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.

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.