event: 16th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals
when: October 28-30, 2016
where: The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Nevada, USA
Vegas Win Moves Savoie Within 3
story and photos by Tim Hailey and the NHRA
Punctual in Pink—the WAR Suzuki has responded well to its breast cancer awareness livery. Photo courtesy of NHRA
Jerry Savoie rode his White Alligator Racing (WAR) Suzuki to a 6.915 at 194.13 to defeat Andrew Hines in the Pro Stock Motorcycle final round for his second win of the season sixth of his careerlast weekend at the 16th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip in Las Vegas. “To do what we did here, we been working hard,” Savoie said. “Tim (tuner Kulungian) went back to the shop and looked at a bunch of notes, and got on a dyno and an engine we had back home and did some work. It’s like football and anything else, the harder you work, the better you get. It all came together this weekend. No. 1 qualifier every round, and we got a fast motorcycle. It’s going to be very, very interesting when we get to Pomona.”
Savoie defeated Scott Pollacheck, LE Tonglet, and Matt Smith in the early rounds and is now only three (3!) points behind Harley-Davidson teammates Hines and Eddie Krawiec, who are tied for the points lead heading into the final race of the year at Pomona.
Hopefully Tonglet's new Nitrofish deal with WAR will have budget for an umbrella girl instead of Kenny Koretsky's righthand man
Savoie’s team announced at Vegas that Tonglet would ride the long coveted second WAR Suzuki. Like Savoie, 2010 PSM champion Tonglet is from Louisiana. He’s always raced with his dad Gary and brother GT tuning and turning the wrenches, overachieving on an ancient Suzuki chassis once barrel-rolled by Lloyd Strauss at Englishtown.
“I’ve been knowin’ Gary for 40 years, since before them boys were born,” said Savoie. “So it’s a Louisiana thing, a family thing. They’re out here ‘cause their hearts are in it, and Kenny Koretsky (Nitrofish owner and longtime backer of Tonglet) was kind enough to help ‘em out. I really believe we can be pretty strong next year.”
As if the WAR team wasn’t already a true championship-contending, Harley-chomping monster. “I don’t know about that. Them boys (the Harleys) are strong. They all strong.”
Last year, Savoie’s team had a strong run in the Countdown and was a contender for the championship until they went out at Pomona. Going into the final race there again this year, WAR is truly a championship level team in a virtual tie for the points lead. “It’d be nice to be ahead—like two rounds ahead,” laughed Savoie.
“But last year we went in there (to Pomona) and were 5/100ths quicker than anybody. So if we can hit the tune-up like we did last year, we should have a good weekend. If we can go there and grab some little (qualifying) points it would help. Let’s say we all lose the same round and I’ve gotten three points ahead of ‘em, I win. So we wanna qualify number one and win the race.”
Like he just did in Vegas and almost did in Dallas, where he lost the final with a poor reaction time against Krawiec. “I beat myself up for eight days after Dallas (because of his bad light), but it was a damn clip on the Gen 2 that broke.”
WAR tuner Tim Kulungian is the brainiac behind Savoie's Suzuki
“There’s a rack and pinion type gear that disengages and engages the pressure plate,” said Kulungian, who measures how far that moves to vary how quickly the bike reacts. “There’s a clip that holds that rack in place. Because this clip was broken (and the team didn’t know it was broken), we had a really tough time finding zero. So I don’t feel 100% confident it was set the same as the other three rounds of competition when we left the pit. Then in the shutdown, the clutch wouldn’t fully disengage—another red flag (that something wasn’t right).”
So that broken clip might have cost Savoie the Dallas final round win against Krawiec and the points lead going into Pomona. “They got a free one there,” said Savoie. “Can you imagine if we’d won Dallas and Vegas? Dude, that woulda been badass.”
“Dallas, Vegas and Pomona are when we really lay it on thick,” said Kulungian. “Last year, we made a mistake on raceday and didn’t deserve to win, and that’s why we didn’t win. But this year we’ve already been here once, we’ve worked for it, we’ve earned it.”
“My intention (when he started racing Pro Stock) was to win one race,” said Savoie. “To win a championship would be crazy.”
“Next year will be even better,” said Kulungian. “On all fronts, this will be a great addition to our program. We’re excited about the chemistry (between Tonglet and the WAR team). I think Jerry’s really gonna be proud when he looks back at all the things this team has done and realize that he’s the one that started it. He’ll have memories to last him the rest of his life.”
H-D's Kris Schoonover keeps a close eye on the success of V&H's V-Rod program
And the WAR team has done it against the most heavily funded and technically formidable team in PSM history. Vance & Hines, who also supplies the Suzuki motors that sit in Savoie’s frame rails, is obviously excelling at a very high level in everything they do right now. I asked V&H riders Hines and Krawiec if there was ever a conflict with their sponsor Harley-Davidson. If Jerry Savoie were to actually pull it off next weekend, would the success of V&H’s Suzuki program ever spoil the relationship they have with H-D racing boss Kris “Schooney” Schoonover and the Motor Company?
“I mean, to be honest, they came aboard as a partner before we were doing it, when we were doing it, and we still are doing it, so I don't think it'll have any impact on it,” answered Krawiec. “We have great customers that support our program and believe in us, and we give them the best products we can, 100 percent.”
Eddie Krawiec is all business when it comes to answering questions
Will Andrew Hines hoist the BIG Wally again this year?
EARLIER: Savoie #1 by a Vegas Mile
Jerry Savoie improved to a 6.880 at 193.96 on his Savoie’s Alligator Farm Suzuki in the third Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying session to secure his second No. 1 qualifier of the season and seventh of his career. Savoie will face Scott Pollacheck in the first round of eliminations for the 16th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip in Las Vegas. “Every year this time of the year we usually step up,” Savoie said. “Hopefully this year we can give them a run for their money. The points are collecting. We qualified No. 1 all four rounds. I said yesterday we should have run an .88 and today we came back and ran an .88. It’s exciting, it really is. ”
Points leader Eddie Krawiec is in the No. 2 spot and will race rookie Melissa Surber in the first round. Defending world champion Andrew Hines is third and is going to race against Joey Gladstone in eliminations.
Rickie Smith secured his third NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series championship by qualifying for the series event during the NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. This is the final NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Series race of the 2016 season and is presented by Aeromotive Inc.
Smith, who won the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series championship in 2013 and 2014, raced to a strong start of the season to propel himself to the series crown. In his IDG ’15 Camaro he opened the season with a win at the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornational in Gainesville, Fla., defeating Danny Rowe in the finals. He raced to a runner up finish at the next event in Houston and won the third race of the season at Atlanta. He most recently raced to a runner-up finish in St. Louis. He was also the No. 1 qualifier at two events.
“We only have 10 races and when you only have 10 races you can’t get behind as it is hard to catch up,” said Smith. “Luckily, we got off to a heck of a run this year. We went to three finals and won two of them and that got us a good cushion. We kept making rounds and just trying to be consistent on Sunday.
“I was going to retire three years ago because I was ready. But you hate to quit when you are winning and doing this good. I know I’m going to have to quit one day but you can always quit, but you can’t always keep winning.”
Eliminations for the race will take place on Sunday and Smith who qualified seventh with a pass of 5.909 seconds at 245.00 will face Danny Rowe in the first round.
Sidnei Frigo was the No. 1 qualifier for the event with his run of 5.829 seconds at 250.92 mph. This was his second No. 1 qualifying position of the season. He will face Jim Whitely in the first round.
Jack Beckman secured his fifth No. 1 Funny Car qualifier of the season, 20th of his career with the track elapsed time record run of 3.871 at 327.43 in his Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T during the fourth qualifying session. In the first round of eliminations Beckman will race against Jeff Arend.
”We got our act together with that .871,” Beckman said. “It was a sigh of relief. I told the guys when they picked me up at the top end in the tow vehicle, ‘That should at least keep us in the top four.’ No way I would have bet that would have stayed No. 1. It’s pretty gratifying to leave with the green hat for being No. 1.”
Matt Hagan has the No. 2 spot and a matchup with John Hale in the first round while sixteen-time world champion John Force is third and will face John Bojec for the first time in his career. Points leader Ron Capps is in the fourth position and will race Paul Lee in the first round.
Clay Millican raced to a track elapsed time record pass of 3.689-secods at 327.87 mph in his Parts Plus / Great Clips dragster during the fourth qualifying session to secure his second No. 1 qualifier of the season and fourth of his career at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Millican will line up against Terry Haddock in the first round of eliminations.
“We know we are capable of running with anyone and we simply have to put together four good runs on Sunday,” said Millican who was also the No. 1 qualifier at the U.S. Nationals. “We’ve made good runs and we will continue to make more good runs. For the little single car team that we are, I am unbelievably happy with everything. It’s going to be great. It’s just going to keep getting better. It really is. I truly believe that.”
Leah Pritchett is qualified in the No. 2 spot and will face Shawn Reed during eliminations. Doug Kalitta is in third followed by points leader and reigning world champion Antron Brown in fourth. Kalitta will race Scott Palmer and Brown will race Terry McMillen.
Four-time Pro Stock Car world champion Anderson took over the No. 1 qualifying position with a 6.677 pass 205.72 in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro during the third qualifying session. It is Anderson’s seventh No. 1 qualifier of the season, 87th of his career. He will take on Seattle winner Aaron Strong in the first round.
“We made some adjustments overnight and came out this morning and hit the bullseye,” Anderson said. “My car made two great runs today and I think it’s ready for race day. Great recovery after yesterday. We grabbed some of those small points and those are very important this time of year. So I feel great. I feel great on Saturday night.”
Drew Skillman is in the No. 2 spot facing Shane Tucker followed by Alex Laughlin who will see Jeg Coughlin Jr. in the first round. Points leader Jason Line holds the No. 6 spot and will race veteran Allen Johnson in eliminations.
Eliminations for the NHRA Toyota Nationals is set to begin Sunday at 11 a.m. FOX Sports 1 (FS1) will have live coverage at 4 p.m. ET. First round of racing of the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series begins Sunday at 9:30 a.m.
Sunday's first-round pairings for eliminations for the 16th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the 23rd of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Pairings based on results in qualifying, which ended Saturday. DNQs listed below pairings.
Pro Stock Motorcycle -- 1. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.880, 193.96 vs. 16. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 7.032, 188.70; 2. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.939, 192.82 vs. 15. Melissa Surber, Buell, 7.014, 188.86; 3. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.947, 192.14 vs. 14. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 7.012, 190.86; 4. Matt Smith, Victory, 6.965, 191.21 vs. 13. Chip Ellis, Buell, 7.006, 191.76; 5. Angelle Sampey, Buell, 6.967, 192.06 vs. 12. Cory Reed, Buell, 7.005, 188.86; 6. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.974, 192.22 vs. 11. Angie Smith, Victory, 7.003, 188.60; 7. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.979, 191.67 vs. 10. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.991, 191.67; 8. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.985, 191.16 vs. 9. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.987, 191.43.
Did Not Qualify: 17. Jim Underdahl, 7.041, 189.84; 18. Freddie Camarena, 7.054, 189.58; 19. Chaz Kennedy, 7.116, 188.23; 20. Mike Berry, 7.145, 182.62; 21. Joe DeSantis, 7.183, 183.29; 22. John Hall, 7.187, 185.66; 23. David Hope, 7.189, 182.43; 24. Gunner Courtney, 7.196, 182.80; 25. Lance Bonham, 7.260, 183.92; 26. Brian Bognuda, 7.358, 178.50; 27. Kristen Ashby, 7.417, 280.19.
Pro Modified -- 1. Sidnei Frigo, Chevy Corvette, 5.829, 250.92 vs. 16. Jim Whiteley, Chevy Chevelle, 5.959, 242.23; 2. Michael Biehle, Ford Mustang, 5.848, 251.86 vs. 15. Steve Matusek, Chevy Camaro, 5.959, 244.52; 3. Troy Coughlin, Corvette, 5.851, 251.20 vs. 14. Pete Farber, Dodge Daytona, 5.957, 243.99; 4. Bob Rahaim, Corvette, 5.868, 244.56 vs. 13. Khalid alBalooshi, Camaro, 5.950, 242.80; 5. Todd Tutterow, Camaro, 5.876, 244.87 vs. 12. Shane Molinari, Pontiac Firebird, 5.950, 251.06; 6. Michael Bowman, Chevelle, 5.898, 255.00 vs. 11. Kevin Rivenbark, Corvette, 5.940, 238.05; 7. Rickie Smith, Camaro, 5.909, 245.00 vs. 10. Danny Rowe, Corvette, 5.929, 244.87; 8. Clint Hairston, Camaro, 5.911, 247.47 vs. 9. Steven Whiteley, Cadillac CTS-V, 5.917, 245.76.
Did Not Qualify: 17. Rick Snavely, 5.970, 250.55; 18. Eric Latino, 5.979, 243.19; 19. Kenny Lang, 6.004, 241.84; 20. Mike Knowles, 6.036, 237.92; 21. Mike Castellana, 6.040, 198.88; 22. Clint Satterfield, 6.073, 241.28; 23. Ray Martin, 6.124, 231.56.
Top Fuel -- 1. Clay Millican, 3.689 seconds, 327.27 mph vs. 16. Terry Haddock, 4.009, 286.92; 2. Leah Pritchett, 3.700, 328.70 vs. 15. Shawn Reed, 3.952, 311.85; 3. Doug Kalitta, 3.709, 326.95 vs. 14. Scott Palmer, 3.951, 302.28; 4. Antron Brown, 3.723, 324.59 vs. 13. Terry McMillen, 3.923, 308.21; 5. Tony Schumacher, 3.727, 326.00 vs. 12. Wayne Newby, 3.817, 323.12; 6. Steve Torrence, 3.728, 323.89 vs. 11. Richie Crampton, 3.772, 312.64; 7. Brittany Force, 3.728, 323.89 vs. 10. Tripp Tatum, 3.771, 326.71; 8. Shawn Langdon, 3.741, 326.79 vs. 9. J.R. Todd, 3.751, 321.81.
Did Not Qualify: 17. Troy Buff, 4.010, 308.92; 18. Morgan Lucas, 4.456, 170.00.
Funny Car -- 1. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 3.871, 327.43 vs. 16. Jeff Arend, Charger, 4.045, 302.55; 2. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.872, 329.18 vs. 15. John Hale, Charger, 4.031, 318.62; 3. John Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.876, 331.94 vs. 14. John Bojec, Toyota Camry, 3.990, 316.23; 4. Ron Capps, Charger, 3.881, 326.71 vs. 13. Paul Lee, Camry, 3.986, 322.04; 5. Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.885, 323.81 vs. 12. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 3.952, 318.99; 6. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.888, 324.36 vs. 11. Chad Head, Camry, 3.923, 326.24; 7. Del Worsham, Camry, 3.895, 325.69 vs. 10. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.917, 321.88; 8. Courtney Force, Camaro, 3.905, 325.69 vs. 9. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 3.909, 326.32.
Did Not Qualify: 17. Dave Richards, 4.121, 305.91; 18. Bob Bode, 4.146, 298.40; 19. Brandon Welch, 4.204, 292.58; 20. Jim Campbell, 4.348, 293.28; 21. Jon Capps, 4.491, 206.42; 22. Gary Densham, 5.024, 308.50; 23. Anthony Begley, 5.183, 164.35; 24. Phil Burkart, 8.750, 285.77.
Pro Stock -- 1. Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.677, 205.72 vs. 16. Aaron Strong, Camaro, 6.752, 203.65; 2. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.679, 205.98 vs. 15. Shane Tucker, Camaro, 6.745, 204.23; 3. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.683, 206.16 vs. 14. Jeg Coughlin, Dodge Dart, 6.737, 204.32; 4. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.683, 205.51 vs. 13. Deric Kramer, Dart, 6.732, 203.52; 5. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.684, 205.54 vs. 12. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.731, 204.05; 6. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.690, 205.82 vs. 11. Allen Johnson, Dart, 6.730, 204.51; 7. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.697, 205.91 vs. 10. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.726, 204.94; 8. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.712, 204.88 vs. 9. Erica Enders, Dart, 6.718, 204.42.
Did Not Qualify: 17. Alan Prusiensky, 6.793, 202.30.
EARLIER: Savoie Fast on Friday
Jerry Savoie, shown here at Etown, leads Vegas qualifying
Jerry Savoie rode to a 6.904 pass at 192.66 on his Savoie’s Alligator Farm Suzuki in Friday’s first Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying session to hold the provisional top spot for the 16th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip in Las Vegas. Savoie has one No. 1 qualifier this season and six in his career. “With the points deal, I’m going to say like we say in Louisiana, we say ‘mo points’ and we take them all if they give them to us," said Savoie. "As a rider you try to do the same thing every time. It’s up to the crew and the crew chief to put the tune-up in it. Tim (Kulungian) and the guys they are great. They keep it together.”
The Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson team of Eddie Krawiec and Andrew Hines hold the second and third spots, respectively.
Michael Biehle II powered to the Pro Mod qualifying lead. Biehle posted a run of 5.848 seconds at 251.86 mph in his ’67 Mustang during the first of two qualifying attempts. He was able to retain the No. 1 qualifying position through the end of the second session. Biehle has yet to record a No. 1 qualifying position this season. "It feels awesome. We've never held a number 1 position this long,” said Biehle. “We've had a good race car all year. We're just happy to be here and it's awesome to be No. 1."
Current points leader Rickie Smith is qualified sixth in his ’15 Camaro with his 5.909 run at 245.00. Troy Coughlin, who is second in points is currently fifth with his 5.907 pass at 248.93. Bob Rahaim is qualified second at 5.868 at 244.56 and Todd Tutterow is third at 5.881 at 243.02.
Leah Pritchett piloted her Pennzoil Top Fuel dragster to a 3.705 pass at 326.63 during the second qualifying session to set the track elapsed time record. She will be racing for her second No. 1 qualifier of the season and of her Top Fuel career.
“Talk about living a dream right now and being with the best team out there and the best people in my crew,” Pritchett said. “I’m enjoying it. We are keeping our head down but you have to enjoy it for a little bit. Learn from what we just did and move on and just consistently do that over and over again and that’s what we’ve been doing these last races. Vegas has always been kind of good to me, our car number is 777 so just going to keep rolling with it and staying focused and staying in the zone.”
Currently qualified in second is Doug Kalitta followed by reigning world champion and current points leader Antron Brown. Kalitta currently trails Brown in points by 150 points.
Matt Hagan ran a track elapsed time record 3.872-second pass at 329.18 mph in his Mopar Express Lane / Rocky Boots Dodge Charger R/T for the qualifying lead at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Currently third in points, Hagan has raced to five No. 1 qualifiers this season.
“I think today was pretty cool because we had cloud cover,” Hagan said. “The track was tight, it was good out there. The groove is very narrow so you have to watch what you’re doing. All-in-all we had a good day and tomorrow is another day so we come back out tomorrow and fight hard again and just try to scoop up as much points as we can.”
Sixteen-time Funny Car world champion John Force is qualified second after pushing his Peak Antifreeze Chevy Camaro to a 3.872 at a track record speed of 331.94. Force’s speed was also a career best. Points leader Ron Capps is currently third.
In Pro Stock Car, 2015 Road to the Future winner Skillman ran a 6.681 at 204.94 in his Chevy Camaro during the second qualifying session. Skillman is looking for his first No. 1 qualifier of the season and fourth of his career.
“We had a rough start. We’re getting a good run now,” said Skillman, who won the most recent race in Dallas. “We are starting to learn the car a little better. We struggled really bad at the beginning of the Countdown and we think we are going a better direction, as it showed now. We’re hopeful for the future.”
Skillman’s time puts him ahead of Shane Gray in the number two spot and points leader Jason Line in third.
Friday's results after the first two of four rounds of qualifying for the 16th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, 23rd of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Qualifying will continue Saturday for Sunday's final eliminations.
Pro Stock Motorcycle -- 1. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.904, 192.66; 2. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.944, 192.63; 3. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.951, 191.97; 4. Matt Smith, Victory, 6.974, 190.78; 5. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.975, 191.81; 6. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.979, 191.16; 7. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.987, 191.43; 8. Angelle Sampey, Buell, 6.992, 190.94; 9. Cory Reed, Buell, 7.005, 188.86; 10. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 7.012, 191.29; 11. Melissa Surber, Buell, 7.014, 188.86; 12. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 7.022, 191.16. Not Qualified: 13. Joey Gladstone, 7.037, 189.20; 14. Freddie Camarena, 7.078, 189.12; 15. Angie Smith, 7.083, 188.60; 16. Jim Underdahl, 7.108, 189.84; 17. Chip Ellis, 7.111, 188.86; 18. Scotty Pollacheck, 7.125, 183.52; 19. Joe DeSantis, 7.127, 185.84; 20. John Hall, 7.180, 185.08; 21. Mike Berry, 7.193, 182.62; 22. Lance Bonham, 7.233, 181.72; 23. David Hope, 7.326, 180.79; 24. Kristen Ashby, 7.337, 175.75; 25. Brian Bognuda, 7.338, 178.12; 26. Gunner Courtney, 7.341, 178.54; 27. Chaz Kennedy, 7.361, 180.43.
Pro Modified -- 1. Michael Biehle, Ford Mustang, 5.848, 251.86; 2. Bob Rahaim, Chevy Corvette, 5.868, 244.56; 3. Todd Tutterow, Chevy Camaro, 5.881, 244.87; 4. Michael Bowman, Chevy Chevelle, 5.898, 255.00; 5. Troy Coughlin, Corvette, 5.907, 248.93; 6. Rickie Smith, Camaro, 5.909, 245.00; 7. Clint Hairston, Camaro, 5.911, 246.89; 8. Sidnei Frigo, Corvette, 5.919, 246.71; 9. Danny Rowe, Corvette, 5.932, 244.87; 10. Steven Whiteley, Cadillac CTS-V, 5.948, 243.11; 11. Shane Molinari, Pontiac Firebird, 5.950, 251.06; 12. Khalid alBalooshi, Camaro, 5.950, 242.50; 13. Pete Farber, Dodge Daytona, 5.957, 243.99; 14. Steve Matusek, Camaro, 5.959, 244.52; 15. Jim Whiteley, Chevelle, 5.959, 242.23; 16. Kevin Rivenbark, Corvette, 5.963, 237.05. Not Qualified: 17. Rick Snavely, 5.970, 250.55; 18. Eric Latino, 5.979, 243.19; 19. Mike Castellana, 6.040, 196.76; 20. Mike Knowles, 6.049, 237.92; 21. Kenny Lang, 6.078, 240.81; 22. Clint Satterfield, 6.090, 241.28; 23.
Ray Martin, 6.124, 231.56.
Top Fuel -- 1. Leah Pritchett, 3.705 seconds, 326.63 mph; 2. Doug Kalitta, 3.709, 326.95; 3. Antron Brown, 3.723, 324.59; 4. Steve Torrence, 3.728, 323.89; 5. Brittany Force, 3.728, 323.89; 6. Tony Schumacher, 3.744, 326.00; 7. Shawn Langdon, 3.750, 324.90; 8. Tripp Tatum, 3.771, 321.27; 9. Clay Millican, 3.784, 325.92; 10. J.R. Todd, 3.811, 320.36; 11. Richie Crampton, 4.491, 171.49; 12. Shawn Reed, 4.913, 154.88. Not Qualified: 13. Wayne Newby, 5.891, 108.88; 14. Terry McMillen, 6.575, 98.38; 15. Morgan Lucas, 6.693, 107.52; 16. Scott Palmer, 7.345, 94.75; 17. Troy Buff, 7.633, 86.77.
Funny Car -- 1. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 3.872, 329.18; 2. John Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.876, 331.94; 3. Ron Capps, Charger, 3.881, 326.71; 4. Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.885, 323.81; 5. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.888, 324.36; 6. Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 3.895, 325.69; 7. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 3.909, 326.32; 8. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.922, 321.88; 9. Chad Head, Camry, 3.923, 326.24; 10. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 3.952, 318.99; 11. Paul Lee, Camry, 3.986, 312.13; 12. John Bojec, Camry, 3.990, 316.23. Not Qualified: 13. Jim Campbell, 4.023, 293.28; 14. John Hale, 4.056, 311.77; 15. Gary Densham, 4.083, 308.50; 16. Dave Richards, 4.235, 279.50; 17. Phil Burkart, 4.377, 285.77; 18. Jeff Arend, 4.978, 155.15; 19. Jon Capps, 5.119, 146.16; 20. Anthony Begley, 5.460, 164.35; 21. Courtney Force, 6.718, 101.76; 22. Jack Beckman, 6.931, 81.19; 23. Brandon Welch, 7.190, 86.23.
Pro Stock -- 1. Drew Skillman, Chevy Camaro, 6.681, 205.38; 2. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.683, 205.51; 3. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.690, 205.82; 4. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.692, 205.35; 5. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.697, 205.54; 6. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.698, 205.76; 7. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.718, 205.22; 8. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.730, 204.51; 9. Erica Enders, Dart, 6.731, 204.17; 10. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.740, 204.70; 11. Jeg Coughlin, Dart, 6.740, 204.32; 12. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.747, 202.94. Not Qualified: 13. Chris McGaha, 6.749, 204.26; 14. Aaron Strong, 6.756, 203.65; 15. Deric Kramer, 6.770, 203.19; 16. Shane Tucker, 6.771, 204.11; 17. Alan Prusiensky, 6.829, 201.10.
Qualifying for the NHRA Toyota Nationals continues Saturday at 11:45 a.m. The final qualifying session for the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series portion of the NHRA Toyota Nationals will be held Saturday, Oct. 29, at 1:30 p.m. before the first round of eliminations begins at 5:30 p.m.
EARLIER: Loaded Dice in Vegas?
With the V&H/Screamin' Eagle team in full stride, does Jerry Savoie really have a chance for the NHRA PSM championship?
Jerry Savoie heads to this weekend’s 16th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in nearly an identical situation as he was in a year ago. The Pro Stock Motorcycle standout trails Eddie Krawiec by just 49 points, putting him in world championship contention for the second straight season. The goal now is to do what he just missed out on a year ago and the most recent race in Dallas, and that is get a win on his Savoie’s Alligator Farm Suzuki. He was the runner-up at both aforementioned events, falling to Krawiec in Dallas, and Savoie knows that wins are needed to earn his first NHRA Mello Drag Racing Series world title.
“We’re excited and we’re fortunate to be in this position,” said Savoie, who has five career wins. “We would be a lot more excited if we had won in Dallas, but I have to give a lot of the credit to the crew and (crew chief) Tim (Kulungian). I feel really bad about Dallas and didn’t do what I wanted to do in the final (Jerry had a .120 reaction time). But we’re excited about Vegas and we think we got it corrected. I know I’ve got a great crew and one fast motorcycle.”
Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will for the first time be aired on FOX Sports 1. On Sunday, FS1 will televise three hours of live finals coverage starting at 4 p.m. (ET). It is the fifth of sixth races in the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship and the penultimate race of 2016.
Getting a Vegas victory would put Savoie in prime position to compete for a world championship against the likes of Krawiec and reigning world champion Andrew Hines, who is 17 points back of Krawiec, at the season finale in Pomona. But despite the pressure of the moment, Savoie, who earned a Countdown to the Championship win in St. Louis, is simply excited to be in the championship mix for two straight years. “For me, I just love the heads-up competition and I love to get out there and compete against my friends,” Savoie said. “To do something you dream of doing and to accomplish that dream, that’s a big goal on my life. Everything else here is just icing on the cake. There’s a lot of really good riders and some really fast motorcycles, and you need to have a great team to get through this field. You can’t look past anybody.”
Points leader Eddie Krawiec won in Reading
Along with the St. Louis victory, Savoie also has four final round appearances in 2016, giving him confidence heading into this weekend’s critical event. But Savoie knows if he meets up with Hines and Krawiec he has to take care of business to remain in championship contention. “We always run well in Vegas and I think we can win this one,” Savoie said. “If we meet up with Andrew and Eddie, I have to do my job. I feel pretty confident about what we can do. I have no doubts in my bike and my team, and Vegas is an exceptionally run track. It’s a great place with great fans and a great atmosphere, and it really brings out the best in you. This is definitely one of my favorite facilities.”
Top Fuel points leader Antron Brown (near lane) in the Reading final
Defending Top Fuel winner Kalitta will need another victory to try to track down points leader and reigning world champion Antron Brown, who has three wins in the Countdown and holds a 150-point advantage over Kalitta.
Ron Capps is the Funny Car points leader
Hight won in Funny Car last year, but Ron Capps currently holds a 64-point advantage over Tommy Johnson Jr. Capps, seeking his first world title, also must hold off the likes of Jack Beckman, reigning world champ Del Worsham and Matt Hagan.
Pro Stock Car points leader Jason Line
Enders clinched her second straight Pro Stock championship a year ago with a Vegas win, but this season has belonged to teammates Jason Line and Greg Anderson. Points leader Line has eight wins in 2016 and Anderson, who is 26 points back, has seven.
Tricky Rickie Smith has dominated Pro Mod since a very brief retirement
The NHRA Toyota Nationals also features competition in the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series and the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series. Rickie Smith has accomplished a great deal during his incredible drag racing career and world championships are nothing new to him; but the veteran is on the cusp of something big in the NHRA Pro Mod Series. Smith is the current points leader in the talent-loaded class and should things go as planned at this weekend’s 16th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the longtime standout would win his third world championship in four years. Considering the level of competition in the class, that feat would mean something special for Smith, even with an already full list of career accomplishments.
“Every one you win is just great and to maybe win another one, it would be awesome,” said Smith, who currently leads Troy Coughlin by 93 points. “To have three NHRA championships in four years, that would probably be among the top for me. I couldn’t be happier with my career and my performance and I’m proud of what I’ve been able to do this year. It just couldn’t be better.”
This weekend’s race, which is presented by Aeromotive Inc. and will air on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) and FOX Sports 2 (FS2), is the final of 10 events in 2016 in the NHRA Pro Mod season. Khalid alBalooshi is the defending event winner.
Smith’s advantage over Coughlin in his nitrous-powered IDG Chevrolet Camaro makes him a considerable favorite to win the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series title. The King, N.C. native would like to repeat his 2014 performance when he won the race in Las Vegas and clinched the world championship in the process, but Smith knows what his first priority is this weekend.
“The championship is what I want,” said Smith, who has two victories in 2016. “I would love to win the race, but you have to look at the big picture and that’s to win the championship. We have to make the right calls for that, but anything can happen. There’s nothing guaranteed in a class like this, but you would hate to get this close and lose the championship. I really enjoy racing, but it’s a lot of stress this time of year.”
As his impressive resume shows, Smith has repeatedly handled that pressure in championship fashion. That’s been the case in 2016, even with a loaded field chasing him from the start. Smith began the year with a victory at the first event in Gainesville, Fla., and advanced to the final round at the first three races, also winning in Atlanta.
It’s made him the points leader for all nine races thus far, but having a target on his back hasn’t affected Smith’s performance. He advanced to the semifinals in Norwalk and the final round at the most recent event in St. Louis, continuing to rely on an experience level not many in the sport can match.
“I’ve always made my own calls and that has been one of my big advantages I think,” said Smith, who has 10 career NHRA Pro Mod wins. “I have a good feel for the car and I’m able adapt to that, and that’s helped me. The year before, I came out trying to do stuff the car couldn’t do. This year I came out like I normally do and ran the car the best I could. That was a big advantage to jump out like that and we didn’t falter those first few races. I’m proud of the year we’ve had and hopefully we can close it out.”
Featuring the world’s fastest and most unique doorslammer race cars, the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series offers something for every kind of hot-rodding enthusiast. The class is highlighted by historic muscle cars, like ’67 Mustangs, ’68 Firebirds and ’69 Camaros, as well as a variety of late model American muscle cars. With more than 3,000 horsepower, the suspended door pro mod cars travel the quarter-mile in less than six seconds at speeds exceeding 250 mph.
NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series qualifying begins Friday, October 28 with qualifying sessions at 11 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., continuing with the final qualifying session on Saturday, October 29 at 1:30 p.m. Round one of eliminations is slated for Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying feature two rounds at 11:45 a.m. and 3:45 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 28, and two final rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Oct. 29, at 11:45 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 30. As always, fans have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet.