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

Photos and videos courtesy NHRA
0 Comments

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.

********************

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.

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States

Verstappen Perez United States
Jared C. Tilton / Getty Images
0 Comments

Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed their new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with US-based Ford Motors in a press event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Team Principle Christian Horner. They are the only Formula 1 team to launch in the United States, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.

“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Sergio Perez finished fourth in the Unites States Grand Prix, but he was first with the fans.  – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.

With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.

In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.

By the time Formula arrived in Austin for Round 20 of 23, Verstappen had already wrapped up his second consecutive championship.

“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.

“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Max Verstappen United States Grand Prix win was one of 15 for the drivers and 17 for Red Bull.
(Gongora / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Now Verstappen’s thoughts will inevitably turn to establishing a dynasty – and America will again play a pivotal role.

“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said.  “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”

Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his principle rival for the championship.

“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.

“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”

Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.