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Dixon still leads points, but loses another win chance, at Texas

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After a chaotic to say the least Verizon IndyCar Series Rainguard Water Sealers 600 from Texas Motor Speedway, Scott Dixon could have afforded to feel aggrieved at losing yet another win chance Saturday night.

The usually unflappable “Iceman” left the track without a comment after being collected by Indianapolis 500 champion Takuma Sato on Lap 243. Sato’s No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda tried to the inside of Dixon’s No. 9 NTT Data Honda on the dogleg of the 1.5-mile oval before coming up and into the fellow Honda.

The ensuring contact also collected Max Chilton and Conor Daly as innocent bystanders in a four-car accident that involved four cars with nearly identical blue and white paint schemes, Daly’s red, white and blue ABC Supply Co. Chevrolet standing as the only exception.

“It was an unfortunate bad situation. I had car on my right side. It bottomed out,” Sato told NBCSN’s Robin Miller. “Nothing I could do. It was a great show. Very unfortunate we couldn’t finish the race.”

Such was the chaotic night though that despite Dixon’s truncated evening he was still classified ninth, and remains the Verizon IndyCar Series points leader through nine of 17 races.

The ninth place finish is actually Dixon’s second worst result in nine races; his other, of course, was his 32nd place registered after his airborne flight at Indianapolis following contact with Jay Howard. In the other seven races he’s finished between second and sixth, yet without a win.

Simon Pagenaud drove cagily and smartly as he did earlier this year to end third, maximizing points on a day when many others didn’t. He now sits second in points with 313.

Sato, even with the contact, ended 10th and is third on 312.

Helio Castroneves crashed out early and after his first finish outside the top-10 this year, is now fourth on 305 points, while Will Power was the big mover with his win to jump from eighth to fifth on 286.

Detroit double winner Graham Rahal sits sixth on points on 283, with Josef Newgarden (277), Tony Kanaan (264), Alexander Rossi (254) and James Hinchcliffe (232) completing the top-1o in points.

Max Chilton (229) and Ed Jones (228) are only a handful of points outside the top 10 in 11th and 12th, which means that through nine races this year there are still 12 drivers within 98 points – a staggeringly close number.

With a season-best result of seventh and his first top-10 finish of the year, Daly has finally moved past nearly all those drivers who’ve missed a race this year into 19th. Previously in the last weekend, he was behind JR Hildebrand, Sebastien Bourdais, Spencer Pigot and Juan Pablo Montoya.

Hildebrand sits ahead of three drivers – Carlos Munoz, Charlie Kimball and Daly – who’ve driven in all nine races this year. The Californian missed Barber with a hand injury.

Dixon, meanwhile, heads to Le Mans for his Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT commitments, as do fellow IndyCar full-season drivers Kanaan and Mikhail Aleshin, along with NBCSN analyst Townsend Bell.

NHRA: Dodge/Mopar to unveil new Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car today in Denver

Photos/video courtesy Dodge/Mopar
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If you’re a fan of NHRA Funny Car racing and Dodge/Mopar, you may notice something different at this weekend’s Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in suburban Denver, Colorado.

Two-time (2011 and 2014) NHRA Funny Car champ Matt Hagan – who has won the last two NHRA national events in the last four weeks – will be piloting a newly-designed 2019 Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, a 10,000-horsepower Funny Car that makes its debut today at Dodge/Mopar’s premier NHRA national event.

The new Charger SRT Hellcat succeeds the former Mopar Dodge Charger R/T, which had been in use since 2015.

“We improved on the body design,” Hagan said of the new Charger Hellcat. “It was already a great design, a great body. But now, we’re going to have a little more downforce, a little more traction on these racetracks and it will be a huge performance advantage.”

The new Hellcat includes a number of innovations, including a new front splitter to increase downforce. Just like its predecessor, the R/T, the Hellcat will go head-to-head with Chevrolet’s Camaro in the NHRA Funny Car ranks.

“We will be able to press harder with more downforce on the nose, which translates into huge amounts of downforce on the run,” Hagan said.

According to a media release, the new Hellcat features major design changes in three key areas: the front end, bodysides and burst panel placement:

* “At the front, the shape of the nose has been tweaked and a new splitter (photo), built of carbon fiber and Kevlar like the rest of the Funny Car body, has been added. The splitter substantially mimics the look and shape of the production vehicle’s splitter while generating greater downforce to help plant the Funny Car to the track.

* “Bodyside scallops have been redesigned to more closely identify with the production Hellcat while also enhancing on-track function and performance. The deeper character lines provide greater visual ties to the street version of the Hellcat, while also helping to mitigate the “body burn” common on all Funny Cars due to the close positioning of the exhaust headers.

* “The location of the burst panel on the hood has also been reworked. The panel is now centered over the top of the engine to more efficiently release energy and pressure in the event of engine issues, a common occurrence in race cars that are pushed to the razor’s edge of performance.”

Since the R/T was first introduced into the Don Schumacher Racing corps, it has gone on to 50 wins, 42 runner-up finishes and 40 No. 1 qualifiers in NHRA national events and one NHRA Funny Car World Championship (Ron Capps, 2016).

The new Charger SRT Hellcat, which can exceed 330-plus mph and covers 1,000 feet in under four seconds, is the drag strip version of the supercharged, 707-horsepower production Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, the quickest, fastest and most powerful sedan in the world.

While Hagan will drive the first Hellcat, his other three Dodge-powered DSR teammates – Capps, Jack Beckman and Tommy Johnson Jr. – will soon take delivery of their own versions of the car over the remaining 11 races of the 2018 season.

One day after winning two weeks ago at Norwalk, Ohio, Hagan and crew chief Dickie Venables put the new Hellcat through its paces with several test runs. The results were so strong that it was decided to debut the car at Denver and run all qualifying and elimination rounds with it.

“We made four good, solid runs in testing at Norwalk,” said Hagan. “We put the body through a lot of different things and were really, really pleased with it.

“I really think it’s going to translate over to performance on the race track, and hopefully more win lights in the future.”

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