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NHRA Texas: Johnson Jr., Millican, Coughlin Jr. and Smith early No. 1 qualifiers

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NHRA media release

ENNIS, Texas – Tommy Johnson Jr. raced to the provisional qualifying lead in Funny Car on Friday night at the 33rd annual AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals at Texas Motorplex.

Clay Millican (Top Fuel), Jeg Coughlin Jr. (Pro Stock), and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are also provisional No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories at the third of six playoff events during the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship.

Johnson Jr. is aiming for his first No. 1 qualifier of the 2018 season after his second qualifying run of 3.958-seconds at 323.66 mph in his Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T.

“We ran well first round and went down the race track” John Jr. stated. “John (Collins, crew chief) got after it pretty good. It’s always fun to watch him when cars start to run better out there, and he comes back to lift the box and twist some knobs. So, I knew the car was going to run pretty good.”

Tim Wilkerson is second after the second round of qualifying, going 3.958 at 315.64 in his Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Shelby Mustang, while J.R. Todd’s run of 3.962 at 320.05 has him in third.

Points leader Robert Hight went 4.013 at 318.99 in his Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro.

Top Fuel’s Millican will look to secure his 9th No. 1 qualifier of 2018 following his 3.726 at 328.54 in his Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster. It would also mark the 19th career No. 1 qualifier for Millican, who is currently second in the points standings.

“To be honest, we typically have a good idea of what the car is going to run,” Millican said. “That has all gone out the window since the Countdown started. I really didn’t think we were going to go .72 tonight. What David Grubnick (crew chief) is doing right now is totally impressive and the kids putting this together are unbelievable.”

Points leader Steve Torrence moved to the No. 2 spot during the second round of qualifying with his pass of 5.793 at 255.82 in his Capco Contractors/Torrence Racing dragster.

In Pro Stock, Coughlin Jr. took the lead during the second qualifying session with his pass of 6.599 at 207.53 in his JEGS.com/Elite Performance Chevrolet Camaro. It would mark his fourth No. 1 qualifier this season and 27th of career, who is currently seeded No. 4 in the points.

“Our goal coming into the Countdown was definitely to be much more aggressive,” Coughlin Jr. said. “I was trying to see if we could earn a couple of small points along the way. The team has done a fantastic job of that and darn near leading the pack with qualifying points.”

Greg Anderson is second with his pass of 6.600 at 208.42 in his Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro and teammate Jason Line rounds out the top three with his run of 6.601 at 207.75.

Matt Smith, current points leaders, finished atop the qualifying order in Pro Stock Motorcycle with a 6.876 at 197.65 on his Elite Motorsports DENSO Auto Parts EBR. He is chasing his fifth No. 1 qualifier of the season and second of his career at Texas Motorplex.

“The conditions are pretty hot today,” Smith stated. “The track seemed good for how hot it was. We were low first round by a hundredth and we will go to that set up tomorrow. We’ve been to two finals in a row and hopefully we can just keep that momentum going.”

Hector Arana Jr. is second after going 6.882 at 195.45 on his Lucas Oil Racing TV EBR and defending world champion Eddie Krawiec follows in third with a run of 6.892 at 192.25.

Qualifying continues at the 33rd annual AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals at 2:15 PM (ET) on Saturday. 

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ENNIS, Texas — Friday’s results after the first two of four rounds of qualifying for the 33rd annual AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals at Texas Motorplex, 21st of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Qualifying will continue Saturday for Sunday’s final eliminations.

TOP FUEL: 1. Clay Millican, 3.726 seconds, 328.54 mph; 2. Steve Torrence, 3.781, 328.14; 3. Brittany Force, 3.781, 326.71; 4. Blake Alexander, 3.797, 325.69; 5. Terry McMillen, 3.800, 321.12; 6. Leah Pritchett, 3.808, 324.51; 7. Antron Brown, 3.817, 321.27; 8. Scott Palmer, 3.854, 321.65; 9. Doug Kalitta, 3.862, 316.38; 10. Tony Schumacher, 3.873, 311.99; 11. Shawn Reed, 3.882, 283.01; 12. Kebin Kinsley, 3.883, 317.19; 13. Billy Torrence, 3.921, 283.13; 14. Richie Crampton, 3.942, 303.71; 15. Bill Litton, 4.076, 235.47; 16. Terry Brian, 4.121, 237.75. Not Qualified: 17. Cory McClenathan, 4.186, 268.22; 18. Mike Salinas, 4.220, 205.66; 19. Terry Totten, 4.683, 170.30.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger, 3.958, 323.66; 2. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.958, 315.64; 3. J.R. Todd, Toyota Camry, 3.962, 320.05; 4. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 3.981, 319.82; 5. Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.986, 312.57; 6. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.012, 317.05; 7. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 4.013, 318.99; 8. John Force, Camaro, 4.045, 319.67; 9. Shawn Langdon, Camry, 4.047, 317.05; 10. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.051, 310.63; 11. Courtney Force, Camaro, 4.080, 266.58; 12. Jeff Diehl, Camry, 4.140, 257.38; 13. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.557, 181.57; 14. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.867, 160.73; 15. Todd Simpson, Charger, 6.011, 121.84; 16. John Hale, Chevy Impala, 8.161, 75.13.

PRO STOCK: 1. Jeg Coughlin, Chevy Camaro, 6.599, 207.53; 2. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.600, 208.42; 3. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.601, 207.75; 4. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.609, 208.10; 5. Alex Laughlin, Dodge Dart, 6.613, 206.48; 6. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.615, 208.55; 7. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.615, 208.04; 8. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.615, 207.75; 9. Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.621, 208.36; 10. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.623, 208.49; 11. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.626, 208.52; 12. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.627, 206.86; 13. Fernando Cuadra, Camaro, 6.647, 207.66; 14. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.661, 207.59; 15. Alan Prusiensky, Dart, 6.666, 205.41; 16. Val Smeland, Camaro, 6.753, 205.98. Not Qualified: 17. Shane Tucker, 6.824, 202.61; 18. Robert River, 6.927, 198.79.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. Matt Smith, EBR, 6.876, 197.65; 2. Hector Arana Jr, EBR, 6.882, 195.45; 3. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.892, 195.25; 4. Angelle Sampey, Buell, 6.906, 194.86; 5. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.915, 194.83; 6. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.922, 194.41; 7. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.930, 195.22; 8. Angie Smith, Buell, 6.938, 193.02; 9. Ryan Oehler, Buell, 6.938, 189.84; 10. Joey Gladstone, Buell, 6.943, 193.65; 11. Hector Arana, EBR, 6.946, 195.45; 12. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.950, 194.97; 13. Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, 6.950, 193.93; 14. Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 6.982, 191.95; 15. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 7.066, 188.07; 16. Anthony Vanetti, Buell, 7.855, 182.85.

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.”