Photo: Larry Chen/Red Bull Content Pool

Red Bull GRC: Speed, VW deliver Andretti win on Indy home soil

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Michael Andretti hadn’t missed a Verizon IndyCar Series race on-site since his one-year voyage to Formula 1 in 1993, and returned to the series in 1994.

He missed today’s Iowa Corn 300 though, because his Red Bull Global Rallycross team was doing work not far from the Andretti Autosport team’s home soil in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Raceway.

The decision to miss one team’s race for another paid dividends as the Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross team delivered the goods on Sunday in Red Bull GRC’s maiden visit to Indy.

Scott Speed completed a perfect day in his No. 41 Oberto Circle K Beetle GRC, winning two heats, a semifinal and then the 10-lap finals in the Supercars class. He’d won another heat on Saturday.

The final was a 1-2 finish for the Volkswagen Andretti teammates as Speed beat teammate Tanner Foust in his No. 34 Rockstar Energy Drink Beetle GRC.

This is Speed’s second win of 2017 (Memphis, Round 1) and the fourth 1-2 for the Volkswagen Andretti team this season.

“We had a great car all weekend from the moment we pulled it off the hauler, until the last lap of the Final; the team just did a great job,” Speed said. “The track was unbelievably fun. This is the first time we’ve been to a track that was predominantly some sort of gravel mix and it was just so fun because every time you went out onto the track it was a little bit different. There was water in areas there wasn’t before and the track was changing during the race.

“It was the most fun I’ve had driving yet. I’m so glad it happened here in Indy because it’s our home race and there was so many friends and family that were able to come to this one. I’m definitely looking forward to coming back here and big shout out to everyone at Oberto, Circle K and Expedite Home Loans.”

Foust, who still leads the championship by 10 points unofficially (488-478) after today’s race, was pleased to end second after a tougher weekend.

“Today was pretty hard. We had penalties in two out of the three heat races this weekend which had us swimming uphill,” he said. “To get into the middle of the front row for the final was a big win for our team. The guys have just been cranking all year.

“This is just a one-race weekend and not a doubleheader, but it’s amazing how difficult it is but it’s so nice to be in Indianapolis. Last time I was here on a racetrack, I was the yellow driver for the Hot Wheels jump at the Indy 500 and that was almost as much fun as it is to race a Global Rallycross car …almost. I was so excited to see so many Indianapolis fans out here to see a new sport. We have a blast every weekend.”

Loenbro Motorsports’ Steve Arpin kept up his strong season by finishing third in his Ford, with Oliver Eriksson best of the Honda Red Bull Olsbergs MSE trio in fourth and Austin Dyne banking a fifth place for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing in his Ford.

With car damage, Honda OMSE’s best driver this year, Mitchell deJong was unable to start the final.

Red Bull GRC is off until Atlantic City for Rounds 8 and 9, in mid-August.

NHRA: Dodge/Mopar unveils new Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car 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 was unveiled this morning ahead of 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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