Angie Smith makes NHRA history: Earns first national event win in first husband-wife final round

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It should be an interesting next few days in the Smith household.

Matt Smith, the defending NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle champion, lost in Sunday’s finals of the Auto-Plus NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway in Epping, N.H.

But instead of losing to one of his chief rivals, Smith lost to Mrs. Smith.

Yep, that’s right, Angie Smith (6.905 seconds, 191.89 mph) earned her first career NHRA national event win, defeating hubby and teammate Matt Smith.

It marked the first time in NHRA history that a husband and wife have met in the final round of a NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event.

Matt Smith appeared headed to the win, but his motorcycle lost traction near the end of the track.

Mrs. Smith took advantage of it and rode right past to trip the win light first.

“In this sport, I’ll take it any way I can get it,” Angie Smith said. “It’s my first one, I’m proud to be here.”

Angie Smith also put a bit of levity into her post-race celebration:

“I’m really tired of dusting all of (Matt’s) Wallys (national event victory trophies),” she said with a laugh. “I at least want to dust one of mine at the house. Now I have one, and I’m good with that.”

Angie Smith did not have an easy time of it en route to her first career national event win, defeating teammates Eddie Krawiec and Andrew Hines – who had combined for wins in the last three PSM events – before beating her husband in the final.

In other pro classes, Ron Capps won in Funny Car, Tony Schumacher in Top Fuel and Dave Connolly in Pro Stock:

* After five semifinal showings this season, Capps (4.095 seconds at 315.19 mph) reached the final round for the first time since last summer at Brainerd, Minnesota, defeating Alexis DeJoria to earn his first win of the 2014 season.

“It was huge to get [crew chief] Rahn Tobler back his mojo,” Capps said in a NHRA media release. “He was beating himself up. He found something overnight. He and Eric [Lane, assistant crew chief] worked all night on what they were going to do this morning.”

* Schumacher (3.824 seconds, 323.27 mph) earned his second Top Fuel win of the season and 74th of his career, defeating points leader Doug Kalitta in the final round Sunday.

“The fans that paid good money to go to a drag race got the best show I’ve seen this year,” said Schumacher, a seven-time Top Fuel champ. “It was outstanding racing. It’s cyclical. You go up and down. Right now we’re up and it’s outstanding.”

Schumacher has now won at every racetrack on the NHRA circuit except for Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, Georgia.

“I’d like to have that,” Schumacher said. “It would be really cool. Of all the records we’ve set and we’ve set everything there, that’s the one that’s out there.”

* In Pro Stock, Connolly (6.536 seconds, 213.23 mph) earned his 24th career national event win, defeating Gray Motorsports teammate Jonathan Gray.

It was Connolly’s first final round appearance, as well as his first win, since 2012.

“I had very high expectations of this team,” Connolly said. “I know the caliber of people working on it. The talent pool is deep. What a great weekend.

“This class is brutal right now. It’s tough. One-thousandths of a second separate us every weekend. Today was no different.”

The next NHRA national event, the O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 Nationals, will be June 26-29 at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Illinois.

 

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SUNDAY’S FINAL FINISHING ORDER:

TOP FUEL: 1.  Tony Schumacher; 2.  Doug Kalitta; 3.  Richie Crampton; 4.  Clay Millican; 5.  Spencer Massey; 6.  Antron Brown; 7.  J.R. Todd; 8.  Khalid alBalooshi; 9.  Leah Pritchett; 10.  Steve Torrence; 11.  Dom Lagana; 12.  Todd Paton; 13.  Bob Vandergriff; 14.  Shawn Langdon; 15.  Terry McMillen; 16.  Brittany Force.

FUNNY CAR: 1.  Ron Capps; 2.  Alexis DeJoria; 3.  John Force; 4.  Courtney Force; 5.  Robert Hight; 6.  Cruz Pedregon; 7.  Del Worsham; 8.  Tommy Johnson Jr.; 9.  Tim Wilkerson; 10.  Matt Hagan; 11.  Jack Beckman; 12.  Tony Pedregon; 13.  Jeff Arend; 14.  Bob Tasca III; 15.  Dave Richards; 16.  Mike Smith.

PRO STOCK: 1.  Dave Connolly; 2.  Jonathan Gray; 3.  Allen Johnson; 4.  Greg Anderson; 5.  Erica Enders-Stevens; 6.  Shane Gray; 7.  Vincent Nobile; 8.  Shane Tucker; 9.  Jason Line; 10.  Chris McGaha; 11.  Jeg Coughlin; 12.  Larry Morgan; 13.  John Gaydosh Jr; 14.  Val Smeland; 15.  V. Gaines; 16.  Kenny Delco.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1.  Angie Smith; 2.  Matt Smith; 3.  Andrew Hines; 4.  Hector Arana Jr; 5.  Eddie Krawiec; 6.  John Hall; 7.  Adam Arana; 8.  Hector Arana; 9.  Jerry Savoie; 10.  Scotty Pollacheck; 11.  Michael Ray; 12.  Steve Johnson; 13.  Chaz Kennedy; 14.  Justin Finley; 15.  Shawn Gann; 16.  Jim Underdahl.

 

 

FINAL ROUND RESULTS:

Top Fuel — Tony Schumacher, 3.824 seconds, 323.27 mph  def. Doug Kalitta, 3.813 seconds, 323.89 mph.

Funny Car — Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.095, 315.19  def. Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Camry, 4.121, 309.98.

Pro Stock — Dave Connolly, Chevy Camaro, 6.536, 213.23  def. Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 6.577, 213.16.

Pro Stock Motorcycle — Angie Smith, Buell, 6.905, 191.89  def. Matt Smith, Buell, 7.230, 145.99.

 

 

FINAL ROUND-BY-ROUND RESULTS:

TOP FUEL: ROUND ONE — Khalid alBalooshi, 3.833, 319.14 def. Leah Pritchett, 3.831, 313.15; Clay Millican, 3.920, 305.63 def. Brittany Force, 4.560, 274.22; Richie Crampton, 4.028, 300.20 def. Dom Lagana, 4.044, 297.75; Antron Brown, 3.858, 315.12 def. Todd Paton, 4.081, 290.88; Doug Kalitta, 3.810, 325.45 def. Terry McMillen, 4.341, 186.00; J.R. Todd, 3.826, 317.05 def. Bob Vandergriff, 4.081, 230.61; Spencer Massey, 3.968, 293.86 def. Shawn Langdon, 4.141, 254.86; Tony Schumacher, 3.854, 322.34 def. Steve Torrence, 3.922, 304.19;

QUARTERFINALS — Crampton, 3.800, 325.14 def. Massey, 3.794, 323.97; Millican, 3.834, 318.62 def. Todd, 3.836, 320.97; Schumacher, 3.787, 324.28 def. Brown, 3.794, 320.66; Kalitta, 3.813, 325.45 def. alBalooshi, 3.856, 318.92;

SEMIFINALS — Kalitta, 3.792, 325.92 def. Crampton, 3.822, 325.37; Schumacher, 3.825, 322.81 def. Millican, 3.860, 316.38;

FINAL — Schumacher, 3.824, 323.27 def. Kalitta, 3.813, 323.89.

 

FUNNY CAR: ROUND ONE — Robert Hight, Ford Mustang, 4.069, 314.39 def. Mike Smith, Dodge Stratus, 7.026, 89.34; Courtney Force, Mustang, 4.089, 313.73 def. Dave Richards, Chevy Monte Carlo, 4.900, 160.23; Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 4.107, 291.76 def. Jeff Arend, Dodge Charger, 4.744, 176.12; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.127, 312.64 def. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.767, 190.14; Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.120, 310.13 def. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 4.374, 224.17; Del Worsham, Camry, 4.127, 309.84 def. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.123, 309.20; Ron Capps, Charger, 4.064, 316.45 def. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.061, 314.46; John Force, Mustang, 4.129, 312.50 def. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.119, 305.36;

QUARTERFINALS — J. Force, 4.095, 314.83 def. Hight, 4.067, 312.35; Capps, 4.097, 311.13 def. C. Pedregon, 4.109, 308.85; C. Force, 4.124, 312.86 def. Worsham, 4.133, 308.92; DeJoria, 4.106, 310.98 def. Johnson Jr., 7.002, 88.00;

SEMIFINALS — DeJoria, 4.086, 312.21 def. J. Force, 4.130, 312.06; Capps, 4.104, 314.09 def. C. Force, 4.131, 312.21;

FINAL — Capps, 4.095, 315.19 def. DeJoria, 4.121, 309.98.

 

PRO STOCK: ROUND ONE — Jonathan Gray, Chevy Camaro, 6.525, 213.16 def. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.530, 213.64; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.547, 212.56 def. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.532, 213.43; Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.525, 213.27 def. V. Gaines, Dodge Dart, 11.043, 88.86; Allen Johnson, Dart, 6.531, 213.43 def. Jeg Coughlin, Dart, 6.563, 208.59; Shane Tucker, Chevy Cobalt, 6.537, 213.16 def. John Gaydosh Jr, Pontiac GXP, 6.719, 209.95; Dave Connolly, Camaro, 6.513, 213.23 def. Kenny Delco, Cobalt, broke; Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.527, 212.49 def. Val Smeland, Cobalt, 7.609, 142.46; Erica Enders-Stevens, Camaro, 6.518, 212.73 def. Larry Morgan, Ford Mustang, 6.563, 211.76;

QUARTERFINALS — Johnson, 7.742, 181.18 def. Tucker, 13.393, 63.99; J. Gray, 6.564, 212.59 def. S. Gray, 6.559, 213.06; Anderson, 6.551, 212.86 def. Enders-Stevens, 6.551, 213.40; Connolly, 6.526, 212.93 def. Nobile, 6.562, 213.13;

SEMIFINALS — J. Gray, 6.583, 212.76 def. Johnson, 6.525, 213.60; Connolly, 6.517, 213.23 def. Anderson, 6.549, 212.93;

FINAL — Connolly, 6.536, 213.23 def. J. Gray, 6.577, 213.16.

 

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: ROUND ONE — Angie Smith, Buell, 7.061, 191.27 def. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, broke; John Hall, Buell, 6.820, 196.04 def. Chaz Kennedy, Buell, 6.922, 189.76; Adam Arana, Buell, 6.995, 193.85 def. Michael Ray, Buell, foul; Hector Arana, Buell, 6.826, 196.67 def. Shawn Gann, Buell, 10.531, 78.32; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.843, 195.28 def. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 6.897, 193.88; Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.827, 194.80 def. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.893, 194.35; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.799, 197.48 def. Justin Finley, Suzuki, foul; Matt Smith, Buell, 6.834, 195.48 def. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.904, 194.21;

QUARTERFINALS — M. Smith, 6.879, 194.86 def. A. Arana, 6.979, 193.88; Hines, 6.919, 195.14 def. H. Arana, broke; Arana Jr, 6.808, 196.47 def. Hall, 6.868, 194.72; A. Smith, 6.896, 192.49 def. Krawiec, 6.862, 197.25;

SEMIFINALS — A. Smith, 6.908, 193.77 def. Hines, 6.921, 192.33; M. Smith, 6.873, 195.11 def. Arana Jr, 13.014, 61.08;

FINAL — A. Smith, 6.905, 191.89 def. M. Smith, 7.230, 145.99.

 

UPDATED POINTS STANDINGS:

Top Fuel — 1.  Doug Kalitta, 1,001; 2.  Antron Brown, 844; 3.  Shawn Langdon, 783; 4.  Spencer Massey, 709; 5.  Tony Schumacher, 670; 6.  Steve Torrence, 651; 7.  Khalid alBalooshi, 587; 8.  Richie Crampton, 546; 9.  Brittany Force, 540; 10.  J.R. Todd, 485.

Funny Car — 1.  Robert Hight, 970; 2.  Alexis DeJoria, 716; 3.  John Force, 713; 4.  Ron Capps, 683; 5.  Tommy Johnson Jr., 682; 6.  Courtney Force, 658; 7.  Del Worsham, 645; 8.  Cruz Pedregon, 599; 9.  Tim Wilkerson, 569; 10.  Matt Hagan, 564.

Pro Stock — 1.  Erica Enders-Stevens, 972; 2.  Jeg Coughlin, 789; 3.  Allen Johnson, 776; 4.  Jason Line, 733; 5.  Shane Gray, 713; 6.  Dave Connolly, 709; 7.  Vincent Nobile, 671; 8.  V. Gaines, 520; 9.  Chris McGaha, 492; 10.  Jonathan Gray, 400.

Pro Stock Motorcycle — 1.  Andrew Hines, 482; 2.  Eddie Krawiec, 445; 3.  Hector Arana Jr, 351; 4.  John Hall, 338; 5.  Matt Smith, 306; 6.  Scotty Pollacheck, 283; 7.  Michael Ray, 270; 8.  Angie Smith, 228; 9.  Hector Arana, 224; 10.  Steve Johnson, 218.

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NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E and Ian James set to race ahead of electric motorsports’ curve

James McLaren Formula E
NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E Team
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As Formula E enters their ninth season and McLaren Racing is set to compete in last year’s championship winning car, Ian James is passionate about pushing electric motorsports forward at a critical stage as race technology begins surpassing that of the street cars.

Midseason, McLaren acquired the assets of the Mercedes-EQ team as they were already on their way to winning a second consecutive championship. With those assets in place and coming off a successful debut in the Extreme E series, James is set to usher in a new era in electric car racing.

Last week’s announcement that Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast behind the wheel of the NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E Team was the last piece of the puzzle.

McLaren’s electric portfolio is building with the Formula E team coming one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour. There were a lot of lessons to learn in that series with growing pains during the first three of five rounds. Rounds 4 and 5 were a completely different matter with the team crossing the finish line first in Chile before being assessed a time penalty.

In the final round in Uruguay, they scored an elusive podium.

“McLaren kicked off the season in Extreme E at the beginning of this year, so our first [electric] race took place Neom, actually out in Saudi,” NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E Team Principal James told NBC Sports. “At the time, we were in very early discussions about opportunities with the Formula E team. I actually went out there to meet with Zak [Brown, CEO McLaren Racing] and that was my first taste of Extreme E.

“Since the transition, I joined them in Chile in Atacama Desert, and then Uruguay last weekend. [The second-place finish was] a lovely way to round out the season. The fact that they got that podium. It was very well deserved. It’s a great team and a great series actually. It’s just so very different from anything else. The team’s done a great job in getting set up, and it’s nice now to, we’re trying to use that momentum that we’ve got from Uruguay to get us into next season when it kicks off next year, which will be great. I think we’re mid-March is looking like the first race, so a little bit of time to get things prepped for that.”

 

James McLaren Formula E
The NEOM Mclaren Racing Formula E Team was created through the acquisition of last year’s championship team from Mercedes-EQ. – NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E Team

Synergies exist between the single seater and rally series. Lessons learned about battery power and sustainability in the electric SUV carry over so long as one is mindful of keeping focus on the individual needs and nuances of each series.

Especially now that electric racing technology has caught up, and is ready to surpass, the existing technology that has gone into building street cars.

When internal combustion engines gained the upper hand soon after automobiles were invented, racing paced alongside. The pressure of competition pushed the development of their commercial equivalents. The same has not necessarily been true of electric cars. Street cars were not designed to undergo the same stress as racecars – and that vulnerability showed up on the racetrack.

“Formula E has come along a long way,” James said. “I think one of the most notable developments is in the battery technology. In Gen 1, you had the drivers jumping from one car to another car midrace because the battery technology and capacity simply wasn’t where it needed to be to do the full distance. That obviously changed in Gen 2 and we saw a power increase as well to the 250 kilowatts.

“Now going to Gen 3, we have 350 kilowatts in a smaller battery. But that means that we’re relying on the regeneration of energy and for that reason, we’ve got also the opportunity to regenerate on the front axle as well as the rear axle now. So, there’s all sorts of things that are developing in the right direction.

“In terms of throttle response, actually, we’re now in a situation with electric racing and the motors that it’s instantaneous. And one of the advantages of electric over combustion engine is that the torque is instantaneous as well, so that gives you a lot more room to play with.”

No matter the power source, racing has always been about resource management. Drivers and teams select tire strategies they believe produce the fastest elapsed time and fuel conservation comes into play.

On one hand, electric racing is the same, but there is a critical difference. With the battery as both the power source and an integral part of the engine, there are multiple reasons to manage it.

In electric racing, the brain of the car is the software – and that is where James sees the greatest room for advancement.

“As we are working with our drivers and engineers – and start to look at functionality to improve our efficiency and our performance, that’s something we’ll continue to push because that development is open throughout the season,” James said. “That’s going to be our focus going forward and provides enough of a challenge for us to get our teeth into.

“What’s going to be fascinating is as Formula E continues, is to really look at which areas of development on the car are going to be the most relevant and ensuring that we can focus on those together with the manufacturers so we continue and use the series as a platform for technical development that can then feed back into the road car side of things as well.

“At the end of the day, that’s what motorsports always been, a very powerful tool for, and I see Formula E as no exception.”

James McLaren Formula E
Jake Hughes and Rene Rast were chosen for their ability to drive fast and execute the necessary strategy for energy management. – NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E Team

Selecting Rast and Hughes as McLaren’s Formula E drivers was not simply because they know how to drive fast. James believes both drivers have the mental aptitude to execute energy management strategies throughout the race and squeeze maximum performance.

“As with many other motorsports, you’ve got a certain amount of energy that you’re able to deploy during the race and the management of that energy is absolutely crucial,” James said. “What we’re seeing typically in electric motorsports now is the hardware side of things. The efficiencies that we’re seeing in the powertrain as a whole, they’re getting up to the sort of 96%, 97%, 98% efficiency, so the gains that you get through that further and further become more marginal.”

With much more room for improvement, software is a different matter. To make the best decisions, the drivers need data, and that is where James believes McLaren Formula E will make their greatest impact.

“And then you really switch that focus to the software and that’s where you’re going to see the most the most improvement and the most gains,” James continued. “It’s then using that software to ensure that you’re deploying the energy in the most efficient manner during race, and thereby giving the driver the most performance. And that’s something which is incredibly complicated, but I find it a fascinating area to work in.

“The benefit of being involved in racing is you can really push the envelope in a way that you can’t do on road cars. And I think that that’s where that value comes in. It means that you accelerate the development a lot quicker. We will get ahead of the curve – and we are getting ahead of the curve now – and that will mean that the electric motorsports remain part of the overall development process.

“The key to that is also making sure that the racing’s exciting and fun for the fans. If we can, we can tick both of those boxes, then it’s got a very bright future ahead of it.”