Krawiec Leads Norwalk Field into Raceday

Defending event winner Eddie Krawiec secured his third low Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifier of 2019 and third at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park at the 13th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals. Eddie rode his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson to a lap of 6.843 at 197.45.

“I’ve got a great motorcycle currently right now,” said Krawiec. “It just made a good clean run down the dragstrip “It’s really important to have a good motorcycle on Saturday because then you kind of know what to expect Sunday. It’s nice to have a green (No. 1 qualifier) hat today, but, man, you want a yellow (winner) hat tomorrow.”

Reigning champion Matt Smith is second with his 6.848 lap while Andrew Hines, the points leader, is third with a 6.852.

Pro Stock Motorcycle — 1. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.843, 197.45  vs. 16. Michael Ray, Buell, 7.041, 178.26; 2. Matt Smith, EBR, 6.848, 198.90  vs. 15. Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 7.020, 191.43; 3. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.852, 196.90  vs. 14. Marc Ingwersen, Buell, 6.968, 192.41; 4. Hector Arana Jr, EBR, 6.868, 196.19  vs. 13. Joey Gladstone, EBR, 6.968, 193.21; 5. Scotty Pollacheck, EBR, 6.881, 194.04  vs. 12. Ryan Oehler, EBR, 6.963, 194.97; 6. Angelle Sampey, Harley-Davidson, 6.887, 191.76  vs. 11. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.923, 193.68; 7. Angie Smith, EBR, 6.888, 197.28  vs. 10. Cory Reed, EBR, 6.915, 194.13; 8. John Hall, Suzuki, 6.902, 195.76  vs. 9. Hector Arana, EBR, 6.905, 196.22.

Did Not Qualify: 17. Odolph Daniels, 7.292, 176.60.

Mike Castellana last week in Bristol

In the E3 Spark Plugs Pro Mod Drag Racing Series Presented by J&A Service, Mike Castellana picked up the No. 1 spot with his 5.701 pass at 252.71 in his Al-Anabi Performance Camaro.

“From (not qualifying) earlier this season to qualifying well in Bristol and here, I couldn’t be happier,” Castella said. “We don’t have any quit on our team and I know we’ve got the car to beat going into raceday tomorrow.”

The reigning Pro Mod champion Mike Janis is in second while Sidnei Frigo rounds out the top three.

Brittany Force

Brittany Force picked up her fourth No. 1 qualifier of the year in her Advance Auto Parts dragster when her run of 3.712-seconds at 328.38 mph from Friday night held up to seed her atop the Top Fuel category.

The 2017 Top Fuel world champion started day two of qualifying with a clean 3.791-second pass at 326.63 mph in the middle of the day giving the Advance Auto Parts team necessary data heading into Sunday race day. In the final session, Force smoked the tires and had to shut off her David Grubnic and Mac Savage tuned dragster to run 6.354-seconds at 103.45 mph but would end the day with a stronghold on the Top Fuel class. Force will face Lex Joon in the first round.

“I have really high expectations going into tomorrow. We’ve been struggling and sometimes you go through these downwards slopes and you have to come back up. Staying in Bristol and testing changed a ton of things coming into this weekend and to come out here and go No. 1, its huge for this Advance Auto Parts team,” said Force. “David Grubnic, Mac Savage, all my guys, we’re all really excited. We’re hoping that my run from Friday will be comparable to how tomorrow looks but I put all my faith in this team and I think we’re looking good for tomorrow.”

Leah Pritchett is second and faces Luigi Novelli. “We are very impressed with the momentum this team has built through making four solid qualifying passes,” said Pritchett. “Starting from the No. 2 spot is advantageous to having a good, solid day. As a good friend once said, ‘better done than said,’ so now it’s up to us to make four good hits tomorrow. I can’t think of a better way to end this four-race swing than by getting started with a first round win. Overall, the vibe is amazing. The attitudes are high.”

Antron Brown is qualified seventh and faces Scott Palmer. “I’m feeling good,” said Antron. “Our Matco Tools Toyota has been running exceptionally well. Q1 was a really good run, Q3 was another decent run even after losing a belt and then we ran strong again in Q4. We overpowered the track Friday night, but today was key to prepare for eliminations. I believe we have a car that can compete and race with anybody. It will be warmer tomorrow and that will throw a curveball for everybody. We’ve been putting together a car that runs pretty well in the hot weather conditions, now we just need a little luck to go our way.”

Rookie of the Year candidate, Austin Prock made a clean pass in Saturday’s first qualifying session running his Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist dragster to 3.840-seconds at 321.81 mph. In his final run, Prock improved to make a 3.771-second pass at 326.63 mph and held onto the No. 11 spot. The first-year driver will face Terry McMillen in round one.

“It was a good rebound day for this Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist team. We ran decent in the first round and second round we ended up being fourth quickest. We were definitely looking for a little bit more but it ended up working out; we’re 11th and now we don’t have to race Steve Torrence in the first round,” said Prock. “That was a good move on our end and hopefully we can put four of those together for tomorrow.”

Top Fuel — 1. Brittany Force, 3.712 seconds, 328.38 mph  vs. 16. Lex Joon, 4.030, 256.60; 2. Leah Pritchett, 3.714, 325.45  vs. 15. Luigi Novelli, 3.938, 292.71; 3. Mike Salinas, 3.720, 326.32  vs. 14. Pat Dakin, 3.782, 325.30; 4. Clay Millican, 3.723, 325.22  vs. 13. Doug Kalitta, 3.780, 323.50; 5. Steve Torrence, 3.725, 328.30  vs. 12. Jordan Vandergriff, 3.774, 320.28; 6. Terry McMillen, 3.739, 322.73  vs. 11. Austin Prock, 3.771, 326.63; 7. Antron Brown, 3.742, 326.00  vs. 10. Scott Palmer, 3.755, 323.66; 8. Richie Crampton, 3.743, 329.18  vs. 9. Billy Torrence, 3.743, 329.02.

Did Not Qualify: 17. Kyle Wurtzel, 4.066, 230.61; 18. Chris Karamesines, 4.402, 257.83; 19. Cameron Ferre, 11.204, 68.63.

Ron Capps

Ron Capps snagged his first No. 1 qualifier since the final event of 2018 in Pomona in his Pennzoil Synthetics/NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat when his 3.879 lap at 329.18 from Friday night also held strong to place in front of the Funny Car division.

Capps and the team were dominant throughout all four qualifying sessions at the famed facility. Before pacing the field with his Q2 run, Capps powered to the second-quickest pass of the opening session on Friday afternoon. Capps and crew chief Rahn Tobler’s strong qualifying performance carried into Saturday and they continued to demonstrate their command on the stacked 20-car Funny Car field. In Q3 Capps blasted to the second-quickest pass of the round, and in Q4, threw down with a session-best 3.912 E.T., amassing ten out of the 12 possible bonus points up for grabs over the course of the weekend.

“Everyone went up there to throw down and take the No. 1 spot from us,” said Capps of the target he had on his back heading into the fourth and final qualifying round of the weekend. “There’s nothing better than putting our Hellcat No. 1 and picking the pocket of (John) Force’s and his Chevy. I know that was an extra fist pump for (team owner) Don (Schumacher) last night in Q2. And then today in Q4, we knew Force went 91 right in front of us and then when I turned the corner after making the Q4 pass, and the NHRA on FOX crew told me we had run a 3.912 and had snatched the three (bonus) points from Force, that was pretty cool.

“It’s just so much fun right now,” added Capps, a two-time 2019 event champion. “I don’t want to get cocky or overconfident, but Tobler definitely has had an extra pep in his step.”

The No. 1 qualifying position is Capps’ first since the 2018 NHRA Finals in November, and his 23 career poles rank 11th on the all-time Funny Car list. Impressive, but not quite the number one would expect from the second-winningest Funny Car driver in NHRA history.

“I’ve had a long, great career, but I don’t have a whole lot of No. 1’s. We’re not ones that run big speeds or go No. 1 a lot, but we’ve won a lot of races,” Capps explained. “So, when we do get a green No. 1 qualifier hat, it’s a big deal to me. But, I’ll take the race wins and the consistency over those No. 1s.”

As the No. 1 qualifier, Capps will have lane choice over No. 16 qualifier Bob Bode in round one of eliminations on Sunday as he begins his campaign for his third 2019 victory, 64th overall and second at Norwalk.

John Force, who is searching for his 150th career title, sits second with his 3.884 pass at 329.02 while Paul Lee is third with his career best lap of 3.914 at 326.08—Lewis Blum’s “Run of the Day.”

Force laid down an impressive 3.935-second pass at 327.35 mph in his PEAK Coolant and Motor Oil / BlueDEF Chevy Camaro to make the quickest pass of the third session and pick up three bonus points. He kept the consistency going into the final qualifying session when he made a 3.915-second pass at 325.30 mph. It was the third quickest of the pack earning him an additional bonus point. The 16-time Funny Car world champion will start race day from the No. 2 spot, a position in which he’s won from 22 times.

“In No. 2, it’s a good place to be. I have a good hot rod and I’m excited about it. I’m learning how to drive all over again and this PEAK team is helping me get there. I’m racing Cruz (Pedregon) my old buddy from way back in the first round, we’ll give the fans a show,” said Force who has raced Pedregon more than any other driver and has a 71-24 winning record against. “My car is competitive, I’m excited to see it make every run and to see this team pull together. We’re ready to go out there tomorrow and go some rounds for our sponsors. I spent time in our campsite today and everyone appears to be happy. I’m making new friends and that’s what it’s all about, those fans out there. I’m ready to put on a good show for them tomorrow. There’s a lot of work to do to get 150 but it all starts in the morning.”

Jack Beckman is fourth and faces Jonnie Lindberg. “We were three out of four in qualifying, got some points and maybe more important, we ran well enough on Friday that we got to play with some stuff on Saturday,” said Beckman. “This is the what’s going to make a difference in the Countdown to the Championship. But first, we’ve got to get our first trophy out of the way, and I want to do that tomorrow.”

Tommy Johnson Jr. is eighth and faces Tim Wilkerson. “I know (crew chief) John (Collins) and the Make-A-Wish guys were looking for a little more in that final qualifying run,” said Johnson. “They were trying to step it up. We are doing a little testing. We have been running really well, but you don’t stay running well if you don’t try some things. The guys have been trying some things this weekend and we are learning some stuff. I’m sure we’ll put the car back the way it normally runs tomorrow and we’ll go out there and win some rounds.”

Robert Hight and the Automobile Club of Southern California Chevy Camaro team will start race day at Summit Racing Motorsports Park from the No. 10 position off their 3.938-second pass at 297.81 mph from Friday night. In Saturday’s first session, Hight dropped cylinders down track to run 4.131-seconds at 244.63 mph. After making big changes in between rounds, he improved in the final qualifying session to make a 3.943-second pass at 327.35 mph but would stay in the No. 10 position. Hight will take on J.R. Todd in round one on Sunday.

“That last run wasn’t quite as good as we planned. We were hoping to move up but at least it went,” said Hight. “I’m proud of my team, we switched cars between qualifying runs. There’s not a lot of teams that can say they can do that. These guys have everything prepared well and it’s ready to go. We see some things we can tweak and we have a tough first round. We’re going to go out there and do our best to get him.

“This car drives better, that’s why we switched. The other one wasn’t handling, we were going to have it front halved anyway after this race, it was messed up,” said Hight about the decision to retire the car that earned five wins and six No. 1 qualifiers in 114 runs that began at the 2018 AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals in Dallas, an event he won after breaking his collarbone while winning in St. Louis just one week prior. “We just hope this one has as much magic as the last one.”

Matt Hagan is eleventh and faces Bristol winner Bob Tasca. “We needed to bump up in that final qualifying session,” said Hagan. I”f we didn’t we have would have been racing (teammate) Tommy (Johnson Jr.) again in the first round. I’m tired of racing my teammates. I think we’ve had that scenario the last four or five races. It would be nice to change that.  We’ll take that run for sure. It was important that we got down the track in that run and the results were all we could ask for.”

Funny Car — 1. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 3.879, 329.18  vs. 16. Bob Bode, Ford Mustang, 4.099, 280.02; 2. John Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.884, 329.02  vs. 15. Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 4.053, 303.84; 3. Paul Lee, Charger, 3.914, 326.08  vs. 14. Dale Creasy Jr., Charger, 4.030, 317.19; 4. Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.915, 329.26  vs. 13. Jonnie Lindberg, Mustang, 4.024, 319.82; 5. Blake Alexander, Mustang, 3.921, 314.39  vs. 12. Shawn Langdon, Toyota Camry, 3.999, 315.71; 6. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 3.923, 326.63  vs. 11. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.943, 325.85; 7. J.R. Todd, Camry, 3.927, 324.90  vs. 10. Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.938, 297.81; 8. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.928, 326.40 vs. 9. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.935, 323.04.

Did Not Qualify: 17. Jim Campbell, 4.101, 309.56; 18. Terry Haddock, 4.196, 290.01; 19. Jeff Diehl, 4.231, 249.21; 20. Mike McIntire, 4.883, 160.77.

Deric Kramer

For the first time this season, Deric Kramer picked up the No. 1 qualifier in Pro Stock when he drove his American Ethanol Chevy Camaro to a 6.559 at 210.18. Kramer is also the most recent Pro Stock winner on tour.

“We made a good run,” Kramer said. “We went back, we looked at it, we thought we could have been a little better. Ultimately, that’s our goal at the end of week, whether we qualify No. 1 or we qualify No. 16, we want to look at our runs and want to make sure they’re the best we can do. And tomorrow, I think we have the opportunity of going a couple of rounds and improving on what we’re doing.”

Right behind Kramer is Matt Hartford in second who also ran a 6.559 but at a slower speed of 209.59. Chris McGaha sits third.

Slightly more than an hour from his home in Delaware, Ohio, six-time world champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. is enjoying a good deal of support in Northwest Ohio. Now, after qualifying mid-pack, the 81-time national event winner is hoping to bring home another Pro Stock win for his loyal fan base.

“There’s nothing better than racing in Ohio and seeing all the yellow and black up in the grandstands and all over the pits,” Coughlin said. “So many people have been gracious enough to wish us good luck and it’s fun to roll through the pits and here all the ‘JEGS’ cheers. We sure hope we can give these folks something to cheer about tomorrow.”

Coughlin’s Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro has been extremely steady through Pro Stock qualifying, running four passes within .024 seconds of one another. His best run came in Round 2 on Friday evening when he posted a 6.572 at 209.92 mph.

“The car has been really consistent, although we haven’t made a run yet where it’s been completely happy,” Coughlin said. “Still, but it’s been decent enough to keep us in the hunt, so we’re happy. In the end, the top 10-11 cars wound up being separated by a hundredth and a half (of a second) so we’re in line.”

Because he qualified eighth on the grid, Coughlin will open eliminations against No. 9 qualifier Erica Enders, the two-time world champ who happens to be his teammate at Elite Motorsports. Enders was just an eyelash behind Coughlin in qualifying with a 6.573 at 207.18 mph.

“We start off with that two-time champ over there across the pit,” Coughlin said. “Obviously, we know better than anyone what they’re capable of and we already know we’ll have our work cut out for us. It’ll be a test right from the start but that’s what we’re here for.

“The track is supposed to be warmer tomorrow but I’m confident the guys will have it set to go. We’ve had a pretty good car in qualifying and it should be good tomorrow.”

Pro Stock Car — 1. Deric Kramer, Chevy Camaro, 6.559, 210.18  vs. 16. Shane Tucker, Camaro, 6.841, 201.70; 2. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.559, 209.59  vs. 15. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.720, 206.20; 3. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.560, 211.00  vs. 14. Wally Stroupe, Camaro, 6.667, 208.20; 4. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.560, 210.57  vs. 13. Val Smeland, Camaro, 6.600, 207.78; 5. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.560, 209.88  vs. 12. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.591, 209.04; 6. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.562, 209.26  vs. 11. Fernando Cuadra, Camaro, 6.584, 210.77; 7. Fernando Cuadra Jr., Camaro, 6.571, 209.04  vs. 10. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.574, 210.14; 8. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.572, 209.92  vs. 9. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.573, 207.18.

Did Not Qualify: 17. David Miller, 7.283, 155.06; 18. Alan Prusiensky, 11.750, 112.71.

Eliminations for the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday at Summit Motorsports Park.

Story by NHRA and team reports, photos by Tim Hailey

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