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Todd Climbs To Pole At U.S. Nationals

| , RacinToday.com Monday, September 3 2018

J.R. Todd has added a Funny Car pole to his U.S. Nationals resume. (Photo courtesy of the NHRA)


Defending Funny Car event champion J.R. Todd secured an historic NHRA pole position Sunday evening as time trials concluded for the 64th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. 

Todd powered his Toyota Camry to a 1,000-foot pass in 3.910-seconds at 325.45 mph on Friday evening, a lap that held through four subsequent sessions as his first career Funny Car pole. Todd is the 19th driver in NHRA history to have earned a No. 1 qualifier in Top Fuel and Funny Car and the first since 2011. 

“Today was a productive day on getting our setup for Monday,” said Todd, who drives for NHRA icon Conrad “Connie” Kalitta. “I was confident coming into here after the way we tested last week. It picked right up Friday night qualifying and had a little hiccup during Q2 on Saturday but other than that the car is competitive.”

Todd will face Jim Campbell of Jim Dunn Racing in Monday’s first round. Bob Tasca III qualified second via his best pass of 3.928-seconds at 322.65 mph in the  Ford Mustang that is a tribute to 10-time Pro Stock world champion Bob Glidden. Tasca will square-off against Bob Bode in Round 1.

Meanwhile, 16-time world champion John Force clinched his spot in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship playoffs. Force will face teammate/two-time reigning world champ Robert Hight in a battle of Chevrolet Camaro SS floppers. 

Privateer Mike Salinas (Top Fuel), Tanner Gray (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also secured No. 1 positions in their respective categories at the 18th of 24 events on the 2018 NHRA schedule. 

Salinas wheeled his dragster _ a tribute to Funny Car icon Tom “The Mongoose” McEwen _ to his first career Top Fuel pole with his 1,000-foot pass of 3.756-seconds at 321.04 mph from Friday evening. 

“This is my first race at Indy and it is amazing,” Salinas said. “It’s surreal to be No. 1 qualifier but we have a game plan to do this more often. All the guys out there are great and there are a lot of fast cars. Being a part of Indy, which is a throw-down race, is awesome.”

Salinas will stage opposite Wayne Newby in Round 1. Clay Millican qualified second at 3.762-seconds and 323.81 mph and will race Richie Crampton in the first round. Top Fuel point-leader Steve Torrence is seeded fifth and will race Pat Dakin in Round 1.

Gray secured the fifth No. 1 qualifier of his career with a quarter-mile pass of 6.603-seconds at 208.68 mph in his Gray Motorsports Camaro SS, also from Friday. 

“I feel like we’ve struggled with qualifying all year,” said Gray, NHRA’s 2017 Rookie of the Year. “So, it’s pretty cool to come out to Indy of all places and be able to unload off the trailer like that and have a pretty fast car. I’m looking forward to racing (Monday); it’s going to be a tough day.”

Gray is paired against John Gaydosh Jr. in the first round. Four-time world champ Greg Anderson is second with his pass of 6.619-seconds at 207.15 mph in the red Summit Racing Equipment Camaro fielded by Ken Black Racing. Anderson will race Steve Graham in Round 1 while reigning world champion Bo Butner of KBR qualified third and will race veteran Kenny Delco. 

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Smith secured his third pole of the season, 29th of his career and fourth at the U.S. Nationals with a quarter-mile pass in 6.814-seconds at 199.14 mph aboard his Victory Magnum during the final round of qualifying. Smith ousted four-time/reigning world champ Eddie Krawiec and his Mello Yello/Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Street Rod from the provisional pole.

“I’ve got a lot of confidence in our motorcycle,” said Smith, a two-time world champion. “Ever since we debuted this bike it has been the fastest thing on the property and it showed it again today. I’ve just got to do my job and we must have no failures of any kind.”

Smith will face-off against Jim Underdahl in the first round. Hector Arana Jr. qualified second with his 6.817-pass at 198.58 mph on Sunday and will race Karen Stoffer in the first round. Scotty Pollacheck secured his spot in the six-race Countdown and will face Chip Ellis in the opening round.

FOX Sports 1 will air two hours of coverage beginning at 11 a.m. (EDT), with the action switching to the FOX Network at 1 p.m. for three hours of live eliminations.


Monday’s first-round eliminations pairings for the 64th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis in Brownsburg, Ind., the 18th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Pairings based upon results in qualifying, which ended Sunday. DNQs listed below pairings:

Top Fuel _ 1. Mike Salinas, 3.756-seconds, 321.04 mph vs. 16. Wayne Newby, 3.887, 310.27; 2. Clay Millican, 3.762, 323.81 vs. 15. Richie Crampton, 3.840, 320.74; 3. Antron Brown, 3.772, 325.22 vs. 14. Brittany Force, 3.836, 318.62; 4. Scott Palmer, 3.791, 327.90 vs. 13. Terry McMillen, 3.836, 323.35; 5. Steve Torrence, 3.791, 326.63 vs. 12. Pat Dakin, 3.835, 323.04; 6. Leah Pritchett, 3.797, 323.50 vs. 11. Doug Kalitta, 3.824, 305.77; 7. Tony Schumacher, 3.801, 328.14 vs. 10. Billy Torrence, 3.818, 322.81; 8. T.J. Zizzo, 3.812, 321.27 vs. 9. Blake Alexander, 3.815, 311.41. 

Did Not Qualify _ 17. Kebin Kinsley, 3.964, 271.57; 18. Lex Joon, 4.069, 232.99; 19. Chris Karamesines, 4.198, 228.61.

Funny Car _ 1. J.R. Todd, Toyota Camry, 3.910, 325.45 vs. 16. Jim Campbell, Dodge Charger, 5.068, 151.85; 2. Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 3.928, 322.65 vs. 15. Bob Bode, Charger, 4.663, 180.28; 3. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.943, 324.05 vs. 14. Jonnie Lindberg, Mustang, 4.112, 306.74; 4. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.948, 320.36 vs. 13. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.095, 305.98; 5. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.952, 319.60 vs. 12. Del Worsham, Camry, 4.076, 308.00; 6. Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.959, 325.69 vs. 11. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.018, 313.88; 7. Shawn Langdon, Camry, 3.961, 325.22 vs. 10. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.006, 316.08; 8. Robert Hight, Camaro, 4.000, 320.66 vs. 9. John Force, Camaro, 4.003, 320.89. 

Did Not Qualify _ 17. Terry Haddock, 5.311, 151.60; 18. Justin Schriefer, 5.363, 152.12. 

Pro Stock _ 1. Tanner Gray, Chevy Camaro, 6.603, 208.68 vs. 16. John Gaydosh Jr., Camaro, 6.707, 206.13; 2. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.619, 207.15 vs. 15. Steve Graham, Camaro, 6.684, 206.76; 3. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.621, 208.17 vs. 14. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.682, 207.37; 4. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.623, 206.99 vs. 13. Fernando Cuadra, Camaro, 6.655, 206.80; 5. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.624, 208.94 vs. 12. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.647, 207.43; 6. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.627, 208.26 vs. 11. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.645, 207.46; 7. Jeg Coughlin Jr., Camaro, 6.627, 207.56 vs. 10. Alex Laughlin, Dodge Dart, 6.629, 207.62; 8. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.628, 208.04 vs. 9. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.629, 208.91. 

Did Not Qualify _ 17. Alan Prusiensky, 6.725, 204.01; 18. Val Smeland, 6.763, 205.22; 19. Shane Tucker, 6.775, 203.34; 20. Charlie Westcott Jr., 6.832, 202.15.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ 1. Matt Smith, Victory, 6.814, 199.14 vs. 16. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.949, 193.27; 2. Hector Arana Jr., 6.817, 198.58 vs. 15. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.941, 192.74; 3. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.825, 197.02 vs. 14. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.941, 195.22; 4. Chip Ellis, Harley-Davidson, 6.831, 197.48 vs. 13. Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, 6.940, 193.02; 5. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.847, 196.73 vs. 12. Ryan Oehler, Buell, 6.940, 193.93; 6. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.852, 196.04 vs. 11. Angelle Sampey, Buell, 6.940, 195.11; 7. Mark Paquette, Buell, 6.893, 194.13 vs. 10. Joey Gladstone, Victory, 6.937, 194.07; 8. Hector Arana, 6.926, 195.62 vs. 9. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.932, 193.54. 

Did Not Qualify _ 17. Angie Smith, 6.952, 191.02; 18. Kelly Clontz, 6.992, 191.43; 19. Ron Tornow, 6.994, 190.06; 20. Odolph Daniels, 7.182, 186.48; 21. Andie Rawlings, 7.501, 171.18; 22. Wendell Daniels, 8.019, 170.77.


Mike Castellana secured pole position for the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series portion of the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals and translated that into early success in eliminations. This weekend’s Pro Mod racing, presented by Al-Anabi Performance, is the eighth of 12 events this season.

Castellana covered the quarter-mile in 5.783-seconds at 250.92 mph in his 2017 Chevy Camaro Saturday to take P1. In the first round of eliminations, Castellana defeated Chip King with a pass of 6.114 at 193.02 to the trailing run of 7.248 at 135.08.

“We qualified No. 1 and the first round is always tough as there are so many people here that can win,” said Castellana, a resident of Oyster Bay, N.Y. “We got the first round (done) and now we’ll take it one round at a time and do whatever we have to do to win.”

Castellana will face Mike Janis in the second round. Other match-ups include Steve Jackson vs. Bob Rahaim, Jose Gonzalez vs. Jeremy Ray and Troy Coughlin Jr. vs. Khalid AlBalooshi on Monday.

First round-by-round results from the 64th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, eighth of 12 events in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series:


ROUND ONE _ Mike Janis, Chevy Camaro, 5.827, 246.12 def. Chad Green, Chevy Corvette, 22.858, 73.05; Troy Coughlin, Ford Mustang, 5.803, 254.71 def. Michael Biehle, Mustang, 5.820, 255.19; Jose Gonzalez, Camaro, 5.797, 255.05 def. Erica Enders, Camaro, 5.871, 248.34; Mike Castellana, Camaro, 6.114, 193.02 def. Chip King, Dodge Daytona, 7.248, 135.08; Steve Jackson, Camaro, 5.843, 246.21 def. Sidnei Frigo, Camaro, Foul/Centerline; Khalid alBalooshi, Camaro, 5.857, 249.35 def. Marc Caruso, Camaro, 5.881, 244.16; Jeremy Ray, Corvette, 5.835, 245.94 def. Shane Molinari, Pontiac Firebird, Foul/Centerline; Bob Rahaim, Camaro, 5.826, 248.02 def. Rickie Smith, Camaro, 5.861, 249.35.


| , RacinToday.com Monday, September 3 2018
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