underdog so I think it was really exciting to watch her climb through the field and run up front.”

Legge was due to share the car with Andy Meyrick, Sean Rayhall and Andreas Wirth before Meyrick got caught up in a strange accident, where a radio issue meant Meyrick didn’t fully hear there was another PC car stopped on course in the middle of Turn 1.

Although Meyrick braked earlier than normal to avoid it, proved by the data, he still wound up hitting Chris Cumming’s stranded car which took the DeltaWing out of the race. Cumming’s PC car was also severely wounded.

The DeltaWing aside, where Legge and Grace really seek to make strides is in STEM events. Legge and Paretta recently did an event in Indianapolis with the Hoosier Association of Science Teachers, Inc., last week.

The STEM portion is a major component of the Grace Autosport effort.

“STEM and education for girls is the foundation of Grace Autosport. It isn’t a throwaway comment connecting racing with a ’cause.’ It is why we are racing,” Paretta said.

“Even though we have yet to turn a wheel, we are working with different groups supporting educational initiatives for girls and young women. We participated in the Society of Women Engineers’ annual conference, which was held in Nashville in October, and this week Katherine and I will be delivering the keynote address to a conference for science teachers in the State of Indiana.

“So STEM education isn’t a pet cause for us, it is the cause for what we are doing. We will be making a few more announcements in the coming months that we will explain how we will connect our message to the community and the classroom.”

Jake Eidson steps up to Pro Mazda with Cape in 2016

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
Leave a comment

Jake Eidson came up short of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda championship last year, losing out to Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing’s Nico Jamin.

Now, at the next step on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder, they’ll be teammates.

Jamin was confirmed last week with Cape for his step up from USF2000 into the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and this morning Eidson, the 20-year-old out of Littleton, Colorado, was confirmed as Cape’s second driver.

“I’m extremely grateful and excited to enter my first season of Pro Mazda and to rejoin Cape Motorsport with Wayne Taylor Racing,” Eidson offered.

“After finishing second in last year’s USF2000 championship, we weren’t sure if moving up to Pro Mazda was possible. When the season was over, we tested with the Capes and quickly knew that they have a winning team. Fortunately, we were able to make the 2016 season achievable.

“I know that my goal, as well as the team’s goal, is to aim for the top spot in the Pro Mazda championship and I have a lot of confidence in their ability to make it happen. This is a dream come true and I can’t wait to get started!”

It’s a natural progression for Eidson, who ran two full seasons in USF2000. His first came with Cape in 2014 where he finished third in points, before he moved to Pabst Racing and was one of only two drivers (Aaron Telitz) to pose a threat to Jamin as the year progressed.

Eidson is supported in his efforts by Rising Star Racing, DA Lubricants Company, Bell Helmets, OMP, Team USA Scholarship, and SafeisFast.

The top three USF2000 drivers all moving up to Pro Mazda is important for the second rung on the ladder; they’ll race arguably the championship favorite in Garett Grist plus his three young, hungry teammates at Juncos Racing, with other driver announcements to come in the coming days.

Red Bull GRC confirms Wild Horse Pass for season opener

GRCLogo
Red Bull GRC logo
Leave a comment

Phoenix was listed as the season opener for the 2016 Red Bull Global Rallycross season, but a location was not confirmed.

Today though, the series has confirmed where the Phoenix round will be held: at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, the former Firebird Raceway.

It’s in Chandler, Arizona, technically, but it should still be a good spot for the season-opening doubleheader round.

The full release is below:

For the first time in series history, Red Bull Global Rallycross will visit the state of Arizona during the 2016 season. Red Bull GRC Phoenix, the season opener and first of four doubleheaders on the schedule, will take place at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, one of the most diverse motorsports playgrounds in the United States.

“The southwest is a crucial market for Red Bull GRC, with many of our most passionate fans located in the region,” said Red Bull GRC CEO Colin Dyne. “The opportunity to bring our unique brand of racing to the Phoenix market for the first time was something we couldn’t pass up. Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park is the perfect setting for us as we look to open our finest season yet.”

Located just off of I-10, Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park is located only 15 minutes from downtown Phoenix, with ample parking and amenities on-site. Fans will be treated to a challenging and fast mile-long track, featuring the series’ signature 70-foot jump, and will be able to see all the action from great spectator areas overlooking the entire facility.

This will be the first time that a Red Bull GRC season begins with a doubleheader. Performing well in the opener has been a constant step towards winning a title, as no Red Bull GRC champion has ever finished worse than fourth in the first race of the year. Defending Supercar champion Scott Speed and defending GRC Lites champion Oliver Eriksson finished second and third in class, respectively, in last year’s opener; both drivers are expected to begin their title defense in Phoenix.

In no great surprise, McLaren also passes crash tests

xxxx during day four of Formula One Winter Testing at Circuit de Catalunya on February 22, 2015 in Montmelo, Spain.
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The new McLaren chassis, the MP4-31, has passed its crash tests ahead of the 2016 Formula 1 season, the team has confirmed today.

This means all 11 teams have had their new chassis complete the crash test and thus be ready for action starting with the first test of the winter February 22-25 at Barcelona, in Spain. Sauber has already indicated it will debut its new chassis at the second test.

McLaren, of course, will be looking for a better start to its season with race drivers Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button and reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne. Alonso’s mysterious accident last spring at Barcelona ruled him out of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.