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NHRA Las Vegas No. 1 qualifiers: Millican, Johnson Jr., Coughlin Jr., Arana Jr.

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NHRA media release

Clay Millican remained a contender for the Top Fuel world championship securing his 10th No. 1 qualifying position on the season Saturday afternoon at the NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Tommy Johnson Jr. (Funny Car), Jeg Coughlin Jr. (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are the No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories at the fifth of six playoff events during the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship.

Millican was able to carry his 3.699-second pass at 327.82 mph on Friday night in his Parts Plus/ Great Clips dragster for the second No. 1 position at this event. He will face Greg Carrillo when eliminations begin on Sunday.

“This team is incredible,” said Millican “This is something I would have never dreamed of. So proud of what this team has done all season long. It is amazing.”

Millican trails points leader Steve Torrence who is qualified second. Torrence will face Shawn Reed and can secure his first world championship if he goes one round further than Millican during eliminations.

Johnson earned his third consecutive No. 1 with his pass of 3.879 at 327.82 during the final pass of the fourth qualifying session in his Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T. Johnson has 18 career No. 1 positions and races Jeff Arend.

“Our car has been running so well as of late,” said Johnson. “You want to come into the Countdown and you have to bring everything you got for all the races. You have to perform your best you have all season. We have done that except for Sunday. I’m excited about tomorrow, I don’t know if I will be able to sleep tonight. I’m ready to go.”

Robert Hight, who leads the Funny Car points is qualified seventh and will race Shawn Langdon on Sunday. J.R. Todd trails Hight in the standings, he qualified second and races Richard Townsend.

In Pro Stock, Coughlin powered to his fifth No. 1 position of the season during the first session on Saturday with his pass of 6.628 at 206.95 in his Jegs.com/Elite/Chevrolet Camaro. This is the first time in his career the veteran racer has posted five top positions in a single season. Coughlin is second in the category points and line up against Steve Graham in eliminations.

“It is certainly coming at a great time,” said Coughlin. “As the Countdown narrows tomorrow and two seeks in Pomona, every point counts and every round counts. Right now we are second in the points and have a long way to go to climb up to that top spot and need a lot of help from some of our competitors but to sit on pole here in Las Vegas feels great.”

Points leader Tanner Gray qualified fifth and will face Alan Prusiensky on Sunday.

Arana Jr. moved to the No. 1 position in Pro Stock Motorcycle during the first qualifying position of the day on Saturday with his run of 6.845 at 196.44 on his Lucas Oil Buell. This is the third No. 1 qualifying position for the season, first since the event in Richmond, Va., and the 22nd of his career. He will race Make Paquette when eliminations begin on Sunday.

“We made a really good pass the first session,” said Arana. “Right there that gave us the confidence boost and the momentum to be able to go as fast as we are going. We didn’t have to play catch up or figure out a tune-up. The tune-up we nailed it right away, then we were able to tickle it a little bit. We really feel confident going into race day tomorrow.”

Points leader Matt Smith qualified eighth and will face LE Tonglet who is second in points and qualified ninth. Eddie Krawiec who is third in points qualified second and races Ron Tornow when eliminations begin.

Eliminations for the NHRA Toyota Nationals begin at 11 a.m. PT/2 pm ET on Sunday.

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SUNDAY’s FIRST-ROUND PAIRINGS FOR ELIMINATIONS:

TOP FUEL: 1. Clay Millican, 3.699 seconds, 327.82 mph vs. 16. Greg Carrillo, 3.939, 305.98; 2. Steve Torrence, 3.702, 333.33 vs. 15. Shawn Reed, 3.876, 295.34; 3. Brittany Force, 3.723, 330.88 vs. 14. Mike Salinas, 3.824, 280.72; 4. Leah Pritchett, 3.731, 322.65 vs. 13. Troy Buff, 3.804, 308.57; 5. Antron Brown, 3.741, 322.88 vs. 12. Blake Alexander, 3.800, 321.12; 6. Doug Kalitta, 3.742, 326.00 vs. 11. Richie Crampton, 3.799, 318.39; 7. Billy Torrence, 3.760, 327.90 vs. 10. Terry McMillen, 3.784, 326.32; 8. Scott Palmer, 3.768, 326.48 vs. 9. Tony Schumacher, 3.772, 330.15. Did Not Qualify: 17. Terry Haddock, 4.018, 295.21; 18. Terry Totten, 4.788, 155.31.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger, 3.879, 327.82 vs. 16. Jeff Arend, Chevy Monte Carlo, 4.119, 302.35; 2. J.R. Todd, Toyota Camry, 3.911, 327.19 vs. 15. Richard Townsend, Camry, 4.060, 308.50; 3. Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.922, 327.19 vs. 14. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.054, 312.06; 4. Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 3.924, 321.65 vs. 13. Jonnie Lindberg, Mustang, 4.050, 314.24; 5. John Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.926, 330.55 vs. 12. Ron Capps, Charger, 3.971, 315.71; 6. Courtney Force, Camaro, 3.926, 328.46 vs. 11. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 3.968, 323.04; 7. Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.927, 328.38 vs. 10. Shawn Langdon, Camry, 3.965, 319.67; 8. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.932, 319.90 vs. 9. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.949, 322.65. Did Not Qualify: 17. Gary Densham, 4.192, 273.33; 18. Bob Bode, 4.253, 265.74; 19. Jeff Diehl, 4.911, 165.11.

PRO STOCK: 1. Jeg Coughlin, Chevy Camaro, 6.628, 206.73 vs. 16. Steve Graham, Camaro, 6.715, 205.13; 2. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.628, 206.61 vs. 15. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.693, 205.51; 3. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.629, 206.26 vs. 14. Fernando Cuadra, Camaro, 6.686, 206.26; 4. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.631, 206.86 vs. 13. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.653, 203.89; 5. Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.631, 205.79 vs. 12. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 6.650, 205.79; 6. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.633, 207.91 vs. 11. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.650, 206.70; 7. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.636, 207.56 vs. 10. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.643, 205.63; 8. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.636, 206.70 vs. 9. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.638, 205.57. Did Not Qualify: 17. Val Smeland, 6.762, 203.12; 18. Joey Grose, 6.803, 202.27; 19. Tom Huggins, 6.816, 202.64.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. Hector Arana Jr, EBR, 6.845, 196.44 vs. 16. Mark Paquette, Buell, 6.990, 189.52; 2. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.859, 195.65 vs. 15. Ron Tornow, Buell, 6.987, 189.98; 3. Hector Arana, EBR, 6.863, 194.88 vs. 14. Ryan Oehler, Buell, 6.980, 193.49; 4. Chip Ellis, Harley-Davidson, 6.899, 194.60 vs. 13. Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 6.972, 190.97; 5. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.911, 193.43 vs. 12. Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, 6.963, 190.89; 6. Angie Smith, Buell, 6.921, 191.19 vs. 11. Angelle Sampey, Buell, 6.953, 191.73; 7. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.926, 189.39 vs. 10. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.953, 191.87; 8. Matt Smith, EBR, 6.931, 195.17 vs. 9. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.931, 194.32. Did Not Qualify: 17. Karen Stoffer, 6.991, 190.51; 18. Katie Sullivan, 7.000, 192.74; 19. Cory Reed, 7.020, 190.59; 20. Freddie Camarena, 7.040, 191.57; 21. Anthony Vanetti, 7.153, 184.09; 22. Maurice Allen, 7.195, 184.39. 

Christopher Bell wins third straight Chili Bowl

@cbnationals, Twitter
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Christopher Bell passed Kyle Larson on the final lap of the 55-lap A-Feature to win the 33rd Annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals. Bell is only the second driver in event history to win three consecutive Golden Drillers, joining Kevin Swindell who holds the record with four.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be able to win the Chili Bowl,” Bell said at ChiliBowl.com. “To do it three straight times is just unbelievable, but man, I don’t even care about three straight. What about that race? I don’t think I’ve ever really been a part of a last lap race like that, so I’m just glad that thing came out in the end.”

As the white flag waved on his eighth appearance in Saturday’s main event, it seemed Larson was finally going to walk away with his first Golden Driller. This was closest he’s been to the win.

Larson took the lead from Logan Seavey on Lap 21 after a five-lap hot pursuit. Bell moved into second for the first time on Lap 27 but a caution forced him back to third as the field realigned to the last completed lap.

On Lap 33, Bell passed Seavey again for second before another caution reset the field. On the next restart Bell road the rim diving to the hub in Turns 3 and 4. With Larson in sight, Bell started to think about where he was going to put his third trophy.

The final caution flag of the night waved with 20 to go to set up the Bell vs. Larson shootout fans had been waiting for since Larson retired early from the race last year. Larson pulled away on the highline in Turns 1 and 2. He switched to the low in 3 and 4.

With five laps to go Larson hit traffic. That gave Bell the opportunity to close the gap. With two to go Bell was on top of Larson and challenging for the lead. On the final lap Bell passed Larson in Turn 2 as they bumped tires. Glued together through the final pair of turns, they touched twice more before Bell pulled away on the final stretch.

The action wasn’t over, however. Bell wound up on his lid following the win. His donuts got a little out of control and he rolled his midget.

Justin Grant took third by passing Brady Bacon on Lap 36. Bacon followed for fourth with Zach Daum in tow to complete the top five.

Tyler Courtney was the hard charger of the night finishing sixth after starting in 22nd. Brad Sweet and CJ Leary finished seventh and eighth.

Seavey was able to hold onto third until late in the race but ultimately the pole sitter who led the first 20 laps faded to ninth.

Tanner Thorson rounded out the top ten.

Friday’s Main Event

1. Christopher Bell
2. Kyle Larson
3. Justin Grant
4. Brady Bacon
5. Zach Daum
6. Tyler Courtney
7. Brad Sweet
8. CJ Leary
9. Logan Seavey
10. Tanner Thorson
11. Danny Stratton
12. Jonathan Beason
13. Tucker Klaasmeyer
14. Colby Copeland
15. Rico Abreu
16. Michael Faccinto
17. Chad Boat
18. David Gravel
19. Cole Bodine
20. Robert Dalby
21. Jake Neuman
22. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
23. Shane Golobic
24. Sean McClelland