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Will Power earned his first Verizon IndyCar Series championship with a ninth-place finish in the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway.
Power, who entered the 18th race of the season with a 51-point lead over Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves, had been the championship runner-up in 2010, 2011 and 2012. It was the ninth consecutive year that the series champion was determined in the season finale.
"It's 15 years of hard work. I was crying as I crossed the (finish) line," said Power, who finished 62 points ahead of Castroneves. "It's surreal. It's just a fantastic way to finish the season."
Power provided Team Penske its 13th Indy car championship and the first since 2006 with Sam Hornish Jr.
"Tonight showed everyone the strength of our team," said team owner Roger Penske, who has won the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race 15 times.
Tony Kanaan, the 2004 series champion, won the 250-lap by 3.6750 seconds over Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate and 2013 champion Scott Dixon.
Kanaan was the 11th different winner of the season, which tied the Indy car single-season record set in 2000 and matched in 2001. Ed Carpenter, who won at Auto Club Speedway in 2012 and was runner-up in 2013, placed third and Juan Pablo Montoya finished fourth.
"It's been a long time coming," said Kanaan, who claimed his first victory since the 2013 Indianapolis 500. "We had a team meeting this afternoon and (team owner) Chip Ganassi said if you win you can brag about it for seven months."
Castroneves, who started from the pole and led 41 laps, was assessed a drive-through penalty for a pit lane entry violation on Lap 218 that put him a lap down. He finished 14th in the race and second in the championship for the fourth time in his career.
"It's another second, but well done to Will," said Castroneves, a three-time Indianapolis 500 winner. "It stings a little bit, but it motivates me to come back stronger next year and win a championship."
Walsh leads qualifying Saturday during the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series action at Chevrolet Performance U.S. NationalsWritten by Adam Sinclair Sunday, 31 August 2014 10:18
Don Walsh raced to the qualifying lead Saturday during the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series portion of the 60th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. This weekend’s Pro Mod racing is presented by JEGS.
Walsh ran his late model Chevy Camaro to a top performance of 5.863 seconds at 252.61 mph to move around Friday top qualifier Troy Coughlin. If Walsh’s run holds during the final qualifying session on Sunday, it will be the fifth career No. 1 qualifying position for Walsh and first since 2012.
Coughlin, the 2012 NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series world champ, is currently No. 2 with a 5.866 at 248.52 in a late model Corvette. Jeff Naiser also ran a 5.892 in his Naiser Racing ’69 Camaro to sit third in the qualifying order.
Pro Mod qualifying will conclude Sunday morning and eliminations will begin later that afternoon.
Brandon McReynolds extended his streak of top-five finishes in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West on Saturday with a runner-up finish in the Bakersfield 150 presented by GPS at Kern County Raceway Park.
It marked the seventh consecutive top-five finish and third straight podium finish for the 23-year-old Mooresville, North Carolina driver – who pilots the No. 16 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota for Bill McAnally Racing.
“We continue to show our consistency as a team,” said McReynolds, a member of the NASCAR Next program that spotlights NASCAR’s rising stars. “Obviously, we’re getting better. Everyone on our NAPA Toyota worked really hard today. The car was good. It just kind of depended on how our restarts would shake out. If you restarted on the bottom, just like last time here, you would lose a little track position, and if you restarted on the outside, you were able to gain a little.”
With back-to-back second-place finishes, McReynolds feels his first win is near.
“We’re one spot short right now, but I feel like we can get there with three races to go,” he said. “We’ve just got to keep our heads down and keep plugging away.”
McReynolds started the race on the front row, after posting a second-fast lap of 18.325 seconds (98.457 mph) in qualifying earlier in the afternoon. He held second in the opening laps, but slipped back several spots following multiple restarts and was sixth just before the midway point of the race. McReynolds’ crew was able to make adjustments during the midway break, providing him with the opportunity to work his way back to the front as the race wound down.
The eighth and final caution of the event led to the race distance being extended for a green-white-checkered finish and set the stage for a dramatic finish. McReynolds charged his way to third on the restart, then gained second as Dylan Lupton inherited the win when race leader Greg Pursley was penalized for a restart violation.
“We were a little snug the first half,” McReynolds said. “A lot of that was just being behind people in traffic. The adjustments at halfway really helped and brought the car to life. I’m really happy with the progress that we’ve made since we were here last time.”
McReynolds – who finished fourth when the series visited the beautiful high-banked, half-mile Kern track in May – remains third in the championship standings – 26 points out of first and 11 behind second. He has two poles, nine top-five and 10 top-10 finishes in the first 11 races, as he competes in his first full season in the series.
Dylan Lupton scored his second career NASCAR K&N Pro Series West win Saturday night in a wild finish at Kern County Raceway Park.
The 20-year-old Wilton, California, driver battled championship points leader Greg Pursley on a green-white-checkered finish that pushed the Bakersfield 150 presented by GPS to 155 laps.
Pursley, who had won the series' first two races at the two-year-old track, was black flagged for a restart violation -- he took off before the restart point. That enabled Lupton's No. 9 Sunrise Ford/Lucas Oil/Eibach Ford to cruise to Victory Lane.
The penalty dropped Pursley to ninth.
Brandon McReynolds finished second and Jesse Little third.
Lupton's rookie teammate James Bickford was fourth and Thomas Martin fifth. Taylor Cuzick, Justin Funkhouser, rookie Jairo Avila, Pursley and David Mayhew rounded out the top 10.
Pursley won the Coors Light Pole Award earlier in the day and dominated the evening's race. He took the lead from Little on Lap 108 and was in control when a caution on Lap 148 for a spin changed the race.
Pursley still holds a 15-point lead over Lupton in the championship standings. McReynolds is 11 points back of Lupton, while Mayhew and Bickford round out the top five.
Lupton, a member of the NASCAR Next class, earned his first win at Evegreen Speedway in Monroe, Washington, last August en route to Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West. McReynolds and Little are also members of the NASCAR Next program, an industry initiative designed to spotlight the sport's rising stars. Little, the 2013 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Sunoco Rookie of the Year, was looking to pick up a win in the series his father, Chad, won a championship in 1987.
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West will next race in the Utah Grand Prix on Saturday, Sept. 13 at Miller Motorsports Park at Tooele, Utah.
The ultimate finish line is in sight for Scott Hargrove after he earned his fifth victory of the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin season Saturday at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
Hargrove, from Surrey, British Columbia, only needs to start the season-ending Round 10 at 4:15 p.m. (ET) Sunday to clinch the Platinum Cup (2014 car models) season championship in the No. 69 OpenRoad Racing Porsche.
"It was kind of a perfect race from a driver's standpoint," Hargrove said. "I started on pole, got the lead on the start and was able to pull a gap early on and then just kind of maintain the gap for the rest of the race. Phenomenal result for these guys. I am thrilled to be here and can't wait to finish off the championship tomorrow."
Hargrove led the 45-minute race from the pole to the checkered flag, as he has finished first or second in all nine events this season. The race ended under caution due to contact between Platinum Masters competitors Perry Bortolotti and Carlos de Quesada with six minutes remaining in the race.
Spencer Pigot, from Orlando, Florida, finished third in the No. 21 Alegra Motorsportsentry. Marco Cirone, from Toronto, placed fourth and was the first Platinum Masters (drivers age 45 and older) finisher in the No. 88 Mark Motors Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car. De Quesada, from Odessa, Florida, continued after the late incident with Bortolotti to round out the top five in the No. 22 Alegra Motorsports Porsche.
Hargrove eased away from Pigot and Green early in the race, maintaining a gap of around one second. Pigot passed Green for second in Turn 1 on the first lap, and Green needed to regain the spot to keep his title hopes alive.
Green pulled off that crucial pass with 25 minutes remaining on the 10-turn, 2.459-mile (3.957 km) circuit. But he never got a chance to threaten Hargrove, who led by 1.899 seconds at the halfway point of the race
Hargrove extended that lead to 3.202 seconds with 17 minutes remaining. Green sliced the gap to 2.350 seconds with 13 minutes left but never approached Hargrove until the field was bunched under the race-ending caution period with six minutes remaining.
"Those guys were definitely quick, and I had to push for the whole race," Hargrove said. "The OpenRoad Porsche was so good. I was able to run consistent lap times all race long, matching my best lap of the race even at the end."
|Platinum Masters podium finishers (from left): Carlos de Quesada, Marco Cirone, Andre Belzile|
Cirone earned his fifth Platinum Masters win of the season and only needs to start the race Sunday to clinch his second consecutive championship in the class for drivers age 45 and older.
He dominated the class during the race, leading by a margin of 18 seconds over teammate Bortolotti with nine minutes remaining. Cirone leads de Quesada, 168-158, in the Platinum Masters standings.
"The race was, I guess, very lonely," Cirone said. "I had no one around me for 45 minutes. So I just concentrated on my line and tried to get good lap times.
"I couldn't catch those three fast cars, kids. Although I tried the first couple of laps and I thought: 'If I continue to do this, I am going to kill myself! So I better back off and save the car for tomorrow.' But we got the win, and that's what's important for the championship."
The race for second place in the class was fraught with drama between Bortolotti and de Quesada.
De Quesada pulled to within two-tenths of a second of Bortolotti 10 minutes into the race, and the two drivers sailed around the track in lockstep for nearly the next half-hour.
With six minutes remaining, the pair approached the Gold Cup car of Martin Harvey. Bortolotti and de Quesada made contact between Turns 3 and 4 while trying to pass Harvey, with Bortolotti and de Quesada hitting the tire wall in Turn 4.
De Quesada was able to continue under caution in his Porsche to finish second in the class, but Bortolotti's race ended with a heavily damaged No. 84 Mark Motors Racing Porsche. Bortolotti, from Kanata, Ontario, was unhurt.
Race officials assessed de Quesada with a 44-second penalty after the race for incident responsibility with Gold Cup competitor Jerimy Daniel earlier in the race, but de Quesada still kept second place in Platinum Masters despite the time penalty.
Bortolotti's exit allowed Andre Belzile to inherit third in the No. 93 GT Racing entry. Belzile, from Drummondville, Quebec, earned his third podium finish of the season.
|Gold Cup podium finishers (from left): Jerimy Daniel, Tim Sanderson, Ilker Starck|
Tim Sanderson, from Pickering, Ontario, edged closer to his first Gold Cup championship with his third victory of the season in the No. 07 Alegra Motorsports/Northwest Atlantic Motorsports Porsche.
He will clinch the title by finishing second or better Sunday in the class for 2010-13 model cars. Sanderson leads Daniel by four points entering the finale.
Consistency has been the blueprint for success this season for Sanderson, and that smooth, steady approach played a key role in his victory Saturday.
Daniel, from Candiac, Quebec, led Sanderson by 2.2 seconds eight minutes into the race and appeared to have the speed in his No. 75 TRC car to earn victory. But he slid and spun out of the lead in Turn 5 with 30 minutes remaining after contact from de Quesada, handing the top spot to Sanderson.
But Daniel didn't quit. He charged through the field, braking late and smoking his Michelin tires, in a furious effort to catch Sanderson.
Daniel pulled to within .489 seconds of Sanderson with 15 minutes remaining in the race, and the duel for the title and race victory was on. Sanderson led Daniel by just two points entering this event.
But Sanderson maintained that gap for the next nine minutes, until the race-ending caution.
"We just tried to drive our race," Sanderson said. "Unfortunately, Jerimy had a little spin, but you know we had a spin in Trois-Rivières. The racing gods were with us today, I guess! He (Daniel) was pushing me, Ilker (Starck) was pushing me, and that's what it's all about, the good competition."
|Silver Cup podium finishers (from left): Keith Bass, Chuck Harris|
Chuck Harris cruised to his eighth victory in nine rounds this season in Silver Cup (2005½-2009 car models) in the No. 50 Alegra Motorsports Porsche.
Harris, from Tampa, Florida, needs to start the race Sunday to clinch his first championship. He leads the Silver Cup championship standings by 14 points.
"It was a little slippery out there, but it was clean all the way to the end," Harris said. "I had a good time out there. The guys that were going for it were going for it hard to protect their position in the points. It was a good race."
Keith Bass, from Tampa, Florida, finished second in the No. 49 Alegra Motorsports Porsche.
Round 10 of the 2014 Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin - the final race of the season - is scheduled for 4:15 p.m. (ET) Sunday. The race is 45 minutes.
For more information on the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin, visit www.imsa.com and @IMSA on Twitter with the hashtag #GT3CAN. Live commentary for both races will be provided on Twitter at @IMSALive.
ROUND 9 POST-RACE QUOTES:
SCOTT HARGROVE (No. 69 OpenRoad Racing, winner): "It was kind of a perfect race from a driver's standpoint. I started on pole, got the lead on the start and was able to pull a gap early on and then just kind of maintain the gap for the rest of the race. Those guys were definitely quick, and I had to push for the whole race. The OpenRoad Porsche was so good. I was able to run consistent lap times all race long, matching my best lap of the race even at the end. Phenomenal result for these guys. I am thrilled to be here and can't wait to finish off the championship tomorrow."
CHRIS GREEN (No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports, second): "I'll leave that start to the officials. They are trying to be consistent, so we'll see how consistent they are with that one. At the end of the day, though, I got behind Spencer (Pigot) and followed him. He was fast for a while, so I figured I wouldn't fight it out with him. I knew I had a better car. Spencer made a couple of mistakes, and it gave me the opportunity to get by him. I started creeping up on Scott (Hargrove). Traffic didn't play out in my favor, and once again Scott wins under yellow. Another second place. What can I tell you? One more tomorrow."
SPENCER PIGOT (No. 21 Alegra Motorsports, third): "It started off well. We got second at the start but started falling off struggling with grip in the car and gradually dropped back. But we're on the podium again, so a big thanks to Alegra and everyone that helped prepare the car."
MARCO CIRONE (No. 88 Mark Motors Racing, first, Platinum Masters): "The race was, I guess, very lonely. I had no one around me for 45 minutes. I had a terrible start and then I got by Jerimy (Daniel). Etienne (Borgeat) spun in front of me. So, yeah, I was just all by myself. So I just concentrated on my line and tried to get good lap times. It was like a practice run out there because there was nobody to race against. I couldn't catch those three fast cars, kids. Although I tried the first couple of laps and I thought: 'If I continue to do this, I am going to kill myself! So I better back off and save the car for tomorrow.' But we got the win, and that's what's important for the championship."
CARLOS DE QUESADA (No. 22 Alegra Motorsports, second, Platinum Masters): "It was a crazy race. We had (Jerimy) Daniel in front of us. He kept locking it up everywhere. Perry got by him, and I was able to get by him. He locked up really bad in Turn 5A and got sideways there. When we came out of there, I tried just basically catching up with Perry and caught up with him. I came around Turn 3 and we had caught up to the McDonald's car (Martin Harvey). We got down there, and Perry tried making the pass on him and the guy moved over. Unfortunately he (Bortolotti) got the worst end of that. My car was just hobbling along at that point. Not the way I like to finish a race."
ANDRE BELZILE (No. 93 GT Racing, third, Platinum Masters): "I had such a bad start, so I had to recover from there so I could catch up to Shaun. That was it. Ilker (Starck) was in front of me, and he was fast today. So he had a great race. I am on the podium, obviously, because I saw Perry (Bortolotti) crashing. I hope he's OK. He would have deserved to be here on the podium. The car looked bad, but I saw him standing, so I hope he's OK."
TIM SANDERSON (No. 07 Alegra Motorsports/Northwest Atlantic Motorsports, first, Gold Cup): "We've enjoyed this track for many years. I've been coming here since I was a very young boy. We've done a lot of laps here. We just tried to drive our race. Unfortunately, Jerimy (Daniel) had a little spin, but you know we had a spin in Trois-Rivières. The racing gods were with us today, I guess! He (Daniel) was pushing me, Ilker (Starck) was pushing me, and that's what it's all about, the good competition."
ILKER STARCK (No. 48 SCB Racing/Downtown Porsche, third, Gold Cup): "The race was great. The guys did a good job getting the car in a good position for us to at least finish on the podium. I guess with the weather change, it was cooler this morning, and we thought we'd be really competitive and maybe win this race. But either way, the car started falling off toward the end, so I made the best out of it and brought the car home in third place. Thanks again to my team and Downtown Porsche."
CHUCK HARRIS (No. 50 Alegra Motorsports, first, Silver Cup): "It was a little slippery out there, but it was clean all the way to the end. I had a good time out there. The guys that were going for it were going for it hard to protect their position in the points. It was a good race."
KEITH BASS (No. 49 Alegra Motorsports, second, Silver Cup): "It started well, and we kept up quite a bit, but just didn't have the pace as it went on and on. So I came in second and had a great day."
Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin
The IMSA Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin produces intense, exciting competition for semi-professional and aspiring professional drivers in one of the world's most successful and iconic race cars, the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. The series is one of Porsche's global single-make Cup Challenge series and is the perfect platform for aspiring drivers to ascend to the highest levels of GT competition, such as the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. The 10-round series races in 2014 at four classic Canadian road and street courses, providing thrills for drivers and fans.
The International Motor Sports Association, LLC (IMSA) is the sanctioning body of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, the road-racing series resulting from the merger of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón and the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series. IMSA also sanctions the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge and the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda, as well as four single-make series: Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama; Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin; Ferrari Challenge North America; and Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America. IMSA is the exclusive strategic partner in North America with the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) which operates the 24 Hours of Le Mans as a part of the FIA World Endurance Championship. The partnership enables selected TUDOR United SportsCar Championship competitors to earn automatic entries into the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Schumacher, Capps score wins, while Beckman, Line and Savoie take qualifying leads at Chevrolet Performance U.S. NationalsWritten by Adam Sinclair Sunday, 31 August 2014 10:08
Tony Schumacher raced to the $100,000 payday in the Traxxas Nitro Shootout on Saturday , closing out an action packed day of racing at the 60th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, the world’s most prestigious drag race.
Schumacher, a seven-time world champ and the winningest Top Fuel driver at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis with nine career victories, defeated Richie Crampton in the specialty bonus event final round with a 3.748-second run at 328.54 mph at the controls of his U.S. Army dragster.
It was the first Traxxas Nitro Shootout victory for Schumacher and the run also locked him in as the Top Fuel qualifying leader with two remaining sessions. He broke the track record for speed with his final pass of the night.
“These are the eight best cars as a whole,” Schumacher said of the competition in the Traxxas Nitro Shootout. “They’re cars that have gone out and won races and continuously find themselves in final rounds. It’s very satisfying (to win).”
Crampton, appearing in his first Traxxas Nitro Shootout, ran a 3.798 at 318.24 in his GEICO/Lucas Oil dragster. He defeated No. 2 seed Antron Brown and defending race winner Shawn Langdon en route to the final.
In Top Fuel qualifying, Steve Torrence’s Capco Contractors dragster ran a 3.753 at 326.16 to place him second in the qualifying order. Brainerd winner Morgan Lucas sits third following a 3.575 at 322.81 in his Lucas Oil/GEICO dragster.
In other racing on Saturday, the weather-delayed Funny Car and Pro Stock events from Brainerd continued at Indianapolis.
In Funny Car, Ron Capps drove his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger to a Brainerd victory over John Force with a 4.026 at 320.36. It was his second win of the season and 43rd of his career. Capps has five career wins at the Brainerd event.
“It was hard waiting all this time,” Capps said of the delay from Brainerd. “It was cool knowing you were going to race Force, knowing you’re going to do it at Indy of all places on a Saturday night under the lights. We knew that was going to happen regardless.”
Force was appearing in his fifth final in a row. With the result, Force’s Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang passed John Force Racing teammate Robert Hight to take over the No. 1 spot in the Funny Car points.
The Pro Stock semifinals featured Jason Line posting a 6.589 at 210.01 in his Summit Racing Chevy Camaro to defeat Dave River and Jeg Coughlin Jr. clocked a 6.638 at 207.88 in his JEGS.com Dodge Dart to defeat Vincent Nobile. Line’s run was good enough for the provisional No. 1 qualifying position. The Pro Stock final will run on Sunday during the fourth qualifying session at 11 a.m.
“The Summit Camaro is on a rail right now,” said Line, who will be going for his 35th career victory tomorrow. “It's definitely the best race car that I've ever had. It's taken us a long time to get here, but it's a great feeling – especially in today's Pro Stock, where it's tough to have any kind of an advantage. Right now, it feels like we actually have a little one."
Line was followed in qualifying by Vincent Nobile who posted a 6.601 at 208.49 in his Mountain View Tire Chevy Camaro. Shane Gray currently sits third with a 6.603 at 209.17 in the Gray Manufacturing Camaro.
Jack Beckman (Funny Car) and Jerry Savoie (Pro Stock Motorcycle) joined Schumacher and Line as qualifying leaders of the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals following the second and third qualifying sessions during the final event of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series regular season.
Beckman, currently 11th in the Funny Car points and chasing Tim Wilkerson for the final Countdown to the Championship transfer spot, shot to the top of the leaderboard with a track record time of 4.004 at 312.13 in his Valvoline MaxLife Dodge Charger. Beckman is seeking his first No. 1 qualifying position of the season.
“It’s really hard to complain right now,” said Beckman, the 2012 Funny Car world champ. “It wasn’t just that run. We’ve made three good runs. Maybe we weren’t at the top of the qualifying sheets, but the car did what it was supposed to do, what we predicted it to do.”
Del Worsham ran a 4.016 at 317.12 to land his DHL Toyota Camry in the provisional No. 2 spot. Matt Hagan’s Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger is third following a 4.021 at 318.99.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Savoie ran a 6.878 at 194.18 on a Suzuki. He is looking for his second career No. 1 position following his top qualifying effort at Sonoma last month.
“I’m happy to be No. 1, but I know we can do better,” Savoie said. “As a racer, you always want to go faster. You’re always looking for one little thing that you can improve on. We’ll come back tomorrow and try again and see if we can do better.”
Eddie Krawiec currently sits second following a 6.904 at 194.74 on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson. Hector Arana Jr.’s Lucas Oil Buell ran a 6.906 at 194.27, good enough for the provisional No. 3 position.
Qualifying will conclude on Sunday with sessions at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. for Monday’s 11 a.m. eliminations.
Tony Schumacher raced to the Top Fuel qualifying lead Friday at the 60th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, the world’s most prestigious drag race.
Del Worsham (Funny Car), Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were qualifying leaders at the final regular season race in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Following this event the top 10 fields in each class will be set for the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoffs, which starts Sept. 12-14 at zMAX Dragway near Charlotte, N.C.
Schumacher, a nine-time winner of this event, powered his U.S. Army dragster to a leading run of 3.777 seconds at 322.65 mph.
“It’s huge to get that run,” Schumacher said. “Now we can go out and try to dominate the weekend and win the Traxxas Nitro Shootout and the race. We have the opportunity to do something special here and win this race for a 10th time.”
Schumacher was one of only two drivers to record an elapsed time in the 3.7-second range. Steve Torrence, runner-up and No. 1 qualifier here one year ago, was second in his Capco Contractors dragster with a 3.786 at 318.09.
“It wasn’t anything special,” Schumacher said. “The car could’ve gone quicker. Mike (Green, crew chief) was turning knobs and pulling levers trying to make adjustments because a lot of cars weren’t making it down the track.”
Defending winner Shawn Langdon was third in his Al-Anabi Racing dragster with a 3.808 at 313.29 and current series points leader Doug Kalitta is 16th after his Mac Tools dragster launched hard but ultimately slowed near mid-track and posted an opening-day best of 5.066 at 137.36.
Former U.S. Nationals winner Worsham topped the Funny Car qualifying order with a 4.044 at 313.73 in his DHL Toyota Camry. Worsham is ninth in the points standings and says that every point is critical this weekend.
“It was a great run,” Worsham said. “Every run throughout the season is very important, but to get down to the final race of the (regular) season and you’re not locked into the Countdown, you’re paying attention. There’s pressure every run, but there’s a little bit added pressure here to make the Countdown. This sport comes down to a lot of pressure. I tell people every single run down the (track) for NHRA is like the last lap of the final straight of a NASCAR race; it’s that important.”
Ron Capps was second in his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger with a 4.052 at 316.01 and Matt Hagan sits third in his Rocky Boots/Mopar Charger with a 4.067 at 318.47. Series points leader John Force, a four-time Indy winner, is 11th overall with a 4.865 at 168.94 in his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang.
Force and Capps will decide the Brainerd final round tomorrow during the day’s final qualifying session.
In Pro Stock, new points leader Line continued his recent hot streak with a leading effort of 6.623 at 208.78 in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro.
“It feels really good to get a good run under our belt,” said Line, who has won the last two races and is still in contention for the rain-delayed Brainerd event, which will be completed at this event. “Both of the Summit cars ran pretty sporty, so it's a good day to be racing a Chevy Camaro. At least I know I have a good horse. A lot of times when you leave one (track) you wonder if it's going to be as fast (at the next one).”
Three-time U.S. Nationals winner Dave Connolly was second in his Charter Communications Camaro with a 6.637 at 208.01, while six-time Indy winner Greg Anderson is third in his Summit Camaro with a 6.643 at 208.10.
In tomorrow’s Brainerd Pro Stock semifinals, which will also be held during the day’s second session, Line will face Dave River and Jeg Coughlin will race Vincent Nobile. The Brainerd Pro Stock final will be held on Sunday during the day’s first session.
Three-time world champ Krawiec, who is seeking his first Indy victory, rode to the Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying lead with a run of 6.930 at 193.57 on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson.
“My Harley-Davidson has been awesome,” Krawiec said. “This is also a home race, and we want to do well for our guys. That was a good run, but I think there is a couple of hundredths left. I actually thought that low E.T. would be about a 6.89, but it’s warm and humid and there is a lot of water in the air. Personally, I don’t care if low E.T. is a 7.15; I just want to be the quickest rider out here.”
Past Indy winner Hector Arana Jr. qualified second on his Lucas Oil Buell with a 6.931 at 192.96 and 2012 U.S. Nationals winner Andrew Hines is third on his Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson with a 6.953 at 192.14.
Troy Coughlin raced to the qualifying lead Friday in the Pro Mod Series portion of the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, the world’s most prestigious drag race.
Coughlin led the 34 cars attempting to qualify for one of 16 spots available for Sunday’s first round of eliminations with a performance of 5.945 seconds at 248.75 mph in his turbocharged JEGS.com Corvette.
"We've been testing a lot, and it's been running pretty good," Coughlin said. "Steve (Petty, crew chief) is just a mastermind at what he's doing. As long as we don't make any mistakes, man, it'll run pretty good."
After a relatively slow start to the season, the 2012 world champ won the most recent event in Norwalk, Ohio and is continuing his surge at this event.
"It's been a pretty good day," Coughlin said. "Jeggie's (brother, Pro Stock driver) qualified in the middle of the pack, we ended up No. 1 and (son) T.J.'s won in Super Comp and Super Gas first round. Pretty good day for JEGS.com."
Steven Whiteley was second with a 5.955 at 243.77 in his J&A Service/YNOT Racing ’68 Camaro, while former world champion Von Smith qualified third with a 5.955 at 241.97 in his Al-Anabi Racing ’69 Camaro.
Defending world champion and current points leader Rickie Smith qualified fourth in his nitrous-injected IDG Chevy Camaro with a performance of 5.985 at 243.68.
Defending U.S. Nationals Pro Mod winner Mike Janis, currently second in points, is outside the top 16 after the first session. The New York native sits 18th with a 6.166 at 239.82 in his Jan-Cen Racing late-model Camaro.
A tough lesson learned a year ago has helped drive Tim Sanderson to the brink of a championship this season.
Sanderson, from Pickering, Ontario, leads the Gold Cup class in the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin entering the last two rounds of the season Aug. 30-31 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario. Series veteran Sanderson holds a two-point lead, 140-138, over rookie Jerimy Daniel in the class for 2010-13 model Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars.
Last season, Sanderson opened with four consecutive Gold Cup victories and appeared to be headed for his first championship in just his second year in the single-make Porsche series. But friendly rival Carlos de Quesada overcame early frustration with his car to surge to the title with six consecutive victories to close the season, edging Sanderson by four points.
"One thing I learned from last season is you can never underestimate anybody," Sanderson said. "I think Carlos, in fairness to him and his team last season, they had the car for two or three days literally before the first race. I know he was frustrated after the first race at Mosport that he wasn't more competitive. They turned it around. They brought it back hard for the rest of the season. We kept doing what we were doing, but at the end, they ended up with a few more points than we did.
"There's nobody I'd rather finish second to than Carlos de Quesada. That man is a pure gentleman and a great competitor and a great racer. I was proud to be second in the points behind him. But this season is a different season, and we're going into the final weekend on the other end of that equation. It's ours to lose, I guess."
The title chase dimension also is different for Sanderson in two other crucial ways in 2014.
First, the level of competitiveness has escalated considerably this season in Gold Cup. Last year De Quesada and Sanderson were the only drivers with a chance to win the title entering the final event of the season, and they were the only drivers to win a race in the class.
This year, all five Gold Cup drivers have a mathematical shot to wear the crown after Round 10 Sunday. And Sanderson, Daniel and 2011 Gold Cup champion Shaun McKaigue each have stood on the top step of the podium as a race winner this season.
"I think everyone has brought their A game to the series this season, which isn't a slight on anybody from last season, but I think the entire field, the game level has been raised, all the way from Platinum (Cup) right through," Sanderson said. "It's good. We've had a few little dustups as the season has unfolded, but I think everybody is driving to win, and I think everybody is driving as much as possible to bring it home in one piece."
This season's championship hunt also is different because of the addition of Daniel, from Candiac, Quebec.
Daniel, 21, is the only non-Masters (age 45 or older) competitor in the class this year. Sanderson, 52, admits Daniel's driving skill and youthful enthusiasm and vigor have forced him to elevate every aspect of his preparation for a race weekend.
"I've got a couple of kids of my own who are older than Jerimy," Sanderson said with a laugh. "When I look at him, I look at a young kid. He's got lots of energy; he's got lots of enthusiasm. I've got to try to contend with that in other ways: Show up at the racetrack ready to race, fit and with my head in the right place.
"Jerimy is a great competitor, and he's pushing the stink out of me. I hope I'm doing the same for him."
So far, Sanderson has responded to Daniel's challenge with successful aplomb.
Sanderson has finished on the Gold Cup podium in seven of eight starts this season in the No. 07 Alegra Motorsports/Northwest Atlantic Motorsports Porsche, with victories in Round 4 in June at Calabogie and Round 7 earlier this month at Trois-Rivières. He also races with a benevolent purpose, as his Racing for Joanne's House program has helped to raise awareness and funding in 2013 and 2014 for Joanne's House, the only shelter for homeless and at-risk youth in Durham, Ontario.
Plus Sanderson won the pole with a Gold Cup track record and set a Gold Cup race lap record while finishing second in Round 8 earlier this month at Trois-Rivières, so he enters the season finale this weekend at CTMP with confidence.
"We're looking forward to a great weekend of racing," Sanderson said. "I don't expect anything different with the car or the setup we have used before at Mosport. I think everything should be the same as before."
Much of that confidence is bred by the wisdom of experience. Sanderson has been around motorsports for most of his life as a fan or competitor. His initial experience behind the wheel came in open-wheel cars at driving schools, and he began racing in Porsche club competition about 14 years ago and also drove in Vintage Automobile Racing Association of Canada (VARAC) events.
Sanderson, a successful commercial retail real estate executive, then made the jump to the IMSA Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin in 2012.
His experience dovetails nicely with his approach to the sport. He's a thinker behind the wheel, enjoying strategic planning over reactive muscling and hustling of the car. He studies competitors' lines. He ponders inside the helmet, sometimes laps ahead of time, the best spot and opportunity to make a crucial pass.
That mentality has bred the consistency that is vital to every championship path.
"I've been doing this a long time and am taking the approach of letting things unfold and sitting back," Sanderson said. "The races are rarely won in the first corner or the first two corners, so as long as you can keep your competitors in sight, you've got a shot at the end. That's the way I approach my races and try to get ahead of the field.
"There's nothing more frustrating than building up a big 15-second or 20-second lead and then there's a full-course yellow, and you say to yourself, 'Geez, all of that hard work, and we're going to have a sprint to the finish.' So I just like to sit back and let it come to me a little bit. And I feel really good going into Mosport with that approach. It's a track I've been racing on. I can't count how many laps I have at that place, and I'm looking forward to it."
For more information on the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin, visit www.imsa.com and @IMSA on Twitter with the hashtag #GT3CAN. Live commentary for both races at CTMP will be provided on Twitter at @IMSALive.