NHRA New England winners: Torrence (TF), Hagan (FC), McGaha (PS)

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NHRA Media Release

EPPING, N.H. — Matt Hagan remained one of the hottest Funny Car racers by winning his second straight event of the season at the sixth annual NHRA New England Nationals. Hagan drove to victory in front of a sellout crowd for the second consecutive day at New England Dragway.

Steve Torrence (Top Fuel) and Chris McGaha (Pro Stock) were also winners in their respective categories at the 13th of 24 events on the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

IN FUNNY CAR: Hagan powered to the winner’s circle with a run of 4.156 seconds at 292.01 mph in his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T to take down Tim Wilkerson’s 4.181 at 287.35 in his Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Shelby Mustang. Hagan secured his third win in 2018 as he has now earned victories at New England Dragway in back-to-back years.

“We’ve got a good racecar, we were the No. 1 qualifier and this car just continues to go down the track,” Hagan said. “This car is responding well to what Dickie Venables is asking it to do, and that makes my confidence continue to grow.”

Hagan was the No. 1 qualifier for the weekend and took down Terry Haddock and teammates Tommy Johnson Jr. and Ron Capps on his way to victory.

Wilkerson qualified ninth and defeated J.R. Todd, Jack Beckman and Shawn Langdon as he reached his first final round of the season.

IN TOP FUEL: Torrence notched his fifth victory of the year by beating Antron Brown in the final round with a 3.909 at 320.74 in his Capco Contractors dragster to Brown’s 3.948 at 315.12 in his Matco Tools / U.S. Army dragster. Torrence notched his first career win in Epping as he continues to build on his points lead in the Top Fuel class.

“This was a rough weekend but my team did an excellent job of adjusting to the track prep and the conditions out here,” Torrence said. “Our team is more well-rounded than it has ever been, and that gives me confidence every time I get in this car.”

Torrence entered the day qualified third as he defeated Dan Mercier, Shawn Reed and Tony Schumacher en route to victory.

Brown qualified 12th on the weekend and bested Clay Millican, defending world champion Brittany Force and No. 1 qualifier Leah Pritchett as he reached his first final round of 2018.

IN PRO STOCK: McGaha took home the win in the Pro Stock class with a 6.570 at 211.10 in his Harlow Sammons Chevrolet Camaro during the final round to take down Erica Enders who red-lit. McGaha secured his second win of the season and first since Phoenix as he becomes the fourth driver in the class to record multiple victories in 2018.

“We knew we needed to be aggressive in the final round against Erica [Enders], and we were lucky enough to end up winning that one,” McGaha said. “It’s been a very competitive year in this class so we are happy with any wins we can get.”

McGaha qualified ninth and beat Jeg Coughlin Jr., No. 1 qualifier Greg Anderson and Kenny Delco on his path to victory.

Enders qualified second on the weekend and defeated Alan Prusiensky, Matt Hartford and Vincent Nobile as she took over the category points lead with her fifth runner-up finish of the season.

The 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season continues at Bandimere Speedway in Denver, Colorado from July 20-22.

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FINAL FINISHING ORDER:

TOP FUEL: 1. Steve Torrence; 2. Antron Brown; 3. Leah Pritchett; 4. Tony Schumacher; 5. Brittany Force; 6. Shawn Reed; 7. Doug Kalitta; 8. Richie Crampton; 9. Terry McMillen; 10. Mike Salinas; 11. Dan Mercier; 12. Dom Lagana; 13. Jim Maroney; 14. Clay Millican; 15. Scott Palmer; 16. Audrey Worm.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Matt Hagan; 2. Tim Wilkerson; 3. Ron Capps; 4. Shawn Langdon; 5. John Force; 6. Jack Beckman; 7. Tommy Johnson Jr.; 8. Robert Hight; 9. J.R. Todd; 10. Jonnie Lindberg; 11. Cruz Pedregon; 12. Courtney Force; 13. Bob Tasca III; 14. Jim Campbell; 15. Terry Haddock; 16. Jeff Diehl.

PRO STOCK: 1. Chris McGaha; 2. Erica Enders; 3. Vincent Nobile; 4. Kenny Delco; 5. Greg Anderson; 6. Jason Line; 7. Matt Hartford; 8. Drew Skillman; 9. Jeg Coughlin; 10. Alex Laughlin; 11. Bo Butner; 12. Alan Prusiensky; 13. John Gaydosh Jr; 14. Val Smeland; 15. Fernando Cuadra; 16. Tanner Gray.

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FINAL RESULTS:

TOP FUEL: Steve Torrence, 3.909 seconds, 320.74 mph def. Antron Brown, 3.948 seconds, 315.12 mph.

FUNNY CAR: Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 4.156, 292.01 def. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.181, 287.35.

PRO STOCK: Chris McGaha, Chevy Camaro, 6.570, 211.10 def. Erica Enders, Camaro, Foul – Red Light.

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FINAL ROUND-BY-ROUND RESULTS:

TOP FUEL: ROUND ONE — Shawn Reed, 3.900, 320.58 def. Dom Lagana, 4.832, 169.23; Antron Brown, 4.275, 236.42 def. Clay Millican, 6.083, 105.53; Leah Pritchett, 3.945, 305.70 def. Audrey Worm, 9.559, 82.04; Tony Schumacher, 3.878, 319.75 def. Jim Maroney, 4.841, 154.72; Steve Torrence, 3.843, 321.19 def. Dan Mercier, 4.240, 253.52; Brittany Force, 4.186, 245.81 def. Mike Salinas, 4.182, 214.93; Richie Crampton, 4.291, 246.98 def. Scott Palmer, 8.093, 88.54; Doug Kalitta, 4.143, 275.45 def. Terry McMillen, 4.175, 268.49; QUARTERFINALS — Brown, 3.923, 314.83 def. Force, 3.935, 305.15; Pritchett, 3.888, 316.30 def. Kalitta, 4.900, 212.46; Schumacher, 3.906, 318.54 def. Crampton, 5.316, 138.33; Torrence, 3.878, 320.13 def. Reed, 3.992, 290.51; SEMIFINALS — Brown, 3.955, 315.42 def. Pritchett, 3.945, 304.80; Torrence, 3.942, 309.77 def. Schumacher, 3.963, 314.97; FINAL — Torrence, 3.909, 320.74 def. Brown, 3.948, 315.12.

FUNNY CAR: ROUND ONE — Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 4.463, 246.98 def. Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 4.581, 242.89; Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 4.066, 316.15 def. Terry Haddock, Toyota Solara, 6.490, 113.11; Shawn Langdon, Toyota Camry, 4.152, 304.80 def. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.837, 173.47; Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.075, 312.42 def. Jeff Diehl, Camry, 6.633, 98.87; Ron Capps, Charger, 4.083, 306.19 def. Courtney Force, Camaro, 4.489, 200.11; John Force, Camaro, 4.143, 310.84 def. Jonnie Lindberg, Mustang, 4.305, 264.29; Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.091, 313.29 def. J.R. Todd, Camry, 4.132, 306.19; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.131, 297.94 def. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.408, 215.20; QUARTERFINALS — Capps, 4.134, 276.41 def. Hight, 7.226, 98.83; Wilkerson, 4.245, 264.39 def. Beckman, 4.252, 294.05; Hagan, 4.237, 245.90 def. Johnson Jr., 4.741, 179.23; Langdon, 4.134, 307.93 def. J. Force, 4.204, 262.39; SEMIFINALS — Hagan, 4.114, 311.05 def. Capps, 4.122, 311.20; Wilkerson, 4.118, 309.91 def. Langdon, 4.144, 305.42; FINAL — Hagan, 4.156, 292.01 def. Wilkerson, 4.181, 287.35.

PRO STOCK: ROUND ONE — Chris McGaha, Chevy Camaro, 6.576, 210.87 def. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.569, 211.63; Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.583, 211.39 def. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.617, 210.54; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.578, 211.49 def. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.605, 209.82; Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.616, 210.60 def. Tanner Gray, Camaro, 7.378, 204.51; Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.563, 212.09 def. Fernando Cuadra, Camaro, Foul – Red Light; Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.557, 211.10 def. John Gaydosh Jr, Chevrolet Camaro, 6.651, 208.46; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.544, 212.19 def. Val Smeland, Camaro, 6.717, 206.76; Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.537, 211.03 def. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 6.624, 207.94; QUARTERFINALS — Delco, 8.308, 152.54 def. Skillman, 10.430, 126.39; Nobile, 6.570, 210.80 def. Line, 6.600, 210.11; McGaha, 6.585, 210.90 def. Anderson, 6.574, 211.89; Enders, 6.572, 210.54 def. Hartford, 8.788, 101.04; SEMIFINALS — McGaha, 16.762, 49.34 def. Delco, Foul – Red Light; Enders, 6.567, 210.67 def. Nobile, 6.580, 210.83; FINAL — McGaha, 6.570, 211.10 def. Enders, Foul – Red Light.

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UPDATED POINT STANDINGS:

TOP FUEL: 1. Steve Torrence, 1,086; 2. Tony Schumacher, 896; 3. Clay Millican, 881; 4. Leah Pritchett, 820; 5. Doug Kalitta, 801; 6. Antron Brown, 717; 7. Terry McMillen, 679; 8. Brittany Force, 634; 9. Richie Crampton, 522; 10. Mike Salinas, 506.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Courtney Force, 1,069; 2. Matt Hagan, 914; 3. Jack Beckman, 847; 4. Ron Capps, 834; 5. Robert Hight, 829; 6. J.R. Todd, 800; 7. Tommy Johnson Jr., 692; 8. John Force, 632; 9. Shawn Langdon, 614; 10. Bob Tasca III, 564.

PRO STOCK: 1. Erica Enders, 936; 2. Greg Anderson, 920; 3. Tanner Gray, 917; 4. Vincent Nobile, 893; 5. Drew Skillman, 808; 6. Chris McGaha, 803; 7. Jeg Coughlin, 766; 8. Bo Butner, 750; 9. Jason Line, 680; 10. Deric Kramer, 659.

Jimmie Johnson won’t race full time in 2023; leaves open possibility of returning at Ganassi

Jimmie Johnson race 2023
Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images
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Though he remains uncertain of his plans for next year, Jimmie Johnson won’t race full time in 2023, scaling back his schedule after running a full 17-race NTT IndyCar Series season.

“This was a difficult choice for me, but in my heart, I know it’s the right one,” Johnson said in a statement Monday morning. “I’m not exactly sure what the next chapter holds, but if an opportunity comes along that makes sense, I will consider it. I still have a bucket list of racing events I would like to take part in. Competing at this level in IndyCar has been such a great experience.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better team to race for than Chip Ganassi and Chip Ganassi Racing. Everyone worked extremely hard for the last two seasons, pushing to get the best performances out of me every single week. The support from my crew and teammates Dario (Franchitti), Scott (Dixon), Tony (Kanaan), Marcus (Ericsson) and Alex (Palou) went above and beyond anything I could have ever asked for.”

WHAT’S NEXT FOR JIMMIE JOHNSON: An analysis of his racing options for the 2023 season

Driving the No. 48 Dallara-Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing, Johnson ranked 21st in the 2022 points standings with a career-best fifth place July 24 at Iowa Speedway.

After running only road and street courses for Ganassi in 2021, the seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion added ovals this year. In his Indy 500 debut, he qualified 12th and finished 28th after a late crash.

“I do have a desire to go back (to IndyCar), it’s just at this point, I know what’s required to do a full schedule, and I don’t have that in me,” Johnson told AP. “I don’t have that passion that I need for myself to commit myself to a full season.”

That leaves open the concept of Johnson returning part time with Ganassi, perhaps exclusively on ovals.

“We are fully supportive of Jimmie,” team owner Chip Ganassi said in a statement. “He has been a valued member of our team and if we can find a way to continue working together, we would like to do so.”

During IndyCar’s season finale race weekend, Johnson told reporters Sept. 9 that he planned to explore his options with wife Chandra and daughters Evie and Lydia. Johnson told the Associated Press that his family is considering living abroad for a year or two, and he has toyed with the idea of running in the World Endurance Championship sports car series because of its international locales.

Johnson hasn’t ruled out IndyCar, IMSA sports cars or even a cameo in NASCAR next year. Since retiring from full-time NASCAR after the 2020 season, he has entered the endurance races of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac (including Saturday’s Petit Le Mans season finale). Johnson also wants to race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and is a prime candidate for the Garage 56 entry (a joint project of NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports).

Johnson told the AP he is interested in becoming the latest driver to try “The Double” and run both the Coca-Cola 600 and Indy 500 on the same day (the most recent was Kurt Busch in 2014).

“You know me and endurance sports, and ‘The Double’ sounds awesome,” Johnson, a four-time Coke 600 winner, told AP. “I’ve always had this respect for the guys who have done ‘The Double.’ I would say it is more of a respect thing than a bucket-list item, and I’d love to put some energy into that idea and see if I can pull it off.”

It is less likely that he would return to IMSA’s endurance events because its top prototype series is being overhauled, limiting the amount of inventory available for the new LMDh cars in the rebranded GTP division.

Johnson has confirmed that he would retain primary sponsor Carvana, which has backed him in IndyCar the past two years. He revealed his decision Monday during the last episode of “Reinventing the Wheel,” Carvana Racing’s eight-part docuseries about his 2023 season.

“I’m thankful for the partnership with a company like Carvana for allowing me to take this journey in IndyCar, for seeing the value in our partnership and being open to future opportunities together,” Johnson said. “They have truly showed me that there are no finish lines in life. Along with Carvana, The American Legion, Ally, cbdMD and Frank August were there every step of the way, and I couldn’t have done it without all of them. Most importantly — and the true rockstars in all of this –my family, Chani, Evie and Lydia. They have always allowed me to chase my dreams, and we are all just really excited about what the future holds for all of us. I have enjoyed every minute of these last two years.”

Said Carvana co-founder Ryan Keeton: “During the past two years, Jimmie Johnson has been so amazing to collaborate with. Our team admires his passion, hard work and commitment to continuous improvement while also having fun, and we look forward to continuing to support him next year in this new chapter.”