NHRA Joliet: Torrence, Hagan, Anderson, Hines lead Friday qualifying

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NHRA Media Release

JOLIET, Ill. — The 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season continued Friday as Steve Torrence drove to the Top Fuel preliminary No. 1 qualifier 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) are also preliminary No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories at the ninth of 24 events on the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

The defending event winner, Torrence, powered to the top spot by setting both ends of the track record with a blistering run of 3.677-seconds at 333.58 mph in his Capco Contractors dragster in the last qualifying pass of the night. The current Top Fuel points leader has yet to record a No. 1 qualifier on the season, despite being the only driver in the class with three victories in 2018.

“I was really surprised by that last run, but these conditions allowed for us to make a hero run and get low E.T. for the day,” Torrence said. “Notoriously I have not had great success at Route 66 Raceway, but last year we got the monkey off our backs here and we have a lot of confidence that we can keep making steps in the right direction this weekend.”

The defending Top Fuel world champion Brittany Force slots into second in the class after Friday’s qualifying with a 3.721 at 329.34 in her Advance Auto Parts / Monster Energy dragster.

Hagan jumped atop the Funny Car category 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 is on the hunt for his second No. 1 qualifier of the year and first since the season-opening event in Pomona, where he also earned his lone victory of the season.

“This was a great run for us, and I think we have started to close the gap on some of the cars that we’re chasing in the standings,” Hagan said. “I feel like we have everything dialed in and I’m very confident with the direction we are headed.”

Hagan’s teammate Ron Capps moved into second in initial qualifying after a 3.921 at 325.92 in his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T during his second pass and Jack Beckman rounded out the top three.

Anderson currently holds 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. The four-time world champion is chasing his fifth No. 1 qualifying spot of the season.

“These Pro Stock cars come alive when the weather is like this, we have a great racetrack and atmosphere and that makes this a fun place to race,” Anderson said. “We are off to a great start this weekend, and I expect it will continue to be good all weekend.”

Tanner Gray jumped to second in preliminary qualifying with a 6.556 at 210.18 in his Gray Motorsports Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro during his second run of the day.

The Pro Stock Motorcycle class was paced by Andrew Hines, who used a 6.862 at 193.90 on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson from his first qualifying run to lead the pack. He is aiming for his second No. 1 qualifier of the season and first since Gainesville in March.

“This weather is really strange out here, it’s not our typical conditions in Chicago but we will take it because we have our street rod No. 1,” Hines said. “We’re happy all around and my guys are eager to come out here tomorrow to try and get some quicker times.”

His teammate and the category points leader Eddie Krawiec currently sits second with an identical 6.862 at 193.24 during the second round.

Qualifying continues at 2:45 p.m. on Saturday at Route 66 Raceway.

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Friday’s results after the first two of four rounds of qualifying for the 21st annual JEGS Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway, ninth of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Qualifying will continue Saturday for Sunday’s final eliminations.

TOP FUEL: 1. Steve Torrence, 3.677 seconds, 333.58 mph; 2. Brittany Force, 3.721, 329.34; 3. Tony Schumacher, 3.749, 329.99; 4. Clay Millican, 3.753, 326.48; 5. T.J. Zizzo, 3.771, 326.48; 6. Blake Alexander, 3.781, 328.06; 7. Doug Kalitta, 3.786, 321.96; 8. Leah Pritchett, 3.797, 328.30; 9. Antron Brown, 3.801, 325.14; 10. Richie Crampton, 3.826, 296.83; 11. Scott Palmer, 3.839, 326.24; 12. Pat Dakin, 3.841, 320.51; 13. Terry McMillen, 3.895, 312.13; 14. Chris Karamesines, 4.130, 231.56; 15. Billy Torrence, 4.231, 202.18; 16. Kyle Wurtzel, 5.361, 123.44. Not Qualified: 17. Terry Haddock, 10.562, 55.97; 18. Luigi Novelli, 10.985, 48.33; 19. Bill Litton, 13.138, 68.76.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 3.917, 326.79; 2. Ron Capps, Charger, 3.921, 325.92; 3. Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.944, 322.81; 4. Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.966, 327.66; 5. Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 3.969, 320.05; 6. John Force, Camaro, 3.971, 324.59; 7. Shawn Langdon, Camry, 3.980, 326.08; 8. Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 3.988, 318.47; 9. J.R. Todd, Camry, 4.019, 310.20; 10. Robert Hight, Camaro, 4.073, 267.85; 11. Dale Creasy Jr., Dodge Stratus, 4.112, 314.46; 12. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.409, 201.73; 13. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.503, 185.36; 14. Bob Bode, Charger, 4.662, 187.99; 15. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.942, 160.12; 16. Jonnie Lindberg, Mustang, 5.640, 122.76. Not Qualified: 17. Justin Schriefer, 6.059, 88.64.

PRO STOCK: 1. Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.546, 211.03; 2. Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.556, 210.21; 3. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.559, 209.95; 4. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.560, 210.67; 5. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.564, 210.87; 6. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.579, 209.07; 7. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.581, 210.18; 8. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.582, 209.75; 9. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.584, 210.14; 10. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.585, 209.49; 11. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.587, 209.72; 12. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.600, 209.14; 13. Wally Stroupe, Camaro, 6.813, 203.43; 14. Mark Hogan, Pontiac GXP, 6.847, 199.67; 15. Dave River, Chevy Cobalt, 6.950, 197.28; 16. Tim Freeman, Camaro, 7.087, 151.78.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.862, 193.90; 2. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.862, 194.49; 3. Matt Smith, Victory, 6.871, 194.83; 4. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.881, 193.90; 5. Hector Arana Jr., Buell, 6.883, 195.05; 6. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.937, 192.96; 7. Angie Smith, Buell, 6.942, 190.59; 8. Ryan Oehler, Buell, 6.948, 191.46; 9. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.965, 191.65; 10. Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, 6.969, 191.76; 11. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.975, 191.97; 12. Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 7.005, 191.27; 13. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 7.017, 190.46; 14. Marc Ingwersen, Buell, 7.026, 187.55; 15. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 7.063, 189.63; 16. Hector Arana, Buell, 7.134, 194.41. Not Qualified: 17. Mark Paquette, 7.150, 157.17; 18. Cory Reed, 7.157, 188.41; 19. Angelle Sampey, 8.999, 97.81.

Jack Miller wins the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix as Fabio Quartararo stops his downward points’ slide

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Jack Miller ran away with the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi as Fabio Quartararo stopped his downward slide in the championship when a last-lap accident from his closest rival in the standings caused Francesco Bagnaia to score zero points.

Starting seventh, Miller quickly made his way forward. He was second at the end of two laps. One lap later, he grabbed the lead from Jorge Martin. Once in the lead, Miller posted three consecutive fastest laps and was never seriously challenged. It was Australian native Miller’s first race win of the season and his sixth podium finish.

The proximity to his home turf was not lost.

“I can ride a motorcycle sometimes,” Miller said in NBC Sports’ post-race coverage. “I felt amazing all weekend since I rolled out on the first practice. It feels so awesome to be racing on this side of the world.

“What an amazing day. It’s awesome; we have the home Grand Prix coming up shortly. Wedding coming up in a couple of weeks. I’m over the moon; can’t thank everyone enough.”

Miller beat Brad Binder to the line by 3.4 seconds with third-place Jorge Martin finishing about one second behind.

But the center of the storm was located just inside the top 10 as both Quartararo and Bagnaia started deep in the field.

Quartararo was on the outside of row three in ninth with Bagnaia one row behind in 12th. Neither rider moved up significantly, but the championship continued to be of primary importance as Bagnaia put in a patented late-race charge to settle onto Quartararo’s back tire, which would have allowed the championship leader to gain only a single point.

On the final lap, Bagnaia charged just a little too hard and crashed under heavy braking, throwing away the seven points he would have earned for a ninth-place finish.

The day was even more dramatic for the rider who entered the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix third in the standings. On the sighting lap, Aleix Espargaro had an alarm sound, so he peeled off into the pits, dropped his primary bike and jumped aboard the backup. Starting from pit lane, he trailed the field and was never able to climb into the points. An undisclosed electronic problem was the culprit.

For Quartararo, gaining eight points on the competition was more than a moral victory. This was a track on which he expected to run moderately, and he did, but the problems for his rivals gives him renewed focus with four rounds remaining.

Next week, the series heads to Thailand and then Miller’s home track of Phillip Island in Australia. They will close out the Pacific Rim portion of the schedule before heading to Spain for the finale in early November.

It would appear team orders are not in play among the Ducati riders. Last week’s winner Enea Bastianini made an aggressive early move on Bagnaia for position before the championship contender wrestled the spot back.

In his second race back following arm surgery, Marc Marquez won the pole. His last pole was more than 1,000 days ago on this same track in 2019, the last time the series competed at Motegi. Marquez slipped to fifth in the middle stages of the race, before regaining a position to finish just off the podium.

In Moto2 competition, Ai Ogura beat Augusto Fernandez to close the gap in that championship to two points. Fernandez holds the scant lead. Alonso Lopez rounded out the podium.

Both American riders, Cameron Beaubier and Joe Roberts finished just outside the top 10 in 11th and 12th respectively.