Welcome to Raceday for the 34th annual AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals. After two days of exciting qualifying at Texas Motorplex, the racers are playing for keeps and big points today in the fourth of six events in the 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship playoffs.
Steve Torrence was able to add three points to his Top Fuel championship lead in qualifying and the defending event champ and reigning world champ knows that another win this weekend would go a long ways towards helping him secure a second straight crown. Based on qualifying, Brittany Force is definitely the favorite. Her David Grubnic-tuned Advance Auto Parts dragster ran good in the cool and in the heat, of which we’ll have both today.
First-round pairings (lane choice first): Brittany Force vs. Cameron Ferre; Antron Brown vs. Richie Crampton; Steve Torrence vs. Shawn Reed; Billy Torrence vs. Terry McMillen; Leah Pritchett vs. Kebin Kinsley; Austin Prock vs. Doug Kalitta; Mike Salinas vs. Lee Callaway; Jordan Vandergriff vs. Clay Millican.
Sixteen-time Funny Car world champ John Force is in the hunt for No. 17 with the best car he’s had in several years and enters eliminations from the No. 1 spot, the place where he has won five of his six titles at this event. Whether that’s a harbinger of things to come or not, his BlueDef Camaro looked good with full pulls on three of four qualifying passes. His biggest opposition could be teammate and points leader Robert Hight, but they can’t meet until the final round. Reigning world champ J.R. Todd qualified No. 3 and needs a long day if he wants to wear the No. 1 again next year.
First-round pairings (lane choice first): John Force vs. Jeff Arend; Paul Lee vs. Tommy Johnson Jr.; Bob Tasca III vs. Jonnie Lindberg; Ron Capps vs. Jack Beckman; Robert Hight vs. Jim Campbell; Tim Wilkerson vs. Shawn Langdon; J.R. Todd vs. Cruz Pedregon; Matt Hagan vs. Blake Alexander.
Jeg Coughlin Jr. had the quickest car in three of the four Pro Stock qualifying sessions and was second-quickest of the fourth, setting his pink JEGS.com Camaro as the prohibitive favorite. Cool temps will still be in play for round one, and then it will be up to the crew chiefs – and the quick reactions and car control of their drivers – to get it done, and few are better at that than Coughlin. His Elite teammate, Erica Enders, was just a thousandth of a second behind him on two of his four best runs and is the best leaver in the class.
First-round pairings (lane choice first): Jeg Coughlin Jr. vs. Richie Stevens; Aaron Stanfield vs. Kenny Delco; Bo Butner vs. Shane Tucker; Matt Hartford vs. Fernando Cuadra Jr.; Erica Enders vs. Alex Laughlin; Jason Line vs. Greg Anderson; Deric Kramer vs. Val Smeland; Fernando Cuadra vs. Chris McGaha.
Pro Stock Motorcycle champ Matt Smith clearly had the most power in qualifying, running 200 mph on Friday night, but he lost one run Saturday to breakage and experimented on his other pass, allowing Jerry Savoie to steal the performance spotlight Saturday. Which Smith will show up today will be determined on a round-by-round basis, but Smiths Denso EBR has a first-round bye, which will allow him to test his setup. Both could have potential tough second-round draws in Eddie Krawiec and Karen Stoffer, respectively, if they all get that far.
First-round pairings (lane choice first): Matt Smith vs. Bye; Eddie Krawiec vs. Ryan Oehler; Scotty Pollacheck vs. Kelly Clontz; Angelle Sampey vs. Hector Arana Sr.’ Jerry Savoie vs. Jianna Salinas; Karen Stoffer vs. Angie Smith; Steve Johnson vs. Michael Ray; Andrew Hines vs. Hector Arana Jr.
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Three hours of coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. Eastern on FS1
2018 EVENT WINNERS: Steve Torrence, Top Fuel; Robert Hight, Funny Car; Tanner Gray, Pro Stock; LE Tonglet, Pro Stock Motorcycle.
MOST VICTORIES: John Force, FC, 7; Tony Schumacher, TF, 6; Warren Johnson, PS, 5; Cruz Pedregon, FC, 4; Robert Hight, FC 4, Greg Anderson, PS, 4, Eddie Krawiec, 3, PSM.
3.651 sec. by Brittany Force Oct. 19; 332.10 mph by Leah Pritchett, Oct. ’19
3.828 sec. and 338.60 mph by Robert Hight, Oct. ’17;
6.457 sec. and 214.59 mph by Greg Anderson, Oct. ’15
Pro Stock Motorcycle
6.744 sec. and 198.99 mph by Jerry Savoie, Oct. ’15
3.623 sec. by Brittany Force, Sept. '19, Reading, Pa.; 336.57 mph by Tony Schumacher, Feb. ‘18, Phoenix
3.793 sec. by Robert Hight, Aug. '17, Brainerd; 339.87 mph by Robert Hight, July ’17, Sonoma, Calif.
6.455 sec. by Jason Line, March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.; 215.55 mph by Erica Enders, May ’14, Englishtown N.J.
Pro Stock Motorcycle
6.720 sec. by Andrew Hines, March ‘19, Gainesville, Fla.; 201.76 mph by Matt Smith, March ‘19, Gainesville, Fla.