(AP Photo/NHRA, Jerry Foss)

Crampton 100th different NHRA Top Fuel winner; Pedregon (FC), Coughlin (PS), Hines (PSM) also win at Englishtown

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Richie Crampton claimed his first career Top Fuel victory, becoming the 100th different winner in the category, at the 45th annual Toyota NHRA Summernationals on Sunday.

Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car), Jeg Coughlin (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were respective winners at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.

Crampton powered his GEICO/Lucas Oil dragster to a 3.819-second pass at 320.51 mph to defeat Top Fuel points leader Doug Kalitta in the final round. The victory came during the Australian’s ninth career start after replacing Morgan Lucas in the offseason and only a week after Crampton and his girlfriend welcomed the birth of their first child.

“This is all surreal right now,” Crampton said. “I’m really just living the dream. I know that sounds cliché, but I’m just lucky to be in the position I’m at in my personal life and my career.”

Crampton was the No. 2 qualifier for the event, his career-best starting spot. The win was extra sweet given Crampton’s milestone achievement.

“I had no idea coming into this race that somebody could possibly be the 100th new winner in Top Fuel, but it’s pretty special to get that particular point on the list,” Crampton said. “You think about how many great drivers there are on that particular list, and it’s icing on the cake for me there.”

Kalitta was appearing in his fifth final of the season in his Mac Tools dragster. Despite the defeat, Kalitta increased his points lead over second place Antron Brown to 103 points.

Pedregon was the class of the Funny Car field all weekend, going from No. 1 qualifier to the race victory with a performance of 4.126 at 301.33 in his Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry over Del Worsham in his DHL Camry in the final. The win was a relief for Pedregon, whose team has struggled early this season.

“It was a tremendous points day,” said Pedregon. “To say I’m excited and happy would be an understatement, but I also feel relieved a little bit. We’ve dug ourselves a pretty good hole this year.”

The win was Pedregon’s 35th of his career and first of the season. With the victory, Pedregon tied NHRA legend Don Prudhomme for fourth on the all-time Funny Car wins list.

“Prudhomme is my hero, and it means a lot [to tie him],” Pedregon said. “I’ve been doing this a long time. I’ve had plenty of opportunities, but I think my biggest accomplishment is the fact that I have been doing it so long in different scenarios. To be able to do this at this level and maintain it 20 years later means everything to me.”

Coughlin secured his second Pro Stock win of the season and 58th of his career by defeating Greg Anderson in the final round with a 6.510 at 213.94 in his JEGS.com/Mopar Dodge Dart.

“We had the kind of conditions that Pro Stock cars love today with a great barometer and not a cloud in the sky but you had to work for it,” Coughlin said. “They gave us enough time to figure it out and we had a great day.”

Coughlin, the defending and five-time world champ, has reached the final in the last three events, also winning Atlanta and finishing runner-up in Topeka. He beat Anderson’s Summit Racing Chevy Camaro in both finals this season.

Erica Enders-Stevens had a great weekend performance-wise in her Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro as she reset both ends of the Pro Stock national record with her 6.464 second ET and 215.55 mph speed.

Hines defeated Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson teammate Eddie Krawiec to take the Pro Stock Motorcycle victory. It was the second win for Hines at Raceway Park.

“We are back,” Hines said. “I think we put an exclamation point on that this weekend. We’ve been digging the last year and a half to get back to where we were. I’ve always said that racing gets in the way of our R&D and this winter we had a chance to get a lot of work done and we’re starting to reap the benefits.”

A three-time Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion, Hines recorded his second win of the season and 34th of his career. He leaves Englishtown having increased his points lead.

The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continues in Bristol, Tenn., with the 14th annual Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway, June 13-15.

 

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Here are Sunday’s final results from the 45th Toyota NHRA Summernationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, the ninth of 24 races in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series:

Top Fuel — Richie Crampton, 3.819 seconds, 320.51 mph  def. Doug Kalitta, 3.848 seconds, 317.34 mph.

Funny Car — Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 4.126, 301.33  def. Del Worsham, Camry, 4.189, 296.70.

Pro Stock — Jeg Coughlin, Dodge Dart, 6.510, 213.94  def. Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 10.314, 88.65.

Pro Stock Motorcycle — Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.828, 196.56  def. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.837, 196.30.

Pro Modified — Von Smith, Chevy Camaro, 5.966, 241.58  def. Jason Hamstra, Ford Mustang, 9.861, 91.12.

 

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Here’s the final finishing order (1-16) at the 45th Toyota NHRA Summernationals:

TOP FUEL: 1.  Richie Crampton; 2.  Doug Kalitta; 3.  Morgan Lucas; 4.  Shawn Langdon; 5.  Tony Schumacher; 6.  Bob Vandergriff; 7.  Brittany Force; 8.  J.R. Todd; 9.  Leah Pritchett; 10.  Dom Lagana; 11.  Antron Brown; 12.  Spencer Massey; 13.  Steve Torrence; 14.  Khalid alBalooshi; 15.  Clay Millican; 16.  Terry McMillen.

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

PRO STOCK: 1.  Jeg Coughlin; 2.  Greg Anderson; 3.  Dave Connolly; 4.  Rodger Brogdon; 5.  Erica Enders-Stevens; 6.  Jason Line; 7.  Shane Gray; 8.  Chris McGaha; 9.  Vincent Nobile; 10.  John Gaydosh Jr; 11.  Allen Johnson; 12.  Val Smeland; 13.  Larry Morgan; 14.  V. Gaines; 15.  Kenny Delco; 16.  Jonathan Gray.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1.  Andrew Hines; 2.  Eddie Krawiec; 3.  Hector Arana Jr; 4.  Matt Smith; 5.  Michael Ray; 6.  John Hall; 7.  Jerry Savoie; 8.  Chaz Kennedy; 9.  Steve Johnson; 10.  Scotty Pollacheck; 11.  Angie Smith; 12.  LE Tonglet; 13.  Hector Arana; 14.  Shawn Gann; 15.  Jim Underdahl; 16.  Adam Arana.

 

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Here are the updated point standings (top 10) in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series:

Top Fuel: 1.  Doug Kalitta, 809; 2.  Antron Brown, 706; 3.  Shawn Langdon, 638; 4.  Spencer Massey, 598; 5.  Steve Torrence, 580; 6.  Khalid alBalooshi, 503; 7.  Tony Schumacher, 495; 8.  Brittany Force, 462; 9.  Richie Crampton, 433; 10.  J.R. Todd, 392.

Funny Car: 1.  Robert Hight, 847; 2.  John Force, 601; 3.  Alexis DeJoria, 564; 4.  Del Worsham, 535; 5.  Ron Capps, 534; 6.  Courtney Force, 527; 7.  Tommy Johnson Jr., 508; 8.  Cruz Pedregon, 506; 9.  Jack Beckman, 480; 10.  Matt Hagan, 454.

Pro Stock: 1.  Erica Enders-Stevens, 791; 2.  (tie) Jeg Coughlin, 668; Allen Johnson, 668; 4.  Jason Line, 623; 5.  Shane Gray, 582; 6.  Vincent Nobile, 563; 7.  Dave Connolly, 535; 8.  V. Gaines, 456; 9.  Chris McGaha, 427; 10.  Rodger Brogdon, 355.

Pro Stock Motorcycle: 1.  Andrew Hines, 406; 2.  Eddie Krawiec, 382; 3.  John Hall, 285; 4.  Hector Arana Jr, 263; 5.  Scotty Pollacheck, 252; 6.  Michael Ray, 235; 7.  Matt Smith, 206; 8.  Steve Johnson, 187; 9.  (tie) Hector Arana, 168; Chaz Kennedy, 168.

 

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Here are final round-by-round results from the 45th Toyota NHRA Summernationals:

TOP FUEL:

ROUND ONE — Bob Vandergriff, 4.476, 219.01 def. Khalid alBalooshi, 6.402, 130.57; Richie Crampton, 3.774, 316.82 def. Dom Lagana, 3.906, 312.71; Morgan Lucas, 3.834, 276.52 def. Steve Torrence, 5.438, 124.48; Shawn Langdon, 3.801, 320.58 def. Terry McMillen, 8.868, 85.83; Doug Kalitta, 3.785, 323.89 def. Clay Millican, 6.509, 97.26; Brittany Force, 3.789, 326.24 def. Spencer Massey, 4.130, 232.27; J.R. Todd, 3.820, 319.14 def. Leah Pritchett, 3.823, 320.51; Tony Schumacher, 3.782, 325.92 def. Antron Brown, 3.985, 270.37;

QUARTERFINALS — Langdon, 3.806, 322.27 def. Vandergriff, 3.880, 313.66; Lucas, 3.846, 311.99 def. Force, 4.107, 253.18; Kalitta, 3.822, 317.05 def. Schumacher, 3.827, 319.14; Crampton, 4.090, 261.07 def. Todd, 4.762, 209.04;

SEMIFINALS — Kalitta, 4.375, 249.12 def. Lucas, 6.032, 139.07; Crampton, 4.120, 293.92 def. Langdon, 6.356, 122.97;

FINAL — Crampton, 3.819, 320.51 def. Kalitta, 3.848, 317.34.

 

FUNNY CAR:

ROUND ONE — Robert Hight, Ford Mustang, 4.129, 307.79 def. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 8.909, 76.61; Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 4.512, 227.08 def. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 4.602, 213.60; Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.524, 230.45 def. Terry Haddock, Chevy Impala, 5.466, 144.88; Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 4.120, 297.22 def. John Force, Mustang, 4.354, 281.60; Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.067, 306.33 def. Chad Head, Camry, 4.177, 283.61; Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.064, 311.56 def. Jeff Arend, Charger, 5.109, 164.47; Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.073, 301.33 def. Courtney Force, Mustang, 4.116, 312.78; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.069, 313.58 def. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.153, 300.86;

QUARTERFINALS — C. Pedregon, 5.183, 216.41 def. Johnson Jr., 7.265, 113.14; Worsham, 4.168, 301.94 def. Wilkerson, 4.696, 188.36; Beckman, 4.133, 308.50 def. Hagan, 4.121, 300.60; Hight, 4.086, 306.33 def. DeJoria, 4.107, 308.07;

SEMIFINALS — C. Pedregon, 4.593, 234.33 def. Beckman, 6.381, 153.16; Worsham, 4.178, 298.73 def. Hight, 5.753, 129.65;

FINAL — C. Pedregon, 4.126, 301.33 def. Worsham, 4.189, 296.70.

 

PRO STOCK:

ROUND ONE — Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.554, 213.43 def. Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 27.572, 25.50; Dave Connolly, Camaro, 7.097, 210.24 def. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 7.273, 205.88; Jeg Coughlin, Dodge Dart, 10.769, 144.91 def. Kenny Delco, Chevy Cobalt, 16.303, 58.06; Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 7.788, 170.82 def. Larry Morgan, Ford Mustang, 9.916, 101.76; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.500, 214.45 def. John Gaydosh Jr, Pontiac GXP, 7.311, 202.42; Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.543, 214.01 def. V. Gaines, Dart, 12.730, 68.44; Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.519, 213.84 def. Allen Johnson, Dart, 7.808, 133.50; Erica Enders-Stevens, Camaro, 6.464, 214.89 def. Val Smeland, Cobalt, 8.972, 107.66;

QUARTERFINALS — Coughlin, 6.586, 213.91 def. S. Gray, 6.749, 212.66; Anderson, 7.906, 170.92 def. McGaha, 8.272, 189.26; Brogdon, 6.558, 214.04 def. Line, 6.599, 213.60; Connolly, 6.539, 213.91 def. Enders-Stevens, 6.509, 214.66;

SEMIFINALS — Anderson, 6.535, 214.25 def. Brogdon, 15.406, 54.34; Coughlin, 6.524, 213.60 def. Connolly, 6.535, 214.01;

FINAL — Coughlin, 6.510, 213.94 def. Anderson, 10.314, 88.65.

 

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE:

ROUND ONE — Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.826, 196.33 def. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.845, 195.39; Chaz Kennedy, Buell, 6.851, 194.16 def. Hector Arana, Buell, foul; Michael Ray, Buell, 6.831, 196.19 def. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 6.851, 191.48; John Hall, Buell, 6.800, 196.13 def. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.882, 194.49; Matt Smith, Buell, 6.834, 196.02 def. Shawn Gann, Buell, 16.139, 44.40; Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.774, 197.74 def. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, broke; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.798, 197.91 def. Angie Smith, Buell, 6.867, 194.63; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.770, 198.23 def. Adam Arana, Buell, broke;

QUARTERFINALS — M. Smith, 6.848, 195.99 def. Hall, 6.837, 194.77; Krawiec, 6.750, 198.90 def. Savoie, 6.860, 197.31; Arana Jr, 6.790, 198.47 def. Kennedy, 7.089, 190.35; Hines, 6.762, 197.65 def. Ray, 6.836, 195.11;

SEMIFINALS — Hines, 6.807, 195.62 def. Arana Jr, 6.827, 198.09; Krawiec, 6.801, 198.23 def. M. Smith, 7.225, 152.09;

FINAL — Hines, 6.828, 196.56 def. Krawiec, 6.837, 196.30.

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)
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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
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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

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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.
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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.