Photos courtesy NHRA

2016 NHRA season in review: Pro Stock Motorcycle’s Chip Ellis

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MotorSportsTalk continues its season-ending reviews of the top drivers of the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.

From Dec. 12 through Jan. 4, we’ll feature one daily in-depth review of a driver that finished in the top-five in each of the four professional classes (Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle), as well as a compendium of select other drivers that did not finish in the top-five.

The list of drivers we’ve already posted is below. Today, we feature Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Chip Ellis:

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Driver: Chip Ellis

Age: 46

Hometown: Brownsburg, Indiana

Team: Junior Pippin Racing

Sponsor/motorcycle: PiranaZ Buell

Crew chief: Junior Pippin

2016 season finish: Fifth in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

2016 season statistics: 16 races, 1 win, 0 runner-up, 3 semifinals, 6 quarterfinals. No. 1 qualifier 0 times. Round-by-round record: 16 wins, 15 losses.

Career statistics: 128 races, 7 wins, 6 runner-up, 27 semifinals, 36 quarterfinals. No. 1 qualifier 16 times. Round-by-round record: 136 wins, 119 losses. 2 DNQ.

What went right in 2016: Ellis was the second-most pleasant surprise in 2016 after Jerry Savoie’s PSM championship. Ellis drove the heck out of his Junior Pippin Buell, enjoying one of the best seasons of his long two-wheeled racing career. It wasn’t easy at times, as Pippin – one of Ellis’ closest friends – has been battling cancer for more than a year. But Ellis’ success helped Pippin endure dozens of chemotherapy and radiation treatments, and Pippin’s health battle helped inspire Ellis to some outstanding runs, including almost becoming the first PSM rider to break the elusive 200 mph barrier (198.47 mph at Sonoma and 198.38 mph at Englishtown). … Another high point was when Ellis not only qualified for the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoff, he also won the opening race of the Countdown at Charlotte, defeating five-time PSM champ Andrew Hines. In doing so, Ellis vaulted to No. 2 in the points after that race, but he eventually dropped to a final season finish of fifth.

What went wrong in 2016: Admittedly, Ellis did struggle at times this past season, particularly advancing past the first round. In the season’s 16 races, he made a first-round exit six times. … After winning the Countdown opener at Charlotte, Ellis had two first-round losses (Reading and Las Vegas 2), a pair of quarterfinal losses (Dallas and Pomona 2) and reached just one semifinal (St. Louis).

What to look for in 2017: As much as Savoie was the biggest surprise of 2016, Ellis has the talent and the horsepower to become the next version of an underdog like Savoie triumphing and riding all the way to the championship in 2017. If that were to happen, it would be quite fitting for a rider who has devoted his life to racing and also helping others (he even pitched in to ride for Savoie in a couple of races in 2013 while the latter recovered from minor surgery).

Season reviews already posted:

— Antron Brown (12/12)

— Ron Capps (12/13)

— Jason Line (12/14)

Jerry Savoie (12/15)

Doug Kalitta (12/16)

Tommy Johnson Jr. (12/17)

Greg Anderson (12/18)

Eddie Krawiec (12/19)

Steve Torrence (12/20)

— Matt Hagan (12/21)

— Shane Gray (12/22)

— Andrew Hines (12/23)

— J.R. Todd (12/24)

— John Force (12/25)

— Bo Butner (12/26)

— Angelle Sampey (12/27)

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Andretti United team names drivers for inaugural Extreme E season

Extreme E drivers Andretti
Extreme E
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The Extreme E team formed by Andretti Autosport and United Autosports named Catie Munnings and Timmy Hansen as its drivers Monday for the series’ inaugural 2021 season.

Munnings is a successful veteran of rally series. Hansen is a past winner and champion in the World Rallycross Championship.

They both will race in the environmentally conscious electric SUV series that will hold events in five areas around the world that are threatened by climate change. Chip Ganassi Racing and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton also are fielding cars in Extreme E, which will feature male and female co-drivers on every team.

Catie Munnings

“I’m so excited to join Andretti United Extreme E,” Munnings said in a release. ““I was really intrigued when I first heard about Extreme E, I just knew I had to be involved. The male / female racing partnership is a fantastic and exciting new concept. The season has incredible locations and the racing will be very exciting. It will be a new challenge for the teams and drivers, and I’m so thrilled to be working with such a strong team.

“The championship is a really innovative concept, it’s combining motorsport and science and will produce an important legacy in each race location. Bringing the platform that motorsport has in line with the awareness that the planet needs right now is awesome and a really important message.”

Timmy Hansen

Said Hansen: “Going into the Extreme E will be a new chapter in my career, one that I am extremely excited about. It is something brand new, not only for me, but the whole of motorsport. The format is something

we’ve never seen before. I’m also delighted to be able to carry the message of something bigger – talking about the environment and doing something good for the world – that’s something that really drives me. It’s going to be a big adventure in life to see these locations and I’m going to do my best in carrying this responsibility and hopefully making people aware of the challenges we have in the world, together with our passion for racing.”