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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Valtteri Bottas wins chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix

Mark Thompson/Getty Images
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SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas won a chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix while six-time series champion Lewis Hamilton finished fourth after getting a late time penalty Sunday.

The Formula One race was interrupted three times by a safety car, and nine of 20 drivers abandoned, including both Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon – who tried to overtake Hamilton on the outside with 10 laps left, touched wheels and flew off track.

Hamilton was given a 5-second time penalty for causing the collision, having earlier been hit with a three-place grid penalty after an incident in Saturday’s qualifying was reviewed by stewards.

SHOW OF SUPPORT: Drivers take knee before race

Bottas led all 71 laps in the eighth victory of his career. It was the second consecutive victory in the season opener for the Finn, though he won four months earlier in 2019 after this season’s start was delayed by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Lando Norris of McLaren F1 celebrates after his first podium finish (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).

Bottas started from pole position and Hamilton from fifth, but it looked like a straight fight between the two Mercedes drivers as has been the case so often in recent years.

But late drama in Spielberg ensured otherwise and Hamilton’s time penalty meant Charles Leclerc took second place for Ferrari, and Lando Norris sent McLaren’s garage into raptures – and threw all social distancing rules out of the window amid the euphoria – with third place.

It was the 20-year-old British driver’s first career podium, and his superb final lap was the fastest of a dramatic season opener.

Norris became the youngest British driver to secure a podium finish and the third-youngest ever in Formula One.

Valtteri Bottas leads Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton during the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).