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.

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.