NHRA: John Force closes slightly on Matt Hagan in Funny Car, Erica Enders-Stevens adds to Pro Stock edge

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John Force cut two points off Matt Hagan’s lead in the Funny Car standings in Friday’s first two rounds of qualifying for Sunday’s season-ending and 50th anniversary AutoClub NHRA Finals at AutoClub Raceway in Pomona, California.

But Force still has a ways to go to overtake Hagan (pictured) and earn a record-extending 17th Funny Car championship. Hagan’s lead over Force shrank from 21 to 19 points after Friday.

There are two more rounds of qualifying Saturday, followed by the final four rounds of eliminations for the season on Sunday.

Tommy Johnson Jr. earned the provisional No. 1 qualifying spot with a run of 4.003 seconds at 317.34 mph.

“We were shooting for the threes (seconds),” Johnson said in an NHRA media release. “We had a tune up in there to run (a three-second time). We got close.

“I am having a good time, enjoying myself. The car’s running great. We have a very steady car that’s getting better and better. All season long we’ve got better. The team is starting to jell and the team chemistry is coming together.”

Ron Capps earned the No. 2 provisional qualifying spot (4.005/317.79), two-time champion Cruz Pedregon was No. 3 (4.011/311.77).

Force was the No. 4 qualifier (4.015 seconds at 316.60 mph), while Hagan was the No. 8 qualifier (4.063/314.83).

In the other closely-watched championship battle, in Pro Stock, points leader Erica Enders-Stevens added two points to what is now a 19-point advantage over Jason Line.

Enders-Stevens, who is attempting to become the first woman to ever win a NHRA Pro Stock championship, was second-fastest (6.526 seconds at 211.99 mph), just a tick behind provisional No. 1 qualifier Shane Gray (6.522 seconds at 211.26 mph).

Line qualified third (6.532/211.46), followed by Jeg Coughlin (6.538/211.13).

In Top Fuel, Tony Schumacher is on target to clinch his record eighth championship, perhaps as early as during Saturday’s second day of qualifying.

But it was Doug Kalitta, who had led the Top Fuel standings for much of the regular season, who had the hottest speed in Friday’s qualifying, earning the provisional No. 1 spot with a run of 3.754 seconds at 326.87 mph.

Ironically, Kalitta was officially eliminated from championship contention Friday, even with the top elapsed time.

“The pressure is off, we’re just here to win this thing on Sunday,” Kalitta said. “It’s one of the best years we’ve had and we’ll keep at it. I’m real proud of my guys.

“There should be some good qualifying runs the rest of the weekend and it should be exciting for the fans. I love running at this place because it has so much history. We’ll try to qualify up front and let it all hang out on Sunday and see how it goes.”

Lastly, Hector Arana Jr. earned top qualifying honors in Pro Stock Motorcycle with a run of 6.832 seconds at 197.62 mph.

“It’s still not over since it is Friday,” Arana said. “There are a lot of bikes out there that can catch us. I still want to get a win since this is the last race of the season and finish on a good note.”

PSM points leader Andrew Hines qualified No. 3 (6.859/195.99) still maintains a 90-point edge over teammate and closest challenger for the championship, Eddie Krawiec, who qualified No. 2 on Friday (6.834/195.76).

The final two rounds of qualifying take place Saturday at 11:45 AM/PT and 2:45 PM/PT.

 

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Friday’s qualifying results:

Top Fuel — 1. Doug Kalitta, 3.754 seconds, 326.87 mph; 2. Spencer Massey, 3.770, 324.67; 3. Tony Schumacher, 3.770, 323.81; 4. Antron Brown, 3.773, 318.62; 5. Khalid alBalooshi, 3.776, 322.58; 6. Larry Dixon, 3.786, 324.83; 7. Steve Torrence, 3.790, 324.83; 8. J.R. Todd, 3.790, 322.81; 9. Bob Vandergriff, 3.794, 321.42; 10. Billy Torrence, 3.805, 321.12; 11. Richie Crampton, 3.807, 319.82; 12. Morgan Lucas, 3.819, 272.34.  Not Qualified: 13. Terry McMillen, 3.827, 321.04; 14. Clay Millican, 3.830, 312.64; 15. Troy Buff, 3.852, 314.90; 16. Brittany Force, 3.856, 286.01; 17. Dom Lagana, 3.927, 286.19; 18. Steven Chrisman, 4.065, 284.75; 19. Jenna Haddock, 4.816, 151.14; 20. Shawn Langdon, 5.105, 139.86; 21. Steve Faria, 8.152, 71.09.

Funny Car — 1. Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger, 4.003, 317.34; 2. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.005, 317.79; 3. Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 4.011, 311.77; 4. John Force, Ford Mustang, 4.015, 316.60; 5. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.020, 314.39; 6. Robert Hight, Mustang, 4.036, 317.87; 7. Del Worsham, Camry, 4.062, 314.97; 8. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.063, 314.83; 9. Chad Head, Camry, 4.078, 313.88; 10. Jeff Arend, Charger, 4.126, 287.05; 11. Jeff Diehl, Toyota Solara, 4.196, 266.27; 12. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.199, 291.45.  Not Qualified: 13. Shane Westerfield, 4.229, 233.20; 14. Tony Pedregon, 4.259, 297.02; 15. John Bojec, 4.300, 287.78; 16. Jack Beckman, 4.409, 206.61; 17. Bob Bode, 4.465, 210.97; 18. Jon Capps, 4.837, 165.60; 19. Bob Tasca III, 7.495, 79.69; 20. Courtney Force, 8.095, 70.57; 21. Gary Densham, 8.348, 92.68; 22. Terry Haddock, 12.252, 77.59.

Pro Stock — 1. Shane Gray, Chevy Camaro, 6.522, 211.39; 2. Erica Enders-Stevens, Camaro, 6.526, 211.99; 3. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.532, 211.46; 4. Jeg Coughlin, Dodge Dart, 6.538, 211.13; 5. Dave Connolly, Camaro, 6.547, 211.49; 6. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.548, 210.70; 7. Allen Johnson, Dart, 6.550, 211.03; 8. Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 6.555, 211.46; 9. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.574, 210.37; 10. Matt Hartford, Pontiac GXP, 6.583, 210.67; 11. Larry Morgan, Ford Mustang, 6.583, 209.30; 12. V. Gaines, Dodge Avenger, 6.589, 211.20.  Not Qualified: 13. Greg Stanfield, 6.600, 209.14; 14. Jeff Isbell, 6.747, 205.44; 15. Vincent Nobile, 6.785, 161.05; 16. Greg Anderson, 6.851, 163.89; 17. Joey Grose, 7.163, 194.21.

Pro Stock Motorcycle — 1. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.832, 197.62; 2. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.834, 195.76; 3. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.859, 195.99; 4. Matt Smith, Buell, 6.863, 194.88; 5. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.888, 195.62; 6. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.924, 193.27; 7. Angie Smith, Buell, 6.931, 192.49; 8. Adam Arana, Buell, 6.936, 193.24; 9. Chaz Kennedy, Buell, 6.940, 188.89; 10. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 6.945, 192.17; 11. Katie Sullivan, Suzuki, 6.952, 191.05; 12. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.966, 192.60.  Not Qualified: 13. Freddie Camarena, 6.968, 194.32; 14. Shawn Gann, 6.968, 191.57; 15. Elvira Karlsson, 6.970, 185.72; 16. Steve Johnson, 6.971, 188.86; 17. Michael Ray, 7.012, 177.88; 18. Rhett Lougheed, 7.076, 186.77; 19. Gert-Jen Laseur, 7.192, 180.45; 20. Bill Burkhart, 7.388, 180.16; 21. Lance Bonham, 7.455, 181.18; 22. Redell Harris, 11.459, 71.08.

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