IndyCar: Huertas, Wilson unable to get Houston sweep for Dale Coyne Racing

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Dale Coyne Racing pulled the upset in Saturday’s first race of the Shell/Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston. But problems for both Race 1 winner Carlos Huertas and Justin Wilson in today’s Race 2 kept them from earning a Space City sweep.

After claiming his first Verizon IndyCar Series win less than 24 hours before, Huertas was the first to bow out of today’s event.

The Colombian started 12th, but on Lap 3, he suddenly slowed on track and took his No. 18 Cafe de Colombia Honda off-course.

Race strategist Darren Crouser told NBCSN that the car simply “shut off” and Huertas himself didn’t have an exact reason for the failure.

“I feel really good for yesterday and today is disappointing, but it is impossible to finish every race without having at least one problem,” said Huertas, who suffered the first DNF of his rookie season.

“Hopefully, we don’t have any more. It was strange because the car just shut off completely. It must have been an electrical failure or something but we don’t know right now. All in all, I am proud of our accomplishments this weekend.”

That left Wilson to carry the DCR banner and despite having problems on restarts, he was able to put his No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda in the Top 5.

But shortly after a restart with 24 laps to go, Marco Andretti made slight contact with Wilson while racing for fifth. It sent Wilson into the tire barrier at Turn 9 to trigger another yellow.

IndyCar chose to take no action regarding the incident. Wilson was able to keep going but finished one lap down in 12th.

“We struggled a bit on restarts, so guys were all over the back of me,” Wilson said of his day. “I knew that if I could hang on for a couple of laps I would get going and be quick again.

“Marco tried to come down the inside and it wasn’t really going to happen. He tried to get out of it and he just tapped me into the wall. He came down and apologized and said ‘I didn’t mean to do that.’ It is just racing.

“I know it was just a mistake and it is a shame but we kept going on when we were a lap down and we were trying to salvage any points we can.”

Andretti also tweeted apologies to Wilson following the race.

https://twitter.com/MarcoAndretti/status/483379736542867456

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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