Pomona winners. Photo: NHRA

Huge day for Brittany Force, Chevrolet among NHRA titleists

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POMONA, Calif. (AP) Brittany Force became the NHRA’s first female Top Fuel season champion since Shirley Muldowney in 1982 on Sunday in the season-ending Auto Club NHRA Finals.

Force, the daughter of 16-time Funny Car champion John Force, wrapped up the title in the quarterfinals and went on to win the event at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. Force beat Shawn Langdon with a 3.668-second pass at 330.07 mph in the final for her fourth victory of the year.

“I can’t believe we are here, it seems like a dream,” Force said. “The reason we are here is because of that Monster team and all the support I have and all the sponsors. Everyone at JFR and that is the reason we are here. We struggled, we had our ups and downs, but we pulled it together when it mattered most. I give all of it up to my crew chiefs, Alan Johnson and Brian Husen, they are the ones that made this possible. They always had my back and they kept pushing me.”

Robert Hight took his second Funny Car title, and Bo Butner won the Pro Stock crown and event title. Tommy Johnson Jr. won the Funny Car event, and Andrew Hines took the Pro Stock Motorcycle race.

Hight wrapped up the title in the first round of eliminations.

“Everybody worked their tail off and was quiet and knew they had a job to do,” Hight said. “This is just huge for John Force Racing. For a couple of years, we have struggled. but it is such a great group. We signed a long-term deal with Auto Club and they deserve better than what we were giving them.”

Hight also had four season victories.

Butner drove his Chevrolet Camaro to a 6.594 at 210.70 to beat Tanner Gray in the final. Bunter finished the season with five event victories.

“Just never give up. I have a great crew. It’s amazing,” Butner said. “They don’t give up on me. But the KB team, what does that say about them? Honestly, I rent a car and a motor and they put me in a championship. It’s just unbelievable.”

Hines beat teammate and season champion Eddie Krawiec with a 6.856 at 196.02 on a Harley Davidson.

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

Marco Andretti confident that fewer tests won’t hurt Andretti Autosport

Photo: IndyCar
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A small point of debate around the 2018 aero kit has been the manufacturer test days that took place through the Fall of 2017 and into the beginning of 2018. Chiefly, the debate has centered around teams who hadn’t participated in those manufacturer test days and if they’re starting the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season at a disadvantage as a result.

Team Penske, Ed Carpenter Racing, and A.J. Foyt Racing completed test days for Chevrolet, with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing doing so for Honda.

That left teams like Andretti Autosport out of the mix, with some voicing concerns as a result.

However, in a press conference during testing at ISM Raceway last weekend, Marco Andretti explained that he thinks Andretti Autosport should be able to catch up on development, citing the team’s resources – they’re the only IndyCar team with four full-time cars in their stable – and the fact that everyone is still adapting to the new kit.

“I feel like it’s early enough days that, yes, we can catch up,” Andretti said at ISM Raceway. “When there is anything new, a new car, new aero kit, at-track days are huge. We can sim all these things we want. To really get out there and confirm what we’re learning back at the shop is another thing.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay during testing at ISM Raceway. Photo: IndyCar

Andretti continued, “Yeah, I don’t think we should look at it like we’re behind the eight ball. With a four-car team, that’s where we can use it to our benefit. So far so good.”

Teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, echoed Andretti’s sentiments, adding that while the situation is not perfect, they will need to adapt to it in order to remain competitive.

“Any time you have a new car, to put it into perspective, we’re on track three days on a road course before we get to (the season open in St. Petersburg). That’s a very short amount of time. It’s obviously not ideal, but we’re just going to lace up our boots and get on with it. That’s all you can do.”

Andretti Autosport will have one more team test, at Sebring International Raceway later on in February, before the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

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