Matt Smith won the Mickey Thompson Pro Bike Battle Saturday. Photo and videos courtesy NHRA.

NHRA Sonoma: Millican, C. Force, Anderson, Krawiec No. 1 qualifiers; Smith wins Pro Bike Battle

1 Comment

Courtesy NHRA Communications Dept.

SONOMA, Calif. – Clay Millican (Top Fuel), Courtney Force (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories for Sunday’s Toyota NHRA Nationals at Sonoma Raceway, the 15th of 24 events on the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

In Top Fuel: Millican scored his seventh No. 1 qualifier of 2018 and first at Sonoma, as his pass of 3.700 at 327.98 in his Great Clips/Parts Plus dragster from Friday held up. It is also the 17th career No. 1 qualifier for Millican, who clinched his spot in the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship on Saturday and is also seeking his first career win at Sonoma Raceway.

“I am not ever going to complain about being the No. 1 qualifier and it certainly shows that the team is capable of being the quickest car here,” Millican said. “It’s stacked on our side (of the ladder), but you have to beat them all to get a yellow hat (for a win) and that’s our gameplan. Our goal is to be No. 1 and we achieved that.”

Leah Pritchett, who won last weekend to kick off the Western Swing, will start from second in her Palomar Builders dragster after her 3.727 at 328.38 on Friday. She will meet Bill Litton in the first round. Pritchett and Tony Schumacher both clinched spots in the Countdown to the Championship.

In Funny Car: points leader Courtney Force secured her 10th No. 1 qualifier of the season thanks to her run of 3.910 at 326.16 mph on Friday in her Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro. It is the 26th career No. 1 qualifier for Force, who claimed the top spot at Sonoma for a second time and will face Del Worsham in the opening round on raceday.

“It’s been a lot of fun for me to drive,” Force said. “They’ve got that thing dialed in. We had a great number in Q2 yesterday that took us to that top spot. We were looking to improve today or at least have a little bit more consistency, but we struggled a little bit. But we were still able to take that top spot, which feels pretty good, especially to hear it’s our 10th this season. That’s pretty incredible and this is exactly how we would like to go into the second race of the (Western) Swing.”

Jack Beckman’s 3.929 at 324.51 from Friday in his Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger R/T kept him second, setting up a first-round matchup with defending event winner J.R. Todd.

In Pro Stock: Anderson grabbed his ninth top qualifier in 2018, as the points leader’s 6.515 at 211.16 from Friday in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro remained the category leader. It is the 102nd career No. 1 qualifier for the four-time world champion, tying Anderson, who is seeking a second straight win on the Western Swing, with Bob Glidden for the third-most all-time. Anderson also clinched his spot in the Countdown to the Championship.

“It’s just a heck of an honor to tie that record,” Anderson said. “We try every day to set records and break records, and win races. It feels great to be tied with (Glidden), and I’m pretty happy with that. The depth in this class is deeper than it has ever been and there’s just zero room for error anymore, but that’s what is great about it. I feel it’s the ultimate challenge in racing.”

Anderson will race Joey Grose in the first round of eliminations, while his longtime teammate, Jason Line, starts second after his run of 6.517 at 211.03 on Friday in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro. He will meet Steve Graham in round one on Sunday.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle: defending PSM world champion Krawiec raced to the No. 1 position for the second straight race with a run of 6.757 at 199.94 on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson. Krawiec, who has five No. 1 qualifiers at the track, will meet Karen Stoffer to kick off eliminations. He also clinched his spot in the Countdown to the Championship, as did teammate and points leader Andrew Hines.

“We’ve been chasing that 200 mph run and it was right there,” Krawiec said. “The weekend is still not over and (Sunday) it could definitely happen. I’m excited about it. I’m happy to have a green hat (as No. 1 qualifier), but I really wanted to hold that Mickey Thompson Pro Bike Battle check at the end of the day here. I had a great motorcycle all day and I’m excited going into raceday.”

Hector Arana Jr. stayed in second on his Lucas Oil Racing TV EBR, improving to a 6.775 at 199.88, setting up a first-round matchup with Angelle Sampey.

Also, Matt Smith raced to his first career NHRA Mickey Thompson Tires Pro Bike Battle win during Saturday’s action. Smith earned a $25,000 payday in the all-star bonus race featuring eight top riders in the Pro Stock Motorcycle category.

Making his fourth appearance in the Mickey Thompson Tires Pro Bike Battle, Smith had his best career showing on his Victory Magnum, defeating LE Tonglet and Andrew Hines to meet up with Eddie Krawiec in the finals. Smith was quicker off the starting line, scoring the holeshot victory with a pass of 6.793 at 196.93 mph.

“This is huge for our team,” Smith said. “We’ve got a great bike and we’ve got a bike that can win this championship. I saw my win light come on and, man, I was excited. This is big for me.”

Eliminations at the Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday.

 

**************************
SUNDAY’S FIRST ROUND PAIRINGS:

TOP FUEL: 1. Clay Millican, 3.700 seconds, 327.98 mph vs. Bye; 2. Leah Pritchett, 3.727, 328.38 vs. 15. Bill Litton, 4.056, 251.58; 3. Antron Brown, 3.744, 327.43 vs. 14. Jim Maroney, 4.005, 261.47; 4. Tony Schumacher, 3.747, 329.99 vs. 13. Shawn Reed, 3.903, 298.14; 5. Brittany Force, 3.752, 328.78 vs. 12. Richie Crampton, 3.828, 321.73; 6. Blake Alexander, 3.775, 326.63 vs. 11. Mike Salinas, 3.823, 322.34; 7. Scott Palmer, 3.778, 323.35 vs. 10. Terry McMillen, 3.811, 325.92; 8. Steve Torrence, 3.785, 330.55 vs. 9. Doug Kalitta, 3.790, 324.05.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.910, 326.16 vs. 16. Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 4.164, 254.18; 2. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 3.929, 324.51 vs. 15. J.R. Todd, Camry, 4.102, 312.13; 3. Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 3.950, 318.47 vs. 14. Jonnie Lindberg, Mustang, 4.086, 313.07; 4. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.956, 319.98 vs. 13. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.082, 309.91; 5. Ron Capps, Charger, 3.972, 321.42 vs. 12. Richard Townsend, Camry, 4.055, 307.72; 6. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.975, 309.56 vs. 11. Robert Hight, Camaro, 4.051, 318.24; 7. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.988, 322.04 vs. 10. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.032, 306.26; 8. Shawn Langdon, Camry, 4.023, 318.77 vs. 9. John Force, Camaro, 4.026, 315.34. Did Not Qualify: 17. Jeff Diehl, 4.421, 261.72; 18. Terry Haddock, 5.803, 109.54.

PRO STOCK: 1. Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.515, 212.59 vs. 16. Joey Grose, Camaro, 6.733, 205.82; 2. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.517, 212.49 vs. 15. Steve Graham, Camaro, 6.643, 207.82; 3. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.524, 211.43 vs. 14. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 6.639, 209.07; 4. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.526, 211.89 vs. 13. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.603, 209.10; 5. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.530, 212.03 vs. 12. Fernando Cuadra, Camaro, 6.572, 209.79; 6. Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.531, 211.66 vs. 11. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.553, 210.60; 7. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.540, 212.33 vs. 10. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.553, 211.06; 8. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.547, 211.33 vs. 9. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.550, 210.70.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.757, 199.94 vs. 16. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.925, 195.48; 2. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.775, 200.11 vs. 15. Angelle Sampey, Buell, 6.914, 197.80; 3. Matt Smith, Victory, 6.783, 198.12 vs. 14. Ryan Oehler, Buell, 6.903, 194.63; 4. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.806, 197.57 vs. 13. Cory Reed, Buell, 6.890, 197.22; 5. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.815, 196.22 vs. 12. Angie Smith, Buell, 6.886, 192.91; 6. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.823, 197.74 vs. 11. Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, 6.885, 195.08; 7. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.845, 196.62 vs. 10. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.863, 195.62; 8. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.857, 195.96 vs. 9. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.861, 197.91.

Did Not Qualify: 17. Katie Sullivan, 6.946, 195.48; 18. Freddie Camarena, 6.954, 195.99; 19. Kelly Clontz, 6.958, 193.05; 20. Scott Bottorff, 7.184, 184.17.
**************************
Saturday’s final results from the Mickey Thompson Pro Bike Battle at the 31st annual Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma Raceway. The race is a special race within a race.

FINAL ROUND: Mickey Thompson Pro Bike Battle — Matt Smith, Victory, 6.793, 196.93 def. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.764, 198.17.

Final round-by-round results from the Mickey Thompson Pro Bike Battle at the 31st annual Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma Raceway. The race is a special race within a race.

ROUND ONE — Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, 6.941, 193.60 def. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, Foul – Red Light; LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.841, 196.44 def. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.889, 200.02; Matt Smith, 6.783, 197.33 def. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.898, 197.74; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.848, 198.73 def. Angie Smith, Buell, 6.910, 180.36; SEMIFINALS — Krawiec, 6.757, 199.94 def. Pollacheck, 6.885, 195.08; M. Smith, 6.803, 198.12 def. Tonglet, 6.806, 197.57; FINAL — M. Smith, 6.793, 196.93 def. Krawiec, 6.764, 198.17.

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.