Photo: NHRA

NHRA: Doug Kalitta wins Top Fuel final in Countdown opener

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CONCORD, N.C. (AP) Doug Kalitta won the Top Fuel final Sunday in the Countdown to the Championship-opening NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway.

The points leader won for the first time at the track, beating teammate Richie Crampton in the final round with a 3.775-second pass at 318.39 mph. Kalitta has 43 career victories.

“Getting this win gives us great momentum with only five races to go,” Kalitta said. “With the team I have with me, I’m full of confidence. It’s huge for me to get my first win at this great facility, because we have been coming here for a lot of years and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.”

Robert Hight won in Funny Car, Tanner Gray in Pro Stock, and Eddie Krawiec in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Hight raced to his third victory of the season, beating Courtney Force with a 3.943 at 328.86 in a Chevrolet Camaro SS. He has 40 career victories, five at zMAX Dragway.

Gray, from nearby Mooresville, won for the fifth time in his rookie season, topping Greg Anderson with a 6.614 at 208.07 in a Chevrolet Camaro. Krawiec beat teammate Andrew Hines with a 6.850 at 196.87 on a Harley-Davidson for his fourth victory of the season and 40th overall.

More AP Auto Racing: http://racing.ap.org

Social roundup: Racing world largely outraged by Verstappen penalty

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The discussion over Max Verstappen’s post-race five-second time penalty assessed in Sunday’s United States Grand Prix, issued when he tried to the inside of Kimi Raikkonen at the Turns 16, 17 and 18 carousel complex at Circuit of The Americas, will roll on far beyond today.

The debate today largely centered over consistency in adjudication and application of the rules, track limits themselves (always a sore subject at COTA given its wide runoff areas) or whether there should be permanent stewards.

In the immediate aftermath, though, Twitter lit up with outrage over Verstappen being assessed a five-second post-race time penalty.

Here’s a mere sampling of the reaction, below.