Photos and videos courtesy NHRA

Big upsets at NHRA Bristol: Salinas over Torrence, Tasca over John Force

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What a Father’s Day it was Sunday at Bristol Dragway and for the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.

In upsets that will likely reverberate through the sport for some time to come, the two heavy favorites in both Top Fuel and Funny Car both went down to defeat against the underdogs in the 11th race of the 24-race schedule.

In Top Fuel, Steve Torrence (3.892 seconds at 287.60 mph) saw his five-race winning streak abruptly ended when Mike Salinas (3.836 seconds at 325.69 mph) and his upstart Scrappers Racing team captured the victory. It was Salinas’ second career Top Fuel win, the other coming earlier this season in the four-wide event at Las Vegas.

It’s kind of surreal what is happening,” said Salinas, who jumped to third in Top Fuel points. “The guys are amazing, they’re doing a great job and we’re having a lot of fun.

“You can’t take anybody lightly out here. I have all the confidence in this team and it’s just amazing to be in the seat with these guys. Alan Johnson and the crew, they just know how to do it and it’s just amazing, it really is.”

Moments before Salinas’ upset win, Bob Tasca III (4.008 seconds at 316.23 mph) earned his first win since 2012, defeating legendary Funny Car racer John Force (4.155 seconds at 287.05 mph) in the final round.

“I knew it would be a slugfest against Force, but I love racing John,” said Tasca, who improves to ninth in the Funny Car point standings. “It was probably one of the biggest wins in my career. We had to build this car from scratch, but the chemistry on this team is good and I’ve never had a race car like this.

“It’s fast and the guys put me in a position to win. I love racing here. There’s so much history with my family racing in Thunder Valley and I really wanted to win this one. It was just a great day.”

Not having won since July 22 last season at Denver, and after a number of frustrating finishes that came up short since then, Force looked as if the stars had finally aligned for him coming into the final round to reach that elusive No. 150 milestone.

He entered Sunday’s eliminations as the No. 1 qualifier. He had an uncontested solo run in the opening round, then defeated Don Schumacher Racing teammates Tommy Johnson Jr. (quarterfinals) and “Fast Jack” Beckman (semifinals) en route to his classic matchup with Tasca.

It marked the second time this season that Force has reached the final round. He also fell short of winning April 28 at the Four-Wide Nationals in Concord, North Carolina, and did so again at Bristol.

Ironically, Tasca is a previous driver for John Force Racing. He reached his second final round since returning to full-time competition, with his last previous final round being at last season’s Thunder Valley Nationals, where he lost to Ron Capps – who Tasca beat Sunday to reach the final round appearance vs. Force. Likewise for Salinas, he also reached the Top Fuel finals in last year’s race at Bristol, only to lose — but not this time.

In another irony, Tasca recently hired Force’s former crew chief, Jon Schaffer, as his own crew chief. Schaffer had started this season as rookie Austin Prock’s co-crew chief at JFR before moving to Tasca’s team.

Action continues this coming weekend (June 20-23) in the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio.

We’ll have videos from the Top Fuel and Funny Car final rounds shortly. Please check back.

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FINAL STATISTICS:

FINAL FINISHING ORDER:

TOP FUEL: 1. Mike Salinas; 2. Steve Torrence; 3. Doug Kalitta; 4. Dom Lagana; 5. Clay Millican; 6. Lex Joon; 7. Terry McMillen; 8. Antron Brown; 9. Scott Palmer; 10. Audrey Worm; 11. Brittany Force; 12. Cameron Ferre; 13. Austin Prock; 14. Richie Crampton; 15. Pat Dakin; 16. Leah Pritchett.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Bob Tasca III; 2. John Force; 3. Ron Capps; 4. Jack Beckman; 5. Shawn Langdon; 6. Robert Hight; 7. J.R. Todd; 8. Tommy Johnson Jr.; 9. Tim Wilkerson; 10. Cruz Pedregon; 11. Terry Haddock; 12. Matt Hagan; 13. Blake Alexander; 14. Jim Campbell; 15. Jeff Diehl.

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FINAL RESULTS

TOP FUEL: Mike Salinas, 3.836 seconds, 325.69 mph def. Steve Torrence, 3.892 seconds, 287.60 mph.

FUNNY CAR: Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 4.008, 316.23 def. John Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.155, 287.05.

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FINAL ROUND-BY-ROUND RESULTS:

TOP FUEL: ROUND ONE — Terry McMillen, 4.045, 291.51 def. Richie Crampton, 4.781, 155.99; Clay Millican, 4.331, 251.16 def. Austin Prock, 4.759, 242.76; Mike Salinas, 3.800, 322.11 def. Scott Palmer, 3.902, 319.60; Doug Kalitta, 3.844, 323.27 def. Cameron Ferre, 4.124, 253.99; Lex Joon, 4.536, 205.41 def. Leah Pritchett, 4.972, 162.39; Steve Torrence, 3.798, 324.59 def. Pat Dakin, 4.865, 158.65; Antron Brown, 3.863, 318.24 def. Audrey Worm, 4.082, 279.21; Dom Lagana, 3.820, 321.65 def. Brittany Force, 4.092, 271.79; QUARTERFINALS — Kalitta, 5.010, 248.02 def. McMillen, 5.103, 147.07; Lagana, 4.072, 292.58 def. Joon, 4.786, 166.44; Salinas, 3.908, 316.97 def. Brown, 6.602, 110.14; Torrence, 3.842, 320.89 def. Millican, 4.720, 167.66; SEMIFINALS — Salinas, 3.817, 320.20 def. Kalitta, 3.887, 320.66; Torrence, 3.839, 323.97 def. Lagana, 4.037, 277.32; FINAL — Salinas, 3.836, 325.69 def. Torrence, 3.892, 287.60.

FUNNY CAR: ROUND ONE — Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 3.983, 318.47 def. Jim Campbell, Dodge Charger, 5.307, 140.07; John Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.998, 321.65 was unopposed; Shawn Langdon, Toyota Camry, 4.099, 307.93 def. Jeff Diehl, Camry, 6.528, 100.47; Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.031, 318.47 def. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.063, 310.48; J.R. Todd, Camry, 4.048, 311.27 def. Terry Haddock, Mustang, 4.217, 291.76; Robert Hight, Camaro, 4.020, 322.19 def. Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 4.077, 298.21; Ron Capps, Charger, 4.005, 314.53 def. Blake Alexander, Mustang, 4.383, 212.16; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.964, 311.92 def. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.376, 223.50; QUARTERFINALS — Tasca III, 4.122, 309.49 def. Hight, 4.337, 303.03; Force, 4.044, 318.32 def. Johnson Jr., 8.529, 88.42; Capps, 4.039, 312.28 def. Langdon, 4.080, 309.27; Beckman, 4.076, 315.64 def. Todd, 4.397, 284.81; SEMIFINALS — Force, 4.125, 316.38 def. Beckman, 7.532, 97.47; Tasca III, 4.048, 317.87 def. Capps, 4.216, 258.86; FINAL — Tasca III, 4.008, 316.23 def. Force, 4.155, 287.05.

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UPDATED POINT STANDINGS:

TOP FUEL: 1. Steve Torrence, 1,048; 2. Doug Kalitta, 709; 3. Mike Salinas, 691; 4. Antron Brown, 676; 5. Brittany Force, 663; 6. Clay Millican, 611; 7. Leah Pritchett, 571; 8. Richie Crampton, 499; 9. Austin Prock, 486; 10. Terry McMillen, 470.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Robert Hight, 990; 2. John Force, 786; 3. Tommy Johnson Jr., 783; 4. Ron Capps, 741; 5.Jack Beckman, 720; 6. J.R. Todd, 711; 7. Matt Hagan, 624; 8. Tim Wilkerson, 587; 9. Bob Tasca III, 574; 10. Shawn Langdon, 528.

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Karam, Daly get IndyCar rides with Carlin for Iowa

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NEWTON, Iowa – Sage Karam returns for the second-straight race and Conor Daly is back for another race with Carlin Racing at this weekend’s Iowa 300 NTT IndyCar Series race at Iowa Speedway.

For Karam, it’s his third start of the 2019 season and his second straight with Carlin. In his five starts at Iowa Speedway dating back to 2010, Karam has never finished outside of the top three, recording four wins (USF2000 – 2010, Indy Pro 2000 – 2011 and 2012, Indy Lights – 2013) and scoring his first NTT IndyCar Series podium in 2015 with a third-place finish.

“I’m really excited to be back again this weekend with Carlin and SmartStop Self Storage for the Iowa 300. Iowa Speedway has always been a good track for me in the past, so I’m really looking forward to getting back to work there,” Karam said. “Coming off of a very productive weekend in Toronto, I’m looking forward to applying everything I’ve learned and continuing to work with the team to get the best results possible. A huge thank you to everyone at Carlin and SmartStop Self Storage for a great opportunity to race at one of my favorite tracks.”

Daly is back in a second Carlin entry. Earlier this year, the popular driver finished 11th for Carlin in the DXC Technology 600 at Texas Motor Speedway on June 8. At Iowa, he will drive the team’s No. 23 Gallagher Chevrolet.

Daly finished 10th in the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge for Andretti Autosport.

Daly raced at Iowa in 2016 for Dale Coyne Racing (finishing 21st) and in 2017 for A.J. Foyt Racing (finishing 19th).

The combination gives Carlin two more drivers to gather additional feedback on the car. Max Chilton remains the team’s primary driver but announced recently that he will forego all oval races to concentrate on street and road courses.

That created opportunities for Karam and Daly.

“We were very impressed with Sage’s steady progression throughout the Toronto race weekend and his willingness to learn and adapt,” said Carlin Team Principal Trevor Carlin. “The fact that he hadn’t been on a street course since 2015 and was still able to come right out of the gate confident and constantly improving every session was extremely impressive.

“The SmartStop Self Storage Chevrolet looked great out on track and their group has been a pleasure to work with, so we couldn’t be more pleased to have them back this weekend in Iowa. Sage has done really well in Iowa in the past, so hopefully we can use his experience and our past success at Iowa Speedway to come away with a good result for the team and our partners at SmartStop Self Storage.”

The Iowa 300 at Iowa Speedway will take place on Saturday, July 20th at 7:15 pm ET and will be televised on NBCSN.