NHRA Pro Stock/Pro Stock Motorcycle: McGaha, Hines win in U.S. Nationals

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BROWNSBURG, Indiana – One isn’t a lonely number anymore – it’s the only number now for Pro Stock driver Chris McGaha.

McGaha earned the biggest win of his career – and his first victory of the 2016 season – capturing his first Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals win at Lucas Oil Raceway.

McGaha (6.688 seconds at 207.15 mph) defeated Pro Stock veteran Allen Johnson (6.715 seconds at 207.08 mph) to take home the $50,000 first prize. Johnson earned $15,000 for his runner-up showing.

MORE: NHRA U.S. Nationals: Final finishing order, results, round-by-round, standings

MORE: NHRA Top Fuel: Tony Schumacher earns record-breaking 10th U.S. Nationals win

MORE: NHRA Funny Car: It took 9 years but Matt Hagan finally earns his first U.S. Nationals win

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Chris McGaha

McGaha now begins preparing to earn what he hopes is another first: winning the upcoming six-race Countdown to the Championship, which begins in two weeks at Charlotte. Given how strong his car has been running of late, not to mention winning Monday’s race, McGaha definitely is thinking championship – which would be the first of his career.

“We got to keep doing what we were doing today,” McGaha said. “If we keep doing what we were doing today, we’ll definitely have a shot. I botched a lot of runs along the way. We shouldn’t even be in seventh. Between tire shaking and making bad calls and flat getting our butt kicked, we should be a lot higher. It’s not impossible at this point. Just got to keep winning.”

Among other highlights from the four rounds of eliminations:

* Aaron Strong, who won the weather-delayed final round from Seattle that was contested on Saturday at Indianapolis, saw how quickly success can be fleeting. Two days after earning his first career Pro Stock win (in only his ninth career start), Strong lost in the first round of Monday’s eliminations to Drew Skillman.

* Two-time defending series champ Erica Enders lost in the first round to Shane Gray, but still qualified for the Countdown.

* Jason Line remains the leader as the points are reset for the Countdown. Line will enter the first race at Charlotte in two weeks with 2,110 points. Teammates Greg Anderson and Bo Butner are second (2,080 points) and third (2,070), respectively, followed by Allen Johnson (2,060), Vincent Nobile (2,050), Drew Skillman (2,040), Chris McGaha (2,030), Shane Gray (2,020), two-time defending series champ Erica Enders (2,010) and Jeg Coughlin (2,000).

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In Pro Stock Motorcycle, defending series champion Andrew Hines earned his second U.S. Nationals career win (he also won in 2012).

Hines (6.862 seconds at 194.63 mph) defeated Hector Arana Jr. (fouled) for his 47th career win in PSM – further extending his own record as the winningest rider in the history of the class.

Hines earned $20,000 for the win, while Arana earned $5,500.

Andrew Hines
Andrew Hines

In winning his fifth race of the season, Hines also regained the points lead heading into the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoffs.

“I’ve had a good motorcycle as of late, but it hasn’t been qualifying well,” said Hines, a five-time PSM champ. “I knew the potential of my Harley. I knew I had a bike that could go rounds and we just had to pick on it here and there.

“We’re getting closer to something that will work for us in the heat. We got to the final round and figured out the tune-up that needed to be in there. I’m happy I made my best run of the weekend in the final round.”

* With Monday’s win, Hines moves into the lead in the PSM points standings, which are reset for the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoffs. Hines will enter the first race at Charlotte in two weeks with 2,110 points. Teammate Eddie Krawiec is second (2,080 points), followed by Angelle Sampey (2,070), Jerry Savoie (2,060), LE Tonglet (2,050), Chip Ellis (2,040), Hector Arana Jr. (2,030), Hector Arana (2,020), Matt Smith (2,010) and Cory Reed (2,000).

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Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.