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Tricky Tipster: Chicago favorites are Millican, Force, Enders, and Krawiec

In the professional opinion of NHRA National Dragster magazine's Tricky Tipster, recent tour winners Clay Millican, Courtney Force, Erica Enders, and Eddie Krawiec rate the edge for the next stop in Chicago
01 Jun 2018
NHRA National Dragster staff
News
Chicago Tipster

Tricky Tipster, NHRA National Dragster's resident odds-maker, is feeling spunky after correctly picking Courtney Force and Rickie Smith as the Topeka winners in Funny Car and Pro Mod, respectively. This week, Force maintains the top spot and is joined by Clay Millican, Erica Enders, and Eddie Krawiec.

TOP FUEL

FUNNY CAR | PRO STOCK | PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE


C_Millican.JPGClay Millican        
Parts Plus/Great Clips

Going to give the top spot to the Stringer Performance team this week because they’ve earned it. Not only is this car capable of setting low elapsed time or top speed at any event, it’s finally got the consistency to win races. He’ll be a handful from here on out.
Odds: 3-1

S_Torrence.jpgSteve Torrence
Capco Contractors

It would be hard to say that Topeka was a bad race although the Capco crew was certainly looking for something more than a semifinal. They’ll rebound quickly, and they’ll have the No. 2 car on hand for additional data.
Odds: 7-2

T_Schumacher.JPGTony Schumacher
U.S. Army

He no longer lives in Chicago, but lives for this race and after five wins in seven final rounds, why shouldn’t he? With the exception of Indy, this is easily his best track so there would be no better place to get his first win of the season.
Odds: 5-1

T_McMillen.jpgTerry McMillen
Amalie Motor Oil

Another driver who gets a nice bump in this week’s power rankings and deservedly so. After three final rounds in the last four races, maybe its time to stop referring to the Amalie team as underdogs. They are legit threats to win any event on the tour, including this one.
Odds: 7-1

D_Kalitta.JPGDoug Kalitta
Mac Tools

The Mac Tools crew has won this race three times but the last one came in 2006 so make of that what you will. Following impressive Pomona win, and Charlotte runner-up, he’s posted back-to-back round two finishes. More is expected.  
Odds: 8-1

B_Force.JPGBrittany Force
Monster Energy/Advance Auto Parts

The Monster team is having a bit of difficulty adjusting to the new track prep, but the potential is still there for some great performances even though she hasn’t been to the semifinals since Houston, three races ago.
Odds: 9-1

L_Pritchett.JPGLeah Pritchett
Papa John’s Pizza/Dodge

As a whole, the Don Schumacher Racing organization did not have a memorable race in Topeka and that includes the Papa John's team. On the bright side, she’s still ranked in the top five in the standings and they’re very much in the championship picture.
Odds: 11-1

A_Brown.JPGAntron Brown
Matco Tools

Following an unprecedented string of four round one losses, the Matco team spent Memorial Day weekend testing in Indy. They’ll need to find some answers because they’re already eighth in the points and the 2018 season is about to slip away.
Odds: 14-1


FUNNY CAR

C_Force.JPGCourtney Force    
Advance Auto Parts Chevy

It’s not an exaggeration to say that her most recent win in Topeka was the most impressive of her career. Not only is the Advance Auto Chevy cranking out big numbers, but her driving has never been better. Her second round win over Hagan was a work of art.
Odds: 5-2

R_Hight.JPGRobert Hight        
Auto Club Camaro

Came very close to grabbing his first win of the year in Topeka but he ran into his teammate in the final round. As they say in NASCAR, it was “a good points day” and a nice recovery from an off-pace No. 14 qualifying effort.
Odds: 4-1

J_Todd.JPGJ.R. Todd    
DHL Toyota

So much for that whole all or nothing deal. A semifinal finish in Topeka was good medicine coming off a round one loss in Atlanta but this is a team that can easily go the distance and their driver is perhaps the one guy best suited to deal with the new track prep.
Odds: 6-1

C_Pedregon.JPGCruz Pedregon
Snap-on Toyota

For some teams, three-second runs have been hard to come by lately but not so for the Snap-on crew. They’ve qualified in the top half of the field at all but one event this year, which is a radical departure from last year’s struggles.
Odds: 7-1

R_Capps.JPGRon Capps
NAPA Dodge

He’s been to the final round the last two years in Chicago and he’s the reigning event champion so it’s safe to say he enjoys racing at Route 66 Raceway. The NAPA car hasn’t been in the threes since qualifying in Charlotte.
Odds: 7-1

M_Hagan.JPGMatt Hagan    
Mopar Express Lane Dodge

He cut a solid light in Topeka and made a nice run with a 3.936 but it just wasn’t enough to get past Courtney Force. He won here back-to-back in 2013-14 and was a runner-up in 2015 so the Windy City seems to agree with him.
Odds: 8-1

J_Beckman.JPGJack Beckman        
Infinite Hero Dodge

This is still the second-best car in the class at least according to the current points standings but the recent string of sub-par qualifying performances (13, 12, and 10) is a slightly alarming, given the level of competition in the class.
Odds: 10-1

B_Tasca.jpgBob Tasca III
Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford

A broken crankshaft in round one spoiled what might well have been a breakthrough performance in Topeka because this car was on rails during qualifying. It certainly seems that new crew chief Eric Lane has found his groove.
Odds: 13-1


PRO STOCK

E_Enders.JPGErica Enders
Melling/Elite Camaro

After a handful of sub-par qualifying outings, she started from the No. 2 spot in Topeka and went straight to the final. If the Elite team can maintain that sort of performance, she’ll take care of the rest. Hard to find fault in a final round loss when opponent was almost perfect.
Odds: 3-1

V_Nobile.JPGVincent Nobile
Mountain View Camaro

For whatever reason the Mountain View car never made a good run the whole weekend in Topeka. The silver lining is that they did hang on to the points lead and with a quick rebound here, they’ll probably extend it.
Odds: 4-1

D_Kramer.JPGDeric Kramer
American Ethanol Camaro

Is there anyone out there who didn’t see his Topeka win coming? He’s always been a capable driver and crew chief Michael Hiner is a capable tuner. Now that they’ve got competitive power, the results are there. Won’t be long before he wins again.
Odds: 5-1

G_Anderson.JPGGreg Anderson
Summit Camaro

Had a car that could easily have won in Topeka but fell short again. Slumps in any sport are frustrating but the only way to solve them is to step back up to the plate and take another swing. Before the year is out he’ll get his share.
Odds: 6-1

T_Gray.JPGTanner Gray
Gray Manufacturing Technologies Camaro

Obviously, he’s got a mountain of talent and a great team so it’s fair to ask why he'd allow himself to get distracted by things like his current ongoing feud with two-time champ Enders?
Odds: 7-1

D_Skillman.JPGDrew Skillman
Skillman Auto Camaro

Won this race last year and that was the start of a very successful and productive summer. Naturally, he’d love nothing better than a repeat this time around. After three semifinals this season, it’s about time for a final.
Odds: 9-1

C_McGaha.JPGChris McGaha        
Harlow Sammons Camaro

Qualified in the top four in Topeka but didn’t make it out of the first round which is very uncharacteristic for a team that is usually very consistent. With four races in four weeks on the horizon, he's going to want to get off to a good start here.
Odds: 10-1

B_Butner.JPGBo Butner
Butner Auto Camaro

For the second time we’ll ask, what’s the world champ doing way down here? The reigning world champ hasn’t run well lately which is odd since most of the other KB cars are flying.
Odds: 13-1

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE

E_Krawiec.jpgEddie Krawiec
Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson

He’s lost only one round so far this year and that came at the often-confusing Charlotte Four-Wide race. While he currently doesn’t enjoy the performance advantage he often has, he’s still incredibly tough to beat.
Odds: 2-1

A_Hines.jpgAndrew Hines
Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson

Three-time Chicago winner and a four-time finalist, he’s set to appear in his 250th career race, and he’s been to the final round in 93 of the first 249 starts, which is a pretty darn good average. Also eager to atone for holeshot loss to Angelle Sampey at the last race in Atlanta.
Odds: 7-2

L_Tonglet.jpgLE Tonglet
Nitro Fish Suzuki

Won here back-to-back in 2010 and 2011 and is also the defending event champ so it’s safe to say he enjoys racing at Route 66 Raceway. By now, he should also be settled into his role as a part of the White Alligator team.
Odds: 4-1

J_Savoie.jpgJerry Savoie
White Alligator Suzuki

The 2016 Mello Yello champ is off to a decent start this year but his qualifying performances could use a little work. Earning a top four starting spot will help make the path to the final round much easier than qualifying mid-pack.
Odds: 6-1

H_Arana_Jr.jpgHector Arana Jr.
Lucas Oil EBR

The sport’s only 200-mph Pro Stock Motorcycle (at least officially) it’s time for the Lucas Oil team to start turning on some win lights. This is a good place to start since he’s won this race twice and was in last year’s final round.
Odds: 8-1

S_Pollacheck.jpgScotty Pollacheck
Suzuki Extended Protection Suzuki

With a runner-up and two semifinal finishes to start the season it’s hard to find fault with anything the Underdahl/Stoffer team has done so far. The only thing left is a win and that’s been a long time coming.
Odds: 9-1

C_Reed.jpgCory Reed
Team Liberty Buell

It’s still early in the season, especially as far as NHRA’s Pro Stock Motorcycle teams are concerned, but there is little doubt that this is the most improved entry in 2018. It should not be the least bit surprising if he’s NHRA’s next first-time pro winner.
Odds: 11-1

M_Smith.jpgMatt Smith
Matt Smith Racing Victory

The early season turmoil that forced a switch from Suzuki to Victory V-twin should have died down by now which should allow the two-time champ to focus on winning races and getting back into the points picture. He’s also a three-time Chicago finalist.
Odds: 14-1