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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.

Indianapolis 500 weather forecast: Rain chances decreasing for start

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INDIANAPOLIS — As the green flag keeps approaching for the 103rd Indianapolis 500, the chances of clear skies Sunday keep increasing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The chance of rain at the start of the race was down to about 30%, according to the wunderground.com site as of late Saturday night, and the forecast seemed good until late afternoon when the odds of precipitation rose to about 80%.

If the race starts on time at12:45 p.m. ET, that should be a long enough window to run the full 500 miles and certainly an official race (102 of 200 laps).

With Indiana on the western edge of the Eastern Time Zone and a 9:02 p.m. sunset on race day, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Doug Boles said the green flag probably could be held as late as 6 p.m. if a worst-case scenario of bad weather hits.

THE 103RD INDIANAPOLIS 500: Click here for how to watch

“We ran the NASCAR race (in 2017) almost right up to sunset,” Boles said. “The challenge of getting closer to sunset is just getting people out when it’s still light. The race itself is more than 2 hours and 40 minutes so you have to back-time yourself.

“We’ll sit down with IndyCar over the next 24 hours and at least have that in the back of our mind. If there’s a window to get it done, our intent would be get it in Sunday, so we would want to go as late as we could.”

Boles said National Weather Service representatives are on site this weekend to help with forecasting. Regardless of if there still is a threat of rain, the track will start the race on time as long as the surface is dry.

“I can’t imagine we’d postpone the start because we think it might rain,” Boles said. “If it’s not raining, we’re running the race.

Boles said track officials are monitoring Sunday’s weather daily but won’t discuss any potential contingency plans until Saturday night. Regardless of whether it’s raining Sunday morning, some pre-race ceremonies likely will remain in place.

“It’s hard to speculate on what’s going to happen,” he said. “It’s likely Sunday morning will be the first time that we have any definitive statement on what we think is going to happen. Instead of giving you information that we don’t know what it’s going to be like, I’d rather wait until that Sunday when we see the conditions, and we’ll let you know.

“Obviously, if it’s raining, then we’ll have to decide what the next steps are.”

Boles said Indiana weather traditionally is unpredictable, noting that qualifying was completed last Sunday despite predictions of a complete washout.

“Last year the prediction was it was going to rain on race day, we got up next morning, and it was perfect,” Boles said. “It just changes so rapidly around here.”

Should it rain, IndyCar officials will make every reasonable attempt to run the Indy 500 on time,. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway also recently used a new sealant on the track surface which makes it quicker to dry the racing surface.

During the previous 102 runnings of the Indy 500, there have been 12 impacted by rain: three complete postponements; two partial postponements and seven shortened races.

So what happens if it does rain? Some options:

Rain-shortened race

The Indy 500 could turn into the Indy 255. If more than 255 miles (102 laps) are completed in Sunday’s race, the race can be deemed official. If the race is called, driver’s finishing positions are based on their position in the race at the time of the caution flag for rain.

The Indy 500 has been shortened by rain only seven times, most recently in 2007. The race was stopped nearly three hours because of rain on Lap 113 and was declared officially over with Dario Franchitti in the lead when rain again hit at the 415-mile mark.

Partial postponement

If fewer than 102 laps are completed Sunday, the race will resume on the next dry day. With most Americans on holiday Monday because of Memorial Day, a partial postponement still might allow for a healthy audience at the track and watching on NBC.

The race has been partially postponed only twice in the 102 previous runnings, in 1967 and 1973.

Complete postponement

Fans shouldn’t worry too much about a complete postponement of the race, as it has only happened three times, most recently in 1997. If rain completely postpones the Indy 500, the race will be rescheduled for the next day with the start time dependent on the forecast.

The 1997 race ran 15 laps on Monday before rain again postponed the remainder of the race until Tuesday. The 1915 and ’86 runnings were postponed until the following Saturday.