Photo and video courtesy NHRA

NHRA: John Force released from hospital following Funny Car motor explosion (video)

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UPDATE 00:55 a.m. ET: John Force was released from a local Pomona, California-area hospital after suffering a motor explosion during Friday’s second round of qualifying in the season-opening Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals. A John Force Racing team spokesperson told MotorSportsTalk late Friday night: “John is fine. He did go to the hospital as a precaution but was discharged this afternoon and will be racing tomorrow (Saturday).”

UPDATE 2 01:15 a.m. ET: Force said of the incident: “That run just showed you the proof that these race cars, my PEAK Chevrolet Camaro, are built to protect the driver. Anytime I can walk away from an explosion I know these cars at John Force Racing and all our Simpson safety gear are doing their job. I’ll be out tomorrow, the doctor cleared me and I’m ready to race and entertain these fans. Ready to start winning, that’s what PEAK pays me to do.”

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ORIGINAL STORY:

Legendary John Force, the winningest driver in NHRA history and a record 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion, started off the 2018 season with a boom.

The 68-year-old Force was making his second qualifying attempt Friday during the first day of the season-opening Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, California, when the engine in his Peak Antifreeze Chevrolet Camaro suddenly blew up as it approached the finish line at Auto Club Raceway, sending the body of Force’s car flying.

Force appeared to graze the wall slightly but never lost control and completed the ride. While he needed assistance to exit what was left of his car, Force walked to a responding ambulance and entered it under his own power.

A preliminary medical examination found Force responsive and speaking to medical personnel, but he was transported to a local hospital for precautionary reasons.

Sprint Car driver Greg Hodnett killed in Pennsylvania race crash

Photo: World of Outlaws
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YORK HAVEN, Pa. (AP) — Sprint Car driver Greg Hodnett died after a crash Thursday night at BAPS Motor Speedway.

The 49-year-old Hodnett, from Spring Grove, Pa., was the World of Outlaws Rookie of the Year in 1993 and went on to win 20 World of Outlaws races. He won the opening night this year at the Knoxville Nationals.

“Greg represented the true gentleman competitor in the pit area,” World of Outlaws CEO Brian Carter said.

A statement was posted on Hodnett’s racing website, saying: “Please keep (wife) Sherry, the entire Hodnett family, and the Heffner racing team in your thoughts and prayers.

“Greg was a professional in every sense of the word, and will be desperately missed!”

Several NASCAR drivers took to Twitter to express their condolences: