NHRA: Robert Hight, Antron Brown, Greg Anderson are first day 4-wide No. 1 qualifiers at Las Vegas

Photos, videos courtesy NHRA
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Robert Hight (Funny Car), Antron Brown (Top Fuel) and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) are the provisional No. 1 qualifiers following Friday’s first of two days of qualifying for the DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals.

This is the first-ever four-wide race at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. It’s sister track, zMAX Dragway in suburban Charlotte, has held a four-wide race annually since 2010.

The second round of qualifying will be Saturday, with final eliminations set for Sunday for the fourth race on the 24-event 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

In Funny Car: Hight set the pace with a run of 3.693 seconds at 321.42 mph. He’s hoping to hold on to his lead in Saturday’s final two qualifying rounds – for his first No. 1 qualifier of the season (he had eight last season – to go into Sunday’s eliminations as the driver to beat.

“I know we will likely have to improve our time to hold onto the No. 1 qualifier tomorrow,” Hight said. “Everyone at Las Vegas Motor Speedway worked their tails off over the winter to get this track done, but they got it done ahead of schedule and did an amazing job.”

Tommy Johnson Jr. currently sits in second (3.983 seconds at 315.49 mph), while teammate Ron Capps is third.

In Top Fuel: Brown is the provisional No. 1 with a run of 3.772 seconds at 324.83 mph. Like Hight, Brown is also seeking his first No. 1 spot of the season heading into Sunday’s eliminations.

“Our goal is to keep getting better and better each day because we haven’t been hitting our marks so far this year,” Brown said. “But Vegas has always been a breakout race for us, and we are hoping to do that again this year.”

Doug Kalitta qualified second (3.786 seconds at 320.51 mph, as he seeks his second win of the season (won in the season-opening race at Pomona, California).

In Pro Stock: Anderson paced his class (6.669 seconds at 206.45 mph). He is looking for his second consecutive and 95th career No. 1 qualifying position after earning the top spot at Gainesville.

“We had an extra challenge today in preparing for the four-wide, but we hit it on the bulls eye from the intel we got from my team,” Anderson said. “Today was a pretty cool day, and I can’t tell you how great a job this track did on the race surface, it has great traction and each lane is done as well as the others.”

Qualifying continues at 3:10 p.m. ET on Saturday.

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FIRST DAY OF QUALIFYING RESULTS:

TOP FUEL: 1. Antron Brown, 3.772 seconds, 324.83 mph; 2. Doug Kalitta, 3.786, 320.51; 3. Leah Pritchett, 3.802, 320.58; 4. Tony Schumacher, 3.817, 318.39; 5. Billy Torrence, 3.819, 313.66; 6. Richie Crampton, 3.829, 313.66; 7. Brittany Force, 3.846, 301.60; 8. Scott Palmer, 3.850, 322.50; 9. Terry McMillen, 3.917, 252.05; 10. Troy Buff, 3.931, 283.37; 11. Clay Millican, 3.987, 236.46; 12. Terry Haddock, 4.025, 270.92; 13. Mike Salinas, 4.111, 278.46; 14. Steve Torrence, 4.394, 182.26.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.963, 321.42; 2. Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger, 3.983, 315.49; 3. Ron Capps, Charger, 3.992, 316.82; 4. Courtney Force, Camaro, 4.005, 313.00; 5. Jonnie Lindberg, Toyota Camry, 4.011, 306.46; 6. John Force, Camaro, 4.018, 314.39; 7. Gary Densham, Ford Mustang, 4.021, 306.26; 8. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.028, 310.05; 9. Shawn Langdon, Camry, 4.040, 302.28; 10. Del Worsham, Camry, 4.048, 312.93; 11. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.055, 310.48; 12. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.087, 310.91; 13. Jeff Diehl, Camry, 4.153, 303.91; 14. Jeff Arend, Chevy Monte Carlo, 4.202, 288.83; 15. Phil Burkart, Charger, 4.307, 288.52; 16. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.319, 216.69. Not Qualified: 17. J.R. Todd, 4.824, 164.01; 18. Jim Campbell, 5.023, 163.18; 19. Bob Bode, 5.728, 137.81; 20. Cruz Pedregon, 14.504, 64.70.

PRO STOCK: 1. Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.669, 206.45; 2. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.681, 205.63; 3. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.702, 205.32; 4. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.705, 205.10; 5. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.709, 204.63; 6. Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.710, 204.94; 7. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.714, 205.57; 8. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.715, 204.35; 9. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.722, 205.51; 10. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.734, 205.38; 11. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.734, 204.88; 12. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.747, 205.44; 13. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.754, 204.05; 14. Steve Graham, Camaro, 6.797, 203.25; 15. Joey Grose, Camaro, 6.961, 200.02; 16. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 7.074, 196.39.

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IndyCar champion Will Power completes ‘Victory Lap’ at ceremony in Indianapolis

Will Power Victory Lap
Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment
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INDIANAPOLIS – Will Power went on his “Victory Lap” last week to celebrate his second career championship as the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series champion.

It began with several media interviews in Monterey, California, the day after he won the championship with a third-place finish in the Sept. 11 Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey.

From there, it was off to Los Angeles for more interviews and personal appearances that included a VIP Tour at the Petersen Automotive Museum, several appearances on SiriusXM and lunch at The Ivy, where the Team Penske IndyCar Series driver was treated to Wagyu Beef.

“It was one of the best steaks I’ve ever had in my life,” Power told NBCSports.com.

From L.A. back to Power’s North Carolina home, near Team Penske’s home base of Mooresville, there was one stop left on Sept. 17 — the Victory Lap Celebration at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, an invitation-only banquet where Power and his No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet crew at Team Penske were honored for the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series championship.

They didn’t even have to check into a hotel and spend another night on the road. Power and his team left on a Team Penske plane from the Statesville, N.C., airport at 4 p.m. ET Saturday to fly to Indianapolis. On arrival an hour later, a limo bus took the team to IMS.

Power led the 2022 season with five NTT P1 Awards for pole, earning the NTT P1 Award as the best qualifier of the season for the fifth time in his career. Power also made history with his 68th career pole, breaking the all-time mark held by the legendary Mario Andretti.

Power and Scott Dixon also became just two of only five drivers to complete every lap of every race in IndyCar Series history.

“What a year,” Power said as he was awarded his personal Astor Cup trophy (the second in his collection after the 2014 championship. “What a phenomenal year coming off one of my worst seasons personally. We came back with a vengeance.

“I want to thank Roger and Kathy Penske for everything they have done for me over the years. I wouldn’t be standing here and have the numbers I have without what Roger has done for me. I’m given a car every week that is capable of winning the pole, races, championships, and Indianapolis 500s. I’m so grateful for that.

“Also, to Greg Penske, you are there every week now at every event and I know we will be in good hands moving forward with the Penske Family.”

There are many on Power’s team and at home, that helped support Power throughout his career. None is bigger than Power’s wife, Liz, who told Power before the season that he would win the championship and break Andretti’s record.

“I must thank my wife. I’m so lucky to have a wife with that crystal ball that can tell me what is going to happen,” Power said. “I can’t think you enough, babe. I love you so much and you have been a big support to me my whole career. We’ve been together 17 years, and I’ve been in the series 17 years. She has been such a huge support to me. The mother of our child and she is a fantastic mother.

“She can’t tell the future. She just had faith in me.”

Liz Power’s premonition came true and that allowed Power and his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet team to celebrate Penske’s 17th IndyCar championship and 42nd title in the racing team’s history.

“The 12 crew this year, I’ve never had such a great group of guys,” Power said. “Trevor Lacasse (chief mechanic) is such a calm guy, but he does such a meticulous job on the preparation of the car. He is very, very good at keeping the whole crew happy. It feels as if there is no pressure on us. That’s a huge part in getting the most out of people. It was our first year together with you as a crew chief. What a great year to start our relationship.

“Dave Faustino (Power’s longtime engineer), we’ve worked together for 15 years. He’s almost like a wife to me, a partner … apart from sleeping together. We have a very good working relationship. Sorry Dave, I’m an awkward person and you are not.

“The things we have been through in our years together, it’s crazy that we continually improve and get better. We are standing on the podium after winning the championship and we are talking about the car, the race, and the tires. We weren’t talking about the championship.

“We never stop. The other boys were laughing at us, but I’m already thinking about next year.

“Ron Ruzewski (Team Penske IndyCar Managing Director and strategist) on the radio, always calm. He has actually made me a calm person. I rarely get upset on the radio anymore.”

Power also recognized the fans who helped boost attendance at many venues on the schedule this season as NBC Sports enjoyed its largest IndyCar audience yet.

“This series is growing,” Power said. “With open wheel racing now so popular because of Formula One, it’s really our time to push and put money behind it and go now and take IndyCar to another level because we have the best racing product in the world.

“I have to thank my teammates and (Team Penske president) Tim Cindric. I can’t tell you how hard we push each other. We are ultracompetitive and love each other and push each other hard, so thank you.”


Power won the championship by 16 points over hard-charging teammate Josef Newgarden, who finished second in the standings for the third year in a row.

“Overall, I’m filled with a lot of pride for our team and what we were able to do this year,” Newgarden said in his banquet address. “Any year that you step in the championship, you can easily see the challenges it presents everybody.

“It’s a very difficult challenge for the teams and drivers. To be a part of it, make it through it and for us at Team Penske, to topple it, is a very big deal. We’re all competitive.

“The tough thing about being in a championship fight, especially with teammates is we all want to be the best. That’s how it should be. We are competitive people and want to be the best. But it’s a team sport.

“Will, tremendous season, great, great job. I think the world of everybody on our team. It’s a big group. I’m so happy for all of you on the 12-car crew. There is so much we can take into next year.”

Six-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon was unable to attend the banquet because of the Goodwood Festival in England but sent congratulations to Power via a video message.

“I really want to congratulate Will Power,” Dixon said. “You drove a tremendous season this year. Even with some of the lows that you had, some of the mistakes with qualifying, you bounced back tremendously. I know how tough these championships are and to see you do it in the style that you did it in the last race of the season, massive congratulations.”

Power’s championship formula included one victory, nine podiums and 12 top-five finishes. Teammate Josef Newgarden was second in the championship with five wins but only six podiums.

Cindric saluted Power’s season in accepting the championship team owner award.

“Will, you took it to another level this year,” Cindric said. “You are the complete package. You completed every lap, had nine podiums, finished out of the top 10 just four times, broke Mario Andretti’s record, and you did it all without cussing at the officials on national TV.

“One complaint I do has is while most of us think you might be from another planet, you never told us your wife was a fortune teller.”

Cindric also honored the seasons of Penske drivers Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin, who won three times in his second full season (“You are one of only two full-time IndyCar drivers that has driven for us in the past 23 years that hasn’t won an Indy 500 or an IndyCar championship. Your time is coming.”).

Kyle Moyer was named team manager of the year (his fifth time and Penske’s sixth). Pennzoil presented Lacasse with the chief mechanic of the year for the first time, the sixth time for Team Penske. The No. 12 crew also won the Firestone Pit Performance Award for the most pit stop performance award points in 2022.

Power, Newgarden and McLaughlin delivered nine of Chevrolet’s series-leading 11 victories this season, helping Chevy win the Manufacturer Award for the seventh time since it returned to the series in 2012 and the first time since 2017. Jim Danahy, U.S. vice president, Competition Motorsports Engineering for Chevrolet, accepted the award on behalf of his team.


Christian Lundgaard was honored as the 2022 NTT IndyCar rookie of the year. Lundgaard, from Denmark, scored one podium, two top-five finishes and seven top-10s in the No. 30 Honda fielded by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. He edged David Malukas of Dale Coyne Racing with HMD by 18 points in the standings for first-year series drivers.

Christian Lundgaard (Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment)

“It’s been a tough season and looking at how it panned out, we struggled so much at the beginning of the season and how we were able to turn it around means so much to me and the team,” Lundgaard said. “It’s the one thing that you only get one shot at. I’m happy to have it.

“Being the first Dane at the Indy 500 certainly helps. Competing here for me is quite important and also special. To win this award and to be here in future years means so much to me. I have a chance to compete for wins and championships.

“This team gave me this opportunity at this track one year ago. We came back and got redemption. We got our first podium here. This year was 40 years ago that Bobby Rahal won the same award. It’s pretty special to keep it among the team.”

Sweden’s Linus Lundqvist was honored as Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires champion after a dominant season for HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing. Lundqvist won a series-high five races in the No. 26 HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing entry and clinched the Lights championship with a race to spare, ending with a 92-point advantage over Sting Ray Robb. HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing owners Henry and Daiva Malukas accepted the team championship.

“I’m very proud of that,” Lundqvist said. “It’s cool to see. We are starting to look to the future, and this might not be doing too bad. It’s been great. As most of you can guess with Henry and Daiva Malukas (team owners), it’s been an incredible journey. So much fun that we’ve had. To be on the grid this year was so much of a struggle for us. I didn’t even know I would be doing this until January.

“To be able to pull out the season that we had, I cannot thank this team enough. We will celebrate this for a long time. I’m so happy and proud about that.”

Outgoing IndyCar Director of Medical Affairs Dr. Geoffrey Billows also was honored as he is leaving that role while battling cancer.

“When I think of Dr. Billows, I think of two words,” IndyCar president Jay Frye said. “One is selfless and the other is tough. He’s gone through a lot these last couple of years, and he didn’t want anybody to know. He’s an amazing man, and we are very grateful for what you have done.”

Dr. Geoffrey Billows with IndyCar president Jay Frye (Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment)

Billows was presented with a framed checkered flag signed by all drivers in the series as well as other IndyCar officials and dignitaries.

“I was not expecting this at all,” Billows said. “This means so much for me to be part of this family for the past 30 years. I’ve been presented with opportunities I never thought I would ever have. I can’t tell you how much I love all of you guys and care for all of you guys.

“Thank you so much. I want to also thank my wife, Tammy, who has been a pillar of strength as I continue on this journey with cancer for the past two years as well. You will still see me as a consultant because I love this too much to quit altogether.”

When the evening concluded, Team Penske boarded a bus to the airport for the short return flight to Statesville. They were home by midnight.

Power’s Victory Lap was complete.

“The best thing about this is I get to sleep in my own bed tonight,” Power said.

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500