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NHRA: Pritchett, Hagan, Anderson hang on to No. 1 for Sunday’s New England eliminations

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As 1960s music heartthrobs Herman’s Hermits used to sing, “Second verse, same as the first.”

That was the tune for Leah Pritchett (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car) and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) during the second and final day of qualifying for Sunday’s sixth annual NHRA New England Nationals in Epping, New Hampshire.

Pritchett, Hagan and Anderson were No. 1 qualifiers after Friday’s first day of qualifying and then held on to their positions Saturday to go into Sunday’s race as favorites in their respective classes.

Pritchett earned her second consecutive Top Fuel No. 1 qualifying spot at New England Dragway, while Hagan is looking for his second straight win in Epping.

Anderson, meanwhile, earned his eighth pole in the first 13 races of the 24-race season.

In Top Fuel: Pritchett’s Friday pass of 3.742 seconds at 324.51 mph held up through Saturday’s session. It is her ninth No. 1 qualifying spot in her career.

“Today was all about practicing for Sunday, and we got the results that we wanted heading into tomorrow,” Pritchett said. “I have all the confidence in the world for this team because they never give up, and their hard work is definitely paying off.”

Pritchett will square off with No. 16 qualifier Audrey Worm in Sunday’s first round of eliminations.

Tony Schumacher qualified No. 2 (3.744 seconds at 330.31 mph). He’ll face No. 15 Jim Maroney in Sunday’s first round.

In Funny Car: Hagan’s best Friday pass of 3.932 seconds at 322.04 mph also held up during Saturday’s two rounds of qualifying.

It was Hagan’s first No. 1 of the season as he looks to move up from a second-place tie in the Funny Car standings heading into Sunday’s finals.

“We have a great racecar right now and that builds confidence for me with each run,” Hagan said. “When you give Dickie Venables (crew chief) a few chances to figure out the track he can be deadly, and we have had some really strong runs this weekend that we need to build on tomorrow.”

Hagan will face No. 16 Terry Haddock in Sunday’s first round of eliminations. Jack Beckman (3.956 seconds at 320.20 mph) qualified No. 2 and will face No. 15 Jeff Diehl in Sunday’s opening round.

In Pro Stock: Anderson rode Friday’s best round (6.517 seconds at 211.73 mph) through Saturday’s second day of qualifying for the No. 1 spot heading into Sunday.

Anderson has been on a strong roll: he’s qualified No. 1 in four of the last five races and eight of the season’s first 13 races.

“Yesterday we had the racetrack figured out and today we struggled a bit with the sun out on the track,” Anderson said. “Today was definitely a learning experience and we will get another shot tomorrow, we will just have to learn what to do differently.”

Anderson faces No. 16 qualifier Val Smeland in Sunday’s first round of eliminations.

Erica Enders (6.521 seconds at 211.63 mph) qualified No. 2 and will face No. 15 Alan Prusiensky on Sunday.

Eliminations begin at 11:00 a.m. ET on Sunday at New England Dragway.

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SUNDAY’S FIRST ROUND PAIRINGS:

TOP FUEL: 1. Leah Pritchett, 3.742 seconds, 324.51 mph vs. 16. Audrey Worm, 5.791, 111.38; 2. Tony Schumacher, 3.744, 330.31 vs. 15. Jim Maroney, 4.826, 153.51; 3. Steve Torrence, 3.756, 327.66 vs. 14. Dan Mercier, 4.530, 173.92; 4. Brittany Force, 3.775, 316.60 vs. 13. Mike Salinas, 4.004, 281.77; 5. Clay Millican, 3.778, 328.14 vs. 12. Antron Brown, 3.974, 276.58; 6. Dom Lagana, 3.781, 326.16 vs. 11. Shawn Reed, 3.895, 320.81; 7. Scott Palmer, 3.803, 323.97 vs. 10. Richie Crampton, 3.884, 316.97; 8. Terry McMillen, 3.857, 322.19 vs. 9. Doug Kalitta, 3.874, 303.64.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 3.932, 322.04 vs. 16. Terry Haddock, Toyota Solara, 5.873, 102.77; 2. Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.956, 320.20 vs. 15. Jeff Diehl, Toyota Camry, 4.316, 289.45; 3. Shawn Langdon, Camry, 3.976, 321.42 vs. 14. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.203, 300.26; 4. Ron Capps, Charger, 3.978, 320.89 vs. 13. Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.165, 304.46; 5. Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.979, 324.44 vs. 12. Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 4.126, 281.01; 6. John Force, Camaro, 3.988, 324.75 vs. 11. Jonnie Lindberg, Mustang, 4.118, 307.93; 7. J.R. Todd, Camry, 4.021, 319.67 vs. 10. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.104, 308.35; 8. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.023, 322.58 vs. 9. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.044, 314.09. Did Not Qualify: 17. Mike Smith, 8.701, 102.11.

PRO STOCK: 1. Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.517, 212.33 vs. 16. Val Smeland, Camaro, 7.224, 148.35; 2. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.521, 212.49 vs. 15. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 6.656, 209.01; 3. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.528, 211.43 vs. 14. John Gaydosh Jr, Chevrolet Camaro, 6.617, 209.75; 4. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.538, 212.63 vs. 13. Fernando Cuadra, Camaro, 6.590, 210.60; 5. Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.540, 212.69 vs. 12. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.581, 210.77; 6. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.546, 211.99 vs. 11. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.564, 211.96; 7. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.546, 212.16 vs. 10. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.554, 212.06; 8. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.547, 212.16 vs. 9. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.547, 211.79.

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Dean Wilson’s life as a privateer reconnects the rider to his roots

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One of the added benefits of subscribing to NBC Sports Gold is the in-depth interviews from each Saturday’s action. Last week between the first and second rounds of qualification for the Glendale Supercross race, a relaxed and confident Dean Wilson joined Race Day Live’s Daniel Blair and Jim Holley to review his fourth-place finish in the season opener and his mindset moving forward.

Losing factory support from Rockstar / Husqvarna at the end of 2018 was not exactly what Wilson had in mind, but after getting off to a great start in the first two races this season, it may well have been a blessing in disguise.

The life of a privateer is not exactly relaxed, but it affords a rider the opportunity to call his own shots. For Wilson, it is also a way to reconnect with the grassroots feel that attracted him to Supercross in the first place.

“I think that’s what I like,” Wilson said on Race Day Live. “I think that’s the environment and atmosphere I like – it’s just more low key. At Anaheim I, you would think I was local racing at Glen Helen. I had a Sprinter and I had another trailer just to chill in, do my spins. It was so cold I had a little propane heater to warm me up. But I like that. That’s what works for me.”

MORE: Dean Wilson’s Cinderella story at Anaheim 

The program Wilson was able to put together during the offseason produced back-to back top 10s – a much better start to the 2019 season than he experienced last year.

In 2018, Wilson did not score a top 10 until his fourth feature at San Diego. His first top five would not come until late March in Indianapolis.

This year Wilson got the hole shot and led 14 laps at Anaheim in the opener before finishing fourth. Last week in Glendale, he finished eighth.

“What was going through my head was ‘it’s about time; it’s about five years too late to lead some laps here,’ ” Wilson described his emotion as he led at Anaheim. “It was nice because I did a lot of work in the off-season and my starts were really good. The thing is I haven’t over-analyzed my starts and practice.”

At Anaheim I, Wilson struggled with visibility as his goggles began to get fouled by mud. A once comfortable lead was eroded by Justin Barcia. With pressure from behind, Wilson made a minor mistake that was then compounded by lapped traffic.

“I was leading my laps; I was just trying to hit my marks. I was doing really well until I made a couple of mistakes. I couldn’t hit that middle double, double … the rut was getting real chewed out, but I was already on the right side where you couldn’t double the middle part so you had to go roll, roll, roll – and Barcia was already on me.”

Wilson’s pair of top 10s was enough to keep him fifth in the standings, three points behind Glendale’s winner Blake Baggett.

For more, watch the video above.

Next Race: Anaheim II Jan. 19, 11 p.m., NBCSN

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