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Magnussen, Grosjean lament missed opportunity for Haas F1

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For the Haas F1 Team, Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix is a classic case of “What might have been.”

A stellar qualifying on Saturday saw both Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean advance into Q3, with the duo eventually qualifying sixth and seventh respectively, and Daniel Ricciardo’s five-spot grid penalty moved them up to fifth and sixth on the grid.

The race start saw even more good fortune as Magnussen moved into fourth in Turn 1 and stayed there for the opening stint, while Grosjean eventually worked himself into fifth after a spin by Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen.

However, the wheels, almost literally, came off of their weekend during the first round of pit stops, with both drivers exiting the pits with loose wheels – the left-rear for Magnussen and the left-front for Grosjean – and both cars retired within a handful of laps of each other.

What’s more, the team was fined for a pair of unsafe pit releases, adding insult to injury on a day that began with so much promise.

Magnussen seemed particularly frustrated and kept his post-race comments very short.

“Tough one to swallow. Not only for me, but the whole team, losing both cars in such a good position. Tough one to swallow, but we’ll fight back,” he told Formula’1 Will Buxton in the post-race edition of F1 Paddock Pass.

Grosjean echoed similar disappointment, highlighting their strong pace as evidence that a good result slipped through their grasp.

“It’s not the easiest moment, you know, especially for the first race of the season, the first time we’re running fourth and fifth with the cars and doing a great job. We had good pace,” he said to Buxton during the aforementioned Paddock Pass.

However, Grosjean also asserted a sense optimism for Haas’ outlook in the 2018 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season, given how well they looked at the opening round in Australia.

“I’m sure we’re going to come back stronger, we always bounce back,” he asserted. “(In the race) we lost a lot of points. But, if the car is as good as it was today for the rest of the season, we’re going to be like ‘We’re going to forget that one.’ If it’s not the case, it could be a bit more painful. I’ve got good hope that the car is going to be good and that we can keep up our showing.”

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Top Fuel driver Austin Prock earns 2019 NHRA top rookie honors

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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.

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