John Force earns 141st career Funny Car win at Seattle; Doug Kalitta (TF) and Jason Line (PS) also victorious

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It was a classic old school battle as 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion John Force held off long-time friend and former teammate Gary Densham to win in Sunday’s final round of the O’Reilly Auto Parts Northwest Nationals in Kent, Wash.

Force earned a record 141st victory of his career, covering the 1,000-foot drag strip at Pacific Raceways in a winning time of 4.173 seconds at 302.48 mph. Densham lost traction early in his run and settled for a 5.808 second effort at 120.44 mph.

It was Force’s third win of the season and his fourth straight final round appearance in the last four races, ultimately winning two of those.

What’s more, John Force Racing wound up taking all three of the races on the sport’s “Western Swing” with Robert Hight winning at Denver, Courtney Force (John’s daughter) winning last week at Sonoma and John Force winning Sunday in suburban Seattle.

“I want to win, that is what it is all about,” Force said. “But we were having so much fun down there in the staging lanes. I know you are supposed to be serious because it is race day but you are racing a friend.

“He (Densham) comes up here on a budget. Look how good he does. Steps up and races with these guys after only being out a few times all year and gets in the finals. I always say ‘If I lose to my teammates I didn’t lose,’ and if I had lost to Gary Densham I would not have lost.”

In Top Fuel, points leader Doug Kalitta (3.844 seconds at 318.84 mph) earned his second win of the season and the 35th of his career, defeating red-hot Antron Brown (3.887, 311.70 mph) in the finals.

With the win, Kalitta is now tied for fifth on the NHRA all-time Top Fuel wins list with the legendary “Big Daddy” Don Garlits.

“The competition out here is tough; it’s really something to even make it to a final,” said Kalitta, who also has six runner-up finishes thus far in 2014. “We’ve been banging on the door trying to get another win.

“Beating Antron for this one was big for us. We’ve just been trying to win rounds but Antron’s been winning a lot, too. He’s got five wins this year, so I’m glad we were able to get another one here today. We’ve got some momentum going into the next few races.”

No. 1 qualifier Tony Schumacher lost to Brown, his teammate, in the semifinals, but still managed to become the fourth Top Fuel driver thus far to clinch a berth in the upcoming NHRA Countdown to the Championship.

In Pro Stock, Jason Line (6.611 seconds at 210.67 mph) edged teammate Greg Anderson (6.608 seconds at 201.54 mph) to earn his third win of 2014.

Even with the loss, Anderson, who missed the first five races of this season recovering from off-season open heart surgery, moved into the top 10 and can still make the Countdown to the Championship between now and the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis later this month.

“It was a very good day for KB Racing,” Line said. “We got both cars to the final and Greg got in the top 10. He’s not going to look back from there. He’s got a great car.

“I was good when I needed to be today. The car wasn’t great, but it was good enough. I guess the racing gods owed me one today. It feels good to get another win. I’ve never won three races in a row though, so we’ll see what happens at Brainerd (Minnesota, Aug. 14-17).”

Pro Stock drivers Shane Gray and Vincent Nobile also earned positions in the Countdown during the event.

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

 

FINAL FINISHING ORDER:

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

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

PRO STOCK: 1. Jason Line; 2. Greg Anderson; 3. Shane Gray; 4. Allen Johnson; 5. Dave Connolly; 6. Jonathan Gray; 7. V. Gaines; 8. Jeg Coughlin; 9. Chris McGaha; 10. Deric Kramer; 11. Matt Hartford; 12. Larry Morgan; 13. Vincent Nobile; 14. Mark Wolfe; 15. Travis Mazza.

 

 

FINAL RESULTS

Top Fuel — Doug Kalitta, 3.844 seconds, 318.84 mph def. Antron Brown, 3.887 seconds, 311.70 mph.

Funny Car — John Force, Ford Mustang, 4.173, 302.48 def. Gary Densham, Chevy Impala, 5.808, 120.44.

Pro Stock — Jason Line, Chevy Camaro, 6.611, 210.67 def. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.608, 210.54.

 

FINAL ROUND-BY-ROUND RESULTS

TOP FUEL:

ROUND ONE — Khalid alBalooshi, 3.809, 319.22 def. Brittany Force, 3.841, 314.31; Richie Crampton, 3.843, 317.27 def. Terry McMillen, 3.898, 316.75; Shawn Langdon, 3.787, 317.12 def. Clay Millican, 3.870, 309.77; Tony Schumacher, 3.828, 319.37 def. Jenna Haddock, 13.039, 76.94; Doug Kalitta, 3.794, 320.36 def. Mike Salinas, 4.114, 293.41; Antron Brown, 3.828, 317.79 def. Bob Vandergriff, foul; Troy Buff, 3.816, 312.78 def. Spencer Massey, 3.880, 292.39; Steve Torrence, 3.932, 310.55 def. J.R. Todd, 4.140, 211.36;

QUARTERFINALS — Brown, 3.866, 309.77 def. Crampton, 10.822, 70.61; Schumacher, 3.840, 313.88 def. Torrence, 3.909, 310.70; Kalitta, 3.864, 314.09 def. Buff, 3.996, 294.69; Langdon, 3.983, 240.89 def. alBalooshi, 3.997, 299.86;

SEMIFINALS — Kalitta, 4.032, 268.17 def. Langdon, 4.112, 262.39; Brown, 3.883, 312.13 def. Schumacher, 3.944, 295.66;

FINAL — Kalitta, 3.844, 318.84 def. Brown, 3.887, 311.70.

FUNNY CAR:

ROUND ONE — John Force, Ford Mustang, 4.102, 307.58 def. Jeff Diehl, Toyota Solara, 4.354, 282.36; Gary Densham, Chevy Impala, 4.314, 286.86 def. Courtney Force, Mustang, 6.564, 98.66; Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 4.109, 306.26 def. Terry Haddock, Impala, 4.583, 209.88; Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Camry, 4.140, 300.40 def. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 4.663, 171.23; Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.176, 295.59 def. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.164, 302.75; Robert Hight, Mustang, 4.112, 305.98 def. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.918, 161.23; Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.134, 302.75 def. Del Worsham, Camry, 4.457, 219.44; Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.109, 304.05 def. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.171, 297.02;

QUARTERFINALS — DeJoria, 4.202, 293.22 def. Beckman, 4.385, 230.45; J. Force, 4.161, 302.48 def. C. Pedregon, 4.184, 296.37; Hagan, 4.241, 278.98 def. Hight, 4.287, 263.20; Densham, 4.184, 278.46 def. Wilkerson, 4.228, 294.69;

SEMIFINALS — Densham, 4.236, 288.89 def. Hagan, 4.285, 283.67; J. Force, 4.301, 258.42 def. DeJoria, 4.252, 277.72;

FINAL — J. Force, 4.173, 302.48 def. Densham, 5.808, 120.44.

PRO STOCK:

ROUND ONE — Dave Connolly, Chevy Camaro, 6.560, 210.73 def. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.666, 209.26; Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 6.578, 210.83 def. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.605, 210.08; V. Gaines, Dodge Dart, 6.581, 210.93 def. Matt Hartford, Dodge Avenger, 6.622, 209.65; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.556, 211.63 def. Deric Kramer, Avenger, foul; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.555, 211.16 def. Mark Wolfe, Ford Mustang, 6.810, 205.94; Allen Johnson, Dart, 6.546, 211.30 was unopposed; Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.544, 211.43 def. Travis Mazza, Mustang, 7.543, 133.88; Jeg Coughlin, Dart, 6.565, 210.67 def. Larry Morgan, Mustang, 6.646, 208.17;

QUARTERFINALS — Anderson, 6.571, 211.30 def. Coughlin, 12.185, 54.52; Line, 6.579, 210.73 def. Gaines, 6.593, 210.77; Johnson, 6.569, 210.87 def. Connolly, 6.589, 210.28; S. Gray, 6.574, 210.87 def. J. Gray, 6.591, 210.24;

SEMIFINALS — Line, 6.606, 210.24 def. S. Gray, 6.625, 210.05; Anderson, 6.586, 210.90 def. Johnson, 16.159, 51.08;

FINAL — Line, 6.611, 210.67 def. Anderson, 6.608, 210.54.

 

UPDATED POINTS STANDINGS (* means have qualified for Countdown to the Championship)

Top Fuel: 1. Doug Kalitta, 1,345*; 2. Antron Brown, 1,269*; 3. Shawn Langdon, 1,146*; 4. Tony Schumacher, 999*; 5. Steve Torrence, 920; 6. Spencer Massey, 895; 7. Brittany Force, 856; 8. Khalid alBalooshi, 855; 9. Richie Crampton, 808; 10. J.R. Todd, 774.

Funny Car: 1. Robert Hight, 1,271*; 2. John Force, 1,224*; 3. Ron Capps, 989; 4. Courtney Force, 980; 5. Tommy Johnson Jr., 975; 6. Alexis DeJoria, 961; 7. Matt Hagan, 949; 8. Cruz Pedregon, 894; 9. Del Worsham, 848; 10. Tim Wilkerson, 815.

Pro Stock: 1. Erica Enders-Stevens, 1,229*; 2. Allen Johnson, 1,197*; 3. Jason Line, 1,192*; 4. Jeg Coughlin, 1,128*; 5. Dave Connolly, 1,075*; 6. Shane Gray, 1,015*; 7. Vincent Nobile, 959*; 8. V. Gaines, 742; 9. Chris McGaha, 718; 10. Greg Anderson, 647.

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Road America weekend, Thursday notes

Brett Hundley with Will Power and Mario Andretti. Photo: IndyCar
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ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – It’s a busy day of testing, practice and qualifying for all the series not named the Verizon IndyCar Series on Thursday at the KOHLER Grand Prix weekend.

IndyCar sessions begin on Friday and as such there wasn’t meant to be as much to report on that end… until late Thursday afternoon when Schmidt Peterson Motorsports confirmed Mikhail Aleshin’s temporary absence and Robert Wickens to fill in.

Meanwhile with Esteban Gutierrez having been confirmed for the rest of the season at Dale Coyne Racing, it’s anticipated he will have his first oval test next week at Iowa Speedway, to have his first running on an oval ahead of the July 9 Iowa Corn 300.

Here’s a couple other IndyCar notes…

DIXON’S SURPRISE TO A YOUNG FAN

Advance Auto Parts IndyCar Radio Network reporter Jake Query, who will also be hosting this weekend’s Indy Lights coverage from Road America on NBCSN, found a fan letter from a young girl named Lucy addressed to INDYCAR after Scott Dixon’s wild ride at the Indianapolis 500. Lucy proceeded to thank INDYCAR for its safety efforts in keeping Dixon intact.

Well, between the efforts of Query and the IndyCar PR staff, a meeting between the two was arranged. You can see the video of that, below.

PACKERS QB TAKES A RIDE WITH MARIO

Not that Packers QB though.

Green Bay Packers backup quarterback Brett Hundley had a ride today with Mario Andretti in Honda’s Fastest Seat in Sports, the two-seat IndyCar. He posted on it below.

Elsewhere, here is a bit more from the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires and Pirelli World Challenge ranks.

MRTI

  • First practice is in the books for USF2000 and rather than Oliver Askew being on top for Cape Motorsports, it was actually the Pabst Racing team that went 1-2-3 with Dutchman Rinus VeeKay ahead of Guyana driver Calvin Ming and Brazilian Lucas Kohl. Not bad for Augie Pabst’s Oconomowoc, Wis.-based team. Askew was fourth, and David Malukas was an impressive fifth. Full results are here.
  • In first qualifying for Pro Mazda, Juncos Racing’s Victor Franzoni took the pole with a best time of 2:06.5835, ahead of Cape Motorsports’ Anthony Martin at 2:07.9055. Team Pelfrey’s trio of Carlos Cunha, TJ Fischer and Nikita Lastochkin completed the top five. Full results are here.
  • Overall, the USF2000 field grows by one from the projected 18 up to 19 with F4 driver Jacob Loomis moving up to Team Pelfrey’s No. 82 Tatuus USF-17 Mazda, filling in for Ayla Agren. Agren’s full-season teammates Robert Megennis and Kaylen Frederick paid tribute to Agren, who is still here this weekend, with tribute cool shirts.
  • Meanwhile the Pro Mazda field dips by two. Neither Phillippe Denes, who was seventh in points heading into the weekend, nor Kevin Davis is here. It leaves the field at 15 cars, including series debutantes Kris Wright (who has tested with JDC Motorsports), Dave Zavelson and Kevin Bury. Zavelson’s car number switches from 4, listed initially, to 2.
  • Max Hanratty, who returns, has a new livery on his No. 6 ArmsUp Motorsports entry.
  • Anthony Martin is confident any issues with his Cape Motorsports Pro Mazda car at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course have been sorted. The Australian proved that point by leading the opening practice session with a best time of 2:13.1661 in mixed conditions. Full times from that are linked here.
  • The reduced USF2000 field sees a couple drivers here who may be back later this year but others who may be done for the year. Agren, out at Team Pelfrey this weekend, is here and working towards a return later this season. Her past teammate at Pelfrey, Luke Gabin, is also here and is unsure whether he’ll be back in action for Exclusive Autosport.
  • Meanwhile Darren Keane, who makes his debut with Newman Wachs Racing in USF2000 this weekend, is expected to return to the team for remaining races. He’ll miss Iowa Speedway but plans to return at Mid-Ohio. Ozz Negri coaches Keane in USF2000; Tom Dyer, another Acura NSX GT3 driver, coaches the Pelfrey USF2000 drivers.

PWC

  • The PWC grid drops by a couple this week with a couple changes in the GT and GTA ranks. Bentley Team Absolute is down to one car with Yufeng Luo not here in his No. 78 Bentley Continental GT3, leaving only Adderly Fong. Fong, however, will miss the Mid-Ohio weekend owing to a schedule clash with the China GT Championship. Pablo Perez Companc, who was also due to race in GTA in the No. 69 Mercedes-AMG GT3, is another no-show this weekend.
  • K-PAX Racing has eclipsed the 100-podium plateau in recent rounds. The team’s three-car lineup resumes this weekend with Alvaro Parente, Bryan Sellers and Mike Hedlund, Parente and Hedlund having just returned from the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
  • Austin Versteeg makes his debut in the GTS class No. 13 ANSA Motorsports KTM X-BOW GT4, a car that’s won this season in the hands of Nico Jamin. Jamin is here this weekend in his Andretti Autosport Indy Lights car.
  • PWC had several test and practice sessions during the day.

Wickens set to substitute for Aleshin until further notice at Road America

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ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Robert Wickens will temporarily fill in for Mikhail Aleshin at this weekend’s KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America.

The Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team released a statement on Thursday afternoon confirming Aleshin’s absence for at least Friday owing to immigration issues, with that potentially set to stretch into the remainder of the weekend if the situation is not resolved.

The statement is below.

Hinchcliffe has also posted a tweet going into the weekend. The two participated in a ride-swap earlier this year where Wickens made his IndyCar test debut at Sebring (recap here) and Hinchcliffe ran in Wickens’ DTM car in Italy after the St. Petersburg opener (recap here).

The two drivers were teammates in A1 Grand Prix about a decade ago; Wickens has race experience at Road America as he finished seventh in a Formula Atlantic race in 2007. Hinchcliffe was 14th in the same race.

Beyond his DTM commitments, Wickens raced in this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona with Starworks Motorsport, and ran 100 laps during the week in a PC class Oreca FLM09 he shared with a handful of others. Conor Daly and Sean Rayhall were among the notables in the other car.

Barrichello: F1 needs ‘a little cuddle’ to rediscover romanticism

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Rubens Barrichello believes that Formula 1 needs “a little cuddle” in order to rediscover some of its romanticism that has been hurt by an influx of pay drivers on-track and a lack of fan engagement off-track.

Barrichello raced in F1 between 1993 and 2011, making a record 322 starts and twice finishing as runner-up in the drivers’ championship.

The Brazilian spent a year in IndyCar before moving into his national Stock Car championship in 2013, where he continues to race, and made his debut at the 24 Hours of Le Mans last weekend.

Barrichello remains a keen observer of F1, and expressed his dismay about the influx of pay drivers to the sport who bring large amounts of financial backing to secure a seat, having lost his drive with Williams at the end of 2011 as a result.

“It was difficult to adjust [to life after F1] because I wasn’t expecting it to be honest with you. And it is the story of Formula 1 nowadays,” Barrichello told reporters in Le Mans last week.

“There are just drivers there that are using their balloon and package of money to get in. This is a little bit less romantic in my opinion. Whenever I lost my place, it was to that.

“t was difficult for the first couple of days. I ended up signing for IndyCar and it was a good decision. I should have waited another 10 days to actually talk to all of the teams, because I just went in, boom, I got the first offer and I said OK I’m racing.

“It’s almost like it was the girlfriend just gives you a no and then you just get the next one that gives you a yes. It was that kind of thing.”

Barrichello went on to say that he believes F1 should work harder to be closer to the fans, having seen first hand in Brazilian Stock Cars how much interacting closely with his followers can mean.

“I think Formula 1 needs to be closer to the public. What they made last week with the [Senna] helmet in the middle of the chicane, that’s already closer,” Barrichello said.

“To be honest with you, in Stock Cars, we have an hour of signing before the race. All I hear is: ’Rubens I’ve been after you for 19 years, I could never get close to you’. And I have a chance to hug them, I have a chance to say thank you very much. So this is great.

“And that’s what Formula 1 needs, a little cuddle, people together a little more. Because Formula 1 is almost a ‘no’. ‘Can I have a pass?’ ‘No.’ It’s not that we need the whole paddock full of people, but we need a little more together.”

Barrichello is confident that Ross Brawn, his former team boss and F1’s new sporting managing director, has the ability to bring some of the romanticism back to F1 in the coming years.

“I think Ross has what it takes to bring that back to Formula 1,” Barrichello said.

“I saw a picture on Instagram the other day. It was James Hunt inside of Niki Lauda’s Ferrari, just for fun.

“Somebody would have a fight if that happened nowadays! ‘Get the f**k out of there, rah rah rah!’

“So for sure, it’s less romantic, but Formula 1 is getting back. What I saw from Lewis [Hamilton in Montreal], I really enjoyed.”

F1 Paddock Pass: Azerbaijan Grand Prix (VIDEO)

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Formula 1 returns to Europe this weekend with the renamed Azerbaijan Grand Prix from the Baku City Circuit. The track is the second longest on the schedule and the race is renamed after being called the European Grand Prix last year (all times for the weekend via NBCSN or CNBC here).

Here with the latest from the paddock in Baku is the latest edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, with F1 pit reporter and insider Will Buxton joined by producer Jason Swales.

Swales celebrates his 300th Grand Prix on site this weekend, a major milestone after his 250th was celebrated a couple seasons ago at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas. As you can see below, McLaren Honda’s Fernando Alonso has joined in the festivities.

There’s plenty of fun to recap and plenty of important angles to preview in this week’s show, which you can see below in three parts.