Fedex 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks

Everything you need to know for Sunday’s FedEx 400 at Dover

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For a while, Dover International Speedway had another nickname outside of its longtime handle of the “Monster Mile.” The mile-long track’s promoters dubbed it “White Lightning” as a nod to its concrete racing surface.

Both of them apply very well to Dover. At only a mile long and with banking all the way around (24 degrees in the turns, nine degrees on the straights), drivers indeed go Lightning-quick on the concrete.

But with high speeds come big accidents and thanks to that banking, it’s not uncommon to see a car hit the outside wall and then slide into the inside wall for another impact.

The result is a car that looks like it’s been literally chewed up and spit out by a Monster.

Courtesy of NASCAR’s public relations and statistics teams, here’s what you need to know going into Sunday’s FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks – Round 13 of the 2014 Cup championship.

DOVER-SPECIFIC STATISTICS

Greg Biffle (No. 16 3M Ford)
· Two wins, six top fives, 11 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 12.3
· Average Running Position of 10.7, fourth-best
· Driver Rating of 101.0, fifth-best
· 434 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most
· 772 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 143.808 mph, fourth-fastest
· 5,443 Laps in the Top 15 (75.6%), fourth-most
· 497 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), third-most

Clint Bowyer (No. 15 Cherry 5-Hour Energy for Special Ops Warrior Foundation Toyota)
· One top five, nine top 10s
· Average finish of 12.6
· Average Running Position of 12.5, eighth-best
· Driver Rating of 91.6, eighth-best
· 178 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 143.580 mph, seventh-fastest
· 4,654 Laps in the Top 15 (72.7%), eighth-most
· 379 Quality Passes, ninth-most

Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet)
· One win, six top fives, eight top 10s
· Average finish of 18.2
· Average Running Position of 13.2, ninth-best
· Driver Rating of 92.5, seventh-best
· 275 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most
· 762 Green Flag Passes, fifth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 143.525 mph, eighth-fastest
· 4,284 Laps in the Top 15 (59.5%), 10th-most
· 399 Quality Passes, sixth-most

Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M’s Peanut Butter Toyota)
· Two wins, nine top fives, 12 top 10s
· Average finish of 12.8
· Average Running Position of 10.8, fifth-best
· Driver Rating of 106.0, third-best
· 396 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 143.914 mph, third-fastest
· 5,574 Laps in the Top 15 (77.4%), third-most
· 471 Quality Passes, fifth-most

Carl Edwards (No. 99 Subway Ford)
· One win, eight top fives, 12 top 10s
· Average finish of 10.0
· Average Running Position of 10.4, third-best
· Driver Rating of 101.3, fourth-best
· 487 Fastest Laps Run, second-most
· 734 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 143.732 mph, sixth-fastest
· 5,239 Laps in the Top 15 (72.7%), sixth-most
· Series-high 498 Quality Passes

Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet)
· Four wins, 17 top fives, 24 top 10s; four poles
· Average finish of 11.6
· Average Running Position of 12.5, seventh-best
· Driver Rating of 93.7, sixth-best
· 261 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most
· 759 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 143.735 mph, fifth-fastest
· 5,415 Laps in the Top 15 (75.2%), fifth-most
· Series-high 498 Quality Passes

Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Patriotic Chevrolet)
· Eight wins, 12 top fives, 17 top 10s; three poles
· Average finish of 8.7
· Series-best Average Running Position of 6.8
· Series-best Driver Rating of 121.1
· Series-high 990 Fastest Laps Run
· Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 144.276 mph
· Series-high 6,261 Laps in the Top 15 (86.9%)
· 376 Quality Passes, 10th-most

Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota)
· Two wins, 13 top fives, 19 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 13.4
· Average Running Position of 9.1, second-best
· Driver Rating of 107.9, second-best
· 452 Fastest Laps Run, third-most
· 695 Green Flag Passes, 12th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 144.018 mph, second-fastest
· 5,827 Laps in the Top 15 (80.9%), second-most
· 480 Quality Passes, fourth-most

Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Ford)
· One win, two top fives, two top 10s
· Average finish of 16.0
· Average Running Position of 14.7, 10th-best
· Driver Rating of 84.9, 12th-best
· Average Green Flag Speed of 143.297 mph, 11th-fastest

Ryan Newman (No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet)
· Three wins, six top fives, 12 top 10s; four poles
· Average finish of 12.9
· Average Running Position of 12.3, sixth-best
· Driver Rating of 89.4, 10th-best
· Average Green Flag Speed of 143.328 mph, 10th-fastest
· 4,891 Laps in the Top 15 (67.9%), seventh-most
· 367 Quality Passes, 11th-most

source:

Martin Truex Jr. (No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet)
· One win, one top five, six top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 17.0
· Average Running Position of 14.9, 12th-best
· Driver Rating of 89.4, ninth-best
· 243 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 143.396 mph, ninth-fastest
· 3,995 Laps in the Top 15 (62.4%), 12th-most
· 363 Quality Passes, 12th-most

Dover International Speedway Data
Season Race #: 13 of 36 (06-01-14)
Track Size: 1-mile
Banking/Turn 1 & 2: 24 degrees
Banking/Turn 3 & 4: 24 degrees
Banking/Frontstretch: 9 degree
Banking/Backstretch: 9 degree
Frontstretch Length: 1,076 feet
Backstretch Length: 1,076 feet
Race Length: 400 laps / 400 miles

Top 10 Driver Ratings at Dover
Jimmie Johnson…………………… 121.1
Matt Kenseth……………………….. 107.9
Kyle Busch…………………………. 106.0
Carl Edwards………………………. 101.3
Greg Biffle………………………….. 101.0
Jeff Gordon………………………….. 93.7
Kurt Busch……………………………. 92.5
Clint Bowyer…………………………. 91.6
Martin Truex Jr………………………. 89.4
Ryan Newman……………………….. 89.4
Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2013 races (18 total) among active drivers at Dover International Speedway.

Qualifying/Race Data
2013 pole winner: Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 157.978 mph, 22.788 secs., 05-31-13
2013 race winner: Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 123.172 mph, (03:14:51), 06-02-13
Qualifying record: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 161.849 mph, 22.243 secs., 09-27-13
Race record: Mark Martin, Ford, 132.719 mph, (03:00:50), 09-21-97

Dover International Speedway History
· The official opening of Dover International Speedway, then called Dover Downs International Speedway, was in 1969.
· The first NASCAR Sprint Cup race was held on July 6, 1969 – won by Richard Petty.
· The first two races at Dover were 300 miles. The race length was changed to 500 miles in 1971.
· The track surface was changed to concrete in 1995.
· The race length was changed to 400 miles beginning with the second race in 1997.
· The track name was changed to Dover International Speedway in 2002.

Dover International Speedway Notebook
· There have been 88 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Dover International Speedway, one race in 1969 and 1970, two races per year since 1971.
· 375 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Dover International Speedway; 271 in more than one.
· Ricky Rudd leads the series in starts at Dover with 56. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 42 starts; followed by Joe Nemechek with 39.
· David Pearson won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Dover in 1969 with a speed of 130.430 mph.
· 37 drivers have Coors Light poles at Dover, led by David Pearson with six. Jeff Gordon and Ryan Newman lead all active drivers in poles with four each.
· Nine drivers have won consecutive Coors Light poles at Dover. David Pearson holds the record for most consecutive poles at Dover with three; from 1973 to the spring race of 1974.
· Two active drivers have posted consecutive Coors Light poles at Dover: Ryan Newman (fall 2005 and spring 2006), and Denny Hamlin (fall 2012 and spring 2013).
· Youngest Dover pole winner: Jeff Gordon (06/04/1995 – 23 years, 10 months, 0 days).
· Oldest Dover pole winner: Mark Martin (06/01/2012 – 53 years, 4 months, 23 days).
· 34 different drivers have won at Dover International Speedway, led by Jimmie Johnson with eight wins (2002 sweep, fall 2005, 2009 sweep, 2010 fall, spring 2012 and fall 2013).
· 12 drivers have posted consecutive wins at Dover International Speedway, including three consecutive by David Pearson (fall 1972 and 1973 sweep), Rusty Wallace (fall 1993 and 1994 sweep) and Jeff Gordon (fall 1995 and 1996 sweep).
· Youngest Dover winner: Kyle Busch (06/01/2008 – 23 years, 0 months, 30 days).
· Oldest Dover winner: Harry Gant (05/31/1992 – 52 years, 4 months, 21 days).
· Hendrick Motorsportshas the most wins at Dover in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with 15: Jimmie Johnson (eight), Jeff Gordon (four), Geoff Bodine (one), Ken Schrader (one) and Ricky Rudd (one).
· Nine different manufacturers have won in the NSCS at Dover; led by Chevrolet with 34 victories; followed by Ford with 25.
· 13 of the 88 (14.7%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Dover have been won from the Coors Light pole; the two most recent were Jimmie Johnson in 2009 and 2010.
· The second-place starting position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (15) than any other starting position at Dover International Speedway.
· 28 of the 88 (31.8%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Dover have been won from the front row: 13 from the pole and 15 from second-place.
· 69 of the 88 (78.4%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Dover have been won from a top-10 starting position.
· Five of the 88 (5.6%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Dover have been won from a starting position outside the top 20 – most recently: Tony Stewart, spring2013(22nd-place starting position)
· The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Dover was 37th, by Kyle Petty in the spring of 1995.
· Mark Martin leads the series in runner-up finishes at Dover with eight; followed by Dale Earnhardt with five. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with four.
· Mark Martin leads the series in top-five finishes at Dover with 24; followed by Dale Earnhardt with 19. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 17.
· Mark Martin leads the series in top-10 finishes at Dover with 33; followed by Richard Petty and Ricky Rudd with 26 each. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 24.
· Ryan Newman leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Dover with a 9.042.
· Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average finishing position at Dover with an 8.667; Carl Edwards (10.000) is the only other active driver with an average finish in the top 10.
· 11 of the 12 active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners at Dover International Speedway participated in at least one or more races before visiting Victory Lane. Jimmie Johnson won at Dover in his first two appearances.
· Jeff Burton competed at Dover International Speedway 25 times before winning in the fall of 2006; the longest span of any the 16 active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners.
· Among the 16 active NSCS Dover winners Kurt Busch (22) and Matt Kenseth (14) made 10 or more attempts before their first win.
· Joe Nemechek leads the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Dover without visiting Victory Lane at 39; followed by Kevin Harvick with 26.
· Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory (MOV) in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Dover International Speedway was the September 25, 2005 race won by Jimmie Johnson over Kyle Busch with a MOV of 0.08 second.
· There has been one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race resulting with a green-white-checkered finish at Dover International Speedway (Scheduled No. of Laps/Actual No. of Laps): fall of 2005 (400/404).
· Not one of the 87 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Dover International Speedway has been shortened due to weather conditions.
· Qualifying has been cancelled due to weather conditions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Dover International Speedway five times: fall of 1984, spring of 2001, fall of 2003, spring of 2005 and spring of 2011.
· Three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series active drivers have made their first career start at Dover International Speedway: Matt Kenseth (9/20/98), Kurt Busch (9/24/00) and David Ragan (9/24/06).
· Two active drivers have posted their first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light pole at Dover International Speedway: Matt Kenseth (06/02/02) and Michael Waltrip (06/03/1991).
· One active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver has posted his first career win at Dover International Speedway: Martin Truex Jr. (06/04/07).
· Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in laps led at Dover with 2,704 laps led in 24 starts.
· If Jimmie Johnson leads 296 laps or more this weekend he will surpass the 3,000 laps led mark at Dover International Speedway, becoming the seventh driver in series history to lead 3,000 or more laps at a single track. Jeff Gordon is the only other active driver to accomplish the feat (Martinsville – 3,593 laps led).
· Two female drivers have competed at Dover International Speedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Janet Guthrie and Danica Patrick…Guthrie: 1976 – Started 11th, finished 33rd, 1977 – Started 15th, finished 11th; Patrick:
Fall 2012 – Started 38th, finished 28th, Summer 2013 – Started 39th, finished 24th, Fall 2013 – Started 31st, finished 29th.

NASCAR in Delaware
· There have been 88 NASCAR Sprint Cup races in Delaware, all at Dover International Speedway.
· Eight drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as Delaware. None of them have earned a NASCAR national series victory.

Soft tire preference revealed in Japanese GP picks

xxxx during the Formula One Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka Circuit on September 27, 2015 in Suzuka, Japan.
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Formula 1’s two-week Asian swing is ahead with the Malaysian Grand Prix this weekend and the Japanese Grand Prix next week.

The Japanese Grand Prix tire picks were revealed on Tuesday, per usual, and most drivers and teams have selected more of Pirelli’s sets of soft tires, the softest on offer. As in Malaysia, teams can select between the soft, medium and hard compounds.

All drivers have between six and nine sets of softs selected.

Both Red Bull drivers are opting for four sets of hards, with Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel three sets of hards and Nico Rosberg and Kimi Raikkonen two sets of hards.

The full breakdown is below:

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BMW announces FIA WEC entry from 2018, Formula E partnership with Andretti

bmw-imsa-2
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BMW has announced that it will return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans through the FIA World Endurance Championship in 2018 after seven years away.

BMW last raced at the Circuit de la Sarthe in 2011, but will now make its comeback as part of a realignment of its motorsport program.

This also includes a technical partnership with the MS Amlin Andretti team in Formula E from season three with a view to a works entry in the series from its fifth season.

“The strong pillars of the programme for the coming years will be the DTM, the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (IWSC), the cooperation with Andretti Formula E in the FIA Formula E Championship, the customer racing programme in the GT3 and GT4 categories, the promotion of talented young drivers, and the extremely challenging Dakar Rally,” a statement from BMW reads.

“The plan is for BMW to enter the FIA World Endurance Championship in the 2018 season. The highlight of this championship is the 24-hour race in Le Mans.

“BMW claimed overall victory there in 1999 with the open prototype BMW V12 LMR. The last time a BMW took its place on the grid at the endurance classic near the river Sarthe was in 2011: back then, the BMW M3 GT finished third in the LM GTE class.

“Since it was launched in 2012, the championship has enjoyed a positive development, forged new paths in many regards, and won a lot of fans.

“Further details, such as the model of car to be used and the team responsible for the car, will be confirmed and announced over the coming months.”

BMW motorsport director Jens Marquardt added: “Starting with the 2018 season, we want to further expand our activities in GT racing and compete in the FIA World Endurance Championship, as well as the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

“This obviously also includes our return to Le Mans, which we are particularly looking forward to. The way the WEC has developed so well makes us confident that there is a big future for GT racing.”

Of its involvement in Formula E with Andretti, BMW confirmed a long-rumored technical partnership that has already begun ahead of the all-electric series’ third season.

“The cooperation with Andretti Formula E is initially set to run for two seasons. It incorporates, for example, cooperation at engineer level and the mutual use of resources.

“Depending on the general development of the racing series, a works involvement is envisaged as of the series’ season five, 2018/2019, provided the conditions and circumstances are right.

“As part of this commitment, BMW Motorsport will provide its works driver António Félix da Costa as a driver for Andretti Formula E. The Portuguese, who has featured on the top step of the DTM podium with BMW and has already tasted victory in Formula E, will contest the entire 2016/17 FIA Formula E Championship.

“As well as the new partnership, BMW i will remain the “Official Vehicle Partner” of Formula E. This partnership allows BMW i to present the plug-in hybrid BMW i8, as the Safety Car, and the fully-electric BMW i3, as the Medical Car, in some of the largest cities in the world.”

You can read the entire statement from BMW by clicking here.

NHRA: After first 2 rounds, most Countdown battles tighten

With five wins and having led the points for much of this season, Ron Capps is on target for his first career Funny Car championship in 2016.
(Photo courtesy NHRA)
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With two rounds of the NHRA’s six-race Countdown to the Championship playoffs now in the books, the point standings have tightened up for the most part.

The closest battles are in Top Fuel and Pro Stock Motorcycle. But that doesn’t mean the Funny Car or Pro Stock standings are any less competitive.

Let’s break things down in each respective class following what happened in this past weekend’s AAA Insurance Midwest Nationals near St. Louis:

In Top Fuel, two-time and defending champion Antron Brown has his hands full with a stout challenge from Doug Kalitta.

Brown, who dominated last year’s Countdown en route to the championship, holds just a 13-point edge over Kalitta heading into this weekend’s midpoint of the Countdown, the Dodge Nationals at Maple Grove (Pa.) Raceway.

After three runner-up finishes over the years, Kalitta is potentially in the best position he ever has been to earn his first championship in 20 years on the NHRA national tour. Trust me, Brown hears Kalitta’s footsteps, and they just got a lot louder after Sunday’s race near St. Louis.

Several other drivers are further back, but they’re far from out of the running. Eight-time champion Tony Schumacher is third, 54 points back. Sunday’s winner, Shawn Langdon, jumped up to fourth in the points, just 77 points behind.

Brittany Force and Steve Torrence are 91 and 97 points behind Brown, respectively, followed by seventh and eighth place holders J.R. Todd (-106) and Richie Crampton (-131), who qualified No. 1 this past weekend.

Unfortunately, two drivers have each struggled in the first two Countdown races: Leah Pritchett (-151) and Clay Millican (-174). Unless they get their game back on track, their Countdown hopes could essentially be over far before the season-ending race in Pomona, California.

Here’s how the points stack up heading into Maple Grove:

TOP FUEL: 1.  Antron Brown, 2,258; 2.  Doug Kalitta, 2,245; 3.  Tony Schumacher, 2,204; 4.  Shawn Langdon, 2,181; 5.  Brittany Force, 2,167; 6.  Steve Torrence, 2,161; 7.  J.R. Todd, 2,152; 8.  Richie Crampton, 2,127; 9.  Leah Pritchett, 2,107; 10.  Clay Millican, 2,084.

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

In Funny Car, Ron Capps reached Sunday’s semifinals, protecting the lead he’s had for much of this season.

With a class-high five wins thus far this season, Capps holds a 48-point edge over Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. and leads another teammate, Jack Beckman, by 70 points.

Beckman significantly closed the gap on Capps by winning Sunday at St. Louis – jumping from eighth place to third.

Just 22 points separate fourth-ranked John Force (-74), defending champion Del Worsham (-84) and Matt Hagan (-96). Dipping in the standings are the other two John Force Racing Funny Car drivers, Robert Hight (-114) and Courtney Force (-124), with Tim Wilkerson sitting ninth (-129).

Alexis DeJoria rounds out the 1o-driver Funny Car Countdown and has struggled in the first two races, leaving her 205 points behind Capps – the third-biggest points spread between a driver and a leader in any of the four pro classes.

FUNNY CAR: 1.  Ron Capps, 2,273; 2.  Tommy Johnson Jr., 2,225; 3.  Jack Beckman, 2,203; 4.  John Force, 2,199; 5.  Del Worsham, 2,189; 6.  Matt Hagan, 2,177; 7.  Robert Hight, 2,159; 8.  Courtney Force, 2,149; 9.  Tim Wilkerson, 2,144; 10.  Alexis DeJoria, 2,068.

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

In Pro Stock, Alex Laughlin pulled off a stunning win Sunday at St. Louis. Not only did Laughlin fail to qualify for the Countdown, Sunday’s triumph was the first of his Pro Stock career.

And Laughlin’s win somewhat shook up the Pro Stock standings – opening them up rather than closing the gap – leaving the largest spread between first and tenth in any of the four pro classes.

KB Racing holds a stranglehold on the top three spots with points leader Jason Line, Greg Anderson (-63) and Bo Butner (-87).

At the opposite end of the spectrum, the bottom half of the Pro Stock Countdown field has struggled in the first two races: Sixth-ranked Chris McGaha (-175), Allen Johnson (-183), and Drew Skillman (-184), but especially five-time champion Jeg Coughlin (-226) and two-time defending champion Erica Enders (-258).

After two outstanding seasons, Enders has had a very rough campaign in 2016, with several first round exits in the first 20 races that put her – and have kept her – behind the eight-ball. She failed to qualify for the first Countdown race at Charlotte and suffered yet another first-round exit at St. Louis.

Unless Enders can somehow bounce back and win her first race of the season – and then some more – in the next couple of races, she mathematically could be eliminated from the Countdown as early as this weekend at Maple Grove or Round 4 of the playoffs on Oct. 16 at Texas.

PRO STOCK: 1.  Jason Line, 2,310; 2.  Greg Anderson, 2,247; 3.  Bo Butner, 2,223; 4.  Vincent Nobile, 2,185; 5.  Shane Gray, 2,167; 6.  Chris McGaha, 2,135; 7.  Allen Johnson, 2,127; 8.  Drew Skillman, 2,126; 9.  Jeg Coughlin, 2,084; 10.  Erica Enders, 2,052.

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

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, we see the tightest championship battle of all four pro classes thus far.

Just 17 points separate the top three riders: defending champion and five-time champ Andrew Hines, Angelle Sampey (-2) and Charlotte winner Chip Ellis (-17). And St. Louis winner Jerry Savoie – an alligator farmer from Louisiana – took a big chomp out of Hines’ lead, jumping up to fourth place, just 42 points behind.

Former champion Eddie Krawiec isn’t far behind in fifth place (-76).

The remaining five riders are all within striking distance, from sixth-ranked LE Tonglet IV (-122) to Hector Arana Jr. (-145), Hector Arana (-153), Cory Reed (-155) and Matt Smith (-164).

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1.  Andrew Hines, 2,260; 2.  Angelle Sampey, 2,258; 3.  Chip Ellis, 2,243; 4.  Jerry Savoie, 2,218; 5.  Eddie Krawiec, 2,184; 6.  LE Tonglet, 2,138; 7.  Hector Arana Jr, 2,115; 8.  Hector Arana, 2,107; 9.  Cory Reed, 2,105; 10.  Matt Smith, 2,096.

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NHRA: Ron Capps, Doug Kalitta one step closer to first championships

Can Top Fuel driver Doug Kalitta, left, and Funny Car pilot Ron Capps both earn their first championships this season?
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As the six-race NHRA Countdown to the Championship moves into its third round, Doug Kalitta and Ron Capps have one word on their mind.

Well, two words, actually, but one will equal the second.

The first word is “sixteen” – as in the number of rounds of competition that remain this season.

And, if they successfully get through most of those 16 rounds beating the guy or girl in the other lane, that second word is “one” – as in finishing the season No. 1 as champions in their respective NHRA drag racing classes: Top Fuel for Kalitta and Funny Car for Capps.

“One” has even more significance for both drivers as the have each toiled on the straight-line for 20 and 22 years apiece, yet both have never ended a season with a championship.

What’s more, Capps and Kalitta rank first and second for drivers with the most wins without a championship.

Now, with four races to go, they both feel strongly that it’s their time. They both have chances to move four steps closer to that goal in this weekend’s Dodge Nationals at Maple Grove (Pa.) Raceway.

“Each race in this Countdown is important,” Kalitta said. “There are only 24 rounds of racing (in the six rounds), so you try to excel at every track.

“We would like to end this three-race string with a race win and carry that momentum into the final three events on the schedule.”

Added Capps, “(Maple Grove has) been very good to me, but I’ve never won there. I know it will be a lot cooler and (crew chief Rahn) Tobler has shown what this hot rod can do in conditions like that.”

Capps leads the Funny Car ranks – as he has done for much of this season – and has qualified no lower than third nor finished any lower than the semifinals in each of the first two Countdown events.

He leads Don Schumacher Racing teammates Tommy Johnson Jr. by 48 points and Jack Beckman, who beat Capps in the semifinals and went on to win the Funny Car class Sunday at Gateway Motorsports Park, by 70 points.

“We have such a great, competitive field of drivers and you can’t take anything for granted,” Capps said. “This is one of the most funs I’ve had, but it’s hard to enjoy it because you’re so engulfed in this Countdown. Fans are having a blast.”

Capps has 50 career Funny Car wins, including five this season. He also has finished runner-up in the standings four different seasons.

“It’s just one race at a time, and that’s all we’re focused on,” Capps said. “It is fun to be able to do that and have a racecar that I can trust will be as quick as anybody on raceday. It’s going to be a lot of fun the rest of the way.”

And then there’s Kalitta, who like Capps, would also like nothing better than to finally win his first championship.

Kalitta moved closer to that goal this weekend at St. Louis. He’s now just 13 points behind Top Fuel standings leader and defending champion Antron Brown, who is also seeking his third championship in the last five seasons.

But Kalitta, who has three wins in 2016 (Houston, Atlanta and Topeka) and 41 in his career (fifth among Top Fuel’s winningest drivers), would like nothing more than to overtake Brown and hold on for the championship.

“At this point we can control our own destiny, so we are just taking each race as its own and doing our best,” Kalitta said. “Every race we have left is a little different, and you just have to be prepared.

“I have the best team and group of people surrounding me, and I am excited to see what we can do.”

Like Capps, Kalitta knows all too well what it’s like to finish runner-up to someone else in a season, having finished second three times in his career.

“My team is incredibly focused,” Kalitta said. “This Mac Tools/DeWalt FlexVolt Toyota is running strong and we are limiting mistakes. We are right there and know we have what it takes to compete with all of the other teams out here that are chasing that title.

“You just have to stay focused on your job. I have a great crew and their job doesn’t change, and neither does mine. You have to be ready to go regardless of conditions.”

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

DODGE NHRA NATIONALS FACT SHEET

WHAT: 32nd annual Dodge NHRA Nationals, the 21st of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and the third of six races in the NHRAMello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs. Drivers in four categories – Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle – earn points leading to 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships.

WHERE: Maple Grove Raceway, Mohnton, Pa. Track is located off the Pennsylvania Turnpike (Exit 298), 10 miles south of Reading, Pa.

COURSE:   Championship drag strip; Track elevation is 548 feet above sea level; Track direction is north to south.

WHEN: Thursday through Sunday, Sept. 29-Oct. 2

SCHEDULE:

THURSDAY, Sept. 29 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying

FRIDAY, Sept. 30 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying

MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 1:15 and 4:15 p.m.

SATURDAY, Oct. 1 – LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations

MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 11:15 a.m. and 2:45 p.m.

SUNDAY, Oct. 2 – Pre-race ceremonies, 11 a.m.

MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at noon.

TELEVISION: Friday, Sept. 30, FS1 will televise one hour of live qualifying coverage at 6 p.m. (ET).

Sunday, Oct. 2, FS1 will televise one hour of qualifying coverage at 2 a.m. (ET).

Sunday, Oct. 2, FS1 will televise three hours of live finals coverage starting at2 p.m. (ET).

2015 EVENT WINNERS: Antron Brown, Top Fuel; Jack Beckman, Funny Car; Chris McGaha, Pro Stock; Andrew Hines, Pro Stock Motorcycle.

MOST VICTORIES: John Force, FC, 7; Angelle Sampey, PSM, 6; Tony Schumacher, TF, 5; Jeg Coughlin, PS, 4; Warren Johnson, PS, 4.

TRACK RECORDS:

Top Fuel – 3.701 sec. by Antron Brown, Oct. ’12; 334.15 mph by Shawn Langdon, Oct. ’12

Funny Car – 3.897 sec. by Jack Beckman, Oct. ’15; 329.34 mph by Robert Hight, Oct. ’15

Pro Stock – 6.465 sec. by Erica Enders, Oct. ’14; 214.59 mph by Greg Anderson, Oct. ’15

Pro Stock Motorcycle – 6.728 sec. and 198.73 mph by Andrew Hines, Oct. ’12

NATIONAL RECORDS:

Top Fuel – 3.671 sec. by Steve Torrence, July ’16, Sonoma, Calif.; 332.75 mph by Spencer Massey, Aug. ’15, Brainerd, Minn.

Funny Car – 3.822 by Matt Hagan, Aug. ’16, Brainerd, Minn.; 335.57 mph by Hagan, May ’16, Topeka, Kan.

Pro Stock – 6.455 sec. by Jason Line, March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.;  215.55 mph by Erica Enders, May ‘14, Englishtown N.J.

PS Motorcycle – 6.728 sec. by Andrew Hines, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.; 199.88 mph by Hector Arana Jr., March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.

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POINT STANDINGS:

TOP FUEL: 1.  Antron Brown, 2,258; 2.  Doug Kalitta, 2,245; 3.  Tony Schumacher, 2,204; 4.  Shawn Langdon, 2,181; 5.  Brittany Force, 2,167; 6.  Steve Torrence, 2,161; 7.  J.R. Todd, 2,152; 8.  Richie Crampton, 2,127; 9.  Leah Pritchett, 2,107; 10.  Clay Millican, 2,084.

FUNNY CAR: 1.  Ron Capps, 2,273; 2.  Tommy Johnson Jr., 2,225; 3.  Jack Beckman, 2,203; 4.  John Force, 2,199; 5.  Del Worsham, 2,189; 6.  Matt Hagan, 2,177; 7.  Robert Hight, 2,159; 8.  Courtney Force, 2,149; 9.  Tim Wilkerson, 2,144; 10.  Alexis DeJoria, 2,068.

PRO STOCK: 1.  Jason Line, 2,310; 2.  Greg Anderson, 2,247; 3.  Bo Butner, 2,223; 4.  Vincent Nobile, 2,185; 5.  Shane Gray, 2,167; 6.  Chris McGaha, 2,135; 7.  Allen Johnson,

2,127; 8.  Drew Skillman, 2,126; 9.  Jeg Coughlin, 2,084; 10.  Erica Enders, 2,052.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. Andrew Hines, 2,260; 2.  Angelle Sampey, 2,258; 3.  Chip Ellis, 2,243; 4.  Jerry Savoie, 2,218; 5.  Eddie Krawiec, 2,184; 6.  LE Tonglet, 2,138; 7.  Hector Arana Jr, 2,115; 8.  Hector Arana, 2,107; 9.  Cory Reed, 2,105; 10.  Matt Smith, 2,096.

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