Hight, Crampton, Anderson and Ellis Lead Qualifying Friday at AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals

23 09 2016

MADISON, IL – September 23, 2016 – (Motor Sports Newswire) –  Robert Hight sprinted to the provisional No. 1 qualifier in Funny Car Friday at the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park.

Richie Crampton (Top Fuel), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Chip Ellis (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were qualifying leaders in their respective categories at the 20th event of 24 on the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule. The AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals is the second race of the six-race NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs.

Hight pushed his Auto Club Chevy Camaro SS to a 3.893-second pass at 328.38 mph during Friday’s second qualifying session to lead the Funny Car pack. Hight, who won this event in 2010, has 47 No. 1 qualifiers in his career but has not qualified better than third so far this season. He won in Gainesville, Fla., earlier in the year and is currently seventh in the points standings.

“This was a big day for us, but it’s only one day,” said Hight, the 2009 Funny Car world champion. “We tested on Monday, me and John (Force), and it’s really hard to judge your performance and gauge because you don’t have other cars there. You don’t really know until you go to the next race track and you’ve got other cars. So, to go out there and be No. 1 two runs in a row today with all the changes we’ve made on the car, that really shows how good my team is.”

Jack Beckman is second in his Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger R/T with a 3.907 at 325.22. The Chicago event winner, who fell to eighth in points after a first round loss last weekend in Charlotte, N.C., won this event in 2012 en route to his only Funny Car world championship crown.

In third is two-time 2016 event winner Tim Wilkerson, who raced to a 3.912 at 325.61 in his Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Shelby Mustang.

Two-time world champion Matt Hagan is fourth and is followed by Houston winner Courtney Force and reigning Funny Car world champion Del Worsham in fifth and sixth, respectively. Points leader Ron Capps is seventh while Charlotte winner and 16-time Funny Car world champion John Force is currently slotted 15th.

In Top Fuel, Crampton navigated the dragstrip in 3.733 at 323.50 at the controls of this Lucas Oil dragster to take the qualifying lead. The Adelaide, South Australia native has one No. 1 qualifier this year and four in his career. Crampton posted a runner-up finish earlier this season in Sonoma, Calif., but is still chasing his first win of 2016.

“In the Countdown is when you want to start running your best,” said Crampton, who is 10th in points. “You can’t start a weekend much better than being on the pole and hopefully that will give us a softer first round draw on Sunday but we can’t take anyone lightly anymore either. It doesn’t mean a huge amount in the big scheme of things to me, because now it’s about what we can do in the hot weather on Sunday.”

Doug Kalitta is second with a 3.752 at 325.92 in his Mac Tools dragster. Kalitta, a three-time St. Louis winner, has raced to three victories this season and is second in the points standings.

Tony Schumacher, an eight-time world champ, is third with a 3.757 at 320.58 in his U.S. Army dragster. The winningest Top Fuel driver in NHRA history is a two-time St. Louis winner and currently sits fifth in points.

Sonoma winner J.R. Todd is currently qualified fourth and is followed by Phoenix winner Leah Pritchett in fifth. Reigning Top Fuel champion and points leader Antron Brown is in the 12th spot.

Greg Anderson took the qualifying lead in Pro Stock with a 6.607 at 209.30 in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro. Anderson, second in points, has six No. 1 qualifiers this year and 86 in his career. He posted a runner-up finish last weekend in Charlotte to open the Countdown and has notched seven wins this season. Anderson is a four-time Pro Stock world champion.

“We were right on the money and then we got the big weather swing tonight when the sun was hiding behind the clouds,” said Anderson, who won this event in 2004. “We hadn’t run a nice session like this for quite a while so we were ready to come on up here and make some minor changes from the first run today and then we got the delay and that changed everything. You’ve got to race the conditions you have and I know this isn’t going to matter for Sunday, but that position on the ladder might matter come Sunday. The good news is we’ve got a great set up for both a hot track and for when the sun goes down.”

Shane Gray is qualified second in his Gray Motorsports Chevy Camaro with a 6.609 at 209.65. Gray qualified No. 1 earlier this year in Chicago but is still hunting his first victory of the season. He is seventh in points.

Texan Alex Laughlin is third with a 6.610 at 209.14 in his Gas Monkey Garage Chevy Camaro. Laughlin, 11th in points, did not make the Countdown cut but will look to upset some racers eligible for the championship as he chases his first career victory.

Vincent Nobile, a two-time 2016 runner-up, is fourth and is trailed by four-time 2016 runner-up Bo Butner in fifth and points leader and eight-time 2016 winner Jason Line in sixth.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Ellis rode his Pirana Z / Pippin Motorsports Buell to a 6.850 at 196.53 to earn the qualifying lead. Ellis, who won last weekend in Charlotte and moved up to second in points, has 16 No. 1 qualifiers in his career and is two sessions away from his first in 2016. Ellis won this event in 2006 and finished a career-high third in points in 2007.

“It’s pretty amazing,” said Ellis. “This last week, we’ve just kept pinching ourselves to see if this has really happened. To come and do as well as we have so far and go low both rounds today, I’m just excited for our team. For me, it’s exciting, but for our team, I’m really excited for these guys. We work really hard and we’re a small team.”

Hector Arana, who raced to a runner-up finish at the season opener in Gainesville, is second with a 6.880 at 195.34 on his Lucas Oil Buell. Arana, eighth in points, is the 2015 AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals runner-up.

Alligator farmer Jerry Savoie and his White Alligator Racing Suzuki are third with a 6.881 at 194.88. Savoie, the 2014 St. Louis winner, is sixth in points. Eddie Krawiec, a three-time world champion, is qualified fourth and followed by Englishtown, N.J., winner Angelle Sampey in fifth and reigning world champ and points leader Andrew Hines in sixth.

Qualifying for the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports will resume Saturday with two sessions at 1:45 and at 4:15 p.m. Eliminations are set to begin Sunday at 11 a.m.

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MADISON, IL — Friday’s results after the first two of four rounds of qualifying for the fifth annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park, 20th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.  Qualifying will continue Saturday for Sunday’s final eliminations.

Top Fuel — 1. Richie Crampton, 3.733 seconds, 323.50 mph; 2. Doug Kalitta, 3.752, 325.92; 3. Tony Schumacher, 3.757, 322.19; 4. J.R. Todd, 3.772, 322.04; 5. Leah Pritchett, 3.773, 322.42; 6. Shawn Langdon, 3.783, 325.30; 7. Brittany Force, 3.790, 320.20; 8. Clay Millican, 3.798, 323.35; 9. Wayne Newby, 3.801, 318.69; 10. Steve Torrence, 3.805, 323.19; 11. Pat Dakin, 3.805, 309.06; 12. Antron Brown, 3.808, 314.39.  Not Qualified: 13. Kyle Wurtzel, 3.898, 307.79; 14. Kebin Kinsley, 3.901, 307.16; 15. Luigi Novelli, 4.106, 263.92; 16. Terry McMillen, 4.294, 201.73; 17. Scott Palmer, 4.307, 198.67; 18. Troy Buff, 6.333, 95.96.

Funny Car — 1. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.893, 328.38; 2. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 3.907, 325.22; 3. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.912, 325.61; 4. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.914, 327.51; 5. Courtney Force, Camaro, 3.918, 324.36; 6. Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 3.929, 324.75; 7. Ron Capps, Charger, 3.933, 322.81; 8. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 3.974, 323.27; 9. Chad Head, Camry, 3.994, 320.36; 10. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.009, 314.68; 11. Brian Stewart, Mustang, 4.009, 290.82; 12. John Bojec, Toyota Solara, 4.037, 293.22.  Not Qualified: 13. John Hale, 4.177, 279.09; 14. Brandon Welch, 4.257, 290.07; 15. John Force, 4.440, 193.29; 16. Tommy Johnson Jr., 4.470, 189.15; 17. Dale Creasy Jr., 4.559, 192.06; 18. Jack Wyatt, 11.019, 86.08.

Pro Stock — 1. Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.607, 209.56; 2. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.609, 209.65; 3. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.610, 209.14; 4. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.611, 209.43; 5. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.621, 209.36; 6. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.622, 209.30; 7. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.625, 208.46; 8. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.636, 208.20; 9. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.646, 207.91; 10. Jeg Coughlin, Dart, 6.648, 207.46; 11. Erica Enders, Dart, 6.667, 206.95; 12. Deric Kramer, Dart, 6.695, 206.57.  Not Qualified: 13. Mark Hogan, 6.783, 203.09; 14. Dave River, 6.925, 198.93; 15. Aaron Strong, 7.407, 135.27; 16. Alan Prusiensky, 7.489, 144.35.

Pro Stock Motorcycle — 1. Chip Ellis, Buell, 6.850, 196.53; 2. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.880, 195.34; 3. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.881, 194.88; 4. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.884, 193.88; 5. Angelle Sampey, Buell, 6.893, 195.87; 6. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.897, 193.65; 7. Cory Reed, Buell, 6.915, 194.13; 8. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.930, 193.32; 9. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.950, 193.57; 10. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.955, 193.05; 11. Angie Smith, Victory, 6.968, 191.35; 12. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.974, 194.83.  Not Qualified: 13. LE Tonglet, 7.000, 193.68; 14. Melissa Surber, 7.071, 191.19; 15. Joe DeSantis, 7.111, 187.99; 16. Matt Smith, 7.149, 162.88.

About National Hot Rod Association

Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. NHRA presents 23 national events featuring the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series. NHRA provides competition opportunities for drivers of all levels in the NHRA Summit Racing Series and the NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style presented by AAA. NHRA also offers NHRA Jr. Street for teens and the Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League for youth ages 5 to 17. In addition, NHRA owns and operates five racing facilities: Atlanta Dragway in Georgia; Auto-Plus Raceway at Gainesville in Florida; National Trail Raceway in Ohio; Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis; and Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. For more information, log on to NHRA.com, or visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

Source: National Hot Rod Association

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