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NHRA New Hampshire: Hagan (FC), Pritchett (TF), Anderson (PS) early No. 1 qualifiers

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NHRA Media Release

EPPING, New Hampshire – Matt Hagan continued his recent hot stretch in the Funny Car class by earning the preliminary No. 1 qualifier at the sixth annual NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway.

Leah Pritchett (Top Fuel) and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) are also preliminary No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories at the 13th of 24 events on the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

In Funny Car: Hagan jumped atop the category lead with a pass of 3.932-seconds at 322.04 mph in his Sandvik Coromant Dodge Charger R/T recorded during his second qualifying run of the day. He entered the weekend tied for second in the Funny Car points standings following his victory in Norwalk, Ohio as he also chases his second consecutive win in Epping.

“Coming off the race win in Ohio gives us confidence heading into this event, and so far we have continued to just build on that,” Hagan said. “I felt like we had a good handle on the track today, and it’s definitely something we can work off of for the rest of the weekend.”

Jack Beckman finds himself second currently after a 3.956 at 320.20 in his Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger R/T during the second round of qualifying.

In Top Fuel: Pritchett powered to the preliminary top spot with a run of 3.742 at 324.51 in her Mopar dragster during her second qualifying pass of the day. Pritchett earned the No. 1 qualifying spot a year ago at New England Dragway by setting the track record with a 3.673 pass, as she looks to make it two consecutive top qualifiers in Epping.

“Our last pass came together with some last-minute changes, but I have confidence in my team and we are starting to feel like we have our strongest car of the year,” Pritchett said. “We’re going to take it one round at a time to prepare for Sunday, but we feel very strongly about this run.”

Tony Schumacher winds up second after the initial day of qualifying with a 3.744 at 330.31 in his U.S. Army dragster during his second qualifying run.

In Pro Stock: Anderson currently leads the Pro Stock class after driving to a 6.517 at 211.73 in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro during his second pass of the day. The four-time world champion is chasing his eighth No. 1 qualifying spot of the year and fourth in the past five races.

“It was very humid when we came out this morning which made it tough on our race cars, but the temperature went down enough to give perfect conditions for the Pro Stock class,” Anderson said. “This is a great racetrack and the air here is fantastic, so thankfully our team made the most of these conditions.”

Vincent Nobile is currently qualified second following a 6.528 at 211.20 in his Mountain View Tire Chevrolet Camaro as he chases his second No. 1 qualifier of 2018.

Qualifying continues at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday at New England Dragway.

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Friday’s results after the first two of four rounds of qualifying for the sixth annual NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway, the 13th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Qualifying will continue Saturday for Sunday’s final eliminations.

TOP FUEL: 1. Leah Pritchett, 3.742 seconds, 324.51 mph; 2. Tony Schumacher, 3.744, 330.31; 3. Steve Torrence, 3.756, 327.66; 4. Brittany Force, 3.775, 316.60; 5. Clay Millican, 3.778, 328.14; 6. Dom Lagana, 3.781, 326.16; 7. Scott Palmer, 3.803, 323.97; 8. Terry McMillen, 3.872, 317.05; 9. Doug Kalitta, 3.874, 303.64; 10. Shawn Reed, 3.895, 320.81; 11. Mike Salinas, 4.353, 185.05; 12. Dan Mercier, 4.530, 173.92; 13. Jim Maroney, 4.826, 153.51; 14. Audrey Worm, 5.791, 111.38; 15. Richie Crampton, 6.040, 103.44; 16. Antron Brown, 6.500, 104.50.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 3.932, 322.04; 2. Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.956, 320.20; 3. Shawn Langdon, Toyota Camry, 3.976, 321.42; 4. Ron Capps, Charger, 3.978, 320.89; 5. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.979, 324.44; 6. John Force, Camaro, 3.988, 324.75; 7. J.R. Todd, Camry, 4.021, 319.67; 8. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.023, 322.58; 9. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.044, 314.09; 10. Courtney Force, Camaro, 4.261, 217.39; 11. Jeff Diehl, Camry, 4.316, 289.45; 12. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.885, 158.87; 13. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 5.917, 112.97; 14. Jim Campbell, Charger, 7.633, 84.76; 15. Jonnie Lindberg, Mustang, 7.793, 82.40; 16. Mike Smith, Dodge Stratus, 12.225, 102.11. Not Qualified: 17. Terry Haddock, 12.290, 49.11.

PRO STOCK: 1. Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.517, 211.73; 2. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.528, 211.20; 3. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.535, 211.03; 4. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.546, 210.50; 5. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.546, 209.95; 6. Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.547, 210.70; 7. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.548, 211.66; 8. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.553, 211.56; 9. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.560, 210.60; 10. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.566, 209.88; 11. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.588, 209.59; 12. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.604, 208.94; 13. John Gaydosh Jr, Chevrolet Camaro, 6.623, 208.04; 14. Fernando Cuadra, Camaro, 6.627, 209.26; 15. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 6.671, 204.57; 16. Val Smeland, Camaro, 7.224, 148.35.

Title contenders stumble on the streets of Toronto

Photo: IndyCar
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The championship picture of the Verizon IndyCar Series saw a massive shakeup after Sunday’s Honda Indy Toronto. While points leader Scott Dixon ended up in victory lane, his third win on the streets of Toronto and his third win of the 2018 season, all of his championship rivals stumbled.

Josef Newgarden, the pole sitter and second-place man in championship – he trailed Dixon by 33 points entering Sunday – led from the pole and looked to be a contender for the win, but a Lap 34 restart saw his day come apart.

Newgarden ran wide exiting the final corner coming to the green flag and smacked the outside wall. He plummeted through the field and pitted under caution – for a Turn 1 pileup involving Graham Rahal, Max Chilton, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Will Power, and Sebastien Bourdais – to allow the No. 1 Hitachi Chevrolet Team Penske group to examine the car for damage.

Newgarden continued on, but was never a contender the rest of the day, ultimately finishing ninth.

“I knew it would be low grip, but not zero grip. I just lost the front end completely,” Newgarden said in describing how the wall contact happened. “I feel terrible, it’s not fun to make a mistake.”

Alexander Rossi, who sits third in the championship, ran a steady sixth in the first stint until Lap 27, when contact with Will Power damaged his front wing. Rossi was then caught up in the melee on the Lap 34 restart, getting airborne over the left-front of his Andretti Autosport teammate Hunter-Reay.

Rossi again pitted for a new front wing – he had six stops in total – and ended up eighth on a day when he felt like a podium beckoned.

“It’s a pretty disappointing result. I don’t think we had the car to beat Scott (Dixon), but for sure with the problems that everyone had, we could’ve finished second. It’s been a difficult string of races,” Rossi said afterward.

Hunter-Reay, too, had a day forget. After going from sixth to third on the start, he spun his No. 28 DHL Honda into the Turn 3 Barrier on Lap 27. And like Rossi, he was caught up in the Lap 34 pileup, falling off the lead lap in the process.

Hunter-Reay languished in 16th at the checkered flag.

“It was a very unfortunate day and a big loss for us in points,” Hunter-Reay lamented. “The DHL Honda was running comfortable in third and pushing hard, but I had too much front brake lock and found the tire barrier – that’s my fault. Then after that, we got caught up in a wreck, which put us a lap down. From there we just fought to stay in front of the leader.”

Power, too, hit his struggles after the first stint, when contact with the Turn 11 wall, an incident similar to the one that his Team Penske teammate Newgarden had, bent the right-rear suspension of his No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet. He also had contact with Rossi later that lap.

Power lost two laps in the pits as the team made repairs, and he took the checkered flag in 18th.

“In the last corner, I brushed the wall and bent a rear toe link, so the car was a little bit out of whack. I didn’t even know that (Alexander) Rossi and I touched. I was just kind of trying to hang on until we got a yellow and could pit,” Power explained. “I’ve never had so many DNFs; not DNF for this race, but like a DNF in a season. Still, it’s kind of how this sport can go.”

All told, their struggles mean that Dixon leads the championship by 62 points over Newgarden. Rossi sits third, 70 points of the lead, followed by Hunter-Reay and Power, who sit 91 and 93 points out of the lead respectively.

And the next race, the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (July 29 on NBCSN) won’t make it easy for them to make up ground, as Dixon’s record there is astoundingly strong. The four-time IndyCar champion has five wins at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, his most recent triumph coming in 2014, a race in which he famously came from last on the grid (22nd) to win.

Conversely, Newgarden, Rossi, Hunter-Reay, and Power have a combined one win at Mid-Ohio (Newgarden, last year).

However, the likes of Newgarden and Rossi still appear confident that they can make up for their Toronto struggles.

“We have to move on now and try to pick it back up. With the championship battle, we’ve got a long way to go. This doesn’t help but look, we have plenty of racing (left),” said Newgarden. “We need to keep our head up here. We’re going to be just fine, we’ve got fast cars and the best in the business. If we get our mistakes sorted out, we’re going to be just fine.”

Rossi, who finished sixth at Mid-Ohio last year, echoed similar sentiment, and thinks Mid-Ohio presents an opportunity to get back on track.

“We’re very good at Mid-Ohio, we’re kind of circling Toronto and Mid-Ohio as two races we were going to be pretty good at, so we got to reset, man, and just execute,” Rossi explained afterward. “We’re fast. We’re there every weekend. That’s the important thing. It’s a lot harder to be outside the top 10 and looking for answers. We’re fighting for pole every weekend. We’re in the Fast Six virtually every weekend, so you’re putting yourself in position to have a good result, it hasn’t come really since Texas.”

The 2018 championship is far from over – the season-ending GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma being a double-points event helps ensure as much. But, if Dixon does claim the 2018 title, Toronto may be the race that serves as the turning point.

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