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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.

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.”