(Photo courtesy:  TommyJohnsonJr.com)

Tommy Johnson Jr. 10th Funny Car driver in NHRA history to make sub-four second run, qualifies No. 1 at Joliet

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Tommy Johnson Jr. became the 10th driver in NHRA Funny Car history to record a sub-four second run in Saturday’s final two rounds of qualifying for the O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Illinois.

With his 3.999 second pass at 317.19 mph, Johnson also secured the No. 1 qualifying position for Sunday’s final eliminations (which begin at 11 am CT), joining fellow top qualifiers Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

Johnson, who won two weeks ago at Bristol, Tennessee, will face two-time NHRA Funny Car champ Tony Pedregon in the opening round Sunday.

“The conditions out here were difficult,” Johnson said of his big run and the 10th No. 1 qualifying position of his career, per an NHRA post-race media release. “It’s hot and humid. Personally, I didn’t think we could do it. But the guys were swinging for the fence, they were going for it.”

* In Top Fuel, Kalitta took the top qualifying spot, his fifth of the season and 41st of his career, with a 3.767 second pass at a stout 327.43 mph.

“I think the fans got a good session out of that,” said Kalitta who will face Pat Dakin in Sunday’s first round.

* In Pro Stock, Allen Johnson’s 6.485 second (at 212.79 mph) effort from Friday held up throughout Saturday’s final two qualifying rounds to maintain his No. 1 position.

“Conditions today weren’t as favorable as they were last night; it was a bit warmer and more humid but the track stayed awesome,” said Johnson, who will face Mark Hogan in Sunday’s first round. “Our Mopar crew did a heck of a job and we were No. 1 in three of four runs. We really like racing in these conditions.”

* In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Krawiec’s No. 1 qualifying mark and track record of 6.872 seconds at 194.86 mph held up Saturday, putting him at the top of the heap heading into Sunday’s first round meeting with L.E. Tonglet.

“Today it was a little hotter and more humid, but the track was great,” Krawiec said of his fourth No. 1 qualifying position in as many races and 18th of his career. “My hat’s off to NHRA and the Route 66 Raceway crew. They did a great job with the racing surface.”


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Here’s the first-round lineup for Sunday’s final eliminations in the O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Illinois:


Top Fuel — 1. Doug Kalitta, 3.767 seconds, 327.43 mph  vs. 16. Pat Dakin, 3.914, 314.31; 2. Tony Schumacher, 3.775, 325.61  vs. 15. Clay Millican, 3.887, 316.38; 3. Antron Brown, 3.783, 319.75  vs. 14. Billy Torrence, 3.875, 317.64; 4. Brittany Force, 3.791, 324.51  vs. 13. Terry McMillen, 3.868, 321.50; 5. Steve Torrence, 3.791, 322.65  vs. 12. Shawn Langdon, 3.865, 315.93; 6. Richie Crampton, 3.792, 324.20  vs. 11. T.J. Zizzo, 3.852, 318.39; 7. Spencer Massey, 3.793, 324.83  vs. 10. Bob Vandergriff, 3.840, 316.01; 8. Khalid alBalooshi, 3.833, 316.60  vs. 9. J.R. Todd, 3.837, 300.86.

Did Not Qualify: 17. Chris Karamesines, 3.992, 300.53; 18. Luigi Novelli, 5.213, 134.18; 19. Tim Cullinan, 11.134, 133.78.


Funny Car — 1. Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger, 3.999, 318.32  vs. 16. Tony Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 4.216, 289.76; 2. Del Worsham, Camry, 4.023, 315.19  vs. 15. Bob Bode, Camry, 4.165, 301.07; 3. Robert Hight, Ford Mustang, 4.026, 317.64  vs. 14. Jeff Arend, Charger, 4.146, 307.23; 4. John Force, Mustang, 4.036, 316.90  vs. 13. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.142, 307.23; 5. Courtney Force, Mustang, 4.038, 322.50  vs. 12. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.139, 303.16; 6. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.040, 312.50  vs. 11. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.101, 308.35; 7. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.048, 315.64  vs. 10. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.095, 311.92; 8. Chad Head, Camry, 4.067, 315.05  vs. 9. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.093, 303.50.

Did Not Qualify: 17. Brian Stewart, 4.361, 237.50; 18. Dale Creasy Jr., 4.439, 231.79; 19. Justin Schriefer, 5.792, 157.15.


Pro Stock — 1. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.574, 209.82  vs. 16. Mark Hogan, Pontiac GXP, 6.768, 205.32; 2. Erica Enders-Stevens, Chevy Camaro, 6.594, 209.65  vs. 15. Dave River, Chevy Cobalt, 6.766, 204.17; 3. Jeg Coughlin, Dart, 6.604, 209.30  vs. 14. Larry Morgan, Ford Mustang, 6.695, 207.27; 4. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.604, 209.14  vs. 13. Mark Martino, GXP, 6.657, 207.59; 5. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.605, 209.04  vs. 12. V. Gaines, Dart, 6.642, 209.01; 6. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.610, 208.94  vs. 11. Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 6.637, 208.81; 7. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.611, 208.81  vs. 10. Shane Tucker, Camaro, 6.628, 209.14; 8. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.612, 208.91  vs. 9. Dave Connolly, Camaro, 6.613, 208.62.

Did Not Qualify: 17. Kevin Lawrence, 6.798, 203.55.


Pro Stock Motorcycle — 1. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.872, 194.86  vs. 16. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 7.057, 189.20; 2. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.941, 192.91  vs. 15. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 7.055, 190.19; 3. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 6.943, 193.40  vs. 14. Craig Treble, Buell, 7.051, 190.32; 4. Matt Smith, Buell, 6.943, 192.11  vs. 13. Chaz Kennedy, Buell, 7.021, 189.26; 5. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.959, 192.99  vs. 12. Michael Ray, Buell, 7.011, 189.07; 6. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.959, 192.36  vs. 11. Shawn Gann, Buell, 7.010, 191.38; 7. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.983, 191.43  vs. 10. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 7.006, 191.62; 8. John Hall, Buell, 6.991, 190.67  vs. 9. Angie Smith, Buell, 7.005, 191.10.

Did Not Qualify: 17. Adam Arana, 7.081, 191.48; 18. Justin Finley, 7.093, 189.47; 19. Mike Berry, 7.177, 184.32; 20. Joe DeSantis, 7.178, 186.36; 21. Elvira Karlsson, 7.204, 183.07; 22. Redell Harris, 7.249, 189.95.

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Raikkonen: No secret to qualifying charge in Abu Dhabi

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 28:  Kimi Raikkonen of Finland and Ferrari drives during final practice for the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit on November 28, 2015 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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Kimi Raikkonen says that there was no secret behind his late charge to third place in qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but remains realistic about his chances in Sunday’s race.

After seeing teammate Sebastian Vettel drop out in Q1, Raikkonen led Ferrari’s charge at the Yas Marina Circuit by finishing third behind the Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.

Raikkonen managed to edge out Force India driver Sergio Perez for P3 with his final lap in Q3, but the Finn said that there was no secret to his late charge.

“No real secret,” Raikkonen said. “Obviously the car has been handling pretty well all weekend.

“The laps haven’t been ideal many times. Even the first run, it was OK the lap, but I knew there was quite a lot of room to improve so I just tried to make one a bit better lap and it was enough.

“Obviously still a bit of a way off from what these guys can do but we did our best today.

“The Mercedes have been very quick today and yesterday, in the lap times they are a bit faster than us, but the race is tomorrow, so let’s see.

“I did my maximum today. Tomorrow is another day, we can only do our best and see where we’ll end up. We’ll try to make a good start and then see how it pans out, going from there and making the right decisions.”

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 7am ET on Sunday.

Porsche confirms unchanged line-up for 2016 WEC season

Porsche 919 Hybrid, Porsche Team: Romain Dumas, Neel Jani, Marc Lieb
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Following Audi’s press conference earlier today confirming its plans for the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship season, Porsche has followed suit by announcing it will be retaining all six of its existing LMP1 drivers for the new campaign.

Porsche enjoyed immense success in 2015 as Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard took the drivers’ championship in dramatic fashion at the 6 Hours of Bahrain, adding to the manufacturers’ title the marque had won three weeks earlier in Shanghai.

The 919 Hybrid LMP1 car took pole position for every race in 2015, and also won Porsche’s first 24 Hours of Le Mans since 1998 with the third entry of Nico Hulkenberg, Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber.

However, Porsche confirmed that it will be only racing with its two regular WEC entries at Le Mans next June, reflecting Audi’s move to help cut costs.

Porsche will once again run the same two line-ups, with Webber, Hartley and Bernhard set to defend their championship together with the no. 1 car. Marc Lieb, Neel Jani and Romain Dumas will team up for a third successive year in the second 919 Hybrid.

“The advice of ‘never change a winning team’ is spot on,” LMP1 vice-president Fritz Enzinger said.

“Both our driver trios didn’t only perform brilliantly on track, but have also been with us since the beginning of the programme and have significantly contributed to the Porsche 919 Hybrid’s development.

“We are very proud of these six top drivers, and very pleased all of them are on board for the 2016 world championship and the Le Mans 24 Hours.”

The decision to not run a third car at Le Mans not only ends Hulkenberg’s already-faint hopes of defending his title, but also will leave Tandy and Bamber looking for drives elsewhere.

It also puts an end to speculation that Juan Pablo Montoya could be set to bid for the Triple Crown and race at Le Mans, having tested with Porsche in Bahrain last week.

GP2: Vandoorne breaks win record, Rossi secures P2 in championship

2015 GP2 Series Round 11.
Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Saturday 28 November 2015.
Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL, ART Grand Prix) 
Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.
ref: Digital Image _SBL9548
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Stoffel Vandoorne claimed a record-breaking 11th GP2 Series victory in Abu Dhabi on Sunday after seeing off challenges from Pierre Gasly and Raffaele Marciello at the Yas Marina Circuit.

Starting second, Vandoorne made a good start but was unable to pass Gasly on the first lap, forcing him to settle down in P2 for the opening stages of the race.

Vandoorne made his move for the lead on lap four, diving down the inside of Gasly at the turn seven hairpin before establishing an advantage over the field.

Gasly dropped down the order as the option tire runners began to lose grip, prompting an early round of pit stops and allowing Raffaele Marciello to hit the front as the lead driver on primes.

Marciello retained this advantage until stopping at the end of lap 26, but emerged from the pits behind Vandoorne. The Italian was just ahead of Mitch Evans, leaving him to battle for second place in the closing stages against the prime-shod Russian Time racer.

Vandoorne was able to ease home at the front to record his seventh win of the year and 11th in GP2, beating Pastor Maldonado’s existing record of ten to become the most successful driver in the history of the series.

Marciello fended off Evans to finish second by less than one second, while American driver Alexander Rossi closely followed them home in fourth.

The result ensures that Rossi will finish the year as GP2’s vice-champion behind Vandoorne in the final standings.

Tomorrow’s sprint race will see Alex Lynn start from pole position for DAMS after finishing eighth on Saturday. Rio Haryanto will start from P2 by virtue of his seventh-place finish, with Jordan King and Gasly filling the second row of the grid.

New Audi R18 e-tron quattro unveiled; two cars only for Le Mans

Photo: Audi
Photo: Audi
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Audi Sport has revealed its new Audi R18 e-tron quattro, the latest generation of diesel-powered TDI which now will run with a 6 mJ battery hybrid.

The new LMP1 car was unveiled at the annual Audi Sport Finale in Munich, among several other key announcements of note.

Audi will retain its same driver lineup, the lead trio of Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler in one car with Lucas di Grassi, Loic Duval and Oliver Jarvis back as well. After the successive retirements of Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish and Dindo Capello the last three years, Audi now has the same lineup for consecutive years, for the first time in years.

However, and while the third car trio of Filipe Albuquerque, Marco Bonanomi and Rene Rast was on stage with the six others, Audi confirmed both it and sister brand Porsche will run two cars only at next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, rather than three as each did this year.

It was a jointly agreed upon decision; both operate under the VW Group parent company. It effectively rules out the same trio of Nick Tandy, Earl Bamber and Nico Hulkenberg repeating as a trio, although Porsche will announce the program for its own drivers next month.

“We stay with the TDI, 50 percent more hybrid power,” said Chris Reinke, Head of Audi LMP1. “Battery storage and high focus on aero as you can see. We are on our way to challenge for WEC and Le Mans wins.”

Here’s a few photos from the reveal, below: