NHRA: Brown, Pedregon, Line and Stoffer hold on to No. 1 spots heading into Sunday’s eliminations at Atlanta


In a sense, it was déjà vu during Saturday’s second and final day of qualifying for the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals in Commerce, Ga.

The same quickest drivers from Friday’s first day of qualifying held on to their advantages Saturday, as well, at Atlanta Dragway.

Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car), Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Karen Stoffer (Pro Stock Motorcycle) all held on to their early leads and will go into Sunday’s eliminations still ranked No. 1 in their respective classes.

Pedregon, Line and Stoffer all set their class-leading elapsed times during Friday’s two qualifying rounds and held on their respective edges in Saturday’s final two qualifying rounds.

Brown was No. 1 on Friday and improved on his time and speed on Saturday.

Here’s how Sunday’s final eliminations in the seventh of 24 national events on the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series stacks up:

* Top Fuel: Brown earned the 38th No. 1 qualifying spot of his NHRA career with a Saturday-best pass of 3.758 seconds at 319.82 mph. In addition, Brown is seeking his fourth career win at Atlanta.

“We can’t be happier with the way our car is working right now,” Brown said in a NHRA media release. “It’s doing everything we want it to do. We just hope we can keep it that way tomorrow for race day.”

Brown’s Don Schumacher Racing teammate and eight-time world champion (including 2014), Tony Schumacher, qualified second with a 3.767 at 324.12 mph. Schumacher is still looking for his first career win at Atlanta. He’ll face Larry Dixon in the first round, who leads all Top Fuel drivers with four career wins there.

* Funny Car: Pedregon’s 4.010 second pass (at 313.95 mph) on Friday held up as the top elapsed time Saturday. It’s his second career No. 1 spot at Atlanta and the 59th No. 1 spot of his career.

Pedregon is seeking his second career win at Atlanta. The two-time Funny Car world champ’s first win at Atlanta came back in 1998.

“It’s amazing how much we had to touch on the car to make it down the track today vs. yesterday and it worked,” Pedregon said. “We have no excuses. If we can go out there, race and not have anything goofy happen (Sunday), we should be a factor (to win).”

Sixteen-time Funny Car champ John Force qualified second (4.031 seconds at 317.64 mph). Force leads all Funny Car drivers with seven career wins at Atlanta.

* Pro Stock: Line held on to the top spot he set on Friday (6.546 seconds at 211.23 mph) and has now earned the No. 1 spot in the last three races. It is also his 40th No. 1 spot in his career.

“We tested a couple things, and considering we tested some things, I still thought we ran reasonably well,” Line said. “We learned a few things, I can’t say they were positive, but we did learn some things so all-in-all it was a pretty good day. There’s a lot of really good cars out there and the difference between being No. 1 and No. 3 really comes down to thousandths and doing everything perfect.”

Defending Pro Stock champion Erica Enders-Stevens qualified second (6.546 seconds at 211.06 mph).

* Pro Stock Motorcycle: Stoffer held on to the No. 1 spot that she earned on Friday (6.889 seconds at 195.00 mph). This is her first No. 1 qualifying spot since 2010.

“I don’t know if I’m back to where I was a couple of years ago, but I do feel very comfortable,” Stoffer said. “Maybe I came back an even better rider. No matter what, I do feel like we are competitive right now, and that’s the important thing. We’re having fun. I have to pinch myself a lot right now.”

Jim Underdahl qualified second (6.880 seconds at 192.22 mph).

Eliminations begin at 11 am ET on Sunday morning, with the final round set to go off at 3:50 pm ET.

Sunday’s first-round elimination pairings:

Top Fuel — 1. Antron Brown, 3.758 seconds, 320.28 mph  vs. 16. Shawn Langdon, 4.025, 303.37; 2. Tony Schumacher, 3.767, 324.12  vs. 15. Larry Dixon, 3.977, 306.33; 3. Leah Pritchett, 3.792, 321.81  vs. 14. Chris Karamesines, 3.962, 306.53; 4. Steve Torrence, 3.796, 321.35  vs. 13. Clay Millican, 3.926, 313.88; 5. Dave Connolly, 3.805, 321.58  vs. 12. Terry McMillen, 3.916, 315.93; 6. J.R. Todd, 3.807, 321.35  vs. 11. Morgan Lucas, 3.915, 289.82; 7. Richie Crampton, 3.852, 316.90 vs. 10. Brittany Force, 3.912, 312.71; 8. Doug Kalitta, 3.863, 319.60  vs. 9. Spencer Massey, 3.891, 318.84.  Did Not Qualify: 17. Cory McClenathan, 4.026, 293.09; 18. Pat Dakin, 4.109, 300.53.

Funny Car — 1. Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 4.010, 313.95  vs. 16. John Hale, Dodge Charger, 6.903, 130.87; 2. John Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.031, 317.64  vs. 15. Jeff Diehl, Toyota Solara, 6.383, 112.13; 3. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.033, 310.63  vs. 14. Robert Hight, Chevrolet Camaro, 4.563, 188.78; 4. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.040, 319.37  vs. 13. Dave Richards, Solara, 4.390, 245.90; 5. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.040, 312.86  vs. 12. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 4.147, 288.58; 6. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.048, 313.00  vs. 11. Del Worsham, Camry, 4.139, 307.30; 7. Chad Head, Camry, 4.060, 310.77  vs. 10. Courtney Force, Camaro, 4.079, 319.14; 8. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.064, 303.30  vs. 9. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.068, 315.93.

Pro Stock — 1. Jason Line, Chevy Camaro, 6.546, 211.59  vs. 16. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Avenger, 6.713, 207.27; 2. Erica Enders-Stevens, Camaro, 6.546, 211.06  vs. 15. John Gaydosh Jr, Pontiac GXP, 6.699, 207.66; 3. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.551, 211.30  vs. 14. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.634, 208.62; 4. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.556, 210.90  vs. 13. V. Gaines, Dart, 6.609, 210.14; 5. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.560, 211.83  vs. 12. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.607, 210.57; 6. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.561, 211.69  vs. 11. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.587, 210.97; 7. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.562, 210.90  vs. 10. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.580, 211.00; 8. Larry Morgan, Camaro, 6.565, 211.89  vs. 9. Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 6.580, 211.30.

Pro Stock Motorcycle — 1. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.875, 195.59  vs. 16. Angie Smith, Victory, 7.047, 188.89; 2. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.880, 195.85  vs. 15. Chip Ellis, Buell, 7.013, 193.54; 3. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.893, 196.73  vs. 14. Matt Smith, Victory, 6.987, 190.78; 4. Angelle Sampey, Buell, 6.893, 194.55  vs. 13. Freddie Camarena, Suzuki, 6.978, 195.56; 5. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.901, 195.36  vs. 12. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 6.952, 192.22; 6. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.906, 193.88  vs. 11. Shawn Gann, Buell, 6.948, 192.41; 7. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.909, 195.62  vs. 10. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.941, 193.10; 8. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.912, 193.90 vs. 9. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.934, 193.40.  Did Not Qualify: 17. Chaz Kennedy, 7.051, 189.79; 18. Joe DeSantis, 7.098, 190.73; 19. Mike Berry, 7.120, 188.99; 20. Redell Harris, 7.149, 187.99; 21. Eddie Reed, 7.167, 189.76; 22. Roy Olsen, 7.398, 177.98.

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Sergio Perez wins rain-delayed race in Singapore over Leclerc; Verstappen seventh

Sergio Perez Singapore
Clive Rose/Getty Images,

SINGAPORE — Max Verstappen’s Formula One title celebrations were put on hold after the Red Bull driver placed seventh at a chaotic Singapore Grand Prix, won by his teammate Sergio Perez on Sunday.

Perez’s second win of the season saw him finish 7.6 seconds ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, with Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. in third place.

Perez was investigated for a potential safety car infringement but still kept the win after a 5-second time penalty for dropping too far back after being warned.

Verstappen had won the past five races but needed to win here and finish 22 points ahead of Leclerc to be crowned champion for a second straight season. That could happen next weekend at the Japanese GP.

Verstappen made a mistake after the second safety car restart, following AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda’s crash on Lap 36. When Verstappen tried to overtake Lando Norris’ McLaren, he locked his tires and needed to pit again.

Leclerc started from pole position with Verstappen going from eighth after a team blunder in qualifying.

The race start was delayed by more than an hour to clear water off the Marina Bay Circuit track following heavy rainfall. Drivers had to finish the 61-lap race within a two-hour window; 59 laps were completed.

Tricky conditions saw the virtual safety car deployed three times and DRS was allowed with about 30 minutes remaining.

Perez made a good start and jumped past Leclerc while Verstappen dropped several places. The first safety car was on Lap 8 when Zhou Guanyu’s Alfa Romeo was cut off by Nicholas Latifi’s Williams.

Perez got away cleanly at the restart, while Verstappen climbed into seventh behind Fernando Alonso – whose 350th F1 race ended disappointingly when his engine failed on Lap 21, bringing out the first VSC.

With the track still damp, drivers decided against changing to quicker tires – apart from Mercedes’ George Russell, who struggled for grip.

Hamilton made a rare mistake on Lap 33 and thudded into the crash barrier. Soon after, the leading drivers changed tires in a flurry of stops. They did so just before the safety car was deployed again following Tsunoda’s error.

Verstappen overtook Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin right at the end for seventh place.