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Ladies Day for NHRA: Brittany Force (Top Fuel), Erica Enders (Pro Stock) among New England winners

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Like father, like daughter.

Brittany Force, daughter of 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion, put herself into the spotlight Sunday, winning the Top Fuel title in the NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway in Epping, New Hampshire.

Also winning the ninth of 24 races on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series national schedule were Matt Hagan in Funny Car, and Erica Enders returned for her first triumph since 2015 in Pro Stock.

TOP FUEL: The younger Force captured her fourth career Top Fuel win and first of 2017 (3.716 seconds at 328.62 mph), upsetting three-time defending and five-time overall Top Fuel champ Antron Brown (3.728 seconds at 327.98 mph).

“We figured things out in Topeka and I felt like we had our team back so we knew our first win would be right around the corner,” Force said in an NHRA media release. “The key to it all is our team sticking together and not giving up, and it definitely paid dividends today.”

Force qualified No. 2 and reached the final round for the fourth time this season, but emerged with just her first win. She is the fifth winner in the first nine races in Top Fuel.

FUNNY CAR: Hagan reached a milestone by earning the 25th career Top Fuel triumph, as well as his third victory of 2017. Hagan (3.897 seconds at 332.59 mph) defeated Courtney Force (3.927 at 332.34) in the final round.

“I knew we had a great racecar today and the conditions were great so we knew we were better than our qualifying times,” Hagan said. “Everything went the way it should have today, and things seemed to fall in place for us.”

Hagan beat both Force’s in Funny Car en route to the triumph, topping John Force in the first round and then Courtney three rounds later.

Having won the first two races of the season in Pomona (California) and Phoenix, Hagan’s win stopped a four-race winning streak by teammate and defending Funny Car champ Ron Capps, who lost to Courtney Force in the semifinal round.

PRO STOCK: Erica Enders is back. The two-time champion in 2014 and 2015 earned her first win since Las Vegas in fall 2015.

Enders (6.534 seconds at 213.16 mph) defeated upstart rookie driver Tanner Gray (6.550 at 212.06).

“Today is a culmination of everything that happened over the past year and a half, since 2016 was tough for us,” said Enders of the importance of today’s victory. “It’s so awesome to have a team that has my back and it is absolutely the reason why I am able to drive the way I drive.”

Enders becomes the seventh different Pro Stock winner in the first nine races of 2017.

The season continues next weekend (June 8-11) at the NHRA Summernationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.

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TOP FUEL: 1.  Brittany Force; 2.  Antron Brown; 3.  Leah Pritchett; 4.  Shawn Langdon; 5.  Scott Palmer; 6.  Troy Coughlin Jr.; 7.  Steve Torrence; 8.  Smax Smith; 9.  Doug Kalitta; 10.  Dom Lagana; 11.  Clay Millican; 12.  Tony Schumacher; 13.  Steven Chrisman; 14.  Shawn Reed; 15.  Terry McMillen.

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

PRO STOCK: 1.  Erica Enders; 2.  Tanner Gray; 3.  Bo Butner; 4.  Drew Skillman; 5.  Jason Line; 6.  Kenny Delco; 7.  Vincent Nobile; 8.  Jeg Coughlin; 9.  Allen Johnson; 10.  John Gaydosh Jr; 11.  Greg Anderson; 12.  Alan Prusiensky; 13.  Val Smeland; 14.  Shane Tucker.

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TOP FUEL: Brittany Force, 3.716 seconds, 328.62 mph  def. Antron Brown, 3.728 seconds, 327.98 mph.

FUNNY CAR: Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 3.897, 332.59  def. Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.927, 332.34.

PRO STOCK: Erica Enders, Chevy Camaro, 6.534, 213.16  def. Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.550, 212.06.

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TOP FUEL: ROUND ONE — Steve Torrence, 3.716, 331.20 def. Doug Kalitta, 3.724, 331.69; Scott Palmer, 3.915, 302.75 def. Terry McMillen, 7.199, 71.24; Antron Brown, 4.579, 170.47 def. Shawn Reed, 5.469, 100.00; Leah Pritchett, 5.232, 127.94 was unopposed; Brittany Force, 3.754, 328.62 def. Steven Chrisman, 4.782, 180.07; Smax Smith, 4.200, 285.17 def. Tony Schumacher, 4.740, 270.86; Shawn Langdon, 3.753, 324.28 def. Dom Lagana, 3.816, 321.04; Troy Coughlin Jr., 3.784, 328.54 def. Clay Millican, 3.831, 312.78;

QUARTERFINALS — Brown, 3.733, 330.07 def. Palmer, 3.801, 322.73; Force, 3.745, 330.88 def. Coughlin Jr., 3.822, 320.66; Langdon, 3.790, 323.35 def. Smith, Broke – No Show; Pritchett, 4.332, 187.50 def. Torrence, 7.071, 95.09;

SEMIFINALS — Force, 3.731, 331.69 def. Langdon, 17.479, 67.72; Brown, 3.707, 331.28 def. Pritchett, 3.735, 326.40;

FINAL — Force, 3.716, 328.62 def. Brown, 3.728, 327.98.

FUNNY CAR: ROUND ONE — Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 5.726, 151.14 def. Jeff Diehl, Toyota Solara, 13.414, 63.19; Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.954, 330.80 def. John Force, Chevy Camaro, 5.117, 152.90; Mike Smith, Dodge Stratus, 4.324, 257.92 def. Robert Hight, Camaro, 4.369, 298.27; Courtney Force, Camaro, 3.914, 331.94 def. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.686, 181.30; Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 4.060, 321.04 def. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.761, 169.04; Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 3.959, 328.22 def. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 8.585, 109.63; Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.572, 253.14 def. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.854, 253.80; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.016, 315.86 def. J.R. Todd, Camry, 4.032, 269.73;

QUARTERFINALS — Hagan, 3.946, 333.00 def. Worsham, 4.078, 318.32; C. Force, 3.952, 322.19 def. Pedregon, 3.993, 319.82; Johnson Jr., 4.003, 320.81 def. Smith, 4.780, 184.09; Capps, 3.959, 326.63 def. Tasca III, 4.416, 204.54;

SEMIFINALS — C. Force, 3.895, 331.77 def. Capps, 3.939, 327.11; Hagan, 3.965, 332.02 def. Johnson Jr., 4.093, 301.74;

FINAL — Hagan, 3.897, 332.59 def. C. Force, 3.927, 332.34.

PRO STOCK: ROUND ONE — Jason Line, Chevy Camaro, 6.544, 211.46 def. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.842, 167.82; Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.586, 210.77 def. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.558, 212.26; Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.717, 210.24 def. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 9.866, 98.80; Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.544, 212.56 def. John Gaydosh Jr, Chevrolet Camaro, Foul – Red Light; Tanner Gray, Camaro, 14.715, 77.37 def. Val Smeland, Camaro, Broke; Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.549, 212.13 def. Alan Prusiensky, Dart, Foul – Red Light; Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.551, 212.90 def. Shane Tucker, Camaro, Broke – No Show;

QUARTERFINALS — Gray, 15.749, 53.46 was unopposed; Butner, 6.532, 211.86 def. Nobile, Broke; Enders, 6.574, 212.09 def. Line, 6.562, 211.53; Skillman, 6.560, 212.49 def. Delco, 7.217, 167.45;

SEMIFINALS — Gray, 6.549, 212.16 def. Skillman, 6.560, 211.96; Enders, 6.553, 212.73 def. Butner, 6.533, 212.33;

FINAL — Enders, 6.534, 213.16 def. Gray, 6.550, 212.06.

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TOP FUEL: 1.  Leah Pritchett, 809; 2.  Antron Brown, 775; 3.  Steve Torrence, 746; 4.  Tony Schumacher, 712; 5.  Doug Kalitta, 571; 6.  Brittany Force, 528; 7.  Clay Millican, 466; 8.  Troy Coughlin Jr., 379; 9.  Terry McMillen, 359; 10.  Scott Palmer, 328.

FUNNY CAR: 1.  Ron Capps, 827; 2.  Matt Hagan, 748; 3.  Courtney Force, 564; 4.  Robert Hight, 561; 5.  John Force, 555; 6.  Jack Beckman, 537; 7.  Tommy Johnson Jr., 533; 8.  J.R. Todd, 413; 9.  Tim Wilkerson, 393; 10.  Del Worsham, 341.

PRO STOCK: 1.  Bo Butner, 750; 2.  Tanner Gray, 715; 3.  Greg Anderson, 682; 4.  Jason Line, 630; 5.  Jeg Coughlin, 627; 6.  Erica Enders, 547; 7.  Drew Skillman, 470; 8.  Vincent Nobile, 466; 9.  Chris McGaha, 421; 10.  Shane Gray, 382.

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Andretti Autosport endures tough Road America outing

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All four of the Andretti Autosport drivers encountered significant problems during the Kohler Grand Prix, and none of them were able to salvage finishes inside the top ten as a result.

Most notably, Takuma Sato endured the most difficult weekend of the four-car armada after suffering a pinched nerve in his neck on Saturday, which forced him to miss the morning warmup.

And things didn’t get any better during the race, as a lap 28 spin exiting the Kink saw him lose a lap and forced him to play catchup even more than he already was. Although Sato managed to finish the race, hardly insignificant given his neck injury, he did so in 19th after starting 20th in what proved to be his worst race since winning the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.

“It was a tough weekend and tough race,” lamented Sato. “I injured my neck during practice Saturday morning. We started in the back row, tried to make a push up, but I caught an accident. The engine was stalled and I wasn’t sure if we could continue, but the safety crew came and fired up the engine, so I came back to the pit, buckled again and I was able to keep going. In the end we made the finish, but we need a better weekend.”

His teammates did not fair much better. Alexander Rossi, who qualified a disappointing 15th, ran a four-stop pit strategy, and while he cycled into the top five at one point, an issue with the front wing saw him fall to 13th at the finish.

Alexander Rossi was fast Road America, but an issue with the front wing dropped him back in the field at the end. Photo: IndyCar

“I think we started with a good strategy, going for a four-stop race after starting 15th, but it all caught up to us on that first yellow,” Rossi explained. “Luckily, we had already gained track position and speed running on open track. We had an issue with our front wing, which ironically or not, is the same issue we finished the race with here last year, so we definitely need to figure out exactly what happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay, too, had strong pace, even leading the Sunday morning warmup and running inside the top ten late in the race. But, contact with Charlie Kimball while battling for sixth broke the front wing on the No. 28 DHL Honda, and Hunter-Reay languished in 14th at the checkered flag.

Ryan Hunter-Reay was was 14th at the checkered flag after battling inside the top ten late in the race. Photo: IndyCar

“Charlie (Kimball) made a late block and took off my front wing. I had a good race going until Charlie moved out late like that, it’s just really unfortunate,” Hunter-Reay said of the incident.

Meanwhile, Marco Andretti battled a litany of problems, ranging from throttle issues to a broken pit speed limiter, which resulted in a drive-penalty for speeding during a round of pit stops. Andretti was a lowly 18th at the finish.

Marco Andretti battled a host of problems during the Kohler Grand Prix. Photo: IndyCar

“We started eighth, but ran into throttle problems. We went off track on the first stint because the throttle stuck wide open. We came into the pits to try to fix it and got hit with a pit lane speed violation because my pit lane limiter wasn’t working. We still weren’t getting full throttle – I was barely hitting sixth gear,” he lamented afterward.

Sato remains in the top five in the championship, now sitting fourth, 56 points behind leader Scott Dixon. Rossi sits ninth, with Andretti and Hunter-Reay 13th and 15th respectively.


Follow Kyle Lavigne.

Kimball, Chilton quiet but solid at Road America

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While Scott Dixon scored victory for Chip Ganassi Racing, two of the team’s other drivers enjoyed quietly solid days at the Kohler Grand Prix at Road America.

Charlie Kimball, in need of a strong finish after being stricken with bad luck so far in the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season, scored his best finish of the year with a fine run to sixth place. While he was never a part of the battle for victory, he was “best of the rest” for most of the day and enjoyed a solid, mistake-free run.

“Overall a really solid day for the Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing team,” Kimball said afterward. Though he admitted tire management in the race’s third stint hampered his efforts, he was more than pleased with the end result.

“That third stint, I don’t think I managed the Firestone alternates as well as some of the guys around me,” Kimball revealed. “You saw that with (Will Power) with a better in and out lap. That was disappointing, because I think we could have maybe had a shot at a top five. Overall though, to fight off some competitors for that last stint after the final yellow felt good and it felt good to bring it home in sixth for the guys. Kind of a semi-trouble free weekend and pretty happy with it.”

Teammate Max Chilton, too, scored a solid ten finish, the Briton finishing ninth. However, unlike Kimball, Chilton lamented not being able to finish higher on a circuit where he feels very comfortable.

Max Chilton during qualifying for the Kohler Grand Prix. Photo: IndyCar

“It’s not how we wanted it, especially after how quick we were (in the morning warmup),” said Chilton, who started seventh and was second fastest in the morning warmup. Like Kimball, he struggled with tire management, and an untimely caution when he was on the primary black tires put paid to his chances of a better finish.

“Something just wasn’t working for us. On a set of reds, we were struggling massively and then we went to the blacks, which would’ve been alright, but then the safety car came out and everyone else had longer life on the reds and I was struggling again.”

With the Kohler Grand Prix in the books, Chilton currently sits 11th in the championship, three points behind tenth-place Ed Jones, while Kimball remains 18th, 72 points outside the top ten.

Mahindra to give M4Electro Formula E car public debut at Goodwood

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Mahindra Racing will debut its new car for the fourth Formula E season, the M4Electro, at the famous Goodwood Festival of Speed later this week as part of a bid to beat the existing open-wheel electric record for the hillclimb.

As part of its preparations for season four of Formula E, set to start in Hong Kong at the beginning of December, Mahindra has already hit the track with the M4Electro in private testing.

Full-season drivers Felix Rosenqvist and Nick Heidfeld have both completed running in the car, while Indian actress Gul Panag has also taken part in a test.

Heidfeld will give the M4Electro its first public outing at Goodwood and look to become the first driver to hold two records at the hillclimb.

The German driver holds the overall hillclimb record of 41.6 seconds at Goodwood, set back in 1999 in a McLaren MP4/13 Formula 1 car.

“We’re excited to bring Nick and the M4Electro to Goodwood in a bid to set the fastest open-wheel electric record on the hillclimb,” Mahindra team boss Dilbagh Gill said.

“We are always looking to push the boundaries as a team and we couldn’t think of a better way to introduce the season four challenger to fans and automotive enthusiasts alike than at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.”

Qualcomm named title partner for New York Formula E race

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FIA Formula E has announced that technology company Qualcomm will be the title partner for the upcoming New York City ePrix as the all-electric series gears up to hit the United States in three weeks’ time.

New York City will play host to its first motorsport event in Red Hook on July 15-16, acting as the penultimate round of Formula E’s third season.

Qualcomm has been a key partner for Formula E since the series’ inception in 2014, and will now act as the New York race’s title partner after acquiring the naming rights, as announced on Monday. The event will be formally called the ‘Qualcomm New York City ePrix’.

“As one of our founding partners – and now for the first time a race title partner for one of the most anticipated races of the season – Qualcomm Technologies’ continued support and commitment to Formula E has been instrumental,” Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag said.

“We share many of the same values in the field of innovation and technology transfer, which we’ve already seen with unique wireless charging concepts.

“I’m looking forward to making history in New York by bringing Formula E to the Big Apple for the first time – it’s going to be an unmissable event.”

Derek Aberle, president of Qualcomm Incorporated, added: “Qualcomm inventions enable widespread innovation, just as motorsport fuels the evolution of the automotive industry.

“Formula E, including this Qualcomm ePrix race in New York City, is a great testbed for our automotive breakthroughs such as wireless electric vehicle charging.

“We look forward to continuing our collaboration with Formula E to promote the benefits of the latest vehicle technologies as cars become more connected, autonomous and electric.”