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NHRA Seattle No. 1 qualifiers: Hagan, Torrence, Coughlin Jr. entering Sunday’s eliminations

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NHRA Media Release

SEATTLE – Matt Hagan secured his fourth No. 1 qualifier in Funny Car this season Saturday at the 31st annual CatSpot NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways.

Steve Torrence (Top Fuel) and Jeg Coughlin Jr. (Pro Stock) are also No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories at the 16th of 24 events on the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

Hagan powered to his first career No. 1 qualifier at Pacific Raceways in his Sandvik Coromant Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat after his run of 3.913-seconds at 324.75 mph from Friday stood strong through Saturday’s qualifying. Sitting fourth overall in the category points, Hagan will strive to narrow the points gap on Sunday as he looks for his third victory in five races.

“I think the new body is just a little bit of a learning curve,” Hagan stated. “The car is obviously running great with No. 1 qualifier but there’s still some things we are learning about this new Hellcat body. I feel confident about it though.”

Defending world champion Robert Hight secured the No. 2 position in his Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro with his pass of 3.919 at 327.82 during the second qualifying run. He will toe the line against Gary Densham during the first round.

In Top Fuel, category points leader Torrence continued to extend his points lead by securing his second No. 1 qualifying position of the year, as his pass of 3.723 at 331.61 in his Capco Contractors/Torrence Racing dragster from Friday held up. This is Torrence’s first career No. 1 qualifier at Pacific Raceways and he is seeking his second career victory at the facility.

“This season has been a lot of fun,” Torrence said. “The car ran well throughout qualifying and I’m not too concerned with its performance tomorrow. The last time we were No. 1 qualifiers it didn’t bode well for us so hopefully we can turn that around.”

Doug Kalitta will start second in his Mac Tools dragster after his 3.730 at 326.00 on Friday. He will meet Bill Litton in the first round.

Pro Stock’s Coughlin Jr. grabbed his second top qualifier in 2018 as his 6.501 at 212.16 fromFriday in his JEGS.com/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro remained the best in the category. Coughlin, who most recently won at Sonoma, will look to secure his first victory at the facility since 2002 on Sunday.

“I feel pretty good, honestly,” Coughlin stated. “The first run we made today we were third of the session. I think we will use that as a little motivation and an attention grabber for game daytomorrow. We will be on our toes to race and race aggressively.”

Coughlin Jr. will race Joey Grose in the first round of eliminations, while category points leader, Greg Anderson, starts second after his run of 6.503 at 211.79 on Friday in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro. He will meet Steve Graham in round one on Sunday.

Eliminations begin at 11 a.m. PT Sunday at Pacific Raceways.

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KENT, Wash. — Sunday’s first-round pairings for eliminations for the 31st annual CatSpot NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways, the 16th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Pairings based on results in qualifying, which ended Saturday. DNQs listed below pairings.
Top Fuel — 1. Steve Torrence, 3.723 seconds, 331.61 mph vs. 16. Ron Smith, 4.861, 190.08; 2. Doug Kalitta, 3.730, 326.00 vs. 15. Bill Litton, 3.970, 307.86; 3. Clay Millican, 3.743, 330.47 vs.
14. Jim Maroney, 3.932, 283.13; 4. Tony Schumacher, 3.751, 327.11 vs. 13. Terry McMillen, 3.891, 311.34; 5. Antron Brown, 3.761, 330.80 vs. 12. Shawn Reed, 3.869, 318.84; 6. Leah Pritchett, 3.764, 322.34 vs. 11. Troy Buff, 3.867, 304.80; 7. Mike Salinas, 3.768, 327.98 vs. 10. Scott Palmer, 3.815, 323.81; 8. Brittany Force, 3.785, 326.32 vs. 9. Richie Crampton, 3.792, 323.50.
Funny Car — 1. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 3.913, 324.75 vs. 16. Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 4.182, 296.63; 2. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.919, 327.82 vs. 15. Gary Densham, Ford Mustang, 4.085, 309.98; 3. Courtney Force, Camaro, 3.927, 325.69 vs. 14. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.073, 307.09; 4. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 3.943, 321.19 vs. 13. J.R. Todd, Camry, 4.056, 315.71; 5. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.963, 320.58 vs. 12. Richard Townsend, Camry, 4.041, 305.84; 6. Shawn Langdon, Camry, 3.977, 325.37 vs. 11. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.028, 317.79; 7. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.977, 321.35 vs. 10. John Force, Camaro, 4.028, 318.39; 8. Jonnie Lindberg, Mustang, 3.995, 315.42 vs. 9. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.008, 319.22. Did Not Qualify: 17. Jeff Diehl, 4.211, 289.94; 18. Terry Haddock, 4.299, 289.32.
Pro Stock — 1. Jeg Coughlin, Chevy Camaro, 6.501, 212.16 vs. 16. Joey Grose, Camaro, 6.708, 206.80; 2. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.503, 211.79 vs. 15. Steve Graham, Camaro, 6.637, 209.07; 3. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.506, 212.66 vs. 14. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 6.615, 209.01; 4. Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.510, 212.09 vs. 13. Fernando Cuadra, Camaro, 6.564, 210.54; 5. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.518, 211.73 vs. 12. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.557, 209.95; 6. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.522, 211.56 vs. 11. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.553, 211.13; 7. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.526, 211.96 vs. 10. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.541, 210.80; 8. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.527, 211.33 vs. 9. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.541, 211.83.

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.