Photos courtesy NHRA

NHRA: John Force Racing tweaks crew chief and assistants lineup for 2018

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With two defending championship teams ready to go for two in a row, John Force Racing announced a few adjustments to its crew chief and co-crew chief lineups Tuesday.

Here’s now the 2018 JFR lineup will look:

* NHRA Top Fuel champ Brittany Force’s dragster sees Brian Husen returning as crew chief, joined by new assistant crew chief Ronnie Thompson.

Alan Johnson will return as consultant to the team, which won four of six final rounds, as well as set the national speed record last season.

* NHRA Funny Car champ Robert Hight’s car will remain the same with Jimmy Prock as crew chief and Chris Cunningham as assistant.

The team reached seven final rounds last season, earning four wins, and also setting both the Funny Car speed and elapsed time national records.

* There has been a change on Courtney Force’s Funny Car team. Dan Hood returns as co-crew chief and will be joined with the addition of fellow co-crew chief Brian Corradi.

Corradi has three Top Fuel world championships to his credit, but had sought to return to the Funny Car ranks and return to work with former teammate Hood, who is married to John Force’s daughter Ashley, a former Funny Car driver herself.

“This move was a great opportunity for me and the timing just worked out,” Corradi said. “Danny (Hood) and I have a long history both on the track and with our families.

“I am excited to get back to Funny Car. This Advance Auto Parts team was very successful last year and I think we can be even better this season.”

* Lastly, John Force’s Funny Car will continue to be managed by co-crew chiefs Jon Schaffer and Jason McCulloch.

“We have a lot of talent top to bottom with our crew chiefs,” John Force said. “With that talent, hard work and a little luck we were able to come away from the 2017 season with the Top Fuel and Funny Car championships.

“We’re welcoming Brian Corradi to the team and back into the Funny Car world with Danny Hood. Now we are all going to work together, just like we always have, to put all four of these hot rods in as many winner’s circles as possible.

“I am excited to get to Phoenix (for this week’s preseason testing) and see where we stand. All these guys have been working hard all off-season and now it’s time to go racing.”

Valtteri Bottas wins chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix

Mark Thompson/Getty Images
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SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas won a chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix while six-time series champion Lewis Hamilton finished fourth after getting a late time penalty Sunday.

The Formula One race was interrupted three times by a safety car, and nine of 20 drivers abandoned, including both Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon – who tried to overtake Hamilton on the outside with 10 laps left, touched wheels and flew off track.

Hamilton was given a 5-second time penalty for causing the collision, having earlier been hit with a three-place grid penalty after an incident in Saturday’s qualifying was reviewed by stewards.

SHOW OF SUPPORT: Drivers take knee before race

Bottas led all 71 laps in the eighth victory of his career. It was the second consecutive victory in the season opener for the Finn, though he won four months earlier in 2019 after this season’s start was delayed by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Lando Norris of McLaren F1 celebrates after his first podium finish (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).

Bottas started from pole position and Hamilton from fifth, but it looked like a straight fight between the two Mercedes drivers as has been the case so often in recent years.

But late drama in Spielberg ensured otherwise and Hamilton’s time penalty meant Charles Leclerc took second place for Ferrari, and Lando Norris sent McLaren’s garage into raptures – and threw all social distancing rules out of the window amid the euphoria – with third place.

It was the 20-year-old British driver’s first career podium, and his superb final lap was the fastest of a dramatic season opener.

Norris became the youngest British driver to secure a podium finish and the third-youngest ever in Formula One.

Valtteri Bottas leads Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton during the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).