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ET Marks Take Beating In Brainerd

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, August 19 2017

Robert Hight was fastest in Funny Car qualifying in Brainerd. (File photo courtesy of the NHRA)


Leah Pritchett and Robert Hight posted national elapsed-time record runs in Top Fuel and Funny Car, respectively, during Friday’s opening qualifying sessions for the 36th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway. 

Tanner Gray (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were provisional qualifying leaders at the Minnesota facility during the 17th of 24 events on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

Pritchett piloted her Don Schumacher Racing dragster to the quickest run in NHRA history with a 1,000-foot pass of 3.640-seconds at 330.63 mph to close out the second session. Meanwhile, Hight’s 3.793-second pass at 338.00 mph in his Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS also landed him in the record books. 

Pritchett, whose car is tuned by crew chief Todd Okuhara and assistant Joe Barlam, held the previous Top Fuel national record of 3.658-seconds set in Chandler, Ariz., near Phoenix at the beginning of the season.

“We’ve looked forward to this night session for a long time,” said Pritchett, ranked third in points and a three-time national event winner in 2017. “Knowing that Brainerd _ this track, this surface, the conditions and what NHRA is able to do to it _ lays down the groundwork for us to pull out the most power possible. That’s what this team did. They’ve been working tirelessly at finding small amounts of power here, there and everywhere and to be able to put it on the track tonight was incredible.”

Rounding out the top-three heading into Saturday qualifying are Brittany Force, who ran 3.685-seconds at 333.16 mph in her Monster Energy machine and Doug Kalitta with a 3.694-second pass at 330.31 mph in his Mac Tools dragster.

Hight’s pass was the first 3.7-second run over 1,000-feet in Funny Car history. Hight, the 2009 world champion from John Force Racing, also holds the Funny Car national speed record of 339.87 mph set recently at Sonoma Raceway in California.

Hight, winner of two of the past three national events, knocked DSR’s Matt Hagan off the provisional pole in the fastest and quickest side-by-side run in NHRA Mello Yello history. Hight eclipsed Hagan’s previous national E.T. record of 3.802-seconds.

“I could tell it was running fast,” said Hight, who is working with crew chief Jimmy Prock and co-crew chief Chris Cunningham. “The clutch disc was boiling, and that’s the way Jimmy runs it. That’s how he wants to wear the clutch. It was hard to see but I did see the 3.79 on the scoreboard, because we shut off at 1,000-feet. I had the chutes out and I glanced up there but I didn’t know the speed.

“It’s just something you dream about. There are so many things that have to happen and work together for it all to come together. It’s not that easy. This is a big milestone. To be part of a milestone as a driver, this was big for me. It’s going to be a long time before we get into the 3.60s. To be a part of a milestone _ I’ve been on John’s teams when he’s cracked barriers, but never done it as a driver _ so this is big for me and the whole team. We’re ecstatic.”

JFR now owns six of the nine fastest speeds in Funny Car history, as well as three of the six quickest elapsed times in Funny Car history. Additionally, JFR Funny Cars own 12 of the 21 track records for elapsed time.

Currently qualified second is Hagan, a two-time world champ, in his Pennzoil/Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T with a 3.807-second pass at 336.57 mph. John Force, a 16-time world champion, is third in his PEAK Coolant & Motor Oil Chevrolet Camaro SS.

In Pro Stock, rookie Gray holds the provisional No. 1 position with a quarter-mile pass in 6.607-seconds at 208.617 mph in his Gray Motorsports /Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro.  Point-leader Bo Butner of Ken Black Racing is second with a 6.617-second pass at 207.69 mph in his Jim Butner’s Auto Camaro. 

“We went out there and made a conservative run for Q1 to make sure we could get some data,” Gray said. “It kind of paid off. If you can go out there and make, obviously a fast run, but just a solid run to collect data then it sets you up really good for sessions like this. I’m very fortunate to be able to drive this thing and it’s going well right now.”

Sitting third is veteran Mopar campaigner and 2012 world champion Allen Johnson with a 6.622-second pass at 206.86 mph in his Dodge Dart. 

Arana Jr. leads the Pro Stock Motorcycle field after covering the quarter-mile in 6.879-seconds at 194.24 mph aboard his Lucas Oil Buell in the second session. 

“It feels good to be up here. It’s been a while. It’s about time,” Arana Jr. said. “We’re really working hard and we got the bike running well and it just seems that there’s something that just gets right by us. Hopefully this is the weekend where that turns around. We feel pretty confident that we still have room to improve off that run, so we’re excited to see what happens tomorrow.”

Two-time world champion Matt Smith is second with a 6.884-second pass at 195.22 mph on his Polaris Racing Victory, while Scotty Pollacheck is third aboard his Suzuki Extended Protection Suzuki with a 6.908-second run at 193.54 mph. 

Qualifying continues Saturday with sessions at 2:30 and 5:30 p.m. (EDT). FOX Sports 1 will air two hours of coverage Saturday at 7 p.m. (EDT). Elimination rounds will begin at noon on Sunday, with FS1 carrying three hours of live coverage beginning at 2 p.m. (EDT).


Friday’s provisional qualifying results after the first two of four rounds of time trials for the 36th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway, 17th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Qualifying will continue Saturday for Sunday’s final eliminations:

Top Fuel _ 1. Leah Pritchett, 3.640-seconds, 331.53 mph; 2. Brittany Force, 3.685, 333.16; 3. Doug Kalitta, 3.694, 330.31; 4. Tony Schumacher, 3.695, 329.42; 5. Clay Millican, 3.706, 324.67; 6. Steve Torrence, 3.709, 330.15; 7. Antron Brown, 3.723, 321.73; 8. Scott Palmer, 3.768, 328.22; 9. Shawn Langdon, 3.859, 265.43; 10. Terry McMillen, 4.053, 239.87; 11. Troy Coughlin Jr., 4.664, 157.78; 12. Rob Passey, 8.808, 60.51.

Not Qualified _ 13. Chris Karamesines, broke.

Funny Car _ 1. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.793, 338.00; 2. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 3.807, 336.57; 3. John Force, Camaro, 3.852, 334.15; 4. Courtney Force, Camaro, 3.863, 335.98; 5. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.880, 329.58; 6. Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.886, 333.25; 7. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.898, 329.26; 8. Ron Capps, Charger, 3.928, 325.14; 9. J.R. Todd, Toyota Camry, 3.937, 327.98; 10. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 3.947, 330.31; 11. Del Worsham, Camry, 3.985, 321.27; 12. Jonnie Lindberg, Camry, 3.988, 326.63; 13. Dale Creasy Jr., Charger, 4.315, 224.02; 14. Bob Bode, Charger, 4.855, 168.62; 15. Brian Stewart, Mustang, 5.015, 150.73; 16. Jim Campbell, Charger, 9.537, 67.32.

Not Qualified _ 17. Cruz Pedregon, 9.804, 83.54.

Pro Stock _ 1. Tanner Gray, Chevy Camaro, 6.607, 208.17; 2. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.617, 207.69; 3. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.622, 206.86; 4. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.628, 208.65; 5. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.633, 207.59; 6. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.635, 207.43; 7. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.637, 207.50; 8. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.670, 207.02; 9. Jeg Coughlin Jr., Camaro, 6.671, 208.30; 10. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.679, 208.10; 11. Alan Prusiensky, Dart, 6.716, 205.60; 12. Deric Kramer, Dart, 6.727, 205.51; 13. John Gaydosh Jr., Chevrolet Camaro, 6.746, 205.47; 14. Mark Hogan, Pontiac GXP, 6.838, 201.49; 15. Dave River, Chevy Cobalt, 10.681, 85.19.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _1. Hector Arana Jr., Buell, 6.879, 194.24; 2. Matt Smith, Victory, 6.884, 195.22; 3. Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, 6.908, 193.54; 4. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.939, 195.56; 5. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.946, 195.00; 6. Angie Smith, Buell, 6.947, 191.08; 7. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.963, 192.08; 8. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.965, 192.85; 9. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.975, 191.32; 10. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.998, 194.10; 11. Freddie Camarena, Suzuki, 7.056, 191.81; 12. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 7.061, 189.52; 13. David Hope, Buell, 7.119, 186.10; 14. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 7.184, 183.10; 15. Angelle Sampey, Victory, 7.492, 167.68; 16. Cory Reed, Victory, 9.215, 94.07.

Not Qualified _ 17. Andie Rawlings, 13.377, 58.68. 


| , RacinToday.com Saturday, August 19 2017
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