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.

Michelin appoints new North American motorsports director

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Michelin North America has named Tony Ménard as director of motorsports, effective Jan. 1, 2020.

Ménard is succeeding Chris Baker, who has held the role for the past eight years. Baker is scheduled to retire in March of 2020, ending a lengthy career that began with Michelin in 1982.

“Chris has played a vital role in the growth and success of our motorsports program, both for BFGoodrich and Michelin in North America,” said Matthieu Bonardel, global director for Michelin Group’s motorsports business entity. “His passion and understanding for motorsport fueled growth in the organization and established credibility in the market. Chris’s leadership propelled the Group, which experienced tremendous success with race wins, and advanced the way the brands leveraged our motorsports participation to benefit the overall business.”

A native of Le Mans, France, Ménard has served in several positions during his 30-year career with Michelin, most recently serving global business leader for Michelin brand in the passenger-vehicle category. Ménard has worked closely with the North American motorsports team since early July in preparation for the transition.

Baker oversaw the development of the motorsports function for Michelin and BFGoodrich Tires brands as a single business unit in North America. He also directed the expansion of Michelin’s involvement in IMSA sports-car racing as the “Official Tire of IMSA” and BFGoodrich Tires partnership with SCORE International Racing as the “Official Tire of SCORE.”

During Baker’s tenure, BFGoodrich achieved an unprecedented 650 off-road class wins, including five overall victories in the Baja 1000. The brand also demonstrated performance in the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires, Lucas Oil Off Road Racing, Ultra4 King of Hammers, and provided strong support of grass roots racing across North America with the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), National Auto Sport Association (NASA), and Super Production Challenge in Canada.

“I am incredibly grateful to Michelin for the opportunities and support throughout my career, and to all the folks that I have worked with and continue to work with,” Baker said. “I want to thank all the teams, partners, officials and fans who have made our relationships so successful and are essential to the brands’ successes. I look forward to witnessing the continued success of our motorsports programs under Tony’s leadership, as well as the contributions of the Michelin Motorsport North America staff and volunteers, who are completely dedicated and invested in representing our brands in competition.”