Photo: Kalitta Motorsports

NHRA surprise: Kalitta Motorsports parts ways with Jim Oberhofer after 30-plus years

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In one of the most surprising moves of the 2018 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season, Kalitta Motorsports announced it has parted ways with long-time crew chief and company executive Jim Oberhofer.

Team Kalitta owner Connie Kalitta made the announcement in a media release.

What makes the news all the more surprising is its timing: the NHRA just began its six-race Countdown to the Championship playoffs this past weekend at Maple Grove Raceway near Reading, Pennsylvania.

Now with five races remaining in the playoffs, Troy Fasching will replace Oberhofer as crew chief on Doug Kalitta’s Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster.

Doug Kalitta is currently ranked sixth in the Top Fuel standings, 116 points behind series leader Steve Torrence, heading into this weekend’s second playoff race at Gateway Motorsports Park near St. Louis,

Oberhofer had served with Kalitta Motorsports for more than 30 years and had held a variety of positions, including Vice President of Operations, as well as most recently as Doug Kalitta’s crew chief.

“I want to thank Jim for his years at Kalitta Motorsports and appreciate everything he accomplished here. I wish him the best in the future,” Connie Kalitta said in a statement.

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Keating stripped of Le Mans GTE-Am win; No. 68 Ganassi entry also disqualified

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FIA stewards announced Monday that two Ford GT entries have been disqualified from this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, including the GTE-Am class-winning No. 85 entry from privateer Keating Motorsports.

Also DQ’d was the factory No. 68 Chip Ganassi Racing entry of Joey Hand, Dirk Mueller and Sebastien Bourdais, which initially finished fourth in the GTE-Pro class.

Both entries were found in violation of fuel capacity regulations, with the No. 85 entry also failing to meet the minimum refueling time during pit stops.

The refueling system on the No. 85 entry, driven by Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Felipe Fraga, measured a time of 44.4 seconds during a stop, just shy of the minimum required time of 45 seconds.

As a result, the team was initially issued a 55.2-second post-race penalty by officials, which elevated the No. 56 Team Project 1 Porsche 911 RSR of Joerg Bergmeister, Patrick Lindsey, and Egidio Perfetti to the class win.

The time penalty was calculated by the difference in the refueling time (0.6 seconds) multiplied by the amount of pit stops made by the team (23), then multiplied by four.

The No. 85 entry was set to finish second in class, but then received an outright DQ after its fuel capacity was also revealed to be 0.1 liters above the maximum permitted capacity of 96 liters.

As for Ganassi’s No. 68 entry, it was found to have a fuel capacity of 97.83 liters, which is above the maximum allowed capacity of 97 liters for the GTE-Pro Fords.

The No. 67 Ford of Andy Priaulx, Harry Tincknell, and Jonathan Bomarito subsequently moves up to fourth, and the No. 69 Ford of Scott Dixon, Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook moves up to fifth.

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