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NHRA Joliet: Torrence, Hagan, Anderson, Hines are ones to beat Sunday

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NHRA Media Release:

JOLIET, Ill. — The 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season continued Saturday as Steve Torrence held on to the Top Fuel No. 1 qualifying position at the 21st annual JEGS Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway.

Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also qualified first in their respective categories at the ninth of 24 events on the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

Torrence remained in the top spot after setting both ends of the track record with a pass of 3.677-seconds at 333.58 mph in his Capco Contractors dragster during the second qualifying pass on Friday.

The defending event winner and current Top Fuel points leader recorded his first No. 1 qualifier on the season, as he looks to build upon his category-best three victories this season.

“Yesterday had some pretty optimal conditions which allowed for us to have that strong run, but it is definitely a huge confidence booster to go into race day knowing my team has a strong handle on the tune-up,” Torrence said. “I think we are getting really close to having the most consistent car we have ever had, and it’s fun to be driving this racecar right now.”

Torrence will take on Luigi Novelli in the first round of eliminations on Sunday.

Defending Top Fuel world champion Brittany Force qualified second for the weekend with a 3.721 at 329.34 in her Advance Auto Parts/Monster Energy dragster on Friday, as she will face off against Kyle Wurtzel in eliminations.

Hagan stayed atop the Funny Car class with a run of 3.917 at 326.79 in his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T recorded during his second qualifying pass on Friday. The two-time world champion locked in his second No. 1 qualifier of the season and first since the season-opening event in Pomona, where he also earned his lone victory on the year.

“We’ve had to regroup this season and make some wholesale changes, and even though it’s taken some time to get here but I feel like our car is running strong now,” Hagan said. “Our confidence has definitely grown, and we are blessed to have that No. 1 qualifier heading into race day.”

Hagan faces off with Jonnie Lindberg in the elimination round. Hagan’s teammate Ron Capps qualified second and matches up with Justin Schriefer for Sunday’s first round of eliminations.

Anderson held onto the top spot in Pro Stock after driving to a 6.546 at 211.03 in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro during the second round of qualifying on Friday night. He now has 98 career No. 1 qualifiers and five this season, the most in the class.

“To have 98 career No. 1 qualifiers is quite a feather in the cap for this whole KB Racing Team, and to have low E.T. of every session this weekend is a good feeling going into Sunday,” Anderson said. “I’ve had a great qualifying car all year so far but we haven’t been able to get it done on Sunday, which we will try to change tomorrow.”

Anderson will go head-to-head with David River in the elimination round. Tanner Gray remained in second after his 6.556 at 210.18 from Friday, as he prepares for Wally Stroupe in the first round.

The Pro Stock Motorcycle class was once again led by Andrew Hines, who used a 6.849 at 194.83 on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson in the final pass of the day to reclaim the top spot.

“We had a really good motorcycle today and this track is really good for us, but all-in-all my team is doing a great job and we are all feeling good about racing here tomorrow,” Hines said. “We threw everything we could at the track today, but it all worked out and it’s nice to get down the track so quick.”

Hines will line up against Cory Reed in the first round.

Hector Arana Jr. secured the second qualifying spot after a 6.852 at 197.45 in the final qualifying pass on Saturday, as he prepares for Marc Ingwersen on Sunday.

Eliminations begin at 12 p.m. EST on Sunday at Route 66 Raceway.

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Sunday’s first-round pairings for eliminations for the 21st annual JEGS Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway, the ninth of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Pairings based on results in qualifying, which ended Saturday. DNQs listed below pairings:

TOP FUEL: 1. Steve Torrence, 3.677 seconds, 333.58 mph vs. 16. Luigi Novelli, 3.982, 273.05; 2. Brittany Force, 3.721, 329.34 vs. 15. Kyle Wurtzel, 3.973, 294.88; 3. Tony Schumacher, 3.749, 329.99 vs. 14. Billy Torrence, 3.900, 301.87; 4. Clay Millican, 3.753, 326.48 vs. 13. Pat Dakin, 3.841, 323.74; 5. T.J. Zizzo, 3.771, 326.48 vs. 12. Scott Palmer, 3.839, 326.24; 6. Blake Alexander, 3.781, 328.06 vs. 11. Richie Crampton, 3.817, 319.52; 7. Antron Brown, 3.781, 327.19 vs. 10. Leah Pritchett, 3.797, 328.30; 8. Doug Kalitta, 3.786, 321.96 vs. 9. Terry McMillen, 3.796, 323.97. Did Not Qualify: 17. Terry Haddock, 4.020, 289.82; 18. Chris Karamesines, 4.130, 231.56; 19. Bill Litton, 4.156, 246.66.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 3.917, 326.79 vs. 16. Jonnie Lindberg, Ford Mustang, 4.463, 263.36; 2. Ron Capps, Charger, 3.921, 325.92 vs. 15. Justin Schriefer, Charger, 4.155, 277.72; 3. Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.944, 322.81 vs. 14. Dale Creasy Jr., Dodge Stratus, 4.112, 314.46; 4. Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.966, 327.66 vs. 13. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.085, 311.13; 5. Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 3.969, 320.05 vs. 12. Robert Hight, Camaro, 4.073, 267.85; 6. John Force, Camaro, 3.971, 324.59 vs. 11. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.055, 308.78; 7. Shawn Langdon, Camry, 3.980, 326.08 vs. 10. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.011, 323.35; 8. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 3.981, 320.43 vs. 9. J.R. Todd, Camry, 4.007, 322.88. Did Not Qualify: 17. Bob Bode, 4.502, 239.19; 18. John Lawson, 4.748, 190.35.

PRO STOCK: 1. Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.546, 211.03 vs. 16. Dave River, Chevy Cobalt, 6.950, 197.28; 2. Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.556, 210.21 vs. 15. Wally Stroupe, Camaro, 6.813, 203.43; 3. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.559, 209.95 vs. 14. Mark Hogan, Pontiac GXP, 6.803, 202.21; 4. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.560, 210.67 vs. 13. Tim Freeman, Camaro, 6.629, 208.39; 5. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.564, 210.87 vs. 12. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.600, 209.14; 6. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.579, 209.07 vs. 11. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.587, 209.72; 7. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.581, 210.18 vs. 10. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.585, 209.49; 8. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.582, 209.75 vs. 9. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.584, 210.14.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.849, 194.83 vs. 16. Cory Reed, Buell, 7.038, 189.87; 2. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.852, 197.45 vs. 15. Marc Ingwersen, Buell, 7.026, 187.55; 3. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.862, 194.49 vs. 14. Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 7.005, 191.27; 4. Matt Smith, Victory, 6.871, 194.83 vs. 13. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.987, 190.51; 5. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.881, 193.90 vs. 12. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.975, 192.19; 6. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.891, 194.66 vs. 11. Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, 6.969, 191.76; 7. Angie Smith, Buell, 6.920, 192.66 vs. 10. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.965, 191.65; 8. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.930, 194.41 vs. 9. Ryan Oehler, Buell, 6.948, 191.46. Did Not Qualify: 17. Mark Paquette, 7.039, 189.42; 18. Karen Stoffer, 7.047, 189.63; 19. Angelle Sampey, 7.060, 189.66.

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.