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NHRA: Schumacher, C. Force, Anderson head into Sunday’s Las Vegas finals as No. 1 qualifiers

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NHRA MEDIA RELEASE

LAS VEGAS – Greg Anderson raced to victory in the K&N Horsepower Challenge at the 19th annual DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals on Saturday afternoon at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Anderson’s 6.731-second pass at 205.47 mph in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro bested the defending world champion Bo Butner who red-lit in the final round of the specialty race to secure the $50,000 prize.

Anderson also secured his second No. 1 qualifier of the season with a 6.669 at 206.45 run that stood strong from the weekend’s first round of qualifying on Friday.

“It’s an honor to race for that K&N check, they have been great supporters of this class for years and it definitely gave me a confidence boost heading into race day,” Anderson said. “This is two weeks in a row I’ve gotten a No. 1 qualifying position and I know I have the car, crew chief and team to turn things around.”

He opened the challenge as the No. 1 seed and outran Vincent Nobile and Drew Skillman to advance to the finals. It was Anderson’s seventh career victory and third consecutive in the Pro Stuck bonus event. Anderson is set to take on Joey Grose, Vincent Nobile and Erica Enders in the first round of eliminations on Sunday.

In other racing, Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel) and Courtney Force (Funny Car) secured the No. 1 qualifying positions in their respective categories at the fourth of 24 events on the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

Schumacher moved into the top spot with his 3.765 run at 328.46 in his U.S. Army dragster during the fourth qualifying session. This is the 86th No. 1 qualifier of his career and second of the season after also locking down the top spot in Phoenix.

“It was warmer out than we expected but the track is better than our grip meter was saying, and we made the run that we expected to in that final pass,” Schumacher said. “I’m comfortable racing with this team and at this track, and we are going to come out and try to win tomorrow against some tough competition.”

Schumacher will face off against Steve Chrisman, Scott Palmer and Terry McMillen in round one of eliminations.

Teammate Antron Brown qualified second in Top Fuel after his 3.772 at 324.83 in his Matco Tools dragster during the second round of qualifying, while defending Top Fuel champion Brittany Force is third headed into Sunday.

In Funny Car, Force took home the top qualifying position after driving to a 3.927 at 326.40 in her Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro during the fourth qualifying round. She locked in her second No. 1 qualifier of the season and the 19th of her career.

“We’ve had some decent passes throughout qualifying, but we kept it on all eight cylinders in that final round and had a much more solid pass,” Force said. “It’s great to be out here at a track where the crew chiefs are really challenged but are able to really show their knowledge over the course of the weekend.”

Force will match up against Jim Campbell, Cruz Pedregon and Jonnie Lindberg when eliminations get underway.

Tommy Johnson Jr. enters Sunday second in Funny Car qualifying with a 3.932 at 318.84 in his Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T, while J.R. Todd qualified in the third slot.

Eliminations for the 19th annual DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals will begin at noon PT on Sunday, as the four-wide racing experience continues for the first time for fans on the West Coast. Watch the action live on FOX Sports 1 at 6 p.m. ET.

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LAS VEGAS — First-round pairings for professional eliminations Sunday for the 19th annual DENSO Spark Plug NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the fourth of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Pairings based on results in qualifying, which ended Saturday. DNQs listed below pairings.

TOP FUEL: 1. Tony Schumacher, 3.765 seconds, 328.46 mph vs. 16. Steven Chrisman, 12.555, 35.31 vs. 8. Scott Palmer, 3.815, 322.73 vs. 9. Terry McMillen, 3.819, 319.52; 2. Antron Brown, 3.772, 324.83 vs. 15. Terry Totten, 4.267, 235.27 vs. 7. Leah Pritchett, 3.798, 323.35 vs. 10. Mike Salinas, 3.820, 308.43; 3. Brittany Force, 3.773, 324.05 vs. 14. Terry Haddock, 4.025, 272.45 vs. 6. Doug Kalitta, 3.786, 320.58 vs. 11. Richie Crampton, 3.829, 313.66; 4. Billy Torrence, 3.776, 325.06 vs. 13. Clay Millican, 3.987, 236.46 vs. 5. Steve Torrence, 3.783, 326.63 vs. 12. Troy Buff, 3.931, 283.37.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.927, 326.40 vs. 16. Jim Campbell, Dodge Charger, 4.137, 303.03 vs. 8. Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 3.993, 316.23 vs. 9. Jonnie Lindberg, Camry, 3.998, 311.05; 2. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.932, 318.84 vs. 15. Del Worsham, Camry, 4.048, 312.93 vs. 7. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.987, 322.96 vs. 10. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.000, 318.02; 3. J.R. Todd, Camry, 3.952, 319.67 vs. 14. Shawn Langdon, Camry, 4.040, 304.87 vs. 6. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 3.968, 320.51 vs. 11. John Force, Camaro, 4.018, 314.39; 4. Ron Capps, Charger, 3.953, 321.50 vs. 13. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.028, 310.05 vs. 5. Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.963, 321.42 vs. 12. Gary Densham, Mustang, 4.021, 306.26.

Did Not Qualify: 17. Jeff Diehl, 4.153, 303.91; 18. Jeff Arend, 4.202, 288.83; 19. Bob Bode, 4.244, 239.27; 20. Phil Burkart, 4.260, 288.52.

PRO STOCK: 1. Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.669, 206.45 vs. 16. Joey Grose, Camaro, 6.916, 201.28 vs. 8. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.718, 204.88 vs. 9. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.721, 204.35; 2. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.681, 205.63 vs. 15. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 6.844, 202.76 vs. 7. Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.710, 204.94 vs. 10. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.722, 205.51; 3. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.702, 205.32 vs. 14. Steve Graham, Camaro, 6.797, 203.25 vs. 6. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.709, 204.63 vs. 11. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.724, 205.51; 4. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.704, 205.72 vs. 13. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.752, 204.05 vs. 5. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.705, 205.10 vs. 12. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.734, 205.38.

K&N HORSEPOWER CHALLENGE:

ROUND ONE — Drew Skillman, Chevy Camaro, 6.724, 205.51 def. Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.998, 168.60; Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.752, 203.71 def. Jason Line, Camaro, Foul – Red Light; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.689, 206.20 def. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.721, 204.35; Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.716, 203.52 def. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.718, 204.57;

SEMIFINALS — Butner, 6.751, 203.16 def. Skillman, 6.769, 204.79; Anderson, 6.749, 204.88 def. Coughlin, 6.795, 202.39;

FINAL — Anderson, 6.731, 205.47 def. Butner, Foul – Red Light.

NHRA shocker in Houston: John Force fails to qualify for first time since 2008, snaps 221-race streak

Photo and videos courtesy NHRA
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Sunday’s eliminations in the 31st annual NHRA SpringNationals at Royal Purple Raceway in suburban Houston  just won’t be the same without John Force.

In one of the most stunning turn of events seen in the last decade-plus in NHRA drag racing, the legendary 16-time Funny Car champion and the sport’s all-time winningest driver on Saturday failed to qualify for Sunday’s main event of the race weekend.

It marks the first time Force, who turns 69 on May 4, failed to qualify for a race since Sept. 13, 2008 in Charlotte race, snapping a string of having made the eliminations in each of the subsequent 221 races until failing to do so Saturday.

“That is hard for me,” Force said after failing to go any faster than 222.29 mph in the four qualifying rounds for the race, two on Friday and the other two on Saturday. “You earn what you get. We didn’t put it in the show. We couldn’t get to half-track.

“We have had a lot of problems all year. At least I got my final shot to get in and I didn’t make it. I will be here tomorrow rooting on Robert, Courtney and Brittany (teammates Robert Hight and daughters Courtney and Brittany Force). I’ll be signing autographs for all the fans. I am sorry to all of you fans that I didn’t make it.”

Saturday’s failure to qualify marked only the 22nd time he’s DNQ’d in his 40-year professional drag racing career. He set a drag racing record by qualifying for 395 consecutive events from 1988 until April 2007.

“I am bummed that the boss didn’t get in. That was quite a streak he had going,” Hight said of hoss and father-in-law. “There is nobody better at rallying a team and leading a comeback than John Force.

“He loves the fight and he will do whatever it takes to get his team back on top. It really isn’t something to worry about because two of our Chevys are No.1 and No. 2 right now.

“We have good combinations and we just have to duplicate one of those set ups for John’s PEAK Funny car. He’ll be back next week in Charlotte.”

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As for the other classes (information courtesy NHRA Media Relations):Leah Pritchett set a new Top Fuel track record during the final qualifying session on Saturday to secure the top spot in Top Fuel heading into Sunday.Hight (Funny Car) and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) are also No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories at the fifth of 24 events on the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

Defending event champion Pritchett raced her Mopar Dodge dragster to a pass of 3.680-seconds at 326.00 mph. This is her first No. 1 qualifier of the season and eighth of her career.

“We’ve been developing our confidence the last couple of races,” Pritchett stated. “To be able to put it on the track is phenomenal. We know we need to be exceptional because our competition is exceptional.”

Pritchett will line up against Terry Brian in round one of eliminations on Sunday. Defending world champion Brittany Force locked-in the No. 2 spot after a 3.701 at 313.80 in her Monster Energy dragster. Tony Schumacher is seeded third and will face William Litton.

Hight’s final qualifying pass of 3.894 at 317.27 in his Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro took him to the top of the Funny Car category. This is his first No. 1 qualifier of the season, second at Houston and 58th of his career.

“This is going to be a new ball game tomorrow,” Hight said. “With fresh asphalt and the sun being out; these cars are going to spin. It’s definitely going to be fun. Two of our Chevy’s are one and two (in Funny Car) which shows we have good combinations.”

Hight will face-off against Todd Simpson Sunday morning in the first round. Teammate Courtney Force sits in the No. 2 position with a pass of 3.911 at 295.14 in her Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro and two-time world champion Matt Hagan rounds out the top three.

Anderson, four-time Pro Stock world champion, remained atop the field Saturday with his pass of 6.492 at 213.00 in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro from the first qualifying session on Friday. He notched his third consecutive No. 1 qualifier of the season and is seeking his first victory of the year.

“I haven’t had great Sunday’s yet,” Anderson stated. “I know I’m going to break through one of these days though. The weather is going to be great again tomorrow. I feel good about it, I’m excited and so far it’s just been a great weekend.”

Anderson will race Steve Graham in the first round of eliminations. Jeg Coughlin Jr. qualified in the No. 2 position with a pass of 6.504 at 212.36 in his JEGS.com/Elite Performance Chevrolet Camaro and Tanner Gray is third.

Eliminations at the NHRA SpringNationals begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday at Royal Purple Raceway.

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SUNDAY’S FIRST-ROUND PAIRINGS FOR ELIMINATIONS:

TOP FUEL: 1. Leah Pritchett, 3.680 seconds, 326.00 mph vs. 16. Terry Brian, 4.275, 284.62; 2. Brittany Force, 3.701, 320.20 vs. 15. Terry Haddock, 4.081, 287.17; 3. Tony Schumacher, 3.703, 322.73 vs. 14. Bill Litton, 3.927, 306.60; 4. Billy Torrence, 3.737, 317.87 vs. 13. Kebin Kinsley, 3.819, 313.51; 5. Antron Brown, 3.740, 324.98 vs. 12. Terry McMillen, 3.783, 314.31; 6. Clay Millican, 3.746, 315.78 vs. 11. Mike Salinas, 3.766, 313.73; 7. Doug Kalitta, 3.748, 320.05 vs. 10. Richie Crampton, 3.766, 316.23; 8. Scott Palmer, 3.754, 318.17 vs. 9. Steve Torrence, 3.759, 313.88. Did Not Qualify: 17. Terry Totten, 4.636, 216.34.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.894, 317.27 vs. 16. Todd Simpson, Dodge Charger, 4.318, 288.33; 2. Courtney Force, Camaro, 3.911, 313.58 vs. 15. Jeff Diehl, Toyota Camry, 4.151, 283.49; 3. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.913, 311.85 vs. 14. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.077, 305.77; 4. Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.918, 317.42 vs. 13. Richard Townsend, Camry, 4.026, 308.99; 5. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 3.918, 301.94 vs. 12. Del Worsham, Camry, 4.017, 307.51; 6. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.925, 311.41 vs. 11. Shawn Langdon, Camry, 3.994, 311.34; 7. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.926, 313.00 vs. 10. J.R. Todd, Camry, 3.989, 313.37; 8. Jonnie Lindberg, Camry, 3.927, 316.52 vs. 9. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 3.938, 314.09. Did Not Qualify: 17. Jim Campbell, 4.341, 273.05; 18. John Force, 4.625, 222.29.

PRO STOCK: 1. Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.492, 213.00 vs. 16. Steve Graham, Camaro, 6.775, 205.60; 2. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.504, 212.36 vs. 15. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 6.621, 208.65; 3. Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.507, 211.99 vs. 14. John Gaydosh Jr, Chevrolet Camaro, 6.592, 210.93; 4. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.513, 212.29 vs. 13. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.548, 210.67; 5. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.518, 211.99 vs. 12. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.545, 210.50; 6. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.525, 212.79 vs. 11. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.532, 212.73; 7. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.527, 212.29 vs. 10. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.532, 211.79; 8. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.528, 211.93 vs. 9. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.530, 211.33.