Kyle Busch returns after two races off, earns pole for tonight’s Trucks race at Kentucky, seeks 5th win of 2014

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After a couple of races off, Kyle Busch is back racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in Thursday’s UNOH 225 at Kentucky Speedway.

And not surprisingly, Busch, who has won four of the first seven NCWTS races this season, is ready to go out and win his fifth after earning the pole position during Thursday afternoon’s qualifying session.

Busch’s best lap around the 1.5-mile tri-oval at was 175.884 mph (30.702 seconds).

Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr., who won the last NCWTS race two weeks ago at Gateway Motorsports Park in suburban St. Louis, qualified on the outside of the front row (175.615 mph).

That puts two Kyle Busch Motorsports trucks side-by-side at the front of the field for tonight’s race, the first time that has happened in team history.

“I can’t say enough about the KBM guys, another nice job this weekend,” Busch said on Fox Sports 1. “I’m also proud to see Bubba right there with us, as well, too. Hopefully, we can finish it the way we started like we should have been last week (Erik Jones drove for Busch in the No. 51 truck at Gateway, but was involved in a late wreck while leading the race, preventing a 1-2 finish with Wallace).”

Jeb Burton qualified third (175.194 mph), followed by Ben Kennedy (175.046), points leader Johnny Sauter (174.978) and German Quiroga Jr. (174.893), who was fastest in both practices earlier in the day.

“It’s good. When we start there, it’s fine,” Quiroga said. “We know we have a very good truck, have been very fast all day long and am pretty confident we can make a very good start, run in the top three all night and hopefully finish winning the race. I’m hoping to get my first win here.”

Quiroga said after finishing second to Wallace at Gateway that he felt his first career NCWTS win may be right around the corner. If he can get by Busch tonight, no easy feat obviously, that’s a distinct possibility.

Quiroga’s Red Horse Racing teammate, Timothy Peters, qualified seventh (174.814), followed by Ron Hornaday Jr. (174.160), Joey Coulter (173.667), Ryan Blaney (172.966), Matt Crafton (171.892) and Tayler Malsam (174.379).

Also of note, Busch, Keselowski and Joe Nemechek are entered in all three races this weekend at Kentucky — the Truck Series, Nationwide Series and Sprint Cup events.

Busch is also hoping to win all three for only the second time in NASCAR history, having become the first and only driver to date to do so back in August 2010 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Here’s how the field for tonight’s UNOH 225 will take the green flag:

Row 1: Kyle Busch, Darrell Wallace Jr.

Row 2: Jeb Burton, Ben Kennedy

Row 3: Johnny Sauter, German Quiroga Jr.

Row 4: Timothy Peters, Ron Hornaday Jr.

Row 5: Joey Coulter, Ryan Blaney

Row 6: Matt Crafton, Tayler Malsam

Row 7: Max Gresham, Brad Keselowski

Row 8: Corey Lajoie, Bryan Silas

Row 9: John Wes Townley, Joe Nemechek

Row 10: Chase Pistone, Mason Mingus

Row 11: Caleb Holman, Tyler Young

Row 12: Austin Dillon, JJ Yeley

Row 13: T.J. Bell, Jimmy Weller

Row 14: Jennifer Jo Cobb, Justin Jennings

Row 15: Charles Lewandoski, Norm Benning

Row 16: Adam Edwards, Ryan Ellis

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NHRA: Schumacher, C. Force, Kramer No. 1 qualifiers at Phoenix

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NHRA press release

The 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season continued Saturday as Courtney Force set both ends of the Funny Car track record at the 34th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park.

Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel) and Deric Kramer (Pro Stock) are also No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories at the second of 24 events on the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

Force took over the top spot in the category with a record run of 3.826 seconds at 335.98 mph in her Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro during her second pass of the day. After recording seven No. 1 qualifiers in 2017, she is aiming for her first event victory since Houston 2016.

“That last pass today was pretty incredible, we have run well here in the past and I’m excited to be back in that top spot,” Force said. “We are hoping to turn this consistency into a win, we just have to keep being consistent on race day.”

Force is set to face off against Del Worsham in round one of eliminations on Sunday. Ron Capps sits second after a 3.844 at 330.80 in his Napa Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T during the final pass of qualifying on Saturday. The defending Funny Car champion Robert Hight qualified 11th after a 3.927 at 329.26.

Schumacher led the category with a run of 3.649 at 334.65 in his U.S. Army dragster posted during the first qualifying session on Friday. Schumacher also set the Top Fuel national speed record at 336.57 with a time of 3.667 seconds during his second pass on Friday. After securing four No. 1 qualifiers in the 2017 season, Schumacher locked in his first of the year in day two of qualifying.

“We earned our three points and kept the top spot so it’s been a great weekend for us so far,” Schumacher said. “The car continues to be great and [crew chief] Mike Neff is comfortable and knows what the car is doing, so I think tomorrow is going to be great day.”

He will go head-to-head against Greg Carrillo in round one of eliminations on Sunday. Steve Torrence qualified second after a 3.665 at 331.45 in his Capco Contractors dragster, while the defending world champion Brittany Force qualified in the 14th spot.

In Pro Stock, Kramer took over the top spot after driving to a 6.522 at 210.80 run in his American Ethanol Dodge Dart during the fourth qualifying session of the weekend. He secured the first No. 1 qualifying position of his career as Kramer also chases his first-ever victory in the class.

“It feels great to get that first No. 1 qualifier, and we had a great package put together this weekend and that was able to move us to the top,” Kramer said. “There were definitely some tuning adjustments from Pomona, but we went back to our old game plan with that KB power and it was a great combination.”

Kramer matches up against Alan Prusiensky in the first round of eliminations. Erica Enders is second in the qualifying order after a 6.527 at 209.98, while Alex Laughlin sits in the third spot.

Eliminations begin at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday.

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Sunday’s first-round pairings for eliminations.

TOP FUEL: 1. Tony Schumacher, 3.649 seconds, 336.57 mph vs. 16. Greg Carrillo, 4.227, 220.91; 2. Steve Torrence, 3.655, 331.85 vs. 15. Steven Chrisman, 4.089, 281.30; 3. Clay Millican, 3.664, 335.23 vs. 14. Brittany Force, 3.828, 253.52; 4. Leah Pritchett, 3.679, 334.15 vs. 13. Troy Buff, 3.809, 318.77; 5. Richie Crampton, 3.683, 325.30 vs. 12. Scott Palmer, 3.788, 326.63; 6. Billy Torrence, 3.697, 331.45  vs. 11. Doug Kalitta, 3.742, 328.78; 7. Blake Alexander, 3.705, 332.59 vs. 10. Terry McMillen, 3.740, 325.85; 8. Antron Brown, 3.712, 333.66 vs. 9. Mike Salinas, 3.737, 326.32.

Did Not Qualify: 17. Kebin Kinsley, 5.118, 136.79; 18. Terry Totten, 8.158, 69.73; 19. Terry Haddock, 10.095, 91.23.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.826, 335.98 vs. 16. Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 5.089, 173.99; 2. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 3.844, 330.80 vs. 15. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.551, 182.82; 3. Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.845, 332.43 vs. 14. Richard Townsend, Camry, 4.244, 235.27; 4. John Force, Camaro, 3.864, 332.51 vs. 13. Jeff Diehl, Camry, 4.120, 307.79; 5. Jonnie Lindberg, Camry, 3.866, 317.27 vs. 12. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 3.971, 316.75; 6. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.879, 329.91 vs. 11. Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.927, 329.26; 7. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 3.888, 333.25 vs. 10. Shawn Langdon, Camry, 3.927, 329.42; 8. J.R. Todd, Camry, 3.919, 324.20 vs. 9. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.926, 330.88.

Did Not Qualify: 17. Jim Campbell, 7.402, 91.58.

PRO STOCK: 1. Deric Kramer, Chevy Camaro, 6.522, 211.00 vs. 16. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 6.663, 207.94; 2. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.527, 209.98 vs. 15. Steve Graham, Camaro, 6.659, 208.55; 3. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.529, 209.59 vs. 14. Val Smeland, Camaro, 6.640, 209.69; 4. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.530, 211.66 vs. 13. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.581, 209.82; 5. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.531, 211.03 vs. 12. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.567, 210.08; 6. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.532, 210.60 vs. 11. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.553, 210.14; 7. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.534, 211.63 vs. 10. Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.550, 210.41; 8. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.542, 210.05 vs. 9. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.550, 211.39.

Did Not Qualify: 17. Joey Grose, 6.720, 206.64.