Mario Andretti gets Jay Leno up to speed — and then some

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Comedian and former late-night talk show host Jay Leno has spent his career making millions laugh.

But recently at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., the joke was on Leno, so to speak – but in a good way.

Racing legend Mario Andretti, who Leno calls “my racing hero,” took the comic on some hot laps around the two-mile, high-speed track in Honda’s “Fastest Seat in Sports” two-seater Indy car.

“This was the opportunity of a lifetime,” Leno said, via an IndyCar media release. “Mario is one of the legends of the sport and my hero.

“It’s not so much the straight speed, but there’s no passenger car that can take those G forces. Being a car guy, I’ve gone fast, but not around turns (at 14 degrees banking). That’s really the exciting part.”

But that wasn’t the best part. It was Leno’s reaction while zipping around ACS with Andretti behind the wheel.

“I was just in the back seat screaming,” Leno quipped.

The whole ride was caught on camera and, along with Andretti visiting Leno’s Big Dog Garage earlier this month – one of the largest private collections of motor vehicles in the world – will be featured in an upcoming episode of his NBC TV show, “Jay Leno’s Garage,” sometime this fall.

“It was exciting,” said Leno, who was honorary pace car driver for the 1999 Indianapolis 500. “(Andretti’s) one of the greatest guys and obviously one of the greatest race car drivers.”

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Steve Torrence takes NHRA points lead with Gatornationals victory

NHRA Gainesville Steve Torrence
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Two-time defending NHRA Top Fuel champion Steve Torrence took the points lead Sunday in the AMALIE Motor Oil Gatornationals, beating his father, Billy, in the final round at Gainesville Raceway.

Torrence had a 3.809-second run at 322.11 mph to win for the third time this year and 39th overall. He is now on track for another championship despite missing the season opener.

“We’ve got some good momentum and to be in the points lead, it’s a testament to how hard these guys work,” Steve Torrence said after the NHRA Gainesville victory. “We’ve just got to stay focused and concentrate on what the task at hand is, and that’s trying to win a championship. These guys give me an unbelievable race car and you just try not to screw it up.”

Ron Capps won in Funny Car, Alex Laughlin in Pro Stock and Matt Smith in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Capps raced to his second win this year and 66th overall, beating Tim Wilkerson with a 3.937 at 323.12 in a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat.

Laughlin topped Aaron Stanfield with a 7.068 at 204.76 in a Chevrolet Camaro for his first win this season and fourth in his career. Smith rode to his first victory in 2020 and 25th overall, topping Andrew Hines with a 6.843 at 196.99 on an EBR.