Adam has been a race fan since the first time he went through the tunnel under the Daytona International Speedway more than 30 years ago. He has had the privilege of traveling to races all across the state of Florida (as well as one race in Ohio), watching nearly everything with a motor compete for fame and glory, as well as participating in various racing schools to get the feel of what racecar drivers go through every week.
Adam spent several years covering motorsports for Examiner.com., where he had the opportunity to see the racing world from behind the scenes as well as the grandstands. He invites everyone to follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus, and looks forward to sharing his enthusiasm for all things racing with the readers of SpeedwayDigest.com.
Be sure to tune in for his sports talk program, Thursday Night Thunder, where he discusses the latest in motorsports news with drivers, crew members, and fans. The show takes place (almost) every Thursday at 8:00 pm EST on the Speedway Digest Radio Network.
Contact Adam: Email
As we edge towards the fourth and penultimate round of the 2014 European Le Mans Series season, the points' classifications would suggest that the French race is likely to be full of spice and drama!
The first three races have seen three different teams step on to the top of the overall podium: Thiriet by TDS Racing at Silverstone, JOTA Sport at Imola and Signatech Alpine at the Red Bull Ring. Who will be next?
A regular points-scorer with its Alpine A450b, Signatech Alpine now heads the LMP2 category with 50 points while JOTA Sport, which has claimed extra points for its three pole positions, is only four behind the leaders. The Swiss Race Performance team has regularly stacked up the points over the first three rounds, and holds third place with 39 points ahead of Thiriet by TDS Racing which, having changed its chassis after Imola, was unlucky in Austria (35 points). The No.41 of Greaves Motorsport holds fifth place with 32 points, and is followed by the Swiss NewBlood by Morand Racing team with 25 points and sixth place in the Teams' rankings. Following thereafter are Sébastien Loeb Racing (24pts), Greaves Motorsport's No.28 (20pts), Pegasus Racing (14pts), and Murphy Motorsport and Larbre Compétition.
In the Drivers' classification, Nelson Panciatici, Oliver Webb and Paul-Loup Chatin are four points ahead of their JOTA Sport rivals, Filipe Albuquerque, Harry Tincknell and Simon Dolan. Franck Mailleux and Michel Frey (Race Performance) have 39 points in third place, and are in turn ahead of Thiriet by TDS Racing's Ludovic Badey, Pierre Thiriet and Tristan Gommendy (35 points). Fifth place in the standings belongs to Matt McMurry and Tom Kimber-Smith (32 points - Greaves Motorsport), while Gary Hirsch and Christian Klien hold sixth with 25 points.
Ferrari dominates LMGTE
In LMGTE the battle for the top is no less exciting. Thanks to its victories in England and Austria, the No.55 F458 Italia of AF Corse is at the top of the table with 56 points, just three ahead of the No.72 Ferrari of Russian team, SMP Racing. Thirteen points in arrears is JMW Motorsport with 40 points, the British team just 2.5 points ahead of Kessel Racing (37.5pts), and holding a four point lead over AT Racing (36pts). IMSA Performance Matmut's No.76 Porsche is in sixth place with 23 points.
For the drivers in this class the battle will be even more tightly fought at Paul Ricard, especially between Duncan Cameron and Matt Griffin who currently hold the lead with 56 points and Andrea Bertolini, Sergey Zlobin and Viktor Shaitar who are on 53 points. Third in class is Michele Rugolo who has 50 points on the board. Ten points back from their closest rivals, Daniel McKenzie and George Richardson hold fourth place (40 points), while Matteo Cressoni and Thomas Kemenater have accumulated 37.5pts, just 1.5 more than sixth-placed Alexander Talkanitsa Senior and Junior and their teammate, Pierre Kaffer.
And it is no less tight in the GTC class...
While the No.73 Ferrari 458 Italia of SMP Racing is now well ahead in the class (54pts), just 11.5 points separates it from its rival Formula Racing in second with 42,5, and by 13 points to the Russian team's sister car (No.71 SMP Racing). Newcomers to the ELMS this year and regular points-scorers in the first three rounds, ART Grand Prix's No.99 McLaren MP4 12C GT3 is fourth with 34 points. Team Ukraine, which won the only race in which it has taken part (Silverstone) has a total of 25 points and holds fifth place in the standings, just ahead of the second, No.98 McLaren (20 points).
Anton Ladygin, David Markosov and Olivier Beretta are at the head of the GTC Drivers' standings with 54 points, ahead of Johnny Laursen and Mikkel Mac's 11.5 points and Aleksey Basov, Kirill Ladygin and Luca Persiani with 13 points in third. Alex Brundle, Karim Ajlani and Ricardo Gonzalez have amassed 34 points each, while Andrea Piccini – who has only run at Imola – has 26. Sixth place is occupied by Alessandro Pier Guidi, Andriy Kruglyk and Sergii Chukanov (25pts). The 4 Hours of Paul Ricard promises some great battles, as there will no doubt be at the final round in Portugal, but who knows what will happen? Everything is up for grabs, and the teams and drivers will be doing all they can to gather the maximum number of points at each of the remaining two events.
It's all happening at Circuit Paul Ricard in the south of France on 13th and 14th September for a race which will undoubtedly be hotly contested in all three classes.
Reservations & Ticketing HERE
A veteran SCCA racer and multi-time Divisional Champion and top-10 finisher at the National Championship Runoffs® in the Formula Vee class, Noble will join Michael Pettiford’s Go 4 It Racing team to pilot the No. 42 Go 4 It Racing Schools/Hawk Performance/Maxton’s Fight Pontiac Solstice in Touring Car for the doubleheader weekend.
The change moves the full calendar one week earlier than what was announced in May 2014.
The all-electric FIA Formula E Championship has today confirmed the launch of the Formula E Motor Shows.
“We are excited to announce this new and important development for Formula E. The Formula E Motor Shows will play an important part in removing the barriers to the electric vehicle market and helping change perceptions to make people believe in electric car ownership. The future of modern, mass transport, particular in cities and urban areas, lies in electric vehicles. The Formula E Motor Shows will help to accelerate the interest and adoption of sustainable and clean air motoring solutions in line with our objectives for the championship," Alejandro Agag, CEO of Formula E, said.
Taking place within the Formula E city-centre race circuits, fans will get the unique opportunity to see, and experience, first-hand how the advances in technology, safety, innovation and speed witnessed on the racetrack are driving forward everyday electric and hybrid car development.
“I am delighted to be launching this series of exciting events," Justin Tadman, CEO of the Formula E Motor Shows, added. "Consumers will be able to engage and interact with the manufacturers and their ranges of hybrid and electric vehicles at these city centre race tracks. Our first Formula E Motor Show will take place alongside the Miami race in March 2015, followed by Long Beach, Monaco, Berlin and London. This is a truly exciting time for the motoring industry and these events are perfectly timed and located to help drive the change towards an electric future.”
The Formula E Motor Shows will take place over four days – before, during and after the race.
Formula E is the FIA’s new fully-electric single-seater championship designed to appeal to a new generation of motorsport fans, whilst accelerating the interest in electric vehicles and promoting sustainability. Racing entirely on temporary city-centre race tracks, it uses cars capable of speeds in excess of 150mph (225kph). The first of 10 races takes place in Beijing on September 13 2014 with the season finale taking place in Battersea Park London on June 27 2015.
For more information on Formula E visit www.fiaformulae.com.
Doug Kalitta has been impressively successful and consistent during the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series regular season. The next step for the Top Fuel points leader is replicating that effort during the upcoming NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship.
Through 18 races Kalitta has racked up a remarkable nine final round appearances, winning twice and only suffering two first-round exits. The reward is a 30-point lead heading into the Countdown to the Championship, which kicks off at zMAX Dragway with the seventh annual NHRA Carolina Nationals, Sept. 12-14.
With all eyes on Kalitta as he aims for his first career world championship title in his 10,000-horsepower Mac Tools dragster, the laid-back Top Fuel star simply wants to keep a winning combination that has already been wildly successful since the season started in February.
“I'm super proud of my guys, just all of them working together incredibly,” Kalitta said. “We've got a good, consistent car, so we're really excited about taking this thing to Charlotte and starting the Countdown and hopefully repeating the performance that we've had pretty much all year. We've got something great and everybody here has worked real hard at putting the people in the right places. It's a good effort and we're pretty proud of what we've put together.”
Morgan Lucas (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), Jeg Coughlin (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the NHRA Carolina Nationals, a race that will once again be televised nationally on ESPN2.
The event marks the kickoff event of the six-race playoff series, the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship, as the top 10 in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle compete to win world championships in their respective categories.
Kalitta, who has finished second in Top Fuel three times and third three times, including last year, has already recorded more final round appearances than he did previously in any season in an NHRA career that has featured 35 wins and 77 final round appearances.
Kalitta and his team, headed by crew chief Jim Oberhofer and assistant crew chief Troy Fasching, have also posted five No. 1 qualifiers in a banner campaign. But Kalitta, who won his first career race in the Countdown a year ago in Dallas, knows the intensity will be raised during the Countdown and he must adjust his own approach accordingly.
“It is all about the heart and then winning these races,” Kalitta said. “Just wanting it just as bad or worse than anybody else out there is what keeps you out there. My car has been more consistent this year than it's been in a number of years (and) it's probably the best year that I've had that I can remember. So that's our mission for sure is to go to each one of these (Countdown events), qualify good, be consistent and be ready to go rounds on Sunday. We definitely plan on continuing what we've been doing.”
That Kalitta has posted such consistency in a star-driven class like Top Fuel makes his year even more impressive, but there are plenty of championship contenders including 2012 world champion Antron Brown and reigning world champion Shawn Langdon, who start the Countdown in second and third, respectively.
Other drivers with championship hopes are Tony Schumacher, Spencer Massey, Richie Crampton, who won the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, Khalid alBalooshi, Brittany Force, Steve Torrence and J.R. Todd.
Todd slipped into the Countdown in the 10th spot, giving Kalitta Motorsports two Top Fuel teams in the Countdown. Paired with Funny Car standouts Alexis DeJoria, who won the prestigious Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, and Del Worsham, the Kalitta Motorsports team has four cars in the Countdown, something that Kalitta thinks could pay big dividends throughout the rigorous six-race playoff sprint.
“It has definitely brought the confidence up,” Kalitta said. “With Alexis winning her races, we've had J.R. winning there in Denver and we've got a lot of positive stuff going on within our organization. It's a big relief for really everybody at Kalitta Motorsports to get all four of our cars in the Countdown this year. We're all feeding off one another.
“Obviously with Alexis winning in Indy, that was huge for all of the four teams and we're going to be definitely ready and hit the ground running when we get to the next six races and the excitement of what the Countdown format has brought our sport. It will be fun to watch and be a part of.”
In Funny Car, Hight took home the victory last season and will enter Charlotte ready for a run at a second world championship. He will have to get past teammate, reigning world champion and playoff top seed John Force, who has advanced to the last six final rounds. The list of championship talent reads long and includes Matt Hagan, Ron Capps, Courtney Force, DeJoria, who has three wins in 2014, Tommy Johnson Jr., Worsham, Tim Wilkerson and Cruz Pedregon.
Coughlin’s win in Charlotte catapulted him to a fifth career championship in Pro Stock. Everyone is chasing points leader Jason Line while championship contenders in the loaded class include Erica Enders-Stevens, who has four victories in 2014, Allen Johnson, Vincent Nobile, Dave Connolly, Shane Gray, who won the most recent event in Indy, rookie Jonathan Gray, V Gaines and Chris McGaha.
Hines, the class of the Pro Stock Motorcycle field in 2014, is after his third straight win at the Countdown-opening event. Hines’ teammate Eddie Krawiec is second in points and won the event in 2011, and also is riding momentum following his first Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals win. Other standouts in the two-wheeled category include Hector Arana, Hector Arana Jr., reigning world champ Matt Smith, 2008 Charlotte winner Steve Johnson, Angie Smith, John Hall, Michael Ray and Scotty Pollacheck.
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and enjoy some cherished face time and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
Fans also will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
The event will also feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying begins Friday, Sept. 12, with sessions at 3:15 and 5:45 p.m. The final two qualifying sessions will take place Saturday, Sept. 13, at 2:30 and 5:45 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 14.
On Saturday, September 13 the vision of FIA President Jean Todt to create an all-electric championship will spark into life. Ahead of this historic occasion he talks about the philosophy behind the series and his hopes for the future…
Can you explain the inspiration behind setting up an all-electric championship?
The world is changing and as the sporting flagship of motorsport we have a responsibility to keep up with those changes. The link between daily mobility and racing is very important.
I thought it was important to have a vision for new technology for the development of the motoring industry and that’s why we changed the regulations in Formula 1, that’s why we supported new regulations in the World Endurance Championship. And then came the idea of making a specific flagship championship with electric technology. A lot of people were enthusiastic about this idea.
For me the electric car is really the future of motoring in the cities. And that’s why we begin with hosting races in world cities. It’s a new approach, it’s a new product.
Alejandro Agag is a very enthusiastic guy, dynamic, and has a good network so he is the ideal promoter, and that’s how it started. Anywhere I go people speak to me about Formula E with great enthusiasm and great commitment as well. You can see the cities that are committed and it’s simply amazing and those who are demonstrating an interest are also amazing. In each category: media, new media, TV, sponsors, cities, teams, manufacturers, suppliers, everybody is very excited about it.
But this is before the exam. The exam will be the first race in Beijing. We have been creating very high expectations and in life if you create expectations you must not disappoint. So that’s where we are.
How will you know if the Beijing event is a success?
I can only speak to you about expectations. About success I cannot. We need to see the first race. I will be in Beijing and hope to see an enthusiastic crowd of fans and an exciting race on the track.
Where will Formula E be in three, five and 10 years’ time?
Formula E is just beginning, and it is necessary to carefully examine the first season to see what works and what does not work. As it gains popularity and as the calendar increases, new teams and new manufacturers will be crucial. We believe we have created a framework to support the positive evolution of the series over many years, notably in opening gradually the competition between engine and battery suppliers.
Do you see technology transferring from Formula E to other FIA championships?
We can expect development in batteries, motor technology and security issues that can be transferred with other series such as F1, WEC etc.
You always learn from one championship to another one. For example, what generates a lot of cost is aerodynamic development and in Formula E it’s quite limited, which I think is a good thing because sometime you see how complicated aerodynamics are on a car. You take Formula 1 now with all the little winglets that require so much wind tunnel testing. So I would say let’s try to develop as much that can be transferred to a city car.
How does Formula E fit on the motorsport ladder or does it stand on its own?
It could be said that FE is more a stand-alone series rather than a new thread included in the single-seater ladder. However, it still does open career pathways for drivers with various backgrounds and has already attracted both young talents and experienced racers.
For me it’s a city, single-seater category, and I’m keen to keep it on a track of its own. And I think the interest in this challenge is because it’s like a circus. You have everything take place in 24 hours. The day before it’s just a normal city, then everything happens for the organisation of the race and then 24 hours later it’s just a memory until next year.
The series has the ability to reach a totally new audience…
I think it’s fascinating to see. When we speak about FanBoost – to get people participating – use your iPad, iPhone – it’s creating a link with the supporter, the team and the driver.
Some hardcore race fans find FanBoost controversial. How do you balance engagement versus the true sporting element?
For each team, each driver has to give his supporters as much support as possible, so I think it’s a friendly, fresh initiative, which I don’t think will damage the final result. I really hope it’s a category of racing which allows contact with the drivers – people love to have contact. You see that in endurance racing where you have more access and I quite like that, you allow people to touch their hero, to be closer to their team. So I think it creates a family link between the supporter and the team.
There are two female drivers in the series. This fits in well with the Women in Motorsport campaign…
Having women involved in any kind of motorsport I think is great and through our Women in Motorsport campaign we are encouraging as more and more to get involved at all levels of motor sport.
The lack of noise is actually an attraction for some female fans…
It will be interesting because as a show with some music with different entertainment, I think it’s a great challenge. It’s a new show, a sporting show. It’s like a cocktail. We must make sure all the ingredients go well together and I must say the quality of the relationship between the promoter, the governing body, and all the teams is quite encouraging.
Another unique feature of the series is the plan to leave a lasting legacy behind. How do you feel about that?
It can encourage people to adopt new technologies. At the moment 75 million cars are sold all over the world each year and only one per cent is with new energy like an electric car. It’s less than a million cars, but I think we can play an important role in promoting the use of more electric cars in cities.
In what ways can Formula E help with the Campaign for Road Safety?
Each single category of motorsport has to contribute towards road safety. And over the past decades the motor racing community has been doing a lot with regard to road safety and education as well. You would not get into a racing car without putting on a safety belt, without putting on a helmet, so the same applies on the road.
For me a racing driver has to be an ambassador. He has a strong voice. If he says that he will never use a phone or send an SMS while he is driving people will listen more than any other institutional message. For the FIA it’s quite clear. If a racing driver says I go as much as I can to exploit the limit of my car on the circuit, but when I become a normal citizen on the road I will respect the speed limit, it’s a very strong message. They are a hero for young people. For me each champion has a responsibility to be an ambassador.
Will you be coming to Beijing?
Yes, and all the World Motor Sport Council members from the FIA will come because we are going to have the World Motor Sport Council meeting in Beijing. For me the first race is a very important occasion. It’s a new championship. And we don’t make those very often. The last was the World Endurance Championship, but that was reborn, this is a new championship starting from scratch. Formula E is a big step in the history of motorsport and the development of new technologies.
For more information on Formula E visit www.fiaformulae.com.
On September 8, Chip Ganassi Racing Teams (CGRT) will host an invitation-only social media concert featuring Republic Nashville recording artist and former winner of The Voice Cassadee Pope at the team’s Concord, N.C. headquarters. The concert for 300 social media and millennial influencers called Ganassi Sound Garage: a Digi Bash, will be hosted by the team’s lineup of young NASCAR drivers Kyle Larson (22, @KyleLarsonRacin) and Dylan Kwasniewski (19, @dylankracing) and INDYCAR driver Sage Karam (19, @sagekaram).
A limited number of tickets are being given away by the drivers on Twitter and on the team’s social media outlets (Twitter - @cgrteams and Instagram - @chipganassiracing) for fans to come walk the red carpet and show off their style, mix and mingle like a VIP and take selfies with Cassadee, Kyle, Dylan and Sage. Fans will also have the opportunity to show their social influence to the world with #soundgarage posts being displayed on duel screens flanking the stage during the event.
The event, which will be emceed by FOX Sports 1 television personality Kaitlyn Vincie, will be streamed live beginning at 8:30 p.m. ET on www.nascar.com, www.indycar.com and www.chipganassiracing.com for all fans to enjoy.
In case you might have missed the news, we announced a little while back that we are going on an adventure. We have decided to pack up our kit and take our DSB riders, Jake Gagne and Tomas Puerta to England at the conclusion of the 2014 AMA Pro Road Race Season to compete in the final two rounds of the MCE BSB Series. We thought, we'd take a little time now to explain in more detail what is actually going to happen and how it is going happen.
We received a lot of positive comments and emails when we made the initial announcement. However, we learned that no matter how many people proof read and view our newsletters before they go out, we still tend to miss some key details. We blame our media guy for all of it, or course. So, let's start by answering a few questions.
Q: Are you guys really going to race BSB?
A: Yes we most certainly are. However, to put a finer point on that, we are actually racing the BSS British SuperSport class. We didn't give our Yamaha R-6's an injection of 400 more cc's and water them until they grew into a Superbike. That's... just.... not possible.
Q: Where's England?
A: It's a.. wait... what?? Really?
Q: Are you guys just using your AMA bikes?
A: No, not at all. We're going to have a section in this about the prep of the bikes, but they are two completely BSS purpose built Yamaha R-6's. Technical rules being different, we felt it was better to start with a clean sheet on the bikes and build them to the BSS Specs.
Q: How much stuff can you take over there? That has to be a logistical nightmare to transport all your gear to another country.
A: The second part of that is an objective statement rather than a question, but yes, it has been an ordeal for our crew. Short answer, we aren't taking over everything. The crew, under the leadership of Jamie Spinks have been able to down select our equipment to just the needed items that have been crated up and placed in a small shipping container. More on that later.
We Love Logistics?
Going overseas and racing has been a goal of the team since it's inception. The main mission was to create a team wherein the best up and coming riders would be given a chance to compete against the best riders in the given class. It's a team based on the principles of rider development and exposure. So making the call to run in a different national series wasn't out of the scope of the team's goals. It was just a matter of time and deciding which series to join that would offer optimal experience for our riders. The BSS is a fantastic series with incredible battles every weekend. The support from the fans and the sponsors make it a natural fit with our aspirations as a team. So, earlier this year the decision was made and the trigger was pulled.
The team had a lot to do in a short amount of time, once the final call was made. The purchase of two machines that would be turned into BSS spec bikes, the paperwork for the series, the paperwork for the shipping, the paperwork for the customs, the paperwork for the sake of the paperwork, testing, equipment and electronics testing, paperwork, finding a shipping company, paperwork, more testing and finally paperwork.
In charge of the logistics side of the effort has been our beloved Jamie Spinks. In order to get a more complete understanding of what he had to do to get the bikes and equipment to England, we simply asked him and what followed made our heads hurt.
"This has been one of the hardest and most involved processes I've had to handle since I got into the sport, but I've enjoyed the heck out of it. I mean, I had no idea what needed to happen in order to get all the prep done. I've been buried in paperwork since we began to discuss the possibility of going over there. Before we even got to Daytona we had to get a copy of all the BSS rules and regulations and put together a rough cost for the effort. Ever since we made the final decision to go, everyday has been go go go with little to no rest.
You know the rules and the specs for the bikes are one thing, in that it's pretty straight forward. We had about a week and half to build one complete bike before we went testing. What has been the real struggle is dealing with the customs and logistics issues. For example we are shipping most of everything out in what's called a Carnet. I had no idea what that even is, but it's a method of shipping that states that everything you ship in that container must return in that container, nothing more, nothing less. Customs has been the most interesting part of this. We learned that it was going to take 5 weeks to make the trip (the container) and once it got to England it was going to have to be in customs for at least another week. Try backing up your entire race program by six weeks! Everything in the shop had to be done and done before the truck and container arrived. Time was a major factor in ensuring that we would have everything we needed in the container, so that it would be good to go by our first race.
That was just the main container, we are still going to have to ship three more crates after our last race at New Jersey Motorsports Park. We've had some help for sure. We found out that power was going to be an issue. We learned that we couldn't just buy adapters for our tire warmers and other electronics. Thankfully, Yamaha Generators pitched in a provided us some extra genies. Little things like that, you know that would've stopped us in our tracks.
Another interesting wrinkle was trying to get everything in place so we could have made the test at High Plains Raceway a success. We were fortunate enough to have a local Pirelli Tires supplier (Sol Perfromance) who was able to get us a few sets of spec tires that they run in the BSS. The hard part was making sure we had the ECU and the right kind of fuel. The closest place to get the fuel was from Canada and we had to import it at an extremely high cost. It was the most expensive gas I've ever purchased by far! It took a long time to get too, it arrived at the shop with less than 24 hrs to go before we loaded up for the test.
I said before customs has been interesting. Well the ECU that we were able to rent from MOTEC had it's own little adventure in customs. It got stuck for a few days and we didn't know if it would arrive in time for the test. We had the bike built but no ECU. It finally arrived in time for a little bit of dyno testing.
To be honest, even though the container is arriving to pick up the bikes and equipment, I'm not going to be able to rest until I'm on the plane headed over there. Even then, it's going to be more stress once we arrive and try to get everything ready to race. I've learned a lot and feel confident that we're ready. It's been one heck of a learning experience and I'm happy with the progress we've made as a team."
The Bike Build
Heading up the bike build has been our Crew Chief Scott Jensen. Normally, calm, cool and stylish, Scotty and the guys have been rushed to get the bikes in proper BSS trim. Warning! Technical Information Below!
"First and foremost the three main hurdles for us in doing the British Supersport series was to develop a new engine package due to the differences in the rulebooks, the different spec fuel that they use (Panta), and the fact that they have a spec MOTEC ECU.
The Wrap Up
Danny: "This has been one crazy adventure. We started talking about this back in January. We showed up at Daytona with the BSB Rules and Regs and had the guys start looking at everything. Throughout the season we've been getting more and more information about running over there, mainly on cost and trying to find a base of operations while we are there. We've been fortunate in that the environment over in England is so generous and helpful. Everyone from the MCE BSB staff to locals who've offered the use of their garages, it's been a trip with how helpful everyone has been.
We knew the bikes were going to be different so we set aside some engines for Scotty to build. We had no clue what to expect from the MOTEC ECU and the fuel. Once we got that sorted and had our hands on some spec Pirelli's, we thought we'd be ok. Then Gagne goes out and smashes his old outright lap record at High Plains Raceway for a 600! Crazy! I'm excited to get over there and see what's possible, you know. I think we're in a good position to test the waters of overseas competition and show the community at large what our riders can do.
This whole process though has been about my guys. Jamie is really stepping up and handling all the logistics issues. I mean, I walk by the shop at night and the lights are on as he's working the paperwork or on the phone with Customs Officers. He's had to learn everything to make this happen and when the container left the shop, I was confident we wouldn't have any issues. Scotty and the crew came together during the break in AMA action to build the bikes, test them and create the package we're gonna race. Not only that, but all the guys got together and had to build the framework for the container.
They measured out the space in the B Shop, built the frames and mocked up the entire container in order to ensure everything would fit. These guys have busted their collective butts in order to make this a reality. I can't say enough with how happy I am to have these guys and excited I am to go to England and race!"
(RoadRace Factory PR)
Andrew Hines, Jason Line, John Force and Doug Kalitta discuss the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship
THE MODERATOR: Andrew, what is your mindset going into the six-race championship playoffs with that No. 1 position in the Countdown?
ANDREW HINES: Right now my mindset's just to maintain what we've been doing all year long, and that's just going out there, getting round wins on Sunday. The biggest thing is trying to keep your head calm and have faith in your team and motorcycle. Luckily, I've had that all year long. The guys here at Vance & Hines have been working on our Harleys nonstop to get us back to this point after the season we had last year. Last year I missed the cut completely. I didn't even have a chance to run for the Countdown to the Championship. Quite a turnaround to this year. I've been in this position in the past and came up just short right at the end of the year. So we're obviously in a really good position right now. I hope we can keep the momentum we've had going. I don't think I've ever had this many wins heading into the Countdown, nice place to be sitting with my V-Rod up front. Those 20 little extra points we get for being the No. 1 in points heading into the Countdown can be crucial given the way all motorcycles are running in the field. All the points can add up, the qualifying points and so forth. But right now it's just going to be business as normal, go out there and give it our best shot every single week in, week out. It gets a little tough here with four in a row. You've got to have everything in place to go out there and make a killer run at it. And we're already in the process of making everything top notch for the next four coming up.
Q How much did last year chew at you? It's a long offseason to sit there and think about it. Does it give everyone in the organization not just extra but that much more motivation going into the year?
ANDREW HINES: Yeah. You know being just out of contention last year, finishing 11 after Indy, was a tough pill to swallow for me and everybody here at the shop. We had put forth so much effort to get to the point where we were able to win a few rounds here and there. We had a few parts failures along the way last year that ultimately kept us out of the Countdown. Everyone in the shop, over the winter, they wanted to make sure we got back to 2012 form as we call it when we won 15 out of 16 events. And they put in the hours and the effort that we required of them. Nobody hemmed or hawed and they all went out and did whatever we asked. They worked the late hours and helped us fabricate new parts and throughout the entire off season it was just a whole lot of production stuff rolling through all the mills and machines here at the shop. And guys burning midnight oil. You hear that a lot, but there was mills working here around the clock. Luckily, with some of the programmers we have here, they can throw parts in the mill and walk away and come back the next day and it's done. We racked up a lot of parts in the offseason and come February we started getting after it and made almost 300 dyno pulls during the offseason to try to get back to the performance we used to have. And it ultimately paid off. We started off the season really strong. Brought up the morale of everybody here at the shop when we went out winning rounds, confident we could go qualify at the front of the field. Everybody here loves what they do for our team. It's a total team effort. It's not just the five, six guys you see on the road at the racetrack. There's 15 other guys at our shop to make sure we have perfect equipment to go up and down the racetrack. Everybody got a bad taste in their mouth when we only had one V-Rod in the Countdown last year. That's just a product of how good we've done in the last decade, especially just on our Harleys. So we've pushed through it and got back to the point where we could win on Sunday again. And it's been great for us, been great for the Harley-Davidson fans, and we're really, really excited to have a No. 1 bike going into the Countdown.
Q Eddie (Krawiec) talked about it a little bit during the course of the weekend, but how important is that dyno to be able to do that, is that kind of overtaking your on track testing program in a sense?
ANDREW HINES: It has. We've done less testing on track the last couple of years than we had in years past, just because we were behind on miles per hour at the top end. And you can go to the track and run all you want and get your 60-foot numbers down and everything. But if you don't have the horsepower to run with everybody else it's hard to go out there get win lights. That was our main focus over the winter. Like I said, almost 300 dyno pulls, 260 of them were in February before we left for the first race. So it was a lot of work. A lot of time and, believe me, making 260 dyno pulls on a dyno is stressful. I was sitting there pushing that throttle forward 20, 30 times a day at times, and you never know what's going to happen. Break a valve spring or push rods, rocker arms, whatever it might be, gets stressful; you break parts and push through it. The bad thing about being a dyno operator is 90 to 95 percent of the stuff you try doesn't work. There’s a lot of stress in that area too. But we were able to pick up about 25 horsepower over the winter and that put us right from running mid pack last year to running back in the front.
Q With the season that you guys had last year, struggling with the new engine combination, did you really think that you would be in this position at this time of the year after all the trouble that you had last year?
ANDREW HINES: Going into this year, I was just hoping to make the Countdown and be in the top 10 to have a chance to run for the championship and get a number plate on the side of my bike again that doesn't start with my division number. You know, to be No. 1, it totally exceeds every expectation I had of this year. When you're doing all that development work during the winter, you're not sure what results you're going to see on the racetrack. You're just hoping that everything's going to come back to like we had it in 2012. And you go testing and you hear people testing and doing different things all across the world there. And by the time you get to Gainesville, everybody has their own ideas. But once you get them all in the same place at the same time you find what everybody else has. Once I knew we had some decent horsepower and saw the performance of everybody else and we were able to get some decent qualifying rounds in, it obviously makes it a little easier to win rounds on Sunday when you're not qualifying in the middle or back of the field. We had a good run at that this year. Eddie has a lot of No. 1 qualifiers. He's been doing pretty good. It's been pretty good. Being in the Countdown, four wins, and a battle (MiraMonte Records NHRA Pro Bike Battle) win, to boot, can't get much better. The only thing that can get better is to seal the deal and have a No. 1 at the end of the year.
Q Start off the Countdown, we go to Charlotte, does that give you a little bit of added spring in your step knowing you had success there earlier this year?
ANDREW HINES: Yeah, that's one of those tracks that's been hit or miss for me in my career. When we started going there back in '06 or whatever it was, it took me four years to get a single round win at that track let alone four-wide or the fall two-wide race. Lately, I've been pretty decent there. And we have a pretty good handle on what the starting line needs with the little nuances it needs with the downhill track. And air has been all over the place. Don't really have consistent air year to year not knowing what to expect. We've been running in all different types of air conditions this year. We are starting to get a handle on it with one motorcycle. Eddie's running pretty decent. Mine's going to come back. I figured out some problems yesterday and I've been running C25 (racing fuel) all day long trying to get my bike running back like Eddie's. So I feel that we can go in there and run like my bike had been the beginning of the season and battle with Eddie for those qualifying bonus points. It's going to be huge coming to the end of the year.
Q What's it like knowing that Eddie is basically your main opponent for this title? He's a world champion and as you noted, probably running a little bit better than you right now. What's it like knowing that he's your biggest rival for the championship?
ANDREW HINES: It's tough, but it's a good deal because he's the other motorcycle in the pit area. But like any team, you want to have the better bike, better vehicle in the pit area. It's the nature of the beast. Every drag racer out there is ultra-competitive. That's why we run in this sport, and we want to be the best. When your teammate is the best in the field right now, it makes it tough to get around them. I know I have the same equipment, the same motorcycle, the same tuner, same everything, it's just we haven't found the tuning box that my V Rod needs to be in. And we got a little bit behind here in Indy, and Eddie's performance was in his window. So we feel we know which way to go now. I'm going to run the same engine in Charlotte that I ran here in Indy. And I obviously, I ran Eddie there second round of Indianapolis. And I had nothing to lose at that point. I feel I had won the first round, locked up my No. 1 spot for the Countdown, took a stab at a tune up and went way in the wrong direction. I already have some of the parameters loaded in for Charlotte, and if I can give Eddie a run in that first qualifying session, I'll feel really good about my chances.
Q And does this feel like 2012 swagger wise for you guys knowing that you do have the field covered pretty much every weekend?
ANDREW HINES: Not necessarily covered. We've been fortunate just to knock it out of the box here every now and then. Like the one run Eddie made in qualifying when he went .682 (seconds) to go No. 1 in Indy, it was pretty strange. It was really fast for the conditions. We're still not sure why and then the bike slowed right back down. But we feel that if I can go up there, make a nice clean straight run, there's no reason why we can't be in the top 3 every single pass.
So it's the determination of our team to put our V-Rods up front. Our guys have given us flawless motorcycles all year long. It's just been a tuning struggle, trying to learn what this new motor wants. Even compared to last year we still can't compare a lot of the notes because the motor was so far down in horsepower last year it wanted a totally different tune up. This year is kind of different, new learning game every racetrack we get to. And take it as it comes kind of situation. We have a base deal we start every weekend with. We go one way with one bike and one with the other. And hopefully by Sunday we get it figured out. And that's what we were doing earlier in the year trying to get both bikes in the final round.
Q You've mentioned overcoming the horsepower slump. What are your thoughts on carrying the momentum that you have had all year into the Countdown when it really starts to count?
ANDREW HINES: Keeping momentum is a key thing. Big thing for me is I like to be out front with having people chasing me, because it's less pressure on me because I just know I have to maintain where other people have to overcome. And if I can go out there and get a lot of qualifying points, qualify in the front where it makes race day a little easier, that's going to be key for the whole thing. In 2012, Eddie and I ran for the championship. I was No. 2 seed going in. And I had actually ended up winning Charlotte. Beat him on a hole shot. Beat Eddie on a hole shot in the final round. After that, same deal, lost the handle on my motorcycle. His stayed in his window. And the big thing is once it gets in that window, keeping it there. I've been notorious for trying to micromanage everything that happens on my bike. And sometimes I just need to leave it alone. So I'll be letting Matt do more of the keyboard strokes there trying to tune the V-Rod and keep it consistent without trying to blow everybody out of the water. That's the big thing. I'd rather go out there have a fast bike than go out there have one that's totally dominant. We can count on trying to go out there win rounds and maybe not tune ourselves out of the show.
Q When you guys overcame obviously that horsepower thing, when you overcame that, were there points during that transition that you really thought that you wondered if it was ever going to work?
ANDREW HINES: We did. There was all kinds of new components that had to fall into place for everything to work right. And it was just a matter of making sure the dyno was putting out the correct number. One thing we did is we had our dyno upgraded beginning of last year. So when we also made the switch from our old style engine to this engine, we changed all the parameters in our dyno so we were way off at that point and couldn't compare apples to apples anymore. So this year we had a little more confidence because with the motor combination we had last year and then continuing to develop it, we were able to pick up the power and we knew we were making horsepower. You could hear it in the way the motor sounded on the dyno, the way the bike idles on the starting line. Everything was getting better and better. And it was just a matter of managing that horsepower, getting it to the track. And since we're making more power, we're not even 60 footing as good as we were last year. So a little bit tougher. But Matt's got a good handle on it right now. And he's come up with some good ideas here just in the last couple of days to get my bike back up to snuff and going to go back out there and give them hell.
Q If I could look a few weeks ahead. I know the sport is uniform in terms of your competition area, but are there special challenges that you face when you come to Texas?
ANDREW HINES: There's something weird with the air down there by you guys. I don't know. It's struck us twice in three out of the last four years. We've run on Sunday in eliminations and we just go out there and our bikes only our motorcycles will lose like six, seven, 800ths of a second from one run to the next. No tune up changes. According to our weather stations, nothing changed. We weren't able to figure it out. And last year everything went fine. So it must have been something with our old motor combination, it must have been on the edge, either on timing or fuel. It didn't want to be in that type of condition on the next run, whether the motor got hot or whatever it was. Last year, everything seemed to work fine for Eddie. He went out and got the cowboy hat. This year we're just hoping for more of the same. We've got more power. We've run decent at that track in the past. It's just a matter of going back there again, seeing what kind of weather we've got and work on it from there. But one thing that's high on my list is running out there at Texas Motorplex, getting a cowboy hat at the end of the day. I've been in two final rounds there and come up short both times. It's been tough. I lost to a 20 year old and I lost to a girl one time. So it's pretty rough.
THE MODERATOR: Next up we have Jason Line, driver of Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro. Jason, what are your thoughts going into the Countdown as the No. 1 contender?
JASON LINE: I think I'm starting in a pretty darned good spot. Obviously a month and a half ago I was going to be happy if I was in the top five. So the last month has been pretty darned good to me. So we definitely got our Chevy Camaro running a lot better. And it feels really good. I don't know if I've entered the Countdown No. 1 before, I'm not sure if I have or not. But there's no better place to start.
Q Jason, you mentioned having a strong finish running into the Countdown. Can you talk about the kind of momentum just about everybody really wants to get. Could you talk a little bit about that, how that feels for you and your team?
JASON LINE: Yeah, that's the kind of thing you only dream of. So it's a hard thing to achieve. And it's fun to watch when you see a team get a car and a driver in sync. And it's a hard thing to achieve. But it's fun to watch when somebody does, even if it's not you, because it's a pretty rare thing. And right now it feels really good. This is the best stretch I've probably ever had. So it gives me certainly a lot of confidence. We have great guys and we have direction right now, which is something we lacked for quite a while. So I think once you have direction, you know we're all smart enough to carry on and go forward. So it feels really good right now.
Q And what was it like to get Greg (Anderson) back after his physical problems to get him back in a car?
JASON LINE: Well, it was a little scary at first, actually, for me anyway. But it's been a crazy year with all the stuff that's went on especially with him health wise, as you get older you start to realize you're not going to live forever. At the same time it's been a big motivator for me because I realize that I may not have forever to do this. So I'm trying to make the best of the resources that I have and trying to really make it count. But it is disappointing obviously not getting Greg into the Countdown. That's our own fault. We didn't do a good enough job there. But it was sort of a long shot anyway. But we gave it a good effort. Just didn't come out good enough.
Q Jason, you touched upon that. What is kind of Greg's mindset now going into these final six races in a position that he's probably never been in before?
JASON LINE: Well, he's not standing on the roof right now. So he's really focused, I think, on trying to help me win the championship, which means help our team win the championship. So there's no question about it, we're all back at the shop Tuesday morning and back at work trying to make things better and understand where we went wrong. So his goal is the same as mine would be, trying to help our team win the championship.
Q The last few years it seems that Pro Stock has just been an unbelievably level playing field competitive wise. What is it that makes this class so competitive and the parity between manufacturers so close?
JASON LINE: It stinks, doesn't it? (Chuckling). We're doing everything we can to try to stop that. But it's just really hard. You have a fairly tight box to work in. And there's only so many roads to go down and eventually you all end up in the same place. And that's kind of where we're at now. And the devil's in the details. To try to separate yourself, it's difficult. So we're working hard on that, and I still believe we can separate ourselves a little bit. We showed moments of that at Indy this year. And my car has been very good the last four races here. And there's more to come and I hope we can put a little distance between ourselves and everyone else.
Q You talked about the last four races and how good your car has been. What did you find that has really stepped it up? Was it setup, engine, or a combination of both?
JASON LINE: I can't really tell you because you'll tell everybody else. It's never one thing. It's certainly a combination of things. But obviously the engine being the most accurate piece on the car is certainly the most important thing. It's definitely a combination of everything. But we just, like I said earlier, we have a direction now. We didn't have that earlier and kind of went around in circles. And now we've got good direction. So it's all going forward and I really feel like we're going to get stronger as the Countdown progresses.
Q Down here in Texas, I'm just wondering, when you all get here, is there any special challenges that the track here presents that you don't face anywhere else on the circuit?
JASON LINE: Crickets. A lot of crickets there. That's what we blamed on our starting line malfunction last year. But Gabrielle (Stevenson, track president) and the crew down there, they've done a nice job. They've made some improvements to the burnout box last year which we appreciated. We like coming to Texas. It's been a good racetrack for KB Racing and Summit. And I look forward to coming there.
Q We start off the Countdown in Charlotte, which has become your guys' home away from home for Minnesota natives like you and Greg. But does kicking off in Charlotte give you that little bit of extra confidence at a track that you guys are very familiar with?
JASON LINE: I don't know about that so much. But for me what it does it means an extra couple of days of work. So I think it's really it's an advantage to start here because I can work all through Thursday, and if I need to do something in the evening I can come back and work on something. So it is an advantage. And it's also pretty darned nice to be able to sleep in your own bed at night. That helps the brain a little bit. So I look forward to the Charlotte races and certainly look forward to this one.
Q Can you comment a bit about the season Erica Enders-Stevens has put together? She's really ramped it up this year. And right behind you as far as points.
JASON LINE: They've got a great team, obviously. Obviously if they hadn't skipped the two races, there's a really good chance you'd be talking to her right now and not me. So they've got a great team. And I said it before, I'll say it again, I'm glad I didn't take Richard Freeman's advice and skip two of them. So it's worked out good for us. But she does have a great race car right now. She's a great driver. She's certainly going to be tough to beat. I think there's no clear cut I guess leader as far as who is going to have the best chance to win the championship. It's going to be a tough grind right to the end.
Q I'm assuming you're putting Allen Johnson and Jeg Coughlin in that group, too, right?
JASON LINE: Absolutely, definitely. Allen is tough. And Jeg's always tough. They've got great power as well. Certainly can't forget about (Dave) Connolly. He's tough and Vincent Nobile. They're all tough. That's going to be a tough road. But that's what makes it satisfying when you win.
THE MODERATOR: Next up we have John Force, except for a few races this season, your car has been so consistent, one of the strongest ones within the field. How hard is it to keep up that high level of consistency all season long?
JOHN FORCE: We work as a team. If you look at my Traxxas Ford with Courtney (Force) and Robert Hight in the Auto Club Mustang, and me with Castrol, we work as a team. I think we've been in the last seven or eight final rounds. We won a bunch of them. Robert has won this Charlotte race, you know, the four lane. And then he won the regular two lane at the beginning of the Countdown the last two times he's been there. I got hot at the beginning of the year. I struggled. We got hot again. And something happened at testing. We tried some stuff, got off our game. I had to run the three in one against (Ron) Capps, and he took me out. And then we got back on our game with the Traxxas (Nitro Shootout), got the win there. And the (Alexis) DeJoria girl, doing a great job, took me out in the final at Indy. I didn't like it, but her dad did. So I've got girls, too, and I was excited for her. I didn't like losing. But now that's all gone. Indy's over. It's all about the Countdown. I need a championship as much as the other drivers out there want it. And my focus is going to be dead on.
Q In one of your post run interviews you made a comment that Castrol, you're still working with Castrol on maybe putting something together and extending the sponsorship. With having the fantastic year you've had, going in as the No. 1 seed, does that help you in your bid to make that happen?
JOHN FORCE: Understand something: Castrol and Ford have been nothing but good to me. We don't know if it's over. It's a matter that they allowed me to go looking. I've been talking to every manufacturer in Detroit, all the way to the other ones outside. Castrol, you know, a lot of things we're looking at, maybe not a car but maybe as the official oil. But we're talking to other companies about it. The ones that you know. We're just trying to stay in business. Yeah, I made a statement on TV, I oughta get out of the seat and I oughta be chasing money. I owe my kids to find the money. I work with JMI (Just Marketing International). They're a great group. Jon Flack, these guys work night and day to keep me in business. And we've got a lot of deals on the table and we've signed some. But we're not where we want to be. What I was getting at is I was entertaining all weekend at Indy, and I was running around with sponsors when I should have been focusing on my car. And I still went back and my daughter Ashley had to warm the car up. I got back in the car, of course and won the Traxxas (Nitro Shootout). I made the statement in emotion in winning against Robert Hight. It was like I ought to be chasing money. I didn't mean I was quitting. If I don't get the money to race, I will have to quit because my daughter Courtney has a deal with Traxxas. Robert with Auto Club, they're all strong. Brittany (Force) and I don't. And Brittany is going to race ahead of me. I made that promise to her, to her mother, and that's where it's going. But we're working to make it. And it's our job, our responsibility. We're big boys. We're going to stay in business and right now the focus is to win this championship to show them that John Force Racing is strong. We were lucky enough to get around Robert Hight. We got the lead. But always remember this: I won from the cellar going into the Countdown and so has Robert. Having a few points lead, nothing, makes you feel good. But right now I don't feel good any day of the week I wake up. I have a job to do. I owe my children. I owe the fans and I owe the sponsors that are with me to stay in business. And I owe NHRA. And I'm going to do it.
Q I'm just curious, how do you balance the concerns of being a competitive racer and the other stuff you're doing with the business? Are there enough hours in the day for you?
JOHN FORCE: There's not. That's the problem. I haven't been home in six weeks. I went home for one day to do a fishing trip with Tom McKernan of Auto Club. Robert was right back here at Indy. I leave here tomorrow, I head to Canada. I'm in Indy right now. I'm not going home. My laundry guy is a joke. He's shipping my clothes ahead of me to cities, suits and ties and stuff I gotta do, because I'm generating revenue in other markets. I'm trying to move back into Canada. I was up at London, Ontario. I'm looking at Edmonton and Calgary next year. On the West Coast, I'm going to Montreal this week for four days. I'll be at the racetrack doing press conferences for Canadian Racing League. So that's up there just trying to build money, trying to get back in a market to have people look at it because we've gotta go global. It's just not enough; every sponsor says do you do anything out of the country, anything in Mexico? We've gotta do it all. That's why I'm working. It's keeping me overloaded. But Robert has taken over as president of the company. And he runs the day to day business and I chase the money.
Q John, I've been fortunate to ask questions to great stars like you. Earlier this year I got to ask Larry King a question, and I mentioned to him probably nobody knows more about asking questions than him. And I got to thinking, it's like almost nobody knows more about winning than John Force. Could you talk a little bit about that?
JOHN FORCE: Did you say Larry King? A guy that's got bad hair like me. The boxing promoter, is that who you're talking about.
JOHN FORCE: That's Don King. Larry King, the TV guy. The talk show. He's got bad hair like me, too. What was the question?
Q Like Larry King, probably nobody knows more about questions than Larry King. Probably nobody knows more about winning than you, and your comment on that.
JOHN FORCE: Like Larry King, I don't do religion. I don't do politics. I don't go to places that I don't know. I talk drag racing. And bottom line, winning, there's more to it. You gotta have good sponsor money, which we have. Peak Antifreeze came onboard this year. I've got new people joining us. Mac Tools re-signed with us. You have to have money and then you buy the right people. But the key to that is being a team effort. Everybody has to work together. And that means they really gotta work together. If a car's in trouble and like us looking at budgets, got 115 employees, I'm having to cut some people and some of them are from the race teams. But the other teams, we can't all be in the final. So the other teams will have to join to make up for the people that we lose off that team. We won't lose them if we generate more revenue. But if we don't that's why I'm taking these shows around the country. And the point is once you get to a point where you've got a machine with a guy like Jimmy Prock and Mike Neff and John Medlen, Dean Antonelli, Ron Douglas, the list goes on, Todd Smith. When you get the best, then you gotta have a driver that can drive the race car, a driver like me. I'm teaching my daughters. Robert knows the game real good. But I study the other drivers. And I watched this DeJoria girl evolve. I was really excited about her, even when she whooped me, because the sport needs the women. My daughters, I want them to evolve the same way. The kid, it was her day. She did everything right. God bless her. Her dad loves her, just like I love my kids. And you can't be mad because somebody beats you and got the job done. But I'll be ready for her next time, even if she beats me again, but I'll keep driving. But the point is you gotta have heart. You gotta love getting up every day. You gotta love the need for speed to sit on that starting line. I'm stressed all day and I'm at a point where my wife says you look like you're going to pop. And all of a sudden the body goes down on that race car, the motor fires and there's another human being inside of me that all the world, all the pain, all the stress is gone because finally for those few minutes out there you do what you love to do. It's all about heart. It's all about winning. It's all about the fans. That's what it's all about. And I've never lost that. If I retired, I would go get me a car and I'd go racing. Even if it was a hobby, because when I drove a truck, I worked all week. Here's my 40 hours and then went and raced all weekend. Never slept. I lived it. I loved it that much. You gotta, if you are going to be a champion. Nobody knows winning more than me. I surround myself with good people. I treat them with respect. If I have a bad day and I get mad, I apologize. But at the end it's from a love of what I do. I'm the luckiest man on the earth that I can drive these race cars and now I get to be with my family and my grandkids at every national event. It's awesome. Does that answer that?
Q At the Shootout, with the fans, you walked over and you shared that trophy with the fans. Talk a little bit about that. That's a nice gesture.
JOHN FORCE: So many fans will call me or they'll e-mail. I don't e-mail, but my people will tell you, they've never seen a championship ring up close. They've never seen a trophy, an NHRA win trophy or a championship trophy. Never seen the Traxxas trophy. I won the first Traxxas Shootout, got the 100 grand back then. We were towing back. We were going to go to the stage, do the typical deal, and all of a sudden, it was: ‘No, stop right here.’ I gotta admit it, what motivates me and I walked into the gym in Indy the other day and people were clapping yesterday, like what's going on, because they were at the races. And man, just my energy went up. I was Superman. I got on the treadmill. I got working out. That's how I keep myself to race with the kid. But I'll tell you, even though I was calm and cool and everybody is like: Were you upset because you lost? No, I was proud of that kid because I got girls like DeJoria. But what I didn't want to do was jump up and down and make it look like I didn't care if I lost. It was all I could do to hold in the deal. I wanted to hug her and hug her dad. I went back over to winner's circle because I like winning. When I watch somebody circle like they have and watch them win, I'm excited about that, because that's what the game's all about. And there I am with this big old giant trophy. I just wanted to whip it out and show it to the fans. I held it up over my head. I'm in pretty good shape for an older guy. And they screamed. It gave me goosebumps on the back of my neck. I could have stood there for an hour. And later the calls we got: Thank you for sharing; you made us part of that Traxxas win, and that's what it's all about. That's what does it for me.
THE MODERATOR: Next up we have Doug Kalitta, driver of the Mac Tools dragster. Doug secured the No. 1 seed in the Countdown with two wins and seven runner-up finishes. He was also a No. 1 qualifier at five events this season. This is the first time Kalitta has been the No. 1 qualifier for the Countdown and he is gunning for his first Top Fuel world championship. Doug, your car has been really dominant during the course of the season. Does that give you any extra confidence going into this six race grind?
DOUG KALITTA: Oh, absolutely. I'm super proud of my guys, Jim (Oberhofer, crew chief), Troy (Fasching, asst crew chief), just all of them working together incredibly. We've got a good, consistent car. So, yeah, we're really excited about taking this thing to Charlotte and starting this countdown thing off and hopefully repeating the performance that we've had pretty much all year.
Q I wanted to look a few weeks ahead. When you come down here to Texas, does the facility present any unique challenges or opportunities you don't find anywhere else?
DOUG KALITTA: Well, we won there last year. So I'm pretty excited about going back there. Having hopefully the same success as what we had. So the Motorplex, Billy Meyer has that thing in as good a shape as it's been in from what I can remember. Every year he makes improvements. Just looking forward to going down there. I don't really see any major challenges other than just trying to qualify good and win the thing.
Q Doug, you've always been a really good competitor, year in, year out. And you've gotten wins before, but this year it just seems like just like everybody almost kind of expects to see you pulling off another great event. And talk a little bit about that, what that's like for you and your team to be able to the guy with the target on the back now?
DOUG KALITTA: It's what it's all about. Listening to the last part of what John was saying there, it's all about the heart and then winning these things. And just wanting it just as bad or worse than anybody else out there is what keeps you out there. So our class is incredibly competitive. Just any one of the cars can win the thing, the top 16 on a Sunday. So like you say, though, my car has been more consistent this year than it's been in a number of years, it's probably the best year that I've had that I can remember. So that's our mission for sure is to go to each one of these things, qualify good, be consistent and be ready and going rounds on Sunday. We definitely plan on continuing what we've been doing.
Q As far as your team goes, how has that affected your team this year, to be able to have those good results?
DOUG KALITTA: It's definitely brought the confidence up. And obviously with Alexis winning her races. We've had J.R. (Todd, teammate) winning there in Denver. We've got a lot of positive stuff going on within our organization. And we're all feeding off one another. And obviously with Alexis winning in Indy, that was huge for all of the four teams. And we're going to be definitely ready, hit the ground running when we get to Dallas and really the next six races, the excitement, just what the Countdown format has brought our sport. And for the fans, too, it will be fun to watch and be a part of.
Q You talked about J.R. Todd, how important was that to get him into the top 10 there?
DOUG KALITTA: If you're in the top 10, you've got a shot at winning the championship. So he's super excited. He's doing a great job driving the thing. And obviously Connie (Kalitta, team owner), it's a big relief for really everybody at Kalitta Motorsports to get all four of our cars in the Countdown this year. But particularly for the guys on that team and Connie and J.R., I mean it brings life to the team knowing you've got a shot at it. And they'll be ready, I'm sure, just like the rest of our four teams or three teams, I guess.
Q To that point, that's an accomplishment in itself to get across the Top Fuel and Funny Car to get all those teams in there. Is Connie really starting to get the right pieces and not physical pieces, but kind of moving everybody around, getting everybody kind of where they need to be to get that success you're having?
DOUG KALITTA: Yeah, I think you can see it in the results that we're having with all of our teams. So we've definitely got Tommy D. (Delago). We've got Del (Worsham) and Jon O. (Oberhofer), just the whole Nick Boninfante. We've got some great people like you say Connie and Jim and everybody there worked real hard at putting the people in the right places. It's a good effort. We're pretty proud of what we've put together.
The CARS X-1R Pro Cup Series visits the Southern National Motorsports Park in Lucama, NC for the Golden Leaf 200
The four race Championship Series to decide the 2014 X-1R Pro Cup Series champion and the AFR Rookie of the Year kicks off this weekend at Southern National. Southern National is where the 2014 season began for the X-1R Pro Cup Series, and it’s also where Caleb Holman took the win and the championship points lead and has held it ever since. In March Holman started from the pole position and lead 197 of 200 laps en route to the victory, only giving up the lead for three laps on the series redraw at the halfway break. Now with the redraw out of the question for the championship series, and knowing what it takes to win at the Lucama, North Carolina track, this weekend could result in Holman and his Food Country USA team sweeping both races at Southern National.
Although Holman may be the clear favorite, fellow veteran JP Morgan knows what it takes to win a championship having done so in 2012.
Right behind them is pair of hungry youngsters in the form of Reid Wilson and Brady Boswell that could easily get on a hot streak and pull off a big upset. Veteran Jeff Oakley will also be in the hunt as he sits just seven points back and has invested a bit extra in his operation gearing up for 2014 championship run.
While the championship battle will be taking place drivers like Benny Gordon, Brian Keselowski, Gus Dean, along with newcomer Doug Barns Jr. and Jeremy Mayfield just want to win races and the $8,000 payday that comes with it.
In addition to the reset of the points, gone away is the redraw at the halfway break leading to straight up starts for the remainder of the year. Bonus points for leading a lap, leading at halfway, and winning the pole could be a big factor in crowning the series champion. It’s anyone’s guess right now who will walk away with the championship trophy at seasons end, but one thing is certain, a win this weekend at Southern National would give someone a big leg on the competition.
All season Codie Rohrbaugh has paced the 2014 X-1R Pro Cup Series rookie crop by a large margin, but after the points reset for the four race championship series Rohrbaugh’s lead is now just two points over Tyler Lester and Matt Craig. Lester won earlier this season at Myrtle Beach driving for former series champion Benny Gordon; while Kannapolis, North Carolina youngster Matt Craig has brought his family owned JCR3 Racing team back to glory in the series with a pair of third place finishes at Motor Mile. Rohrbaugh’s saving grace may be the fact that both Lester and Craig won’t have raced enough events at season’s end to be eligible to be crowned the 2014 Air Flow Research Rookie of the Year despite where they finish in the standings.
For more information on the X-1R Pro Cup Series including news, results, and photos visit the series website at www.x1rprocup.com.