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).

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

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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IndyCar will eliminate double points from the 2020 season finale

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Though the NTT IndyCar Series hasn’t confirmed the date of its 2020 season finale, it has determined that double points won’t be in play.

An IndyCar official confirmed Monday to NBCSports.com that whether the season ends at Weather Tech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California, or on the streets of St. Petersburg, neither race will feature double points. Team owners were informed of the change during a conference call last week.

The news was first reported by RACER.com.

With the original 17-race schedule having been shortened by the cancellation of at least three races (Circuit of The Americas, Barber Motorsports Park, the Long Beach Grand Prix), using double points in the finale would have carried even greater weight (and perhaps more so if more races are unable to be run because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

IndyCar has been using double points at select races since the 2015 season. The 104th Indianapolis 500 will remain a double-points event.

In rescheduling the Indy 500 to Aug. 23 last week, IndyCar unveiled a revised schedule that listed Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg as TBD for its season finale. The race originally had been scheduled to open the season before being called off because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

IndyCar CEO Mark Miles told reporters last week that St. Pete probably would be slotted into the first two weeks October after the Sept. 20 race at Laguna Seca that had been slated to be the season finale for the second consecutive year.