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KB Doing OK At St. Lou

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, October 1 2017

Greg Anderson is on the Pro Stock pole at Gateway in St. Louis.

Four-time Pro Stock world champion Greg Anderson led a 1-2-3 sweep for Ken Black Racing as qualifying concluded Saturday for the sixth annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Ill.

Anderson, who claimed his 91st career pole, was joined by teammates Bo Butner and Jason Line in the second and third spots, respectively, atop the ladder at the facility near St. Louis. The trio also swept qualifying earlier this season during the national event at Heartland Park Topeka.

Anderson covered the quarter-mile in 6.507-seconds at 212.33 mph in his red Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro during the third session to earn his fourth No. 1 of the season. His opponent when eliminations begin Sunday morning will be David River and his Chevy Cobalt. FOX Sports 1 will a one-hour qualifying program at 1 p.m. (EDT) Sunday and follow with three hours of live finals coverage beginning at 2 p.m.

“These cars are so dependent upon atmospheric conditions, and when you get cooler temperatures like this, a huge high-pressure system, low humidity _ those ingredients just make these Pro Stock cars fly,” Anderson said. “It’s a ball to drive these cars in conditions like this, and you’re hoping you can set some kind of a track record or world record.

“All the races pay the same amount of points, and the trophy is the same, but it’s so much more fun to run in conditions like this. You have a grin on your face when you stage the car, and you’re grinning all the way down the racetrack.”

Clay Millican (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories at the third of six events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship. Anderson began the event No. 2 in the Pro Stock points, 41 behind KB Racing-powered Butner. Anderson added nine bonus points in qualifying to Butner’s six and is aiming to narrow the gap _ or move around Butner _ on Sunday.

Tomorrow is going to be close to what we had today, maybe just a couple or three degrees warmer. It’ll be very fast,” Anderson said. “The conditions here are a great equalizer, and everybody can make real quality runs when we have a racetrack like this underneath us. It tightens up the pack. There are so many cars in this class that can win right now and it comes down to thousandths. I’m No. 1 by 0.003-second, but that’s as good as a mile right now. That’s Pro Stock racing; it’s decided by thousandths and that’s why you feel so good at the end of the day when you get the job done.”

Butner _ the winner at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa., last Sunday _ ran a 6.510-second lap at 212.03 mph in his Jim Butner’s Auto Camaro to qualify second and set up an opening-round race against Mark Hogan and his Pontiac GXP.

“The first run was great, I struggled bad the second one, third one we were learning and the fourth one was great. So, two out of four isn’t bad,” said Butner, who was quickest overall in the first and last sessions. “We picked up six bonus points, and sure, we would have liked nine or 12 _ but all of the KB Racing cars earned bonus points, so they’re going to the right people.

“I’ll definitely sleep better tonight after that last run. That was a good hit, and I think the results of qualifying just shows our statement again _all three of the KB Racing Chevy Camaro Pro Stockers are going to be tough on Sunday.”

Line, the three-time/reigning world champ, sits third after running 6.512-seconds at 213.30 mph in the blue Summit Racing Equipment Camaro. Line will meet Alan Prusiensky and his Dodge Dart in Round 1.

“We have a fast hot rod, for sure,” said Line, who has been dealing with a case of tire shake during the Countdown. “We’re getting closer to having it under control, and that’s a good thing heading into tomorrow and the rest of the Countdown. The last run, we kind of used it as a test and went back to what we did in Reading _ and it behaved like it did there, so that showed us something. We’re definitely closer and we should have a good race car for tomorrow.”

Hight’s track 1,000-foot elapsed-time record 3.830-second pass at 333.91 mph in his AAA Missouri Chevrolet Camaro SS held up from Friday to earn him his seventh pole of the season and 56th of his career. The John Force Racing ace will race Dale Creasy Jr. and his Dodge Charger in the first round of eliminations. 

“Today was getting ready for Sunday. We pushed a little hard today,” said Hight, the 2009 world champion. “It was the first time we smoked the tires two runs in a row in a long time. It shows you (crew chief) Jimmy Prock was out there pushing. The conditions were out there. I’m honesty surprised nobody ran better than our 0.83 and that we’re still No. 1 qualifier.

“We were pushing hard. Sometimes you gotta know your threshold. Going into Sunday if you’ve gone down the track every time you don’t know how close you are to the edge. We definitely know where we’re at.” 

John Force, the 16-time world champion and Hight’s team-owner, qualified in the second position with a career-best 3.832-second elapsed time at 334.65 mph in his PEAK Coolant & Motor Oil Camaro SS and will open against Brian Stewart and his Ford Mustang. Reigning world champion/point-leader Ron Capps of Don Schumacher Racing is in the third spot in his NAPA Brakes Dodge Charger R/T, and will meet Jim Campbell’s Charger in Round 1.

Millican wheeled his Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster to the quickest 1,000-foot pass in NHRA history on Friday with a 3.631-second run at 330.39 mph for his fifth Top Fuel pole of the season and 10th of his career. He’ll face-off against Kyle Wurtzel in the opening round of eliminations. 

“We felt pretty certain we were going to stay No. 1. The conditions weren’t there to run that kind of number there again,” said Millican, whose car is tuned by David Grubnic. “Today we were thinking about those bonus points and we were scuffing some tires to get ready for tomorrow. We feel like we have a pretty good handle on this car. Whether it’s hot or cold it just continues to be really quick going down the racetrack. It’s going to be a fun day (Sunday). We want to see four win-lights tomorrow. Where we are at in points we need to make a move.”

DSR’s Leah Pritchett qualified second with a 3.670-second pass at 329.10 mph from the final session. She will face rookie Ashley Sanford in Round 1. DSR teammate Tony Schumacher, an eight-time world champion, qualified his U.S. Army dragster third and will open against Troy Buff. Point-leader Steve Torrence qualified seventh in his Capco Contractors dragster and will face 2013 world champion Shawn Langdon in the opening round.

Hines improved upon his Friday qualifying effort with a quarter-mile pass in 6.781-seconds at 196.19 mph aboard his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Street Rod during the final session. A five-time world champion, Hines secured his second Pro Stock Bike pole of the season and 40th of his career. He’ll matchup with Andie Rawlings’ Suzuki in the first round. 

“Our guys have these bikes dialed-in right now like they haven’t been all season,” Hines said. “I’ve been putting up my best 60-foots of the year this weekend. That just equates to good numbers all the way down the racetrack. We’re looking for consistency. We have the Street Rods under us right now that are the best I’ve had all season long. I’m really excited about tomorrow.”

Point-leader Eddie Krawiec, Hines’ teammate and a three-time world champ, landed in the No. 2 spot at 6.783-seconds and 195.59 mph in the final qualifying round. Krawiec will face David Hope and his Buell in Round 1. Two-time world champion Matt Smith qualified third aboard his Victory and will open against veteran Steve Johnson and his Suzuki.

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Sunday’s first-round pairings for the sixth annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park, the 21st of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and third 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. Clay Millican, 3.631-seconds, 330.39 mph vs. 16. Kyle Wurtzel, 3.867, 303.91; 2. Leah Pritchett, 3.670, 329.83 vs. 15. Ashley Sanford, 3.842, 299.86; 3. Tony Schumacher, 3.680, 330.72 vs. 14. Troy Buff, 3.839, 314.17; 4. Doug Kalitta, 3.681, 332.18 vs. 13. Scott Palmer, 3.785, 326.24; 5. Brittany Force, 3.690, 329.58 vs. 12. Pat Dakin, 3.768, 323.27; 6. Antron Brown, 3.693, 330.55 vs. 11. Terry McMillen, 3.749, 321.27; 7. Steve Torrence, 3.696, 329.58 vs. 10. Shawn Langdon, 3.726, 324.28; 8. Dom Lagana, 3.713, 326.24 vs. 9. Richie Crampton, 3.714, 326.87. 

Did Not Qualify _ 17. Luigi Novelli, 3.941, 295.27; 18. Terry Haddock, 3.993, 295.21; 19. Chris Karamesines, 5.211, 135.92; 20. Rob Passey, 23.573, 29.31.

Funny Car _ 1. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.830, 338.60 vs. 16. Dale Creasy Jr., Dodge Charger, 4.037, 303.64; 2. John Force, Camaro, 3.832, 335.32 vs. 15. Brian Stewart, Ford Mustang, 4.014, 285.11; 3. Ron Capps, Charger, 3.849, 332.51 vs. 14. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.003, 314.46; 4. Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Camry, 3.863, 333.16 vs. 13. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 3.978, 323.27; 5. Jonnie Lindberg, Camry, 3.871, 330.96 vs. 12. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.923, 325.37; 6. Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.873, 331.77 vs. 11. Del Worsham, Camry, 3.910, 327.27; 7. Courtney Force, Camaro, 3.877, 329.50 vs. 10. J.R. Todd, Camry, 3.904, 332.02; 8. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.894, 330.96 vs. 9. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.897, 325.30. 

Did Not Qualify _17. Cory Lee, 4.135, 309.91; 18. Jeff Diehl, 4.153, 306.26; 19. Bob Bode, 4.397, 227.92.

Pro Stock _ 1. Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.507, 212.33 vs. 16. Dave River, Chevy Cobalt, 6.906, 191.51; 2. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.510, 212.03 vs. 15. Mark Hogan, Pontiac GXP, 6.738, 203.92; 3. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.512, 213.30 vs. 14. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 6.623, 208.68; 4. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.517, 212.29 vs. 13. Brian Self, Camaro, 6.594, 209.92; 5. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.523, 211.36 vs. 12. Jeg Coughlin Jr., Camaro, 6.579, 209.98; 6. Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.525, 211.23 vs. 11. Deric Kramer, Dart, 6.577, 210.18; 7. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.550, 211.13 vs. 10. Allen Johnson, Dart, 6.560, 209.72; 8. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.551, 210.83 vs. 9. Larry Morgan, Camaro, 6.556, 211.10.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ 1. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.781, 196.85 vs. 16. Andie Rawlings, Suzuki, 7.657, 174.14; 2. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.783, 196.64 vs. 15. David Hope, Buell, 7.084, 186.25; 3. Matt Smith, Victory, 6.792, 197.22 vs. 14. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 7.026, 191.51; 4. Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, 6.809, 196.42 vs. 13. Ryan Oehler, Buell, 6.998, 191.05; 5. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.817, 197.28 vs. 12. Marc Ingwersen, Buell, 6.982, 190.22; 6. Angie Smith, Buell, 6.820, 195.56 vs. 11. Mike Berry, Buell, 6.921, 192.03; 7. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.831, 195.87 vs. 10. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.880, 194.18; 8. Hector Arana Jr., Buell, 6.833, 195.87 vs. 9. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.850, 195.22.

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Two-time champion Troy Coughlin picked up an important first-round win Saturday at the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series portion of the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park. This weekend’s Pro Mod racing, presented by Real Pro Mod Association, is the 11th of 12 events on the 2017 schedule.

Coughlin wheeled his JEGS.com Chevrolet Corvette C7 to a quarter-mile pass in 5.752-seconds at 257.33 mph to defeat nemesis Rickie Smith in the first round of eliminations. With his win and No. 1 qualifier Mike Castellana’s first-round loss to Pete Farber, the battle for the Pro Mod crown will be decided at the season-finale in Las Vegas.

The dramatic turn of events puts Coughlin’s championship fate in his own hands as he drew to within 34 points of the lead. Should Coughlin manage to win at least two rounds Sunday, he’ll leave Gateway Motorsports Park in the point lead with just one race remaining.

“It’s pretty exciting,” said Coughlin, who qualified 12th. “I mean, when I saw the scoreboard light up on Farber’s side (when he ran Castellana), I saw that and said, ‘Just keep yourself together here and try to get around Rickie.’ We had to step on this thing and keep on thrashing on it. The guys have been doing a great job doing that. I couldn’t be more excited about our chances at a championship. There’s still seven rounds of competition left.

“Mike and that group over there with (crew chief) Frank Manzo are top-rate and it’s very unlike them to lose early in eliminations but it’s happened a couple times now and that’s allowed us to stay in the fight. It speaks to the level of talent in the entire class. Anyone in the field is capable of beating anyone else.”

Coughlin will face Steven Whiteley, who defeated Danny Rowe, in the second round of eliminations. Farber, who was the No. 16 qualifier, defeated Castellana with a 5.823-second pass at 249.39 mph to better Castellana’s 7.370-second run at 132.41 mph. Farber’s next opponent will be Sidnei Frigo.

“The way things turned out today was very fortuitous for us but it won’t mean as much if we don’t carry this momentum into Sunday and take care of business,” Coughlin said. “Thankfully, I’ve got Steve Petty, Mike Rees and Kyle Pettis on my side and I would stack them up against anyone. They’ve done incredible work here and throughout the whole season.”

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Saturday’s first round Pro Modified results from the sixth annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park, the 11th of 12 events in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series:

ROUND ONE _ Sidnei Frigo, Chevy Corvette, 5.774, 255.10 def. Chuck Little, Corvette, 5.767, 248.71; Khalid alBalooshi, Chevy Camaro, 5.850, 247.84 def. Carl Stevens, Camaro, 6.102, 201.34; Pete Farber, Dodge Daytona, 5.823, 249.39 def. Mike Castellana, Camaro, 7.370, 132.41; Steve Matusek, Camaro, 5.835, 239.82 def. Dan Stevenson, Camaro, 9.359, 98.59; Troy Coughlin, Corvette, 5.752, 257.33 def. Rickie Smith, Camaro, 5.807, 249.95; Steven Whiteley, Cadillac CTS-V, 5.744, 252.71 def. Danny Rowe, Corvette, Foul/Red Light; Eric Latino, Camaro, 5.809, 250.97 def. Shane Molinari, Pontiac Firebird, Foul/Red Light; Jim Whiteley, Camaro, 11.283, 103.95 def. Steve Jackson, Camaro, Foul /Red Light.

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The School of Automotive Machinists & Technology (SAM) NHRA Factory Stock Showdown schedule will be expanded to compete at seven events during the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season. For the first time, the category will race at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol, Tenn., and AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals at Texas Motorplex in Ennis.

The category again will compete at the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals, NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals and the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals. Drivers will be competing for a year-end NHRA Wally trophy based upon the best six of seven events. 

Other changes to the category include an expanded field of 16 cars taking part each weekend. Additionally, the SAM Tech NHRA Factory Stock Showdown will be contested as its own eliminator.

“It is only fitting that in the seventh year of the program we will see the SAM Tech NHRA Factory Showdown grow to seven events during the year,” said Josh Peterson, NHRA vice president, racing administration. “The competition within the category continues to increase each year and to win an event can be one of the highlights during the course of the season for a Factory Stock competitor.”

The series has been contesting a five-race schedule. “Going to seven races in 2018 will allow the class to continue to grow and a 16-car field is going to bring in even more fans and racers,” said Brian Massingill, director of student motorsports for the School of Automotive Machinists & Technology. “We are thrilled to be part of such an exciting category.”

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2018 SCHOOL OF AUTOMOTIVE MACHINISTS & TECHNOLOGY SCHEDULE 

March 15-18, Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals, Gainesville, Fla.

April 27-29, NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, Concord, N.C.

June 15-17, NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, Bristol, Tenn.

June 21-24, Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, Norwalk, Ohio

Aug. 29-Sept. 3, Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, Clermont, Ind.

Sept. 21-23, AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals, Madison, Ill.

Oct. 4-7, AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals, Ennis, Texas

 

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, October 1 2017
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