NHRA Seattle: John Force wins No. 150, Austin Prock wins No. 1

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You might say Sunday’s finals of the NHRA Northwest Nationals was one for the ages.

Literally.

On the one hand, 70-year-old John Force broke more than a year’s frustration to finally earn a milestone 150th career NHRA Funny Car win.

On the other hand, 23-year-old Austin Prock (he turns 24 on August 21) – who also drives for John Force Racing – broke through with his first career NHRA Top Fuel victory, as well.

And Matt Hartford deprived Greg Anderson of a Western Swing sweep, capturing top honors in the Pro Stock class.

IN FUNNY CAR: For over a year, Force has consistently said that win No. 150 will come in due time. Sunday, that time came due as Force (3.971 seconds at 320.58 mph) defeated Ron Capps (4.018 seconds at 309.91 mph) in a classic final round showdown.

It marked Force’s first victory in 25 races dating back to last season and his ninth career win at Pacific Raceways in Kent, Washington, a Seattle suburb.

 

While Force is the all-time winningest driver in both Funny Car and all other NHRA classes, Capps is the No. 2 all-time winningest driver in Funny Car and one of Force’s long-time rivals.

I give credit to a lot of crew chiefs over the years,” Force said in a post-race interview. “I got the monkey off my back and it drove me nuts.

But it taught me to focus on my car if I want to do (well). I had to get to know my car and sometimes you need a slap in the face. That was the monkey that made me focus. I’ve been living it here the last 4-5 races and we found something real critical.

I may not be as young as these kids, but I’m excited. I can calm down now and not live with that thinking that I’ll never get it.”

Force defeated, in order, Jim Campbell, JFR teammate and NHRA Funny Car points leader Robert Hight and Jack Beckman before reaching the final round for the 253rd time in his NHRA career.

Capps, meanwhile, defeated Tim Wilkerson, J.R. Todd and Matt Hagan to face Force in the 121st final round of Capps’ career. It also was the 103rd time Force and Capps have raced head-to-head in their respective Funny Car careers.

Give me a good race car and I can race,” Force said. “I know Capps wanted to beat me and he was giving it all he had.

He’s the real deal, he’s a real great racer, and today luck was just with me and I got the win. Ron was the first one over to congratulate me and that’s the kind of guy he is. But there’s certain tracks I’m really happy at and I’ve always loved Seattle. I’m in the hunt (for the championship) and that’s all I ever wanted to do was to be in the hunt.”

IN TOP FUEL: Prock, son of Force’s crew chief, Jimmy Prock, earned his first Top Fuel career win in his rookie season in the class.

Prock (3.875 seconds at 307.86 mph) stopped defending Top Fuel champ Steve Torrence (4.984 seconds, 162.24 mph) in the final round. Torrence was making a second straight bid to earn his ninth win of the season.

Prock defeated, in order, Leah Pritchett, Clay Millican and Mike Salinas to also reach his first career final round as well. Torrence, meanwhile, advanced to the 52nd final round of his career, defeating Steve Chrisman, Antron Brown and Shawn Reed.

This is just unbelievable,” Prock said. “I have to thank John Force for giving me this opportunity. I’m still speechless. This is a dream come true. I’ve wanted this ever since I was knee-high.

Ever since I could think, I wanted to drive a Top Fuel car. We said when John gets 150, I’m going to get my first one and it all came together perfectly. We put all the pieces of the puzzle together today. I wanted to race (Torrence) in the final round. I wanted to be the guy that stopped him.”

IN PRO STOCK: Hartford stopped Greg Anderson from earning a sweep of the Western Swing, as Anderson had won the first two races of the swing at Denver and Sonoma.

Hartford (6.606 seconds at 209.33 mph) got the break at the start line to defeat Anderson (6.596 seconds at 210.31 mph). It was Hartford’s second career Pro Stock win and the first of 2019.

We had a win light against Bo (Pro Stock series leader Bo Butner), which really set the momentum for the day,” Hartford said. “Greg Anderson is obviously one of the best that’s ever raced in the class and he’s closing in some monumental records.

But he had beaten me 10 out of 10 times and, once again, we went up there knowing we had to go ‘A to B’ and whoever leaves first should win the race. We figured we had a good chance, the driver just had to be on his game.”

Hartford defeated, in order, Butner, No. 1 qualifier Jeg Coughlin Jr. and Deric Kramer to reach the final round, while Anderson knocked off Fernando Cuadra Jr., Erica Enders and Alex Laughlin to earn his 156th finals appearance.

Had Anderson won, he would have been the first driver in NHRA history to ever sweep the Western Swing twice.

NOTES: The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series takes next weekend off before resuming August 16-18 with the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway in Brainerd, Minnesota. That race is the second-to-last qualifying race for the Countdown to the Championship playoffs.

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FINAL FINISHING ORDER:

TOP FUEL: 1. Austin Prock; 2. Steve Torrence; 3. Mike Salinas; 4. Shawn Reed; 5. Brittany Force; 6. Antron Brown; 7. Doug Kalitta; 8. Clay Millican; 9. Leah Pritchett; 10. Terry McMillen; 11. Ron Smith; 12. Steven Chrisman; 13. Richie Crampton; 14. Scott Palmer; 15. Cameron Ferre.

FUNNY CAR: 1. John Force; 2. Ron Capps; 3. Matt Hagan; 4. Jack Beckman; 5. Bob Tasca III; 6. Robert Hight; 7. Shawn Langdon; 8. J.R. Todd; 9. Blake Alexander; 10. Gary Densham; 11. Jeff Diehl; 12. Tim Wilkerson; 13. Cruz Pedregon; 14. Jim Campbell; 15. Tommy Johnson Jr.; 16. Terry Haddock.

PRO STOCK: 1. Matt Hartford; 2. Greg Anderson; 3. Alex Laughlin; 4. Deric Kramer; 5. Erica Enders; 6. Jeg Coughlin; 7. Chris McGaha; 8. Jason Line; 9. Bo Butner; 10. Fernando Cuadra Jr.; 11. Fernando Cuadra; 12. Steve Graham; 13. Steve Matusek; 14. Alan Prusiensky; 15. Kenny Delco; 16. Val Smeland.

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FINAL RESULTS:

TOP FUEL: Austin Prock, 3.875 seconds, 307.86 mph def. Steve Torrence, 4.984 seconds, 162.24 mph.

FUNNY CAR: John Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.971, 320.58 def. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.018, 309.91.

PRO STOCK: Matt Hartford, Chevy Camaro, 6.606, 209.33 def. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.596, 210.31.

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FINAL ROUND-BY-ROUND RESULTS:

TOP FUEL: ROUND ONE — Shawn Reed, 3.718, 329.50 def. Terry McMillen, 3.789, 324.90; Clay Millican, 3.746, 326.16 def. Cameron Ferre, 6.078, 92.52; Brittany Force, 3.725, 328.78 def. Ron Smith, 4.296, 274.50; Mike Salinas, 3.850, 292.84 was unopposed; Steve Torrence, 3.770, 324.83 def. Steven Chrisman, 4.319, 206.64; Austin Prock, 3.761, 326.95 def. Leah Pritchett, 3.762, 325.30; Antron Brown, 3.798, 321.12 def. Richie Crampton, 4.990, 142.64; Doug Kalitta, 3.789, 322.88 def. Scott Palmer, 6.073, 110.96; QUARTERFINALS — Salinas, 3.748, 326.32 def. Kalitta, 4.263, 196.30; Reed, 3.757, 323.27 def. Force, 3.772, 327.59; Prock, 3.829, 323.74 def. Millican, 4.498, 163.20; Torrence, 3.785, 325.53 def. Brown, 4.044, 266.69; SEMIFINALS — Torrence, 3.998, 272.28 def. Reed, 6.652, 109.32; Prock, 3.800, 322.19 def. Salinas, 3.777, 324.12; FINAL — Prock, 3.875, 307.86 def. Torrence, 4.984, 162.24.

FUNNY CAR: ROUND ONE — Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 3.960, 325.61 def. Terry Haddock, Mustang, 9.903, 83.83; J.R. Todd, Toyota Camry, 3.934, 321.35 def. Jeff Diehl, Camry, 4.189, 285.11; Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 3.988, 328.22 def. Gary Densham, Mustang, 4.058, 308.99; John Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.895, 327.90 def. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.773, 173.36; Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.929, 330.55 def. Blake Alexander, Mustang, 3.949, 322.19; Shawn Langdon, Camry, 3.926, 323.81 def. Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 4.296, 214.55; Ron Capps, Charger, 3.939, 327.35 def. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.205, 253.95; Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.937, 327.59 def. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 5.182, 141.86; QUARTERFINALS — Capps, 3.992, 322.58 def. Todd, 5.277, 153.40; Hagan, 3.970, 325.53 def. Langdon, 5.067, 148.69; Force, 3.909, 328.14 def. Hight, 4.160, 230.84; Beckman, 3.973, 323.04 def. Tasca III, 4.017, 321.50; SEMIFINALS — Capps, 3.974, 323.58 def. Hagan, 3.982, 327.27; Force, 4.014, 320.97 def. Beckman, 4.480, 197.65; FINAL — Force, 3.971, 320.58 def. Capps, 4.018, 309.91.

PRO STOCK: ROUND ONE — Matt Hartford, Chevy Camaro, 6.562, 210.11 def. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.568, 209.95; Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.600, 209.46 def. Fernando Cuadra, Camaro, 6.606, 210.14; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.555, 209.72 def. Fernando Cuadra Jr., Camaro, 6.596, 208.49; Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.550, 210.11 def. Kenny Delco, Camaro, Foul – Red Light; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.555, 209.75 def. Val Smeland, Camaro, 19.054, 41.98; Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.557, 209.92 def. Steve Matusek, Ford Mustang, 6.640, 208.97; Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.571, 209.75 def. Steve Graham, Camaro, 6.635, 208.23; Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.577, 209.95 def. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, Foul – Red Light; QUARTERFINALS — Laughlin, 6.574, 209.79 def. McGaha, 8.639, 111.40; Hartford, 6.578, 210.31 def. Coughlin, 6.951, 205.76; Anderson, 6.559, 208.33 def. Enders, 6.591, 209.20; Kramer, 6.563, 210.08 def. Line; SEMIFINALS — Hartford, 7.551, 198.55 def. Kramer, 33.038, 577.91; Anderson, 6.596, 209.23 def. Laughlin, 6.656, 209.46; FINAL — Hartford, 6.606, 209.33 def. Anderson, 6.596, 210.31.

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UPDATED POINT STANDINGS ( * = Clinched berth in NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship)

TOP FUEL: 1. Steve Torrence, 1,587*; 2. Antron Brown, 966; 3. Clay Millican, 955; 4. Brittany Force, 953; 5. Doug Kalitta, 940; 6. Mike Salinas, 883; 7. Leah Pritchett, 786; 8. (tie) Richie Crampton, 753; Austin Prock, 753; 10. Terry McMillen, 676.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Robert Hight, 1,341*; 2. John Force, 1,155*; 3. Tommy Johnson Jr., 1,117*; 4. Ron Capps, 1,057; 5. Jack Beckman, 1,039; 6. Bob Tasca III, 985; 7. Matt Hagan, 965; 8. J.R. Todd, 949; 9. Shawn Langdon, 840; 10. Tim Wilkerson, 792.

PRO STOCK: 1. Bo Butner, 815*; 2. Greg Anderson, 769; 3. Alex Laughlin, 742; 4. Matt Hartford, 679; 5. Jason Line, 644; 6. Deric Kramer, 632; 7. Jeg Coughlin, 609; 8. Erica Enders, 593; 9. Chris McGaha, 529; 10. Kenny Delco, 331.

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INDYCAR: what drivers said after Pocono

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Here’s what drivers said after Sunday’s 14th race on the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series schedule – the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway:

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet) – WINNER: “I had a few issues during the race but we just kept coming back. Full credit to the team. We had a great car and we just kind of hung there and saved fuel and when it was time to go, I went. I was so determined and I really wanted to win. This is my 13th year in a row of winning races and I have been thinking about that. I just wanted to win a race for Verizon and these guys who have worked their butts off all year and just haven’t had the results.”

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) – finished second: “Definitely gets exciting in that situation. We definitely had some luck. Today the car went through some good changes. The car was pretty quick.  Not sure really what happened on the last stint there. We put more front wing in there, more pressure on the right rear tire. Couldn’t turn the car. We were running 213, 214 (mph), struggling to do 208. So much understeer. Will was definitely extremely strong today. It was good to see him get another victory this season. Had we gone back out, even with headlights on, I think Will was going to take the race. Congrats to him and Team Penske. We’ll keep our head down and see what we can come up with for the last three races.”

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 Penske Truck Rental Chevrolet) – finished third: “Well, it’s a great day. Very happy for Will and Team Penske to get another win here in Pocono. It’s pretty awesome. I think we showed our cars were the strongest today. Overall it’s a pretty good points day for us on the 22 car this weekend. Obviously, yes, I did think we could have done a little better. At least we would have tried. I think we had the car to do so… Who knows what would have happened, but I think we could have challenged at least. At the end of the day it’s not a bad day. We’ll take it. Go to the next one, keep pushing.”

SANTINO FERRUCCI (No. 19 Cly-Del Manufacturing Honda) – finished fourth: “This weekend has been pretty amazing to have over 120 people here, from family and friends to sponsors and to race in front of such a large crowd. Hats off to the whole team, we rolled the car off the trailer and it was fast. I’d say that’s a job well-done and homework well-researched. The No. 19 Cly-Del Manufacturing Honda was on rails. I think we definitely had a top three in us and we were fighting for a chance to win the race at one point. Obviously with the conditions and everything, I’m still happy to bring home a top-five. It makes a huge difference in the rookie championship and moves us up to 12th overall. With three races to go and one more oval, we’ll see how much further we can move up.”

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet) – finished fifth: “It was kind of an interesting day, but it could have been worse. It was sort of like qualifying yesterday where qualifying got rained out but we started on the pole. We didn’t finish this race but we finished fifth. We’ll take it. I wish we could have been a little bit higher, but I think Will (Power) was going to be tough to beat today. He looked very strong. Certainly towards the middle of the race I thought he was looking very good. We fought with what we had today and I thought the Hitachi Chevy was pretty good. Coming out of here with a decent finish allows us to now focus on the last three events. We just need to set our sights on Gateway next weekend and execute. I think we will have a good car. I always feel confident with Team Penske, and Team Chevy has been pushing hard, so I’m looking forward to it.”

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 SONAX Chevrolet) – finished sixth: “We needed a decent run. We DNF’ed at Iowa, which wasn’t good. I feel like we have been performing better this year, we just haven’t really been able to put it together. It was nice to be in the mix, racing with the guys you need to race with to be up there fighting for wins. I wish we could have seen out all 500 miles, but Pocono always has its own craziness when it comes to the weather. Hopefully, all of the fans got to their cars before they got too wet. I thought it was a really good turnout today, it was a fun race while we were out there. It was unfortunate to see guys kind of lose their minds a bit there at the start, but all in all it was a fun day and nice to be moving forward.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 18 SealMaster Honda) – finished seventh: “It was a strong run for the No. 18 SealMaster Honda. We were quick and I got up to fourth at one point. I think we deserved that position. It was kind of a broken up race and unfortunately, on the last restart, the guys in front of me checked up and I got swallowed up and lost four positions. I got one position back, then the race was stopped because of the weather. I think if the race continued we would have finished better than seventh, but that’s racing.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet) – finished eighth: “Good day for us, another top 10. We have a few things to improve still but we’ll take it from where we started. We had a competitive car all weekend. The goal was to finish in the top 10 and we finished eighth, which is my best result of the year. It’s a good energy boost for the boys.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 TOTAL Honda) – finished ninth: “We need a little more pace. We were a little slow on the straights for some reason, but we’ll keep digging into it. I had a bad restart (went from fifth to ninth), but it wasn’t that bad actually. I was pulling up on the guys in front of me, but I just got driven around and was in a position where I was a little bit of a sitting duck and lost a bunch of spots and that killed our race from then-on, frankly. We were scrambling just to get ourselves back in position. I had another good restart later and went from 13th to ninth and made some of those spots back up.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 23 Tresiba Carlin Chevrolet) – finished 10th: “First and foremost, I’m glad that everyone is OK from the incidents on track today. Secondly, I’m just really proud of this Carlin crew. We made great progress with the No. 23 Tresiba Chevrolet in superspeedway trim and we learned a lot after coming here last year. The racing at Pocono Raceway is really tough, but these guys just kept their head down and made it happen. I made a mistake in the first pit stop, but we were able to run our strategy and get a really good run going. To come away with a top-10 finish from a very challenging weekend where we didn’t get to qualify is really a credit to the entire Carlin team. It was really great to get that top-10 finish in front of all of our Novo Nordisk guests who made the trip out to the track to support us and also to round out the top 10 with a bowtie for Team Chevy.”

CONOR DALY (No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet): – finished 11th “After where we started at the back of the field, to finish 11th is awesome. It’s unfortunate though, because we were really just starting to get to the point where I was happier with the No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet. The last few laps before the final red flag, we were the fastest car on the track, so we were definitely moving in the right direction. We were catching all of the people in front of us and starting to get to where we needed to be, but these 500-mile races are long and the goal is to be strong at the end, which I really felt like we were working toward that for sure. To be 11th is really good and it’s another strong finish for this group of people here at Carlin. Hopefully we can keep this momentum going into Gateway and that’ll be even more fun.”

MARCUS ERICSSON (No. 7 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda) – finished 12th: “It was a tough race. I thought I had some really good starts and restarts; we made up positions there. Unfortunately, throughout the race we were struggling a bit with the balance of the car throughout the stints, so I was struggling to keep up with the pace with the guys ahead or behind us. I thought at one point there after the second restart and we were up to P5, the day was looking to potentially be really good. Just a tough race trying to hang on and make the best of it. We learned a lot and the Arrow SPM guys did a great job with stops, but disappointed we didn’t have a better result than that.”

ZACH VEACH (No. 26 Gainbridge Honda) – finished 13th: “Thirteenth obviously isn’t where we wanted to finish – but all things aside, it was an OK day for us. Just lacking overall grip, I think as a team, but we moved forward from our starting spot – which with qualifying being canceled hurt us. I’m thankful for all the work the guys did. Honestly, walking away 13th isn’t what we want, but we did all we could and I’m proud of that. We’ll go to Gateway and have a better result.”

MATHEUS LEIST (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet) – finished 14th: “The car was good. The stops were perfect and I think we had a good strategy. We went a lap down cause we had too much vibration in one of our tires, so we had to stop early and that was it from there.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 98 US Concrete / Curb Honda) – finished 15th: “Mainly, I’m just glad everyone walked out OK after the wreck on the start. I had an issue with one of my head pads coming out and we lost some time fixing that. Beyond that, the car had a big imbalance and by the time we got that resolved, we were a lap down. There wasn’t much we could do, and it made for a long day. Looking ahead to Gateway and working to finish the season strong.”

COLTON HERTA (No. 88 Capstone Turbine Honda) – finished 16th: “The No. 88 Capstone Turbine Honda guys gave me a great car for the ABC Supply 500, I think we had one of the better cars on track today and definitely a better car than where we finished. It’s unfortunate that we got into the wall there. It’s very disappointing. I know we’ll be able to rebound next week at Gateway. I really like racing there and I’m excited to compete under the lights.”

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 21 Autogeek Chevrolet) – finished 17th: “That was a frustrating end to the day, we hit a bump in Turn 1 and it caused something to break on the front of the car. From then on, I was just a passenger and went straight up into the wall. I had no steering at that point, unfortunately. We were running pretty comfortably there in seventh and the car was feeling pretty good. We had lost touch with the group in front but I felt like we had a solid car. I feel bad for everyone at Ed Carpenter Racing, we have a race again next weekend and now there is a lot of extra work to do.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 MilitaryToMotorsports.com Honda) – finished 18th: “Obviously, I didn’t get a good start – so that’s on me. But we were three-wide; Ryan was on the inside, I was in the middle and Takuma was on the outside. I can’t even begin to understand how after last year Takuma thinks that any sort of driving like that is acceptable. To turn across two cars, at that speed, in that corner at a 500-mile race is disgraceful, upsetting and may have cost us a championship. It’s upsetting. This team works too hard to have something like that happen. The whole team worked tirelessly to get the 27 car back on track. Once we got out there, the car just didn’t have the handling we needed so we held on to make up as many points as we could. Unfortunately, the weather came, and the race was called one lap before we could gain another spot. We have a couple days to rebound and go for race wins now – that’s all that matters.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda) – finished 19th: “The opening lap wreck was ridiculous and thank God everybody was alright. It’s so unfortunate at the beginning of a 500-mile race. The car was good yesterday and we just needed to put together 500 clean miles. The DHL car deserved to be fighting for a win today. We did all we could do after coming back out. The guys did a great job; unbelievable effort in getting the car turned back around. But we were really loose in (Turn) 3, and it turned out we had holes in the underwing from the crash. The last thing we want to do is be a risk out there and damage more equipment, so we got the points we could and came in just before the weather hit.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda) – finished 20th: “It unfolded in front of us. We had a pretty good start with the No. 5 Arrow car. We were heading into Turn 2 kind of three-wide, and I knew that wasn’t a good idea, so I backed out. I thought I was actually gonna save us because it happened in front of me. I couldn’t see exactly what started it, but then the wreck sorta moved down to the inside… I was able to slow down, but it just slid out to where I was. There was nowhere I could go. It sucks. I mean it wasn’t too hard a hit, so glad everybody is ok. It’s a 500-mile race, I don’t know how many times we have to do this before people figure out that you can attack all you want, but it doesn’t give you a chance to win if you are in the fence.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic Honda) – finished 21st: “First of all, I am worried about Felix. Hopefully he is OK. I am sorry for all the guys fighting for the championship. Ryan and I were obviously racing at the exit of Turn 1 and it looks like Alexander had a slow start. We both went right and left (of Rossi) and I thought it was all clear. All the (track) seams also are putting the car really easy to get the lane change and everybody gets close. Unfortunately, it looks like we made contact for that.”

FELIX ROSENQVIST (No. 10 NTT Data Ganassi Racing Honda) – finished 22nd: “First of all, it’s good to see that I’m cleared from the medical checks. Just with minor back pain and some headache. Hopefully I should be back to normal in a couple of days. A big thanks to the INDYCAR track staff and medical staff, did an awesome job looking after everything. Luckily the other drivers are OK as well, I think that’s the main thing. A shame that we were caught out already on lap one. I think we had a good car today. Good to see Scott being up there all day. Good points for him, probably throwing him up there in the championship hunt. Looking forward to get back in the car in Gateway.”

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