NHRA: C. Force, Todd, McGaha and Arana Jr. qualify No. 1 for 4-Wide Nationals eliminations

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It was a double dose of Force in Saturday’s final rounds of qualifying for the sixth-annual NHRA 4-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Concord, N.C.

Daughter Courtney Force zoomed from 16th to the No. 1 qualifier (4.011 seconds at 312.35 mph) in her second of two attempts (Friday’s first two rounds of qualifying were rained out), while father John Force qualified No. 2 for Sunday’s final eliminations, which begin at 1 pm ET.

It’s Courtney Force’s second No. 1 qualifier of the season and ninth of her career. She’s also seeking her first career win at zMAX.

She’ll race Chad Head, Dale Creasy Jr. and Del Worsham in the first round of the unique four-car, side-by-side elimination race.

“Going from zero to hero is great, but it’s really my crew chief (Ron Douglas) and my team,” Courtney Force said. “It’s lucky that we went straight from 16 to 1, but we still have a lot to work on and I am looking forward to tomorrow.”

John Force, meanwhile, will race Alexis DeJoria, Robert Hight and Tony Pedregon in Sunday’s first round, while points leader and 2014 Funny Car champ Matt Hagan will face John Hale, Cruz Pedregon and Tim Wilkerson.

In Top Fuel, J.R. Todd (3.713 seconds at 309.63 mph) shot to the top of the speed charts to earn the No. 1 qualifying position, his first of the season and seventh of his career.

“That was my career best, but the crazy thing is that the car didn’t make it to the finish line under power,” Todd said. “I think we could have run a 3.70-flat or maybe even a 3.69. I really hope we get three shots tomorrow, but tomorrow is all about win lights.”

Todd will face defending race winner Antron Brown, Dave Connolly and points leader Shawn Langdon in the first round Sunday.

“This is a driver’s game for sure,” Todd added. “All three of them are capable of putting up big numbers so we’ve got to be prepared.”

Veteran independent Top Fuel racer Pat Dakin, who last won an NHRA national event more than 40 years ago (in 1973), qualified No. 2 at a career-best 3.715 seconds at 318.84 mph.

Dakin will face Brittany Force, Richie Crampton and Chris Karamesines in the first round of eliminations.

In Pro Stock, Chris McGaha earned his second No. 1 qualifying spot (6.474 seconds at 213.70 mph). He’ll face Shane Gray, Buddy Perkinson and Erica Enders-Stevens in Sunday’s opening round.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Hector Arana Jr. rode to the top of the speed chart (6.794 seconds at 196.22 mph) for his first No. 1 of the season and 17th of his career.

Arana will race Jim Underdahl, Chaz Kennedy and Katie Sullivan in Sunday’s first round.

“We knew we had to do everything we could to get the power to the track, so we took our best guess,” Arana said. “We’ve got new fuel, a new track surface, and conditions we’ve never seen before, but we managed to hit it and go right down the track. I honestly had a feeling we would run good today.”


Top Fuel: 1. J.R. Todd, 3.713 seconds, 309.84 mph  vs. 16. Shawn Langdon, 5.089, 275.56  vs. 8. Antron Brown, 3.792, 318.62  vs. 9. Dave Connolly, 3.807, 317.05; 2. Pat Dakin, 3.715, 318.84  vs. 15. Chris Karamesines, 4.343, 185.72  vs. 7. Richie Crampton, 3.771, 327.03  vs. 10. Brittany Force, 3.826, 318.32; 3. Tony Schumacher, 3.726, 328.94  vs. 14. Leah Pritchett, 4.130, 305.70  vs. 6. Clay Millican, 3.768, 315.05  vs. 11. Larry Dixon, 3.829, 314.75; 4. Spencer Massey, 3.730, 326.32  vs. 13. Ike Maier, 4.020, 303.84  vs. 5. Doug Kalitta, 3.736, 325.06  vs. 12. Steve Torrence, 3.837, 321.35.  Did Not Qualify: 17. Terry McMillen, 10.498, 87.29.

Funny Car: 1. Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.011, 312.35  vs. 16. Dale Creasy Jr., Chevy Impala, 5.087, 172.01  vs. 8. Chad Head, Toyota Camry, 4.077, 303.91  vs. 9. Del Worsham, Camry, 4.101, 305.63; 2. John Force, Camaro, 4.040, 310.84  vs. 15. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.839, 218.55  vs. 7. Robert Hight, Chevrolet Camaro, 4.061, 308.07  vs. 10. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 4.123, 300.53; 3. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.051, 308.78  vs. 14. Paul Lee, Charger, 4.634, 184.40  vs. 6. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.059, 304.67  vs. 11. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.132, 251.20; 4. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.055, 306.60  vs. 13. John Hale, Charger, 4.317, 296.63  vs. 5. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.055, 300.06  vs. 12. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.167, 305.42.  Did Not Qualify: 17. Jeff Diehl, 7.463, 103.78; 18. Bob Tasca III, 12.969, 63.65.

Pro Stock: 1. Chris McGaha, Chevy Camaro, 6.474, 213.70  vs. 16. Erica Enders-Stevens, Camaro, broke  vs. 8. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.525, 211.99  vs. 9. Buddy Perkinson, Dodge Avenger, 6.528, 212.49; 2. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.481, 214.18  vs. 15. John Gaydosh Jr, Pontiac GXP, 6.858, 176.07 vs. 7. Larry Morgan, Camaro, 6.523, 213.16  vs. 10. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.532, 213.84; 3. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.487, 213.57  vs. 14. Mark Hogan, GXP, 6.741, 206.73  vs. 6. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.517, 213.47  vs. 11. Jimmy Alund, GXP, 6.536, 212.76; 4. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.502, 213.64  vs. 13. V. Gaines, Dodge Dart, 6.683, 206.48  vs. 5. Allen Johnson, Dart, 6.513, 213.77 vs. 12. Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 6.545, 212.26.

Pro Stock Motorcycle: 1. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.794, 198.03  vs. 16. Katie Sullivan, Suzuki, 6.966, 192.91; 2. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.826, 194.77  vs. 15. Mike Berry, Buell, 6.956, 191.51; 3. Angelle Sampey, Buell, 6.853, 187.11  vs. 14. Matt Smith, Victory, 6.953, 190.92; 4. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.861, 195.03  vs. 13. Shawn Gann, Buell, 6.949, 193.49; 5. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.870, 192.55  vs. 12. Freddie Camarena, Suzuki, 6.925, 197.77; 6. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.907, 195.62  vs. 11. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 6.924, 189.42; 7. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.913, 193.46  vs. 10. Brian Pretzel, Buell, 6.924, 190.70; 8. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.914, 195.53 vs. 9. Chaz Kennedy, Buell, 6.924, 192.25.  Did Not Qualify: 17. Jeremy Teasley, 6.982, 193.54; 18. Jerry Savoie, 6.988, 192.80; 19. Angie Smith, 7.129, 184.30; 20. Steve Johnson, 7.155, 189.02; 21. Roy Olsen, 7.261, 182.16.

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Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry. Time just published a brief piece by Wallace saluting Hamilton as a trailblazer.

The idea of Hamilton attending the NASCAR season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it would seem right for Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — to spend some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).