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Hagan Off To Good Start At NHRA Finale

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, November 16 2019
Matt Hagan was fastest in Funny Car during Day 1 of qualifying at Pomona. (Photo courtesy of the NHRA)

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Matt Hagan remained within striking distance of a third NHRA Funny Car world championship Friday, racing to the provisional No. 1 spot during qualifying for the 55th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals.

Hagan, of Don Schumacher Racing, made the quickest run in both sessions at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, Calif. Included was a 1,000-foot pass in 3.872-seconds at 333.58 mph in his MOPAR Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody to close out the second session. That run gave Hagan eight qualifying bonus points, pulling him closer to championship leader Robert Hight of John Force Racing.

Hagan, who is seeking his second pole of the season and 35th of his career, entered the weekend 56 points back of Hight, another two-time world champ.

“That run felt really good and obviously our car is running strong,” Hagan said. “We’ve had a great race car the last couple races. We were able to capitalize on it again today and I don’t really feel any pressure. For me, I’m just having fun. The car is running great and we’re just digging. These cars are humbling, so you just have to keep working hard. I believe in my guys and it’s just cool to see that hunger.”

Tim Wilkerson sits second after a 3.876-second pass at 327.43 mph and Shawn Langdon is third after his run at 3.893 and 330.80. DSR’s “Fast” Jack Beckman, who was 46 points behind Hight entering the weekend, made the fifth-quickest run at 3.949 and 326.16. Sixteen-time world champ John Force was 72 points back of teammate Hight heading into the race and ran 10th at 4.185 and 292.65. Hight currently is 12th after a pass in 4.354 and 306.05.

Leah Pritchett (Top Fuel), Jeg Coughlin Jr. (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also emerged as provisional No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories at the last of six races in the 2019 Countdown to the Championship playoffs. The race also is the finale of the 24-race NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.

Looking to end her season on a positive note, DSR’s Pritchett powered to the front in Top Fuel with a 1,000-foot pass in 3.694-seconds at 322.88 mph in her MOPAR Dodge dragster. If it holds, Pritchett would earn her second straight pole to end the season. Privateer Mike Salinas sits second at 3.699 and 327.11. Part-time racer Billy Torrence, who began the weekend 86 points back of son/point-leader Steve Torrence, is third after his pass in 3.708 and 330.63.

Steve Torrence, the reigning world champ, ran 3.985 at 223.95 to stand 13th. JFR’s Brittany Force, the 2017 world champ who pulled to within 16 points of first after her win in Las Vegas two weeks ago, is fifth at 3.726 and 331.69. Doug Kalitta, who began the weekend 55 points behind Steve Torrence, is 10th at 3.903 and 325.61.

Pro Stock’s Coughlin went to the top spot after posting a quarter-mile pass of 6.533-seconds at 210.70 ph in his JEGS.com Chevrolet Camaro. Coughlin, seeking his third pole this season and 32nd of his career, also is trying to track down Elite Motorsports teammate Erica Enders. A five-time world champion, Coughlin trailed Enders by 92 points heading into the weekend at a race paying 30 points per round, 10 more than the previous events.

Enders, a two-time world champ, ran 6.538 at 210.93 in her Elite Camaro. She has not qualified worse than second during the Countdown. Jason Line of KB Racing is third at 6.554 at 211.03.

Reigning Pro Stock Motorcycle world champ Smith kept up his impressive pace during qualifying, taking the provisional top spot aboard his Denso Auto Parts/Stockseth/MSR EBR with a quarter-mile run in 6.815-seconds at 197.33 mph. Smith will attempt to secure his third straight pole and fourth in the last five playoff races on Saturday. Smith also would earn his seventh No. 1 this year and 38th in his career.

Karen Stoffer is second at 6.834 and 195.00, while Jerry Savoie is third at 6.837 and 193.35. Point-leader Andrew Hines, a five-time world champ, is fourth via a run of 6.845 at 196.22 aboard his factory Harley-Davidson. Hines entered the weekend 115 points ahead of Savoie and his Suzuki.

FOX Sports 1 will begin its finals coverage with NHRA Sunday Live at 3 p.m. (EST). Three hours of live race coverage will be carried during NHRA Sunday Finals at 4 p.m., capped by the NHRA Post Race Show at 7 p.m. Fans also can stream the race live on NHRA.tv.

Friday’s provisional qualifying results after the first two of four rounds of time trials for the 55th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, the last of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and six-race Countdown to the Championship playoffs. Qualifying will continue Saturday for Sunday’s final eliminations:

Top Fuel _ 1. Leah Pritchett, 3.694-seconds, 322.88 mph; 2. Mike Salinas, 3.699, 327.11; 3. Billy Torrence, 3.708, 330.63; 4. Jordan Vandergriff, 3.724, 323.81; 5. Brittany Force, 3.726, 331.69; 6. Antron Brown, 3.729, 330.07; 7. Richie Crampton, 3.751, 325.45; 8. Scott Palmer, 3.775, 328.14; 9. Justin Ashley, 3.777, 317.49; 10. Doug Kalitta, 3.903, 325.61; 11. Cameron Ferre, 3.955, 301.81; 12. Shawn Reed, 3.966, 292.46; 13. Steve Torrence, 3.985, 223.95; 14. Jim Maroney, 4.367, 190.81; 15. Cory McClenathan, 6.321, 97.67; 16. Austin Prock, 6.636, 91.89.

Not Qualified _ 17. Terry McMillen, 6.752, 97.96; 18. Clay Millican, 6.960, 85.81. 

Funny Car _ 1. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 3.872, 333.58; 2. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.876, 327.43; 3. Shawn Langdon, Toyota Camry, 3.893, 330.80; 4. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.945, 319.82; 5. Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.949, 326.16; 6. Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 3.967, 320.28; 7. Blake Alexander, Mustang, 4.017, 304.74; 8. Jeff Arend, Chevy Monte Carlo, 4.099, 278.69; 9. Steven Densham, Mustang, 4.129, 289.57; 10. John Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.185, 292.65; 11. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.229, 219.76; 12. Robert Hight, Camaro, 4.354, 306.05; 13. Paul Lee, Charger, 4.491, 185.64; 14. J.R. Todd, Camry, 6.020, 112.21; 15. Terry Haddock, Mustang, 6.085, 111.87; 16. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 6.117, 109.91.

Not Qualified _ 17. Jonnie Lindberg, 7.377, 81.26; 18. Jim Campbell, 8.051, 83.37. 

Pro Stock _ 1. Jeg Coughlin Jr., Chevy Camaro, 6.533, 210.70; 2. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.538, 210.93; 3. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.554, 211.03; 4. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.557, 210.83; 5. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.565, 210.70; 6. Fernando Cuadra, Camaro, 6.565, 208.68; 7. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.569, 209.52; 8. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.576, 210.47; 9. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.585, 210.44; 10. Aaron Stanfield, Camaro, 6.590, 210.08; 11. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.595, 209.95; 12. Steve Graham, Camaro, 6.600, 209.39; 13. Val Smeland, Camaro, 6.631, 209.43; 14. Shane Tucker, Camaro, 6.638, 208.81; 15. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.646, 187.73; 16. Joey Grose, Camaro, 6.687, 207.72.

Not Qualified _17. Cristian Cuadra, 6.778, 175.27; 18. Fernando Cuadra Jr., 6.836, 205.63; 19. Richie Stevens, 7.068, 197.10.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ 1. Matt Smith, EBR, 6.815, 197.33; 2. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.834, 195.00; 3. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.837, 193.35; 4. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.845, 196.22; 5. Hector Arana Jr., EBR, 6.867, 196.36; 6. Scotty Pollacheck, EBR, 6.873, 196.39; 7. Angelle Sampey, Harley-Davidson, 6.882, 194.02; 8. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.894, 195.22; 9. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.897, 193.74; 10. Hector Arana, EBR, 6.913, 196.47; 11. Ryan Oehler, EBR, 6.937, 196.64; 12. Angie Smith, EBR, 7.010, 194.13; 13. Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 7.010, 191.78; 14. Michael Ray, Victory, 7.023, 191.02; 15. Katie Sullivan, Suzuki, 7.043, 189.28; 16. Freddie Camarena, Suzuki, 7.061, 189.76.

Not Qualified _17. Jianna Salinas, 7.842, 125.79; 18. Andie Rawlings, 9.463, 93.70. 

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, November 16 2019
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