Alonso won’t kid himself about podium chances

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Fernando Alonso has refused to say that he will be in contention for a podium finish at the Spanish Grand Prix this weekend, believing that it would be a lie to do so.

The Spaniard finished on the podium at the last race in China after edging out Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo in the final few laps. However, with all of the teams set to bring upgrades to the race that should give their cars added performance and pace, the pecking order could be shaken up once again, and for this reason Alonso is unsure of his chances.

“We cannot start the weekend thinking to be on the podium, thinking to win the race,” he explained on Thursday in Spain. “That will be creating wrong and false targets to everyone that will come here.

“We finished ninth and tenth in Bahrain, we did podium in China because we had some things putting together on that Sunday but it’s not that we are in a position now to say we will fight for the podium here.”

Alonso won last year’s race at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, but the field was far closer back then. In 2014, Mercedes has won the opening four races of the season with relative ease, and the German team looks set to make it five on the bounce this weekend.

Nevertheless, Alonso is going to do all he can to give the Spanish fans something to smile about on Sunday.

“We will do our best but we know that it’s going to be a tough weekend, not going to be easy,” he said. “But you never know, this is sport and anything can happen.

“But today, sitting here, if I tell you that I will fight for the podium, probably I will lie to you and I don’t want to do so for all the people coming.”

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

Photo and video courtesy NHRA
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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.”

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