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Courtney Force To Start ‘Second Season’ From Pole

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, September 17 2017

John Force and daughter Courtney at zMax Dragway. Dad qualified ninth while daughter won the pole in Funny Car. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)


Courtney Force powered into the Funny Car pole position Saturday as qualifying concluded for the start of NHRA’s “Second Season” at the 10th annual Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway.

Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel), Tanner Gray (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also secured poles in their respective categories at the first of six playoff events comprising the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship.

Force claimed the top spot after a 1,000-foot run of 3.891-seconds at 330.07 mph in her Chevrolet Camaro SS on her second pass Friday. Force clinched her category-best seventh No. 1 qualifier on the year and continues to chase her first victory this season. Force will face Bob Gilbertson in Round 1 of eliminations on Sunday at the event in Concord, N.C.

“I’m really proud of my team for giving me a great race car; it’s been a lot of fun to drive this car and get these No. 1 qualifiers,” Force said. “We know we have to bring that same success into Sunday and I’m just looking forward to tomorrow as we try to end up in the winner’s circle. We’ve got to get something figured out so we can run in the heat tomorrow. This is the time to make magic happen.”

J.R. Todd qualified second with a 3.898-second pass at 329.18 mph in his DHL Toyota Camry and will face Jeff Diehl in the opening round. Tommy Johnson Jr. rounded-out the top three after a 3.901-second pass at 325.06 mph. Johnson, of Don Schumacher Racing, will meet Dave Richards Sunday.

Kalitta started his Countdown run with a 1,000-foot pass in 3.723-seconds at 329.50 mph in his Mac Tools dragster on Friday. Kalitta now has two No. 1 qualifiers this season as he chases his first victory of 2017. Kalitta also earned pole position at last year’s NHRA Carolina Nationals before finishing as the event runnerup. Kalitta will face veteran independent campaigner Chris “The Greek” Karamesines in the first round of eliminations.

“This is one track I have yet to win at, so I would definitely love to get a win here at one of the nicest facilities we get to compete at,” Kalitta said. “I think we have a good set-up for tomorrow with the conditions we’re going to get. I’m very fortunate to have the team I’ve got and I’m looking forward to getting out there tomorrow.”

Point-leader Steve Torrence qualified second after a 3.724-second pass at 327.51 mph in his Capco Contractors dragster, and will take on Terry Haddock in the first round. DSR’s Leah Pritchett sits third at 3.725-seconds at 327.98 mph and will face Wayne Newby in Round 1.

In Pro Stock, Gray held onto the top spot after covering the quarter-mile in 6.559-seconds at 210.50 mph in his Gray Motorsports Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro during his first pass on Friday. Gray now has four No. 1 qualifiers in his rookie season as he looks to improve upon a category-best four victories.

“Today was all about setting up for tomorrow’s run since we will have similar track conditions, but we feel pretty good about where we’re at,” Gray said. “A lot of my opponents have experienced the Countdown before, so I’m definitely a little nervous. But I’m also confident in my car and driving so I feel like there’s no reason we won’t win tomorrow.”

Four-time world champion Greg Anderson of Ken Black Racing is second at 6.567-seconds and 210.73 mph in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro. Anderson will open with Alan Prusiensky and his Dodge Dart on Sunday. Point-leader Bo Butner, also of KB Racing, secured the third slot after a 6.573-second run at 210.77 mph and will face Shane Tucker in eliminations.

Hines finished atop the Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying order with a quarter-mile run in 6.825-seconds at 196.50 mph aboard his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Street Rod in his first pass on Friday. Hines, a five-time world champion, locked down his 39th career pole and first of this season.

“With conditions being ideal this weekend, we’ve been looking at today as our own tune-up for tomorrow,” Hines said. “I feel strong about the tune-up our team has put together, and now we have to make sure we do it again tomorrow when it really counts.”

Three-time world champ Eddie Krawiec earned the second position with a 6.836-second pass at 195.00 mph aboard is Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Street Rod and will race Mark Paquette and his Victory on Sunday. Reigning world champion Jerry Savoie rounded out the top three after a 6.838-second run at 196.10 mph aboard his White Alligator Suzuki. Savoie will race Melissa Surber and her Buell when eliminations get underway at noon (EDT) on Sunday.

FOX Sports 1 will air three hours of live coverage beginning at 2:30 p.m. (EDT).


Sunday’s first-round pairings for the 10th annual NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway, the 19th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and first of six races in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs. Pairings based upon results in qualifying, which ended Saturday. DNQs listed below pairings:

Top Fuel _1. Doug Kalitta, 3.723-seconds, 329.50 mph vs. 16. Chris Karamesines, 4.734, 162.33; 2. Steve Torrence, 3.724, 327.51 vs. 15. Terry Haddock, 4.709, 166.39; 3. Leah Pritchett, 3.725, 327.98 vs. 14. Wayne Newby, 3.826, 320.43; 4. Antron Brown, 3.728, 331.85 vs. 13. Terry McMillen, 3.825, 309.98; 5. Clay Millican, 3.747, 322.96 vs. 12. Dom Lagana, 3.809, 317.87; 6. Brittany Force, 3.749, 329.18 vs. 11. Pat Dakin, 3.798, 299.73; 7. Richie Crampton, 3.749, 284.33 vs. 10. Scott Palmer, 3.795, 323.89; 8. Shawn Langdon, 3.778, 320.97 vs. 9. Tony Schumacher, 3.788, 325.30.

Funny Car _ 1. Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.891, 330.07 vs. 16. Bob Gilbertson, Chevy Monte Carlo, 4.448, 215.58; 2. J.R. Todd, Toyota Camry, 3.898, 329.18 vs. 15. Jeff Diehl, Toyota Solara, 4.247, 299.46; 3. Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger, 3.901, 325.06 vs. 14. Dave Richards, Ford Mustang, 4.067, 298.67; 4. Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.906, 330.47 vs. 13. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.066, 309.42; 5. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 3.910, 324.51 vs. 12. Jonnie Lindberg, Camry, 3.981, 320.05; 6. Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.911, 327.27 vs. 11. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.981, 324.12; 7. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.962, 324.44 vs. 10. Ron Capps, Charger, 3.980, 323.04; 8. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 3.962, 318.02 vs. 9. John Force, Camaro, 3.967, 326.95.

Pro Stock _ 1. Tanner Gray, Chevy Camaro, 6.559, 210.50 vs. 16. Val Smeland, Camaro, 6.828, 202.15; 2. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.567, 210.73 vs. 15. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 6.708, 206.76; 3. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.573, 210.77 vs. 14. Shane Tucker, Camaro, 6.668, 207.37; 4. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.578, 210.60 vs. 13. Larry Morgan, Camaro, 6.662, 208.14; 5. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.582, 209.43 vs. 12. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.636, 209.46; 6. Jeg Coughlin Jr., Camaro, 6.586, 209.98 vs. 11. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.629, 209.17; 7. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.586, 209.69 vs. 10. Allen Johnson, Dart, 6.603, 209.33; 8. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.600, 209.36 vs. 9. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.602, 209.75.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ 1. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.825, 196.76 vs. 16. Charles Sullivan, Buell, 7.112, 186.28; 2. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.836, 195.00 vs. 15. Mark Paquette, Victory, 7.004, 189.31; 3. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.838, 196.10 vs. 14. Melissa Surber, Buell, 6.972, 191.29; 4. Hector Arana Jr., Buell, 6.840, 196.47 vs. 13. Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 6.957, 194.83; 5. Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, 6.850, 195.00 vs. 12. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.946, 193.49; 6. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.865, 195.73 vs. 11. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.917, 193.68; 7. Matt Smith, Victory, 6.872, 195.03 vs. 10. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.907, 193.52; 8. Angie Smith, Buell, 6.878, 194.21 vs. 9. Chip Ellis, Victory, 6.878, 194.07.

Did Not Qualify _ 17. Ron “Rat” Tornow, 7.130, 186.33; 18. Lance Bonham, 7.183, 186.20.


Mike Castellana posted a first-round win against Khalid Al Balooshi to extend his Saturday past No. 1 qualifier Shane Molinari during the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series portion of the NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway. Molinari dropped his opening-round match against Pete Farber.

Point-leader Castellana, who qualified second, powered to a 6.000-second pass at 246.84 mph in his Al-Anabi Racing Chevrolet Camaro to earn the victory and extend his lead over second place Troy Coughlin, who dropped his first-round match. Castellana is set to go up against Jonathan Gray in the quarterfinals.

“We’re just happy to get by first round,” said Castellana, a two-time winner this season. “We’ll take it one round at a time. Obviously (Coughlin) went out which is good for us. We’ll just keep plugging away. Hopefully we’ll build up a bigger lead and go from there.”

Danny Rowe will face Mike Janis in the quarterfinals, while Farber meets Steve Jackson and Jim Whiteley opposes Chuck Little when eliminations continue Sunday at 1:50 p.m. (EDT).

Saturday’s first-round results from the 10th annual NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway, the 10th of 12 events in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series:

ROUND ONE _ Steve Jackson, Chevy Camaro, 5.833, 247.84 def. Bob Rahaim, Camaro, 9.260, 118.35; Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 5.869, 248.71 def. Steve Matusek, Camaro, 5.860, 248.25; Pete Farber, Dodge Daytona, 5.878, 247.75 def. Shane Molinari, Pontiac Firebird, 5.829, 251.72; Mike Castellana, Camaro, 6.000, 246.84 def. Khalid alBalooshi, Camaro, 9.493, 88.54; Jim Whiteley, Camaro, 5.902, 247.38 def. Sidnei Frigo, Chevy Corvette, Foul /Centerline; Mike Janis, Camaro, 5.879, 247.66 def. Troy Coughlin, Corvette, 5.873, 253.80; Chuck Little, Corvette, 5.897, 244.74 def. Rickie Smith, Camaro, 5.840, 249.53; Danny Rowe, Corvette, 5.888, 247.88 def. Eric Latino, Camaro, 6.225, 220.98.

Final qualifying order after three rounds of time trials at zMAX Dragway:

Pro Modified _ 1. Shane Molinari, ’68 Pontiac Firebird, 5.778-seconds, 256.55 mph; 2. Mike Castellana,’17 Chevy Camaro,  5.781, 252.10; 3, Sidnei Frigo, ’16 Chevy Corvette, 5.784, 254.95; 4, Eric Latino, ’69 Camaro, 5.792, 252.14; 5, Mike Janis, ’16 Camaro, 5.815, 248.48; 6, Rickie Smith, ’17 Camaro, 5.830, 249.49;  7, Steve Matusek,, ’68 Camaro, 5.833, 248.80; 8, Steve Jackson, ’17 Camaro, 5.842, 247.88; 9, Bob Rahaim, ’14 Camaro, 5.846, 249.07; 10, Jonathan Gray, ‘17 Camaro, 5.848, 248.57; 11, Chuck Little, ’63 Corvette, 5.859, 243.59; 12, Troy Coughlin, ’15 Corvette, 5.861, 255.24; 13, Danny Rowe, ’16 Corvette, 5.863, 248.11; 14, Shannon Jenkins, ‘16 Ford Mustang, 5.867, 247.79;  15, Khalid alBalooshi, ’17 Camaro, 5.870, 249.07; 16, Pete Farber, ’69 Dodge Daytona, 5.873, 247.25. 


| , RacinToday.com Sunday, September 17 2017
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