NHRA Las Vegas winners (from left): Arana Jr., Butner, Salinas and Todd. Photo: NHRA.

NHRA Vegas Four-Wide Winners: Todd, Butner, Salinas, Arana Jr.

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Kalitta Motorsports driver J.R. Todd is once again doing his Elvis Presley imitation – belting out “Viva Las Vegas!”

The defending NHRA Funny Car champ won for the third consecutive time at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Sunday’s final round of the Denso Spark Plugs Four-Wide Nationals.

Also winning were Mike Salinas in Top Fuel (his first career victory), Bo Butner in Pro Stock and Hector Arana Jr. in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

IN FUNNY CAR: Todd just absolutely loves The Strip. It has kind of become his good luck charm.

And he continued to hit the jackpot Sunday.

Todd drove his DHL Toyota Camry to victory with a pass of 3.970 seconds at 319.07 mph. He defeated runner-up Tommy Johnson Jr., Jack Beckman and No. 1 qualifier Tim Wilkerson.

It’s all Kalitta Motorsports,” Todd said about his success in Las Vegas. “It seems like ever since I’ve come on board with this team, we’ve always run well here.

This whole team, all four cars, have a really good handle on this place, especially Todd Smith and Jon (Oberhofer, crew chiefs). It seems like the more we come here the better grip they get ahold of this place.”

IN TOP FUEL: Salinas broke through with his first career win. He began the day as the No. 1 qualifier and in the final round clocked a winning effort of 3.801 seconds at 330.39 mph.

Salinas and his Scrappers Racing dragster held off runner-up Brittany Force, Clay Millican and Doug Kalitta.

It means a lot,” Salinas said. “I have this program that I put in my head and I believed it would work. Alan Johnson (tuner) has been five years in the making. Didn’t say much, just let everything fall where it’s going to fall. We build something and now we can go racing.

The important thing, for me, is that I have four daughters coming into the sport. I set the bar for my family all the time and now we have a good bar for them to reach and meet from the (Pro Stock) motorcycle, to the A-Fuel, to our Pro Mod coming, to everything we’re going to do. It’s going to be a great thing.”

IN PRO STOCK: Butner, who won the 2017 championship, keeps rolling along, earning his third victory in the first four races of the 2019 season.

Butner’s winning pass was 6.677 seconds at 206.67 seconds, outlasting runner-up Matt Hartford, Jason Line and Greg Anderson. It was Butner’s first-ever win in four-wide races at either Las Vegas or Charlotte, and his second overall win at The Strip.

I learned that you can’t be a lazy winner,” Butner stated. “The win light is off now and it’s time for the next race.

We’ve got to work hard but I’m with the best team. I’m in the final with Greg and Jason, we’re like three brothers. It’s just great to get that with Ken (Black, team owner). It worked out to be a good day and just very blessed and can’t complain.”

IN PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: Arana Jr. (6.907 seconds at 195.97 mph) defeated runner-up Matt Smith, five-time champion Andrew and four-time champ Eddie Krawiec, who fouled with a red light start.

It was Arana Jr.’s second career win at The Strip.

That Lucas Oil motorcycle, she’s bad to the bone,” Arana Jr. said. “That’s just a testament to my team and the consistency.

We weren’t the fastest but we were consistent all weekend. I worked on my lights and they got better and better and I stepped it up when I needed to step it up in the final because the final was stacked.

I love going up against those guys. It makes me put out my best. It’s just something about racing those guys that you just dig deep and really go for it.”

The series moves to suburban Houston for this coming weekend’s Mopar Express Lane SpringNationals Presented by Pennzoil, the fifth race of the season.



TOP FUEL: 1. Mike Salinas; 2. Brittany Force; 3. Doug Kalitta; 4. Clay Millican; 5. Steve Torrence; 6. Billy Torrence; 7. Terry Totten; 8. Richie Crampton; 9. Terry McMillen; 10. Scott Palmer; 11. Antron Brown; 12. Leah Pritchett; 13. Cameron Ferre; 14. Steven Chrisman; 15. Austin Prock.

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

PRO STOCK: 1. Bo Butner; 2. Matt Hartford; 3. Jason Line; 4. Greg Anderson; 5. Chris McGaha; 6. Alex Laughlin; 7. Jeff Isbell; 8. Erica Enders; 9. Steve Graham; 10. Alan Prusiensky; 11. Shane Tucker; 12. Joey Grose; 13. Jeg Coughlin; 14. Rodger Brogdon; 15. Fernando Cuadra; 16. Deric Kramer.

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



TOP FUEL: Mike Salinas, 3.801 seconds, 330.39 mph def. Brittany Force, 3.810 seconds, 321.42 mph and Doug Kalitta, 4.333 seconds, 193.74 mph and Clay Millican, 4.350 seconds, 264.23 mph.

FUNNY CAR: J.R. Todd, Toyota Camry, 3.970, 319.07 def. Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger, 3.975, 313.29 and Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.370, 213.16 and Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.401, 205.35.

PRO STOCK: Bo Butner, Chevy Camaro, 6.677, 206.67 def. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.667, 206.51 and Jason Line, Camaro, 6.674, 206.99 and Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.655, 207.94.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: Hector Arana Jr, EBR, 6.907, 195.79 def. Matt Smith, EBR, 6.903, 197.02 and Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, foul and Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, broke.



TOP FUEL: ROUND ONE — Clay Millican, 3.777, 328.14 and Terry Totten, 4.053, 301.54 def. Leah Pritchett, 6.768, 114.02 and Austin Prock, 20.242, 40.84; Brittany Force, 3.731, 320.74 and Richie Crampton, 3.769, 316.23 def. Scott Palmer, 3.798, 326.24 and Cameron Ferre, 3.998, 299.00; Steve Torrence, 3.729, 324.67 and Doug Kalitta, 3.780, 320.51 def. Terry McMillen, 3.770, 323.81 and Steven Chrisman, 6.102, 86.90; Mike Salinas, 3.747, 328.86 and Billy Torrence, 3.966, 271.95 def. Antron Brown, 4.072, 237.75.

SEMIFINALS — Salinas, 3.769, 325.45 and Millican, 3.793, 316.45 def. B. Torrence, 3.817, 319.22 and Totten, 4.157, 247.70; Force, 3.769, 318.99 and Kalitta, 3.790, 320.81 def. S. Torrence, 3.783,323.89 and Crampton, 4.903, 147.68;

FINAL — Salinas, 3.801, 330.39 def. Force, 3.810, 321.42, Kalitta, 4.333, 193.74 and Millican, 4.350, 264.23.

FUNNY CAR: ROUND ONE — Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.891, 325.69 and Jeff Diehl, Toyota Camry, 4.223, 264.23 def. Shawn Langdon, Camry, 4.538, 173.47 and Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 4.524, 186.30; Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger, 4.234, 229.27 and Ron Capps, Charger, 4.280, 265.06 def. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.332, 268.65 and Terry Haddock, Mustang, 4.302, 289.88; John Force, Camaro, 3.916, 329.67 and Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.958, 322.88 def. Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 3.981, 322.19 and Phil Burkart, Charger, 4.172, 263.56; Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.073, 288.03 and J.R. Todd, Camry, 4.349, 210.31 def. Gary Densham, Mustang, 4.330, 223.62 and Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.832, 168.14;

SEMIFINALS — Wilkerson, 3.996, 312.21 and Todd, 4.030, 314.24 def. Hagan, 4.017, 303.57 and Diehl, 5.727, 122.73; Johnson Jr., 3.994, 315.93 and Beckman, 4.010, 318.32 def. Force, 4.025, 321.81 and Capps, 4.037, 315.05;

FINAL — Todd, 3.970, 319.07 def. Johnson Jr., 3.975, 313.29, Beckman, 4.370, 213.16 and Wilkerson, 4.401, 205.35.

PRO STOCK: ROUND ONE — Matt Hartford, Chevy Camaro, 6.658, 206.73 and Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.687, 206.04 def. Shane Tucker, Camaro, 6.733, 203.06 and Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 10.559, 86.44; Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.661, 206.04 and Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.692, 207.78 def. Steve Graham, Camaro, 6.697, 206.51 and Joey Grose, Camaro, 6.712, 205.16; Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.651, 205.72 and Jason Line, Camaro, 6.672, 206.83 def. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 6.721, 203.86 and Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.849, 171.25; Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.639, 206.92 and Jeff Isbell, Ford Mustang, 6.851, 202.85 def. Fernando Cuadra, Camaro, broke and Deric Kramer, Camaro, broke.

SEMIFINALS — Line, 6.680, 207.02 and Anderson, 6.689, 207.88 def. Laughlin, 6.694, 205.88 and Enders, 7.071, 204.05; Butner, 6.665, 207.02 and Hartford, 6.674, 206.48 def. McGaha, 6.672, 206.64 and Isbell, 6.801, 203.77;

FINAL — Butner, 6.677, 206.67 def. Hartford, 6.667, 206.51, Line, 6.674, 206.99 and Anderson, 6.655, 207.94.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: ROUND ONE — Karen Stoffer, Suzuki TL, 6.942, 193.21 and Andrew Hines, Harley Street Rod, 6.901, 195.51 def. Joey Gladstone, EBR, 6.999, 191.38 and Jim Underdahl, Suzuki GS, 7.064, 192.22; Eddie Krawiec, Street Rod, 6.903, 195.48 and Jerry Savoie, TL, 6.944, 191.81 def. Cory Reed, EBR, 7.127, 191.27 and Freddie Camarena, Suzuki GSXR, 7.355, 180.02; Hector Arana, EBR, 6.917, 196.39 and Hector Arana Jr, EBR, 6.891, 195.62 def. Steve Johnson, TL, 6.978, 189.98 and Kelly Clontz, TL, 7.009, 191.95; Matt Smith, EBR, 6.886, 197.31 and Angie Smith, EBR, 7.012, 193.18 def. Angelle Sampey, Street Rod, 6.970, 193.65 and Ryan Oehler, Buell, 6.980, 195.39;

SEMIFINALS — Krawiec, 6.924, 194.46 and Arana Jr, 6.915, 195.62 def. Arana, 6.995, 195.76 and Savoie, 6.985, 192.38; Hines, 6.902, 195.19 and M. Smith, 6.919, 196.22 def. Stoffer, 6.942, 192.80 and A. Smith, 6.995, 194.55;

FINAL — Arana Jr, 6.907, 195.79 def. M. Smith, 6.903, 197.02, Krawiec, foul and Hines, broke.



TOP FUEL: 1. Doug Kalitta, 319; 2. Mike Salinas, 286; 3. Steve Torrence, 256; 4. Leah Pritchett, 244; 5. Richie Crampton, 233; 6. (tie) Clay Millican, 231; Billy Torrence, 231; 8. Brittany Force, 224; 9. Terry McMillen, 198; 10. Antron Brown, 184.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Robert Hight, 363; 2. Jack Beckman, 297; 3. Tommy Johnson Jr., 283; 4. J.R. Todd, 280; 5. Matt Hagan, 271; 6. John Force, 258; 7. Tim Wilkerson, 246; 8. Ron Capps, 205; 9. Bob Tasca III, 198; 10. Cruz Pedregon, 179.

PRO STOCK: 1. Bo Butner, 425; 2. Alex Laughlin, 285; 3. Matt Hartford, 284; 4. Jason Line, 261; 5. Erica Enders, 239; 6. Jeg Coughlin, 225; 7. Rodger Brogdon, 220; 8. Greg Anderson, 208; 9. DericKramer, 199; 10. Chris McGaha, 189.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. Andrew Hines, 201; 2. Hector Arana Jr, 198; 3. Eddie Krawiec, 188; 4. Matt Smith, 170; 5. Jerry Savoie, 105; 6. Joey Gladstone, 103; 7. Karen Stoffer, 88; 8. Ryan Oehler, 87; 9. (tie) Hector Arana, 85; Jim Underdahl, 85.

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Graham Rahal’s ‘Weighty Issue’

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MONTEREY, California – Graham Rahal admits that he can’t wait until the day he doesn’t have to worry about his weight. Being a 6-foot-2, big-boned individual can have its advantages, but not when it comes to fitting into an IndyCar.

That is why the son of 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner and three-time CART IndyCar champion Bobby Rahal has begun a body shaping therapy known as “Sculpting” that uses lasers to trim away body fat.

“Honestly, it is no secret, I’m not shy about this, that I’ve struggled with my weight,” the 201-pound Rahal told a group of reporters during INDYCAR’s Open Test at Laguna Seca on Thursday. “I can guarantee you that from a strength perspective and a stamina perspective, there’s very few guys out here that can keep up with me. I’m just not a super skinny build. It’s never been my thing.

“I’ve tried. We’ve kind of looked around. There was some mutual interest from them to look into trying this, see if it works. I’ll be honest. I was always very skeptical of the stuff. Where I’m at, I’ve done one treatment. I can’t even tell you today if it’s something that really works or not.”

That led Rahal to try out the sculpting process that was invented by a doctor who found it with swelling in kid’s cheeks. The “Sculpture” process uses a laser that kills the fatty cells.

“It takes a long time, I think,” Rahal said. “It’s going to take multiple I think to get there.”

Watch Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey on NBC at 3 p.m.

A race driver needs to be thin, yet very strong to have the physical strength and stamina to compete at a high level in the race car. When it comes to the NTT IndyCar Series, it’s even more important because of the size of the cars and tight cockpit.

Additionally, the extra weight can impact the performance of the race car. The lighter the driver, the less weight inside of the car. In INDYCAR, drivers are weighed and for the lighter drivers, lead weight is added to the car to meet a requirement.

But in Rahal’s case, the lead weight ballast has to be reduced and that sometimes throws off the center of gravity in the car.

“The facts are it’s not going to work if you don’t work out, too, and eat well,” Rahal said. “It doesn’t do anything. But earlier this year, man, I had given up drinking completely for three, four months. I was working out every day, twice a day on most occasions. I went to a nutritionist, doing everything. I literally was not losing an ounce. It was the most frustrating period of time for me.

“I am the biggest guy here. Is it ever going to be equal for me? No matter what these guys talk about with driver ballast, it’s a whole different thing, where my center of gravity is.”

That is what led the 30-year-old driver from Ohio to study the “Sculpting” procedure. He realizes he is never going to have the metabolism of some of the thinner drivers, but he needs to maintain a weight that minimizes his disadvantage.

“It is a challenge,” he admitted. “Ricky Taylor and Helio Castroneves (on Penske Team Acura in IMSA) weigh 60 pounds less than me or something. There is no ballast there. That’s a big swing, a lot of weight to be carrying around.

“We have to try anything we can. If you’re going to be serious, try to find the performance advantage and the edge, you’ve got to look outside of the box.

“It is something new for me. But the fight I guess against being an ultra-skinny guy.

“I fly home with most of these guys after races, I see most of these guys a lot of times, they’re sitting there eating In-N-Out Burger, whatever else. Literally I cannot do it. If I do it, it immediately reflects for me. These guys you see them the next weekend, they’re like this big.

“It’s like, (crap), it’s not my build.”

Because of Rahal’s height and size, he chose to step away from the endurance races for Team Penske in IMSA at the end of last season. He was replaced at the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring by fellow IndyCar driver Alexander Rossi.

Rahal complained that the steering wheel actually hit his legs inside of the Acura, making it difficult for him to drive on the challenging road courses. Since that time, Acura Team Penske has moved the steering column up by a few inches, and it no longer impacts a driver the size of Rahal.

For the IMSA season-ending Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta on Oct. 12, Rahal will be back in the Team Penske Acura.

“Back in the (Team Penske) shop three weeks ago, I could actually turn the steering wheel, which I was shocked about,” Rahal said. “My head touched the roof, whatever, I’m used to that. Physically being able to steer, which I now should be able to do better.

“So I’m excited about it. It’s another great opportunity obviously with Penske. But more importantly for me is Acura, Honda. It’s a great thing to be back in.

“But that wasn’t a weight thing. It’s purely size. They just don’t build cars for guys my size. I used to talk to J.W. (Justin Wilson) about that. It’s the facts of life. Even the GT cars. You would think a GT car would be big. I don’t know if I’ve ever been in a GT car, I was comfortable in either. They’re built for small guys. That’s the way it goes.”

Rahal is taller than his father, Bobby, who is also his IndyCar team owner along with David Letterman and Michael Lanigan.

“I blame my dad,” Rahal said. “I do. You can tell him I said that. I told him, ‘It’s a genetic thing. I got good genes in some ways.’

“I told my wife this the other day, I’m very excited for someday when my career ends just to have a ‘Dad Bod,’ be able to let go for a minute, see how things turn out, because this is getting a little bit exhausting.

“We’re going to stay committed through the winter. I try my hardest every year, but I never tried harder this year to be thin. I weigh about the same as last year, but it took so much effort to get there, I just have to think outside the box.”