Billy Torrence earned the first No. 1 qualifying position of his nearly three-decade career Saturday. Photo and videos courtesy NHRA

NHRA Brainerd top qualifiers for Sunday’s eliminations: Hight, B. Torrence, Enders, Smith

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NHRA Media Release

BRAINERD, Minn. – Robert Hight raced to his second No. 1 qualifying position of the season and the 59th of his career at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway.

Billy Torrence (Top Fuel), Erica Enders (Pro Stock), and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories at the 17th of 24 events on the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

Hight was able to better his run from Friday in the third qualifying session by posting a time of 3.959-seconds at 324.67 mph in his Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car. Hight has one win at this event, and is a two-time and defending Funny Car world champion. He has two wins this season and will face Cruz Pedregon in the first round of eliminations.

“I’m pretty jazzed,” said Hight. “This is the time of the year you better have your act together and it is starting to come together for us. We were number one here last year but didn’t get the win so we need to do one better this year and get the win.”

Qualifying second was Ron Capps with his pass of 3.969 at 319.67 and he will face Jonnie Lindberg. Points leader Courtney Force qualified 10th with her run of 4.025 at 318.02 and will face Jim Campbell.

In Top Fuel, Billy Torrence in his Capco Contractors raced to the first No. 1 qualifying position of his 27-race career coming in the final session with a run of 3.784 at 326.32. He bumped his son Steve from the top spot and will face Terry Totten when racing begins.

“It felt good, it is a big deal for that Capco team to be number one and two, that is Capco strong right there,” said Torrence. “We intend to do that same deal tomorrow and have two Capco cars in the finals.”

Steve Torrence, who is the current points leader, qualified second following his run of 3.786 at 325.37 and will race Bill Litton on Sunday.

In Pro Stock, Enders secured her first No. 1 qualifying position since the Las Vegas 2 event in 2015 with her run of 6.609 at 207.53 in her Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro. Enders has 19 top qualifying positions in her career and will face David River Sunday during eliminations.

“It has been a long road for us since our back-to-back championships,” said Enders. “2016 was a huge struggle and ’17 we got our feet wet again. It is more like a well-oiled machine now and things are going great for our entire program.”

Chris McGaha qualified second with his run of 6.609 at 205.73 and will face Mark Hogan while points leader Greg Anderson is ninth following his qualifying pass of 6.626 at 208.52 and will face Jeg Coughlin who qualified eighth.

Smith recorded his second Pro Stock Motorcycle No. 1 qualifying position of the season during his run of 6.852 at 198.47 during the first qualifying session on Friday and was able to hold onto the top spot. This is his second No. 1 qualifying position at Brainerd on his Elite Motorsports/Denso EBR and he will face Jim Underdahl in the first round of eliminations.

“The bike is working good,” said Smith. “We tried something today first round and it bogged down real bad but we went back and adjusted that and were low E.T. again in Q four. All in all, this new EBR bodywork we have is pretty fast and we have a good package right now.”

Hector Arana Jr. remained second with a 6.877 at 197.08 pass and will face Scotty Pollacheck and points leader Andrew Hines qualified fourth and will race Karen Stoffer in eliminations.

Eliminations begin on Sunday at 11 a.m. CT at Brainerd International Raceway.

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BRAINERD, Minn. — Sunday’s first-round pairings for eliminations for the 37th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway, the 17th 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. Billy Torrence, 3.784 seconds, 326.48 mph vs. 16. Terry Totten, 12.286, 72.31; 2. Steve Torrence, 3.786, 328.14 vs. 15. Bill Litton, 7.177, 78.39; 3. Antron Brown, 3.789, 325.45 vs. 14. Luigi Novelli, 4.646, 167.95; 4. Clay Millican, 3.790, 323.04 vs. 13. Chris Karamesines, 4.003, 305.01; 5. Mike Salinas, 3.797, 322.19 vs. 12. Doug Kalitta, 3.947, 257.43; 6. Brittany Force, 3.803, 325.53 vs. 11. Richie Crampton, 3.878, 310.55; 7. Tony Schumacher, 3.818, 326.87 vs. 10. Terry McMillen, 3.846, 319.60; 8. Leah Pritchett, 3.818, 324.83 vs. 9. Scott Palmer, 3.834, 323.04.

Funny Car — 1. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.959, 326.95 vs. 16. Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 4.081, 305.84; 2. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 3.969, 319.67 vs. 15. Jonnie Lindberg, Ford Mustang, 4.081, 314.53; 3. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.990, 324.51 vs. 14. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.029, 317.05; 4. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.991, 318.32 vs. 13. John Force, Camaro, 4.029, 322.04; 5. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.003, 317.42 vs. 12. Del Worsham, Camry, 4.028, 321.04; 6. Shawn Langdon, Camry, 4.013, 321.04 vs. 11. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.026, 318.09; 7. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.014, 313.15 vs. 10. Courtney Force, Camaro, 4.025, 318.02; 8. J.R. Todd, Camry, 4.018, 318.17 vs. 9. Bob Bode, Charger, 4.018, 316.01. Did Not Qualify: 17. Gary Densham, 4.107, 315.64; 18. Dale Creasy Jr., 4.141, 267.59.

Pro Stock — 1. Erica Enders, Chevy Camaro, 6.609, 207.72 vs. 16. Dave River, Chevy Cobalt, 7.002, 197.33; 2. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.613, 208.36 vs. 15. Mark Hogan, Pontiac GXP, 6.854, 200.59; 3. Alex Laughlin, Dodge Dart, 6.613, 207.59 vs. 14. Alan Prusiensky, Dart, 6.737, 204.45; 4. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.614, 208.78 vs. 13. Fernando Cuadra, Camaro, 6.677, 207.08; 5. Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.615, 208.71 vs. 12. Dave Connolly, Camaro, 6.659, 207.53; 6. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.615, 208.10 vs. 11. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.642, 207.72; 7. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.622, 207.91 vs. 10. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.640, 208.04; 8. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.623, 208.23 vs. 9. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.626, 208.52.

Pro Stock Motorcycle — 1. Matt Smith, Victory, 6.852, 198.47 vs. 16. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.997, 191.21; 2. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.877, 197.22 vs. 15. Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, 6.985, 192.06; 3. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.886, 195.45 vs. 14. Ryan Oehler, Buell, 6.983, 192.49; 4. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.899, 195.76 vs. 13. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.979, 191.00; 5. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.909, 193.07 vs. 12. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.972, 192.03; 6. Mark Paquette, Buell, 6.917, 193.32 vs. 11. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.965, 193.90; 7. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.924, 193.27 vs. 10. Angelle Sampey, Buell, 6.960, 192.80; 8. Angie Smith, Buell, 6.924, 192.82 vs. 9. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.946, 193.74.  Did Not Qualify: 17. Cory Reed, 7.040, 191.35; 18. Kelly Clontz, 7.072, 190.35.

Five things to watch for in Bommarito Auto Group 500 at Gateway

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There have been five different winners in the last five weeks of the NTT IndyCar season and driver that kicked off that streak in Elkhart Lake is in desperate need of a victory to help close the points gap to the leader. After being involved in the Lap 1 accident at Pocono Raceway last week, Alexander Rossi sits 35 points behind Josef Newgarden. Rossi’s two victories this season have come on road courses.

This week’s Bommarito Auto Group 500 the World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway is the third race on this track since IndyCar first revisited it in 2017. Newgarden took the checkers in 2017; Will Power grabbed the glory last year. Gateway also hosted races from 2001-2003.

Here are some of the storylines to watch this Sunday:

  1. For most of the drivers in the field, this will mark only their third time to race at Gateway, but two drivers were around in 2003 when IndyCar visited this track previously. Scott Dixon finished 15th in that race. He found the handle when Indy returned in 2017 to finish second and then third last year. Tony Kanaan was second in 2003; unfortunately he went the other direction and has not scored a top-10 at Gateway since.
  2. If one is looking for perfection on this track type, Simon Pagenaud is the only driver to sweep the top 10 on ovals in the past two years. In his last 10 starts on them, he has garnered an average finish of 5.2; his last five attempts have been sixth or better including a win in this year’s Indy 500. Pagenaud finished third at Gateway in 2017 and was fourth last year.
  3. The top two drivers in the points standings should also challenge for a top-five this week. Rossi was perfect alongside Pagenaud on ovals until his accident last week at Pocono with a sweep of the top 10 and seven top-fives in his last nine races. Newgarden also has nine top-10s and a worst of 13th on ovals in the past two years.
  4. Don’t count Dixon out of the points battle yet. While he currently sits 52 points out of first, Dixon is the hottest driver on the circuit with a current streak of five top-fives to his credit including his victory at Mid-Ohio two weeks ago. His oval record is a little spottier with two runner-up finishes and two 17th-place finishes in the last four races.
  5. Last week’s first-lap carnage ended Rossi’s top-10 streak at seven, but one other driver was able to sneak through and extend his. Graham Rahal will vie for his ninth consecutive top-10 this week, but that success is questionable in light of his Gateway record. Rahal finished 12th in 2017 and was barely able to crack the top 10 in 10th last year.

See More: IndyCar championship contenders seeing fortunes rise and drop

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