Photos courtesy NHRA

See ‘ya later, alligator: Tonglet ready to chomp down on 2nd NHRA championship

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When your boss is a former world champion – and also owner of one of the largest alligator “farms” in the world – it gives you a lot of motivation to do well.

Such is the case with NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle rider LE Tonglet. A former NHRA PSM champ himself (2010) when he was only 20 years old, the now 28-year-old Metairie, Louisiana native is looking for his second championship this season.

Tonglet jumped to the top of the PSM point standings after winning this past Sunday’s AAA FallNationals in Ennis, Texas. It was Tonglet’s fourth win of the season on his Nitro Fish Racing Suzuki, his 10th triumph in the last two seasons and 20th win of his two-wheeled career.

LE Tonglet

Three races remain in the six-race NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs, beginning with this weekend’s NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Concord, North Carolina (a suburb of Charlotte).

Tonglet races for 2016 PSM champ Jerry Savoie, who rides herd over nearly 60,000 ‘gators in the Louisiana bayou. It’s not surprising, given Savoie’s day job, that his own team is known as White Alligator Racing.

It’s lucky Savoie is a good sport. He didn’t feed Tonglet to the ‘gators after he lost to Tonglet in the final round at Texas.

“It was a lot of fun in the pits (as he and Savoie prepared for their final round matchup), but once we came up (to the starting line), I didn’t look at him and he didn’t look at me,” Tonglet said. “It was all business.

“We’re leading the points and we’re not looking back now. Jerry made a big move (upward in the standings; he’s currently fifth, 109 points behind Tonglet) and we’re going to have two bikes competing for this championship down to the wire.”

Together, Tonglet and Savoie appear to be peaking at the right time and are proving to be as formidable a 1-2 punch in the PSM ranks as multi-champions and teammates Andrew Hines and 2017 champ Eddie Krawiec.

And once the 2018 PSM championship is said and done, the winner will likely come from those four names or series veteran Matt Smith.

With his Texas win, Tonglet comes into Charlotte this weekend with a 47-point lead in the standings over Krawiec and holds a 48-point edge over Smith.

“We just have to stay calm and take it one round at a time,” Tonglet said in an NHRA media release. “The key is to go rounds and when we show up to a race, I just want to get the semifinals.

“Whatever happens after that is just a bonus, kind of. If you keep going to the semis, you’re going to have a good shot come (the season finale, Nov. 8-11, at Pomona, California). We just have to stay calm and focused, and not make any mistakes.”

NOTES: Qualifying begins Friday with rounds at 2:45 pm ET and 5:15 pm ET, with two additional rounds of qualifying on Saturday at 12:45 pm ET and 3:15 pm ET. Final eliminations are Sunday, starting at 12 Noon ET.

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Indianapolis 500 weather forecast: Rain chances decreasing for start

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INDIANAPOLIS — As the green flag keeps approaching for the 103rd Indianapolis 500, the chances of clear skies Sunday keep increasing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The chance of rain at the start of the race was down to about 30%, according to the wunderground.com site as of late Saturday night, and the forecast seemed good until late afternoon when the odds of precipitation rose to about 80%.

If the race starts on time at12:45 p.m. ET, that should be a long enough window to run the full 500 miles and certainly an official race (102 of 200 laps).

With Indiana on the western edge of the Eastern Time Zone and a 9:02 p.m. sunset on race day, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Doug Boles said the green flag probably could be held as late as 6 p.m. if a worst-case scenario of bad weather hits.

THE 103RD INDIANAPOLIS 500: Click here for how to watch

“We ran the NASCAR race (in 2017) almost right up to sunset,” Boles said. “The challenge of getting closer to sunset is just getting people out when it’s still light. The race itself is more than 2 hours and 40 minutes so you have to back-time yourself.

“We’ll sit down with IndyCar over the next 24 hours and at least have that in the back of our mind. If there’s a window to get it done, our intent would be get it in Sunday, so we would want to go as late as we could.”

Boles said National Weather Service representatives are on site this weekend to help with forecasting. Regardless of if there still is a threat of rain, the track will start the race on time as long as the surface is dry.

“I can’t imagine we’d postpone the start because we think it might rain,” Boles said. “If it’s not raining, we’re running the race.

Boles said track officials are monitoring Sunday’s weather daily but won’t discuss any potential contingency plans until Saturday night. Regardless of whether it’s raining Sunday morning, some pre-race ceremonies likely will remain in place.

“It’s hard to speculate on what’s going to happen,” he said. “It’s likely Sunday morning will be the first time that we have any definitive statement on what we think is going to happen. Instead of giving you information that we don’t know what it’s going to be like, I’d rather wait until that Sunday when we see the conditions, and we’ll let you know.

“Obviously, if it’s raining, then we’ll have to decide what the next steps are.”

Boles said Indiana weather traditionally is unpredictable, noting that qualifying was completed last Sunday despite predictions of a complete washout.

“Last year the prediction was it was going to rain on race day, we got up next morning, and it was perfect,” Boles said. “It just changes so rapidly around here.”

Should it rain, IndyCar officials will make every reasonable attempt to run the Indy 500 on time,. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway also recently used a new sealant on the track surface which makes it quicker to dry the racing surface.

During the previous 102 runnings of the Indy 500, there have been 12 impacted by rain: three complete postponements; two partial postponements and seven shortened races.

So what happens if it does rain? Some options:

Rain-shortened race

The Indy 500 could turn into the Indy 255. If more than 255 miles (102 laps) are completed in Sunday’s race, the race can be deemed official. If the race is called, driver’s finishing positions are based on their position in the race at the time of the caution flag for rain.

The Indy 500 has been shortened by rain only seven times, most recently in 2007. The race was stopped nearly three hours because of rain on Lap 113 and was declared officially over with Dario Franchitti in the lead when rain again hit at the 415-mile mark.

Partial postponement

If fewer than 102 laps are completed Sunday, the race will resume on the next dry day. With most Americans on holiday Monday because of Memorial Day, a partial postponement still might allow for a healthy audience at the track and watching on NBC.

The race has been partially postponed only twice in the 102 previous runnings, in 1967 and 1973.

Complete postponement

Fans shouldn’t worry too much about a complete postponement of the race, as it has only happened three times, most recently in 1997. If rain completely postpones the Indy 500, the race will be rescheduled for the next day with the start time dependent on the forecast.

The 1997 race ran 15 laps on Monday before rain again postponed the remainder of the race until Tuesday. The 1915 and ’86 runnings were postponed until the following Saturday.