Photo and videos courtesy NHRA

NHRA Charlotte No. 1 qualifiers: Johnson Jr., B. Force, Skillman, Krawiec

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NHRA Media Release

CONCORD, N.C. – Tommy Johnson Jr. powered to the No. 1 qualifying position in Funny Car on Saturday at the 11th annual NHRA Carolina Nationals presented by WIX Filters at zMAX Dragway.

Brittany Force (Top Fuel), Drew Skillman (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also secured No. 1 qualifier positions in their respective categories at the fourth of six playoff events during the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship.

Johnson Jr., who is looking for his first win of 2018, claimed his second straight No. 1 qualifier and the 17th of his career after going 3.873 seconds at 329.10 mph in his Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T during Saturday’s final qualifying session. It sets up a first-round match-up with Dave Richards for Johnson, who entered the weekend fourth in the points standings and still has visions of making a late charge for the championship.

“We’ve got a really, really good race car right now and the guys are doing such a great job,” Johnson Jr. said. “You can just see it in their confidence. I would say the only thing we have to change is semifinals (where he has lost three of the past four races). We have to fix that this weekend. We’ve had a good car for the last 6-7 races and we just keep building on it.”

Ron Capps finished second in qualifying with a 3.875 at 329.42 in his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T and he will race Dale Creasy Jr. to open eliminations. Points leader and defending world champion Robert Hight, who has two straight wins, qualified No. 7 in his Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS with a run of 3.911 at 330.31. He will meet Jack Beckman in the first round of eliminations.

Force, the defending Top Fuel world champion, picked up her second No. 1 qualifier of 2018 and 10th of her career in her Advance Auto Parts/Monster Energy dragster with a run of 3.700 at 330.72 in the final qualifying session on Saturday. The run, which gave Force the No. 1 qualifier spot at both races at zMAX Dragway this season, sets up a first-round match up with Audrey Worm as Force looks to pick up her second win of 2018 and end her year on a strong note.

“We’re looking good going into race day,” Force said. “Our team has really been struggling this year in qualifying and we made some changes with the car the last few weekends. This weekend, I’m really hoping we’re going to turn the corner. We are happy and I have to thank all of my guys. They’ve been working around the clock and I would like to get all of us in the winner’s circle.”

Points leader and Friday’s provisional No. 1 qualifier Steve Torrence, who has won the first three events of the Countdown to the Championship and has eight wins in 2018, will start eliminations from the No. 2 position thanks to his pass of 3.704 at 331.53 in his Capco Contractors dragster. He will meet Chris Karamesines in the first round of eliminations. Clay Millican ended up third after his pass of 3.718 at 321.73 in his Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster, setting up a first-round race against Kyle Wurtzel.

Pro Stock’s Skillman grabbed his seventh career top qualifier and second in 2018 after his run of 6.509 at 211.30 during the final qualifying session on Saturday in his Ray Skillman Auto Group Chevrolet Camaro. Skillman, who is seeking his first win of 2018, will try to become the 10th different Pro Stock winner this season and matches up with Shane Tucker to open eliminations.

“We’re trying our best to finish as strong as we can this year,” said Skillman, who entered the weekend fourth in points. “We didn’t have the best year all year, but the racecar is really coming together at the end of the season when it needs to. We’re going to try to get three more wins this year and this is a great start. We definitely feel very comfortable here.”

Provisional top qualifier and two-time world champion Erica Enders finished second in qualifying with a run of 6.513 at 211.96 in her Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Camaro. She will race Wally Stroupe in the first round of eliminations, while points leader Tanner Gray, who has seven wins in 2018, qualified third with a run of 6.516 at 212.33 in his Valvoline/Nova Services Camaro, setting up a first-round matchup with Allen Prusiensky.

Defending Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion Krawiec collected his fourth No. 1 qualifier of 2018 and 43rd of his career with his 6.806 at 197.83 from Friday on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson. Krawiec, who trailed points leader LE Tonglet by 47 points heading into the weekend, will look for his fifth win of the season and faces Jim Underdahl in the first round of eliminations.

“I was fortunate enough to keep the No. 1 spot,” Krawiec said. “One of my teammates, Chip Ellis, almost knocked me off, but we were able to get it done. Rolling into tomorrow, I think it should be some good racing. It’s definitely going to be a game-changer. You have to be on this weekend and whoever comes out of here going the most rounds is probably going to be the most comfortable in this points battle. It’s do or die time, really.”

Teammate Ellis stayed second after improving to a 6.806 at 196.85 on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson on Saturday, setting up a first-round matchup with Joey Gladstone, while points leader Tonglet qualified ninth with a 6.856 at 195.90 on his Nitro Fish Racing Suzuki and will race Angelle Sampey to open eliminations.

Eliminations for the NHRA Carolina Nationals presented by WIX Filters begin at 12 p.m. ET on Sunday.

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SUNDAY’S FIRST-ROUND PAIRINGS FOR ELIMINATIONS:

TOP FUEL: 1. Brittany Force, 3.700 seconds, 330.72 mph vs. 16. Audrey Worm, 4.057, 266.11; 2. Steve Torrence, 3.704, 331.53 vs. 15. Chris Karamesines, 3.992, 282.66; 3. Clay Millican, 3.718, 321.73 vs. 14. Kyle Wurtzel, 3.901, 291.82; 4. Mike Salinas, 3.720, 329.02 vs. 13. Pat Dakin, 3.859, 312.57; 5. Doug Kalitta, 3.727, 327.59 vs. 12. Scott Palmer, 3.788, 326.56; 6. Tony Schumacher, 3.732, 329.42 vs. 11. Antron Brown, 3.785, 326.40; 7. Leah Pritchett, 3.755, 322.04 vs. 10. Richie Crampton, 3.774, 318.99; 8. Dom Lagana, 3.762, 324.59 vs. 9. Terry McMillen, 3.769, 325.30. Did Not Qualify: 17. Lex Joon, 4.356, 178.19.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger, 3.873, 329.10 vs. 16. Dave Richards, Ford Mustang, 4.248, 272.94; 2. Ron Capps, Charger, 3.875, 329.42 vs. 15. Dale Creasy Jr., Dodge Stratus, 4.181, 301.87; 3. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.876, 323.74 vs. 14. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.035, 309.42; 4. J.R. Todd, Toyota Camry, 3.894, 327.90 vs. 13. Jonnie Lindberg, Mustang, 3.959, 323.19; 5. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 3.901, 325.77 vs. 12. Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.945, 308.50; 6. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.903, 325.14 vs. 11. Shawn Langdon, Camry, 3.937, 318.02; 7. Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.911, 330.31 vs. 10. Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.929, 325.45; 8. John Force, Camaro, 3.914, 330.72 vs. 9. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 3.920, 323.58. Did Not Qualify: 17. Bob Gilbertson, 4.301, 250.88.

PRO STOCK: 1. Drew Skillman, Chevy Camaro, 6.509, 211.30 vs. 14. Shane Tucker, Camaro, 6.733, 204.35; 2. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.513, 211.96 vs. 13. Wally Stroupe, Camaro, 6.708, 206.01; 3. Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.516, 212.33 vs. 12. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 6.608, 209.72; 4. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.522, 211.69 vs. 11. Fernando Cuadra, Camaro, 6.568, 210.34; 5. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.523, 211.59 vs. 10. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.556, 211.56; 6. Alex Laughlin, Dart, 6.525, 211.03 vs. 9. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.550, 211.03; 7. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.531, 211.93 vs. 8. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.545, 211.66.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.806, 197.83 vs. 16. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.905, 195.11; 2. Chip Ellis, Harley-Davidson, 6.806, 196.90 vs. 15. Joey Gladstone, Buell, 6.903, 194.30; 3. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.819, 195.99 vs. 14. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.891, 194.27; 4. Matt Smith, EBR, 6.836, 197.71 vs. 13. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.884, 194.30; 5. Hector Arana Jr, EBR, 6.838, 199.29 vs. 12. Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, 6.879, 195.03; 6. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.842, 196.70 vs. 11. Hector Arana, EBR, 6.876, 197.33; 7. Angie Smith, Buell, 6.852, 194.32 vs. 10. Ryan Oehler, Buell, 6.875, 196.53; 8. Angelle Sampey, Buell, 6.853, 195.00 vs. 9. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.856, 196.33. Did Not Qualify: 17. Ron Tornow, 6.908, 193.43; 18. Kelly Clontz, 6.925, 192.38; 19. John Hall, 6.929, 194.16; 20. Mark Paquette, 6.935, 192.00; 21. Anthony Vanetti, 7.101, 185.92; 22. Maurice Allen, 7.110, 188.04.

NHRA 50th Gatornationals winners: Crampton, Hight, Butner, Hines

Gatornationals winners: Hines, Butner, Hight, Crampton. Photos and videos courtesy NHRA.
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Richie Crampton (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), Bo Butner (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) emerged as winners of the 50th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals Sunday at Gainesville (Florida) Raceway.

IN TOP FUEL: Crampton successfully defended his win in last year’s Gatornationals with a 3.769-second, 329.89 mph effort to defeat Clay Millican (3.756 seconds, 324.67 mph) in the final round.

Ironically, not only was Sunday’s triumph Crampton’s first win since last year’s Gators, he also finally got past the first round for the first time in the 2019 season’s first three events, going on to earn his ninth career NHRA national event win.

This is just a big race no matter what year you win it,” Crampton said. “There were not too many easy rounds this year. That goes to tell you how difficult this Top Fuel category is.

I think this win is going to take a while to sink in. I’m so lucky to have a team that puts me in a position to win like this. I’m just focusing to be a dependable driver.”

IN FUNNY CAR: Hight keeps rolling along. Not only has he been the No. 1 qualifier in each of the first three NHRA national events, Sunday’s win was the second of the season and 47th of his career.

Hight (3.867 seconds, 331.61 mph) took the win light after Tim Wilkerson (11.165 seconds, 92.63 mph) lost traction shortly after leaving the starting line.

Qualifying No. 1 at the first three races is really impressive,” Hight said. “It shows that we have a really good handle on this car.

We didn’t get the job done on the last day of the season last year (he failed to win the championship, losing to J.R. Todd) and my team worked really hard because they don’t want to be in that spot again.”

IN PRO STOCK: Butner, the 2017 Pro Stock champion, is off to a great season’s start, with Sunday’s triumph being his second of the young season.

Butner (6.505 seconds, 212.29 mph) defeated Alex Laughlin in the final round. Laughlin’s car broke, essentially giving Butner a free pass to the victory.

Butner’s win was all the more sweeter as his fiancee, Randi Lyn Shipp, won the Stock Eliminator class.

I had no shot of winning rounds today,” Butner said. “Second and third round we didn’t get down the track. The guys never gave up and I made the best run of the weekend in the finals. We were real ready for the final.”

IN PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: The two-wheeled guys kicked off their season with an outstanding final round battle between teammates Andrew Hines and Eddie Krawiec.

Hines earned the 49th win of his career and first since the final race of the 2017 season with a run of 6.752 seconds at 199.17 mph to defeat Krawiec (6.762 seconds, 198.90 mph).

The motorcycle I had this weekend was phenomenal,” Hines said. “It was tracking straight down the track and it responded to all of the changes.

That made it so much easier to focus on going out there and racing, cutting good lights and not really worrying about what could happen the very next run.”

The next national event will be the Denso Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, April 5-7 in Las Vegas.

Here’s Sunday’s results and updated point standings:

FINAL FINISHING ORDER:

TOP FUEL: 1. Richie Crampton; 2. Clay Millican; 3.T.J. Zizzo; 4. Doug Kalitta; 5. Steve Torrence; 6. Leah Pritchett; 7. Brittany Force; 8. Jordan Vandergriff; 9. Terry McMillen; 10. Dom Lagana; 11. Mike Salinas; 12. Austin Prock; 13. Antron Brown; 14. Scott Palmer; 15. Pat Dakin; 16. Chris Karamesines.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Robert Hight; 2. Tim Wilkerson; 3. John Force; 4. Jack Beckman; 5. Tommy Johnson Jr.; 6. Cruz Pedregon; 7. Matt Hagan; 8. Ron Capps; 9. Jonnie Lindberg; 10. Shawn Langdon; 11. Bob Tasca III; 12. Terry Haddock; 13. J.R. Todd; 14. Dave Richards; 15. John Smith; 16. Jim Campbell.

PRO STOCK: 1. Bo Butner; 2. Alex Laughlin; 3. Kenny Delco; 4. Rodger Brogdon; 5. Greg Anderson; 6. Shane Tucker; 7. Chris McGaha; 8. Deric Kramer; 9. Jeg Coughlin; 10. Jason Line; 11. Fernando Cuadra; 12. Matt Hartford; 13. Alan Prusiensky; 14. Wally Stroupe; 15. Erica Enders; 16. Val Smeland.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. Andrew Hines; 2. Eddie Krawiec; 3. Hector Arana Jr; 4. Joey Gladstone; 5. Ryan Oehler; 6. Jerry Savoie; 7. Jim Underdahl; 8. Matt Smith; 9. Angie Smith; 10. Cory Reed; 11. Angelle Sampey; 12. Karen Stoffer; 13. Kelly Clontz; 14. Scotty Pollacheck; 15. Hector Arana; 16. Melissa Surber.

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FINAL RESULTS:

TOP FUEL: Richie Crampton, 3.769 seconds, 323.89 mphdef. Clay Millican, 3.756 seconds, 324.67 mph.

FUNNY CAR: Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.867, 331.61def. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 11.165, 92.63.

PRO STOCK: Bo Butner, Chevy Camaro, 6.505, 212.29def. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, Broke.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.752, 199.17def. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.762, 198.90.

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FINAL ROUND-BY-ROUND RESULTS

TOP FUEL: ROUND ONE — T.J. Zizzo, 4.467, 287.84 def. Scott Palmer, 7.510, 92.54; Clay Millican, 3.713, 325.61 def. Austin Prock, 3.996, 311.63; Richie Crampton, 3.783, 318.77 def. Antron Brown, 4.376, 220.40; Brittany Force, 3.712, 304.12 def. Chris Karamesines, 8.179, 68.29; Jordan Vandergriff, 3.721, 322.34 def. Mike Salinas, 3.986, 275.28; Steve Torrence, 3.680, 327.27 def. Dom Lagana, 3.845, 264.18; Leah Pritchett, 3.724, 327.59 def. Pat Dakin, 7.999, 80.28; Doug Kalitta, 3.749, 325.30 def. Terry McMillen, 3.749, 325.22; QUARTERFINALS — Crampton, 3.785, 319.37 def. Pritchett, 3.739, 328.78; Millican, 3.701, 325.69 def. Vandergriff, 10.914, 71.66; Zizzo, 3.764, 325.92 def. Force, 3.751, 326.95; Kalitta, 3.703, 327.51 def. Torrence, 3.708, 329.91; SEMIFINALS — Crampton, 3.734, 326.56 def. Zizzo, 3.844, 297.42; Millican, 3.909, 313.73 def. Kalitta, 4.920, 145.97; FINAL — Crampton, 3.769, 323.89 def. Millican, 3.756, 324.67.

FUNNY CAR: ROUND ONE — Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.759, 231.48 def. Dave Richards, Mustang, 5.240, 213.43; John Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.892, 326.63 def. Jim Campbell, Dodge Charger, 8.295, 78.64; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.933, 326.56 def. John Smith, Charger, 5.306, 150.05; Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.869, 331.94 def. Terry Haddock, Mustang, 4.234, 284.03; Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.941, 322.58 def. Jonnie Lindberg, Mustang, 3.950, 324.44; Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.905, 326.79 def. J.R. Todd, Toyota Camry, 4.353, 255.53; Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 3.924, 325.22 def. Shawn Langdon, Camry, 3.966, 323.27; Ron Capps, Charger, 3.910, 324.59 def. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 3.969, 316.90; QUARTERFINALS — Wilkerson, 3.872, 329.50 def. Pedregon, 8.110, 84.77; Hight, 3.870, 330.88 def. Capps, 10.137, 77.38; Force, 4.471, 185.95 def. Hagan, 9.028, 77.04; Beckman, 3.898, 329.67 def. Johnson Jr., 3.892, 327.03; SEMIFINALS — Wilkerson, 3.896, 329.02 def. Beckman, 4.211, 267.27; Hight, 3.852, 331.20 def. Force, 3.942, 324.12; FINAL — Hight, 3.867, 331.61 def. Wilkerson, 11.165, 92.63.

PRO STOCK: ROUND ONE — Chris McGaha, Chevy Camaro, 6.566, 210.97 def. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.751, 173.63; Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.512, 210.83 def. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.527, 212.39; Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.533, 210.34 def. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.516, 212.53; Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.532, 212.46 def. Fernando Cuadra, Camaro, 6.549, 211.63; Shane Tucker, Camaro, 6.593, 209.26 def. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.571, 211.13; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.504, 212.69 def. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 6.625, 208.07; Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.566, 211.23 def. Wally Stroupe, Camaro, Foul – Red Light; Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.505, 212.33 def. Val Smeland, Camaro, 12.777, 67.47; QUARTERFINALS — Brogdon, 6.513, 211.39 def. McGaha, 7.852, 127.58; Delco, 6.555, 210.01 def. Tucker, 6.610, 209.23; Butner, 6.552, 211.76 def. Kramer, 20.651, 37.89; Laughlin, 6.507, 211.00 def. Anderson, 6.506, 213.16; SEMIFINALS — Butner, 8.103, 115.58 def. Brogdon, Foul – Red Light; Laughlin, 6.531, 210.57 def. Delco, 6.550, 210.41; FINAL — Butner, 6.505, 212.29 def. Laughlin, Broke.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: ROUND ONE — Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.916, 187.89 def. Hector Arana, 7.095, 196.93; Joey Gladstone, 6.873, 194.46 def. Angelle Sampey, Harley-Davidson, 6.884, 195.39; Ryan Oehler, Buell, 6.853, 196.36 def. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.901, 194.04; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.781, 198.67 def. Cory Reed, Foul – Red Light; Hector Arana Jr, 6.815, 197.62 def. Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 6.916, 192.19; Matt Smith, 6.795, 197.36 def. Angie Smith, 6.850, 196.79; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.803, 198.17 def. Scotty Pollacheck, 6.964, 192.41; Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, Broke def. Melissa Surber, Buell, Foul – Red Light; QUARTERFINALS — Arana Jr, 6.797, 197.08 def. Oehler, 6.886, 198.44; Krawiec, 6.920, 197.68 def. Underdahl, 7.184, 153.49; Gladstone, 6.811, 194.74 def. M. Smith, Broke; Hines, 6.756, 199.14 def. Savoie, Foul – Red Light; SEMIFINALS — Krawiec, 6.819, 197.08 def. Gladstone, 6.850, 194.72; Hines, 6.758, 199.08 def. Arana Jr, Foul – Red Light; FINAL — Hines, 6.752, 199.17 def. Krawiec, 6.762, 198.90.

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UPDATED POINT STANDINGS:

TOP FUEL: 1.Doug Kalitta, 246; 2.Leah Pritchett, 204; 3.Steve Torrence, 197; 4.(tie) Richie Crampton, 178; Billy Torrence, 178; 6.Terry McMillen, 166; 7.Mike Salinas, 161; 8.Clay Millican, 157; 9.Antron Brown, 150; 10.Austin Prock, 138.

FUNNY CAR: 1.Robert Hight, 330; 2.Jack Beckman, 225; 3.Matt Hagan, 215; 4.John Force, 200; 5.Tommy Johnson Jr., 191; 6.Tim Wilkerson, 165; 7.Bob Tasca III, 163; 8.J.R. Todd, 159; 9.Ron Capps, 146; 10.Shawn Langdon, 143.

PRO STOCK: 1.Bo Butner, 301; 2.Alex Laughlin, 229; 3.Jason Line, 189; 4.Erica Enders, 186; 5.Matt Hartford, 185; 6.Rodger Brogdon, 184; 7.Jeg Coughlin, 180; 8.Deric Kramer, 166; 9.Kenny Delco, 141; 10.Chris McGaha, 137.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1.Andrew Hines, 124; 2.Eddie Krawiec, 106; 3.Hector Arana Jr, 76; 4.Joey Gladstone, 72; 5. Matt Smith, 63; 6.Ryan Oehler, 54; 7.(tie) Jerry Savoie, 53; Jim Underdahl, 53; 9.Angelle Sampey, 35; 10.(tie) Hector Arana, 32; Karen Stoffer, 32; Melissa Surber, 32.

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