With Titles On The Line, Hagan, Pritchett, Coughlin and M. Smith Take Provisional No.1 Spots at Auto Club NHRA Finals

Top Fuel - Leah Pritchett - Auto Club NHRA Finals action [678]

POMONA, CA – November 16, 2019 – (Motor Sports NewsWire) – Fresh off two straight wins and still in championship contention, Matt Hagan kept his hot streak going by racing to the provisional No. 1 spot in Funny Car during qualifying on Friday at the 55th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals.

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

Hagan made the quickest run in both qualifying sessions, including a top pass of 3.872-seconds at 333.58 mph in his MOPAR Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody to close out the final session on Friday. It gave the two-time world champ eight qualifying bonus points, pulling him closer to points leader Robert Hight. Hagan, a two-time world champ who is racing for his second No. 1 qualifier this season and 35th of his career, entered the weekend 56 points back of Hight, but appears set on make things interesting.

“That run felt really good and obviously our car is running strong,” Hagan said. “We’ve had a great racecar the last couple races and we’ve been able to capitalize on it. We were able to capitalize on it again today during qualifying 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 is second after a 3.876 at 327.43 and Shawn Langdon is third after his 3.893 at 330.80. Jack Beckman, who was 46 points behind Hight entering the weekend, made the fifth-quickest run with a 3.949 at 326.16. John Force was 72 points back of Hight heading into the race and ran 10th with a 4.185 at 292.65. Hight is currently 12th after a 4.354 at 306.05.

Looking to end her season on a good note, Pritchett powered to the front in Top Fuel with a 3.694 at 322.88 in her MOPAR Dodge dragster. If it holds, Pritchett would earn her second straight No. 1 qualifier to end the season. Mike Salinas is second with a 3.699 at 327.11, while Billy Torrence, who was 86 points back of his son, points leader Steve Torrence, entering the weekend, is third after his 3.708 at 330.63.

S. Torrence went 3.985 at 223.95 on Friday to qualify 13th. Brittany Force, who pulled to within 16 points of first after her Vegas win, is currently fifth with a 3.726 at 331.69. Doug Kalitta is in the 10th spot with a 3.903 at 325.61. He entered the race 55 points back of Torrence.

Pro Stock’s Coughlin went to the top spot after posting a 6.533 at 210.70 in his JEGS.com Chevrolet Camaro. He’s after his third No. 1 qualifier this season and 32nd in his career, and is also trying to track down Elite Motorsports teammate Erica Enders on the final weekend of the year. A five-time world champion, Coughlin trailed Enders by 92 points heading into the weekend at the points-and-a-half race. Enders was nearly as impressive in qualifying, going 6.538 at 210.93. She hasn’t qualified worse than second during the Countdown to the Championship. Jason Line is third with a 6.554 at 211.03.

Defending Pro Stock Motorcycle world champ Smith kept up his impressive pace in qualifying, taking the provisional top spot on his Denso Auto Parts/Stockseth/MSR EBR with a 6.815 at 197.33. If it holds, it would give Smith his third straight No. 1 qualifier and fourth in the last five playoff races. Smith would also earn his seventh No. 1 this year and 38th in his career. Karen Stoffer is currently second with a 6.834 at 195.00 and Jerry Savoie is third after going 6.837 at 193.35. Points leader Andrew Hines, who is looking to clinch a sixth world championship and entered the weekend 115 points ahead of Savoie, is fourth with a run of 6.845 at 196.22.

Qualifying continues Saturday at the Auto Club NHRA Finals at 12:15 p.m. PT.

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POMONA, CA — Friday’s results after the first two of four rounds of qualifying for the 55th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, final of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. 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, 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.

To purchase general admission or reserved seats, call 800-884-NHRA (6472). Tickets also are available online at www.NHRA.com/tickets. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. To honor the Salute to First Responders, military and first responders can save 20 percent on general admission tickets at the gate. For more information about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.

About NHRA

Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. NHRA presents 24 national events featuring the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, and E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service. 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 program for teens and the Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League for youth ages 5 to 17. In addition, NHRA owns and operates four racing facilities: Atlanta Dragway in Georgia; Gainesville Raceway in Florida; 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 Auto Club NHRA Finals

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