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NHRA Topeka: Top qualifiers Millican, C. Force, Kramer are ones to beat Sunday

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NHRA Media Release

TOPEKA, Kan. – Qualifying concluded Saturday as Clay Millican drove to the Top Fuel No. 1 qualifier at the 30th annual Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals presented by Minties NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series race at Heartland Motorsports Park in Topeka, Kan.

Courtney Force (Funny Car) and Deric Kramer (Pro Stock) are also No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories at the eighth of 24 events on the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

In Top Fuel: Millican earned the top spot with a run of 3.739-seconds at 331.12 mph in his Strutmasters / Great Clips dragster during the third qualifying pass of the weekend and first of the day. He secured his fourth No. 1 qualifier this season, the 14th of his career, and he now sets his sights on his second career Top Fuel victory.

“When I drove by the scoreboard I couldn’t believe we had such a great run, but we are all excited to have jumped from the number 16 qualifier to the top of the board,” Millican said. “I’m giddy because our cars are running such high speeds but that was just a crazy run altogether.”

Millican will take on Terry Totten in the first round of eliminations on Sunday. Points leader Steve Torrence qualified second with a 3.747 at 328.30 and is set to meet Terry Haddock in competition.

In Funny Car: Force remained atop the Funny Car category with a run of 3.911-seconds at 321.73 mph in her Advance Auto Parts Chevy Camaro SS recorded during her second qualifying pass on Friday. The current Funny Car points leader locked down her fifth No. 1 qualifier of the 2018 campaign and third consecutive.

“My mindset didn’t change much despite that solid pass we had from yesterday, but we knew a lot of cars could improve their times and jump past us so we just kept pushing today,” Force said. “It’s great to kick off the weekend here at Heartland Motorsports Park in the top spot, but we are hoping for a great day tomorrow.”

Force is set to face off against Richard Townsend when eliminations get underway. Jonnie Lindberg sits at second with a 3.962 at 316.23 and will meet Jim Campbell in round one Sunday.

In Pro Stock: Kramer, behind the wheel of his American Ethanol Chevrolet Camaro, took over the No. 1 qualifying position after driving to a 6.613 at 208.42 pass during the final pair of Pro Stock qualifying. He now has two top qualifying spots on the season, after also leading the pack in Phoenix.

“We didn’t expect to go to the top spot going into that final run,” Kramer said. “I want to thank all of our sponsors for helping us get here, and we are excited to see what we can do when we get underway tomorrow.”

Kramer matches up with Will Hatcher in the first round. Erica Enders slots into the second spot after a 6.616 at 207.69 run in the final round of qualifying as she prepares for Mark Hogan in the first round.

Eliminations begin at 12 p.m. ET on Sunday.

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SUNDAY’S FIRST-ROUND PAIRINGS:

TOP FUEL: 1. Clay Millican, 3.739 seconds, 331.12 mph vs. 16. Terry Totten, 4.227, 246.35; 2. Steve Torrence, 3.747, 328.30 vs. 15. Terry Haddock, 4.098, 256.94; 3. Billy Torrence, 3.762, 331.36 vs. 14. Kebin Kinsley, 4.019, 271.52; 4. Tony Schumacher, 3.771, 331.12 vs. 13. Bill Litton, 3.915, 305.08; 5. Leah Pritchett, 3.776, 324.51 vs. 12. Antron Brown, 3.832, 322.96; 6. Terry McMillen, 3.792, 321.65 vs. 11. Mike Salinas, 3.813, 318.32; 7. Brittany Force, 3.792, 305.42 vs. 10. Richie Crampton, 3.811, 321.65; 8. Doug Kalitta, 3.798, 321.81 vs. 9. Scott Palmer, 3.806, 326.87. Did Not Qualify: 17. Audrey Worm, 4.983, 147.09.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.911, 321.73 vs. 16. Richard Townsend, Toyota Camry, 4.247, 254.14; 2. Jonnie Lindberg, Ford Mustang, 3.962, 316.23 vs. 15. Jim Campbell, Dodge Charger, 4.185, 297.02; 3. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 3.980, 314.68 vs. 14. Robert Hight, Camaro, 4.163, 259.96; 4. J.R. Todd, Camry, 3.996, 320.89 vs. 13. Dale Creasy Jr., Dodge Stratus, 4.088, 309.70; 5. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.006, 315.93 vs. 12. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.086, 304.53; 6. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.008, 313.00 vs. 11. John Force, Camaro, 4.053, 314.97; 7. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.021, 317.79 vs. 10. Shawn Langdon, Camry, 4.052, 314.31; 8. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.028, 315.78 vs. 9. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.048, 311.56. Did Not Qualify: 17. Todd Simpson, 4.617, 197.94; 18. Shane Westerfield, 5.357, 140.58.

PRO STOCK: 1. Deric Kramer, Chevy Camaro, 6.613, 208.42 vs. 16. Will Hatcher, Dodge Dart, 7.649, 140.99; 2. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.616, 207.69 vs. 15. Mark Hogan, Pontiac GXP, 6.887, 201.10; 3. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.620, 208.94 vs. 14. Alan Prusiensky, Dart, 6.717, 205.16; 4. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.626, 208.10 vs. 13. Richard Freeman, Camaro, 6.682, 206.07; 5. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.627, 208.04 vs. 12. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.655, 207.18; 6. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.629, 208.01 vs. 11. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.649, 208.26; 7. Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.632, 208.17 vs. 10. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.645, 207.85; 8. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.633, 207.37 vs. 9. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.635, 207.30.

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.