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NHRA Texas: Millican, Johnson Jr., Coughlin Jr., Krawiec all No. 1 heading into Sunday’s eliminations

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NHRA media release

ENNIS, Texas – Clay Millican piloted his Top Fuel dragster to the No. 1 spot to clinch his ninth No. 1 qualifier of the season at the 33rd annual AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals at Texas Motorplex.

Tommy Johnson Jr. (Funny Car), Jeg Coughlin Jr. (Pro Stock), and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are also 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.

Millican’s second qualifying run on Friday night of 3.726-seconds at 328.54 mph in his Great Clips/Parts Plus dragster remained the top position. Seeking his third victory of the season and fourth of his career, Millican will race Richie Crampton to open eliminations.

“It will definitely be a different day tomorrow,” Millican stated. “This race track is phenomenal, and both lanes are incredible. This is going to be fun. I mean, this is the ultimate playoffs for the fans with the cars running like that in this kind of heat and humidity. It’s awesome.”

Points leader, Steve Torrence, finished second in qualifying, courtesy of his 3.743 at 327.82 run in his Capco Contractors/Torrence Racing dragster. Torrence will meet Bill Litton in the first round of eliminations.

Johnson Jr. claimed his first Funny Car No. 1 qualifier of the 2018 season and 16th of his career after his pass of 3.918 at 321.73 from the final qualifying session on Saturday in his Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T. Seeking his first win of the season and 18th of his career, Johnson Jr. will face Terry Haddock in the first round.

“I didn’t think we could run that quick,” Johnson Jr. said. “John (Collins, crew chief) seemed confident on the starting line and now I know why. Being No. 1 Friday night allowed us to experiment a little during Q3 and it was okay. We put it back though to get the No. 1 spot back.”

Bob Tasca III jumped up to the No. 2 spot in his Ford Performance Shelby Mustang with his run of 3.950 at 322.27. He’ll race Matt Hagan to start eliminations, while points leader Robert Hight qualified sixth with a 3.979 at 314.83 in his Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS, setting up a first-round match up with Jim Campbell.

In Pro Stock, Coughlin Jr. secured his second consecutive No. 1 qualifying positions during the Countdown to the Championship after his run of 6.599 at 207.53 from Friday in his JEGS.com/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro held strong. Coughlin Jr. who has three wins this season, will look for his second career win at Texas Motorplex and matches up with Val Smeland in the first round of eliminations.

“It feels great first-off to be wearing the green hat,” Coughlin Jr. stated. “To qualify No. 1 is really saying something. You look at the top 11 and they’re separated by less than two-hundredths of a second in Pro Stock. Competition is extremely tight right now. Crew chiefs have got all of the cars pretty darn good and drivers are doing their thing to see us all packed up that tight.”

Veteran Greg Anderson qualified second in his Summing Racing Chevrolet Camaro with his run of 6.600 at 208.42 and meets Alan Prusiensky in the opening round of eliminations. Points leader, Tanner Gray, is in the No. 7 position after his pass of 6.614 at 208.14.

Krawiec, defending Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion, powered to the top of the class with his pass of 6.873 at 196.07 on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson during the third qualifying session. This is his third No. 1 qualifier of the season and will face off with Anthony Vanetti in the first round of eliminations.

“Was fortunate during Q3 to go to the pole,” Krawiec said. “I made a good, clean run that pass and had a great tune-up in the motorcycle. We’ve been getting better each session with my bike by running better E.T.’s and picking away at it a little at a time. We’re struggling on Sundays when it just continues to get hotter and I think we’ve nipped that in the bud to move in the right direction.”

Current points leader Matt Smith is second on his Elite Motorsports DENSO Auto Parts EBR after his run of 6.876 at 197.65 and will race Karen Stoffer in the opening round of eliminations. Hector Arana Jr. is third with his pass of 6.882 at 195.45.

Eliminations at the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals begin at 11:00 a.m. CT on Sunday.

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Sunday’s first-round pairings for eliminations:

TOP FUEL: 1. Clay Millican, 3.726 seconds, 328.54 mph vs. 16. Richie Crampton, 3.942, 303.71; 2. Steve Torrence, 3.743, 327.82 vs. 15. Bill Litton, 3.903, 318.17; 3. Tony Schumacher, 3.745, 329.58 vs. 14. Shawn Reed, 3.882, 283.01; 4. Terry McMillen, 3.777, 324.05 vs. 13. Mike Salinas, 3.859, 313.15; 5. Brittany Force, 3.781, 326.71 vs. 12. Scott Palmer, 3.820, 326.08; 6. Doug Kalitta, 3.789, 319.98 vs. 11. Antron Brown, 3.810, 306.60; 7. Blake Alexander, 3.797, 325.69 vs. 10. Billy Torrence, 3.809, 321.04; 8. Kebin Kinsley, 3.803, 317.34 vs. 9. Leah Pritchett, 3.808, 324.51. Did Not Qualify: 17. Cory McClenathan, 3.978, 286.68; 18. Terry Brian, 4.121, 237.75; 19. Terry Totten, 4.683, 170.30.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger, 3.918, 321.73 vs. 16. Terry Haddock, Ford Mustang, 5.142, 148.20; 2. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 3.950, 322.27 vs. 15. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.169, 255.92; 3. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.958, 315.64 vs. 14. Jeff Diehl, Toyota Camry, 4.140, 257.38; 4. J.R. Todd, Camry, 3.962, 320.05 vs. 13. John Hale, Chevy Impala, 4.103, 293.03; 5. Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.968, 316.52 vs. 12. Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.079, 272.28; 6. Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.979, 314.83 vs. 11. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.051, 310.63; 7. Ron Capps, Charger, 3.986, 317.12 vs. 10. John Force, Camaro, 4.045, 319.67; 8. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 3.999, 315.19 vs. 9. Shawn Langdon, Camry, 4.003, 310.91. Did Not Qualify: 17. Todd Simpson, 6.011, 121.84; 18. Jack Wyatt, broke.

PRO STOCK: 1. Jeg Coughlin, Chevy Camaro, 6.599, 207.53 vs. 16. Val Smeland, Camaro, 6.747, 206.35; 2. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.600, 208.42 vs. 15. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 6.666, 205.41; 3. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.601, 207.75 vs. 14. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.655, 207.69; 4. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.609, 208.10 vs. 13. Fernando Cuadra, Camaro, 6.641, 208.10; 5. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.612, 208.33 vs. 12. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.626, 208.52; 6. Alex Laughlin, Dart, 6.612, 206.86 vs. 11. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.624, 207.08; 7. Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.614, 208.14 vs. 10. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.623, 208.49; 8. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.615, 208.55 vs. 9. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.615, 208.04. Did Not Qualify: 17. Shane Tucker, 6.824, 202.61; 18. Robert River, 6.927, 198.79.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.873, 196.07 vs. 16. Anthony Vanetti, Buell, 7.162, 187.83; 2. Matt Smith, EBR, 6.876, 197.65 vs. 15. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 7.015, 190.38; 3. Hector Arana Jr, EBR, 6.882, 195.45 vs. 14. Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 6.982, 191.95; 4. Angelle Sampey, Buell, 6.906, 194.86 vs. 13. Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, 6.950, 193.93; 5. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.915, 194.83 vs. 12. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.950, 194.97; 6. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.922, 194.41 vs. 11. Hector Arana, EBR, 6.946, 195.45; 7. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.930, 195.22 vs. 10. Joey Gladstone, Buell, 6.943, 193.65; 8. Angie Smith, Buell, 6.933, 192.60 vs. 9. Ryan Oehler, Buell, 6.938, 189.84.

IMSA Prototype Season in Review

IMSA
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IMSA Wire Service

It was a year of change for the IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda. The longtime sprint series evolved in 2018 to six one-hour, 45-minute endurance races that allowed teams to run single or two-driver combinations with a required minimum-time pit stop. The result: record-high car counts in the LMP3 class with Kris Wright ultimately winning the series championship for Extreme Speed Motorsports, while Cameron Cassels took home the LMP3 Masters title. In the MPC class, meanwhile, series veteran Jon Brownson won his first championship in the final season for the class with a breakthrough win one week ago in the season finale at Road Atlanta.

This season-in-review takes a look back at the path each of the three champions took on their way to history.

1. Daytona International Speedway, January 6

Winners
LMP3: Roman De Angelis, No. 4 ANSA Motorsports Ligier JS P3
LMP3 Masters: Gary Gibson, No. 44 Ave Motorsports Ave-Riley AR2
MPC: Robert Masson, No. 11 Performance Tech Motorsports Elan DP02

How the Champions Fared
Not only was the season-opener during the Roar Before the Rolex 24 weekend the first endurance race for the IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda, it also was the first race for the series at the iconic Daytona International Speedway. Wright, driving the No. 30 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier JS P3 scored his first podium of the season alongside co-driver Daniel Morad with a third-place finish behind Porsche GT3 Challenge driver and winner Roman De Angelis and co-drivers Austin McCusker and David Droux, finishing second for the upstart Forty7 Motorsports team. Masson scored the MPC win, lapping all but one car, while Brownson came home fifth.

2. Sebring International Raceway, March 16

Winners
LMP3: Leo Lamelas / Pato O’Ward, No. 7 Charles Wicht Racing Ligier JS P3
LMP3 Masters: James McGuire Jr., No. 26 K2R Motorsports Ligier JS P3
MPC: Dave House, No. 86 ONE Motorsports Elan DP02

How the Champions Fared
The round at Sebring featured a late-race restart that saw eventual 2018 Indy Lights champion and 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Prototype Challenge champion O’Ward drive from fourth to first in the closing laps to secure the win for full-time driver Lamelas. Wright, meanwhile, finished third for the second consecutive time to start the season with a new co-driver, Michael Whelden. The No. 47 Forty7 Motorsports entry again finished second with McCusker now joined by TJ Fischer, who would go on to run the full season with the team. Coming out of Sebring, McCusker would lead Wright by four points, 64-60. Between Sebring and the next round at Barber Motorsports Park, Wright would decide to contest the full season for Extreme Speed Motorsports.

It was a special victory in the MPC class with House becoming IMSA’s oldest race winner at the age of 75. Foreshadowing a points race that what would ultimately come down to the season finale at Road Atlanta, the top five in the MPC standings are separated by two points leaving Sebring, with Brownson seventh, 12 points out, after a ninth-place finish.

3. Barber Motorsports Park, April 21

Winners
LMP3: Kris Wright / Yann Clairay, No. 30 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier JS P3
LMP3 Masters: Rob Hodes, No. 51 K2R Motorsports Ligier JS P3
MPC: Michal Chlumecky, No. 31 Eurosport Racing Elan DP02

How the Champions Fared
The only standalone event for the IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda would prove to be the turning point in the LMP3 class. Leading all but one practice session on the weekend and starting the race from the pole, Wright and co-driver Clairay dominated the event, only losing the lead briefly on a cycle of green flag pit stops. Wright’s biggest competition for the championship, meanwhile, the No. 47 Forty7 Motorsports team, seemed poised to score its third consecutive runner-up finish of the season to hold onto the LMP3 points lead, but contact between Fischer and an MPC car with five minutes remaining relegated the team to a 16th-place finish. Entering the weekend down four points in the standings, Wright left Barber up six points, 95-89, over Lamelas.

Chlumecky scored his first MPC class win since 2012, while teammate Brownson, the Sebring pole winner, capped off a Eurosport Racing 1-2 finish placing second in the team’s No. 34 entry. Masson rounded out the podium with a third-place finish in the No. 11 Performance Tech Motorsports Elan DP02 to regain the class lead. Brownson left Barber eight points behind Masson, fifth in the standings.

4. Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, July 8

Winners
LMP3: Austin McCusker / TJ Fischer, No. 47 Forty7 Motorsports Norma M30
LMP3 Masters: Dean Baker, No. 4 ANSA Motorsports Ligier JS P3
MPC: Howard Jacobs / James French, No. 77 Performance Tech Motorsports Elan DP02

How the Champions Fared
The long overdue first victory for Forty7 Motorsports finally came at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park for McCusker and Fischer, but a second-place finish for Wright meant McCusker could only gain three points on the series leader, with Wright keeping the deficit at 13 points. Dean Baker would score the LMP3 Masters win, the fourth winner in four races following Gibson at Daytona, McGuire Jr. at Sebring and Hodes at Barber. Cassels finished on the LMP3 Masters podium for the first time in 2018 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, finishing the race seventh overall and third in LMP3 Masters.

Leading the MPC standings coming into Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Robert Masson enlisted son and defending series champion Kyle Masson as a co-driver for the remainder of the season. The plan appeared to work with the duo crossing the line first, but upon post-race analysis of drive-time requirements, it was concluded that Kyle Masson did not record the minimum 40 minutes of drive time and the car was moved to the back of the MPC results. That penalty elevated Jacobs and French to the race win in Performance Tech’s No. 77 entry and moved Brownson, who finished second for the consecutive race, to the class championship lead. Coming out of Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, the top six in points were separated by just two points with two races remaining.

5. VIRginia International Raceway, August 18

Winners
LMP3: Kris Wright / Stephen Simpson, No. 30 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier JS P3
LMP3 Masters: Dean Baker, No. 4 ANSA Motorsports Ligier JS P3
MPC: Howard Jacobs / James French, No. 77 Performance Tech Motorsports Elan DP02

How the Champions Fared
Wright enlisted IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship regular Stephen Simpson as co-driver at VIR and delivered a knockout punch in the LMP3 title fight, scoring the win and opening a 23-point lead over McCusker, who finished sixth. Baker would win his second consecutive race in LMP3 Masters with a second-place finish overall alongside Zacharie Robichon. Hodes would lead the LMP3 Masters points by two points over Jim Garrett, eight points over Cassels and nine points over Joel Janco.

Robert Masson seemed poised to take the points lead and win alongside Kyle Masson as the duo drove brilliantly in the rain, building a nearly one-lap lead. A mechanical issue with 17 minutes remaining, however, set up a late-race sprint to the finish with French winning on the last lap for Jacobs.

With only one race remaining, House moved into the class lead by three points, 143-140, over Jacobs. The top seven teams were mathematically eligible for the championship and separated by a mere eight points.

6. Road Atlanta, October 12

Winners
LMP3: Austin McCusker / TJ Fischer, No. 47 Forty7 Motorsports Norma M30
LMP3 Masters: Cameron Cassels, No. 75 Performance Tech Motorsports Ligier JS P3
MPC: Jon Brownson, No. 34 Eurosport Racing Elan DP02

How the Champions Fared
The second win of the season for the No. 47 Forty7 Motorsports entry and co-driver McCusker and Fischer was not enough to take the championship away from Wright, who finished second at Road Atlanta to sweep podiums in all six races on the series schedule.

Cassels scored his first LMP3 Masters win of the season, and despite entering the weekend eight points behind in the standings, would also win the LMP3 Masters championship after each of the title contenders ran into various issues on-track.

Brownson called it an “honor” to win the final race for the MPC class. Brownson, who started in the first race for the series in 2006, scored his first win of the season in the No. 34 Eurosport Racing entry to win the final championship for the class.