BRAINERD, MN — Leaving the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway with a 179-points lead, Robert Hight and the Automobile Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car team will only need to qualify at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals to secure the No. 1 position in the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship, NHRA’s six race playoffs.
It would be the first time in his 15-year career that Hight has won the regular season championship and the fifth time a John Force Racing driver has secured the title. Team namesake John Force held the No. 1 spot going into the Countdown in 2010 and 2014, former driver Mike Neff in 2011 and Courtney Force in 2018.
“I’ve never gone into the Countdown No. 1. You know, its 30 points, and once the Countdown starts, every point is going to matter. We’re going to go up there every single qualifying run and try to get three points or the little points. I lost the Championship in 2007 by 19 points so to go into the Countdown No. 1, it’s ours to lose, I guess. If you don’t mess up, it’s yours so I’m proud of my guys for that,” Hight said. “Proud of the first part of the season getting five wins and all the No. 1 qualifiers. Five wins is the most I’ve ever had in a season (ties 2011 and 2014) and I’m going to make a prediction right now that I’m going to need eight or nine to win the championship so that’s going to be a stellar year for the Auto Club Chevrolet. Eight or nine wins, that’s record time stuff.”
BRAINERD, MN – Shawn Langdon advanced to the Funny Car semifinals, while Doug Kalitta did the same in Top Fuel to lead Toyota at Sunday’s Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway. In the process, both drivers officially clinched berths in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs.
Langdon registered two of the three quickest Funny Car passes of the day. In round one, he drove his Toyota Camry to an easy victory over Paul Lee with a 3.905-second run. Langdon would then better that time with a 3.903-second pass in a round two win over Bob Bode to set up a matchup with Ron Capps. In the semis, Langdon took an early lead and held it through 330 feet before smoking the ties prior the midway point, giving the win to Capps.
DELAWARE, OH – Troy Coughlin Jr. raced his JEGS.com bracket dragster to a semifinal finish in the Top Dragster category at this weekend’s Northeast Shootout at Cecil County Dragway. The finish was the best of the three Team JEGS drivers in competition, with Jeg Coughlin Jr. bowing out in the second round of Pro Stock in Brainerd, Minn., and Troy Jr.’s sister Paige exiting in the first round of Super Comp at Cecil County.
The fifth of seven races on the Division 1 schedule, the Northeast Shootout didn’t feature Top Alcohol Dragster, allowing Troy Jr. to swap his JEGS.com McPhillips Racing rail out in favor of his trusty bracket hot rod. His mail goal was to help Paige, but when she lost earlier than expected, Troy Jr. was able to concentrate solely on his endeavors.
“I had a blast this weekend,” Coughlin said. “I’ve raced Top Dragster before but this is the first time the class this year. I think what made it so fun was the fact I wasn’t up here racing for points, it was all about enjoying myself.
BRAINERD, MN — Brittany Force and the Carquest Filters dragster team earned the No. 1 qualifying spot and a guaranteed spot in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship Saturday at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway. Her legendary father, John Force, moved into the No. 3 spot with the PEAK Coolant and Motor Oil / Lighting Chevy Camaro SS team, Robert Hight and the Automobile Club of Southern California team are starting race day from the No. 4 position, and rookie Austin Prock is ninth with his Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist dragster.
Brittany Force started Saturday’s qualifying on a strong note when she powered her Carquest Filters dragster to a clean 3.803-second pass at 321.88 mph to be third quickest of the session and move into 10th from No. 12. She continued the upward momentum into the last qualifying session where she ran her David Grubnic and Mac Savage tuned hot rod to the stellar 3.772-second pass at 322.65 mph that launched her into the No. 1 spot for the fifth time this season, first time at Brainerd International Raceway and 15th time in her career. Heading into race day, Force will be chasing her second win of the 2019 NHRA season, second at Brainerd International Raceway and 10th of her career.
BRAINERD, MN – Five-time Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. survived another night in Brainerd International Raceway’s infamous Zoo campground, as well as four rounds of professional qualifying, and managed to lock up the fifth rung on the elimination ladder of this weekend’s 32nd annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals
Coughlin’s JEGS.com Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro kept pace with all the top cars in every session, posting a best run of 6.627 seconds at 206.54 mph. Should Coughlin parlay his consistency to a win on Sunday, it would be his sixth at BIR. He won Pro Stock trophies here in 1999, 2002, 2007 and 2010, and the Super Stock crown in 1997. He was also Pro Stock runner-up here in 2000 and 2014.
“I feel pretty good about everything,” Coughlin said. “We started off with two decent runs Friday, tried a few things in Q3 that ended up taking us in a different direction, so we changed it up again for Q4 and feel like we made our best run in that round.
Matt Hagan No. 1 at Brainerd International Raceway
The driver of the MOPAR Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody Funny Car captured the pole when he blasted to a 3.890-second pass during Friday’s second qualifying session. The stout lap was the only sub-3.9-second Funny Car E.T. of the weekend, and his speed of 328.46-mph held up to be the fastest of the floppers.
Prior to powering to the head of the pack, Hagan kicked off his Brainerd weekend with a solid 4.004 E.T., the third-quickest run of the session. He and his Dickie Venables-guided team maintained their performance on Saturday when Hagan posted a 4.000-second E.T. in Q3.
“Everything is coming together for our team,” said the Countdown contender who officially clinched his spot to compete for the 2019 Mello Yello Funny Car world championship during qualifying. “This MOPAR Dodge is really running strong. The No. 1 spot is great, but we’ve got to focus on race day. We’ve got a good setup for the heat, and I feel really confident in this combination. Anything can happen; track conditions change all the time. We’re going to try and keep lane choice all day and focus on turning on four win lights, and hopefully, we’ll finish the day holding another Wally.”
BRAINERD, MN – Shawn Langdon qualified sixth in Funny Car, while Doug Kalitta was seventh in Top Fuel to lead Toyota in preparation for Sunday’s Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway.
In addition, both Antron Brown and J.R. Todd clinched their berths for the Countdown to the Playoffs by qualifying for Sunday’s event. Brown will be looking for his fourth Top Fuel world title, while Todd is the reigning Funny Car world champ.
Langdon ran a 3.935-second pass at 318.02 mph to earn the sixth spot. It marks the fourth time in the last five races that he’s qualified in the top six. The 2013 Top Fuel world champ will open eliminations up with Paul Lee on Sunday.