Jeg Coughlin Jr.'s Pro Stock car, one of two that fellow driver Chris McGaha filed a protest against Friday. Photos courtesy NHRA.

NHRA: Pro Stock’s McGaha files but loses protests vs. Coughlin Jr., Enders

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NHRA Pro Stock driver Chris McGaha has added incentive to win Sunday’s CatSpot NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways in suburban Seattle.

Like $2,000 worth of added incentive.

McGaha needs to try and make up the $2,000 he lost Friday after filing official protests against fellow Pro Stock competitors and former champions Jeg Coughlin Jr. and Erica Enders.

According to NHRA officials, McGaha filed protests against the two drivers, apparently believing that the engines in both Coughlin Jr.’s and Enders’ Chevrolet Camaros were outside of NHRA engine size regulations for cubic inches.

In other words, McGaha apparently felt his two rival drivers were piloting cars with engines that were oversized, and if so, potentially illegal.

NHRA regulations allow for drivers to file protests against other drivers, but that there’s a $1,000 filing fee for each protest. As a result, McGaha paid $2,000.

NHRA technical department officials tore down both Coughlin Jr.’s and Enders’ engines after Friday’s qualifying sessions and found both powerplants within tolerances and size, negating McGaha’s protests.

Hunter McElrea wins Mazda Road to Indy USF2000 Scholarship

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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.”