Auto Club NHRA Finals Friday Notebook

Brittany Force set a new track record, while Jack Beckman, Greg Anderson, and Chip Ellis grabbed provisional No. 1 spots at the Auto Club NHRA Finals.
10 Nov 2017
NHRA National Dragster staff
Race coverage

Preview | Features | Results | Photos


chip2.jpgPRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE Q1 (11:56 a.m.): Chip Ellis, riding a Vance & Hines Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson, made a solid first impression when he claimed the provisional pole after Q1. Ellis rode the Junior Pippin tribute bike to a 6.839, 196.39 to lead the pack. Five-time champ Andrew Hines is second after a 6.841 and championship leader Eddie Krawiec has all but locked up the championship after a solid 6.847. Krawiec only needs to qualify for the event in order to clinch his fourth Mello Yello series title. Krawiec also has the top speed of the event to this point with a 197.77 blast. The quickest non-Harley so far is LE Tonglet, who rode his Nitro Fish Suzuki to a 6.861.

anderson2.jpgPRO STOCK Q1 (12:18 p.m.): Points leader Greg Anderson added four bonus points to his total after Q1 when he drove his Summit Camaro to a 6.541, 209.79 to take the provisional pole in Pomona. Anderson has plenty of company at the top of the field including Drew Skillman who rode out a big wheelstand in his Skillman Auto Camaro to take the No. 2 spot with a 6.555, 211.69. Jeg Coughlin Jr. made one of his best runs of the year to settle into the third spot with a 6.558, 209.46, and Erica Enders also garnered a bonus point with a fourth-best 6.568, 209.85.

tj.jpgFUNNY CAR Q1 (1:11 p.m.): Tommy Johnson Jr. switched to a six-disc clutch in between the NHRA Toyota Nationals and the Auto Club NHRA Nationals, and all it did was give him the best pass of the first Funny Car qualifying session. His 3.887-second lap was the only 3.80 of the 20 attempts, and earned him four points. Alexis DeJoria, making her final appearance at Auto Club Raceway, ran a 3.902 to get into the No. 2 spot, while Tim Wilkerson and John Force rounded out the top four. J.R. Todd broke at the starting line, while Courtney Force went on a wild ride that sent her across the centerline early in the run. Courtney Force is currently on the outside looking in as the No. 17 car. 

The debut of Courtney Force's Taylor Swift/reputation album-promoting entry took a wild turn in the first qualifying session after the special-edition Camaro dropped a cylinder and turned left, then ended up on two wheels. She masterfully brought the car to a stop, but fans on both sides of the racetrack got to see both sides of the car (animated gif).

pritchett.JPGTOP FUEL Q1 (1:39 p.m.): Leah Pritchett made the best run of the session (3.712), while Brittany Force and Steve Torrence failed to get down the track. Doug Kalitta ran a 4.278, the most successful of the championship contenders, while a couple of part-timers in Wayne Newby (3.819) and Troy Buff (3.83) earned bonus points. Terry Haddock (3.874) is currently the No. 5 qualifier and one of six drivers to make a run in the 3-second zone. Shawn Langdon is holding down the bump spot, while Richie Crampton and Shawn Reed are on the outside looking in through one session of action. 

hines.jpgPRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE Q2 (3:06 p.m.): The Harley-Davidson team swept the top three spots in Q2 with Chip Ellis retaining his grasp on the provisional pole. Ellis improved to a 6.805, 196.53 on the Vance & Hines team’s third bike while Andrew Hines is second with a 6.817 and Krawiec is third following a 6.836 best. Ellis is significantly lighter than Krawiec or Hines which means his Street Rod entry has an entirely different set-up than the rest of the Harley entries. Former champ LE Tonglet is again fourth-quickest following a 6.861, 195.96 on his Nitro Fish Suzuki. 

tanner.jpgPRO STOCK Q2 (3:25 p.m.): Greg Anderson maintained his hold on the top spot in Pro Stock and also padded his lead with four additional qualifying bonus points. Anderson wheeled his Summit Camaro to a 6.561, 210.67 to back up his earlier 6.541. Anderson’s lead over teammate Bo Butner has now swelled to 48-points. Tanner Gray was the second quickest driver of the session with a 6.541 while Drew Skillman and Jason Line tied for the third-quickest. Skillman got the extram bonus point thanks to his faster speed, 211.34 to 209.65. Eleven drivers ran in the 6.5s during the second session including Bo Butner, who posted a 6.566. 

beckman.jpgFUNNY CAR Q2 (4:01 p.m.): Jack Beckman jumped to the top of the field with a stout 3.835-second pass, the best in the Funny Car field by four-hundredths of a second. Courtney Force, rocking the Taylor Swift “Reputation” body for the weekend, earned three bonus points with the second-best pass (3.871) after crossing the center line in the second session. By breaking into the field, she left teammate Robert Hight and fellow Countdown competitor J.R. Todd on the outside of the field. Tommy Johnson Jr., Alexis DeJoria, and Tim Wilkerson round out the top five after the first day of racing. 

brittany.jpgTOP FUEL Q2 (4:37 p.m.): Brittany Force made up a few points on Steve Torrence by setting a new track record with a killer 3.667-second pass. That put her 17 points behind the Texan after the first day of qualifying at Auto Club Raceway. Clay Millican put down a 3.671, while Antron Brown also ran in the 3.60s. Tony Schumacher is holding down the bump spot with a 5.987-second pass, while Terry McMillen and Shawn Langdon are currently on the outside looking in. Wayne Newby is in the quick half of the field, as he ran within two-hundredths of his career best. 

Recap: B. Force sets Pomona track record; Ellis, Beckman, Anderson grab Friday No. 1s


blake.jpgBlake Alexander isn’t a rookie, technically, but as a first-year Top Fuel driver he’s still learning the ropes in a new class. This is the fourth race in Top Fuel for the driver who had previously cut his teeth in Funny Car; he most recently drove the Del Worsham-backed dragster in Dallas. While Alexander has his mind focused on the Auto Club NHRA Finals, he’s also thinking about plans for next season.

“I think we’re going to run 8-10 races, I don’t have the money in the bank yet or anything, but that’s the plan,” said Alexander. “We’re going to try to run in the 3.70s this weekend and then keep taking steps forward. We’ve come a long way in four races.”

Alexander got his first career win against Tony Schumacher in Chicago, and has done a solid job driving the dragster. There’s still room for improvement, as there is for drivers at every level of experience, but he’s taken a liking to the class. 

“I’ve done okay. I don’t want to say I’m doing good,” said Alexander. “I make mistakes driving the car, you know? I’m not perfect. I’ve oversteered it. It still runs decent, and I don’t make it look ridiculous, but I could do better. But I’m having a lot of fun. Drag racing wasn’t as fun for me before. I’m too poor to compete against some of that stuff in Funny Car, though.”

Funny Car figures to be absolutely stacked next season, with Shawn Langdon making the move to the flopper category and Bob Tasca III announcing his plans to race full time. If Jonnie Lindberg races a full slate, too, well… let’s just say Alexander racing a Top Fuel Dragster isn’t the worst decision he’s ever made from a career standpoint. 

notebook-bug.jpglangdon.jpgShawn Langdon is making his last race as a Top Fuel driver this weekend. The pilot of the Global Electronic Technology dragster will drive a Funny Car with the same sponsor next season and got his first laps during testing following the NHRA Toyota Nationals in Las Vegas last week.

Langdon has never been afraid to speak his mind, so his frankness about his first four laps in a Funny Car is unsurprising, even if he was a little harsh on his own driving. 

“I drove terrible the first three runs,” said Langdon of his laps at The Strip in Las Vegas. “I felt so messed up, so uncomfortable. Apparently, I looked a lot better than I felt.” 

That fourth run went a little bit better, according to Langdon. 

“We made some changes on the fourth run, just some small changes, like some steering and some other little things and I felt a little more comfortable and I made a good run,” said Langdon. “Everything is so backwards.”

That includes the view, which Langdon said wasn’t much of an issue because of the way he tapes off his helmet. Before driving with Kalitta Motorsports he drove a dragster with a canopy, which also featured a narrow view, similar to what he’ll experience while driving a Funny Car. So, that’s at least one change that won’t be completely foreign to the former Top Fuel champion. 

Langdon is unlikely to get another lap in a Funny Car before testing in Phoenix next Spring, so now all his focus turns to closing out his Top Fuel career with a victory. He came close in Dallas, where he finished as a runner up to Brittany Force. He swept Pomona in 2015, and has five wins at Auto Club Raceway in his career. Langdon would like nothing more than to add one more before getting into a flopper next season. 

gator.jpgWhen Terry McMillen got his first Top Fuel victory, it wasn’t just a win for him. It rewarded the hard work put in by his entire team, including crew chief Rob Wendland, who has been with the Amalie Motor Oil team for three years. It took some time for all the pieces to come together, but there were few wins this season as well-earned as that one.

“We have half the parts that they have, so we have to work on our parts more,” said Wendland. “It all relied on my people, of course we’re not funded like those guys, but I think the biggest thing was that we’re digging him out of debt. He got into debt because they really hurt a lot of stuff.”

Those three years of clawing to a competitive level culminated in McMillen reaching the Countdown to the Championship for the first time in his career. After many near misses, he was able to cross that goal off his list. He followed that up with a victory, despite a devastating blow-up in Epping just as it seemed the team was turning the corner. 

“The blow-ups set you back everywhere,” said Wendland. “Of course, we don’t test because we don’t have money to test, so testing for us is Q1. Next year, this car has never been in as good of shape as it is in now form a financial standpoint.”

After the best season the team has ever had, it looks like it could be set up to be even better next season. That’s great news for anyone who’s a fan of McMillen, which frankly should be just about everybody. 


hight.jpgRobert Hight’s Los Angeles Dodgers didn’t win the World Series, but the 2009 world champ is pulling lessons from the boys in blue as he steels himself for a pressure-packed season finale. He enters the event in first place, but just 15 points head of Ron Capps. The squeeze has been on for the last several weeks, including at the NHRA Toyota Nationals in Las Vegas, where he overtook Capps for the No. 1 spot.

“I’m not going to lie, I was a little nervous [at Vegas], but you have to learn how to channel that pressure and that energy,” Hight said. “And we just have to do the same thing at Pomona we did at Vegas. One of the pitchers from the Dodgers made a statement that really hit home for me, and that is, you have to focus on the process, not on the outcome. 

“That’s really it. If you start changing the way you race because you’re nervous and you’re worried about the points, or worried about winning or losing, you will lose, you’ll beat yourself. You have to focus on what got you here, don’t change anything, and keep doing it. 

“I like our chances. Pomona is a good race track for us, and we’ll run good here”

With cool weather forecast for the weekend, that may well play into the wheelhouse of tuner Jimmy Prock, who has shown that he can throw down the big numbers in those conditions and get the team some pressure bonus points in qualifying.

With just 15 points separating him and points leader Robert Hight, Ron Capps knows that qualifying, where a maximum of 26 bonus points are available, could well help decide how his event – and, thus, his championship hopes – fare this weekend.

With the cool conditions forecast for the weekend, people are thinking that tips the scales in favor of Hight and his big-run-focused crew chief Jimmy Prock, but Capps thinks his tuner, Rahn Tobler, will be up to the task.

“Historically, yes, people will think that because Jimmy runs big speed and they get it to stick they can lay one down, but Tobler has surprised even us in these types of conditions,” said Capps, “I think he really wants to step out this weekend and try to really qualify better and get us some of those points. It’s going to be interesting to see where everyone falls on the ladder to see the matchups for Sunday.

Asked whether he’d want to get to Hight early in eliminations or face off with him in a winner-take-all final, Capps responded, “That’s a good question. We were excited to get a chance at him early in Las Vegas and it didn’t work out so well for us [Capps lost in round one to John Force, who ended up racing – and losing to -- Hight in round two], but we also can’t rely on other people to do our work for us. I feel better about my teammates, Matt [Hagan] and Tommy [Johnson Jr.] being able to help out because both of their cars are running good right now. If it came to running against Hight head to head, I almost feel like I’d like to get it over with early, put the whole thing to rest.”

jonnie.JPGJonnie Lindberg might not have a great shot at winning the 2017 Auto Club Road to the Future Award that highlights the best rookie season (Tanner Gray seems likely to run away with that one), but that doesn’t take away from what’s been a stellar campaign. Lindberg has reached three finals and narrowly missed the Countdown despite only racing in 14 of the 18 races that go towards qualifying for the Countdown. 

“It’s been good. Three finals. We’ve been qualifying in the top half a lot,” said Lindberg. “I’m pretty happy, but you always want to win. It’s been a fun year, and hopefully next year we get to do all 24 races. I’ve been working hard to find funding for next season. You know, if had gone to two more races this year and qualify I would’ve made the Countdown.”

He reached the final round in his first two Funny Car races (Gainesville and Las Vegas), which come off back-to-back Top Alcohol Funny Car championships. So, Lindberg was certainly not short on experience when he hopped into the Jim Head-owned Funny Car.  

“I have probably 100 runs in the car, and now I catch stuff quicker and I learned how to pedal the car good,” said Lindberg. “I feel really confident driving the car now. If you’re thinking about it, it’s too late, and I don’t even think when I’m driving the car now.

“It’s been fun working with Jim Head. I’ve learned a lot about tuning a Funny Car and that’s been really fun. We get along great, and we haven’t had many arguments. I have good things to say about him, and hopefully he says good things about me, too.”

This is the first time Lindberg has raced a Nitro Funny Car at Auto Club Raceway (he has two Alcohol Funny Car wins in Pomona). Closing out his rookie season with his first season wouldn’t be too shabby.

Allen Johnson was understandably emotional in 2015 when he won the last-ever carbureted Pro Stock event at Auto Club Pomona Raceway. No matter what happens this year, Johnson figures to be far more emotional this time around since the 2017 Auto Club Finals is expected to be his last race as a Pro Stock driver. Johnson announced his retirement from Pro Stock earlier this year, but he’s left the door open ever-so-slightly for a return, either as a sportsman racer, or as a part-time Pro Stock competitor.

“I don’t have any plans of racing in Pro Stock in the future, but I never say never,” said the 2012 world champion. “We’re probably going do some sportsman racing in the future here and there. If someone called me and told me the field was short and they had an extra car for me to drive, I’m not saying I wouldn’t do it.”
This weekend’s 53rd annual Auto Club NHRA Finals marks his 504th race in Pro Stock and Auto Club Raceway at Pomona holds a lot of memories for the Marathon Petroleum/J&J Racing Dodge Dart driver.
“My favorite memory of racing in Pomona is when we won the championship in 2012,” he added. “To win those last three races that year and cap off the championship in Pomona has to be one of my favorite memories. I’m trying to be upbeat at this last race and just enjoy the friendships, fans, and atmosphere but to be honest, my retirement is starting to grip me a little bit emotionally and shoot, it’s hard.”
anderson.jpgWe know that the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Pro Stock championship will go to the KB Racing headquarters in Mooresville, N.C., but beyond that, we do not know now which driver will wear the No. 1 next season. Entering the first day of competition, Greg Anderson enjoys a 40-point lead over teammate Bo Butner and reigning champ Jason Line is third, 76 points in arrears. Normally, Anderson would have a two-round lead, but that’s not the case this year since the Pomona race features points-and-a-half for all pro competitors, meaning each round is worth 30-points.

If history is any indication, Anderson is in a great spot since he is tied with legend Bob Glidden with 12-career victories in Pomona.

“This is a dream come true for us, but now we have to go out there and settle it amongst ourselves,” said Anderson. “It's great to have that 40-point lead, but still, each round will be worth 30 points in Pomona. This isn't over yet. As great of a weekend we had in Las Vegas, to only come out 40 points ahead, you'll probably have to go to Pomona and win the race if you're going to be world champ. That's the way it should be, though. You have to earn every inch of it. I expect a complete knock-down, drag-out brawl, just like we had in Las Vegas.”

Butner is still a relative newcomer to the Pro Stock class but he has extensive experience in championship battles. The 2006 Lucas Oil Comp champ also has a pair of sportsman class wins in Pomona so he’s no stranger to success at NHRA’s oldest facility. At the start of the season, Butner was still looking for his first Pro Stock victory and now he has four wins so his progress as a driver speaks for itself.

“We didn't really have an edge this year, but I feel like the KB Racing team raced smarter,” said Butner. “We said all year long that we wanted to be 1-2-3 at the end, and now we're almost there and it's looking like that could very well happen. I'm proud to be part of this team, and proud of what we've accomplished so far. I've had some pretty good luck there. Back in my bracket racing days, racing for points as a Sportsman, I would have tried to line myself up with Greg somehow first-round if I could. Let's get it over with early and move on. But we're going to do our same routine, and if it's meant to be, it'll happen.”

Line understands that he’s a longshot to defend his title, but he’s not one to give up easily. Line also has enjoyed plenty of success in Pomona with four wins in nine final round apperances.

“You never know – I could break Greg's leg before first-round and maybe I'll win the race – but I don't want to win that way,” Line joked. “When it comes down to the championship, crazy things have happened both for us and against us in the past. That's why you go there and race instead of working it all out on paper. A lot of the time, on paper, it looks like one thing, but in reality, it's another. We'll see what happens.”


Alex Laughlin’s familiar green Gas Monkey Camaro is sporting a different look this weekend after the versatile Texan inked a deal with Speed Society for the final event of the season. Laughlin, who is also competing in the Top Alcohol Dragster class for the final time, opened qualifying with a solid 6.586, 208.71.

“We made a pretty good run, especially for Q1,” said Laughlin who finished the session in the No. 8 spot. “I’m really excited about our deal with Speed Society. They are local, based in San Diego, and they are the No. 1 social media platform for automotive content. They have over 100-million pages on Facebook and other platforms and there are a lot of opportunities that we can explore together. This is good for me and for NHRA.”

While Laughlin is focused on the final event of the season, he also dropped a few hints regarding his 2018 plans. At this point, he plans to return to the Pro Stock class, most likely on a full-time basis. He’s also planning to race in the Pro Mod class and he’s building a drag radial car for no prep events. Laughlin did not comment on the current rumor that he’s planning a move to Top Fuel although he did confirm that this will be his final event in the Top Alcohol Dragster class.

“I’m going to be plenty busy next year, I’ll tell you that much,” said Laughlin. “I liked racing the alcohol dragster because of the speed but I also like the technology and finesse in Pro Stock. When you combined the two of them, you get Pro Mod so I’m excited about that.”


Chip Ellis will have the rare opportunity this week to join the Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson team as a teammate to points leader Eddie Krawiec and five-time champion Andrew Hines. Ellis was tabbed to ride a third Street Rod bike after Hines successfully tested the new chassis on Monday after the Las Vegas event.

“That was not a phone call that I was expecting but I’m really happy,” said Ellis. “I know that not just anyone gets a chance to ride one of these [Harley-Davidson] bikes. I’m flattered that [team owner] Terry Vance would think of me.”

Ellis is racing with a heavy heart following the recent death of his team owner, Junior Pippin. A longtime rider and Harley-Davidson aficionado, Pippin lost his long battle with cancer early last week. The Harley Street Rod that Ellis will be riding features Pippin’s logo and Ellis will wear his Pippin Racing leathers as a tribute.

“Junior loved Harley’s so I know he’d be thrilled to see this deal come together,” Ellis said. “He did so much for me; I could never repay him for his generosity, but I can do my best to win this race. That’s the most fitting thing that I could think of as a tribute.”

Given his shot to ride the new Street Rod, Ellis did not disappoint with a strong 6.839, 196.39 that leads the strong Pro Stock Motorcycle field. Ellis outran Hines and Krawiec, who are ranked second and third, respectively.


aranasr.jpgThe Lucas Oil Buell team has been reduced to one bike again after Hector Arana Sr. decided not to race at the season-finale in Pomona. Arana, who missed most of the season with a torn rotator cuff following a non-racing accident, returned to his Lucas Oil Buell in Las Vegas but given the demands of the Auto Club Raceway track, he’s decided to rest and prepare for the 2018 season.

“I could have raced this weekend but I’m really trying to be careful,” said Arana. “You take a beating on these bikes sometimes, and I don’t want to do anything that might jeopardize me being 100-percent when I get to Gainesville next March.”

The remaining Arana entry also had a rough debut when Hector Jr. wounded an engine just off the starting line in Q1. The damage was severe enough to put fluid under the rear tire but Arana Jr. managed to keep the bike straight.

“That was not how we wanted to start the weekend, but the engine just let go,” said Arana Sr. “We’ve got more so we’ll just replace it and go on. We’ve had a good bike all year long. We just haven’t been able to win. I would like to see that change this weekend.”


pollacheck.jpgDuring Q1, Scotty Pollacheck blistered the 60-foot clocks with a  strong 1.033-second short time, but his Suzuki Extended Protection bike faded near the finish line and the end result was a fifth-best 6.862.

“We were too strong down low and then we didn’t have enough fuel to make it run on the other end,” said Pollacheck. “The bike went lean at half-track and that probably cost us a few hundredths. The starting line was stellar so we were able to throw everything we had at it. We had a nice cloud cover this morning and that was perfect.”

Asided from the Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson entries, Pollacheck has had arguably the best bike in the class during the second half of the season but he remains winless. Now that Top Fuel drivers Terry McMillen and Clay Millican have won, he might be NHRA’s most overdue pro racer.

“I hear it all the time; that I should have won a race by now,” said Pollacheck. “Believe me, I’m trying. I’ve been trying for a long time now. I still believe it’s going to happen and at this point I know that I have equipment that is good enough to win. I couldn’t always say that. I don’t give up easily so we’re still going to be working on it.”


In addition to the opening sessions of Sportsman qualifying, there was plenty of other action at the track. NHRA’s Youth and Education Services program presented by the U.S. Army hosted area youths, who heard motivation speaking from, among others, Army Top Fuel driver Tony Schumacher.

After the YES presentation, the students visited the Career Opportunities Fair where they could get information about a wide variety of careers in the motorsports and aftermarket worlds.

You never know what kind of souvenir you call roll away with ...

The competitors in this weekend’s Summit Racing National Championships were feted Thursday evening at the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum presented by AAA.

Alexis DeJoria, who will be featured on NHRA on FOX’s Walk 1,000 Feet segment, stopped for a final selfie with the historic Pomona racetrack.

Mopar Motorsports Marketing Manager Dale Aldo is working his last NHRA race for the brand. He’s rooting on Dodge Pro Stock mainstay Allen Johnson, who’s also at his final race with his Dodge Dart, and Ron Capps, whose Dodge Charger is in the Funny Car title chase.

The Pro Stock Motorcycle contingent hosted an autograph session Friday, allowing fans to meet the stars of the two-wheeled world.

Hector Arana Jr.’s opening qualifying run with his Lucas Oil TV Buell ended with a blown engine just off the starting line.

Eddie Krawiec, who will clinch his fourth Pro Stock Motorcycle championship with the close qualifying, spent some one-on-one time with NHRA President-elect Glen Cromwell. Cromwell will assume the presidency of NHRA in January.

Courtney Force’s Advance Auto Parts crew took part in the official unveiling of her special-edition Camaro, which is promoting Taylor Swift’s new album, reputation.

The day concluded with a Cacklefest as several vintage-inspired machines rumbled to life on the return road.


It all comes down to this. All four championships will be decided at the Auto Club NHRA Finals in Pomona, with a points-and-a-half system in place for the first time. Three of the four professional classes feature tight points races, while Pro Stock Motorcycle is all but decided, but great weather ought to provide great racing for fans both in attendance and tuned in to FOX Sports 1. 

S_Torrence.JPGBarring a minor miracle, we will crown a first-time Top Fuel champion. Steve Torrence narrowly leads Brittany Force by 20 points, and Doug Kalitta by 84 marks. The Texan is enjoying a career season, with eight wins to his name. Force picked right up where she left off in 2016 and has won three times, the same number she won last year, including twice in the Countdown. For Kalitta, it’s been a late surge that’s kept him in the hunt for his first title. He won the Countdown-opening contest in Charlotte, but has trailed off as of late. 

R_Hight.JPGFunny Car might not be mathematically down to Robert Hight and defending champion Ron Capps, but it would take something truly special for Courtney Force, Jack Beckman, or Matt Hagan to get back into the flopper brawl. Hight leads Capps by 15 points, fewer than the 30 points drivers will be rewarded for winning a round in Pomona, setting up a thrilling duel in Southern California. The drivers have met seven times this season, and Capps won the first five times matchups. If there’s such a thing as momentum, Hight has it. He won most recently, two events ago in Dallas, and reached the semi’s in Las Vegas while Capps bowed out in the first round. 

G_Anderson.JPGIn Pro Stock, it all comes down to the three Ken Black Racing Camaros. Greg Anderson holds the best odds of bringing home his first championship since 2010, but teammate Bo Butner sits just 40 points back, while Jason Line is 76 behind Anderson. That one-round cushion for Anderson could disappear depending on how qualifying goes on Friday and Saturday, but if the driver of the red Summit Chevy drives the way he has during the rest of the Countdown… well, let’s just say this is his championship to lose. It’s been a breakout season for Butner, who has one win during the Countdown, but playing catchup against a veteran like Anderson is tough. The same goes for defending champion Line, who currently has two rounds to make up. 

E_Krawiec.JPGThat leaves Pro Stock Motorcycle, which will very likely turn into a coronation for Eddie Krawiec very quickly He leads LE Tonglet by 150 points and can clinch his fourth championship (first since 2012) by simply qualifying for the field. His last DNQ came in Atlanta in 2007, three years before Tonglet made his NHRA debut (and won his first championship). Those are long odds for Tonglet, who started the season on an absolute tear. The Nitro Fish rider hasn’t had the Countdown he hoped for, but closing out the season on a high note could at least give a silver lining to what’s been a solid season for the White Alligator Racing team.