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Richard Freeman becomes 65th driver to qualify No. 1 in Pro Stock in Elite Camaro

Elite Motorsports team boss Richard Freeman became just the 65th different driver to earn a pole position in Pro Stock at the Dodge NHRA Mile-High Nationals in Denver.
20 Jul 2019
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
Race coverage

Elite Motorsports team owner Richard Freeman earned the first pole position of his career and became the 65th driver to lead a Pro Stock field during a wild qualifying session on Saturday night at Bandimere Speedway. Driving the Chevy Camaro normally wheeled by Rodger Brogdon, Freeman drove to a 6.948, 197.33 to claim the top spot. Freeman, who has raced sporadically over the last few years, became the first new driver to earn the green low qualifier hat since Deric Kramer at the 2018 Phoenix event.

“This is really neat,” said Freeman. “Normally I get to stand behind our cars and enjoy the view but it was neat to be able to drive and make a great run. Now, I just hope I don’t lose from the No. 1 spot because I’ve struggled with the Christmas Tree. I just can’t say enough about the job my team has done.”

Freeman wasn’t planning on racing in the Denver event until Brogdon informed the team that he was sitting out the Western Swing events in order to take care of business commitments at home in Texas. With an extra car available, Freeman was happy to pack his helmet and fire suit.

“I didn’t plan on racing until last week,” Freeman said. “Obviously, this is a good car. Rodger ran really well early this year. We know this is a good car. I can’t say that I expected to be No. 1, but I’m not that surprised. All of my cars have been good.”

Elite-powered cars occupy the top three spots in the field with Jeg Coughlin Jr seeded a close second to Freeman with a 6.953 while Matt Hartford drove his Total Seal Camaro to a 6.954 for the third spot. Deric Kramer also ran 6.954, but his top speed was slightly slower than Hartford’s 196.93, so he’s fourth.

Related: Pro Stock ladder

Rain reduced Pro Stock qualifying to just three sessions and there was also a dramatic temperature drop of more than 30-degrees at Bandimere Speedway which meant that there was very little chance that Greg Anderson’s 6.980 from Friday would remain anywhere near the top spot. It took just three pairs for Chris McGaha to eclipse Anderson’s Friday best with a 6.971 in his Harlow Sammons Camaro. By the end of the round, Anderson had been bumped to ninth and that is where he stayed after shaking the tires.

The session produced plenty of unwelcome drama. Kenny Delco crashed in his Camaro at the completion of a competitive 6.972 run and a few minutes later, Jason Line destroyed an engine in his Summit Camaro, leaving a trail of smoke and sparks through the finish line. Line, for his part, never lost his dry sense of humor. Asked by NHRA top-end reporter Hannah Rickards to describe the ordeal, his response was vintage Line

“I’d rather not,” Line quipped. “It was just one of those things. Sometimes we break parts. Fortunately, I can call Summit Racing Equipment to send us some new parts. It’s a little painful tonight but we’ll get over it.”