By Lee Elder
LAS VEGAS, Nev (Oct. 25, 2018) – NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle racer Eddie Krawiec came to the Toyota NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway third in the Countdown to the Championship standings, 56 points out of the lead.
Krawiec made up five points on points leader Matt Smith and edged to within 11 points of second place rider L.E. Tonglet Friday. Two qualifying sessions remain Saturday before Sunday’s eliminations.
Greg Anderson (in Pro Stock), Jack Beckman (Funny Car) and Clay Millican (Top Fuel) topped their categories after Friday’s qualifying rounds.
“It’s great to come off the truck with a good, solid run and get those little points,” Krawiec said. “… You need every point you can get.”
Matt Smith leads with 2,426 points. Tonglet earned a point to reach 2,386 in second and Krawiec is at 2,375.
Asked what his team’s approach is with just the Vegas race and the World Finals at Pomona remaining in the season, Krawiec said, “The way we handle it is, business as usual.”
Anderson admitted his chances of winning his fifth Pro Stock title are nil, but said a testing session last week may have helped his team prepare for the Vegas race.
“It’s been a bit of a downer in the Countdown for us,” Anderson said.
Drew Skillman was second in Pro Stock and Matt Hartford was third. Tanner Gray leads the Pro Stock Countdown with 2.509, Jeg Coughlin is next with 2,380 and Vincent Nobile has 2,373.
Jack Beckman led Funny Car charts after Friday’s sessions at 3.922 seconds and 327.19 mph. Courtney Force was second at 3.926 and points leader Robert Hight was third at 3.927.
“It’s unusual to see what you do in the first session was going to be as good as you’ll be for the day,” Beckman said. Friday’s sessions were earlier in the day than most Friday schedules call for. “Night runs are for the fans. Night runs are not for the crew chiefs and the drivers.”
Hight was the only driver in the top five of the Funny Car Countdown to score a point Friday. His 2,446 points lead second place J.R. Todd’s 2,434 and third place Ron Capps’ 2.336.
Millican’s day was a short description of his work since the Countdown playoffs season started. He finished with the best time, led the charts and still gained only one point on Steve Torrence. Torrence has been undefeated in eliminations since in the Countdown.
“It was a good run, I mean 3.69 and 327 (mph),” Millican said. “Obviously, we had a pretty big boom right at the finish line. Quickly had a look at the motor before we came up here. The rods were still in the motor. The supercharger was not on the motor.”
Millican added, “Will it stay number one? Hard to say because if we did it, other people will be able to do it tomorrow. I think we run at similar (time of day) tomorrow. I wouldn’t expect it to stay but I wouldn’t be surprised either.”
Qualifying session 2
Pro Stock Motorcycle
Krawiec picks up three points for leading the session at 6.859 seconds, Hector Arana was next at 6.882 and L.E. Tonglet was third this session at 6.931. Krawiec leads after two sessions. Krawiec closed to within 11 points of Tonglet in second place in the Countdown.
Greg Anderson holds the top spot going into Saturday’s sessions. Erica Enders scored three points with the best pass of the round, 6.642 seconds. Chris McGaha was next at 6.644 and Jeg Coughlin was third at 6.648. Coughlin trimmed Tanner Gray’s Countdown lead to 129 points.
Beckman remained on top, his first-round run was not beaten. Courtney Force had the best run of the round at 3.926 seconds. Tommy Johnson Jr. was second at 3.928 and John Force was next, 3.939.
Clay Millican’s 3.699-second run is the best of the session and of the day. He made up one point on Steve Torrence in the second session but lost a point on the day. Torrence’s second-round pass was 3.738. Brittany Force was third-best in the last session at 3.747.
Qualifying session 1
Track temp: 104 degrees
Pro Stock Motorcycle
6 riders go quicker than seven seconds. Hector Arana Jr. is quickest at 6.863 seconds. Eddie Krawiec was second at 6.877 and Andrew Hines was third at 6.911. Arana pulled within a point of Hines for fifth place.
Greg Anderson qualified first at 6.638 seconds, Drew Skillman was next at 6.641 and Matt Hartford was third, 6.641.
Jack Beckman was first at 3.922 seconds. Courtney Force was next at 3.926 and points leader Robert Hight was third at 3.927. Hight’s lead over J.R. Todd grew slightly to 22 points.
Antron Brown topped the charts at 3.766 seconds. Steve Torrence was second at 3.772 and Leah Pritchett was next at 3.783. Torrence now leads the category by 171 points, unofficially.
NOTES: Top Fuel had 18 entrants, there were 19 Funny Car entries, Pro Stock had 20 and Pro Stock Motorcycle had 22. Every pro category will send a team home this weekend. … Friday was a state holiday, Nevada Day. That helped generate a nice crowd on Friday.