Photo: IndyCar

Newgarden leads, Hildebrand spins in Iowa first practice

Leave a comment

Both Josef Newgarden and Ed Carpenter Racing will look to follow up Newgarden’s dominant performance at the Iowa Corn 300 (Sunday, 5 p.m. ET, NBCSN) at this year’s stop on the calendar.

For most of the first Verizon IndyCar Series practice Saturday at the 0.894-mile Iowa Speedway, it was Carpenter on top – until the final five minutes when Newgarden supplanted his old boss and old teammate.

Newgarden took his No. 2 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Team Penske Chevrolet to a best speed of 185.609 mph (17.3397 seconds) near the end of the session, leading a Team Penske top-three sweep in the session.

Teammate Will Power and Simon Pagenaud were next at 185.260 and 184.401 mph, respectively, in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet and No. 1 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet.

Carpenter took the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet to a best speed of 184.137 mph. Carpenter makes his fourth start of the season, all on ovals, with Spencer Pigot back in his usual spectator role for the oval races.

The session was initially only meant to be 75 minutes, but was extended five minutes following Carpenter’s teammate JR Hildebrand crashing in Turn 2 in his No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet with just under 15 minutes remaining. Hildebrand got his left side wheels below the white line and spun backwards into the Turn 2 wall.

While Hildebrand got his hands off the steering wheel, it was fortunate he did so. The steering wheel popped off the car on impact and flew into the air, which also happened last year when Charlie Kimball had an accident in practice at Pocono Raceway and it popped off.

Marco Andretti was fifth and top Honda. Andretti’s most recent IndyCar win came in 2011 at Iowa Speedway, part of Andretti Autosport’s run of six consecutive victories at the track from 2010 through 2015.

Scott Dixon had a shortened session with penalties assessed following the Road America weekend, forced to sit out the final 20 minutes for three violations: entering the course after a checkered flag in the warmup, entering the pit lane from the paddock under power and failing to observe INDYCAR direction.

Speeds are below. Qualifying comes up at 2 p.m. CT, 3 p.m. ET, live on NBCSN.

Top Fuel driver Austin Prock earns 2019 NHRA top rookie honors

NHRA
Leave a comment

Having just completed a promising first year in NHRA Top Fuel competition, Austin Prock is on the road to even greater drag racing success in his career.

That’s why it’s not surprising that Prock was named the winner of the 2019 Auto Club Road to the Future Award during Monday night’s annual NHRA Awards dinner at the Ray Dolby Theater in Hollywood, California.

The Road to the Future Award is NHRA’s version of Rookie of the Year, and Prock was among the brightest young stars on the circuit this past season, including winning his first national event at the Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways in suburban Seattle, the 16th race on the 24-race schedule.

What made that first win all the more sweeter is it came at the same event that his boss, legendary 16-time Funny Car champion John Force, captured his milestone 150th career win.

One month ago, Prock set a personal best run of 3.688 seconds at 334.40 mph over veteran driver Doug Kalitta in the first round of eliminations at the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals three weeks ago in Ennis, Texas (suburban Dallas).

“I am proud of the season this Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist team put together,” Prock said in a media release. “My guys worked their asses off all season long to give me the opportunity to win the Auto Club Road the Future Award. I couldn’t have done it without them.

“I would have never been here without John Force and Robert Hight (president of John Force Racing). They gave me the opportunity to fulfill my dream and I owe the world to them. I hope I made them proud.”

Prock became only the 10th rookie in the history of the NHRA pro ranks to both win a race in their first season and also go on to win the Road to the Future award. He also was the 13th rookie in the sport’s history to qualify for the Countdown to the Championship, NHRA’s six race playoffs.

Prock becomes the sixth John Force Racing driver to earn the Road to the Future Award, joining Tony Pedregon (1996), Hight (2005), Ashley Force-Hood (2007), Mike Neff (2008), Courtney Force (2012) and Brittany Force (2013).

Austin Prock is the son of veteran crew chief Jimmy Prock, who tuned Hight to his third career NHRA Funny Car championship this past Sunday.

Follow @JerryBonkowski