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Down day for Dodge at zMax Dragway

NHRA-4Wide-Coughlin-Web

Dodge drivers were under a cloud Sunday: no driver advanced past the semifinals in the NHRA 4-Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway in Charlotte.

In the unique four-wide racing format, each race pits four cars against each other in what is called a “quad.” Only the two top finishers in each quad advance to the next round.

Charger driver Blake Alexander survived the day’s opening quad, coming in 0.0191 seconds, about nine feet, behind Tim Wilkerson.
Top Fuel Funny Car qualifier Ron Capps was eliminated in the third quad of the opening round, coming in 0.018 seconds and about eight feet behind Del Worsham.

Tommy Johnson, Jr. advanced after beating Courtney Force to the line by 0.011 seconds, about five feet, while in the same quad Jeff Arend went up in smoke and ended his race day.

Matt Hagan won his quad with his best pass of the weekend but Don Schumacher Racing teammate Jack Beckman lost a literally photo-finish race with Robert Hight, who went on to win the Funny Car Wally. Beckman lost by 0.000 seconds and barely an inch.

In the opening quad of the second round of eliminations another Dodge driver came up short in a photo finish: Blake Alexander was literally even with Del Worsham in ET and there was no gap between the noses, but Worsham’s tripped the lights at 308.14 mph while Alexander crossed the finish line at 299.20 mph.

In the second, and last, quad of the semifinals, Hagan was disqualified after he lost a cylinder and crossed the center line, taking out a finish line reflector.

After five events in the 2014 Mello Yello Drag Racing season, Dodge Funny Car drivers are still looking for their first win.

2014 NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SEASON DRIVER STANDINGS – FUEL FUNNY CAR
Rank Driver Hometown Sponsor & Car Points Behind
1 Robert Hight (2)* Yorba Linda, CA Auto Club Ford Mustang 488 Leader
2 John Force (1) Yorba Linda, CA Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang 453 -35
3 Alexis DeJoria (2) Austin, TX Patron XO Cafe Toyota Camry 375 -113
4 Ron Capps Carlsbad, CA NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger 282 -206
5 Del Worsham Chino Hills, CA DHL Toyota Camry 277 -211
6 Tommy Johnson Jr. Indianapolis, IN Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger 264 -224
7 Matt Hagan Christiansburg, VA Mopar/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger 257 -231
8 (tie) Courtney Force Yorba Linda, CA Traxxas Ford Mustang 244 -244
8 (tie) Tim Wilkerson Springfield, IL Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Mustang 244 -244
10 Jack Beckman Norco, CA Valvoline Max Life/MTS Dodge Charger 234 -254
*Event winner. Numbers in parentheses indicate 2014 season wins.

In Pro Stock, Jeg Coughlin finished first in the opening quad, tripping the lights 0.0695 seconds or 22 feet ahead of Shane Gray. Allen Johnson advanced as he was just 0.0258 seconds behind Erica Enders-Stevens. V. Gaines was the only Dodge driver eliminated in the first round, falling to eventual winner Jimmy Alund of Norrkoping, Sweden, an eight-time FIA Pro Stock champion, who claimed his first NHRA Wally and became the first European and just the fourth non-American to win an NHRA Nationals event title.

In the semifinals, Johnson had trouble at the start and had to to push in the clutch. In the second quad, Coughlin ran the quickest pass of the day, but it was after he had jumped the gun and turned on the red light.

2014 NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SEASON DRIVER STANDINGS – PRO STOCK
Rank Driver Hometown Sponsor & Car Points Behind
1 Erica Enders-Stevens (1) New Orleans, LA Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro 426 Leader
2 Jason Line (1) Mooresville, NC Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro 384 -42
3 Allen Johnson (2) Greeneville, TN Team Mopar Dodge Dart 370 -56
4 Vincent Nobile Dix Hills, NY Mountain View Tire Chevy Camaro 339 -87
5 Shane Gray Mooresville, NC KYMCO Chevy Camaro 334 -92
6 (tie) Dave Connolly Mooresville, NC Charter Chevy Camaro 308 -118
6 (tie) V. Gaines Lakewood, CO Kendall Oil Dodge Avenger 308 -118
8 Jimmy Alund (1)* Norrkoping, Sweden Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro 282 -144
9 Jeg Coughlin Delaware, OH JEGS.com/Mopar Dodge Dart 270 -156
10 Chris McGaha Odessa, TX Harlow Sammons of Odessa Chevy Camaro 258 -168
*Event winner. Numbers in parentheses indicate 2014 season wins.

In two weeks, it’s the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA SpringNationals at Royal Purple Raceway in Houston, Texas, on April 25-27.



SRT: Disappointment in Long Beach

IMSA-Viper91-LongBeach-Web
It was a tough day for SRT on the Long Beach street circuit: the No. 91 Viper GTS-R ran as high as fifth before dropping back to finish seventh in class and 14th overall in the IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship’s 100-minute Sports Car Showcase.

“We threw the car around, went for a completely different setup than what we were using yesterday in practice and qualifying,” said starting driver Marc Goossens, who also drove the No. 91 car during yesterday’s qualifying session. “I kind of liked the car in the race. It wasn’t optimal, which I think is normal because we were just throwing something at it to see if we could notice a difference. To me, the way the car was set up in the race, I think it had some potential. If we would have been able to start the weekend in that first practice session with this setup and work with that, I think we would have had more in qualifying that way and that’s track position. We’ll see what we find in the debriefs. Like I said, the car wasn’t perfect, but it looked like the others I was racing – those right in front of me – had the same sort of problems or even more than what we had, so that’s what I could take advantage of. We can double check what we tried on setup, and if we can analyze the data and all that after the race, hopefully we can come up with something for Laguna Seca.”

Dominik Farnbacher, who took over from Goossens, commented, “Marc did a very good job. He gave me the car in a great position. He was in fifth place and I tried to do as a good as he did, but I struggled a little bit with my driving style. I could not do the same lap times as Marc and I also couldn’t hold the two cars that came up behind me. Our Viper ran without any incidents, but the others were just too strong this weekend and we’ll move on to Laguna Seca and try to do a better job there.”

Mechanical problems forced Jonathan Bomarito to retire the No. 93 Viper about 20 minutes before the end of the race. The crew had replaced numerous components overnight because of power steering problems that arose during qualifying, but the power steering shut down again during the race’s opening laps and the No.93 car was never really a contender. Another problem, this time with the rear end, signaled the end of the No. 93 car’s race day.

“I think this was a tough one, definitely the toughest race for the year in 2014,” said Kumo Wittmer, who drove the first part of the race. “We started off the first two races very, very well and this weekend nothing was going our way on the car. Hats off again to the crew for trying everything – they really always keep drilling. With this team, I have high expectations with this crew and a high trust so together we can fix problems. Unfortunately, in the race we lost power steering on lap two and on a street course with a big Viper, forget it, you’re not going to go anywhere. I was wrestling the car pretty hard to a point my legs, lower back and arms were getting completely numb, so everything was physically exhausting. Jonathan, I think, had the same amount of pain, but we still strived to finish and that was my main goal during my stint. I was just running a pace within two, three tenths of my best time and that’s what I did because I knew we couldn’t stay with the competition.”

“The 93 car had a power steering issue and still has a power steering issue,” said Gary Johnson, SRT Racing manager. “The power steering just went away and we changed every single component on the car to get rid of that issue and, for whatever reason, it still came back, so we’ve got to look at what’s going on with that. At the end, the 93 had an over-temperature condition on the rear transaxle. Right before it failed, Jonathan called in and mentioned that it had a bad vibration going on and then the car wouldn’t go any further. Don’t know the details on that right now, but we’ll get to the bottom of it and make sure it’s corrected for the next race.”

Both SRT Motorsports entries and all four team drivers now have 81 points in both the IMSA TUDOR SportsCar GTLM team and driver championship standings. That places them in a tie for sixth in the driver championship, just one point out of the top five and only nine points behind the division leaders. The two SRT Viper GTS-R groups trail by the same margins in team championship, although they are tied for seventh overall in those standings.

Next up is the Monterey Grand Prix at Laguna Seca on May 4.

Tequila Patrón Sports Car Showcase At Long Beach
Overall GTLM Car No. Car Brand & Model Starting Driver Relief Driver
8 1 3 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R Antonio Garcia Jan Magnussen
9 2 56 BMW Z4 GTE John Edwards Dirk Müller
10 3 4 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R Oliver Gavin Tommy Milner
11 4 911 Porsche 911 RSR Richard Lietz Nick Tandy
12 5 912 Porsche 911 RSR Michael Christensen Patrick Long
13 6 55 BMW Z4 GTE Andy Priaulx Bill Auberlen
14 7 91 SRT Viper GTS-R Marc Goossens Dominik Farnbacher
15 8 17 Porsche 911 GTE RSR Bryan Sellers Wolf Henzler
16 9 62 Ferrari F458 Italia Giancarlo Fisichella Dane Cameron
18 10 93 SRT Viper GTS-R Kumo Wittmer Jonathan Bomarito


Capps keeps top spot; Coughlin qualifies fifth

NHRA-Capps-4Wide-Web
Saturday’s qualifying rounds produced few changes for Dodge drivers competing at the fifth annual NHRA 4-Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway in Charlotte, North Carolina.

In the final Pro Stock qualifying order there were no position changes and just a handful of improved ETs and speeds as the top 13 from Friday were unable to beat those results.

Jeg Coughlin remained the top Dodge qualifier at No. 5 in the order; Allen Johnson goes into Sunday’s finals as No. 7 and V. Gaines heads into Sunday in the No. 9 spot.

“Winning here in the Fall gives us a pep in our step, and we want to keep that streak alive tomorrow,” said Coughlin. “It would be great if we can get both Allen (Johnson) and my car into that final foursome and see if one of us can’t walk away with the victory. It’s such a special and unique deal that you almost rank it up there with Indy (U.S. Nationals) or the Gators (Gainesville). It has a certain prestige to it even though it’s still a fairly new deal for modern-day drag racing.

“Running well today was good because this will most likely be the exact same conditions we’ll have tomorrow,” added Coughlin, who also posted the second quickest run of the final session. “Both of these Dodge Darts coming out of the J&J Racing camp are looking sporty.”

NHRA 4-Wide Nationals: Final Pro Stock Qualifying
Psn Driver Sponsor & Car ET Speed
1 Chris McGaha Harlow Sammons of Odessa Camaro 6.523 213.10
2 Erica Enders-Stevens Elite Motorsports Camaro 6.524 213.13
3 Dave Connolly Charter Camaro 6.531 212.59
4 Shane Gray KYMCO Camaro 6.534 212.79
5 Jeg Coughlin JEGS.com/Mopar Dart 6.538 212.69
6 Jason Line Summit Racing Equipment Camaro 6.542 212.73
7 Allen Johnson Team Mopar Dart 6.546 212.49
8 Jimmy Alund Summit Racing Equipment Camaro 6.550 212.39
9 V. Gaines Kendall Oil Avenger 6.560 212.63
10 Jonathan Gray Gray Motorsports Camaro 6.564 211.93
11 Vincent Nobile Mountain View Tire Camaro 6.577 211.46
12 Rodger Brogdon Kent Services/Trucking Camaro 6.577 211.06
13 Robert Patrick Purvis Ford Mustang 6.616 209.43
14 Justin Humphreys RaceRedi Motorsports GXP 6.676 208.36
15 John Gaydosh Jr Gaydosh Performance GXP 7.093 201.43
16 Larry Morgan Lucas Oil Mustang 7.142 196.30

Ron Capps’ Friday time was still the one to beat; he retained the top spot in Fuel Funny Car at the end of Saturday’s rounds. Matt Hagan and Jack Beckman also posted their best times yesterday, remaining seventh and tenth in the order.

“We saw some heat that we knew was going to be here today, but it’s also the conditions we are going to see tomorrow which will be nice for fans but track-wise a little warm,” said Capps who’s crew chief Rahn Tobler used Saturday’s runs to prepare for the warmer conditions expected for race day. “It’s great to have a crew chief like Rahn. I have loved and love working with crew chiefs that are old school. You know, they go back and look at the parts and analyze things and look at the big picture and Tobler’s a good guy to have at a Four-Wide with all that’s going on.”

There were some changes in the Fuel Funny Car field: Blake Alexander cut 0.185 from his ET and advanced from 14th to 12th, bumping Jeff Arend, who didn’t beat his Friday time, down to 14th.

NHRA 4-Wide Nationals: Final Fuel Funny Car Qualifying
Psn Driver Sponsor & Car ET Speed
1 Ron Capps NAPA Auto Parts Charger 4.059 314.24
2 Robert Hight Auto Club Mustang 4.074 311.99
3 Tommy Johnson Jr. Make-A-Wish Charger 4.079 308.55
4 Bob Tasca III Motorcraft/Quick Lane Mustang 4.080 311.70
5 Tim Wilkerson Levi, Ray & Shoup Mustang 4.084 312.06
6 Courtney Force Traxxas Mustang 4.086 316.01
7 Matt Hagan Mopar/Rocky Boots Charger 4.088 310.91
8 Del Worsham DHL Camry 4.097 300.80
9 Alexis DeJoria Patron XO Cafe Camry 4.113 308.43
10 Jack Beckman Valvoline Max Life/MTS Charger 4.119 303.84
11 John Force Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang 4.130 304.39
12 Blake Alexander Monroe Shocks Charger 4.132 302.62
13 Cruz Pedregon Snap-on Tools Camry 4.136 305.98
14 Jeff Arend USD Charger 4.145 306.05
15 Tony Pedregon American Racing Camry 4.206 286.80
16 Chad Head Head Racing Camry 4.381 219.86
Did Not Qualify
17 Dale Creasy Jr. Tek Pak Inc. Monte Carlo 4.439 259.41


Capps leads Friday qualifying in Charlotte

NHRA-4Wide-Capps-Web

Ron Capps went from worst to first in Fuel Funny Car qualifying at the NHRA 4-Wide Nationals running this weekend at zMax Dragway in Charlotte, North Carolina.

In the first round, Capps lost traction at the 660-foot market, couldn’t reel it in and qualified 16th (there were only 16 drivers in Round One). He made up for lost time with his second pass, posting the low ET and the second-fastest speed.

Jack Beckman’s day went the other way: he qualified fourth in Round One and shaved 0.039 seconds off that time in Round Two. Unfortunately, it seemed like most of the other drivers finally remembered where the pedal was and turned in even better times, leaving Beckman qualifying tenth at the end of the day.

Matt Hagan qualified 12th in the first round after going up in smoke but came back in Round Two and slashed his first ET by 0.715 seconds, moving up to No. 7.

Jeff Arend moved up from 14th to 11th and Blake Alexander, who was a no-show in Round One, made the field, taking the spot previously held by Arend.

 

NHRA 4-Wide Nationals: Friday Fuel Funny Car Qualifying
Psn Driver Sponsor & Car ET Speed
1 Ron Capps NAPA Auto Parts Charger 4.059 314.24
2 Robert Hight Auto Club Mustang 4.074 311.99
3 Tommy Johnson Jr. Make-A-Wish Charger 4.079 308.57
4 Bob Tasca III Motorcraft/Quick Lane Mustang 4.080 311.70
5 Tim Wilkerson Levi, Ray & Shoup Mustang 4.084 312.06
6 Courtney Force Traxxas Mustang 4.086 314.75
7 Matt Hagan Mopar/Rocky Boots Charger 4.088 310.91
8 Del Worsham DHL Camry 4.097 284.56
9 Alexis DeJoria Patron XO Cafe Camry 4.113 308.43
10 Jack Beckman Valvoline Max Life/MTS Charger 4.119 303.84
11 Jeff Arend USD Charger 4.145 306.05
12 Cruz Pedregon Snap-on Tools Camry 4.167 261.42
13 Tony Pedregon American Racing Camry 4.206 286.80
14 Blake Alexander Auto Plus Parts Charger 4.317 220.80
15 John Force Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang 4.441 204.08
16 Dale Creasy Jr. Tek Pak Inc. Monte Carlo 4.690 195.28
Did Not Qualify
17 Chad Head Head Racing Camry 4.968 157.95

In Pro Stock, Jeg Coughlin was the top Dodge driver in the order, qualifying fifth. He shaved 0.010 seconds from his first round time to maintain his position.

Allen Johnson qualified fourth in Round One but couldn’t beat his first time and dropped to seventh at the end of Round Two.

V. Gaines had to shut down early in his first pass, qualifying 12th, but his second run was good enough to bump him up three spots to ninth.

NHRA 4-Wide Nationals: Friday Pro Stock Qualifying
Psn Driver Sponsor & Car ET Speed
1 Chris McGaha Harlow Sammons of Odessa Camaro 6.523 213.10
2 Erica Enders-Stevens Elite Motorsports Camaro 6.524 213.13
3 Dave Connolly Charter Camaro 6.531 212.59
4 Shane Gray KYMCO Camaro 6.534 212.79
5 Jeg Coughlin JEGS.com/Mopar Dart 6.538 212.69
6 Jason Line Summit Racing Equipment Camaro 6.542 212.73
7 Allen Johnson Team Mopar Dart 6.546 212.49
8 Jimmy Alund Summit Racing Equipment Camaro 6.550 212.39
9 V. Gaines Kendall Oil Avenger 6.560 212.63
10 Jonathan Gray Gray Motorsports Camaro 6.564 211.93
11 Vincent Nobile Mountain View Tire Camaro 6.577 211.46
12 Rodger Brogdon Kent Services/Trucking Camaro 6.577 210.80
13 Robert Patrick Purvis Ford Mustang 6.616 209.43
14 Justin Humphreys RaceRedi Motorsports GXP 6.690 208.36
15 John Gaydosh Jr Gaydosh Performance GXP 7.327 145.45
16 Larry Morgan Lucas Oil Mustang 15.375 66.92


From Michigan to Maranello

Maserati-Michigan-Modena-Web

Spied at the Trenton North Engine Plant: an order for “Ferrari Pentastar Block Machining.” The order is for ten pieces of Runoff Part 68089236AF, Cylinder Block, Ferrari/F160.

Before any passionate devotees of the Prancing Horse start clutching at their chests, don’t worry that the next Italia is going to have a six-banger from Michigan. The blocks really are going to Maranello, Italy, but once they become a component in a complete 3.0-liter engine, they head to Modena for installation in the new Maserati Ghibli sedan.

Ghibli-Engine-Web

Ferrari helped develop the new powerplant but rather than have the Scuderia create it from scratch, majority owner Fiat raided its worldwide parts bin and decided the Pentastar block would be perfect.

The order does seem unusual in that it’s for just ten pieces. Maserati sold about 2,900 Ghiblis between the October 2013 launch and the end of the year and the company says it began 2014 with around 13,000 orders pending.

Total Maserati sales were up 148% to 15,400 cars in 2013. The U.S. is the brand’s largest market, accounting for 6,900 units, about 45% of the worldwide total.

Dodges down and out in Vegas

Ron Capps was the only Dodge driver to make it to the Fuel Funny Car semifinals and Jeg Coughlin was the only Dodge Pro Stock driver to make it past the first round of eliminations in the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at the Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The Pro Stock gremlins caught V. Gaines and Allen Johnson in the opening round. Gaines began shaking at the start and Johnson’s better start went for naught as he had trouble almost immediately and had lost the lead by the time he passed the Christmas tree. Deric Kramer got a good start but couldn’t keep up with Jason Line while Dave Connolly sent Matt Hartford home.

In the quarterfinals, Coughlin was too slow off the line and Jimmy Alund picked up a hole-shot win, tripping the lights 0.0028 seconds, about 10 inches, before Coughlin.

Ron Capps got a free pass in the first round of Fuel Funny Car eliminations when Tim Wilkerson turned on the red lights. He was 0.0207 seconds quicker and crossing the finish line about nine feet before Jack Beckman in the quarterfinals but couldn’t keep up with Robert Hight in the semifinals.

Beckman shut down Tommy Johnson Jr. in the opening round: Johnson lost a cylinder and had to shut down. In the same round, Matt Hagan went up in smoke at about 250 feet, losing to Alexis DeJoria, who went on to collect her second Wally of the season.




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