IndyCar: Dixon leads day of Grand Prix of Indy road course testing (UPDATED, VIDEO)

1 Comment

AFTERNOON: Times dipped into the 1:09s into the afternoon, a full two seconds faster than this morning, as the IMS road course rubbered in and gained time for the Verizon IndyCar Series’ test session ahead of the May 10 Grand Prix of Indianapolis.

Scott Dixon posted the day’s fastest lap at 1:09.5969 with teammate Ryan Briscoe and Simon Pagenaud also into the 1:09s, and completing the top three.

“I’ve obviously got a big smile on my face,” said Dixon, not just because of his time in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, but more due to the track layout.

“The track was so much fun today. The thing they captured, it’s a demanding circuit. The cars all seem very close which is going to create some fantastic racing. These big straights, I think Brazil is probably the only other time we’ve had a straight similar length like this.”

Combined times are linked here. All bar Mikhail Aleshin posted times in the second session, and all made substantial improvements from the morning. Aleshin and Graham Rahal reported “engine issues” during the day.

MORNING: The first test session of the day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is in the books for testing on the new IMS road course, ahead of the May 10 Grand Prix of Indianapolis.

It may be a new circuit but it was a familiar name leading the morning session – Verizon Team Penske’s Will Power. His former teammate and now NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing driver Ryan Briscoe was second.

Briscoe and Graham Rahal had the opportunity to test on the track before the race was formally announced last fall.

More to the point, here’s the rest of the morning testing times.

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