NHRA: New Hampshire winners take walk down memory lane

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Victory lane at Sunday’s NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway in Epping, N.H., was a reunion of sorts for some of drag racing’s best oldies but goodies.

— In Funny Car, record 16-time champion John Force, who turned 65 last month, rallied from deep in the pack to power his way to his second win of the season and 143rd of his career.

Force (4.160 seconds at 309.49 mph) defeated No. 1 qualifier Tommy Johnson Jr. in the final round.

The win was also yet another milestone in Force’s legendary career: he now has at least one win at every track that has appeared on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series circuit.

“I had a great day,” said Force, who climbed into third position in the Funny Car points standings. “I’m not going out of racing any time soon, but I was going to win at New England. I almost did the first year and this year I finally did.”

— In Pro Stock, 54-year-old Greg Anderson won his second race in a row (won last week at Englishtown, N.J.), his third race of the season and 77th of his career.

The four-time world champ had a winning run of 6.512 seconds at 214.72 mph in the Pro Stock final, defeating 2012 world champ Allen Johnson (6.530 seconds at 213.50 mph).

“My car has been fantastic,” Anderson said. “I’m absolutely having a ball. I’ve got a great race team behind me and they are doing a great job. I can’t wait to go to the next race.”

— And in Top Fuel, defending champion and 8-time world champ Tony Schumacher, at 45 the kid of the trio, roared to his second win of the season and 79th of his career.

Schumacher’s 3.809-second run at 321.35 mph run edged runner-up Larry Dixon (3.881 seconds, 319.60 mph) and pushed Schumacher to second in the Top Fuel standings.

“[Crew chiefs] Mike [Green] and Neal [Strausbaugh] did an outstanding job today,” said Schumacher. “I felt like I drove well today. Together as a team we went out and won. We did a great job, what a battle.”

Sunday’s race was the 10th event on the 24-race NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. The next race is this coming weekend’s (June 19-21) Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol (Tenn.) Dragway.

FINAL FINISHING ORDER

TOP FUEL: 1.  Tony Schumacher; 2.  Larry Dixon; 3.  Brittany Force; 4.  Spencer Massey; 5.  Dave Connolly; 6.  Richie Crampton; 7.  Terry McMillen; 8.  Clay Millican; 9.  J.R. Todd; 10.  Dan Mercier; 11.  Morgan Lucas; 12.  Antron Brown; 13.  Leah Pritchett; 14.  Steve Torrence; 15.  Doug Kalitta; 16.  Shawn Langdon.

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

PRO STOCK: 1.  Greg Anderson; 2.  Allen Johnson; 3.  Jason Line; 4.  Erica Enders; 5.  Drew Skillman; 6.  Vincent Nobile; 7.  Chris McGaha; 8.  Jonathan Gray; 9.  Shane Gray; 10.  Larry Morgan; 11.  John Gaydosh Jr; 12.  Alan Prusiensky; 13.  Val Smeland; 14.  Kenny Delco; 15.  V. Gaines.

FINAL RESULTS

Top Fuel: Tony Schumacher, 3.809 seconds, 321.35 mph  def. Larry Dixon, 3.881 seconds, 319.60 mph.

Funny Car: John Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.160, 309.49  def. Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger, 4.195, 304.25.

Pro Stock: Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.512, 214.72  def. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.530, 213.50.

FINAL ROUND-BY-ROUND RESULTS

TOP FUEL: ROUND ONE — Richie Crampton, 3.779, 321.88 def. Dan Mercier, 3.956, 297.81; Brittany Force, 4.287, 211.03 def. Doug Kalitta, 5.039, 117.17; Larry Dixon, 3.785, 320.58 def. Antron Brown, 4.149, 236.38; Terry McMillen, 4.268, 259.56 def. Shawn Langdon, 7.004, 100.77; Tony Schumacher, 4.027, 250.69 def. Morgan Lucas, 4.070, 238.81; Dave Connolly, 4.172, 242.23 def. Steve Torrence, 4.257, 246.12; Spencer Massey, 4.090, 261.22 def. Leah Pritchett, 4.216, 219.08; Clay Millican, 3.822, 322.42 def. J.R. Todd, 3.911, 288.64; QUARTERFINALS — Massey, 3.875, 313.51 def. Connolly, 3.936, 298.93; Schumacher, 3.909, 320.13 def. Millican, 4.410, 197.10; Dixon, 3.905, 312.78 def. McMillen, 4.331, 212.59; Force, 3.885, 316.08 def. Crampton, 4.121, 265.06; SEMIFINALS — Dixon, 3.855, 322.73 def. Force, 3.894, 317.57; Schumacher, 3.865, 320.74 def. Massey, 3.908, 311.92; FINAL — Schumacher, 3.809, 321.35 def. Dixon, 3.881, 319.60.

FUNNY CAR: ROUND ONE — Robert Hight, Chevrolet Camaro, 4.115, 315.19 def. Tony Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 4.320, 228.23; Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger, 4.109, 307.93 def. Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 4.691, 211.30; John Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.147, 314.39 def. Dave Richards, Toyota Solara, 6.420, 103.02; Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.202, 287.66 def. Jeff Diehl, Solara, 11.011, 81.12; Courtney Force, Camaro, 4.130, 312.28 def. Dom Lagana, Solara, 4.653, 186.98; Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.101, 314.46 def. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.822, 177.70; Del Worsham, Camry, 4.366, 231.04 def. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.450, 208.59; Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.172, 292.90 def. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.212, 272.78; QUARTERFINALS — J. Force, 4.186, 309.84 def. Hagan, 4.182, 303.71; Johnson Jr., 4.157, 306.60 def. DeJoria, 4.439, 201.61; C. Force, 4.198, 307.72 def. Hight, 4.628, 192.06; C. Pedregon, 4.119, 284.51 def. Worsham, 4.152, 308.14; SEMIFINALS — Johnson Jr., 4.139, 309.77 def. C. Force, 10.651, 80.01; J. Force, 4.183, 298.14 def. C. Pedregon, 4.193, 265.59; FINAL — J. Force, 4.160, 309.49 def. Johnson Jr., 4.195, 304.25.

PRO STOCK: ROUND ONE — Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.567, 213.30 def. Larry Morgan, Chevy Camaro, 6.595, 213.00; Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.559, 212.53 def. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.565, 213.64; Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 6.538, 212.73 def. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 7.848, 128.16; Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.549, 213.37 def. John Gaydosh Jr, Pontiac GXP, 6.597, 211.10; Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.513, 214.69 def. V. Gaines, Dart, 17.766, 39.39; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.515, 214.38 def. Val Smeland, Chevy Cobalt, 6.982, 158.84; Chris McGaha, Camaro, 9.389, 98.67 was unopposed; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.531, 213.50 def. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Avenger, 6.664, 210.31; QUARTERFINALS — Johnson, 6.554, 213.06 def. McGaha, 13.226, 65.40; Line, 6.615, 210.44 def. J. Gray, 13.876, 61.15; Anderson, 6.519, 214.11 def. Skillman, 6.533, 213.84; Enders, 6.506, 214.66 def. Nobile, 6.546, 213.47; SEMIFINALS — Anderson, 6.516, 214.42 def. Line, 6.533, 212.39; Johnson, 6.537, 213.33 def. Enders, 6.540, 214.21; FINAL — Anderson, 6.512, 214.72 def. Johnson, 6.530, 213.50.

UPDATED STANDINGS

Top Fuel: 1.  Antron Brown, 790; 2.  Tony Schumacher, 757; 3.  Spencer Massey, 657; 4.  Richie Crampton, 640; 5.  Larry Dixon, 600; 6.  Doug Kalitta, 587; 7.  Shawn Langdon, 568; 8.  Brittany Force, 551; 9.  J.R. Todd, 491; 10.  Clay Millican, 479.

Funny Car: 1.  Matt Hagan, 746; 2.  Ron Capps, 685; 3.  John Force, 652; 4.  Del Worsham, 643; 5.  Tommy Johnson Jr., 611; 6.  Jack Beckman, 601; 7.  Robert Hight, 546; 8.  (tie) Alexis DeJoria, 540; Cruz Pedregon, 540; 10.  Tim Wilkerson, 513.

Pro Stock: 1.  Greg Anderson, 907; 2.  Erica Enders, 837; 3.  Jason Line, 776; 4.  Chris McGaha, 646; 5.  Allen Johnson, 554; 6.  Drew Skillman, 540; 7.  Larry Morgan, 518; 8.  (tie) Shane Gray, 507; Vincent Nobile, 507; 10.  Rodger Brogdon, 493.

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Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.