Charlie Kimball could be one to watch again in Toronto

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Coming off a runner-up performance last weekend at Pocono Raceway, “Big Mo” could be on Charlie Kimball’s side this weekend as he returns to Toronto – where he turned in his first IZOD IndyCar Series podium finish one year ago.

In last year’s battle at Exhibition Place, the third-year pilot for Chip Ganassi Racing jumped 11 spots to finish second, salvaging an otherwise disastrous day for the Ganassi gang that saw a mechanical failure for Scott Dixon and crashes for Graham Rahal and Dario Franchitti.

Especially impressive was how he put himself on the podium with 13 laps remaining: An eye-opening inside pass on both Simon Pagenaud and Tony Kanaan at Toronto’s infamous Turn 3. The Californian would survive contact on the final restart with Sebastien Bourdais (who went into the Turn 1 tire barrier as a result) and hang on to second, capping off a superb drive.

That was then, however. Now, things are certainly different this year as the Honda Indy Toronto (Saturday and Sunday, 3 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network) has been turned into the second of three doubleheader weekends that the IndyCars will see in 2013.

But after CGR locked out the podium last weekend in Pennsylvania, with Dixon leading Kimball and Franchitti to the checkered flag, the American is understandably anxious to keep the momentum going – both for himself and for his team.

“I can’t wait to start the race weekend at the Honda Indy Toronto,” Kimball said in a team statement. “The team had a great race there last year, with our first podium finish, and we’re coming in with a good deal of momentum from our second place at Pocono.

“I think the whole Ganassi organization is really gelling, apparent from last weekend’s podium sweep, and if we continue to build on that we’ll have even more success through this second half of the IndyCar season.”

Kimball is also seeking this weekend to crack the Top 10 in the championship once again. He currently sits 12th, just seven points off of 10th-place Takuma Sato.

Watch this weekend’s Honda Indy Toronto online and on your mobile device.

NHRA: Dodge/Mopar to unveil new Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car today in Denver

Photos/video courtesy Dodge/Mopar
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If you’re a fan of NHRA Funny Car racing and Dodge/Mopar, you may notice something different at this weekend’s Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in suburban Denver, Colorado.

Two-time (2011 and 2014) NHRA Funny Car champ Matt Hagan – who has won the last two NHRA national events in the last four weeks – will be piloting a newly-designed 2019 Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, a 10,000-horsepower Funny Car that makes its debut today at Dodge/Mopar’s premier NHRA national event.

The new Charger SRT Hellcat succeeds the former Mopar Dodge Charger R/T, which had been in use since 2015.

“We improved on the body design,” Hagan said of the new Charger Hellcat. “It was already a great design, a great body. But now, we’re going to have a little more downforce, a little more traction on these racetracks and it will be a huge performance advantage.”

The new Hellcat includes a number of innovations, including a new front splitter to increase downforce. Just like its predecessor, the R/T, the Hellcat will go head-to-head with Chevrolet’s Camaro in the NHRA Funny Car ranks.

“We will be able to press harder with more downforce on the nose, which translates into huge amounts of downforce on the run,” Hagan said.

According to a media release, the new Hellcat features major design changes in three key areas: the front end, bodysides and burst panel placement:

* “At the front, the shape of the nose has been tweaked and a new splitter (photo), built of carbon fiber and Kevlar like the rest of the Funny Car body, has been added. The splitter substantially mimics the look and shape of the production vehicle’s splitter while generating greater downforce to help plant the Funny Car to the track.

* “Bodyside scallops have been redesigned to more closely identify with the production Hellcat while also enhancing on-track function and performance. The deeper character lines provide greater visual ties to the street version of the Hellcat, while also helping to mitigate the “body burn” common on all Funny Cars due to the close positioning of the exhaust headers.

* “The location of the burst panel on the hood has also been reworked. The panel is now centered over the top of the engine to more efficiently release energy and pressure in the event of engine issues, a common occurrence in race cars that are pushed to the razor’s edge of performance.”

Since the R/T was first introduced into the Don Schumacher Racing corps, it has gone on to 50 wins, 42 runner-up finishes and 40 No. 1 qualifiers in NHRA national events and one NHRA Funny Car World Championship (Ron Capps, 2016).

The new Charger SRT Hellcat, which can exceed 330-plus mph and covers 1,000 feet in under four seconds, is the drag strip version of the supercharged, 707-horsepower production Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, the quickest, fastest and most powerful sedan in the world.

While Hagan will drive the first Hellcat, his other three Dodge-powered DSR teammates – Capps, Jack Beckman and Tommy Johnson Jr. – will soon take delivery of their own versions of the car over the remaining 11 races of the 2018 season.

One day after winning two weeks ago at Norwalk, Ohio, Hagan and crew chief Dickie Venables put the new Hellcat through its paces with several test runs. The results were so strong that it was decided to debut the car at Denver and run all qualifying and elimination rounds with it.

“We made four good, solid runs in testing at Norwalk,” said Hagan. “We put the body through a lot of different things and were really, really pleased with it.

“I really think it’s going to translate over to performance on the race track, and hopefully more win lights in the future.”

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