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(UPDATED with videos) NHRA at Joliet — The haves keep on having: Capps, Torrence, Tonglet win again

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JOLIET, Illinois — There doesn’t seem to be any stopping NHRA drivers Ron Capps in Funny Car, Steve Torrence in Top Fuel and motorcycle rider LE Tonglet, who all captured wins in Sunday’s final round of the Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway.

They are the haves of the sport, while those they keep beating are the have nots. Here’s how Sunday played out:

* In Funny Car, 2016 series champion Capps earned his career-high sixth win of the season, but it was his first win ever at Route 66. Capps (4.026 seconds at 319.67 mph) earned his 55th career win, defeating Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. (4.047 seconds at 319.90 mph).

“It’s been a season you can’t even dream about, especially coming off a championship,” Capps said.

Capps, who is in the running to become NHRA’s first winner of an ESPY (this Wednesday), increased his lead in the Funny Car point standings to 1,208 points, a nearly 200-point edge over second-ranked Matt Hagan (1,022).

It was also the 60th career win (both Funny Car and Top Fuel) for Capps’ crew chief, Rahn Tobler.

“60 wins is huge, he’s had a pretty storied career,” Capps said of Tobler. “To get together with him in 2012 is a dream. He’s become an older brother to me, he’s really become family to me.”

As for Capps, who has been racing for more than 30 years, he feels that he’s in his prime at the age of 52.

“I feel like I’m peaking right now, Capps said. “I took a lot of years for granted with Snake (when he raced for Don “Snake” Prudhomme). I was just living in the moment. Now, I’m in better shape than I’ve ever been, I work hard or harder than anybody.”

* In Top Fuel, Torrence rolled to his fifth win in the first 13 races of the 2017 NHRA national event season. Torrence (3.779 seconds at 326.08 mph) defeated two-time defending champ Antron Brown (3.786 seconds at 326.71 mph).

You can’t get much closer than this: Torrence defeated Brown by a mere .005 of a second at the finish line.

Ironically, Torrence is now 3-22 lifetime vs. Brown, including 2-1 in final round meetings this season.

“I didn’t have a good car for the first half of the races I raced (Brown) and then I had a mental block,” Torrence said. “Finally, I just got it in the back of my mind and pushed it out. The kind of driver he is, he’s just the whole package. If there’s anybody I would want to emulate, it would be him.”

It was Torrence’s 13th career Top Fuel win; he’s never won more than three races in a single season. With 11 more national events remaining, and the roll he’s been on of late, it’s likely he’ll keep the  most successful season of his career going.

“You don’t want to stop or slow that momentum down,” Torrence said. “We’re bringing our A game every time. It feels really great to have our car, the confidence in our car and tuner and guys on the team. We used to have bullets to drop, but now we’re dropping bombs.”

Torrence remains No. 1 in the Top Fuel point standings with a 101 point edge (1,188 to 1,087) over Leah Pritchett.

“I’m not even thinking championship, I don’t even want to say the word ‘championship,'” Torrence said. “That’s a goal, but the only way you can get to that is one round at a time.”

* In Pro Stock Motorcycle, LE Tonglet continued to be the hottest rider in the sport, earning his fourth win in the last six races (in one of those other two races, teammate Jerry Savoie won, meaning the White Alligator/Nitro Fish team has won five of the last six national events).

Tonglet (6.835 seconds at 195.99 mph) defeated Hector Arana Jr. (6.878 seconds at 193.29 mph).

Tonglet remains No. 1 in the rider stanings, leading Eddie Krawiec (601 to 460 points).

* In Pro Stock, Drew Skillman became the ninth different winner in the category in 2017 and also earning his fourth career Pro Stock win. Skillman (6.627 seconds at 209.23 mph) defeated Erica Enders (6.655 seconds at 207.37 mph).

Skillman is eighth in the Pro Stock points (723 points); Bo Butner remains No. 1 in the standings (1,148 points to second-ranked Greg Anderson (1,009).

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

FINAL FINISHING ORDER:

TOP FUEL: 1.  Steve Torrence; 2.  Antron Brown; 3.  T.J. Zizzo; 4.  Clay Millican; 5.  Brittany Force; 6.  Shawn Langdon; 7.  Blake Alexander; 8.  Leah Pritchett; 9.  Tony Schumacher; 10.  Scott Palmer; 11.  Kyle Wurtzel; 12.  Troy Coughlin Jr.; 13.  Pat Dakin; 14.  Luigi Novelli; 15.  Terry McMillen; 16.  Doug Kalitta.

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

PRO STOCK: 1.  Drew Skillman; 2.  Erica Enders; 3.  Bo Butner; 4.  Jason Line; 5.  Greg Anderson; 6.  Tanner Gray; 7.  Vincent Nobile; 8.  Kenny Delco; 9.  Allen Johnson; 10.  Chris McGaha; 11.  Alex Laughlin; 12.  Mark Hogan; 13.  Shane Tucker; 14.  Jeg Coughlin; 15.  Alan Prusiensky; 16.  Val Smeland.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1.  LE Tonglet; 2.  Hector Arana Jr; 3.  Karen Stoffer; 4.  Eddie Krawiec; 5.  Scotty Pollacheck; 6.  Angie Smith; 7.  Mike Berry; 8.  Jerry Savoie; 9.  Matt Smith; 10.  Melissa Surber; 11.  Joey Gladstone; 12.  Andrew Hines; 13.  Steve Johnson; 14.  Chip Ellis; 15.  Angelle Sampey; 16.  Cory Reed.

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

FINAL RESULTS: 

TOP FUEL: Steve Torrence, 3.779 seconds, 326.08 mph  def. Antron Brown, 3.786 seconds, 326.71 mph.

FUNNY CAR: Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.026, 319.67  def. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.047, 319.90.

PRO STOCK: Drew Skillman, Chevy Camaro, 6.627, 209.23  def. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.655, 207.37.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.835, 195.99  def. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.878, 193.29.

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

FINAL ROUND-BY-ROUND RESULTS:

TOP FUEL: ROUND ONE — T.J. Zizzo, 3.793, 324.36 def. Pat Dakin, Foul – Red Light; Antron Brown, 3.776, 322.42 def. Doug Kalitta, 6.478, 152.78; Clay Millican, 3.813, 323.81 def. Kyle Wurtzel, 3.906, 300.80; Leah Pritchett, 3.858, 294.18 def. Troy Coughlin Jr., 3.968, 279.50; Brittany Force, 4.309, 240.94 def. Luigi Novelli, 4.927, 255.34; Steve Torrence, 3.828, 325.53 def. Scott Palmer, 3.901, 315.12; Blake Alexander, 3.940, 301.54 def. Tony Schumacher, 3.883, 306.26; Shawn Langdon, 3.835, 318.69 def. Terry McMillen, 5.170, 141.08;

QUARTERFINALS — Torrence, 3.843, 324.20 def. Alexander, 4.087, 257.48; Zizzo, 3.787, 324.75 def. Force, 3.817, 322.88; Millican, 3.888, 314.61 def. Langdon, 3.909, 309.91; Brown, 3.853, 305.29 def. Pritchett, 5.247, 139.10;

SEMIFINALS — Torrence, 3.815, 320.05 def. Zizzo, 3.983, 285.77; Brown, 3.784, 325.53 def. Millican, 4.689, 165.64;

FINAL — Torrence, 3.779, 326.08 def. Brown, 3.786, 326.71.

FUNNY CAR: ROUND ONE — Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 4.162, 251.95 def. Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 5.718, 133.68; Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.082, 310.48 def. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 6.473, 107.50; J.R. Todd, Camry, 4.480, 242.71 def. Courtney Force, Camaro, 5.680, 135.61; Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.020, 320.28 def. Bob Bode, Charger, Foul – Centerline; Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 3.974, 322.81 def. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.024, 321.88; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.026, 319.07 def. John Force, Camaro, 4.982, 157.39; Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.361, 222.29 def. Brian Stewart, Mustang, 4.825, 176.70; Ron Capps, Charger, 4.005, 320.89 def. Jonnie Lindberg, Camry, 4.072, 321.19;

QUARTERFINALS — Johnson Jr., 4.026, 317.72 def. Todd, 4.260, 248.75; Capps, 4.119, 309.98 def. Campbell, 4.432, 204.60; Wilkerson, 4.107, 314.61 def. Beckman, 5.061, 172.65; Hagan, 4.006, 319.60 def. DeJoria, 4.399, 210.67;

SEMIFINALS — Johnson Jr., 4.015, 317.87 def. Wilkerson, 7.734, 117.15; Capps, 4.038, 318.84 def. Hagan, 4.088, 313.58;

FINAL — Capps, 4.026, 319.67 def. Johnson Jr., 4.047, 319.90.

PRO STOCK: ROUND ONE — Erica Enders, Chevy Camaro, 6.651, 208.91 def. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.665, 208.59; Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.636, 209.26 def. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.658, 207.78; Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.606, 209.49 def. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.666, 208.62; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.617, 209.62 def. Alan Prusiensky, Dart, 8.300, 118.12; Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.624, 209.23 def. Shane Tucker, Camaro, 6.762, 204.54; Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.605, 209.88 def. Mark Hogan, Pontiac GXP, 6.761, 202.79; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.595, 209.85 def. Val Smeland, Camaro, Broke; Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.722, 206.67 def. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.791, 207.56;

QUARTERFINALS — Line, 6.637, 209.33 def. Delco, Foul – Red Light; Skillman, 6.622, 208.91 def. Gray, 6.639, 209.10; Butner, 6.623, 209.52 def. Nobile, 6.647, 208.52; Enders, 6.649, 208.68 def. Anderson, 6.614, 209.59;

SEMIFINALS — Enders, 6.649, 208.46 def. Line, 6.654, 208.88; Skillman, 6.625, 209.14 def. Butner, 6.621, 209.69;

FINAL — Skillman, 6.627, 209.23 def. Enders, 6.655, 207.37.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: ROUND ONE — Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.819, 197.05 def. Chip Ellis, 6.946, 193.10; Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.943, 193.16 def. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.922, 194.60; LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.830, 196.36 def. Cory Reed, Foul – Red Light; Angie Smith, Buell, 6.894, 194.38 def. Melissa Surber, Buell, 6.873, 193.38; Mike Berry, Buell, 6.890, 192.66 def. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.931, 192.77; Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, 6.851, 194.72 def. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.889, 195.22; Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.852, 195.90 def. Angelle Sampey, 6.972, 188.73; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.940, 192.52 def. Matt Smith, Foul – Red Light;

QUARTERFINALS — Stoffer, 6.946, 192.99 def. Savoie, 7.212, 151.14; Krawiec, 6.938, 193.46 def. Berry, 6.949, 191.67; Tonglet, 6.843, 195.65 def. Pollacheck, 6.881, 193.29; Arana Jr, 6.882, 193.88 def. A. Smith, 6.946, 192.25;

SEMIFINALS — Arana Jr, 6.844, 195.03 def. Krawiec, 6.963, 193.07; Tonglet, 6.843, 195.82 def. Stoffer, 6.904, 192.82;

FINAL — Tonglet, 6.835, 195.99 def. Arana Jr, 6.878, 193.29.

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

UPDATED POINT STANDINGS

TOP FUEL: 1.  Steve Torrence, 1,188; 2.  Leah Pritchett, 1,087; 3.  Antron Brown, 1,085; 4.  Tony Schumacher, 894; 5.  Doug Kalitta, 813; 6.  Brittany Force, 795; 7.  Clay Millican, 773; 8.  Terry McMillen, 509; 9.  Scott Palmer, 496; 10.  Troy Coughlin Jr., 480.

FUNNY CAR: 1.  Ron Capps, 1,208; 2.  Matt Hagan, 1,022; 3.  Jack Beckman, 914; 4.  Robert Hight, 853; 5.  Tommy Johnson Jr., 833; 6.  Courtney Force, 749; 7.  John Force, 718; 8.  Tim Wilkerson, 599; 9.  J.R. Todd, 559; 10.  Cruz Pedregon, 463.

PRO STOCK: 1.  Bo Butner, 1,148; 2.  Greg Anderson, 1,009; 3.  Tanner Gray, 944; 4.  (tie) Jeg Coughlin, 856; Jason Line, 856; 6.  Erica Enders, 782; 7.  Vincent Nobile, 723; 8.  Drew Skillman, 696; 9.  Chris McGaha, 487; 10.  Allen Johnson, 480.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1.  LE Tonglet, 601; 2.  Eddie Krawiec, 460; 3.  Hector Arana Jr, 419; 4.  Scotty Pollacheck, 381; 5.  Jerry Savoie, 379; 6.  Andrew Hines, 349; 7.  Joey Gladstone, 310; 8.  Matt Smith, 300; 9.  Karen Stoffer, 291; 10.  Steve Johnson, 253.

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McLaren almost back on schedule with 2018 F1 car after delay

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McLaren is almost back on schedule with its 2018 Formula 1 car development after losing two weeks due to a delay in deciding on its engine supplier, according to racing director Eric Boullier.

McLaren confirmed back in September it would be cutting ties with Honda at the end of the year after three difficult seasons, favoring a switch to Renault power units.

The decision was not taken lightly by McLaren, causing it to lose two weeks in the development of next year’s car, but Boullier confirmed in an interview with the official F1 website that the team is almost back on-track.

“Maybe we made the decision to change the engine manufacturer two weeks too late for our schedule, but these two weeks have almost been recovered,” Boullier said.

“Any big decisions are always difficult to take. The concept of McLaren winning with Honda was a dream for everybody, yes – it was a beautiful story.

“Today we have huge respect for them and we definitely don’t divorce with fights and screams and finger pointing. We are all very professional – and in the end it was a business decision, which they understand.

“There is a sadness that it didn’t work out like we wanted. McLaren-Honda in terms of brands was a good fit – in terms of results it didn’t work.

“That’s what it is in the end. Now we have to see that we get back to competitiveness – back to the top!”