For the second consecutive event, there was an all-Dodge final round in Fuel Funny Car. At the NHRA Kansas Nationals, Matt Hagan set new national elapsed time (ET) and speed records in the Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger on his way to the top qualifier spot. Jack Beckman set a new speed record, which Hagan quickly beat, and qualified second in the Infinite Hero Dodge.
When it came to the final round, the winning speed was just over half that of Hagan’s new record, 3.862 seconds at 335.57 mph. Beckman lost traction and the start and Hagan smoked the tires soon after. Hagan managed to keep the Dodge off the centerline and fishtailed his way to the win with a 5.724-second ET and a speed of 179.04 mph.
With the win, Hagan leapfrogged five spots, moving from ninth in the standings to fourth. Beckman is in second place, just 12 points behind Courtney Force. Ron Capps, who bowed out in today’s opening round, dropped two spots, to sixth. Tommy Johnson Jr. remained in tenth place following a quarterfinals finish.
Allen Johnson jumped over Chris McGaha and tied for the Pro Stock fourth place with Drew Skillman, thanks to Johnson’s fourth semifinal round appearance of the season.
Both Johnson and Erica Enders got free passes in the opening round when their opponents, Aaron Strong and Drew Skillman, jumped the gun and fouled out. Jeg Coughlin, V. Gaines, and Deric Kramer lost.
Johnson went on to beat Bo Butner in the second round, but Enders was eliminated by Jason Line, who went on to win the Pro Stock Wally. In the semifinals, Johnson’s Marathon Dart had problems and he had to shut down, losing to Greg Anderson’s Camaro.
According to the unofficial points, Johnson is in a tie for fourth, Enders is eighth, and Coughlin is ninth.
Andrew Ranger and the No. 27 Mopar/Pennzoil Dodge made a little history by taking the checkered flag in the season-opening Clarington 200 at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.
It was the first-ever win in the NASCAR Pinty’s series. Pinty’s is a Canadian food company that took over the NASCAR Home Tracks series from Canadian Tire.
Ranger, who led for just three laps during the race, was the first of four Dodge drivers to cross the finish line, coming in more than a half-second ahead of runner-up Robin Buck. Former series champ D.J. Kennington, Cayden Lapcevich, and Alex Labbe completed the top five; Labbe was the only driver not in a Dodge.
Conspicuous by their absences were 2015 series champion Scott Steckly and the #22 Dodge. Canadian Tire ended its sponsorship of both the series and the four-time series champion; despite missing the first race, Steckly is still hopeful that he will find a sponsor.
Matt Hagan ended a 19-event winless streak by capturing the Fuel Funny Car Wally at the NHRA Southern Nationals in Atlanta, beating Jack Beckman in an all-Charger final round. In New York State, Louis-Phillipe Montour was the runner-up in Trans Am TA2 action at Watkins Glen.
Hagan was first out of the gate. Beckman hit the throttle, got about 40 feet down the track and went up in smoke. There was a bit of drama when Hagan got to the end of his pass. Just after he tripped the lights, a fire started. Fortunately, the fire bottles did their job and the flames were out by the time Hagan was able to stop the car.
Tommy Johnson Jr. made it to the semifinals, falling to Beckman in the first race. Beckman ended Ron Capps’ weekend in the quarterfinals.
It was a weekend for Dodges setting records in Funny Car competition. Hagan set both ends of the track record in the Pennzoil Charger with a 3.906-second ET at 329.02 mph in the quarterfinals. In the race just before Hagan’s record run, Beckman had set a new record, beating the record he set on Friday on his way to the top qualifier spot.
Beckman’s runner-up finish was enough to leapfrog him into second place, 40 points behind Courtney Force. Beckman’s move dropped Ron Capps from third to fourth. Matt Hagan’s much-needed victory put him in the No. 9 spot with Tommy Johnson Jr.
Allen Johnson made it all the way to the semifinals in Pro Stock, losing to Jason Line; this was Johnson’s third semifinal round appearance, putting him at the top of the Dart drivers. Johnson is now the leading Dart driver and is just one point out of fifth place.
Louis-Phillippe Montour drove a Challenger to a second-place finish in Watkins Glen, New York. Jason Kennedy finished tenth while Adam Andretti, currently the points leader among Dodge drivers, had to retire after seven laps.
Dodge Viper ACRXs driven by Cindi Lux and Steve Streimer finished second and third in the TA3 class.
In late 2015, Dodge announced that it had switched to the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving after years of using Skip Barber and the Petty Driving Experience. Starting with the first of January 2016, buyers of new 2015 or 2016 Dodge SRT cars qualified for a free one-day training course at the Bondurant School.
Anyone can also pay $699 to take advantage of the partnership and gain training in high-speed driving, including regaining control from oversteer or understeer in a safe environment.
Patrick Rall attended the course recently, and reported his experiences as an already-skilled driver who has been through similar course training in other venues. Full story.
This past weekend, a pair of Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat owners set new records for the quickest quarter mile times – one with the 8-speed automatic transmission and the other with the 6-speed manual transmission.
For one driver, this weekend brought about a new personal best and a beating of his own record, while the other Hellcat owner jumped to the top of the “quickest” list on his first time out with his current mod list. By the end of the weekend of April 9-10, these guys both set new records for the quickest Hellcat Challengers in the world.
World’s Quickest Manual Hellcat
Sipple was the first manual transmission Hellcat Challenger which I saw break into the 10-second barrier and his previous best of 10.86 was the world record. This past weekend, he headed out to Darlington Dragway with a new tune from Mass Acceleration in Denver NC and a fresh 100-shot of nitrous oxide. His only other modifications which help the car get down the track faster are a cold air intake and drag radial tires.
On his first run of the day, he laid down a new record with a run of 10.71 at 131.62 miles per hour. He backed that up later in the day with a much quicker 10.6256 at 133.61 miles per hour. This is a Challenger with a 100-shot, a tune, a cold air intake and sticky tires running mid 10s with the manual transmission. The video below shows Sipple’s record run against a Pontiac Firebird.
The “bad news” for Sipple was that on his record runs, the clutch was slipping a bit, so he will be going to a new, stronger clutch – which should lead to even quicker ETs.
World’s Quickest Hellcat Challenger
While Jon Sipple was busy breaking his own record in South Carolina, Ricky Ellison and his Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat were at Beech Bend Raceway in Kentucky with the Modern Street Hemi Shootout. Ellison had previously run in the low 10s with a few simple mods, but when he took to the track this past weekend, he had new mods and high hopes of turning some heads. He did just that, setting a new record for the world’s quickest Hellcat Challenger (both with the automatic transmission and overall), making a pair of 9.5 quarter mile runs.
Unlike a great many of the Hellcat cars setting records around the country, Ricky Ellison isn’t running any nitrous – instead turning to bigger boost to make record-setting power. Ellison’s Hemi has an upper and lower pulley swap, headers, full exhaust and larger fuel injectors, along with what is clearly a very good tune by Josh at High Horse Performance in Delaware. He has also fitted this Hellcat Challenger with a Driveshaft Shop aluminum driveshaft, lightweight front and rear Weld wheels and MT drag radials, but the car is otherwise stock…meaning that it weighs over 4,500lbs when it hits the track.
On his first run, Ellison pulled a 1.380 60 foot time en route to a 9.592 ET and a trap speed of 141.05 miles per hour – comfortably beating the old record of 9.77. On his second run, he backed up the record by going even quicker, laying down a 9.582 at 141.74 miles per hour. Even at the event plagued with rain, hail and cold temperatures, Ellison was able to set a smokin’ fast record for the world’s quickest Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat.
The video below shows Ricky Ellison’s 9.58 run.
By the way, Ricky Ellison has also owned and raced a Dodge Challenger SRT8 which was built by the Petty Garage. That car, shown below with The King, ran 8.50s – so Ellison isn’t likely to settle for 9.50s from his Hellcat.
Considering that we are so early in the 2016 drag racing season, we are likely to see more Hellcat record times as more tracks open around the country – and as more Hellcat owners acquire the power and the seat time needed to break into the 9-second range. At this point, the race among the automatic transmission cars is for the 8-second range, while Jon Sipple seems to be relatively unchallenged in controlling the record for the manual transmission Hellcat Challenger.
(Jon Sipple’s Challenger Images Courtesy of Britany Kahle/BJK Photography)
Ron Capps and the NAPA Dodge Charger will be on the sidelines for tomorrow’s Funny Car eliminations at the NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas. Capps struggled through qualifying, but could never get a good run in. Engine and traction troubles dogged him through every session.
This is the first time Capps has failed to make the field since the Northwest Nationals in August 2013. The only Dodge driver to win an event in the 2016 Mello Yello season, Capps came to Las Vegas trailing Del Worsham, the current points leader, by a single point.
Jack Beckman, Capps’ Don Schumacher Racing teammate, was the top qualifier and set a new track ET record of 3.916 seconds. We then have to run through a bunch of Camaros and Camrys to find Matt Hagan, who qualified tenth, followed by Chargers driven by Tommy Johnson Jr., John Hale, Jim Campell and Jeff Arend, respectively.
In Pro Stock, Erica Enders was the top Dodge driver, qualifying fifth. Allen Johnson took the No. 10 spot, 0.013 seconds ahead of Deric Kramer, who finished in the No. 11 position. Jeg Coughlin Jr. and V. Gaines qualified 13th and 14th, respectively.
Dodge came up empty in this weekend’s motorsports slate.
A broken right-rear axle in the first hour of yesterday’s 12 Hours of Sebring cost the No. 33 Dodge Viper five laps and ended any hope of winning the race. The breakdown happened just minutes after Jeroen Bleekemolen had taken the lead in the GT Daytona class. When racing resumed after the race was red-flagged due to rain, Bleekemolen and Ben Keating did their best but finished 12th in the GTD class, two laps down from the winning No. 63 Ferrari 488 GTE.
Track temperatures caused traction troubles for Ron Capps and the NAPA Dodge Charger, costing them a shot at a Wally in the NHRA Gatornationals. Capps had an early lead over Robert Hight in the final round when both cars lost traction: Capp’s Dodge drifted across the center line and was disqualified.
The loss dropped Capps out of the top spot in the rankings for the first time this year. He trails Hight by a single point.
Capps had defeated Jack Beckman, who was the top qualifier in three of the four rounds, in the semifinals. Tommy Johnson Jr. and John Hale were eliminated in the opening round while Matt Hagan fell to Robert Height in the quarterfinals.
Beckman is now fourth in the points race. Hagan is tenth and Tommy Johnson Jr. is just outside the top ten in eleventh place.
Over in Pro Stock, Allen Johnson made it to the semifinals where he lost to Greg Anderson, the eventual winner. Anderson also eliminated Jeg Coughlin in their quarterfinals meet and V. Gaines in the first round. Johnson shut down 2015 Champion Erica Enders in the second matchup of the day.
Johnson and Coughlin are tied for sixth in the rankings. Erica Enders is back in the top ten.
Lee Saunders drove his Dodge Viper ACR-X to a win in the TA3 Class at the opening event of Trans Am’s 50th season.
Saunders and the No. 84 Landsearch LLC Viper finished first in class and ninth overall in Round One of of the 2016 Trans Am Championship at Sebring International Raceway.
This is Saunders’ third consecutive victory at Sebring, but it wasn’t a sure thing. The Viper was third in the starting order and Saunders trailed Randy Mueller’s No. 0 Epic Motorsports BMW M3 and Randy Kinsland’s No. 11 Crossland Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette, which started from the pole position.
With three laps to go, Saunders overtook Kinsland for the lead. Then Mueller surged past Kinsland to take second. Kinsland finished third but set the fastest lap for the TA3 class: 2:13.664. Saunders’ fastest time was 2:14.792.
In TA2 action, Adam Andretti was the runner-up in a race won by 2015 champion Gar Robinson. Andretti, who drove a Chevy last year, was in his first race at the wheel of a Dodge Challenger, the No. 44 ECC/Anchor Bolt & Screw car.
Andretti was joined in the top five by Louis-Philippe Montour in the No. 77 Universal Technical Institute Challenger. Fellow Canadian Peter Klutt finished seventh in the No. 11 UTI Challenger, giving Dodge two top five and three top-ten finishes.
Jason Kennedy, driving the No. 12 UTI Challenger finished 16th.
We have seen Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcats running in the 9s and 10s, but all of those cars were fitted with the quick-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission. This past weekend, the first 10-second run by a Hellcat Challenger with a manual transmission was recorded by Jon Sipple, who broke way into the 10s with a very short modification list.
Some folks from the Ford camp have long insisted that the Hellcat Challenger is nowhere near as quick with the manual transmission. Basically, Mustang fans insist that the Hellcat is much quicker than the previous Shelby GT500 solely because the Mustang only had a manual transmission.
Jon Sipple and his manually-shifted Challenger SRT Hellcat have proven that, with some sticky tires, the supercharged Dodge muscle cars are every bit as capable of running low 11s and high 10s.
Before getting into his 10 second runs, some quick background on Jon Sipple and his claim as the quickest manual Hellcat. According to the gurus at Hellcat.org, Jon’s best time last December of 11.18 at 125 miles per hour made him the quickest manual Hellcat driver in the country. At that time, Jon’s only modifications were a stronger driveshaft, a cold air intake, and drag radial tires. Since then, there have been no other reported times quicker than that 11.18 – until Jon his Hellcat Challenger hit the track with a few new modifications.
Since his last trip to the track in December, Sipple added a Diablosport tune, a light cooling charge of nitrous, and a set of big, fat drag radial tires. His goal was to break into the 10s – but he did far more than just break in.
On his first run out with the new modifications, he was able to stop the clock with a time of 11.000 at 130.83 miles per hour, the blink of an eye from the tens, with a 60 foot time of 1.937. On the next run, Sipple got off of the line a bit better and ran an incredible 10.86. Finally, on his last run of the day, Sipple laid down another 10-second run with a 10.89.
Sipple drove his Hellcat Challenger two hours to the track, raced all night and drove two hours home – getting 22mpg on the trip.
Jon Sipple plans to spend some time on the dyno with his Hellcat Challenger next month and after that, he might be much further into the 10s. We will keep you posted on that, but in the meantime, check out the videos of Sipple’s record-setting runs.
Last week, trade group/lobbyists SEMA issued an alert claiming that the EPA was out to outlaw amateur racing. Their alarmist tone was similar to past messages, and today, Automotive News issued the expected correction after actually discussing the issue with the EPA.
The government agency said that modifications to emissions-certified cars have always been banned under the Clean Air Act, as passed by Congress. The EPA is concerned about Volkswagen-style emissions defeat devices, and wanted to make it clear that an exemption for vehicles created for non-road use, such as snowmobiles, was not meant for cars and trucks that are certified for on-road use. The agency also said that racing has never been “an enforcement priority.”
Comments from the public on this issue are still being considered, and the rule is not yet final.
Gary Densham, driver of the Densham Motorsports Dodge Charger, was unhurt following a high-speed crash at the NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California.
In a Charger-Charger matchup with James Campbell during the third round of Funny Car qualifying, Densham posted a career-best time of 4.050 seconds at 307.79 miles per hour. After tripping the timing lights, the drag chutes on the car failed to deploy, leaving Densham with only limited braking to slow the car.
The Charger sped through the sand trap and was stopped by the safety net at the end of the track. The net was heavily damaged and Densham’s Charger was literally in pieces.
Racing had to be temporarily halted while crews removed the wreckage and repaired the safety net.
The 69-year-old Californian, who spent 28 years as a high-school teacher, walked away from the crash. After being checked by emergency services personnel, Densham hugged his wife, Joanne.
Densham, who races a limited schedule, made history in 2014 at the NHRA Northwest Nationals when he was pitted against John Force in the final round of eliminations. Force won the matchup, but both drivers made the record book. Densham, then 67, and the 65-year-old Force were the oldest drivers to compete in a final eliminations round in the history of the NHRA.
With his car wrecked, Densham was on the sidelines during Sunday’s Funny Car eliminations, which were won by fellow Californian and Dodge driver Ron Capps.
Capps was the only Dodge driver to make past the quarterfinals. Traction and engine troubles eliminated his fellow Don Schumacher Racing drivers in the first and second rounds. Capps beat 2015 champion Del Worsham to the lights by 0.0008 seconds or about five inches.
In Pro Stock, Camaros continued to dominate. Both Jeg Coughlin and Allen Johnson made it to the quarterfinals but Coughlin jumped the gun and got a red light and Johnson’s engine stalled at the burnout and would not restart. Greg Anderson won the Camaro-Camaro finals with a hole shot win over Jason Line.
In ARCA stock car action, three Dodges were in the top ten at the end of the Lucas Oil 200 at the Daytona International Speedway.
Chase Briscoe finished fourth in Tom Hessert’s No. 77 Dodge Challenger (Hessert finished 28th in the Florida Lottery Toyota). Bo LeMastus was sixth in the No. 42 Crosley Brands/Glad Precision/T&T Construction Dodge and Kevin Thomas Jr. brought the No. 22 Cunningham Motorsports Dodge to a seventh-place finish.
The Environment Protection Agency is proposing a rule change that would outlaw modifications to production cars and trucks, preventing their conversion to “track-only” racing vehicles.
The change is inside a larger document on “Control of Emissions from New and In-Use Heavy-Duty Highway Engines” — on page 35 of the 378-page file.
The actual text is:
Certified motor vehicles and motor vehicle engines and their emission control devices must remain in their certified configuration even if they are used solely for competition or if they become nonroad vehicles or engines; anyone modifying a certified motor vehicle or motor vehicle engine for any reason is subject to the tampering and defeat device prohibitions of paragraph (a)(3) of this section and 42 U.S.C. 7522(a)(3).
This would not apply to most professional motorsports (such as NASCAR, IndyCar, or drag racing), because they use custom vehicles that were never certified. It is also not likely to affect Mopar’s Drag Pack for the Dodge Challenger, unless the EPA judges that it is built as a certified vehicle and then modified.
The new rules would apply to someone with a factory vehicle (e.g. a Hellcat Challenger) they wanted to turn into a pure racing car.
Some modifications and parts would become illegal; racing organizers could, however, create new classes for racing with fully emissions-compliant vehicles. There does not appear to be any provision to certify a modification that might affect the certified configuration. The California Air Resources Board certifies aftermarket parts to be legal in California but those exceptions would not be valid under more stringent EPA rules – even in California.
The Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA) wrote that it had verified that this restriction is indeed the agency’s intent, and that it would lobby against it. A final decision on the new rules could come as soon as July of this year.
Allen Johnson, whose 20-year deal with Mopar ended last year, will be in the field as the 2016 Mello Yello NHRA drag racing season opens next weekend.
But instead of the familiar blue-and-yellow graphics, Johnson’s Dodge Dart will be wearing the red, white and blue of Marathon Oil.
Late last month, J&J Racing and the big oil company announced a sponsorship deal that will run through the 2016 season. Thanks to the deal, Johnson will be able to compete in all 18 regular-season races and, hopefully, the six races in the Countdown to the Championship.
The deal shouldn’t be too much of a surprise; Johnson and Marathon have had a long business relationship. In addition to his career as a Pro Stock driver and partner in J&J Racing, Johnson also owns Greenville Oil and Petroleum with a total of 40 fuel stations and oil-change businesses all of which carry Marathon products.
In contrast to 2015, when there were only two Dodges in most of the Pro Stock events, there are five Darts in the Pro Stock field for the season-opening Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California.
The champions of the past four Pro Stock seasons will all be driving Darts this year. Erica Enders, who won back-to-back championships in 2014 and 2015, will be in a 2016 Dart running in the colors of Elite Motorsports, which landed the Mopar/Magneti Marelli sponsorship, as will Jeg Coughlin, who took the title in 2013. Coughlin’s car will be wearing the Magneti Marelli colors. Johnson was the champion in 2012.
Also in the Dart brigade are V. Gaines, who will turn 69 in June, and the Kendall Oil Dart and Deric Kramer, back for another go and sponsored by American Ethanol and Novozymes.
Fast Jack Beckman, the Funny Car champion in 2012 and runner-up in 2015, returns in the Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T. He will be joined by his Don Schumacher Racing teammates Ron Capps, Tommy Johnson Jr. and two-time world champion Matt Hagan. Hagan continues to be sponsored by Mopar and Rocky Boots.
John Hale will be at the wheel of the Jim Dunn Racing/Oberto Beef Jerky Charger and Gary Densham returns in the Densham Motorsports Dodge.
The NHRA Winternationals open with Sportsman and Top Alcohol qualifying on Thursday, February 11. Pro Stock and Fuel Funny Car qualifying is scheduled for Friday and Saturday with eliminations on Sunday, February 14.
Fifty-four teams were on hand for the 54th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona Motor Speedway.
The 24-hour event, which concluded today, kicked off the 2016 season for both the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup.
The Riley Motorsports No. 93 Dodge SRT Viper GT3-R, driven by Ben Keating, Gar Robinson, Jeff Mosing, Eric Foss and Damien Faulkner, finished third in the GT Daytona class and 16th overall. The Viper crossed the finish line 5.059 seconds behind the class-winning Magnus Racing team of John Potter, Andy Lally, Marco Seefried, Rene Rast and their No. 44 Audi R8 LMS GT3 .
If Gar Robinson’s name sounds familiar, he’s the rookie that knocked Cameron Lawrence and the No. 1 Dodge Challenger out of the Trans Am TA2 championship last year.
All of the No. 93 team members are from Texas with the exception of Irishman Damien Faulkner. Keating is from Houston, Robinson is from San Antonio, Mosing is from Austin and Foss is from the Dallas-Ft. Worth area.
The second Riley car, the No. 33 Gas Monkey Dodge, finished tenth in class and 24th overall. The team of Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Marc Miller and Dominick Farnbacher was about 1.415 seconds behind the No. 93 car at the race’s end.
Marc Goossens, a driver well-known to Viper fans, was also in this weekend’s race. He was one of the drivers of the No. 90 VisitFlorida.com Chevrolet Corvette DP that finished third overall and third in the Prototype class.
The fastest laps of the day were turned in by the four Lamborghini Huracan GT3s, but only one Lambo made it into the top ten in the class.
While the stigma against station wagons in the United States ended the Dodge Magnum’s run in 2008, these muscular haulers are still a hot commodity among enthusiasts.
Robert Lamb’s Dodge Magnum SRT8 recently set the record for the quickest in the world, with a quarter mile time of just 8.995 seconds and a trap speed of 155 miles per hour. Making the run even more impressive is the fact the Mr. Lamb’s Magnum hasn’t had any weight removed – meaning that this 8-second station wagon weighs some 4,600lbs when you factor in the roll cage and the turbo setup.
While the weight might be stock (or heavier than stock), few of the drivetrain components have been left untouched in Lamb’s progress in putting his Dodge Magnum into the 8 second range.
The stock 6.1L Hemi was replaced by a 408 cubic inch stroker motor built by Chris Siedle, fitted with twin 67mm turbochargers. The full build was handled by Gearhead Fabrications in Stuart, Florida and Brian McMahon from Diablosport tuned the setup to make monster power.
That power is sent to the rear wheels by means of an ATF TH400 transmission, a carbon fiber driveshaft and a Drive Shaft Shop 9” rear differential.
Mickey Thompson Pro ET drag radials put the power to the ground well enough for a 4,600+ pounds Dodge station wagon to lay down incredible 1.4 second 60-foot times en route to a record-setting quarter mile time of 8.995 seconds at 155.08 miles per hour.
Having the first Dodge Magnum in the world to run an 8-second quarter mile is impressive, but this isn’t just a race car. Lamb drives the Magnum several times a week, often leaving his Hellcat Charger at home to pick up his kids from school.
This a legitimate street car that can lay down 8-second quarter mile times and for that, we salute Robert Lamb for having one wicked street machine.
Gas Monkey Garage is sponsoring the #33 ViperExchange/Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper GT3-R at next weekend’s 24-hour Daytona race.
Gas Monkey Garage is featured on Discovery’s TV show “Fast N’ Loud;” the car restoration shop in Dallas is led by Richard Rawlings. Viper Exchange is in Tomball, Texas, led by Ben Keating, who will be the lead driver for the race. Other drivers will be Jeroen Bleekemolen, Marc Miller, and Dominik Farnbacher.
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