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Tricky Tipster: Chicago winners Millican and Hight among the Richmond favorites

Recent winners Clay Millican and Robert Hight are the favorites for this weekend’s Richmond event, along with Greg Anderson, Eddie Krawiec, and Rickie Smith
05 Jun 2018
NHRA National Dragster staff
News
Tricky Tipster

Tricky Tipster, NHRA National Dragster's resident odds-maker, nailed Clay Millican’s back-to-back Top Fuel wins in Chicago. Now, the tour heads back to Richmond, Va. for the first time in a decade with Millican, Robert Hight, Greg Anderson, Eddie Krawiec, and Rickie Smith as the chalk.

TOP FUEL

FUNNY CAR | PRO STOCK | PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE | PRO MOD


C_Millican.JPGClay Millican        
Parts Plus/Great Clips

Floodgates are officially open. It’s still a bit too early to call this the best team in Top Fuel but their performance over the last month has been nothing short of spectacular. Three in a row is mighty tough, Stringer gang might just pull it off.
Odds: 3-1

S_Torrence.jpgSteve Torrence
Capco Contractors

Losing in the first round in Chicago as akin to dunking a tee shot into the lake; sometimes it happens even to the best teams. Helps to remember that before that, he was the low qualifier with a stout 3.677 run.
Odds: 7-2

D_Kalitta.JPGDoug Kalitta
Mac Tools

One of a handful of NHRA pros who has actually raced in Richmond before, he was also the winner of this event in 2007 for what that’s worth. All in all, he’s not having a bad year with a win, a runner-up and a pair of semifinals in the first nine races.
Odds: 5-1

L_Pritchett.JPGLeah Pritchett
Papa John’s Pizza/Dodge

The Papa John’s team did a nice job of managing track conditions in Chicago, which bodes well for the rest of the upcoming four-in-a-row “Eastern Swing”. There’s a lot of points to be gained and they figure to get their share.
Odds: 7-1

T_Schumacher.JPGTony Schumacher
U.S. Army

He’s won just seven rounds since going to the final in Pomona and for a car that qualifies in the top five more often than not, that’s a low number. Like Kalitta, he’s also a former winner in Richmond.
Odds: 8-1

B_Force.JPGBrittany Force
Monster Energy/Advance Auto Parts

New look for the champ lately with the red colors of Advance Auto Parts. Here’s another team that is happy to quickly put a first round loss in Chicago squarely in its rear-view mirror.
Odds: 9-1

T_McMillen.jpgTerry McMillen
Amalie Motor Oil

Took one on the chin in Chicago by smoking the tires in the first round but he had lots of company on the sidelines with four of the top five qualifiers going out. No one has any real data on the Richmond track surface which might be beneficial to the single car teams like this one.
Odds: 10-1

S_Palmer.JPGScott Palmer
Cat Spot

For the first time in forever, Antron Brown did not make the Tipster top eight but five races without a win will do that to anyone. In the meantime, Palmer’s fortunes appear to be looking up after the recent addition of crew chief Jason McCulloch.
Odds: 14-1


FUNNY CAR

R_Hight.JPGRobert Hight        
Auto Club Camaro

It took nine races for the reigning champ to get his first win of 2018 but who wants to bet he doesn’t have to wait nine more to get his second. He might not even have to wait nine days based on the way the Auto Club Camaro performed in the Windy City.
Odds: 3-1

C_Force.JPGCourtney Force    
Advance Auto Parts Chevy

No one enjoys losing on a holeshot, even against a teammate so it’s a big plus that the next race starts less than a week after the last one in Chicago. The loss to Hight notwithstanding, her driving has been exemplary this season.
Odds: 7-2

R_Capps.JPGRon Capps
NAPA Dodge

Now that it takes 4.0s to win on race day instead of 3.8s, crew chiefs have had to make major adjustments and there is no one better at doing that than NAPA boss Rahn Tobler. No matter what the challenge; he’s been there and done that. Exhibit A was the team’s strong runner-up showing last week.
Odds: 5-1

M_Hagan.JPGMatt Hagan    
Mopar Express Lane Dodge

This is his home event and who doesn’t want to show off for the hometown crowd? Here’s a good bet to qualify No. 1 and set low E.T. or win the race and it’s not out of the question that he’ll do all three.
Odds: 6-1

J_Todd.JPGJ.R. Todd    
DHL Toyota

Made the quickest pass of eliminations on Sunday in Chicago but unfortunately, it wasn’t good enough to turn on the win light. This car is just fine, and the driver doesn’t make many mistakes to one holeshot loss can easily be forgiven. Bottom line; he isn’t likely to miss the Tree again anytime soon.
Odds: 8-1

B_Tasca.jpgBob Tasca III
Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford

As expected, he delivered his best performance of the season with a semifinal finish in Chicago to got with a top-half qualifying effort. His lights have also been solid so it’s entirely likely that he’ll win one of these things this summer.
Odds: 10-1

J_Beckman.JPGJack Beckman        
Infinite Hero Dodge

Last week, we made not of the former champ’s qualifying record and he was quick to respond with a No. 3 effort in Chicago. The numbers are definitely there, but the consistency isn’t. Everyone has a fresh sheet of paper on the new Richmond track surface which might be just what the Infinite Hero team ordered.
Odds: 10-1

C_Pedregon.JPGCruz Pedregon
Snap-on Toyota

Lost a bit of his sizzle since the gratifying Charlotte victory with back-to-back round one losses. No cause for alarm, though, because he figures to earn a solid top-half starting spot. Also won this race in 2008, beating Jack Beckman in the final.
Odds: 14-1

PRO STOCK

G_Anderson.JPGGreg Anderson
Summit Camaro

Okay, so he still hasn’t won a race this season, but the news isn’t all bad because he’s made it to the top rung of the Tipster ladder. Seriously, he just needs to keep doing what he’s doing and the wins will come. This car and team is just too good to get shut out forever.
Odds: 4-1

V_Nobile.JPGVincent Nobile
Mountain View Camaro

There was every reason to think he was going to beat Anderson in the semi’s in Chicago before the Mountain View car decided to basketball the tires. Not only has this car dramatically improved this season, but so has Nobile’s driving. Funny how those things seem to go hand-in-hand.
Odds: 5-1

J_Coughlin.JPGJeg Coughlin Jr.
JEGS.com Camaro

Hey, we’ve turned back the clock a decade in our return to Virginia Motorsports Park so why not go all the way back to 2000, the year that Jeggie beat Jim Yates in the final on his way to a ten-win season and a world championship. After his performance in Chicago, would either one of those be surprising?
Odds: 6-1

E_Enders.JPGErica Enders
Melling/Elite Camaro

As former NHRA announcer Bob Frey would say, “One stinkin’ thousandth.” That was the margin of victory in her second-round battle against Tanner Gray in Chicago. If the arithmetic falls the other way, there’s a decent shot that she’s going to another final.  
Odds: 6-1

T_Gray.JPGTanner Gray
Gray Manufacturing Technologies Camaro

Had the car to win at Route 66 Raceway. Just ran into the wrong guy (Coughlin) at the wrong time. This week, he might just be that same guy that no one wants to face on race day.
Odds: 8-1

J_Line.JPGJason Line
Summit Racing Camaro

The 2006 Virginia Nationals champ appears to have awoken from his early-season slumber. The first nine events of the season were not kind to the three-time champ, but we’re betting the next nine will be much more productive.
Odds: 10-1

D_Skillman.JPGDrew Skillman
Skillman Auto Camaro

Cut a respectable .020 light and made a respectable 6.60 run in the first round in Chicago and the arrow on the time slip still pointed in the wrong direction. Once again, it’s just a matter of being in the right place at the right time. There’s nothing really wrong with this team.
Odds: 12-1

D_Connolly.JPGDave Connolly
Gray Motorsports Camaro

Whoa, who saw this coming? One of the sport’s premiere crew chiefs is returning to the driver’s seat. Remember when he was almost untouchable as a driver? We’re betting he hasn’t lost much in the last few years.
Odds: 14-1


PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE

E_Krawiec.jpgEddie Krawiec
Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson

Red-lighted in Chicago and gave up the points lead; two things that don’t happen often. Regardless, he’s got a strong 9-2 record this season in elimination runs and that number figures to swell after this weekend’s Richmond race.
Odds: 3-1

M_Smith.jpgMatt Smith
Matt Smith Racing Victory

After his extremely impressive Chicago victory, he described his Victory Gunner as “hateful”. That’s fair enough and if he continues to spit out 6.7s at the same rate, it’s going to be a long summer in Pro Stock Motorcycle land.
Odds: 4-1

A_Hines.jpgAndrew Hines
Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson

Hines holds the track record at Virginia Motorsports Park with a 7.28. Wait, that’s Matt Hines, his older brother. Needless to say, that record won’t last through Q1 and Andrew, who was just 15 when big brother won back-to-back Richmond titles, is a good bet to steal it.
Odds: 5-1

L_Tonglet.jpgLE Tonglet
Nitro Fish Suzuki

As impressive as Matt Smith was in Chicago, it was this guy who was probably going to win the final round if not for the wind gust that forced an early shut off. He had .02-second in the bank and was ahead at half-track. That’s an encouraging sign.
Odds: 5-1

J_Savoie.jpgJerry Savoie
White Alligator Suzuki

When you red-light by a thousandth of a second, as he did in Joliet, only the next win light will ease the pain and he figures to turn on a few of those this weekend. The White Alligator bike is every bit as dangerous as teammate Tonglet’s Suzuki.
Odds: 7-1

H_Arana_Jr.jpgHector Arana Jr.
Lucas Oil EBR

It’s going to be fun to see how many 200-mph time slips he collects before the next guy in the class gets their first. Of course at this point, he’d probably trade a 200-mph run for four win lights on race day. Then again, there is no reason to think he can’t do both.
Odds: 9-1

A_Smith.jpgAngie Smith
Denso Spark Plugs Buell

Although it wasn’t a win, or even a final round, her performance in Chicago was one of the best of her career. Numerous competitive runs including a jaw-dropping 6.821 in the first round. Whatever has gotten into hubby Matt’s bike appears to be contagious.
Odds: 11-1

S_Pollacheck.jpgScotty Pollacheck
Suzuki Extended Protection Suzuki

The entire Underdahl/Stoffer team had a weekend to forget in Chicago so it’s probably best to just move on to the next one and forget about it. There is still a ton of potential here.
Odds: 14-1

PRO MOD

R_Smith.jpgRickie Smith
Bahrain1 Camaro

It’s way to early in the season to start talking about championships. Or is it? If he wins here, its going to be a long tough road for anyone else to overtake him for the points lead and the way he’s been running, a win would not be unexpected.
Odds: 2-1

M_Castellana.JPGMike Castellana
AAP Camaro

Won the Memorial Day Night of Thunder event at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis which probably did as much for his confidence as anything else. Tuner Frank Manzo was money when he raced his TAFC in Richmond. That should also provide a morale boost.
Odds: 3-1

T_Coughlin_Sr.jpgTroy Coughlin
JEGS.com Mustang

From the “Who didn’t see this coming?” file. If you missed it, one of the sport’s shortest retirements is over and the three-time champ is back with another Steve Petty-tuned turbocharged monster. Probably too late to contend for the title, but he can sure make life miserable for those who are.
Odds: 5-1

J_Gonzalez.jpgJose Gonzalez
Q80 Racing Corvette

The Charlotte winner has what is easily one of the best cars in the field and he’s also a heck of a driver. Nothing is a given in the world of Pro Mod, but this seems like a safe bet to make more final rounds.
Odds: 6-1

Chad Green
Bond-Coat, Inc. Corvette

How about this guy? Crashes in the semi’s in Gainesville. Gets a new car and makes it to the final round in Topeka to keep his championship hopes alive. That’s a Pro Mod racer for you.
Odds: 8-1

M_Janis.JPGMike Janis
Jan-Cen Racing Camaro

More than holding his own against a stacked field of the sport’s best doorslammer racers. He’s second in the points standings and has enough moxy to keep Tricky Rickie honest.
Odds: 10-1

K_alBalooshi.jpgKhalid alBalooshi
Bahrain1 Camaro

Easy to forget but it was this guy, not Rickie Smith, who set the unofficial nitrous Pro Mod record in Topeka with a stunning 5.728 pass. If he can come anywhere close to duplicating those numbers here, he’s going to be in contention.
Odds: 12-1

S_Jackson.JPGSteve Jackson
Bahrain1 Camaro

For the foreseeable future, he’ll be wheeling The Shadow, his “Outlaw” car that has done amazing things in the world of small tire racing. If he makes it to a final, we’d love to see him challenge his opponent to slap on a set of drag radials.
Odds: 15-1