NHRA: Schumacher, Pedregon, McGaha, Sampey lead way after first day of Gatornationals

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Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car), Chris McGaha (Pro Stock) and Angelle Sampey (Pro Stock Motorcycle) paced the first day of qualifying Friday for the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals.

The event, at Auto-Plus Raceway in Gainesville, Fla., continues with a second day of qualifying Saturday. Final eliminations take place Sunday.

Schumacher, an eight-time world champ, paced the Top Fuel ranks, earning the provisional pole with a best run of 3.798 seconds at 323.43 mph.

“We’ve got a great car,” said Schumacher, who is seeking his 77th career No. 1 qualifying spot. “We’re not coming off a bad race either. We won in Phoenix and performed decent in Pomona (season opener).

“I think the changes we made early on, for once, really worked. It’s setting a good trend on a tune-up that we needed to find quicker than last year.”

Brittany Force was second-quickest, running 3.817 seconds at 318.09 mph.

In Funny Car, two-time former world champ Pedregon led the way with a top run of 4.022 seconds at 312.13 mph. He’s seeking his fourth consecutive No. 1 qualifier position at Gainesville.

“I wish I could tell you because I would do it at all the tracks,” Pedregon said about his qualifying prowess at Gainesville. “It just works out that way.”

Del Worsham was the No. 2 provisional qualifier (4.057 seconds at 312.57 mph).

In Pro Stock, McGaha led the way with a run of 6.507 seconds at 212.73 mph.

“We’re finding our way back,” said McGaha, referring to the struggles he and his team endured last season. “We had issues in the engine department and slowly overcame those. We started finding it towards the end of the year. This winter, we really found the mojo.”

Rodger Brogdon, who won the last race two weeks ago at Phoenix, was second-quickest (6.525 seconds at 212.93 mph).

In the first Pro Stock Motorcycle race of the season, three-time world champ Angelle Sampey, in her first race since suffering an ankle injury last October, led the way at 6.891 seconds at 192.44 mph.

If Sampey can hold on to the top spot after Saturday’s final two rounds of qualifying, it would be her fourth No. 1 at Gainesville and 46th of her career.

“Over the offseason, I think the ankle injury actually was a blessing in disguise,” said Sampey, who returned to racing at St. Louis last September after a six-year hiatus. “It really made me work hard over the offseason to improve mentally and physically.”

Karen Stoffer, who hasn’t raced in 1 ½ years, was No. 2 provisional qualifier at 6.904 seconds (at 193.18 mph).

Qualifying continues Saturday at Noon and 3 p.m. ET. Sunday’s eliminations begin at 11 a.m.

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Friday’s results:

Top Fuel — 1. Tony Schumacher, 3.796 seconds, 323.43 mph; 2. Brittany Force, 3.817, 318.09; 3. Spencer Massey, 3.841, 323.66; 4. Larry Dixon, 3.851, 319.52; 5. Richie Crampton, 3.853, 271.35; 6. Antron Brown, 3.854, 310.63; 7. Shawn Langdon, 3.875, 316.97; 8. Leah Pritchett, 3.920, 303.16; 9. Doug Kalitta, 3.949, 284.87; 10. Chris Karamesines, 4.014, 305.98; 11. Morgan Lucas, 4.054, 223.21; 12. Ike Maier, 4.137, 243.06.  Not Qualified: 13. Shawn Reed, 4.206, 288.27; 14. Steve Torrence, 4.501, 173.61; 15. Clay Millican, 4.546, 179.64; 16. Cory McClenathan, 4.883, 147.21; 17. Terry McMillen, 5.120, 140.74; 18. Dave Connolly, 5.247, 127.49; 19. J.R. Todd, 5.439, 274.61; 20. Pat Dakin, 9.725, 72.43.

Funny Car — 1. Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 4.022, 312.13; 2. Del Worsham, Camry, 4.057, 312.57; 3. John Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.075, 314.02; 4. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.080, 311.92; 5. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 4.081, 309.56; 6. Courtney Force, Camaro, 4.104, 312.13; 7. Robert Hight, Chevrolet Camaro, 4.113, 310.05; 8. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.132, 308.43; 9. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 4.299, 237.96; 10. John Hale, Charger, 4.304, 234.04; 11. Blake Alexander, Charger, 4.456, 194.97; 12. Dave Richards, Toyota Solara, 4.464, 219.15.  Not Qualified: 13. Chad Head, 4.564, 193.07; 14. Tommy Johnson Jr., 4.995, 152.16; 15. Ron Capps, 5.618, 224.40; 16. Jeff Diehl, 7.612, 85.32; 17. Alexis DeJoria, 10.877, 75.53.

Pro Stock — 1. Chris McGaha, Chevy Camaro, 6.507, 212.76; 2. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.526, 213.06; 3. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.526, 212.93; 4. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.529, 212.90; 5. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.532, 213.13; 6. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.534, 212.90; 7. Erica Enders-Stevens, Camaro, 6.551, 211.79; 8. Jimmy Alund, Pontiac GXP, 6.567, 211.93; 9. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.587, 212.19; 10. John Gaydosh Jr, GXP, 6.636, 209.52; 11. V. Gaines, Dart, 6.648, 211.33; 12. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Avenger, 6.662, 208.94.  Not Qualified: 13. Larry Morgan, 12.137, 86.57; 14. Vincent Nobile, 14.409, 73.59; 15. Jonathan Gray, 21.817, 36.18.

Pro Stock Motorcycle — 1. Angelle Sampey, Buell, 6.891, 192.93; 2. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.904, 193.18; 3. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.905, 192.91; 4. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.912, 191.57; 5. Matt Smith, Buell, 6.918, 191.57; 6. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.923, 193.68; 7. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.944, 193.90; 8. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.957, 189.26; 9. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.967, 192.80; 10. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.974, 190.89; 11. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 6.976, 190.40; 12. Chaz Kennedy, Buell, 6.985, 190.27.  Not Qualified: 13. Mike Berry, 7.010, 188.54; 14. Shawn Gann, 7.025, 187.86; 15. Hector Arana, 7.026, 186.59; 16. Angie Smith, 7.056, 186.85; 17. Redell Harris, 7.091, 190.92; 18. Fredrik Fredlund, 7.125, 188.99; 19. Roy Olsen, 7.392, 180.02; 20. Lance Bonham, 7.544, 177.25; 21. Eddie Reed, 7.632, 131.38; 22. Brian Pretzel, 14.051, 54.53.

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2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Houston: Eli Tomac retakes 450 lead, Hunter Lawrence tops 250s

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After his Anaheim 2 crash, Eli Tomac was surprised he was not injured, but despite getting knocked down momentarily, he picked himself up, rode to last week’s win and reascended to the top of the SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Houston. This is the third time in three weeks Tomac has topped the rankings.

SuperMotocross Power Rankings Houston
Jason Anderson has back-to-back podiums to his credit and sits second in the Power Rankings. – Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media

Last week, Tomac finished second in his heat before winning the Main – and that translated to near-perfect points in the Power Rankings, which award 100 for a win in the feature and 90 for a heat victory. Tomac’s average was marred by the Houston accident when he finished 13th in that heat before settling just outside the top five in overall standings. Racing is about bouncing back and last year’s Supercross and Motocross champion Tomac did just that as he chases a third consecutive title.

Jason Anderson earned his second consecutive podium finish with a third at Houston. He momentarily rolled past Aaron Plessinger into second during a restart following an accident involving Dylan Ferrandis and held that position for four trips around the track until he was tracked down by Chase Sexton. Afterward Anderson faded and finished 12 seconds off the pace, but along with a heat win, he easily leapfrogged Ken Roczen and Cooper Webb, who struggled in the fourth race of the season.

MORE: Eli Tomac rebounds from Anaheim 2 crash with Houston win

Webb held his position by passing Roczen in NBC’s SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Houston. Webb has been solid in 2023 with a worst moto result of seventh in the first Triple Crown race at Anaheim 2, but in order to be considered a solid challenger to Tomac he needs to win either a heat or main this week in Tampa.

Roczen was involved in the incident that sidelined Ferrandis in Houston. Racing for eighth at the time, his bike may have sustained some damage when Ferrandis landed on his back tire, but he was not overly impressive in his heat either with a fifth-place finish. That was enough to drop him three positions in the standings, but he still has Tomac in sight.

After his disappointing heat in San Diego when he crashed and sustained enough damage to place him last, Sexton has roared back. He won the overall in Anaheim 2’s Triple Crown format and narrowed the points’ gap slightly on Tomac. Last week he yarded the field in his heat race and won by a wide margin. A modest start in the Main kept him from getting to Tomac’s back wheel early in the Houston round, and he lost a little ground in the championship.

450 Rankings

This
Week
Rider Power
Avg.
Last
Week
Diff.
1 Eli Tomac
[3 Main; 3 Heats Wins]
85.20 2 1
2 Jason Anderson
[2 Heat Wins]
82.60 4 2
3 Cooper Webb 82.10 3 0
4 Ken Roczen 81.70 1 -3
5 Chase Sexton
[1 Main; 3 Heat Wins]
80.70 6 1
6 Dylan Ferrandis 71.60 5 -1
7 Aaron Plessinger 71.30 8 1
8 Justin Barcia 70.10 7 -1
9 Justin Cooper 68.00 NA
10 Adam Cianciarulo 67.40 9 -1
11 Joey Savatgy 61.20 10 -1
12 Marvin Musquin 61.00 10 -2
13 Malcolm Stewart
[1 Heat Win]
58.75 11 -2
14 Christian Craig 57.20 13 -1
15 Colt Nichols 56.50 14 -1
16 Dean Wilson 49.30 15 -1
17 Justin Hill 39.67 18 1
18 Shane McElrath 36.33 22 4
19 Brandon Scharer 34.00 21 2
20 Logan Karnow 33.33 19 -1

Supercross 450 Points


The 250 East division debuted in Houston and with only one race – and therefore no chance yet to stumble – three of their riders jumped to the top of the chart.

Hunter Lawrence had a perfect week with wins in both his main and heat. It wasn’t without drama, however, as he was forced to jump wide early in the feature to avoid contact with Tom Vialle, who was making his Supercross debut. Without a former 250 champion in the field, it is guaranteed someone new will grace the top of the box at Salt Lake City after the season-ender and it looks like it’s going to be Lawrence’s to lose.

SuperMotocross Power Rankings Houston
Jordon Smith’s last podium before Houston came four years ago in Detroit. – Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media

It was more than four years ago that Jordon Smith scored his last Supercross podium in Detroit. Despite finishing second that afternoon, he was battling a wrist injury that eventually sidelined him. More injuries have followed, but Smith was a favorite to win the title in 2019 and he’s shown how well he can ride when he’s healthy.

Debuting third in the Houston SuperMotocross Power Rankings, Max Anstie moved from the 450 class last year to 250s in 2023 and the change has gone better than he anticipated. Finishing second in both his heat and main, Anstie was edged by Smith because he finished second behind that rider in their heat. That is Anstie’s first top-10 since finishing sixth at Southwick, Massachusetts last year on his 450. In that race, he scored fifth-place results in both motos.

Supercross 250 Points

Haiden Deegan proved the hype surrounding his graduation into the 250 class was well deserved and he landed fourth in his division and fifth overall in the SuperMotocross Power Rankings. In his first professional Supercross race, he finished fourth in his heat. In a field with twice the talent, he finished fourth again in the main. At Houston, he balanced aggression with patience. Now that he has a taste of that success, everyone will be watching him closely at Tampa to see if he can continue tiptoeing on the line.

Michael Mosiman, Jeremy Martin, and Vialle are tied for fifth in the 250 East division and seventh overall.

Vialle is the most notable of these three because he challenged for a podium position during the Main before making a mistake and falling in a turn. Significantly, this was not only his 250 debut, but his first time in Supercross. As with Deegan, he has generated a lot of attention for the coming weeks.

250 Rankings

This
Week
Rider Power
Avg.
Last
Week
Diff.
1 Hunter Lawrence – E
[1 Main; 1 Heat Win]
95.00 NA
2 Jordon Smith – E
[1 Heat Win]
90.50 NA
2 Max Anstie – E 90.50 NA
4 Jett Lawrence – W
[2 Main; 2 Heat Wins]
89.13 1 -3
5 Haiden Deegan – E 81.50 NA
6 Cameron McAdoo – W
[1 Heat Win]
77.63 2 -4
7 Mitchell Oldenburg – W 77.00 3 -4
7 Michael Mosiman – E 77.00 NA
7 Jeremy Martin – E 77.00 NA
7 Tom Vialle – E 77.00 NA
11 Stilez Robertson – W
[1 Heat Win]
76.75 4 -7
12 Chance Hymas – E 74.50 -12
13 Levi Kitchen – W
[1 Main Win]
73.75 5 -8
14 RJ Hampshire – W
[3 Heat Wins]
70.00 6 -8
15 Max Vohland – W 69.29 7 -8
16 Cullin Park – E 66.00 NA
17 Chris Blose – E 65.50 NA
18 Derek Kelley – W 63.75 8 -10
19 Enzo Lopes – W 63.25 9 -10
20 Pierce Brown – W 61.29 10 -10

* The NBC Power Rankings assign 100 points to a Main event winner and 90 points for each Heat and Triple Crown win, (Triple Crown wins are included with heat wins below the rider’s name). The points decrement by a percentage equal to the number of riders in the field until the last place rider in each event receives five points. The Power Ranking is the average of these percentage points over the past 45 days.

POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 3 AT ANAHEIM 2: Consistency makes Ken Roczen king
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 2 AT SAN DIEGO: Roczen moves up, Chase Sexton falls
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 1 AT ANAHEIM 1: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence gain an early advantage