INDYCAR

Marco Andretti confirmed in No. 98 Andretti-Herta IndyCar entry

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Andretti Autosport and Bryan Herta Autosport have confirmed an extension of their partnership in the Verizon IndyCar Series through the 2018 season, with Marco Andretti stepping into the No. 98 Honda entry.

Andretti and Herta started working together in 2016 upon Alexander Rossi’s arrival in the series, highlighted by a famous victory in the 100th Indianapolis 500.

Rossi continued in the No. 98 Andretti-Herta entry through 2017, taking one race win and two further podium finishes, with the American driver signing a new multi-year deal with Andretti earlier this year.

Herta stepped back from his hands-on involvement in the No. 98 entry to call strategy for Marco Andretti, combining for five top-10 finishes across the course of the season.

Andretti will now transfer over to the No. 98 Andretti-Herta entry for the 2018 season to work closer with the team, while Rossi will move in the opposite direction, racing in the No. 27 Andretti car.

“I’m thrilled to be continuing the partnership with Andretti Autosport. The relationship has worked really well both on and off the track for us and our partners,” Herta said.

“I’m looking forward to moving back onto the No. 98 timing stand with Marco and can’t wait to get the 2018 season started.”

“I’m very much looking forward to being in the Andretti-Herta entry. My goal is to bring the No. 98 another Indy 500 win along with many other victories,” added Andretti.

“Working with Bryan has been refreshing – he is very committed to getting me all the tools I need to get back into victory circle. He believes in my talent and is dedicated to turn that into results.”

The deal confirms a four-car full-season entry for Andretti across the two teams, with Ryan Hunter-Reay and newcomer Zach Veach joining Rossi and Andretti.

BREAKING: John Force taken to hospital after Phoenix eliminations crash

Photo courtesy NHRA
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16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force has been taken to a local hospital for evaluation and examination following a wicked crash with fellow Funny Car driver Johnnie Lindberg.

The crash occurred during the quarterfinals of Sunday’s final eliminations in the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix.

Force was headed for a win when the engine on his Peak Chevrolet Camaro blew up just as it crossed the finish line, destroying the body. Lindberg, meanwhile, lost traction about one-third of the way down-track, but then got back into the gas to try and catch Force.

Force appeared to lose control of the body-less car and went across from the left lane he was in to the right-hand lane, where he hit the retaining wall in front of Lindberg.

Lindberg tried to avoid Force, but couldn’t. To make matters worse, the body on Lindberg’s car then came off and Force’s and Lindberg’s cars got tangled up in Lindberg’s parachute, sending both chassis’ into the left retaining wall.

Lindberg emerged from his Funny Car under his own power and was checked at the medical center before heading back to his pit.

Force, meanwhile, was helped out of his mangled wreck by the NHRA Safety Safari and was transported by ambulance to the hospital due to the severity of the impact.

Even though Force will be credited with the round win, he obviously will not be able to continue for the remainder of the eliminations.

To add insult to injury, NHRA officials charged Force with oiling down the racetrack, his third of the season in just the first two races. That will cost him 15 points in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series standings and a fine of $4,000.

Here are several posts from social media, including video of the incident from NHRA:

This is the second time Force has had an engine explode and the body blew off in the last two weeks. He also wrecked during the qualifying Feb. 9 for the season-opening Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, California. Here’s the video of that wreck:

MORE: John Force taken to hospital as a precaution after Funny Car motor explodes.

We’ll update Force’s condition when it becomes available.

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