Photos and videos courtesy NHRA

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.

Cooper Webb leaps from obscurity to Supercross lead

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Cooper Webb could not even locate the radar tower before the 2019 season began – let alone expect to see his number dead center in the radar screen.

His ascent to 450 competition came with little fanfare. Finishing 13th in Supercross in 2017 and then eighth in Motocross, Webb did not turn many heads as a rookie. Last year was more of the same.

Through Round 7 at Arlington, Webb failed to record a single top five. That elusive result would come the following week at Tampa with a fourth-place finish. Two weeks later, he stood on the podium at Daytona for the only the second time in his Supercross 450s career. But at season’s end, Webb was only ninth in the standings in both Supercross and Motocross.

No one expected much from him when Anaheim rolled around this year.

Webb started the season much the same as he ended 2018. A fifth-place finish in Anaheim I in muddy and equalizing conditions was followed by a modest 10th at Glendale, but the rider from North Carolina believed in himself.

In professional racing, nothing is more difficult than winning the first race. Webb’s first taste of victory came in Heat 1 of the Triple Crown at Anaheim II. Everyone remained skeptical – it was only one heat race after all. The skepticism turned to interest when he won Heat 2. Then Webb finished third in Heat 3 to take the overall victory. It was his first win in the 450 class.

That was all it took to unleash his potential. Webb won the following week in Oakland and then again two weeks later in Minneapolis.

The Supercross riders left Minnesota and headed straight down Interstate 35 to Arlington with four of them separated by two points. All eyes were focused on Ken Roczen, Eli Tomac, Marvin Musquin – and, oh yeah Webb who sat in second.

Someone was likely to stumble in Arlington and the odds on favorite to do so was Webb. That seemed to be confirmed once the feature started. While the three more experienced riders led by Tomac scooted away from the field, Webb was mired outside the top five for the first six lap.

It was Tomac who tripped and fell, however. Webb passed the stricken rider and surged to fifth on Lap 7. He was in fourth by Lap 10 and third on Lap 16.  As Webb and teammate Musquin battled for the second, they slowly reeled in the leader Roczen. Once Webb broke free on the conflict with the runner-up position firmly his, he could see the red plate on Roczen’s Honda like a cape being waved in front of a bull.

Webb charged through the final six laps getting closer and closer until he edged Roczen for the closest finish in Supercross history. It was Webb’s fourth victory of the season, coming only four weeks after he scored his first career win.

Relive the final laps in the video posted above.

As incredible as Webb’s rise to the points lead is, it has been done before.

Last year Jason Anderson seemingly came out of nowhere to lead the standings after Round 2. Anderson held the advantage for the remainder of the year, while Webb has been part of a game of hot potato in which no one seems to want to don the red plate for more than a week.

The pressure continues to mount. Webb now has a two-point advantage over Roczen, who is the only rider to sweep the top five this season.

Webb’s advantage over third is a mere four points, while Musquin has a current five-race streak of podium finishes to his credit.

Tomac’s trouble in Texas serves as a cautionary tale that a single loss of focus can be devastating and Webb still lacks the seat time of his three principal rivals, but last week’s incredible come-from-behind victory is showing that Webb is riding above experience level.

Follow the complete Supercross and Motocross seasons on NBC Sports, Gold.