Photo: Mahindra Racing

Felix Rosenqvist returns to U.S. street courses at NYC ePrix

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One of the stars of last season’s Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires was Felix Rosenqvist, who won three of the four street course races for Belardi Auto Racing in a partial season.

The Swede was meant to have Indy Lights as a full program but only ran through Indianapolis before another driver (James French) took his place at Road America, before he returned at Toronto in mid-July last year.

On that weekend, Rosenqvist came back as if he’d never left with a pair of pole-to-flag romps for victories, for his second and third wins of the season.

But with his career taking him to new places in the last 12 months – he’s raced a Mercedes-AMG GT3 in sports cars, he tested an IndyCar with Chip Ganassi Racing at Mid-Ohio (and has been rumored to do so again this year), he’s raced at Le Mans with DragonSpeed, at Macau in Formula 3, in DTM with Mercedes, in Super Formula with Toyota and the FIA Formula E Championship with Mahindra Racing – Rosenqvist hasn’t made much in the way of visits to North America for racing since, other than to Mexico City for the FE round there in April.

Fortunately that changes this weekend at the Qualcomm New York City ePrix, where Rosenqvist enters the weekend third in points on the heels of his first Formula E win at Berlin last month. He also just banked his first Super Formula podium last weekend in Fuji, when he finished second.

He would have had a weekend sweep there, but for a pit safety infraction on the mandatory car change pit stop in the second race and a 10-second penalty assessed as a result. That gave the win to Renault e.dams’ Sebastien Buemi even though Rosenqvist was first on the road.

The Swede told my MST colleague Luke Smith that his American street course experience would help in Formula E and it’s proven that way this season.

“I can’t wait to go racing in New York City. I’ve competed in the United States before but I’m looking forward to racing around the streets of Brooklyn in the M3Electro,” Rosenqvist said in the team’s pre-race release.

“It’s a really important race for the team and we’re confident we can continue our podium streak – and hopefully chase down more wins! I’m also really looking forward to exploring the city – I’ve only been to New York once but didn’t get a chance to see the sights.”

The doubleheader of races takes place this weekend on Saturday and Sunday.

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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