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NHRA Atlanta — Friday No. 1 qualifiers: Millican (TF), Hight (FC), Anderson (PS), M. Smith (PSM)

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Courtesy: NHRA Media Relations

COMMERCE, GA. – The 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continued Friday evening as Clay Millican set the Top Fuel track speed record at the NHRA Southern Nationals Powered by Mello Yello at Atlanta Dragway.

Robert Hight (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock), and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are provisional qualifying leaders at the seventh of the 24 events on the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

In Top Fuel, Millican piloted his Parts Plus / Great Clips dragster to a pass of 3.758-seconds and track record speed of 331.12 mph during the second round of qualifying. He currently holds the national elapsed time record which was set at Pomona earlier this season. Millican is seeking his third No. 1 qualifier of the season and 13th of his career.

“To go 331 mph in Atlanta is pretty cool,” Millican stated. “The car is the quickest in the world and I’m proud of that. We’ve had a little problem when it’s hot outside. What surprised me is that this car is starting to run speed because last year we didn’t run speed.”

Coming off his win at the NGK Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, Steve Torrence piloted his Capco Contractors dragster to the No. 13 qualifying position.

In Funny Car, defending world champion Hight’s second qualifying pass of 3.952 at 327.59 in his Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro took him to the top of the category. He is striving for his second No. 1 qualifier of the season and 59th of his career.

“I’m pretty impressed with that run,” Hight stated. “If you look at all the other runs, the others were in the right lane. The left lane is a little trickier here. To get the No. 1 spot out of the left lane is pretty impressive. We haven’t run that well in a couple of races.”

In Pro Stock, veteran Anderson currently holds the top spot after driving to a 6.593 at 210.11 run in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro. He is seeking his fourth No. 1 qualifier and first victory of the season.

“Qualifying No. 1 is great, but usually means its by thousands of a second,” Anderson said. “That’s how close the class is. So, anyone can still win on Sunday, but with bonus points I’ve gotten a ton of them this year the way my car has qualified. That is going to help in the long run.”

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Smith currently sits in the No. 1 qualifier position with a 6.882 at 196.13 on his Victory Magnum during the first round of qualifying. He chose to sit out the second round.

“We made a pretty good pass the first run,” Smith stated. “We decided to save parts and pieces. For Saturday, we’re going down one pass. I think we’ll be pretty good and if the weathers good we should be able to put a good time down.”

Reigning Pro Stock Motorcycle champion Eddie Krawiec is currently seeded second overall.

Qualifying continues at the NHRA Southern Nationals Powered by Mello Yello at 11:15 a.m. ET on Saturday. 

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FRIDAY’S RESULTS:

TOP FUEL: 1. Clay Millican, 3.758 seconds, 331.12 mph; 2. Leah Pritchett, 3.789, 314.83; 3. Brittany Force, 3.799, 319.60; 4. Doug Kalitta, 3.800, 323.81; 5. Richie Crampton, 3.870, 294.43; 6. Blake Alexander, 3.884, 316.23; 7. Bill Litton, 3.901, 311.92; 8. Mike Salinas, 3.927, 304.46; 9. Pat Dakin, 4.193, 206.13; 10. Tony Schumacher, 4.219, 212.26; 11. Antron Brown, 4.435, 185.10; 12. Terry McMillen, 4.880, 152.50; 13. Steve Torrence, 5.066, 136.50; 14. Terry Haddock, 5.530, 120.95; 15. Audrey Worm, 6.070, 99.88; 16. Scott Palmer, 9.528, 88.29.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.952, 327.59; 2. Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 3.969, 316.38; 3. Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger, 3.974, 319.90; 4. Courtney Force, Camaro, 3.987, 312.64; 5. Jonnie Lindberg, Ford Mustang, 4.001, 316.15; 6. John Force, Camaro, 4.042, 320.81; 7. J.R. Todd, Camry, 4.045, 315.93; 8. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.055, 313.80; 9. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.061, 316.82; 10. Shawn Langdon, Camry, 4.183, 296.89; 11. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.606, 181.03; 12. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.666, 174.64; 13. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.850, 166.72; 14. Jeff Diehl, Toyota Solara, 4.857, 171.75; 15. Jim Campbell, Charger, 6.020, 107.26; 16. John Smith, Chevy Monte Carlo, 7.189, 84.84.

PRO STOCK: 1. Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.593, 210.11; 2. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.601, 209.46; 3. Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.603, 207.94; 4. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.606, 209.07; 5. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.615, 207.88; 6. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.620, 209.39; 7. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.620, 209.33; 8. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.627, 209.20; 9. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.630, 208.84; 10. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.658, 208.01; 11. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 6.729, 207.08; 12. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.750, 205.26; 13. John Gaydosh Jr., Chevrolet Camaro, 6.798, 203.71; 14. Wally Stroupe, Camaro, 6.890, 201.79; 15. Val Smeland, Camaro, 7.222, 146.51; 16. Bo Butner, Camaro, 7.753, 124.90.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. Matt Smith, Victory, 6.882, 196.13; 2. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.884, 195.05; 3. Cory Reed, Buell, 6.889, 193.13; 4. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.891, 195.22; 5. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.895, 193.88; 6. Hector Arana Jr., EBR, 6.901, 197.02; 7. Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, 6.904, 192.58; 8. Hector Arana, EBR, 6.911, 196.62; 9. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.915, 194.80; 10. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.919, 193.24; 11. Angelle Sampey, Buell, 6.942, 193.85; 12. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.953, 192.06; 13. Angie Smith, Buell, 6.971, 192.47; 14. Ryan Oehler, Buell, 6.980, 193.18; 15. Melissa Surber, Buell, 6.981, 188.41; 16. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 7.041, 189.66. Not Qualified: 17. Karen Stoffer, 7.053, 190.35; 18. Mark Paquette, 7.056, 188.20; 19. Kelly Clontz, 7.155, 186.12; 20. Andie Rawlings, 7.231, 181.76.

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
IMSA
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”