Photos courtesy NHRA

Courtney Force holds off teammate Robert Hight to win Traxxas Shootout for Funny Cars

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BROWNSBURG, Indiana – In an all-John Force Racing final, Courtney Force outlasted brother-in-law and teammate Robert Hight to capture the Traxxas Shootout for Funny Cars on Sunday at Lucas Oil Raceway.

While both cars lost traction in their respective runs, Force managed to cover the 1,000-foot racing surface the quickest (4.018 seconds) and fastest (266.64 mph).

Hight’s run was 4.596 seconds at 180.09 mph.

The win was a double bonus for the youngest racing daughter of 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force.

Not only did she win the $100,000 prize (Hight took home $15,000), Courtney Force also won an event sponsored by her major sponsor, Traxxas radio control vehicles.

It was also the younger Force’s first appearance in the Shootout final. She defeated Alexis DeJoria and Matt Hagan to reach the final round matchup against her JFR teammate.

“I went out today with the mindset of calm and relaxed,” Courtney Force said. “To win an event like this in front of all these fans in Indiana is huge for our team. To be able to outrun Robert and get that win is a big one for our Traxxas team.”


As for Hight, he made his third consecutive final round appearance in the Shootout – and once again finished runner-up. However, credit must be given to his team as it completely rebuilt Hight’s car after it suffered a massive engine explosion during Saturday’s second qualifying round that necessitated extensive repairs.

Hight, who defeated Tommy Johnson Jr. in the opening round of the Shootout, was the beneficiary of an incident earlier in the day when Ron Capps wrecked his car in a spectacular crash in the first round of the Shootout that left him trapped upside down for several minutes in his Funny Car.

Had Capps not suffered the mishap, he would have faced Hight in the second round semifinals.

NHRA officials determined the body of Capps’ car was too extensively damaged to continue racing.

As a result, Capps was forced to go to a backup body, but was unable to continue competing in the Shootout due to rules prohibiting body changes once the event has begun. Hight was then able to have a solo semifinal run that put him into the final round Shootout battle vs. Force.

In the other Traxxas Shootout held Saturday for Top Fuel dragsters, eight time NHRA champion Tony Schumacher emerged victorious over Don Schumacher Racing teammate Leah Pritchett.

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Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”