Del Worsham is the provisional No. 1 qualifier after Friday's first of two days of qualifying at Norwalk, Ohio. (Photo courtesy NHRA)

Kalitta (TF), Worsham (FC), Enders-Stevens (PS), Krawiec (PSM) provisional No. 1 NHRA qualifiers in Norwalk

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Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel), Del Worsham (Funny Car), Erica Enders-Stevens (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are the provisional No. 1 qualifiers after Friday’s first of two days of qualifying at the Summit Racing Equipment Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio.

Kalitta covered the 1,000-foot drag strip with a top elapsed time of 3.771 seconds at 326.16 mph. If that time holds up during Saturday’s second round of qualifying in preparation for Sunday’s final eliminations, it would be the 42nd No. 1 qualifying spot of Kalitta’s career.

He’s also seeking his first career win at Norwalk, between Toledo and Cleveland, and to reach his seventh final round in the first 13 races of the 2014 season.

“Tomorrow (Saturday) will be a lot like today so it’ll be interesting to see if we can hold the lead,” Kalitta said in a NHRA media release. “I’m incredibly lucky to have this opportunity with what we have going on right now. I’m just trying to make the best of it. I’m looking forward to tomorrow and seeing what we can do.”

Steve Torrence was second-quickest in Top Fuel (3.799 seconds at 324.67 mph), while Kalitta’s teammate, J.R. Todd, was third-quickest (3.807 seconds at 319.22 mph).

In Funny Car, Worsham set a Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park track record of an even 4.000 seconds (at 317.34 mph). Worsham just barely missed becoming the 11th driver in NHRA Funny Car history to slip below the four-second mark.

“We were definitely trying to make a three-second run,” Worsham said. “We changed cars for the third time in three races so we’re pretty excited to make a good run. We’ll just have to play a little harder tomorrow.”

Tommy Johnson Jr. continued his recent hot streak, qualifying No. 2 (4.030 seconds at 319.67 mph), followed by 16-time national champion John Force (4.034 at 319.45 mph).

In Pro Stock, Enders-Stevens looks to extend her already huge lead in the points standings. She had a field-best of 6.523 seconds at 212.63 mph, both new track records.

Enders is looking for her 12th top-three qualifying position (and second No. 1) in the first 13 races of the season.

“I’m really proud of my team,” Enders-Stevens said. “We’ve worked really hard. I couldn’t be more proud to throw up the numbers that we did today. We were hoping for better numbers this evening but that starting line is a little challenging. I feel confident this weekend.”

Shane Gray was second-quickest in Pro Stock (6.527 seconds at 211.69 mph), followed by Allen Johnson (6.532 at 211.89).

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Krawiec also set a track record for elapsed time (6.844 seconds) at 195.05 mph.

“To come here and have low e.t. and a great motorcycle under me, I couldn’t ask for any more,” Krawiec said. “You never really know what’s going to happen. I’m definitely looking forward to it.”

Second-fastest was Jerry Savoie (6.865 seconds at 195.48), followed by John Hall (6.882 at 194.38). Series points leader Andrew Hines was No. 4 qualifier (6.913 seconds at 192.33 mph).

The final two qualifying sessions will take place Saturday afternoon (4:45 pm ET) and evening (7:15 pm ET). Sunday’s final eliminations begin at 11 am ET.


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Here’s Friday’s first two of four rounds of qualifying for the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio:

Top Fuel — 1. Doug Kalitta, 3.771 seconds, 326.48 mph; 2. Steve Torrence, 3.799, 324.67; 3. J.R. Todd, 3.807, 319.22; 4. Shawn Langdon, 3.809, 322.88; 5. Spencer Massey, 3.813, 321.81; 6. Tony Schumacher, 3.839, 322.65; 7. Antron Brown, 3.840, 311.56; 8. Larry Dixon, 3.844, 321.88; 9. Khalid alBalooshi, 3.845, 316.82; 10. Bob Vandergriff, 3.849, 320.43; 11. Brittany Force, 3.860, 322.04; 12. Troy Buff, 3.873, 307.72.  Not Qualified: 13. Leah Pritchett, 3.888, 309.42; 14. Pat Dakin, 3.924, 308.00; 15. Richie Crampton, 3.929, 269.73; 16. Clay Millican, 3.953, 315.42; 17. Cory McClenathan, 4.164, 213.81; 18. Chris Karamesines, 4.183, 230.02; 19. Terry McMillen, 4.655, 167.34.

Funny Car — 1. Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 4.000, 317.34; 2. Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger, 4.030, 319.67; 3. John Force, Ford Mustang, 4.034, 319.45; 4. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.044, 318.69; 5. Chad Head, Camry, 4.052, 318.02; 6. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.064, 317.94; 7. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.065, 315.12; 8. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.077, 308.21; 9. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.083, 310.48; 10. Robert Hight, Mustang, 4.096, 310.34; 11. Courtney Force, Mustang, 4.106, 321.42; 12. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.127, 309.91.  Not Qualified: 13. Tim Wilkerson, 4.140, 307.65; 14. Tony Pedregon, 4.153, 303.57; 15. Terry Haddock, 4.329, 275.51; 16. Jeff Diehl, 4.340, 260.71; 17. Jeff Arend, 4.704, 181.15.

Pro Stock — 1. Erica Enders-Stevens, Chevy Camaro, 6.523, 212.63; 2. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.527, 211.69; 3. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.532, 211.89; 4. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.546, 211.53; 5. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.551, 211.69; 6. Jeg Coughlin, Dart, 6.554, 212.03; 7. Dave Connolly, Camaro, 6.557, 210.67; 8. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.564, 211.13; 9. Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 6.566, 211.69; 10. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.574, 210.90; 11. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.576, 211.39; 12. Shane Tucker, Camaro, 6.609, 211.56.  Not Qualified: 13. Larry Morgan, 6.613, 210.77; 14. V. Gaines, 6.628, 190.40; 15. John Gaydosh Jr, 6.684, 207.05; 16. Mark Hogan, 18.603, 35.35; 17. Travis Mazza, 89.000, no speed.

Pro Stock Motorcycle — 1. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.844, 195.05; 2. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.865, 195.48; 3. John Hall, Buell, 6.882, 194.38; 4. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.913, 192.49; 5. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.919, 196.16; 6. Matt Smith, Buell, 6.928, 193.27; 7. Shawn Gann, Buell, 6.933, 192.41; 8. Angie Smith, Buell, 6.933, 191.57; 9. Michael Ray, Buell, 6.943, 190.65; 10. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.964, 192.08; 11. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 6.987, 191.76; 12. Chaz Kennedy, Buell, 6.989, 188.38.  Not Qualified: 13. Jim Underdahl, 7.009, 192.93; 14. Justin Finley, 7.012, 192.14; 15. Joe DeSantis, 7.022, 188.78; 16. Elvira Karlsson, 7.072, 183.37; 17. Adam Arana, 7.354, 148.12; 18. Wendell Daniels, 8.211, 119.70; 19. Hector Arana Jr, 13.922, 55.34.

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IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Simon Pagenaud

Simon Pagenaud
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MotorSportsTalk continues its run through the Verizon IndyCar Series field, driver-by-driver, with a look at Simon Pagenaud’s first season at Team Penske.

Simon Pagenaud, No. 22 Team Penske Chevrolet

  • 2014: 5th Place, 2 Wins, 1 Pole, 3 Podiums, 8 Top-5, 12 Top-10, 59 Laps Led, 8.6 Avg. Start, 8.8 Avg. Finish
  • 2015: 11th Place, Best Finish 3rd, 1 Pole, 2 Podiums, 4 Top-5, 9 Top-10, 132 Laps Led, 5.2 Avg. Start, 10.6 Avg. Finish

The 2015 season was always going to be a weird one for Simon Pagenaud, in his first season with Team Penske, adapting and adjusting to being with what’s widely regarded as one of the best if not the best teams in the sport. From a career standpoint he needed to move on from Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, where he overachieved for three seasons. And given what became of the Honda aero kit this year, having a Chevrolet at his disposal was always going to be a benefit.

In actuality, Pagenaud didn’t have a bad year, but it was one where the burden of expectation probably hurt his overall stats more than the reality of the situation.

Let’s face facts – he’d finished in the top five in points each of his first three seasons back in IndyCar the last two years, won four races and been in championship contention before. Take all that, apply it to Team Penske and you’d assume wins and title contention would follow, but it didn’t. Still, it was a new team, a fourth team, and that took time to gel.

His qualifying was dynamic, which went against his career form and was markedly improved. His average leapt from 8.6 to 5.2 this year, which was third best in the field. The problem? It trailed two of his three teammates, Will Power and Helio Castroneves, and was only one spot clear of Juan Pablo Montoya.

And then – and there is no easy way to put this – there were his finishes. In 12 of 16 races this season, Pagenaud finished worse than he started. For a driver renowned for making the most of his circumstances on race day, often times things went south when all the marbles, all the points were on the line. Some you could put down to strategy or particularly in the later part of the year, sampling different setups to aid his title-contending teammates.

There were highlights, in particular his speed at the three 500-mile races. Pagenaud was probably the quickest of the four Penske entries at Indianapolis, scored the pole in Fontana and also starred in Pocono, but he didn’t have results to back it up in any of the three. Contact at Indy halted what was certainly winning potential. He also scored a pair of thirds at Detroit race one and Mid-Ohio, although those were cases where he was lucky rather than good.

It was hard to view Pagenaud’s season positively on the whole because you know his potential and ability hasn’t gone missing. But finishing 11th in points when your three teammates end second, third and fifth is definitely a tough pill to swallow, and an early motivator to make the fast Frenchman a top comeback driver in 2016.

Nicky Hayden announces World Superbikes move

ALCANIZ, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 25:  Nicky Hayden of USA and Aspar Team MotoGP rounds the bend during the MotoGP of Spain - Free Practice at Motorland Aragon Circuit on September 25, 2015 in Alcaniz, Spain.  (Photo by Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images)
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2006 MotoGP world champion Nicky Hayden will leave the series at the end of the season ahead of a move into the World Superbike Championship in 2016, it has been announced.

Hayden has raced in MotoGP since 2003 and is currently the only American rider racing in the series, but has struggled to match the form of his early years, scoring just 13 points in 2015.

It had been rumored that Hayden would be walking away from MotoGP at the end of the season for some time, but this has now been confirmed in a statement from WorldSBK.

Hayden will join Honda’s factory team in the rival series, racing alongside Michael van der Mark. The 34-year-old will bid to become the first rider to win both MotoGP and WorldSBK titles.

“Well, my next stop is Superbike with Honda! I’m very excited, obviously, to stick with Honda; it’s where I’ve had the most success in my career,” Hayden said.

“World Superbikes is a championship that I followed closely as a kid when a lot of American riders were fighting at the front. It just seems like the right time and the right team to go with.

“I know I’ve got a lot to learn and it’s going to be a big challenge, but also I’m very motivated to start and learn what I can.

“I’d like to say thanks to everyone who has supported me through my MotoGP career. We had a good run but now it’s time to move on and try something different.”

Hayden’s departure acts as another blow to MotoGP’s profile in the United States, which has seen a downturn in recent years.

The exit of Ben Spies from Yamaha in 2013 was followed by the loss of the race at Laguna Seca the same year, while last month, it was confirmed that Indianapolis would not be returning to the calendar in 2016, leaving just one US round on the schedule.