MRTI: Big weekends for Hargrove, Burkett away from primary series

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One of the most valuable lessons and things a young driver can do coming through the ladder series – whether open-wheel, sports cars or NASCAR – is gain seat time and race experience in other formulas different from their normal disciplines.

And this weekend, a pair of Canadians fully maximized their time in other series.

In IMSA’s Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada Presented by Michelin, Scott Hargrove managed to win both of the series’ first two races at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario, outside Toronto.

The even more impressive part? Hargrove, the 19-year-old from Surrey, British Columbia, who is the 2013 USF2000 champion and current driver for Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing in Pro Mazda, hadn’t so much as driven a sports car, ever, before this weekend. He was in a one-off entry in the No. 69 OpenRoad car.

“Two races, two wins,” Hargrove said, via IMSA.com. “I can’t ask for more than that. It’s phenomenal racing in these Porsche cars, and I can’t thank the OpenRoad guys enough for giving me a good car and being able to run up front all weekend. A phenomenal weekend for us, and hopefully we will be back and be able to run more races this year.”

After going two-for-two last weekend in Pro Mazda at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, Hargrove now has four race wins in two weekends. He and Pro Mazda teammate Neil Alberico put together a race compilation of their Indy races as “Mario Kart.”

Meanwhile at another picturesque road course, this time in the Finger Lakes region of New York at Watkins Glen International, USF2000 driver Daniel Burkett did something other than putting on a hot dog suit in his quest for sponsorship: he won both Atlantic Championship Series races, to extend his winning streak to four wins in as many starts this season.

“Coming in here I knew it would be more difficult than Road Atlanta, we would have to be on our game. We knew Jimmy (Simpson) would be fast here with his past experience,” said the Winnipeg native, who drives for Belardi Auto Racing in USF2000.

These two weren’t alone in making headlines. Hargrove’s Pro Mazda sparring partner Spencer Pigot, who won the first four races of that season, finished sixth and third in the two Porsche races. Pigot is able to run a full season in both championships – he’ll be with Alegra Motorsports in the Porsche series – due to a favorable schedule of no conflicts. Pigot first ran a Porsche at the 2012 Porsche Young Driver Academy at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala.

Mazda Road to Indy alumnus Jason Wolfe, who raced in USF2000 last year, also had a big weekend at CTMP winning two of the three Pirelli World Challenge Championships races in the Touring Car A category, driving a Kia Forte Koup. Wolfe now leads that class’ points standings. Other PWC CTMP winners were Michael DiMeo, who swept the Touring Car triple header, with Ernie Francis Jr. taking the other TCA win, and Brian Price (2 wins) and Nathan Stacy (1 win) winning in TCB. Stacy, 14, becomes the youngest winner in series history and eclipses, ironically, Francis Jr., who achieved the feat as a 15-year-old in TCB in 2013.

Hargrove, Pigot and Burkett will be back in action this weekend as the Mazda Road to Indy heads to Lucas Oil Raceway in Clermont, Ind., where Pro Mazda and USF2000 race their first oval event of the season in the “Night Before the 500.”

Steve Torrence takes NHRA points lead with Gatornationals victory

NHRA Gainesville Steve Torrence
Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Two-time defending NHRA Top Fuel champion Steve Torrence took the points lead Sunday in the AMALIE Motor Oil Gatornationals, beating his father, Billy, in the final round at Gainesville Raceway.

Torrence had a 3.809-second run at 322.11 mph to win for the third time this year and 39th overall. He is now on track for another championship despite missing the season opener.

“We’ve got some good momentum and to be in the points lead, it’s a testament to how hard these guys work,” Steve Torrence said after the NHRA Gainesville victory. “We’ve just got to stay focused and concentrate on what the task at hand is, and that’s trying to win a championship. These guys give me an unbelievable race car and you just try not to screw it up.”

Ron Capps won in Funny Car, Alex Laughlin in Pro Stock and Matt Smith in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Capps raced to his second win this year and 66th overall, beating Tim Wilkerson with a 3.937 at 323.12 in a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat.

Laughlin topped Aaron Stanfield with a 7.068 at 204.76 in a Chevrolet Camaro for his first win this season and fourth in his career. Smith rode to his first victory in 2020 and 25th overall, topping Andrew Hines with a 6.843 at 196.99 on an EBR.