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

Vettel: Front-row grid slot for Australia proof of Ferrari’s progress

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Sebastian Vettel believes that his charge to second place on the grid for Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix acts as proof of the progress Ferrari’s Formula 1 operation has made over the winter.

Vettel arrived in Australia as one of the favorites to take pole following an impressive showing in pre-season testing, prompting three-time champion Lewis Hamilton to name Ferrari as the leading team.

Hamilton rallied in qualifying to take pole position for Mercedes, beating Vettel by two-tenths of a second, but the Ferrari driver managed to fend off Valtteri Bottas in the second Silver Arrow and clinch a front-row berth.

The result marked Ferrari’s best qualifying result since the 2015 Singapore Grand Prix – Vettel’s and Ferrari’s last pole and victory in F1 – and the German was encouraged by the result.

“I think we have a good car. I think we are working well as a team,” Vettel said.

“Things are improving. Obviously it’s nice to see that things are working, the car is working. I had a mixed day yesterday, but the confidence in the car was there from testing and I think we showed that again today.”

Vettel conceded that he felt his final lap in qualifying could have been faster, but doubts it would have been enough to catch pole-sitter Hamilton.

“In the end I was not entirely happy with my lap. I was pretty happy with the end, maybe not so much with the opening of the lap where we lost a bit too much,” Vettel said.

“But I think Lewis did a very good lap. I would have loved to, but I don’t think pole was up for grabs. Tomorrow I think we can do something in the race. The car feels good, we’ve improved it so the pace should be much better than it was yesterday when we had practice.

“It’s been a big winter for us, lots of change we’ve gone through as a team in the last 12 months, and for the better. I think the team is getting stronger.

“Obviously everyone is pushing very hard and it’s not so easy to come here with a long journey to get to Australia, but I think people are fired up and we are motivated for tomorrow.

“I think it’s the first good opportunity.”

Hamilton buoyed by sixth Australia F1 pole, ready for tight race

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Three-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton was buoyed by his charge to pole position in Australian Grand Prix qualifying on Saturday, but is braced for a tight race at the front of the pack.

Hamilton saw off a challenge from Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and new Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas to capture his sixth pole at Albert Park, and the 62nd of his F1 career.

Hamilton had doubts over Mercedes’ advantage over Ferrari heading into the new year, making his charge to pole all the more meaningful as he paid tribute to the team members after qualifying.

“It’s been a fantastic weekend so far. It’s quite amazing to come here for I think the 11th time, and it feels like it was only yesterday that I came here and had my first race here in 2007,” Hamilton said.

“I’m just incredibly proud of my team. This rule change has been huge and such a massive challenge for everyone. The guys have just worked so hard to make this car what it is today.”

Despite taking pole by almost three-tenths of a second in Q3, Hamilton is braced for a close fight on Sunday with Vettel and Bottas, the latter starting his first race for Mercedes from third on the grid.

“Valtteri did a fantastic job given it’s his first qualifying session with the team. He did a great job and it’s great for Mercedes,” Hamilton said.

“Looking forward to the race, it’s close between us all. As you can see, there’s going to be a tight race this year I think.

“I think tomorrow is about putting all the work that’s gone in over the winter, all the work that’s gone through testing and this whole weekend and really put it to work tomorrow.

“I’ll make sure I get a good night’s sleep and come back tomorrow stronger than ever.”

The Australian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports App from midnight ET on Sunday.

Lewis Hamilton sees off Vettel challenge to take Australian GP pole

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Lewis Hamilton saw off challenges from Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas to pick up the first Formula 1 pole position of the year in Australian Grand Prix qualifying.

Hamilton topped the timesheets on Friday to give Mercedes hope of continuing its impressive qualifying form from 2016, when it took 20 poles from 21 races.

However, Ferrari looked poised to strike and take its first pole position since Singapore 2015 as Vettel led final practice, setting up a close battle in qualifying.

Hamilton took provisional pole with his first Q3 run, going three-tenths faster than Vettel, and was able to find a further three-tenths on his second run to make pole all but his.

Vettel refused to back down, producing a rapid final sector to gain plenty of time on Hamilton, but it was not enough to deny the Briton his 62nd F1 pole.

On his Mercedes debut, Bottas put in an impressive display to take third on the grid, finishing three-tenths off Hamilton’s time. Fellow Finn Kimi Raikkonen ended the session fourth in the second Ferrari.

Max Verstappen led Red Bull’s charge in fifth, while Haas driver Romain Grosjean put in a stellar display to take sixth on the grid. Felipe Massa will start his comeback race from seventh ahead of the Toro Rosso pair of Carlos Sainz Jr. and Daniil Kvyat.

Local favorite Daniel Ricciardo’s difficult home race weekend continued as he crashed out at Turn 14, wrecking the rear of his Red Bull RB13. While Ricciardo was physically unharmed, the Australian’s ego was left bruised as he was resigned to starting the race from 10th on the grid.

Sporting is bright pink livery, Force India failed to light up the gloomy conditions in Melbourne as it suffered a double-elimination in Q2. Sergio Perez qualified 11th, while rookie teammate Esteban Ocon will make his first start in Australia from 14th on the grid. Nico Hulkenberg saw his 13-race streak of Q3 appearances ended as he could only qualify P12.

One of the biggest talking points from the early part of qualifying was Fernando Alonso’s titanic effort to put his McLaren-Honda 13th on the grid. Following a tough winter marred by reliability issues, Alonso dragged his car through to Q2 and did “all he could”, yet the issues faced by the team meant no Q3 berth was forthcoming.

Sauber enjoyed an impressive start to the year as Marcus Ericsson made it through to Q2, eventually qualifying 15th. Last-minute substitute Antonio Giovinazzi was poised to also get out of Q1 on debut, only for a mistake on his final lap to leave him 16th overall.

Haas driver Kevin Magnussen failed to get in a late lap, leaving him 17th on the grid for his first race with the American team, while a fuel flow issue meant Stoffel Vandoorne could only qualify 18th for McLaren.

Lance Stroll’s baptism of fire in F1 continued as he finished 2.9 seconds off the pace in P19 for Williams, while Renault’s Jolyon Palmer was made to pay for his lack of track time, rounding out the grid in P20.

The Australian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports App from midnight ET.

Lance Stroll set for Australia grid penalty after gearbox change

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Formula 1 rookie Lance Stroll has been forced into a gearbox change ahead of qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix following a crash in final practice at Albert Park.

Stroll lost the back-end of his Williams FW40 car coming out of Turn 10, hitting the wall and causing damage to the right-hand side and rear of his chassis in the process.

The crash brought out a red flag that ultimately caused FP3 to end early, with Stroll returning to the pit lane on the back of a marshal’s moped.

After bringing the car back to the pit lane, Williams confirmed that it would have to change Stroll’s gearbox ahead of qualifying, which will trigger a five-place grid penalty for the Canadian.

Stroll’s crash comes after a mixed pre-season program that saw him suffer three shunts in the opening week in Barcelona, raising concerns about his readiness for F1.

Stroll bounced back in the second week of running, racking up plenty of mileage in Williams’ 2017 car to back up his extensive private test program in the team’s 2014-spec F1 car last year.

At just 18 years old, Stroll is set to become the second-youngest F1 driver on Sunday, trailing only Red Bull’s Max Verstappen whose first start came at the age of 17 in 2015.