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AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals Saturday Notebook

Clay Millican, Robert Hight, Greg Anderson, and Andrew Hines held onto their No. 1 qualifying positions in front of a sellout crowd at Gateway Motorsports Park.
29 Sep 2017
NHRA National Dragster staff
Race coverage
St. Louis Hero

Preview | Features | Photos | Results 

QUALIFYING ROUNDS RECAPS


_NDA8794.JPGPRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE Q3 (1:32 p.m.): Taking advantage of improved weather conditions, the Pro Stock Motorcycles ventured into the 6.7-second zone for the first time this weekend. Andrew Hines reaffirmed his grip on the top spot with a 6.789, 196.85 on his Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson V-Rod. Hines held off two-time world champ Matt Smith, who rode his Polaris Magnum to a 6.792. Smith also took over top speed of the meet at 197.22 mph. Scotty Pollacheck picked up another qualifying bonus points for his 6.809-second run. Points leader Eddie Krawiec also improved with a 6.815, 196.64 while defending event champ Jerry Savoie missed out on a chance to improve when his White Alligator Suzuki drifted towards the left-hand wall.

jason.JPGPRO STOCK Q3 (1:50 p.m.): Following the performance of the Pro Stock Motorcycle class, most expected their four-wheel cousins to improve and the class did not disappoint. Greg Anderson took over the top spot with a 6.507. 212.13 followed closely by teammate Jason Line with a 6.512, 213.30. The third bonus point went to Drew Skillman following a 6.517, 212.19 run. Most drivers improved but those who did not included Elite Motorsports team members Erica Enders, Jeg Coughlin Jr., and Brian “Lump” Self, who each had to shut off early after they shook the tires in the left lane. Other notable performances came from Tanner Gray (6.525) and Chris McGaha (6.523). 

_NDA9186.JPGTOP FUEL Q3 (3:03 p.m.): Nobody had an answer to Clay Millican’s record run, but both Steve Torrence and Leah Pritchett found runs in the 3.60s. That’s good enough for some bonus points for Torrence (3.696 nets him three) and Pritchett (3.698 earns her two). Doug Kalitta ran a 3.718 to earn one bonus point. To get into the quick half of the field, you have to out run the 3.729 pass laid down by Dom Lagana. To get into the field? Better run quicker than Terry Haddock’s 3.993. That’s what Ashley Sanford, Luigi Novelli, Chris Karamesines, and Rob Passey will be looking for in the final qualifying session.

dale.JPGFUNNY CAR Q3 (3:32 p.m.): Don’t look now, but Dale Creasy grabbed a bonus point in a Funny Car session that featured more failure than success. Creasy ran a 4.044-second pass to earn one point, while Ron Capps (3.898) earned three points and John Force (3.919) took another two points. Those were the only two cars that ran in the 3-second range, while a whole bunch of cars were lucky to get into the 4-second range. They’ve got one more session to try to figure out the warm race track, as Jim Campbell holds the bump spot with a 4.053. Cory Lee made his first pass in two years in Del Worsham’s backup car with a 4.135. Jeff Diehl and Bob Bode are also chasing Campbell. 

eddie.JPGPRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE Q4 (4;50 p.m.): The factory Harley-Davidson team wrapped up qualifying by securing the top two spots with five-time champion Andrew Hines securing the pole with a 6.781, 196.19 with teammate Eddie Krawiec a close second at 6.783, 195.59. The final bonus point of the round went to Scotty Pollacheck, who continued his recent string of impressive performances with a 6.809, 196.42. LE Tonglet made a slight improvement with a 6.831, 195.62 and rookies Marc Ingwersen and Ryan Oehler qualified for their first NHRA events with runs of 6.982 and 6.998, respectively.

ROUND ONE PAIRINGS (Lane choice first): Andrew Hines vs. Andie Rawlings; Eddie Krawiec vs. David Hope; Matt Smith vs. Steve Johnson; Scotty Pollacheck vs. Ryan Oehler; Jerry Savoie vs. Marc Ingwersen; Angie Smith vs. Mike Berry; LE Tonglet vs. Joey Gladstone; Hector Arana Jr. vs. Karen Stoffer.

jeg.JPGPRO STOCK Q4: (5:10 p.m.): The final session of Pro Stock qualifying produced a small amount of shuffling in the order with KB Racing drivers taking the first three spots in the order. Bo Butner made the best run of the session with a 6.510, 212.03, but it wasn’t enough to unseat teammate Greg Anderson from the top spot. Anderson was second-best with a 6.523, 211.35 and Chris McGaha also picked up a bonus point with a 6.532, 211.36 best in his Harlow Sammons Camaro. Jeg Coughlin, who did not get down the track in his first three runs, made a dramatic improvement with a 6.579, 209.98.

ROUND ONE PAIRINGS (Lane choice first): Greg Anderson vs. David River; Bo Butner vs. Mark Hogan; Jason Line vs. Alan Prusiensky; Drew Skillman vs. Brian Self; Chris McGaha vs. Jeg Coughlin Jr.; Tanner Gray vs. Deric Kramer; Erica Enders vs. Allen Johnson; Alex Laughlin vs. Larry Morgan

leah2.JPGTOP FUEL Q4 (5:47 p.m.): Leah Pritchett made her third run in the 3.60s of the weekend, and this one earned her three bonus points. She’s also the No. 2 qualifier, which will earn her a first-round matchup against Ashley Sanford on Sunday. Clay Millican held onto the No. 1 spot and earned a single bonus point with a 3.693, while Tony Schumacher’s 3.681 grabbed him two points. Kyle Wurtzel brought held down the bump spot of a very quick field with a 3.867, while Luigi Novelli, Terry Haddock, Chris Karamesines, and Rob Passey all failed to qualify. 

ROUND ONE PAIRINGS (Lane choice first): Clay Millican vs. Kyle Wurtzel; Leah Pritchett vs. Ashley Sanford; Tony Schumacher vs. Troy Buff; Doug Kalitta vs. Scott Palmer; Brittany Force vs. Pat Dakin; Antron Brown vs. Terry McMillen; Steve Torrence vs. Shawn Langdon; Dom Lagana vs. Richie Crampton

jonnie.JPGFUNNY CAR Q4 (6:42 p.m.): The three points won’t help him at this time of year, but Jonnie Lindberg took them anyway. He and car owner/crew chief Jim Head have a very good hot rod right now. That’s great for two reasons: First, it’s always great to run quick and fast. Second, after Lindberg’s trip to the beach yesterday (his parachutes didn’t deploy and he ran into the sand during the second qualifying session) this was a nice bounce-back performance. Matt Hagan (3.894) and J.R. Todd (3.904) earned the rest of the bonus points, and Dale Creasy (4.037) held down the bump spot.

ROUND ONE PAIRINGS (Lane choice first): Robert Hight vs. Dale Creasy; John Force vs. Brian Stewart; Ron Capps vs. Jim Campbell; Alexis DeJoria vs. Cruz Pedregon; Jonnie Lindberg vs. Tim Wilkerson; Jack Beckman vs. Del Worsham; Courtney Force vs. J.R. Todd; Matt Hagan vs. Tommy Johnson Jr.

FEATURES

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There’s a new elapsed time record holder in Top Fuel, and he hails from Drummonds, Tenn. Clay Millican and crew chief David Grubnic operate as a single-car team, owned by Doug Stringer. The kind of performance the Parts-Plus / Great Clips dragster is ripping off in the second half of the NHRA Drag Racing schedule is unprecedented for a team that doesn’t share data with a handful of other dragsters. 

And yet, the scoreboard lit up 3.631 on Friday night at Gateway Motorsports Park with fireworks heralding the national record. Okay, so the fireworks were technically scheduled anyway, but the timing was spectacular. Millican’s name is now all over the top-10 list of elapsed times, which is incredible cool considering the racer got his first NHRA win this season. 

“That is David Grubnic doing his thing,” said Millican. “He is the baddest dude out right here, and I don’t think anyone can argue that right now. We just set the national record. He does it his way, there is no shared information, and it’s done with a group of young guys, that the only way they know how to put that car together is the way David Grubnic and Mac Savage tells them how to put it together.” 

Millican has the best incremental marks all the way down the track. He’s the quickest to 60 feet, 330 feet, 600 feet, and… right, 1000 feet. But you knew that already. More important to Grubnic? Getting those six bonus points that moved Millican ahead of Tony Schumacher in the standings. The Tennessee native is now in fifth place as we move to the second day of qualifying. 

Improving on that 3.631-second pass is going to be very difficult, but there are six more points up for grabs. From the mouth of Millican: “That’s all Grubby cares about.” 

Let’s see what the boys have up their sleeves today. 

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rapisarda.JPGThe Rapisarda Dragster boasts one run in the 3.70s this season, a 3.795, which helped Wayne Newby qualify in the quickest-ever field in Top Fuel history. The dragster is piloted by Ashley Sanford this weekend, and crew chief Santino Rapisarda is working on inching the machine back down after a series of tire-smoking runs. That streak ended last night, but Sanford took her foot off the gas.  

“It didn’t smoke or anything, but she took herself out of it,” said Rapisarda. “It was moving around a little bit, so she was of course being a bit cautious. It’s a better direction from what we have been doing, and it’s what we need and we have something to work on. We’ve calmed it down off the starting line for sure, and it’s tunable.”

Santino called a 3.878-second run in Reading “a good Funny Car run,” but since the Rapisarda Crew has three runs averaging 9.096 seconds. So, getting back into the low-3.80s would be just fine as far as setting a baseline is concerned. 

“First session, low 3.80s would be excellent, I know that’s a bit conservative but we need to get us some information on clutch wear and all that and know it’s safe off the starting line and all that,” said Rapisarda. “If we can get some good head wear off the first run, I think maybe today we can push a little more. If you see a good run in Q3, you can expect us to see us push a little more. Not to overstep the line, but maybe if it runs a low 80 first, maybe a high-70 next.”

That would solidly get the dragster in the field. The bump spot is currently a 4.263, held by Luigi Novelli. Expect that to drop as conditions are spectacular at Gateway Motorsports Park. 

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Dom Lagana wasn’t supposed to be at the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals. Okay, that’s not 100 percent true. He wasn’t supposed to be here behind the wheel of his Nitro Ninja driver. Lagana originally planned to pilot the Rapisarda Dragster, but after a couple of round wins in Reading a week ago, Steve Torrence and Bobby Lagana convinced Dom to bring the car out to St. Louis. 

“After we won in the second round, Bob and Steve got fired up and were like, ‘yeah, just bring that thing out to St. Louis.’ We were clean all weekend and, we smoked the tires a couple times, but it was a hot track so everybody did,” said Lagana. “We figured what the hell, let’s do it.”

Lagana put a six-disc clutch into his dragster ahead of the Reading race, which is good news for pseudo-teammate Scott Palmer, who is planning on making the change to a six disc soon. That has provided immediate results. His first two runs of 3.783 and 3.729 have Lagana at No. 8 through two sessions, which would match him up with Terry McMillen in the first round. 

“We were learning it a little bit, too, just learning the set up,” said Lagana. “We were really happy with it.”

This is, for sure, the last time Lagana will drive on the NHRA circuit this year. He’ll tune for Billy Torrence, Steve Torrence’s dad, during the last three races of the season. So, the points leader will lose one “blocker car,” and pick up another one. It’s tough to be a part of the “Lagana family.” 

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beckman.JPGIt hasn’t been a dream start to the Countdown to the Championship for Jack Beckman, but there’s not much reason to panic for the former champion. A miss on the tune-up in Charlotte caused Beckman to lose a first-round race he should have won, and a poor reaction time in Reading led to another earlier-than-usual exit for the Infinite Hero Dodge Charger driver. 

“That’s a bitter pill,” said Beckman. “You learn from your mistakes, but you can also learn from your successes and at some point you have to dust yourself off. It’s not like at any point you say, ‘ah the next run doesn’t really matter.’ So, when people say ‘well it’s really important in the Countdown…’ I ask, why would you ever change your approach?”

He’s got a point. Frankly, there’s not much to suggest Beckman has changed his approach. He’s picking up bonus points at a consistent, if not spectacular rate, while driving a car that can run low 3.80s. Beckman might not be a threat to set the record anytime soon, but he’s a threat to finish in the top five in qualifying and win races. 

That’s especially true when the conditions are warm. Beckman won races in Norwalk and Englishtown, and reached the final in Bristol. Those conditions, barring an unforeseen heat wave, aren’t coming back during the heat wave. That’s not to say Beckman can’t keep up in the cool conditions; just look at his Friday runs of 3.873 and 3.877. That’s good enough to get him into the No. 5 spot. 

“I think we’re a top six car on cold tracks, which no matter how you stack it up we have a great, balanced race car,” said Beckman. “But again, you have no control of what the car in the other lane is doing. Sometimes the second-worst run of the weekend can win the race and the second-best run of the weekend can lose the race.”

Beckman remains pragmatic: “Every loss is a tough loss, there are just fewer of those available in the Countdown.”

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courtney.JPGConsistency without a victory might feel a little hollow, but it’s helped Courtney Force climb three spots in the Funny Car standings and put her in prime position to chase her first title. The Advance Auto Parts driver has reached back-to-back final rounds, and while she’s still looking for her first win of the season, looks poised to capture a Wally sooner rather than later. 

“This is a race we’ve won at in the past, and it definitely can turn things around if we can get a win in the middle of the Countdown,” said Force. “We were able to do it before – we’ve won at this track in the past – and at this point, being that we’ve moved up to third in the points standings, it would be huge if we could get a win. We’re looking for it. We’ve come close so many times this season, and we’ haven’t been able to get the job done, but hopefully we can make it happen this weekend.”

Force has lost three finals this season by relatively tight margins (.0316, .0496, and .0504 second); she’s been right on the precipice of breaking through. Her last eight elimination-round runs have been smooth in warm weather, and the team has had little trouble conquering cool conditions. That bodes well given the current forecast. 

Her seven No. 1 qualifiers this season are the most of any driver in any class, and it wouldn’t be a surprise at all to see her pick up another green hat at the AAA Insurance Midwest Nationals. Expect teammate Robert Hight to have something to say about that, of course, but it seems crew chief Dan Hood has a handle on this car after struggling with it in the early part of the season. 

“We’ve been really good in qualifying, and not good on race day, and the last few races we’ve been not so good in qualifying and real good on race day,” said Hood. “But if you’re going to do it, race day is the day to do it.  So much changes during the year, clutch stuff, and you’re just trying to follow it.” 

The Advance Auto Parts Camaro hasn’t struggled too much thus far. Force is qualified No. 6 right now with a 3.877, but Hood feels that can be bettered on Saturday. 

“It was going to run pretty good last night but it hurt a piston,” said Hood. “It’s going to be cool tonight, so we should be able to run good tonight. I think we’ll be able to run better today than we did last tonight. The sun angle is so low because it’s fall, that it’s not like beating on the track. We’re going to go out there and try to run 3.84-3.85 and see what it does.”

That would get Force into the No. 3 spot as things stand. Of course, Hood isn’t the only crew chief trying to get his driver up the ladder. We’ll see what everyone else does. 

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Cruz Pedregon’s first run with a five-disc clutch since 2013 went reasonably well. That is, until the parachutes didn’t deploy. The Snap-On Tools Toyota Camry ended up in the net after plowing through the sand (video below), which damaged the body. 

The crew picked the sand out of the chassis and made it back to the starting line for the second qualifying run, an unspectacular 10.184. If you’re watching the action today, you’ll see the same body that jogged down the track on Friday night, but not the same chassis. The team stayed at the track until 2 a.m. getting the back-up car out of the trailer and set up for the third qualifying session on Saturday. 

This car last ran at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, just three races ago. It’s a little long in the tooth, but it made a handful of solid passes there. It will also be using the five-disc clutch that made its “debut” in Q1 on Friday. If it makes a run in the low 3.90s, or better yet, the high 3.80s, the evening spent at the beach will be long forgotten. 

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Chris McGaha gives his 6.548, 211.03 run from Friday night a passing grade but like every other Pro Stock racer, he admits that it could have been better.

“I think we could have run 6.53 if we’d done everything right,” said McGaha. “We picked up a little in the front half but lost a little down track. I’m sitting here right now debating what to do for today because it’s going to probably be better and this [morning] run should be the best.

McGaha’s Harlow Sammons Camaro finished Friday as the No. 5 qualifier in the field, but he is just .02-second off the pace set by provisional pole-sitter Greg Anderson. The entire top half of the field is separated by just .05-second.

“That’s just how Pro Stock is,” said McGaha. “When you look at it really closely, you see little things that make a big difference. I made a couple of small mistakes at Indy that cost me a chance to win that race. I could easily have been a back-to-back Indy winner. That’s actually what I like about Pro Stock. It can be frustrating, but when things go your way, it’s very rewarding.”

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_NDE6905.JPGOn Saturday, Deric Kramer confirmed what many have speculated for months; they will be racing a Chevy Camaro in the Pro Stock class next year.

“We’ve got a new Camaro being built at Jerry Haas’ shop right now,” said Kramer. “We’ll debut it at the Winternationals next February.”

“We’ve seen the writing on the wall,” added Kramer’s father, David. “The 10,500-rpm limit really killed the Dodges. They operate better at a higher rpm and the way the limiter is right now, we just can’t compete with the GM cars. We still want to race Pro Stock and we want to be competitive, so we’re going to make the change.”

The Kramer’s also confirmed that they will not be doing their own engines. Rather, they’re looking to do a leasing agreement with one of the existing teams.”

“We’re a part-time team that was spending full-time dollars in order to keep up,” Deric Kramer noted. “We finally reached the point where it was to either make this change or not go at all.”

Kramer, however, isn’t going to completely abandon the Dodge brand. He recently bought all of V. Gaines’ Mopar inventory so he’s got 16 complete race-ready Mopar Hemi Pro Stock engines with enough parts to build as many as six more. The Kramers are looking for a customer who wants to get into Pro Stock or possibly a Comp Eliminator or Top Sportsman/Top Dragster team.

In a final bit of Kramer-related news, he confirmed that as a result of the exposure gained during his win in the “Battle of the Burnouts” contest at Indy, his primary sponsor, American Ethanol, has renewed for 2018 and doubled their commitment to the team.

“They really loved what we did in Indy,” said Kramer. “We got a lot out of that and it was fun. Last night, I ran that 6.59 and that was the same set of rear tires we used to do that 20-second burnout. I don’t know how much life they have left on them but we’re going to find out. We took two pounds of rubber off those tires and that’s a lot of rotating weight. It makes a big difference.

“If you think the burnouts we did in Indy were big, wait until the final qualifying session in Pomona. That will be our last race with a Dodge and we’ve got 16 engines. I’m going to melt one of them.”

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AJ.jpgAlan Johnson took a wild ride on Friday night when his Marathon Petroleum Dodge got loose just past the 1,000-foot mark. Johnson fought to keep the car off the centerline but eventually collected one of the 1,320-foot timing blocks, negating what he believes would have been a 6.55-second run.

“It made a move and I was looking at [Larry] Morgan’s door,” said Johnson. “I don’t know what caused it but I about crashed it right there. Honestly, I think I just drove the car out of the groove. I drove it out of the groove and it got loose. No excuses. We actually made a horrible run today [Q3]. That’s the one I’m really mad about. We made a bad run. It should have been a 6.53. We should be within one or two hundredths of the leaders.”

Johnson has yet to announce his plans for 2018 but his father and crew chief, Roy, appeared to take a keen interest in Friday’s SAM Tech Factory Stock Showdown event. It would not be unreasonable to think that the Mopar brand wouldn’t love to have the 2012 NHRA Pro Stock champ behind the wheel of one of their Drag Pak Challengers. Johnson is also hosting Swedish Pro Stock racer Stefan Ernyrd (pictured, left) this weekend. Ernyrd races a Dart formerly owned by Johnson in the FIA European Drag Racing Series and posted a second-place finish in this year’s championship, (behind fellow Swede Bengt Ljungdahl, who races a Gray Motorsports-prepared Camaro).

“To be honest, I haven’t figured out what I’m doing next year,” said Johnson. “I know I have some options. The Factory Stock deal seems interesting and there is some talk but nothing has come to fruition. I’ve also got a couple of people interested in doing a leasing deal for Pro Stock but so far nothing has come to fruition. I’ve also got someone who contacted me about buying the whole deal, lock, stock and barrel but that hasn’t happened either. I’m sure at some point I will race something. I’m just not sure what. I might even try road racing. That looks like fun.”


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stoffer.JPGKaren Stoffer was naturally happy to see her teammate, Scotty Pollacheck, qualify on the pole for last weekend’s Dodge NHRA Nationals in Reading and she also realizes that her own Big St. Charles/Skillman Auto Suzuki is capable of similar performances.

“Scotty’s bike is flying but out two Suzuki’s are comparable,” said Stoffer. “We’re still a little behind, but we’re closing the gap. Earlier this year, we made the switch from EFI back to carburetors and we’ve been picking our combination apart ever since. It’s a learning process. We can make our bike exactly the same as Scotty’s and they still won’t run the same. Part of that is the rider. We both have our own individual styles. Scotty ran a 6.82 last week. We ran 6.82 back in 2007 when we first tried fuel injection. A lot has changed since then, but we’re confident that we can run really close to that.”

On Friday, Stoffer rode to a 6.897 and then improved to a 6.867 that is currently good for the No. 7 spot. Most of the Pro Stock Motorcycle racers, including Stoffer and her crew chief/husband, Gary, believe that Saturday’s first session will yield much quicker elapsed times.

“That 6.86 was an okay run but it could have been better,” Stoffer said. “We should have run closer to what Scotty ran [6.82]. We’ll take two more shots at it today and see what happens.”

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jerry.JPGJerry Savoie admits that last weekend’s heated starting line exchange between himself and Hector Arana Sr. was ‘not as big of a deal as some people wanted to make it.’ Regardless, the two rival team owners took a few minutes on Friday in St. Louis to clear the air. As a refresher, Savoie was upset that Hector Arana Jr. took what he deemed as a long time to stage against teammate LE Tonglet in the semifinals.

“I had a nice talk with Hector [Sr.] yesterday and we’re good,” said Savoie. “He said they were having some problems with their [starting line] routine and Jr. was too far from the beams. LE just got frustrated and finally went in. Remember, this is the Countdown and every round means more than it did a month ago.”

As for his own bike, Savoie lost in the second-round last week to Tonglet. He realizes that in order to defend his 2016 Mello Yello Pro Stock Motorcycle title, he’s going to have to win some races soon. Savoie is the defending St. Louis champion.

“I do need to win this race again,” said Savoie. “Last week, we just couldn’t find the set-up. We’ve just had some little gremlins. I should have run a 6.79 last night [Friday] we’re going to need to find whatever the problem is. If I can win this race, we’re right back in it. If Eddie [Krawiec] wins, we’re all in trouble. We’re going to have a hard time catching him.”

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Angie Smith’s 6.820 pass in Saturday’s first session was a welcomed relief not just because it was her best pass of the weekend, but it was also quick enough to prevent a round one match-up with her husband, Matt. With both Smiths in the top half of the field, there is no chance they could race before the quarterfinals.

“Thankfully, we haven’t had a lot of that this year,” said Angie. “We had to run in Denver but that’s been the only time. We’ve been lucky in that regard.”

After such a strong performance, Smith might normally be inclined to sit out the final qualifying session, but that is not the case in St. Louis. Smith plans to make all four qualifying runs.

“I have a sponsor this week with Denso Spark Plugs and that allows me to make all the runs,” said Smith. “It makes a big difference. They allow me to stay out here and compete but at races like this, I get to make all four runs and even if we don’t improve, we’ll learn something useful.”

Smith has enjoyed one of her better seasons in 2017 but she did not make the Countdown to the Championship. Now, she’s relegated to being a blocker for Matt, who is still mathematically in the running for a third title.

“I’d like to be about to knock out some of the top bikes; hopefully that would help Matthew,” she said. “I want to win races too. But I’d like to help in the points if I can.”

PHOTOS

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Getting the 16-time champion's Funny Car ready.
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No. 1 qualifier Robert Hight joined Alan Reinhart for Nitro School.
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Everyone, including rookie Tanner Gray and points-leader Bo Butner, had a good time at the Mello Yello Power House. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PREVIEW

The AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals continue at Gateway Motorsports Park after an exhilarating Friday night. Track records fell thanks to incredible performances in the Nitro classes, Pro Stock yielded tight competition in both car and bike. Racers will try to fight their way into the fields in the final two sessions of qualifying in the St. Louis-are race.

C_Millican.JPGIt’s tough to imagine a better Friday night than the one Clay Millican had. He grabbed all six possible bonus points, and set a new national record with a mind-blowing 3.631-second pass. That’s a staggering .009 quicker than the record set by Leah Pritchett in Brainerd just four races ago. He’s now ahead of Tony Schumacher in the standings, and will look to earn more of those bonus points while crew chief David Grubnic does his best to further work on the tune-up that has the Parts-Plus / Greats Clip dragster flying. He’s being chased by Schumacher and Doug Kalitta, who trail Millican by five-hundredths of a second.

R_Hight.JPGRobert Hight didn’t quite hit a national record, but he did set a track record with a pass of 3.83 seconds. He also snagged all six qualifying bonus points available to him, though he did so narrowly. Hight sits just above John Force, whose 3.832 pass qualified him second. Hight may not have a shot at hitting 340 mph this weekend, but the driver of the AAA Funny Car does have a very good chance at grabbing his second Wally of the Countdown. He’s now only six points behind Ron Capps as Hight chases the points lead.

G_Anderson.JPGGreg Anderson swept in to take the Friday pole from teammate Jason Line in the final qualifying session, earning him three bonus points. More importantly, it looks like the Summit Chevy Camaros are running extremely well. Anderson, Line, and Bo Butner are currently qualified No. 1, 2, and 4 through two sessions. That’s the kind of performance that crew is looking for coming off an all-Ken Black Racing final in Reading a week ago. The same can’t be said for Jeg Coughlin Jr., who finds himself at the bottom of the table with a best run of 9.606 after two runs. 

A_Hines.JPGSpeaking of teamwork, there’s nothing wrong with those Harley-Davidson Street Rods right now. Andrew Hines grabbed the provisional pole with a 6.802-second pass. Teammate Eddie Krawiec is qualified No. 6 with a 6.846, while the White Alligator Racing team of Jerry Savoie and LE Tonglet are currently set up in the No. 2 and No. 5 spots, respectively. Scotty Pollacheck continues to ride very well, as his Suzuki is currently parked in the No. 3 spot on the back of a 6.82-second pass. That’s coming off the first No. 1 qualifier in his career in Reading a week ago.