NHRA Norwalk winners: Capps (Funny Car), Line (Pro Stock), Langdon (Top Fuel), Krawiec (PSM)

(Photo courtesy NHRA)
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Ron Capps (Funny Car) and Jason Line (Pro Stock) continue to be the hottest drag racers in the NHRA, capturing their fourth and seventh wins, respectively, of 2016 in the final round of Sunday’s Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio.

With a 3.956 second/317.49 mph final round effort, Capps opened up a 130-point lead in the Funny Car point standings over runner-up and former points leader Courtney Force (4.010 seconds at 314.17 mph) at Summit Racing Equipment Park.

“What (crew chief) Rahn Tobler is doing right now is hard work,” Capps said in a NHRA media release. “This guy has been working his tail off. It is big picture to him, he is not just a good crew chief, he is a good racer and I love that. When he is pointing at me in the windshield before a run, it gives me all the confidence in the world.”

The win was Capps’ 49th of his career, tying him with former boss Don “The Snake” Prudhomme for 11th place on the all-time NHRA wins list.

“He was my hero growing up,” Capps said of Prudhomme. “These wins happen and you are told you have tied someone you are completely enamored with growing up, so when you are mentioned like that it blows me away. It doesn’t seem possible: to be mentioned with someone like Snake is crazy.”

Sunday’s final rounds marked the halfway mark of the 24-race NHRA season. Six more races remain for drivers in all categories to qualify for the NHRA Countdown to the Championship.

As for Pro Stock, Line is virtually unstoppable. He earned his seventh victory of the season (6.678 seconds at 208.42 mph), defeating teammate Greg Anderson (6.717 seconds at 208.36 mph).

Even though Line continues to make this season’s efforts look easy, Sunday was anything but, he said.

“It was a hard today, it was very hot out there,” Line said. “We didn’t run as well as we would have liked today and there were cars that were very close to us.

“They are getting closer and to win at the Summit race, in a Summit Car, at a Summit track is a huge deal. Greg (Anderson) and I have been very fortunate to make that happen a bunch of times. It’s fun.”

In Top Fuel, Shawn Langdon won his second straight race and 13th of his career. Langdon (3.846 seconds at 319.75 mph) defeated J.R. Todd (3.937 seconds at 285.05 mph).

“I think we are starting to see a little luck go our way, we really should have been out first round,” Langdon said. “We were just fortunate Troy Buff red-lit and we went back and looked at everything and couldn’t find out why it did what it did.

“We went back to what we did in qualifying on Saturday with a hot weather tune up. We were able to put together three good straight runs and felt like we had a very strong car today.”

Lastly, in Pro Stock Motorcycle, Eddie Krawiec earned his third win of the season (6.926 seconds at 194.72 mph), defeating Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley Davidson teammate and defending PSM champ Andrew Hines (6.937 seconds at 193.29 mph).

In an ironic twist, Krawiec rode into the pea gravel run-off in both his semifinal and winning rounds, unable to stop in time.

“We went back to the pit and had to take out 30 pounds of pea gravel,” Krawiec said of his semifinal run. “We put new brake pads on it, checked the fluid, drained everything and made sure it was 100 percent.

“We stopped fine in the lanes and everything. I see my fourth round win light against my teammate and went ‘not again’. I pulled the clutch in and went in for a ride.”

The NHRA enjoys next weekend off before resuming action July 7-10 with the Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Illinois.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

FINAL FINISHING ORDER:

TOP FUEL: 1.  Shawn Langdon; 2.  J.R. Todd; 3.  Doug Kalitta; 4.  Brittany Force; 5.  Tony Schumacher; 6.  Antron Brown; 7.  Leah Pritchett; 8.  Pat Dakin; 9.  Tripp Tatum; 10.  Troy Buff; 11.  Chris Karamesines; 12.  Richie Crampton; 13.  Clay Millican; 14.  Luigi Novelli; 15.  Terry McMillen.

FUNNY CAR: 1.  Ron Capps; 2.  Courtney Force; 3.  Robert Hight; 4.  Tommy Johnson Jr.; 5.  John Force; 6.  Alexis DeJoria; 7.  Del Worsham; 8.  Cruz Pedregon; 9.  Tim Wilkerson; 10.  John Hale; 11.  Matt Hagan; 12.  Jack Beckman; 13.  Brandon Welch; 14.  Jeff Diehl; 15.  Chad Head.

PRO STOCK: 1.  Jason Line; 2.  Greg Anderson; 3.  Shane Gray; 4.  Vincent Nobile; 5.  Allen Johnson; 6.  Alex Laughlin; 7.  Erica Enders; 8.  Drew Skillman; 9.  John Gaydosh Jr; 10.  Chris McGaha; 11.  Jeg Coughlin; 12.  Curt Steinbach; 13.  Charlie Westcott Jr.; 14.  Kenny Delco; 15.  V. Gaines; 16.  Bo Butner.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1.  Eddie Krawiec; 2.  Andrew Hines; 3.  Jerry Savoie; 4.  Angelle Sampey; 5.  Matt Smith; 6.  Cory Reed; 7.  Hector Arana; 8.  LE Tonglet; 9.  Hector Arana Jr; 10.  Michael Phillips; 11.  Jim Underdahl; 12.  Steve Johnson; 13.  Scotty Pollacheck; 14.  Michael Ray; 15.  Chip Ellis; 16.  Angie Smith.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

FINAL RESULTS:

Top Fuel: Shawn Langdon, 3.846 seconds, 319.75 mph  def. J.R. Todd, 3.937 seconds, 285.05 mph.

Funny Car: Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 3.956, 317.49  def. Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.010, 314.17.

Pro Stock: Jason Line, Chevy Camaro, 6.678, 208.42  def. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.717, 208.36.

Pro Stock Motorcycle: Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.926, 194.72  def. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.937, 193.29.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

FINAL ROUND-BY-ROUND RESULTS:

TOP FUEL:

ROUND ONE — Shawn Langdon, 8.819, 86.59 def. Troy Buff, Foul – Red Light; Leah Pritchett, 3.884, 318.17 def. Richie Crampton, 4.133, 288.27; Antron Brown, 3.771, 321.50 def. Luigi Novelli, 6.260, 104.74; Doug Kalitta, 7.521, 110.42 was unopposed; Brittany Force, 3.776, 323.74 def. Chris Karamesines, 4.035, 293.35; J.R. Todd, 3.806, 322.04 def. Terry McMillen, 6.379, 109.36; Tony Schumacher, 3.792, 323.81 def. Tripp Tatum, 3.887, 318.09; Pat Dakin, 3.830, 316.67 def. Clay Millican, 5.267, 135.24;

QUARTERFINALS — Kalitta, 3.814, 324.05 def. Dakin, 11.088, 72.77; Todd, 3.831, 302.89 def. Pritchett, 3.881, 314.75; Force, 3.805, 321.96 def. Schumacher, 3.840, 316.15; Langdon, 3.800, 325.14 def. Brown, 3.873, 311.77;

SEMIFINALS — Todd, 3.868, 297.09 def. Kalitta, 3.874, 312.42; Langdon, 3.808, 321.35 def. Force, 4.579, 206.16;

FINAL — Langdon, 3.846, 319.75 def. Todd, 3.937, 285.05.

FUNNY CAR:

ROUND ONE — Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 3.966, 317.87 def. Jeff Diehl, Toyota Solara, 6.794, 102.96; Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 4.337, 210.50 was unopposed; Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.976, 319.52 def. Brandon Welch, Chevy Monte Carlo, 6.347, 110.53; Courtney Force, Camaro, 3.943, 322.42 def. John Hale, Charger, 4.638, 186.18; Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 3.980, 319.82 def. Jack Beckman, Charger, 5.710, 124.61; John Force, Camaro, 4.254, 237.71 def. Matt Hagan, Charger, 5.042, 272.78; Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.800, 170.34 def. Chad Head, Camry, 8.107, 91.20; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.984, 317.72 def. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.991, 322.34;

QUARTERFINALS — Capps, 3.990, 305.36 def. Pedregon, 4.654, 184.47; C. Force, 3.988, 317.05 def. DeJoria, 4.002, 317.19; Hight, 3.982, 318.17 def. J. Force, 3.998, 319.14; Johnson Jr., 3.958, 320.58 def. Worsham, 4.049, 320.43;

SEMIFINALS — C. Force, 4.042, 306.19 def. Johnson Jr., 5.283, 153.37; Capps, 3.963, 316.60 def. Hight, 4.018, 275.79;

FINAL — Capps, 3.956, 317.49 def. C. Force, 4.010, 314.17.

PRO STOCK:

ROUND ONE — Alex Laughlin, Chevy Camaro, 6.697, 206.23 def. Jeg Coughlin, Dodge Dart, 6.736, 205.91; Erica Enders, Dart, 6.728, 205.76 def. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.734, 206.61; Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.681, 208.36 def. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.853, 171.71; Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.681, 207.56 def. John Gaydosh Jr, Chevrolet Camaro, 6.723, 205.79; Allen Johnson, Dart, 6.670, 208.39 def. Bo Butner, Camaro, 11.324, 79.18; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.634, 209.23 def. Curt Steinbach, Camaro, 6.748, 204.66; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.636, 209.33 def. Charlie Westcott Jr., Ford Mustang, 6.849, 202.36; Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.650, 207.34 def. V. Gaines, Dart, 8.457, 110.82;

QUARTERFINALS — Gray, 6.681, 207.37 def. Johnson, 6.694, 205.10; Nobile, 6.678, 207.59 def. Skillman, 9.535, 99.17; Anderson, 6.652, 208.23 def. Laughlin, 6.698, 207.88; Line, 6.662, 209.04 def. Enders, 6.737, 205.57;

SEMIFINALS — Line, 6.675, 208.62 def. Nobile, 6.762, 207.69; Anderson, 6.675, 208.04 def. Gray, 6.699, 206.86;

FINAL — Line, 6.678, 208.42 def. Anderson, 6.717, 208.36.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE:

ROUND ONE — Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.863, 196.10 def. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 7.022, 193.99; Cory Reed, Buell, 6.956, 194.24 def. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 7.730, 133.12; Hector Arana, Buell, 7.013, 194.07 def. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, Foul – Red Light; LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.915, 194.83 def. Angie Smith, Broke; Angelle Sampey, Buell, 6.914, 194.97 def. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 7.085, 192.14; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.940, 193.54 def. Michael Phillips, Suzuki, 6.949, 195.70; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.914, 194.80 def. Chip Ellis, Buell, Foul – Red Light; Matt Smith, 6.879, 195.36 def. Michael Ray, Buell, 8.088, 122.76;

QUARTERFINALS — Savoie, 6.891, 194.66 def. Tonglet, 6.974, 193.77; Hines, 6.889, 194.83 def. Reed, Foul – Red Light; Krawiec, 6.909, 194.35 def. Arana, 6.951, 193.35; Sampey, 6.885, 195.31 def. M. Smith, 6.909, 192.96;

SEMIFINALS — Krawiec, 6.891, 196.56 def. Savoie, 6.889, 195.62; Hines, 6.893, 195.79 def. Sampey, 10.165, 83.70;

FINAL — Krawiec, 6.926, 194.72 def. Hines, 6.937, 193.29.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

UPDATED POINT STANDINGS:

Top Fuel: 1.  Doug Kalitta, 1,009; 2.  Antron Brown, 940; 3.  Steve Torrence, 846; 4.  Brittany Force, 832; 5.  Tony Schumacher, 729; 6.  Shawn Langdon, 711; 7.  J.R. Todd, 645; 8.  Clay Millican, 572; 9.  Richie Crampton, 570; 10.  Leah Pritchett, 463.

Funny Car: 1.  Ron Capps, 966; 2.  Courtney Force, 836; 3.  Jack Beckman, 823; 4.  Del Worsham, 762; 5.  Tommy Johnson Jr., 750; 6.  Matt Hagan, 747; 7.  Tim Wilkerson, 723; 8.  Robert Hight, 722; 9.  John Force, 668; 10.  Alexis DeJoria, 640.

Pro Stock: 1.  Jason Line, 1,389 *; 2.  Greg Anderson, 1,274 *; 3.  Bo Butner, 796; 4.  Allen Johnson, 719; 5.  Drew Skillman, 683; 6.  Vincent Nobile, 613; 7.  Chris McGaha, 557; 8.  Shane Gray, 532; 9.  Jeg Coughlin, 528; 10.  Alex Laughlin, 498.

Pro Stock Motorcycle: 1.  Eddie Krawiec, 557; 2.  (tie) Andrew Hines, 391; Jerry Savoie, 391; 4.  Angelle Sampey, 372; 5.  Chip Ellis, 300; 6.  Hector Arana, 291; 7.  LE Tonglet, 253; 8.  Matt Smith, 192; 9.  Scotty Pollacheck, 183; 10.  Steve Johnson, 179.

* Clinched berth in NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship.

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NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E and Ian James set to race ahead of electric motorsports’ curve

James McLaren Formula E
McLaren Racing
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As Formula E enters their ninth season and McLaren Racing is set to compete in last year’s championship winning car, Ian James is passionate about pushing electric motorsports forward at a critical stage as race technology begins surpassing that of the street cars.

Midseason, McLaren acquired the assets of the Mercedes-EQ team as they were already on their way to winning a second consecutive championship. With those assets in place and coming off a successful debut in the Extreme E series, James is set to usher in a new era in electric car racing.

Last week’s announcement that Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast behind the wheel of the NEOM McLaren Formula E team was the last piece of the puzzle.

McLaren’s electric portfolio is building with the Formula E team coming one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour. There were a lot of lessons to learn in that series with growing pains during the first three of five rounds. Rounds 4 and 5 were a completely different matter with the team crossing the finish line first in Chile before being assessed a time penalty.

In the final round in Uruguay, they scored an elusive podium.

“McLaren kicked off the season in Extreme E at the beginning of this year, so our first [electric] race took place Neom, actually out in Saudi,” NEOM McLaren Racing Team Principal James told NBC Sports. “At the time, we were in very early discussions about opportunities with the Formula E team. I actually went out there to meet with Zak [Brown, CEO McLaren Racing] and that was my first taste of Extreme E.

“Since the transition, I joined them in Chile in Atacama Desert, and then Uruguay last weekend. [The second-place finish was] a lovely way to round out the season. The fact that they got that podium. It was very well deserved. It’s a great team and a great series actually. It’s just so very different from anything else. The team’s done a great job in getting set up, and it’s nice now to, we’re trying to use that momentum that we’ve got from Uruguay to get us into next season when it kicks off next year, which will be great. I think we’re mid-March is looking like the first race, so a little bit of time to get things prepped for that.”

 

James McLaren Formula E
The NEOM Mclaren Racing Formula E team was created through the acquisition of last year’s championship car from Mercedes-EQ. – McLaren Racing

Synergies exist between the single seater and rally series. Lessons learned about battery power and sustainability in the electric SUV carry over so long as one is mindful of keeping focus on the individual needs and nuances of each series.

Especially now that electric racing technology has caught up, and is ready to surpass, the existing technology that has gone into building street cars.

When internal combustion engines gained the upper hand soon after automobiles were invented, racing paced alongside. The pressure of competition pushed the development of their commercial equivalents. The same has not necessarily been true of electric cars. Street cars were not designed to undergo the same stress as racecars – and that vulnerability showed up on the racetrack.

“Formula E has come along a long way,” James said. “I think one of the most notable developments is in the battery technology. In Gen 1, you had the drivers jumping from one car to another car midrace because the battery technology and capacity simply wasn’t where it needed to be to do the full distance. That obviously changed in Gen 2 and we saw a power increase as well to the 250 kilowatts.

“Now going to Gen 3, we have 350 kilowatts in a smaller battery. But that means that we’re relying on the regeneration of energy and for that reason, we’ve got also the opportunity to regenerate on the front axle as well as the rear axle now. So, there’s all sorts of things that are developing in the right direction.

“In terms of throttle response, actually, we’re now in a situation with electric racing and the motors that it’s instantaneous. And one of the advantages of electric over combustion engine is that the torque is instantaneous as well, so that gives you a lot more room to play with.”

No matter the power source, racing has always been about resource management. Drivers and teams select tire strategies they believe produce the fastest elapsed time and fuel conservation comes into play.

On one hand, electric racing is the same, but there is a critical difference. With the battery as both the power source and an integral part of the engine, there are multiple reasons to manage it.

In electric racing, the brain of the car is the software – and that is where James sees the greatest room for advancement.

“As we are working with our drivers and engineers – and start to look at functionality to improve our efficiency and our performance, that’s something we’ll continue to push because that development is open throughout the season,” James said. “That’s going to be our focus going forward and provides enough of a challenge for us to get our teeth into.

“What’s going to be fascinating is as Formula E continues, is to really look at which areas of development on the car are going to be the most relevant and ensuring that we can focus on those together with the manufacturers so we continue and use the series as a platform for technical development that can then feed back into the road car side of things as well.

“At the end of the day, that’s what motorsports always been, a very powerful tool for, and I see Formula E as no exception.”

James McLaren Formula E
Jake Hughes and Rene Rast were chosen for their ability to drive fast and execute the necessary strategy for energy management. – McLaren Racing

Selecting Rast and Hughes as McLaren’s Formula E drivers was not simply because they know how to drive fast. James believes both drivers have the mental aptitude to execute energy management strategies throughout the race and squeeze maximum performance.

“As with many other motorsports, you’ve got a certain amount of energy that you’re able to deploy during the race and the management of that energy is absolutely crucial,” James said. “What we’re seeing typically in electric motorsports now is the hardware side of things. The efficiencies that we’re seeing in the powertrain as a whole, they’re getting up to the sort of 96%, 97%, 98% efficiency, so the gains that you get through that further and further become more marginal.”

With much more room for improvement, software is a different matter. To make the best decisions, the drivers need data, and that is where James believes McLaren Formula E will make their greatest impact.

“And then you really switch that focus to the software and that’s where you’re going to see the most the most improvement and the most gains,” James continued. “It’s then using that software to ensure that you’re deploying the energy in the most efficient manner during race, and thereby giving the driver the most performance. And that’s something which is incredibly complicated, but I find it a fascinating area to work in.

“The benefit of being involved in racing is you can really push the envelope in a way that you can’t do on road cars. And I think that that’s where that value comes in. It means that you accelerate the development a lot quicker. We will get ahead of the curve – and we are getting ahead of the curve now – and that will mean that the electric motorsports remain part of the overall development process.

“The key to that is also making sure that the racing’s exciting and fun for the fans. If we can, we can tick both of those boxes, then it’s got a very bright future ahead of it.”