NHRA: Dodge flaunts new 2015 Charger R/T Funny Car; will John Force move to Mopar power?

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Speculation continues to swirl as to which major auto manufacturer 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion John Force will switch to in 2015.

Force ended a nearly 20-year association with Ford following the 2014 season after the manufacturer announced it was reallocating its resources to other parts of its overall motorsports program.

Now comes this video of what a brand new 2015 Dodge Charger R/T Hemi Funny Car will likely look like when the new 24-race season begins Feb. 5-8 with the NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Calif.

Defending Funny Car champ Matt Hagan, who did considerable testing in the Charger R/T late last season and into the off-season, is expected to show up at Pomona with a new Charger R/T.

Will Force, who lost the title to Hagan by 42 points in November, be far behind?

Numerous rumors have floated around for nearly three months as to which manufacturer Force will align himself with. With Ford gone, that leaves three potential new suitors: Toyota, Chevrolet and Dodge.

The latest we’ve heard is Force may finally make that big and long-expected announcement of a new manufacturer some time in the next week or two.

Force has already announced that PEAK Antifreeze will be the primary sponsor on his Funny Car in 2015, after a 30-year association with Castrol Oil also came to an end after the 2014 season.

At the same time, Dodge is looking to really promote its awesome brand new Charger R/T Hellcat and its sister, the Challenger Hellcat R/T — both having 707-horsepower motors, making them the fastest street cars in production in the U.S. today.

As a result, one has to wonder if Force may move to the Dodge/Mopar camp in 2015 as well for not only his own race car, but also the Funny Cars of teammates Courtney Force (John’s daughter) and John Force Racing president Robert Hight.

It would appear to be a match made in drag racing heaven: the fastest cars on the streets in the U.S. joined by the all-time winningest champion and race winner in NHRA history. We’ll soon find out.

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Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10-3 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 7 p.m. to USA Network. Peacock will have flag-to-flag coverage.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III