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NHRA Las Vegas: Tanner Gray becomes youngest Pro Stock winner; Antron Brown, Tommy Johnson Jr. also win

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Third-generation drag racer Tanner Gray proved Sunday that winning is a family tradition.

Gray became the youngest driver in NHRA history to win a national Pro Stock event final, capturing the Denso Spark Plus Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Gray (6.681 seconds at 206.61 mph) defeated Bo Butner (6.678 seconds at 206.76 mph) in the final round of eliminations to earn the win. Other winners included Antron Brown (Top Fuel) and Tommy Johnson Jr. (Funny Car).

The 17-year-old Gray, who turns 18 on April 15, joins father Shane and grandfather Johnny as NHRA national event winners.

Gray was rather humble in his reaction to the win.

“I can’t thank everybody enough,” Gray said in a media release. “My crew is definitely the reason I’m here. I do a small part. It feels really cool.

“I was pretty nervous. This was something I wanted to do since I was real young and I finally got the opportunity to do it. When I started this deal I told my dad I wanted to be the youngest Pro Stock winner. To be able to do that feels really cool.”

In Top Fuel, two-time defending (and three times in the last five seasons) NHRA champ Antron Brown (3.747 seconds at 321.04 mph) grabbed his first win of the season, defeating teammate Tony Schumacher (3.809 seconds at 325.14 mph).

It was the second straight win at Las Vegas for Brown – who handed Don Schumacher his 300th NHRA win as a team owner – and his 46th career Top Fuel win.

“Today was tough battles,” Brown said. “When you race two of your teammates (Schumacher and Leah Pritchett), you know you got a battle on your hands because you all have the same quality parts.

“And when you go up there you have to throw everything up there. Especially with Tony he hasn’t been an eight-time champion for nothing. Buddy, he knows how to race. We had to push hard.”

With the win, Brown became the first driver in NHRA history to earn at least one victory in 10 consecutive seasons.

In Funny Car, another DSR driver came home with the winning trophy, as Tommy Johnson Jr. (3.933 seconds at 323.66 mph) defeated Jonnie Lindberg (4.016/302.14).

It was Johnson’s first win of the season as well as his first win at Las Vegas since 2001. Meanwhile, Swedish native Lindberg notched his second consecutive runner-up this season.

“Today was a pretty trying today,” Johnson Jr. said. “It was pretty hot. Probably the hottest track we’ve seen this season yet. The guys did a great job. When we came out first round and were low ET by at least three hundredths I thought, ‘Oh, it’s going to be a good day.’ This is just a great facility. When I come in the gate I have a good feeling because I’ve had some success here, a win prior to this, and a couple runner-up finishes.”

The Denso Nationals was the fourth event on the 24-race national event schedule. The series now takes the next two weeks off, returning for the NHRA SpringNationals, April 21-23, at Royal Purple Raceway near Houston, Texas.

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FINAL FINISHING ORDER:

TOP FUEL: 1.  Antron Brown; 2.  Tony Schumacher; 3.  Doug Kalitta; 4.  Leah Pritchett; 5.  Terry McMillen; 6.  Steve Torrence; 7.  Brittany Force; 8.  Clay Millican; 9.  Steven Chrisman; 10.  Troy Coughlin Jr.; 11.  Steve Faria; 12.  Troy Buff; 13.  Scott Palmer; 14.  Tripp Tatum; 15.  Terry Haddock.

FUNNY CAR: 1.  Tommy Johnson Jr.; 2.  Jonnie Lindberg; 3.  John Force; 4.  Gary Densham; 5.  Matt Hagan; 6.  Alexis DeJoria; 7.  Jack Beckman; 8.  Robert Hight; 9.  Jim Campbell; 10.  Tim Wilkerson; 11.  Courtney Force; 12.  Ron Capps; 13.  Phil Burkart; 14.  Del Worsham; 15.  Cruz Pedregon; 16.  J.R. Todd.

PRO STOCK: 1.  Tanner Gray; 2.  Bo Butner; 3.  Jason Line; 4.  Jeg Coughlin; 5.  Erica Enders; 6.  Greg Anderson; 7.  Shane Gray; 8.  Chris McGaha; 9.  Allen Johnson; 10.  Deric Kramer; 11.  Vincent Nobile; 12.  Alan Prusiensky; 13.  Tom Huggins; 14.  Matt Hartford; 15.  Drew Skillman.

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FINAL RESULTS:

 Top Fuel: Antron Brown, 3.747 seconds, 321.04 mph def. Tony Schumacher, 3.809 seconds, 325.14 mph.

Funny Car: Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger, 3.933, 323.66 def. Jonnie Lindberg, Toyota Camry, 4.016, 302.14.

Pro Stock: Tanner Gray, Chevy Camaro, 6.681, 206.61 def. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.678, 206.76.

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FINAL ROUND-BY-ROUND RESULTS:

TOP FUEL: ROUND ONE — Clay Millican, 4.057, 230.84 def. Tripp Tatum, 10.253, 77.26; Leah Pritchett, 3.756, 328.30 def. Troy Buff, 5.415, 128.19; Brittany Force, 3.762, 329.26 def. Steve Faria, 4.505, 180.96; Tony Schumacher, 3.767, 327.98 def. Terry Haddock, Broke – No Show; Steve Torrence, 3.765, 324.51 was unopposed; Doug Kalitta, 3.743, 326.40 def. Steven Chrisman, 4.104, 248.48; Terry McMillen, 4.227, 269.03 def. Troy Coughlin Jr., 4.230, 194.32; Antron Brown, 3.752, 325.53 def. Scott Palmer, 5.501, 125.27;

QUARTERFINALS — Schumacher, 3.865, 316.45 def. McMillen, 3.916, 311.70; Pritchett, 3.770, 328.06 def. Force, 4.872, 153.39; Brown, 3.822, 318.24 def. Torrence, 4.035, 276.41; Kalitta, 3.778, no speed def. Millican, 4.913, 153.51;

SEMIFINALS — Schumacher, 3.775, 320.97 def. Kalitta, 3.782, 326.87; Brown, 3.797, 320.89 def. Pritchett, 3.919, 311.20;

FINAL — Brown, 3.747, 321.04 def. Schumacher, 3.809, 325.14.

FUNNY CAR: ROUND ONE — Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 4.036, 312.86 def. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.801, 173.01; Gary Densham, Mustang, 4.079, 287.29 def. Courtney Force, Camaro, 5.118, 153.39; Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 3.970, 328.54 def. Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 6.251, 118.97; Jonnie Lindberg, Camry, 4.332, 250.37 def. Ron Capps, Charger, 5.607, 125.26; Jack Beckman, Charger, 7.322, 90.06 def. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, Foul – Red Light; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.943, 320.97 def. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.714, 181.28; John Force, Camaro, 4.454, 213.64 def. Phil Burkart, Charger, 5.853, 124.97; Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.054, 320.97 def. J.R. Todd, Camry, 9.752, 77.54;

QUARTERFINALS — Johnson Jr., 4.068, 268.71 def. Hight, Broke; J. Force, 3.987, 321.81 def. Hagan, 4.043, 318.24; Lindberg, 4.017, 325.37 def. Beckman, 4.096, 312.42; Densham, 4.551, 190.73 def. DeJoria, Foul – Red Light;

SEMIFINALS — Lindberg, 3.991, 318.92 def. Densham, 5.916, 126.78; Johnson Jr., 3.997, 319.45 def. J. Force, 4.128, 282.13;

FINAL — Johnson Jr., 3.933, 323.66 def. Lindberg, 4.016, 302.14.

PRO STOCK: ROUND ONE — Shane Gray, Chevy Camaro, 6.703, 207.21 def. Drew Skillman, Camaro, Foul – Red Light; Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.734, 206.07 def. Matt Hartford, Camaro, Foul – Red Light; Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.683, 207.11 def. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.785, 205.94; Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.665, 206.51 def. Deric Kramer, Dodge Dart, Foul – Red Light; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.676, 203.31 def. Allen Johnson, Dart, 6.721, 205.41; Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.659, 206.64 def. Alan Prusiensky, Dart, 6.827, 177.00; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.673, 205.79 was unopposed; Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.747, 206.48 def. Tom Huggins, Dart, 6.842, 202.67;

QUARTERFINALS — Coughlin, 6.751, 206.10 def. McGaha, 20.745, 32.12; Line, 6.695, 206.10 def. S. Gray, 6.732, 205.91; T. Gray, 6.702, 206.57 def. Anderson, 6.717, 206.42; Butner, 6.695, 206.45 def. Enders, 6.713, 206.80;

SEMIFINALS — T. Gray, 6.691, 206.67 def. Line, 6.703, 206.26; Butner, 6.714, 206.42 def. Coughlin, 6.739, 205.10;

FINAL — T. Gray, 6.681, 206.61 def. Butner, 6.678, 206.76.

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UPDATED POINT STANDINGS:

Top Fuel: 1.  Tony Schumacher, 382; 2.  Leah Pritchett, 376; 3.  Antron Brown, 357; 4.  Doug Kalitta, 301; 5.  Brittany Force, 258; 6.  Steve Torrence, 251; 7.  Clay Millican, 187; 8.  Troy Coughlin Jr., 176; 9.  Terry McMillen, 164; 10.  Scott Palmer, 148.

Funny Car: 1.  Matt Hagan, 368; 2.  Tommy Johnson Jr., 324; 3.  John Force, 314; 4.  Ron Capps, 275; 5.  Courtney Force, 218; 6.  Jack Beckman, 205; 7.  Robert Hight, 201; 8.  Jonnie Lindberg, 183; 9.  Jim Campbell, 180; 10.  J.R. Todd, 170.

Pro Stock: 1.  Greg Anderson, 380; 2.  Jason Line, 367; 3.  Bo Butner, 299; 4.  Tanner Gray, 296; 5.  Shane Gray, 278; 6.  Jeg Coughlin, 266; 7.  Erica Enders, 219; 8.  Chris McGaha, 193; 9.  Drew Skillman, 190; 10.  Vincent Nobile, 183.

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Fernando Alonso completes first test with United Autosports

Photo: United Autosports
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Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso enjoyed his first outing with United Autosports, with whom he will contest the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, in their Ligier JS P217 LMP2 chassis.

The McLaren Formula 1 driver completed the test at Motorland Aragon in Spain alongside co-driver Phil Hanson, who will be a teammate with Alonso at next year’s 24-hour Daytona enduro. Filipe Albuquerque, a former GT class winner at the Rolex 24, was also on hand to help Alonso and the team ahead of Alonso’s first run in an LMP2 car, which comes only a couple days after he made his LMP1 testing debut with Toyota. Albuquerque races with Mustang Sampling Racing in IMSA, but will return to United’s European Le Mans Series program for all but one race in 2018.

“I had a great first test with United Autosports. Obviously, we are on a really tight schedule between now and Daytona, but it was nice to jump in the car for the first time,” said Alonso, who will rejoin the team at the official Roar Before the 24 test on January 5-7.

Alonso added, “There’s quite a few switches and things to study so it was important to do this initial shakedown before Daytona, so I could fully learn about the car. I’m happy with everything – the car felt great and the team were fantastic. The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so today has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”

Team owner Zak Brown, who also serves as executive director of McLaren Technology Group and helps lead the McLaren Formula 1 effort, shared Alonso’s enthusiasm and was not surprised he was able to acclimate himself relatively quickly.

“Fernando’s first test with United Autosports went awesome as expected. He is a world champion and it is a pleasure to have him in our car,” he said of Alonso’s debut with the team.

Alonso is currently schedule to contest the Rolex 24 with the aforementioned Hanson and McLaren test driver Lando Norris.