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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.

Tony Kanaan’s “New Reality” in IndyCar

Photo by Stephen King, INDYCAR
Stephen King, INDYCAR
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AUSTIN, Texas – Tony Kanaan is one of the most popular drivers in the NTT IndyCar Series from the fans who love his aggressive racing style and his fearless attitude. His team owner is the most popular man in the history of Indianapolis 500 – the legendary AJ Foyt, the first driver to win the famed race four times in his career.

In 2019, this combination would rather win races than popularity contests.

Kanaan has won 17 races in his career but hasn’t been to Victory Lane since a win at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California when he was driving for Chip Ganassi Racing in 2014. He left Ganassi’s team following the 2017 and joined Foyt’s operation last season.

Foyt always admired Kanaan’s attitude and racing style because it reminded him of his own attitude behind the wheel of a race car. But in 2018, the combination struggled. Kanaan led just 20 laps for the season and finished 16thin the IndyCar Series points race.

“A lot of work has been done because obviously, we struggled quite a bit last year,” Kanaan admitted. “That was the challenge when I signed with AJ was to try to make this team better. It is not an easy task, especially with the competition nowadays.

“It’s a lot slower process than I thought it would be.”

Kanaan believes the biggest keys for him is to “keep digging and be patient.” But he’s also in a results-driven business.

The driver called it a long winter, but he has helped lure some of his racing friends to the team to help improve the two-car operation that also includes young Brazilian Matheus Leist.

At 84, Foyt still has control over the operation, but has turned the day-to-day duties over to his son, Larry. Just last week, the team hired Scott Harner as the team’s vice president of operations. Harner was in charge of Kanaan’s car when both were at Chip Ganassi Racing.

“The second year, we are trying to be better,” Kanaan said. “It’s not an excuse, it’s the reality we have. There are a lot of new teams coming along so we have to step up. Otherwise, we aren’t fighting the Big 3 teams, we are fighting everybody.

“We are working on it. I like the way we are heading. AJ has been extremely open to my ideas.”

Kanaan has moved his family from Miami to Indianapolis to be near the race team’s shop. The team also has another race shop in Waller, Texas and that is where Leist’s car is prepared.

Although Kanaan doesn’t believe it’s ideal to have two different racing facilities, he believes being closer to his team will help build a more cohesive unit for this season.

At one time, Kanaan would show up at the track with a car that could win the race. No longer in that situation, he has had to readjust his goals.

“The biggest challenge is to accept that and understand your limits on equipment and on the people that you have,” Kanaan said. “Being on some of the teams that I’ve been on in the past, with four-car teams and engineers and all the resources you can get and the budget; then to come to a team with limited resources, I have to self-check all the time. With that, comes a lot of pressure as well and block out people’s opinions like, ‘Oh, he’s old or he’s washed up or the team is not good.’

“You need to shield that from your guys, because psychologically, that gets to you. You need people to work well, even if you have a car that is going to finish 15th.

“What is our reality? Racing can be lucky, but we try to make goals. We are greedy, we try to improve, but we are trying to be realistic. I have to re-set and understand this is my reality now, and I have to accept it.”

At 44, Kanaan is the oldest driver in the IndyCar. The 2004 IndyCar Series champion won the Indianapolis 500 in 2013 and if his career ended this year, it would be one of the greatest of his era.

But Kanaan isn’t ready to call it an “era.” He has more he wants to accomplish.

“The mistake I have made in my career is counting your days,” Kanaan said. “The best line I ever heard is when I signed with AJ, he told me he drove until he was 58, so why am I talking about getting old?

“In his mind, I still have 14 years to go.”

There remains one race, more than any other, that Kanaan’s boss wants to win. It’s the one that made Foyt famous.

“For my boss, winning the Indianapolis 500 is all he cares,” Kanaan said. “I could not finish a single race this year and if I win the Indy 500, that would be enough for him.

“We are not in a position to win a championship and I accept that. So, we focus on the Indianapolis 500. We had an awesome car last year and were the fastest on the second day.”

Foyt and Kanaan believe success at Indy may be in the numbers.

“AJ is all about numbers and his number was 14,” Kanaan said. “He found out Dallara was making chassis No. 14 at the end of the year. AJ bought that chassis and said that is the one we are going to race at the Indy 500. I’m not allowed to drive that car until Opening Day at the Indianapolis 500.

“That’s how big the boss is about the Indy 500.”