Photo and video courtesy NHRA

NHRA: Take an explosive ‘wild ride’ back through the 2018 season

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To whet your appetite for the upcoming 2019 season, which kicks off just over a month from now, the NHRA recently released a highlight video of some of the most spectacular motor explosions and crashes seen during the 2018 season.

That includes John Force’s three motor explosions and crashes, Brittany Force’s lane-crossing crash and sideways slide towards the finish line and Cruz Pedregon’s two massive motor explosions.

And let’s not forget one of the most notable examples of triumphing under extremely difficult conditions: Robert Hight’s run at Gateway Motorsports Park near St. Louis, where as he crossed the finish line on the final round, the motor blew up, his car crashed hard into the wall and left Hight with a broken collarbone.

But he still held on long enough and hard enough to wind up winning the second race of the six-race playoffs, nonetheless, before taking an ambulance ride to the nearest hospital.

Most other drivers would have missed the final four races of the season, but not Hight. Undergoing surgery a few days after the big wreck, Hight was right back at it in the next event two weeks later and gave eventual Funny Car champ JR Todd a battle all the way to the final race before Todd emerged with his first crown.

Check out the following video, which the NHRA appropriately dubbed “2018 Wild Rides”:

INDYCAR: Patricio O’Ward turns heads in Carlin debut

Chris Jones / IndyCar
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While the top story coming out of Sunday’s IndyCar Classic at Circuit of the Americas is undoubtedly 18-year-old Colton Herta’s victory in only his third IndyCar start, another teenager made quite some noise during the first IndyCar race at the facility.

19-year-old Patricio O’Ward made an impressive start to his 2019 IndyCar campaign by starting and finishing in eighth position. It was the first of his 13 races this season for Carlin Racing.

“I think it was a pretty good race for us. We ended exactly where we started and didn’t go backwards, so I’d say that was a successful day” O’Ward said. “I know the No. 31 Carlin Chevrolet had a top-five finish in it today and even though we couldn’t make it happen, it’s nice to know that we have the pace and can be fighting up front with the veteran drivers.”

O’Ward, the 2018 Indy Lights champ, made his series debut for Harding Steinbrenner Racing at last year’s season finale at Sonoma Raceway, where he made it to the Firestone Fast Six in qualifying and finished ninth. O’Ward was scheduled to race for the team full-time in 2019, but left in early February to pursue other options due to a lack of sponsorship.

Pato found a new home with Carlin, and despite missing preseason testing, he proved to be competitive from the get go and pressured some of IndyCar’s more tenured drivers, including Graham Rahal.

In what was undoubtedly the most daring move of the race, O’Ward ended a great battle with Rahal by hitting a superb outside pass on Lap 15.

O’Ward may have likely earned a better result on Sunday, if he didn’t have to save fuel in order to make the finish.

But with only two IndyCar starts to his credit, he is already racing like a seasoned veteran. Sunday’s IndyCar Classic may be the first of many successful outings for him this year.

After the race, he tweeted to his team: “Well done gentlemen … This is only the beginning.”

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