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.

Fernando Alonso will decide this summer whether to pursue F1 again

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Fernando Alonso said he will determine by this summer if he would consider a return to Formula One next season.

After announcing Tuesday that he will return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May with Arrow McLaren Racing SP, Alonso said “right now the Indy 500 will take all of my concentration” but left the door open for F1 in 2021.

“In my case, probably during the summer period, I’ll make a decision on 2021 if Formula One is still appealing to me,” Alonso told IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview (watch the video above). “The 2021 rules (in F1) are definitely a step forward, and hopefully things can be more mixed and not only three teams capable of winning races. So all this factors into play. I may consider that possibility.”

Alonso won consecutive Formula One championships in 2005-06 with Renault. He has 32 victories in an F1 career that started in 2001 and also includes stints at Ferrari and McLaren.

His last victory on the circuit was May 12, 2013 in Barcelona. He is winless in his most recent 110 starts, including the past 77 races with McLaren in 2015-18.

The Guardian recently reported that McLaren CEO Zak Brown said Alonso wouldn’t be returning to F1 with the team.

Alonso also told Diffey that returning to F1 from a two-season absence wouldn’t necessarily be linked to McLaren’s performance.

“I think they did well last year, and hopefully they make another step forward and close to the top three because they deserve it and are a fantastic team,” he said.

Though he is optimistic about more parity, Alonso said six-time champion Lewis Hamilton should be a favorite for the 2020 title based on preseason testing in which Mercedes turned heads with a new steering system.

“It seemed Mercedes is still quite competitive,” Alonso said. “They show enormous potential on the development side and on the progress from one year to next. Formula One is impossible to predict because many things happen in season.

“At the starting point, (Mercedes) are the favorites. When you have Lewis in the car and Mercedes with the potential they have, they have to be No. 1 probably.”