NHRA Force power: Brittany, Courtney Force remain No. 1 qualifiers in Charlotte

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NHRA MEDIA RELATIONS

CONCORD, North Carolina– The final day of qualifying for the NGK Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals concluded on Saturday afternoon.

Funny Car racer Courtney Force along with her sister Brittany in Top Fuel, retained their No. 1 qualifying positions from Friday at zMAX Dragway.

Drew Skillman (Pro Stock) and LE Tonglet (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are also No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories at the sixth of 24 events on the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

Courtney Force was able to use her 3.873-second pass at 332.92 mph run during the first day of qualifying in her Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro to maintain the top position. This is her third No. 1 of the year, her most recent at the event in Las Vegas, and the 20th career.

“I’m really excited for us to come here and race four-wide,” said Courtney Force. “For us to do it with my sister Brittany and her Monster Energy team right beside us is pretty amazing. I’m really excited and I hope it is something good for what is to come tomorrow and Brittany and I can celebrate in the winner’s circle.”

With the unique four-wide eliminations format she will face No. 16 qualifier Jim Campbell as well as her father John Force, and Tim Wilkerson in the first round.

In Top Fuel, Brittany Force secured her first No. 1 of the season and the ninth of her career with her run of 3.689 at 318.39 in her Monster Energy Dragster. Brittany Force and her team suffered a setback at the season opening race when she was involved in an incident. While she was uninjured, her primary car was destroyed in the accident. Her team debuted a new car at the most recent event in Houston, which she won, and now has a No. 1 qualifying position with the new machine.

“This is the third car we have run this season and it isn’t easy when you have to rebuild a whole new car,” said Brittany Force. “We went out and won the debut race and that is pretty impressive. I have to give credit to Alan Johnson (consultant) and Brian Husen (crew chief) and my Monster guys for making it happen. We are on a role and I’m happy we qualified No. 1 last night, held onto that spot but tomorrow is a whole new day. The plan is to go some rounds and win the thing.”

When eliminations begin on Sunday, she will face Audrey Worm as well as Shawn Reed and Scott Palmer.

Pro Stock is led by Skillman, who raced to the sixth No. 1. qualifying position of his career as his 6.534 at 210.37 run from Friday remained the category leader. It is his first top position since the Sonoma event in 2017 for the driver of the Ray Skillman Chevrolet Camaro.

“Our car has run pretty good all weekend,” said Skillman. “After the second hit we had a lot of momentum going forward this weekend and we have a little bit of work to go yet before Sunday but our team is ready, our car is ready, and I’m ready to go.”

Skillman has yet to win this season and will face Val Smeland, Erica Enders and Jason Line in search of his sixth career victory.

Tonglet, in his first race back with the White Alligator Racing (WAR) Pro Stock Motorcycle team owned by 2016 world champ Jerry Savoie, raced to the No. 1 position with his run of 6.812 at 196.99 in the third round of qualifying. Tonglet the defending event winner, is the 2010 category champion, and earned his sixth career top position on his KPK/Nitrofish Suzuki.

“The success is all on team WAR and we couldn’t do it without them,” said Tonglet. “The build an awesome team, a really good program, and I’m just fortunate to be part of it. The bike is flying and I’m looking forward to going three rounds tomorrow. This is the only track I can say that. We just need to go out there and get win lights at the other end and I feel like I can do that.”

Tonglet will square off against Jim Underdahl, his team owner Savoie and Hector Arana Jr.

Eliminations at the NGK Sparkplugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals begin at noon ET on Sunday.

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SUNDAY’S FIRST-ROUND PAIRINGS

TOP FUEL: 1. Brittany Force, 3.689 seconds, 318.39 mph vs. 16. Audrey Worm, 4.143, 256.84 vs. 8. Shawn Reed, 3.838, 323.43 vs. 9. Scott Palmer, 3.841, 313.58; 2. Tony Schumacher, 3.692, 331.61 vs. 15. Leah Pritchett, 4.004, 294.31 vs. 7. Clay Millican, 3.773, 323.27 vs. 10. Dom Lagana, 3.846, 270.21; 3. Antron Brown, 3.719, 331.77 vs. 14. Richie Crampton, 3.938, 307.86 vs. 6. Doug Kalitta, 3.758, 327.98 vs. 11. Mike Salinas, 3.884, 309.77; 4. Steve Torrence, 3.731, 330.72 vs. 13. Kyle Wurtzel, 3.906, 301.40 vs. 5. Terry McMillen, 3.744, 329.75 vs. 12. Pat Dakin, 3.905, 315.34. Did Not Qualify: 17. Terry Haddock, 4.227, 283.43.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.873, 332.92 vs. 16. Jim Campbell, Dodge Charger, 4.135, 307.44 vs. 8. John Force, Camaro, 3.938, 328.06 vs. 9. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.949, 320.81; 2. Ron Capps, Charger, 3.886, 329.83 vs. 15. Dale Creasy Jr., Dodge Stratus, 4.089, 315.12 vs. 7. Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.920, 323.50 vs. 10. Jonnie Lindberg, Mustang, 3.960, 319.29; 3. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.887, 328.70 vs. 14. John Smith, Chevy Monte Carlo, 4.082, 307.23 vs. 6. Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 3.908, 321.42 vs. 11. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.966, 320.89; 4. J.R. Todd, Camry, 3.888, 330.96 vs. 13. Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.983, 316.08 vs. 5. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 3.907, 326.16 vs. 12. Shawn Langdon, Camry, 3.973, 325.45. Did Not Qualify: 17. Jeff Diehl, 4.247, 296.37.

PRO STOCK: 1. Drew Skillman, Chevy Camaro, 6.534, 211.69 vs. 16. Val Smeland, Camaro, 6.655, 209.07 vs. 8. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.561, 210.60 vs. 9. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.562, 210.93; 2. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.548, 211.79 vs. 15. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.636, 208.75 vs. 7. Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.560, 210.90 vs. 10. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.564, 211.66; 3. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.549, 210.83 vs. 14. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 6.632, 208.39 vs. 6. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.558, 211.06 vs. 11. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.565, 210.93; 4. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.556, 210.90 vs. 13. John Gaydosh Jr, Chevrolet Camaro, 6.618, 208.81 vs. 5. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.557, 211.26 vs. 12. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.571, 210.93. Did Not Qualify: 17. Wally Stroupe, 6.870, 201.79; 18. Tommy Lee, 15.830, 55.12.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.812, 197.59 vs. 16. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.942, 195.25 vs. 8. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.841, 195.48 vs. 9. Hector Arana Jr, EBR, 6.847, 197.31; 2. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.814, 197.80 vs. 15. Ryan Oehler, Buell, 6.934, 195.11 vs. 7. Cory Reed, Buell, 6.838, 196.96 vs. 10. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.866, 196.56; 3. Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, 6.816, 197.74 vs. 14. Angie Smith, Buell, 6.929, 194.38 vs. 6. Matt Smith, Victory, 6.836, 196.73 vs. 11. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.866, 193.63; 4. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.827, 198.29 vs. 13. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.919, 194.27 vs. 5. Hector Arana, EBR, 6.833, 199.17 vs. 12. Angelle Sampey, Buell, 6.898, 196.30. Did Not Qualify: 17. Mark Paquette, 6.980, 192.88; 18. Kelly Clontz, 7.041, 189.87; 19. Scott Bottorff, 7.055, 190.73; 20. Lance Bonham, 7.179, 188.10; 21. Melissa Surber, 7.397, 152.92.

Eli Tomac wins Houston Supercross: Hunter Lawrence takes early 250 East lead

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With his 47th career victory and third of the 2023 season in Houston, Eli Tomac closed to within one win of tying Ricky Carmichael for third on the all-time Monster Energy Supercross list.

Tomac rebounded from last week’s crash by earning the holeshot in both his heat and the Main. At the start of the big show, he couldn’t shake Aaron Plessinger in the first four minutes and actually was in the process of losing the lead as a red flag waved for a crash involving Tomac’s teammate Dylan Ferrandis when he overjumped an obstacle and landed on Ken Roczen’s back fender as they raced for eighth.

“That was a tough race,” Tomac told NBC Sports’ Will Christien, referencing his loss to Chase Sexton in the heat. “And honestly, I was just beat down after that heat race and was searching quite a bit and was basically losing speed everywhere. I just rode better, straight up in the Main. I felt better.”

In their heat, Sexton passed Tomac at the two-minute mark and then simply rode away from the field. At the end, he had an almost eight-second gap on Tomac.

“It wasn’t great by any means,” Sexton told Jason Thomas. “I feel like the strengths I had all day, I really lagged in the Main event between the whoop and the sand section. I think I could have walked through it faster. It was still a good ride; it wasn’t great. I expected after the heat race he would be fired up.”

RESULTS: How they finished for the 450 Main in Anaheim 2

Jason Anderson scored his second consecutive pole, but he was not happy to finish third behind the two points’ leaders.

“We should be thankful every time we get to be up here,” Anderson said. “They’re making it tough on me, but all I can do is give my best.”

Tomac had to withstand a red flag and the distant second place finish in his heat to win the Houston Supercross race. In the post-race conference, he indicated that he did not make any changes to the bike and simply rode better.

Aaron Plessinger and Cooper Webb rounded out the top five.

Ferrandis was fitted with a neck brace, but still able to walk to the medical cart. He was still being evaluated by the medical staff as the night came to a close.


In 250s Hunter Lawrence entered the 250 East opener as the consensus favorite to win the championship this year with Christian Craig making the move into 450s and his brother Jett Lawrence in the West division. He answered quickly with a huge lead in Heat 1, but it almost went awry in the Main.

Lawrence got a good start, but he was passed early in the race by two-time MXGP champion (2020, 2022) Tom Vialle, who was making his Supercross debut this week. Vialle passed Lawrence on the first lap. When Lawrence tried to pass him back, Vialle scrubbed speed off a jump and pushed Lawrence wide, over the Tuff Blox.

Championships are made out of Lawrence’s response. He kept his composure and did not overcorrect before methodically working his way to the front.

“We had a little off track excursion. I wasn’t sure how hard across Tom was coming so I thought I’ll just go left, but then saw that was the side of the track. Thankfully I didn’t hit the Tuff Blox and got back on track safely. … Good start; put myself in position.”

Click here for full 250 East Main Results

Making a move from the 450 class to 250s, Max Anstie had immediate success. He finished second in his heat behind Jordon Smith and lined up with a great gate pick. He had to overtake Vialle in the opening laps and lost ground on Lawrence, that cost enough time to keep him from pressing Lawrence. This is Anstie’s first podium in the United States

“Honestly, I’ve dreamed of this for a long time to come up on these steps and man it’s a great feeling. I’ve really enjoyed the day and being on this 250, I feel like an 18-year-old kid. Everyday I’m learning.”

Smith backed up his heat win with a podium finish.

“It feels good to be back up here again,” Smith said. “It’s been a long time; a lot of injuries.”

Haiden Deegan proved the hype surrounding his debut in the 250 class was not unfounded. He finished fourth in his heat to advance to directly into the Main. During the early laps, he was circling the track in a podium position until a minor mistake sent him off the box. In the closing laps, he narrowly made an aggressive pass on Jeremy Martin and narrowly missed the podium with a fourth-place finish.

Martin held on to round out the top five.

Vialle was running in a podium position when went down with a 1:30 left on the clock. He ended his night seventh.

Chance Hymas was also making his 250 debut and scored a top-10 in eighth.

2023 Race Recaps

Anaheim 2: Triple Crown produces new winners Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen
San Diego: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence double down
Anaheim 1: Tomac wins opener for the first time

Houston coverage

Houston by the numbers
Supercross unveils 16th edition of a Ricky Carmichael designed Daytona track
Power Rankings after week 3
Malcom Stewart out for “extended duration” after knee surgery
Haiden Deegan makes Supercross debut in Houston, Justin Cooper to 450s
Talon Hawkins set to relieve injured Jalek Swoll in Houston
Jalek Swoll out for an indefinite period with broken arm
Ken Roczen urgently needed a change
Chris Blose joins Pro Circuit Kawasaki in 250 East opener
Seth Hammaker to miss Houston with wrist injury
Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner on injured list