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On today’s NASCAR AMERICA, at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN:

Rick Allen and Kyle Petty will be in-studio.

  • Kelli Stavast travels to the Hendrick Motorsports shop in Concord, NC, to speak with Greg Ives, who was named yesterday as the replacement for Steve Letarte as crew chief for Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the #88 car, starting next season. Ives is currently crew chief for Chase Elliott, who is leading this season’s Nationwide Series
  • Current Dale Jr. crew chief, Steve Letarte, calls in from Pocono Raceway to discuss the hiring of his replacement Greg Ives. He’ll explain what input he had in the decision, the qualities he liked in Ives and how he expects Ives and Jr. to get along
  • Natalie Sather caught up with Darrell Wallace Jr. yesterday at the Kyle Busch Motorsports shop in Mooresville, NC, to talk about his Eldora win last Wednesday, the third Trucks Series win of his career.
  • Stavast also caught up with Kevin Harvick on Monday to discuss his season so far and he looks ahead to this weekend’s race in Pocono.
  • The Top-5 finishes in Pocono Raceway history

NHRA Gatornationals: John Force has another spectacular motor explosion

Photo courtesy NHRA
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Legendary NHRA Funny Car driver John Force endured yet another spectacular motor explosion – his third in the NHRA’s first three national event races – during Friday’s qualifying at the Amalie Motor Oil Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida.

It’s the kind of consistency the 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ could do without.

The 68-year-old Force came to Gainesville hoping to break the jinx that saw him endure explosions in both the season-opening Winternationals and the second race of the season in Phoenix.

Both motor explosions sent Force to the hospital for examination before he returned to the race track.

Friday, even though the motor in his Chevrolet Camaro blew up again (in the second round of qualifying), at least this time, Force didn’t wind up in the hospital.

He did have his right hand bandaged from a cut suffered in the explosion, but did not have to go to the hospital this time.

He even joked about not having to add yet another ambulance bill to the nearest Gainesville hospital.

But the explosion still proved costly.

“That was another body and that hurts the financial (bottomline),” Force said. “I was out $500,000 to $600,000, and now we are probably out $800,000, going on a million. In drag racing, you have to be tough.”

He ended the day qualifying 14th, not a very comfortable position with two more rounds of qualifying set for Saturday.

Force continues to be mystified why the motors keep exploding.

“I really thought we had it, I thought we were there,” Force said. “In the first round we drove it 500 feet and shut it off. It looked great. We ran it again that run and I was only going to drive it 800 feet even if we didn’t make The Show.”

Force will attempt to improve his qualifying spot during Saturday’s final two rounds to make Sunday’s eliminations.

Follow @JerryBonkowski