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NHRA: Winning weekend in New England for Hagan, Torrence

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At the rate things are going, New England Dragway may want to think about changing its name to something like Matt Hagan Dragway.

For the third time in as many years, the Don Schumacher Racing driver won the NHRA Funny Car division in Sunday’s finals of the New England Nationals at the Epping, New Hampshire dragstrip.

Hagan (4.014 seconds at 322.81 mph) defeated Shawn Langdon (4.046 seconds at 317.49 mph) in the final round to take home the “Wally” winner’s trophy.

It’s Hagan’s second win of the 2019 season and 31st of his Funny Car career. In his semi-final matchup Sunday, Hagan stopped Bob Tasca III’s two-race winning streak (Tasca won at both Bristol, Tennessee, and Norwalk, Ohio in the last two NHRA national events).

We went down the track in qualifying and that created a lot of confidence in our team,” said Hagan, who also picked up his 350th career round win during eliminations. “Rolling into race day, I knew we had a great car and I was confident in it.

We kept lane choice every pass and that was big. I’m really excited we were able to get another win and we needed this to be our turning point this season. We needed to gather up some momentum and I feel like we’re making the right steps to move forward coming out of this race.”

As for Top Fuel, Torrence remains virtually unstoppable. The Texas native earned his seventh win of the season, as well as his second straight triumph at New England.

Torrence (3.861 seconds at 321.58 mph) defeated Scott Palmer (4.014 seconds, 251.25 mph) in the final round to keep his class-dominating performance rolling. Torrence is now just four wins away from tying his 11-win season in 2018, which included becoming the first driver in NHRA history to win all six Countdown to the Championship playoff races.

Sunday’s win was Torrence’s 13th in the last 19 races dating back to last season’s playoffs and 26th win since 2017.

I really, really want Scott Palmer to win a race, but we want to win them all, too,” said Torrence, who qualified ninth and won from the seventh different qualifying position in 2019. “That was a great final round. That’s a really good group of guys and to see the progression we’ve both made, it’s pretty neat and really special for us.

Without being cocky and just being confident, you carry the mindset of you want to go everywhere and win. With doing that, you don’t treat anywhere any differently. This is a fun place to come to and it’s a pretty neat part of the country.”

NOTES: Torrence is nominated for the Best Driver Award at Wednesday’s 2019 ESPY Awards. … Surprisingly, Mike Salinas, who has been one of the biggest stories in Top Fuel this season after Torrence, did not make the trip from his San Jose, California home base for this weekend’s race in New England. … John Force still continues to chase the 150th win of his illustrious career. … There are now 11 races left on the 24-race NHRA national event schedule. … The NHRA enjoys next weekend off before the start of the annual “West Coast Swing,” which begins July 19-21 with the 40th Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in Denver, followed by Sonoma, California and Seattle, Washington.

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Here’s the final statistics from Sunday’s eliminations in New Hampshire:

FINISHING ORDER:

TOP FUEL: 1. Steve Torrence; 2. Scott Palmer; 3. Richie Crampton; 4. Clay Millican; 5. Dom Lagana; 6. Terry McMillen; 7. Antron Brown; 8. Austin Prock; 9. Audrey Worm; 10. Brittany Force; 11. Cameron Ferre; 12. Doug Kalitta; 13. Dan Mercier.

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

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SUNDAY’S FINAL ROUND RESULTS:

TOP FUEL: Steve Torrence, 3.861 seconds, 321.58 mph def. Scott Palmer, 4.014 seconds, 251.25 mph.

FUNNY CAR: Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 4.014, 322.81 def. Shawn Langdon, Toyota Camry, 4.046, 317.49.

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FINAL ROUND-BY-ROUND RESULTS:

TOP FUEL: ROUND ONE — Dom Lagana, 3.862, 305.98 def. Brittany Force, Foul – Red Light; Steve Torrence, 3.756, 328.62 def. Austin Prock, 3.843, 323.19; Clay Millican, 3.914, 247.84 was unopposed; Terry McMillen, 3.867, 322.50 def. Doug Kalitta, 7.563, 104.88; Antron Brown, 4.018, 281.42 def. Cameron Ferre, 4.406, 187.26; Scott Palmer, 3.894, 320.13 def. Dan Mercier, Broke; Richie Crampton, 3.827, 320.20 def. Audrey Worm, 4.020, 296.11; QUARTERFINALS — Palmer, 4.252, 214.31 def. Brown, 6.843, 101.10; Millican, 3.813, 324.20 def. Lagana, 3.886, 321.81; Crampton, 4.176, 219.01 was unopposed; Torrence, 3.883, 323.81 def. McMillen, 4.328, 217.25; SEMIFINALS — Torrence, 3.832, 323.35 def. Crampton, 4.062, 292.20; Palmer, 3.905, 299.13 def. Millican, 9.020, 79.49; FINAL — Torrence, 3.861, 321.58 def. Palmer, 4.014, 251.25.

FUNNY CAR: ROUND ONE — J.R. Todd, Toyota Camry, 4.540, 188.10 was unopposed; Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 4.006, 320.20 def. Jeff Diehl, Camry, 4.568, 206.01; Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 4.037, 281.36 def. Terry Haddock, Mustang, 4.239, 268.76; Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 3.980, 315.19 def. Mike Smith, Dodge Stratus, 7.299, 84.21; Shawn Langdon, Camry, 4.036, 316.75 def. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.062, 305.98; Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.958, 326.24 def. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.016, 322.04; Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 4.511, 257.28 def. John Force, Camaro, 4.540, 244.56; Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.259, 233.72 def. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.559, 186.38; QUARTERFINALS — Tasca III, 4.023, 319.22 def. Pedregon, 4.045, 319.45; Hagan, 3.991, 325.22 def. Capps, 4.101, 262.64; Langdon, 3.999, 320.51 def. Hight, 4.103, 271.24; Wilkerson, 4.242, 233.88 def. Todd, 4.274, 229.12; SEMIFINALS — Langdon, 4.006, 320.36 def. Wilkerson, 4.053, 315.56; Hagan, 4.000, 324.05 def. Tasca III, 4.478, 219.12; FINAL — Hagan, 4.014, 322.81 def. Langdon, 4.046, 317.49.

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UPDATED POINT STANDINGS:

TOP FUEL: 1. Steve Torrence, 1,278; 2. Doug Kalitta, 799; 3. Antron Brown, 781; 4. Brittany Force, 777; 5. Mike Salinas, 732; 6. Clay Millican, 730; 7. Leah Pritchett, 651; 8. Richie Crampton, 612; 9. Terry McMillen, 576; 10. Scott Palmer, 563.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Robert Hight, 1,079; 2. John Force, 903; 3. Tommy Johnson Jr., 891; 4. Ron Capps, 870; 5. Jack Beckman, 851; 6. J.R. Todd, 825; 7. (tie) Matt Hagan, 770; Bob Tasca III, 770; 9. Tim Wilkerson, 691; 10. Shawn Langdon, 675.

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Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.