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Vettel wins wild race; Beckman, Ranger win with Dodge

by Bill Cawthon on

Sebastian Vettel cruised to an easy win in the Hungarian Grand Prix, crossing the finish line nearly 16 seconds ahead of Daniil Kvyat.

“It has been a week with a lot of ups and downs and as I said after the race I dedicate this win to Jules (Bianchi) and his family,” Vettel said in a post-race interview. “The race was difficult especially at the end with all the thoughts coming through my mind but for sure I’m very happy with the result. Our race was very strong from the beginning, we had a great start and after that we had great pace and were able to control the race.”

Win-Vettel-Beckman-Ranger-Web

“We dedicate this victory to the memory of Jules Bianchi, a fantastic guy whom we all miss terribly,” said Ferrari Chairman Sergio Marchionne, speaking of the young Ferrari Academy driver who died last week from injuries suffered in an October racing accident in Japan.

It was the second win for Ferrari, meeting the two-race goal set at the beginning of the 2015 Formula One season.

“A fantastic win,” said team principal Maurizio Arrivabene. “Over the past few weeks, we had had comments from people who said we were in a slump­, people who obviously can’t or don’t want to read the numbers. As a matter of fact, we had anticipated long time ago that there could be ups and down in the course of the season, but that does not mean that we were stepping back…. We won today, but still keep our feet on the ground and remain humble and committed.”

Vettel’s teammate, Kimi Räikkönen, had been running just behind Vettel for much of the race, but his Ferrari SF15-T developed trouble with its MGU-K (the energy recovery system that uses energy from braking) and he was forced to retire from the competition.

The Hungarian Grand Prix was a wild event marked by contacts, collisions and penalties. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, who has been the dominant driver in Formula One, finished sixth, his worst non-DNF result since the Grand Prix of Brazil in November 2013.

Fernando Alonso, former lead driver for the Scuderia, had his best finish of the season, placing fifth in the Renault-powered McLaren.

Vettel remains third in the driver standings but has closed the gap between him and second-place Nico Rosberg to just 21 points. Räikkönen is fifth, one point behind fellow Finn Valtteri Bottas.

Of note: Former Ferrari boss Luca Cordero di Montezemolo was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame last week for his work at Ferrari.

Mopar Mile High NHRA Nationals

Allen Johnson made it all the way to the finals at the Mopar Mile-High Nationals that ran through Sunday at Bandimere Speedway near Denver. After qualifying No. 1 in all four sessions and setting a new tack ET record, he was slow off the start in the last round of eliminations and lost to a holeshot win by Larry Morgan. Morgan was through the timing lights 0.0071 seconds, or about two feet, ahead of Johnson. Johnson added some serious points to his season total but remains in fifth place in the Pro Stock driver standings.

Johnson and Morgan had a “burndown” battle in staging. They took more than a minute-and-a-half to get both staging lamps lit.

“I can assure you that burndown wasn’t planned by either of us, and I guess we both really wanted to go in last,” said Johnson of the dramatic final elimination staging duel. “I had a great weekend. I can’t say enough about the last two races and how this Magneti Marelli crew pulled together and did what they needed to do to put us in a position to win. I want to get that fourth spot in the points, and maybe even the third one, before the Countdown. That’s our goal.”

Johnson remains the King of the Hill with six wins in the past eight years including consecutive wins in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

V. Gaines and the Kendall Oil Dodge Dart made a first-round exit following a holeshot win by Shane Gray. Gray had a huge lead at the start and overcame Gaines’ quicker ET. Gray’s margin of victory was 0.0573 seconds or approximately 17 feet.

Deric Kramer nearly pulled off an opening-round upset in his opening round race with Johnathan Gray. Kramer was first off the line and made a solid pass in the American Ethanol/Madcap/Novo Dodge Dart but trailed Gray’s Camaro by 0.0012 seconds or four inches at the finish line.

“Fast Jack” Beckman brought home the Funny Car Wally for Dodge after trouncing John Force by a huge 0.1016 seconds or about 39 feet. This is Beckman’s fourth win of the season and 19th career win. It moves him up in the career standings to tenth on the all-time Funny Car win list.

“There is a comfortable level with this new 2015 Dodge Charger R/T body,” said Beckman. “The added downward visibility is huge. Aerodynamically it’s every bit as good and we don’t even have that many runs on it yet. I think the proof is we’ve won 11 of 14 races with this new body. It’s been a huge part of our success.”

“A gratifying win today,” added team owner Don Schumacher. “It was tremendous to go out there and have Jack win this race for Mopar, for DSR and to take that Force car out in the final with John
driving it.”

Beckman has won previous matchups with Force 23 times while losing only 8. He has now upped that record to 24-8.

The driver of the Infinite Hero Dodge Charger leapfrogged Don Schumacher teammate Ron Capps and moved into second place in the Funny Car driver standings.

John Hale and the DiPinto International Logistics Charger lost a messy race with Force in the opening matchup of the day. Both cars dropped oil on the track and both drivers were fined and lost championship points.

Ron Capps was the only other Dodge driver eliminated in the first round. He got a quicker start in his race against Cruz Pedregon but couldn’t keep up with the Snap-On Tools Camry and was 0.0309 seconds, about 14 feet, behind Pedregon at the end.

Tommy Johnson Jr.’s race day ending in the opening matchup of the quarterfinals. Running against Tony Pedregon’s American Racing Camry, the Make-A-Wish Charger went up in smoke around the 330-foot mark and was trailing smoke at the end of Johnson’s pass.

Matt Hagan and Beckman were even, 14-14, in past encounters but Beckman tipped that balance in his favor on Sunday when Hagan started drifting towards the centerline.

Dodge now has 11 Funny Car Wallys in 14 events in the 2015 Mello Yello drag racing season.

NASCAR Canadian Tire Series Lucas Oil 250

On Saturday, Andrew Ranger took his first checkered flag of the 2015 Canadian Tire Series season, winning the Lucas Oil National 250 at Autodrome St-Eustache in Quebec.

The driver of the No. 27 Mopar/Pennzoil Dodge Challenger crossed the finish line 0.087 seconds ahead of Mark Dilly in the No. 2 Johnsonville/Leland/BDI Ford.

Scott Steckly, who won the pole and was expected to win the event, had an axle break late in the race. Steckly finished tenth, but increased his lead in the driver standings to 11 points ahead of Jason Hathaway who finished 15th. Ranger is now third in the standings, just three points behind Hathaway.

IMSA/Tudor United Sportscar Championship Northeast Grand Prix

Jeroen Bleekemolen and Ben Keating were the runners-up in the GT Daytona class at the Northeast Grand Prix that ran Sunday at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut. The No. 33 Riley Engineering/Viper Exchange Dodge SRT Viper finished 3.505 seconds behind the No. 97 Turner Motorsport BMW Z4 driven by Michael Marsal and Dane Cameron.

This was the best finish for Bleekemolen and Keating so far in the 2015 Tudor United Sportscar Championship. The points haven’t been posted yet, but both should advance in the standings.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for just-auto.com, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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