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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F1: Lewis Hamilton qualifies No. 1 for U.S. Grand Prix, on verge of winning 5th title

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Lewis Hamilton took a big step toward earning his fifth Formula One championship on Saturday, qualifying No. 1 for Sunday’s U.S. Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

Hamilton and his Mercedes have won five of the previous six U.S. Grand Prix’s held at COTA, including the last four races there.

The Great Britain native comes into Sunday’s race leading the F1 point standings and is seeking to tie Juan Manuel Fangio for second-most F1 career championships. Michael Schumacher has the most with seven crowns.

Sebastian Vettel is Hamilton’s sole remaining challenger for the title, trailing Hamilton by 67 points with four races to go, including Sunday’s race.

Vettel must win Sunday’s race or finish within seven points of Hamilton to prevent the latter from winning the title and pushing a possible clinching scenario to next week in Mexico.

Vettel qualified second Saturday, but due to a red-flag three-position grid penalty sustained during Friday’s morning practice, will start fifth on Sunday’s grid.

As a result of Vettel’s penalty, Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen will start alongside Hamilton on the front row for Sunday’s race.

Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate, Vallteri Bottas, will start third, while Daniel Ricciardo will start fourth.

Rounding out the top 10 were Esteban Ocon, Nico Hulkenberg, Romain Grosjean, Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez.

Here’s how qualifying played out:

POS NO DRIVER CAR Q1 Q2 Q3 LAPS
1 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 1:34.130 1:33.480 1:32.237 20
2 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 1:34.569 1:33.079 1:32.298 18
3 7 Kimi Räikkönen FERRARI 1:34.703 1:32.884 1:32.307 15
4 77 Valtteri Bottas MERCEDES 1:34.518 1:33.702 1:32.616 17
5 3 Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:34.755 1:34.185 1:33.494 14
6 31 Esteban Ocon FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:34.876 1:34.522 1:34.145 18
7 27 Nico Hulkenberg RENAULT 1:34.932 1:34.564 1:34.215 18
8 8 RomainGrosjean HAAS FERRARI 1:34.892 1:34.419 1:34.250 17
9 16 Charles Leclerc SAUBER FERRARI 1:35.069 1:34.255 1:34.420 17
10 11 Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:35.193 1:34.525 1:34.594 17
11 55 Carlos Sainz RENAULT 1:34.891 1:34.566 12
12 20 KevinMagnussen HAAS FERRARI 1:34.972 1:34.732 12
13 10 Pierre Gasly SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 1:34.850 DNS 13
14 28 Brendon Hartley SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 1:35.206 DNS 13
15 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:34.766 4
16 14 FernandoAlonso MCLAREN RENAULT 1:35.294 6
17 35 Sergey Sirotkin WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:35.362 6
18 18 Lance Stroll WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:35.480 8
19 9 Marcus Ericsson SAUBER FERRARI 1:35.536 8
20 2 StoffelVandoorne MCLAREN RENAULT 1:35.735 6

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