Angie Smith (Photo courtesy NHRA)

Angie Smith makes NHRA history: Earns first national event win in first husband-wife final round

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It should be an interesting next few days in the Smith household.

Matt Smith, the defending NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle champion, lost in Sunday’s finals of the Auto-Plus NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway in Epping, N.H.

But instead of losing to one of his chief rivals, Smith lost to Mrs. Smith.

Yep, that’s right, Angie Smith (6.905 seconds, 191.89 mph) earned her first career NHRA national event win, defeating hubby and teammate Matt Smith.

It marked the first time in NHRA history that a husband and wife have met in the final round of a NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event.

Matt Smith appeared headed to the win, but his motorcycle lost traction near the end of the track.

Mrs. Smith took advantage of it and rode right past to trip the win light first.

“In this sport, I’ll take it any way I can get it,” Angie Smith said. “It’s my first one, I’m proud to be here.”

Angie Smith also put a bit of levity into her post-race celebration:

“I’m really tired of dusting all of (Matt’s) Wallys (national event victory trophies),” she said with a laugh. “I at least want to dust one of mine at the house. Now I have one, and I’m good with that.”

Angie Smith did not have an easy time of it en route to her first career national event win, defeating teammates Eddie Krawiec and Andrew Hines – who had combined for wins in the last three PSM events – before beating her husband in the final.

In other pro classes, Ron Capps won in Funny Car, Tony Schumacher in Top Fuel and Dave Connolly in Pro Stock:

* After five semifinal showings this season, Capps (4.095 seconds at 315.19 mph) reached the final round for the first time since last summer at Brainerd, Minnesota, defeating Alexis DeJoria to earn his first win of the 2014 season.

“It was huge to get [crew chief] Rahn Tobler back his mojo,” Capps said in a NHRA media release. “He was beating himself up. He found something overnight. He and Eric [Lane, assistant crew chief] worked all night on what they were going to do this morning.”

* Schumacher (3.824 seconds, 323.27 mph) earned his second Top Fuel win of the season and 74th of his career, defeating points leader Doug Kalitta in the final round Sunday.

“The fans that paid good money to go to a drag race got the best show I’ve seen this year,” said Schumacher, a seven-time Top Fuel champ. “It was outstanding racing. It’s cyclical. You go up and down. Right now we’re up and it’s outstanding.”

Schumacher has now won at every racetrack on the NHRA circuit except for Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, Georgia.

“I’d like to have that,” Schumacher said. “It would be really cool. Of all the records we’ve set and we’ve set everything there, that’s the one that’s out there.”

* In Pro Stock, Connolly (6.536 seconds, 213.23 mph) earned his 24th career national event win, defeating Gray Motorsports teammate Jonathan Gray.

It was Connolly’s first final round appearance, as well as his first win, since 2012.

“I had very high expectations of this team,” Connolly said. “I know the caliber of people working on it. The talent pool is deep. What a great weekend.

“This class is brutal right now. It’s tough. One-thousandths of a second separate us every weekend. Today was no different.”

The next NHRA national event, the O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 Nationals, will be June 26-29 at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Illinois.

 

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SUNDAY’S FINAL FINISHING ORDER:

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

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

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

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

 

 

FINAL ROUND RESULTS:

Top Fuel — Tony Schumacher, 3.824 seconds, 323.27 mph  def. Doug Kalitta, 3.813 seconds, 323.89 mph.

Funny Car — Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.095, 315.19  def. Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Camry, 4.121, 309.98.

Pro Stock — Dave Connolly, Chevy Camaro, 6.536, 213.23  def. Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 6.577, 213.16.

Pro Stock Motorcycle — Angie Smith, Buell, 6.905, 191.89  def. Matt Smith, Buell, 7.230, 145.99.

 

 

FINAL ROUND-BY-ROUND RESULTS:

TOP FUEL: ROUND ONE — Khalid alBalooshi, 3.833, 319.14 def. Leah Pritchett, 3.831, 313.15; Clay Millican, 3.920, 305.63 def. Brittany Force, 4.560, 274.22; Richie Crampton, 4.028, 300.20 def. Dom Lagana, 4.044, 297.75; Antron Brown, 3.858, 315.12 def. Todd Paton, 4.081, 290.88; Doug Kalitta, 3.810, 325.45 def. Terry McMillen, 4.341, 186.00; J.R. Todd, 3.826, 317.05 def. Bob Vandergriff, 4.081, 230.61; Spencer Massey, 3.968, 293.86 def. Shawn Langdon, 4.141, 254.86; Tony Schumacher, 3.854, 322.34 def. Steve Torrence, 3.922, 304.19;

QUARTERFINALS — Crampton, 3.800, 325.14 def. Massey, 3.794, 323.97; Millican, 3.834, 318.62 def. Todd, 3.836, 320.97; Schumacher, 3.787, 324.28 def. Brown, 3.794, 320.66; Kalitta, 3.813, 325.45 def. alBalooshi, 3.856, 318.92;

SEMIFINALS — Kalitta, 3.792, 325.92 def. Crampton, 3.822, 325.37; Schumacher, 3.825, 322.81 def. Millican, 3.860, 316.38;

FINAL — Schumacher, 3.824, 323.27 def. Kalitta, 3.813, 323.89.

 

FUNNY CAR: ROUND ONE — Robert Hight, Ford Mustang, 4.069, 314.39 def. Mike Smith, Dodge Stratus, 7.026, 89.34; Courtney Force, Mustang, 4.089, 313.73 def. Dave Richards, Chevy Monte Carlo, 4.900, 160.23; Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 4.107, 291.76 def. Jeff Arend, Dodge Charger, 4.744, 176.12; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.127, 312.64 def. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.767, 190.14; Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.120, 310.13 def. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 4.374, 224.17; Del Worsham, Camry, 4.127, 309.84 def. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.123, 309.20; Ron Capps, Charger, 4.064, 316.45 def. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.061, 314.46; John Force, Mustang, 4.129, 312.50 def. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.119, 305.36;

QUARTERFINALS — J. Force, 4.095, 314.83 def. Hight, 4.067, 312.35; Capps, 4.097, 311.13 def. C. Pedregon, 4.109, 308.85; C. Force, 4.124, 312.86 def. Worsham, 4.133, 308.92; DeJoria, 4.106, 310.98 def. Johnson Jr., 7.002, 88.00;

SEMIFINALS — DeJoria, 4.086, 312.21 def. J. Force, 4.130, 312.06; Capps, 4.104, 314.09 def. C. Force, 4.131, 312.21;

FINAL — Capps, 4.095, 315.19 def. DeJoria, 4.121, 309.98.

 

PRO STOCK: ROUND ONE — Jonathan Gray, Chevy Camaro, 6.525, 213.16 def. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.530, 213.64; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.547, 212.56 def. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.532, 213.43; Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.525, 213.27 def. V. Gaines, Dodge Dart, 11.043, 88.86; Allen Johnson, Dart, 6.531, 213.43 def. Jeg Coughlin, Dart, 6.563, 208.59; Shane Tucker, Chevy Cobalt, 6.537, 213.16 def. John Gaydosh Jr, Pontiac GXP, 6.719, 209.95; Dave Connolly, Camaro, 6.513, 213.23 def. Kenny Delco, Cobalt, broke; Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.527, 212.49 def. Val Smeland, Cobalt, 7.609, 142.46; Erica Enders-Stevens, Camaro, 6.518, 212.73 def. Larry Morgan, Ford Mustang, 6.563, 211.76;

QUARTERFINALS — Johnson, 7.742, 181.18 def. Tucker, 13.393, 63.99; J. Gray, 6.564, 212.59 def. S. Gray, 6.559, 213.06; Anderson, 6.551, 212.86 def. Enders-Stevens, 6.551, 213.40; Connolly, 6.526, 212.93 def. Nobile, 6.562, 213.13;

SEMIFINALS — J. Gray, 6.583, 212.76 def. Johnson, 6.525, 213.60; Connolly, 6.517, 213.23 def. Anderson, 6.549, 212.93;

FINAL — Connolly, 6.536, 213.23 def. J. Gray, 6.577, 213.16.

 

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: ROUND ONE — Angie Smith, Buell, 7.061, 191.27 def. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, broke; John Hall, Buell, 6.820, 196.04 def. Chaz Kennedy, Buell, 6.922, 189.76; Adam Arana, Buell, 6.995, 193.85 def. Michael Ray, Buell, foul; Hector Arana, Buell, 6.826, 196.67 def. Shawn Gann, Buell, 10.531, 78.32; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.843, 195.28 def. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 6.897, 193.88; Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.827, 194.80 def. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.893, 194.35; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.799, 197.48 def. Justin Finley, Suzuki, foul; Matt Smith, Buell, 6.834, 195.48 def. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.904, 194.21;

QUARTERFINALS — M. Smith, 6.879, 194.86 def. A. Arana, 6.979, 193.88; Hines, 6.919, 195.14 def. H. Arana, broke; Arana Jr, 6.808, 196.47 def. Hall, 6.868, 194.72; A. Smith, 6.896, 192.49 def. Krawiec, 6.862, 197.25;

SEMIFINALS — A. Smith, 6.908, 193.77 def. Hines, 6.921, 192.33; M. Smith, 6.873, 195.11 def. Arana Jr, 13.014, 61.08;

FINAL — A. Smith, 6.905, 191.89 def. M. Smith, 7.230, 145.99.

 

UPDATED POINTS STANDINGS:

Top Fuel — 1.  Doug Kalitta, 1,001; 2.  Antron Brown, 844; 3.  Shawn Langdon, 783; 4.  Spencer Massey, 709; 5.  Tony Schumacher, 670; 6.  Steve Torrence, 651; 7.  Khalid alBalooshi, 587; 8.  Richie Crampton, 546; 9.  Brittany Force, 540; 10.  J.R. Todd, 485.

Funny Car — 1.  Robert Hight, 970; 2.  Alexis DeJoria, 716; 3.  John Force, 713; 4.  Ron Capps, 683; 5.  Tommy Johnson Jr., 682; 6.  Courtney Force, 658; 7.  Del Worsham, 645; 8.  Cruz Pedregon, 599; 9.  Tim Wilkerson, 569; 10.  Matt Hagan, 564.

Pro Stock — 1.  Erica Enders-Stevens, 972; 2.  Jeg Coughlin, 789; 3.  Allen Johnson, 776; 4.  Jason Line, 733; 5.  Shane Gray, 713; 6.  Dave Connolly, 709; 7.  Vincent Nobile, 671; 8.  V. Gaines, 520; 9.  Chris McGaha, 492; 10.  Jonathan Gray, 400.

Pro Stock Motorcycle — 1.  Andrew Hines, 482; 2.  Eddie Krawiec, 445; 3.  Hector Arana Jr, 351; 4.  John Hall, 338; 5.  Matt Smith, 306; 6.  Scotty Pollacheck, 283; 7.  Michael Ray, 270; 8.  Angie Smith, 228; 9.  Hector Arana, 224; 10.  Steve Johnson, 218.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Juan Pablo Montoya victorious on opening day of Race of Champions in Miami

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY 27:  Juan Pablo Montoya of Columbia, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet prepares to practice on Carb Day ahead of the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motorspeedway on May 27, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya added another trophy to his cabinet on Saturday by claiming a shock victory in the Race of Champions.

The event at the Marlins Park in Miami pitted some of motorsport’s biggest names up against each other in a multi-discipline challenge, with the Race of Champions’ traditional crossover circuit style being used.

Ahead of the battle for national honors on Sunday, the 17 drivers on the entry list in Miami faced off for the individual title.

Defending champion and four-time F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel suffered a shock exit in the group stage after defeats to Helio Castroneves and Travis Pastrana. The German won only one tie against 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi, who in turn had qualified following a shoot-out against GRC’s Scott Speed.

In the bottom half of the draw, IndyCar stars James Hinchcliffe, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Tony Kanaan were eliminated in the group stages, while veteran British F1 racers David Coulthard and Jenson Button made it through. The pair were joined by nine-time Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen and NASCAR’s Kyle Busch; the latter’s brother, Kurt, was knocked out at the first hurdle.

Pastrana and Castroneves both fell in the quarter-finals, losing to Felipe Massa and Montoya respectively. Massa advanced through the draw despite a frightening incident in the group stage involving fellow F1 driver Pascal Wehrlein, who flipped his car after crossing the finish line.

Kristensen edged out Button 2-1 in their best-of-three bout to reach the semi-finals, setting up a tie against Coulthard after he eased past Kyle Busch 2-0.

Massa and Montoya’s semi-final went down to a tie-breaker, with the former receiving a time penalty to hitting the wall and gaining an advantage. As a result, Montoya progressed into the final, winning the tie 2-1. Losing 2015 finalist Kristensen followed Montoya through, beating Coulthard 2-0.

Montoya won the first heat of the final in the rallycross car, edging Kristensen out by less than a car length before jumping into a KTM X-Bow for the second match-up. Despite almost jumping the start, Montoya managed to wrestle his car through the two laps before edging out Kristensen by just 0.08 seconds, securing a shock rookie victory in the process.

“Honestly I had a blast,” Montoya said. “It’s pretty amazing. I told my wife, I’ve got to make it through the first round. It just worked out.”

Montoya will race in the ROC Nations Cup on Sunday, teaming up with recent IndyCar racer Gabby Chaves for Team Colombia.

Report: Manor making progress in talks to make start of F1 season

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 12:  Pascal Wehrlein of Germany driving the (94) Manor Racing MRT-Mercedes MRT05 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo on track during final practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Brazil at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 12, 2016 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
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Manor Racing has made progress in talks with a possible investor as it bids to make the grid for the start of the 2017 Formula 1 season, according to a report from BBC Sport.

Manor confirmed at the beginning of the month that it had entered administration for the second time in three years amid ongoing financial difficulties.

The backmarker team finished 11th in last year’s constructors’ championship, dropping behind Sauber at the penultimate round and missing out on a sizeable amount of prize money as a result.

With a little over one month to go until the start of pre-season testing, Manor faces a race against time to keep racing, but the latest report from BBC Sport suggests that a breakthrough has been made.

Andrew Benson writes that the future of the team is dependent on the promised investment arriving in the next week, noting that “prospects have improved considerably over the last few days”.

Manor had previously been in talks with Mexican-American businessman Tavo Hellmund over a buyout, as well as a Chinese consortium. The report from BBC Sport also names Indonesian businessman Ricardo Galael, the father of GP2 racer Sean Galael, as a possible suitor for the team.

NBC Sports learned last week that the team is pushing to race with a modified version of its 2016 car – likely to be named the MRT05B – should it make the grid in 2017.

If Manor fails to find a buyer, the F1 grid will drop back down to 10 teams for the 2017 season, returning to its pre-2016 level prior to the arrival of Haas.

NBC Sports has approached Manor’s administrators, FRP Advisory, for comment.

Jacques Villeneuve: F1 is ‘supposed to be too expensive, too crazy’

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1997 Formula 1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve feels that he cannot relate to the series in its current form, saying that it is supposed to be “too expensive” and “too crazy”.

Villeneuve raced in F1 between 1996 and 2006, and remains a keen observer as part of his role as a pundit on Italian television.

F1 has striven to enforce greater cost control and road relevance in recent years, but Villeneuve believes that this is the wrong direction, saying officials should instead focus on making the series spectacular.

“That’s when I start to feel old because I don’t relate to the technology of modern Formula 1,” Villeneuve said.

“Because to my mind, Formula 1 has always been about extremes. Pushing the boundaries and human boundaries.

“It’s supposed to be too fast, it’s supposed to be too expensive, it’s supposed to be crazy. And that’s not what we have.

“You see drivers get out of the car and they didn’t even break a sweat because they have too massage their car the whole race and drive within eight seconds of what they’ve done in qualifying. It’s wrong.”

Villeneuve also believes that those in charge of F1 should not listen to fans’ opinions, citing the introduction of DRS in 2011 as being a negative result of doing so.

“The fans kept complaining that ‘oh, there’s not enough overtaking’, ‘oh, there’s not enough of this or that’,” Villeneuve said.

“By listening to that, what did F1 do? Let’s put DRS. Because that way we’ll have hundreds of overtakes in a race. But name me one overtake that you remember since DRS – you don’t. Because you don’t see the driver working it.

“Look at a motorbike race, sometimes they take a rider 10 laps to overtake another rider, but in these 10 laps you see the work that goes with it, and what that overtake happens, wow.

“But now you don’t. Next straight line, press a button, that’s it. All of these rule changes to try and create a better show actually create a worse show.

“Then the technology, take the engine, amazing beautiful technology – for the engineers. It shouldn’t be in F1. It doesn’t bring anything. It takes away from F1.

“It has nothing to do there. It’s crazy engineering. I wouldn’t want it on my road car.”

WRC’s Paddon calls for lessons to be learned from Monte Carlo spectator death

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FIA World Rally Championship racer Hayden Paddon has called for lessons to be learned following the death of a spectator on the opening stage of the Monte Carlo Rally on Thursday night.

A spectator was killed after being struck by Paddon’s car when the New Zealander hit black ice and careered into a roadside bank.

Hyundai driver Paddon was withdrawn from the remainder of the rally out of respect, and has now issued a statement regarding the incident.

Here is the statement in full:

Hi everyone,

Upon reflection, I wanted to issue a small statement about yesterday’s events.

Firstly, our thoughts are with the family and friends of the spectator involved. No matter the circumstances, this is never something we want to see.

Secondly, John [Kennard, co-driver] and I are humbled by all the messages of support at this time. Obviously, my thoughts are with the family and that is my only concern at the moment. Not being able to return home to New Zealand does make it a little tougher but it is important we stay strong.

I do want to take this chance to ask people not to speculate. Irrespective of how and why the accident happened, finger pointing will not change anything. The most important thing is that we learn from this and I am committed to work with the FIA and rally organizers relentlessly to ensure this does not happen again.

I will take this chance to ask spectators at rallies to please be considerate of where you stand and to respect the instructions of the marshals. We all want to enjoy a good show and go home to the family afterwards.

I also ask each and every rally fan at the events, if you see someone in a dangerous position to request they move for everyone’s best interest. As a community, we can collectively work together to prevent this from happening again.

Lastly, I please ask the respect from the media in these times, especially for the family and friends of the spectator. I will not issue any further statements or conduct interviews at this stage. We made the decision not to continue this weekend out of respect, but will be back in Sweden where we will pay tribute.

Thank you again for everyone’s support and for the support of the team – it really does mean a lot.”

The Monte Carlo Rally finishes on Saturday.