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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.

Nasser Al-Attiyah, Toby Price win Dakar Rally

Dakar.com, Frederic le Floc'h / DPPI
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Driving a safe final stage that placed him 12th across the line, Nasser Al-Attiyah claimed his third Dakar Rally victory on Thursday. Toby Price claimed his second Dakar win in motorcycles after winning the final stage.

Al-Attiyah could afford to play it safe since he entered the stage with a 51-minute advantage over the field. Price barely had a minute to spare and was forced to push hard through the short 112-kilometer course.

Price’s victory was all the more dramatic in light of his riding the entire rally with a pin in his wrist from a broken scaphoid bone.

In the Quads class, Nicolas Cavigliasso showed his dominance by winning nine of the 10 stages.

Here are some of the other highlights:

In the cars class, Last year’s overall class winner, Carlos Sainz finally earned a stage win, but it was too little, too late. … Sebastien Loeb challenged for the class win throughout the stage and finished less than one minute back. … Cyril Despres rounded out the top three. … Nani Roma finished sixth, four minutes behind the leader, but less than five minutes ahead of Nasser Al-Attiyah.

Class Leaders: Al-Attiyah won his third Dakar by a margin of 46:42 over Roma and one hour, 54:18 over Loeb.

In motorcycles, Toby Price saved the best for last. He won his first stage of the rally and secured the class win. … His victory came with a margin of 2:21 over Jose Florima. … Matthias Walkner enter entered the stage with an opportunity to take the overall lead. His third-place finish was not bad, but it came with his principal rival finishing first. … Pablo Quintanilla took a fall early in the stage and injured his foot. Riding hurt, he finished the stage 22nd – nearly 20 minutes off the pace. … American Andrew Short finished seventh for his eighth top 10 of the rally.

Class Leaders: Price ended the rally with the biggest advantage of the year. He beat Walkner by 9:13. Sam Sunderland finished third, 13:34 behind the leader.

In side by sides, Reinaldo Varela won his second consecutive stage and third overall. … He had a comfortable margin of 3:39 over Cristian Baumgart and 6:10 over Francisco Lopez Contardo.

Class Leaders: Contardo’s third-place finish in the stage was more than enough to secure the class victory over Gerard Farres Guell, who finished one hour, 2:35. Varela finished one hour, 5:19 behind in third.

In quads, In a show of utter dominance, Nicolas Cavigliasso won his ninth stage of the year. … Alexandre Giroud stood on the podium for the fourth time this year. While he didn’t win a stage, he never finished worse than sixth. … Jeremias Gonzalez Ferioli rounded out the top three.

Class Leaders: Cavigliasso won by an advantage of one hour, 55:37 over Ferioli and two hours, 11:38 over Gustavo Gallego

In trucks, Ton Van Genugton rebounded from a poor Stage 9 in which he finished 12th to win his second stage of the rally. … Ales Loprais scored his first podium of the rally; his previous best finish was fourth in Stage 9. … Dmitry Sotnikov stood on the final rung of the podium.

Class Leaders: Eduard Nikolaev finished sixth in the stage, but won with an advantage of 25:36 over Sotnikov and one hour, 34:44 over Gerard de Rooy

Stage Wins

Motorcycles
Sam Sunderland [2] (Stage 5 and 7), Matthias Walkner [2] (Stage 2 and 8), Joan Barreda [1] (Stage 1), Xavier de Soultrait [1] (Stage 3), Ricky Brabec [1] (Stage 4), Pablo Quintanilla [1] (Stage 6), Michael Metge [1] (Stage 9) and Toby Price [1] (Stage 10)

Quads
Nicolas Cavigliasso [9] (Stage 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10) and Jeremias Gonzalez Ferioli [1] (Stage 3)

Cars
Sebastien Loeb [4] (Stage 2, 5, 6 and 8), Nasser Al-Attiyah [3] (Stage 1, 4 and 9), Stephane Peterhansel [2] (Stage 3 and 7) and [1] Carlos Sainz

Side-by-sides
Francisco Lopez Contardo [4] (Stage 2, 6, 7 and 8), Reinaldo Varela [3] (Stage 1, 9 and 10), Gerard Farres Guell [1] (Stage 3), Sergei Kariakin [1] (Stage 4) and Rodrigo Piazzoli [1] (Stage 5)

Trucks
Eduard Nikolaev [3] (Stage 1, 2, and 9), Andrey Karginov [2] (Stage 3 and 4), Ton Van Genugton [2] (Stage 5 and 10), Dmitry Sotnikov [2] (Stage 6 and 8), and Gerard de Rooy [1] (Stage 7)

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