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NHRA Denver: C. Force, Pritchett, Anderson, Krawiec early No. 1 qualifiers

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Courtesy NHRA Media Relations

MORRISON, Colo. – Courtney Force is the current No. 1 Funny Car qualifier at the Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals, the first of three consecutive races of the daunting NHRA Western Swing.

Leah Pritchett (Top Fuel), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock), and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are also preliminary No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories at Bandimere Speedway, the 14th of 24 events on the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

Force posted a 3.966-second run at 322.73 mph during the second qualifying session in her Advance Auto Parts Chevy Camaro to take the preliminary top position. She is the current Funny Car points leader, as she seeks her fourth No. 1 qualifier in five races and ninth overall in 2018.

“To come out here to Denver and kick off the Western Swing it feels great to be able to have so far two solid passes down the race track and pick up six bonus points,” said Force. “It feels good to be able to pick up a few more points and be in the No. 1 spot.”

She and her teammate Robert Hight were the only two Funny Cars to dip below four seconds with his run of 3.986 at 321.58 to currently be in the second position, while her father and team owner John Force is third at 4.007 at 322.27.

In Top Fuel, Pritchett raced to the current No. 1 qualifying position with a run of 3.806 at 317.19 during the final qualifying session on Friday in her Mopar Dodge 1320 dragster. Pritchett has two No. 1 qualifying positions this season with her most recent coming at the previous event in Epping, N.H.

“We were able to run late in the night and the crew made last minute changes and that is what we saw on the track,” said Pritchett. “They went for it, that is what this team is about and what I love about Todd (Okuhara, crew chief) and Joe (Barlam, crew chief), when it is time they can put it down and aren’t afraid. That is the vibe of our team.”

Anderson currently leads the Pro Stock class with his run of 6.933 at 197.19 during the first qualifying session during the day. Anderson, in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro, posted the category leading pass during the first qualifying session of the day. The four-time world champion is chasing his ninth No. 1 qualifying spot of season and the 102nd of his career.

“It is the best I’ve run here on a Friday in 15 years,” said Anderson. “Every year we come here and you start off behind the eight ball and it takes until Sunday to get a tune-up that is close then you have to find a way to win rounds on Sunday. We are way ahead of the schedule this weekend of what we normally do here and that is a great feeling.”

Deric Kramer, the winner of the event in Topeka, qualified second with a run of 6.993 at 197.19 and points leader Erica Enders is sixth at 6.950 at 196.96.

Krawiec is atop the Pro Stock Motorcycle category with his track record setting elapsed time pass of 7.132 at 186.56 on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson. Krawiec is the current category points leader with three wins but has yet to record a No. 1 qualifying position this season.

“It came out of the box and went a 13 with a two and it was a good clean run,” said Krawiec. “I there was a hundredth or two left in it on that run because I was fighting down the track and this place is very sensitive to changes.”

Qualifying continues at 5:15 p.m. on Saturday at Bandimere Speedway.

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MORRISON, Colo. — Friday’s results after the first two of four rounds of qualifying for the 39th annual Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway, 14th 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, 3.806 seconds, 317.19 mph; 2. Steve Torrence, 3.813, 325.45; 3. Clay Millican, 3.814, 326.71; 4. Mike Salinas, 3.865, 272.12; 5. Scott Palmer, 3.907, 280.66; 6. Blake Alexander, 3.912, 300.60; 7. Brittany Force, 3.964, 254.42; 8. Tony Schumacher, 4.036, 299.40; 9. Antron Brown, 4.081, 248.07; 10. Greg Carrillo, 4.239, 287.47; 11. Jim Maroney, 4.295, 261.88; 12. Terry Totten, 4.449, 216.13; 13. Doug Kalitta, 4.706, 173.65; 14. Richie Crampton, 4.739, 167.09; 15. Terry McMillen, 9.166, 80.24.
FUNNY CAR: 1. Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.966, 322.73; 2. Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.986, 321.58; 3. John Force, Camaro, 4.007, 322.27; 4. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.007, 320.81; 5. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.031, 305.29; 6. Shawn Langdon, Toyota Camry, 4.048, 315.34; 7. J.R. Todd, Camry, 4.083, 305.01; 8. Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 4.140, 299.40; 9. Jonnie Lindberg, Mustang, 4.197, 302.08; 10. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.217, 294.56; 11. Jeff Diehl, Camry, 4.287, 272.50; 12. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.457, 195.85; 13. Todd Simpson, Charger, 4.462, 270.81; 14. Terry Haddock, Toyota Solara, 4.583, 240.38; 15. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.933, 161.48; 16. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.952, 161.27. Not Qualified: 17. Jim Campbell, 6.431, 88.11.
PRO STOCK: 1. Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.933, 197.19; 2. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.935, 197.68; 3. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.937, 196.90; 4. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.940, 198.12; 5. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.942, 197.57; 6. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.950, 196.96; 7. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.959, 196.62; 8. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.962, 197.16; 9. Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.965, 196.96; 10. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.965, 196.85; 11. Fernando Cuadra, Camaro, 6.971, 196.93; 12. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.983, 196.82; 13. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.987, 196.99; 14. Will Hatcher, Dodge Dart, 7.167, 191.40; 15. Joey Grose, Camaro, 10.066, 94.07.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 7.132, 186.56; 2. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 7.146, 188.04; 3. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 7.155, 188.23; 4. Matt Smith, Victory, 7.158, 185.54; 5. Hector Arana, Buell, 7.207, 185.77; 6. Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, 7.220, 182.43; 7. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 7.230, 184.95; 8. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 7.234, 185.61; 9. Angie Smith, Buell, 7.243, 181.69; 10. Angelle Sampey, Buell, 7.253, 185.46; 11. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 7.259, 183.05; 12. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 7.266, 182.45; 13. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 7.288, 182.45; 14. Ryan Oehler, Buell, 7.309, 183.57; 15. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 7.393, 178.92; 16. Cory Reed, Buell, 7.417, 182.23. Not Qualified: 17. Kelly Clontz, 7.555, 180.69.

Hunter McElrea wins Mazda Road to Indy USF2000 Scholarship

IndyCar.com
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Hunter McElrea bested 18 competitors to win the third annual Road to Indy USF2000 $200,000 Scholarship Shootout on Sunday at Bondurant Racing School in Chandler, Ariz.

The two-day contest featured on-track competition in Formula Mazda cars as well as interview sessions and assessment from a panel of judges.

“I can’t believe it,” McElrea said at IndyCar.com. “This is definitely the most exciting opportunity that I have had in my racing career. I cannot thank Mazda and everyone enough for making this possible for me. The fact that I am going to be on the grid next year thanks to them is a dream come true.

“They have given me the opportunity to prove myself in such a high level that I never even thought I would be able to reach. I have to thank Andersen Promotions, Cooper tires, all of the judges, everyone from Mazda, the Bondurant Racing School and the other competitors, who literally pushed me to the limit.

“I am just so happy. It is still sinking in, but I just can’t wait to get next year started, and I’ll be representing Mazda in that nice Soul Red USF2000 car.”

MORE: Michael Carter wins Mazda Road to 24 shootout

The 19-year-old McElrea was born in California, but reared in Australia.

As a result of winning the award, McElrea will compete in the 2019 season of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship, the first rung of the Mazda Road to Indy development ladder.

McElrea won the Australian Formula Ford Championship this year on the strength of 13 victories in 21 races.

Early competition resulted in a final field of six drivers that included Jake Craig, Michael Eastwell, Braden Eves, Flinn Lazier and Ross Martin. They competed in a qualification session and 30-minute simulated race. McElrea won that race.

“Today was an incredible day,” said Tom Long, Mazda Motorsports factory driver and one of the judges. “There was so much talent here for the shootout. Hunter McElrea just rose to the top when it was time to shine, but our decision was very, very difficult.

“In the end, given all of the circumstances, we were able to make a pretty good decision and we are really, really proud of not only Hunter but our whole team here with Mazda to be able to grant this $200,000 scholarship for his opportunity in USF2000 next year.”