Dale Earnhardt Jr., IndyCar’s Ed Carpenter take #IceBucketChallenge (VIDEO)

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As the summer has gone on, the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise ALS awareness has spread across the United States – and has also helped raise more than $4 million toward research (July 29 to August 12) for the ALS Association and its 38 chapters.

In case you don’t know about the Challenge, it goes like this: Participants are dared to have a bucket of ice water dumped on them and post a video of it on social media, or make a donation toward ALS research. They then nominate family and friends to do the same.

More commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) impacts approximately 30,000 Americans. It affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, and progressively robs those afflicted of voluntary muscle movement and their abilities to eat, speak, walk, and eventually breathe.

The act of dumping a bucket of ice water on someone will not itself bring about a cure for this hideous disease. But the additional awareness and funding generated by the Challenge can do a lot of good.

People from all walks of life have taken part in the Challenge, and over the last couple of days, two big names in the racing world – NASCAR superstar Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Verizon IndyCar Series driver/owner Ed Carpenter – have followed suit.

After being challenged by Washington Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garcon and linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, Earnhardt got the bath today at Michigan International Speedway. Hendrick Motorsports posted a clip of it earlier this afternoon.

Following his dousing, Earnhardt promptly challenged Hendrick teammate Jimmie Johnson, his own crew chief Steve Letarte, and Redskins owner Daniel Snyder.

As of now, Letarte and Snyder haven’t responded but Johnson tweeted that he’d “skip the ice to write a big check”:

Junior’s response?

Carpenter was also challenged by an NFL player – in this case, Indianapolis Colts long snapper Matt Overton.

And so, yesterday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Carpenter got soaked with help from fellow IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe, who wore one of IMS’ infamous “yellow shirts” for the occasion:

Carpenter then challenged Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward.

For more information about ALS and on what you can do to help, visit the ALS Association’s website at ALSA.org.

NHRA: John Force-like motor explosions get contagious during Sunday’s Gatornationals

Photo and video courtesy NHRA
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John Force is rubbing off on others – but probably not the way they or he would like.

The 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion has had spectacular motor explosions in each of the first three races of the new NHRA season, including during Friday’s qualifying for this weekend’s Gatornationals.

During Sunday’s quarterfinals of eliminations, Force’s teammate (and son-in-law and president of John Force Racing) Robert Hight squared off with fellow Funny Car driver Matt Hagan.

As the duo closed in on the finish line, both cars experienced spectacular motor explosions of their own – virtually side-by-side and nearly at the same time.

Hight’s car was the first to explode, tossing its body high in the air. A split-second later, Hagan’s car exploded, also sending the body flying.

Check out the NHRA video:

Hight wound up losing the race.

Hagan, meanwhile, and his crack pit crew rolled their backup car off the hauler, put in a new motor and went on to race through the semifinals and into the finals, losing to race winner “Fast Jack” Beckman.

“We had a pretty great race day, to be honest,” Hagan said. “I’ve never been to the finals in Gainesville.

“We obviously had a huge blow up in the second round, then to watch these guys pull the other car back out and put it together in the amount of time they had, then turn a win light on against Capps (Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps in the semifinals), then to be able to go to a final, it was huge and it speaks for itself.”

As for Hight, here’s his take on what happened with the motor explosion:

“I couldn’t see (Hagan) over there and it wasn’t like it was hazing the tires or anything else. As it turns out it wasn’t spinning at all. It kicked two rods out when it blacked the bearings in the crank then it hit the valves and blew up.

“The thing gave me no indication at all before that. What really scared me was once I got it under control and I look over and see his body is off his car. I am thinking ‘Oh man, he got gathered up in me.’ Then I stood up and looked and his injector was sideways so I realized he had an explosion as well. We are just lucky we didn’t get into each other.”

As for the guy who has had so much trouble in the motor department, John Force, he lost in the first round of Sunday’s eliminations to daughter Courtney Force.

John Force planned on shutting the motor off on his car at around the 700-foot mark of the 1,000-foot dragstrip, not wanting to risk another motor explosion – even though it meant a likely loss to his daughter.

Now John Force and his entire four-car team, including Courtney Force, Robert Hight and daughter and Top Fuel driver Brittany Force, will be off for extensive testing to try and determine what’s been causing the motor explosions.

“We have to evaluate it and go test,” Force said. “We’ll figure it out.”

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