Steve Torrence was the No. 1 qualifier in Top Fuel. Photo and videos courtesy NHRA

NHRA: Torrence, Hagan, Coughlin Jr. lead Friday qualifying in Seattle

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Courtesy NHRA Communications Department

SEATTLE – Steve Torrence piloted to the top of the category Friday night at Seattle as the current Top Fuel points leader took the preliminary No. 1 qualifier at the 31st annual CatSpot NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways.

Matt Hagan (Funny Car) and Jeg Coughlin Jr. (Pro Stock) are also preliminary No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories at the 16th of 24 events on the 2018 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

Torrence took the lead with his second pass of 3.723-seconds at 331.61 mph in his Capco Contractors/Torrence Racing dragster. Torrence is seeking his first career No. 1 qualifier at Pacific Raceways and 18th of his career.

“We’ve done well here in the past,” Torrence stated. “Coming out of the box and making a good run and then being able to back it up on that second one that does build up your confidence. I’m confident going into tomorrow.”

Doug Kalitta jumped into second in the class with a 3.730 run at 326.00 in his Mac Tools dragster during the second qualifying run.

Hagan drove to the preliminary top spot with a run of 3.913 at 324.75 in his Sandvik Coromant Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat during the second qualifying session of the evening. Hagan is on the hunt for his fourth No. 1 qualifier of the year and first career top spot at Pacific Raceways.

“This new Hellcat body is running really good,” Hagan said. “Its running better than what we are trying to run with it. Right now we are dialing the car in and this new body in so we’re pretty focused on that. All in all though we’re really happy.”

Defending world champion Robert Hight is second in current Funny Car qualifying after his run of 3.919 at 327.82 in his Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro as he looks to defend his event title on Sunday.

Coughlin Jr., the most recent event winner, powered his way to the top of the Pro Stock category in his JEGS.com/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro with a pass of 6.501 at 212.16 during the second round of qualifying. He is focused on securing his second No. 1 qualifier of the year and fourth victory of the year.

“I think the whole team is real confident right now and that’s what we’re trying to build on,” Coughlin Jr. stated. “We will have to be on our best behavior to stay No. 1 tomorrow and to be the last ones standing on Sunday. We have to make great calls in the pits, drive great from behind the wheel and have the racing gods in our corner.”

Points leader Greg Anderson is currently qualified second following a 6.503 at 211.79 in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro during the first round of qualifying.

Qualifying continues at 1:30 p.m. PT on Saturday at Pacific Raceways.

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KENT, Wash. — Friday’s results after the first two of four rounds of qualifying for the 31st annual CatSpot NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways, 16th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Qualifying will continue Saturday for Sunday’s final eliminations.

Top Fuel — 1. Steve Torrence, 3.723 seconds, 331.61 mph; 2. Doug Kalitta, 3.730, 326.00; 3. Clay Millican, 3.743, 330.47; 4. Tony Schumacher, 3.751, 327.03; 5. Antron Brown, 3.761, 330.80; 6. Leah Pritchett, 3.764, 321.73; 7. Mike Salinas, 3.779, 325.85; 8. Brittany Force, 3.785, 326.32; 9. Richie Crampton, 3.792, 323.50; 10. Scott Palmer, 3.815, 323.81; 11. Shawn Reed, 3.881, 290.32; 12. Troy Buff, 3.890, 303.64; 13. Terry McMillen, 3.892, 311.34; 14. Jim Maroney, 3.932, 283.13; 15. Bill Litton, 3.970, 307.86.

Funny Car — 1. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 3.913, 324.75; 2. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.919, 327.82; 3. Courtney Force, Camaro, 3.927, 325.69; 4. Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 3.943, 321.19; 5. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.963, 317.27; 6. Shawn Langdon, Toyota Camry, 3.977, 325.37; 7. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.977, 321.35; 8. Jonnie Lindberg, Mustang, 3.995, 315.42; 9. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.018, 318.47; 10. J.R. Todd, Camry, 4.056, 308.43; 11. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.073, 307.09; 12. Gary Densham, Mustang, 4.085, 309.98; 13. Richard Townsend, Camry, 4.136, 274.39; 14. Jeff Diehl, Camry, 4.215, 281.89; 15. John Force, Camaro, 6.260, 105.47; 16. Terry Haddock, Mustang, 6.488, 108.39. Not Qualified: 17. Jack Beckman, 7.192, 97.47; 18. Cruz Pedregon, broke.

Pro Stock — 1. Jeg Coughlin, Chevy Camaro, 6.501, 212.16; 2. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.503, 211.79; 3. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.506, 212.66; 4. Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.510, 212.09; 5. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.518, 211.73; 6. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.522, 211.56; 7. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.526, 211.96; 8. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.527, 211.33; 9. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.541, 211.83; 10. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.541, 210.80; 11. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.553, 211.13; 12. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.557, 209.95; 13. Fernando Cuadra, Camaro, 6.564, 210.54; 14. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 6.615, 209.01; 15. Steve Graham, Camaro, 6.637, 208.91; 16. Joey Grose, Camaro, 8.319, 117.73.

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.”