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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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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.