NHRA

NHRA announces 2019 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule; no venue changes

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There are still 10 races remaining on the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, but that isn’t stopping the world’s premier drag racing organization from already thinking ahead to next year.

The NHRA on Wednesday announced the 2019 schedule. Other than a few minor date changes, the 24-race 2019 schedule will include all of the same venues from this year’s 24-race slate.

In addition to the annual U.S. Nationals in suburban Indianapolis on Labor Day weekend – the biggest race of the season – 2019 will also feature the 50th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Nationals at Gainesville (Florida) Raceway on March 14-17.

NHRA officials have been planning the Gainesville festivities for over a year. Among its highlights is the NHRA Legends Tour, which began this season and will culminate at Gainesville next March.

“Never before have so many NHRA Legends been gathered in one place,” an NHRA statement said. “This is a ‘can’t miss’ event for any devoted NHRA fan.”

As for the minor date changes, they are:

* The NHRA SpringNationals in suburban Houston will move up one weekend and take place April 12-14.

* The Virginia NHRA Nationals in suburban Richmond, Virginia, will also move up one week on the schedule from this year’s placement, to be held May 17-19.

* The Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals at Heartland Motorsports Park in Topeka, Kansas, will be held one week later, from June 7-9.

* Lastly, the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals near St. Louis will move back one week to Sept. 27-29.

Also, the NHRA statement said, “As in years past, the 2019 season will begin at the historic Auto Club Raceway in Pomona in Southern California at the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals, Feb. 7-10, and conclude at the same renowned dragstrip with the Auto Club NHRA Finals, Nov. 7-10.”

Here’s the full 2019 schedule and dates:

2019 NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES SCHEDULE

NHRA Mello Yello Series Regular Season

Feb. 7-10–Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals, Pomona, Calif.

Feb. 22-24–NHRA Arizona Nationals, Phoenix

March 14-17–Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals, Gainesville, Fla.

April 5-7–DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, Las Vegas

April 12-14–NHRA SpringNationals, Houston

April 26-28–NGK Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, Charlotte, N.C.

May 3-5–NHRA Southern Nationals, Atlanta

May 17-19–Virginia NHRA Nationals, Richmond, Va.

May 30-June 2–Route 66 NHRA Nationals, Chicago

June 7-9–Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals, Topeka, Kan.

June 14-16–Fitzgerald NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, Bristol, Tenn.

June 20-23–Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, Norwalk, Ohio

July 5-7–NHRA New England Nationals, Epping, N.H.

July 19-21–Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals, Denver

July 26-28–NHRA Sonoma Nationals, Sonoma, Calif.

Aug. 2-4–NHRA Northwest Nationals, Seattle

Aug. 15-18–Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, Brainerd, Minn.

Aug. 28-Sept. 2–Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, Indianapolis

NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs

Sept. 12-15–Dodge NHRA Nationals, Reading, Pa.

Sept. 27-29–AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals, St. Louis

Oct. 3-6–AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals, Dallas

Oct. 11-13–NHRA Carolina Nationals, Charlotte

Oct. 24-27–NHRA Nevada Nationals, Las Vegas

Nov. 7-10–Auto Club NHRA Finals, Pomona, Calif.

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Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.