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Speed looks to rebound from disqualification

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Speed looks to rebound from disqualification

NHRA Funny Car champion John Force of Yorba Linda is racing in the Sonoma Nationals this weekend.

Photo by DALE BOSOWSKI/


POSTED July 24, 2014 12:17 a.m.

A pair of red flag-causing incidents whittled down the Supercars field in Sunday’s Volkswagen Rallycross NY from 12 to nine cars during the race, and unfortunately for Manteca native Scott Speed one more following the event.

The third restart saw the final trimmed to six laps. Hard luck Tanner Foust grabbed the win over a hard-charging Speed who overcame a rough start to pass multiple cars and eventually get by the Brazilian Nelson Piquet Jr. for the runner-up spot and a supposed 1-2 finish for the Andretti Autosport Volkswagen team.

Following the event, Speed’s team was determined to have violated a regulation, which states that a team may only complete certain specified repairs during the event of a red flag. Because the infraction took place during the first red flag period, Speed was disqualified from the point of the repair forward, dropping him to ninth in the running order.

The resulting point swing saw Speed go from leading Piquet in points to trailing him by a 184-149 margin.

“Obviously it was a ‘not to plan’ weekend for the No. 77 7UP Volkswagen. We were the fastest car all weekend during practice and heat sessions and then we just had some engine problems with our starts,” said Speed. “The Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross team did an incredible job, the car definitely took a beating out there as we were pushing through the field, so I cannot thank them enough for their hard work”

As the defending champion at The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the Mt. Holly, N.C. resident hopes to capture his third win of the season in front of the hometown crowd for event No. 5 on the schedule this Saturday.

“The disqualification is very unfortunate. This obviously puts us in a tough position to regain those points, but I’m confident we can fight our way back in the championship. We’ll get our revenge this weekend in Charlotte.”

Several exciting events will also be taking place throughout Northern California over the next couple of weeks:



Sonoma Raceway

The NHRA returns to scenic Sonoma Raceway this weekend for the 27th annual NHRA Sonoma Nationals.

Sonoma, which features a remarkable 660-foot concrete launch pad, not to mention it’s only 15 feet above sea level, is one of the favorite stops on the 24-event Mello Yellow Drag Race Series schedule for the drivers.

“Everybody loves going to Sonoma,” said 2012 NHRA Top Fuel champ Antron Brown. “The racing is great… it’s always enjoyable out there and you get to sip a little wine if you get a win. And we definitely love winning there.”

Brown, who has three Sonoma Nationals Top Fuel wins to his credit since 2009, says the surroundings put him in the right mindset to race.

“I always love going to Sonoma,” he said. “It’s always been a great track for us. You go up there and enjoy the sights that you see in wine country. It’s some really beautiful scenery.”

The climate is also right up any drag racer’s alley, according to Brown.

“The track is right at sea level. It could be the middle of summer, but in the evening it gets really cool with the breezes. We always get amped up as racers at Sonoma because we know it’s going to be a good race. We can run some phenomenal ETs there and the track surface is one of the best out there. “

Brown, who swept NHRA’s Western Swing (Denver, Seattle, and Sonoma) in 2009, loves the vibe he gets from Sonoma’s knowledgeable and passionate fans.

“The fans are incredible,” he said. “On Friday we have bigger crowds than at most other racetracks, and they do an incredible job there. The fans are lined up from Friday through Sunday.

Ron Capps, the defending Sonoma Nationals Funny Car champ and a four-time winner, is a California native who loves being able to race so close to where he grew up.

“It is a home track for me, personally, growing up just a few hours from there (San Luis Obispo),” Capps said. “It’s a great racing surface. For the crew chiefs, it’s a really exciting place to go. For the drivers, knowing your crew chief can throw everything at it and there’s a chance of a national record falling on that Friday night session. Friday night, under the lights, flames. There’s nothing like it.”

Just how much does Capps loves Sonoma? He has attended every NHRA national event at the track since NHRA’s inaugural race there 26 years ago, either as a fan or a competitor.

“This is where I grew up, met my wife and got married. There are so many great memories there for me.”

After 14 events on the 2014 schedule, Brown trails Doug Kalitta by 25 points in the Top Fuel standings, Capps sits in third behind Robert Hight and 16-time champion John Force in Funny Car and Erica Enders-Stevens leads in the Pro Stock division.

For more info visit www.racesonoma.com/tickets; 800-870-RACE (7223)



Stockton 99

The Spears Manufacturing SRL Southwest Tour returns to Stockton 99 Speedway this Saturday to kickoff the second half of its 2014 10-race schedule.

Derek Thorn, of Lakeport, holds a narrow 837 to 825 advantage over Jeremy Doss, of Upperlake, in the latest SRL points. Manteca’s Ross Strmiska sits in fourth with 751 points and Jacob Gomes resides in sixth with 699.

Also racing on this Saturday’s 99 program will be the NCMA, Basic 4-Cylinders and Pure Stocks.

The Peter Murphy Classic will also take place this Saturday night at the Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway with the King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series. Featuring such stars as current points leader Kyle Hirst of Chico and Campbell’s Brent Kaeding, the open wheel 700hp monsters will be racing for a big $5,000-to-win/ $700-to-start purse.

Next weekend on August 2 the King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series comes to the Stockton Dirt Track along with the Joe Hunt Magnetos Wingless Sprint Car Series, CSRA and Vintage Super Modifieds & Champ Cars.



Modesto Grand Prix

The city of Modesto will play host to the Southern California based SuperKarts in a three-day festival on August 1-3 with the inaugural Modesto Grand Prix.

Over 300 professional go-kart drivers from around the country are expected to compete on the temporary 11-corner Formula One style street circuit in the heart of downtown. The city expects a crowd of up to 15,000 will line the route to watch the open-wheel SuperKarts that can reach speeds in excess of 100 mph!

For more information visit www.modestogp.com.

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