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Hagan, Millican and Nobile Take Early Qualifying Leads at Brainerd

NHRA_HaganBrainerd640Matt Hagan (above) continued his march towards a second Funny Car world championship as the current points leader raced to the No. 1 qualifying position Friday during the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway.

Clay Millican (Top Fuel) and Vincent Nobile (Pro Stock) lead their respective categories during the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event.

Hagan, who won the most recent event in Seattle and has four victories in 2013, powered to a run of 4.044 seconds at 315.34 mph in his 8,000-horsepower Magneti Marelli/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger to lead the Funny Car category after the first day of qualifying.

Don Schumacher (left) and Matt Hagan

Don Schumacher (left) and Matt Hagan

“This whole year has been phenomenal,” Hagan said. “We’re going to keep working hard. Dickie [Venables, crew chief] put a great horse under me, and I’m riding it. We have a consistent car, and it shows on the track and in the points. I’m so glad to be in this position and not have to stand on my head asking people to vote for me [for the final spot in the Traxxas Nitro Shootout].

“I got everybody together today. I didn’t want us to get lost in the whole stigma of the Countdown and I told my guys, ‘Just keep doing what you’ve been doing.’”

Robert Hight is currently in the 10th position in the Countdown to the Championship in his Auto Club Ford Mustang Funny Car. Coming into the event he was only three points ahead of No. 11 Del Worsham, but Hight, the 2009 Funny Car world champion, posted a run of 4.054 at 312.64 to put him in the No. 2 position in the field after two sessions.

In Top Fuel, Millican raced his 8,000-horsepower Parts Plus dragster to the No. 1 position in Top Fuel with a run of 3.773 at 326.63. Millican earned his first No. 1 qualifying position earlier this year at the event in Englishtown, N.J. and now put himself in contention for the second No. 1 qualifier of his career.

Clay Millican

Clay Millican

“That was incredible,” Millican said. “I knew the car was probably going to run good. Kurt [Elliott, crew chief] already surprised me with that 3.83 in the first session when nobody else was getting down the track. As soon as the clutch locked up, it started moving around like a dirt car. I feel like I left a little on the table from driving it around.”

Current points leader Shawn Langdon held the No. 1 position for the majority of the session, running 3.792 at 324.05 in his Al-Anabi Dragster, but he was eclipsed by Millican who ran later in the qualifying order.

“As soon as Langdon ran that .79, Kurt was turning knobs,” Millican said. “He’s been doing a phenomenal job, especially when he makes a good, solid first run. They let him swing for it after that. He and Rob Flynn [crew chief for Bob Vandergriff Jr.] compare notes before every run, and he was under the dash turning knobs the moment Bob smoked the tires in the first run and when he pulled the tires loose late in the run on the second one.”

Defending Top Fuel world champion Antron Brown and Mac Tools dragster racer Doug Kalitta also clinched positions in the Countdown to the Championship during qualifying. The Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals and upcoming Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals (Aug. 28-Sept. 2 at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis) are the final two events to earn points into six-race NHRA playoffs.

In Pro Stock, Nobile continued his impressive hot streak in his Mountain View Tire Dodge Avenger that has included two consecutive event wins and moved him from sixth to fourth in points. If his run of 6.580 at 209.43 holds, it would give Nobile his first No. 1 qualifying position this season.

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“I was as surprised as anybody that we ended up number one on that pass,” Nobile said. “It left hard, but then it seemed like the engine shut off and then it picked up again. It was real strong after that, but I had no clue that it would be number one for the session. Because we had a broken spark plug and were a little heavy on the clutch in the first session, I knew we could improve, but not as much as this.”

V. Gaines is second with his pass of 6.592 sat 209.49 and points leader Mike Edwards is in third with a run of 6.593 at 210.21.

Qualifying continues for the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals on Saturday at noon and 2:30 p.m. Eliminations are set for Sunday at 11 a.m.

(Photos courtesy NHRA/National Dragster; Click to enlarge)

BRAINERD, Minn. — Friday’s results after the first two of four rounds of qualifying for the 32nd annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway, 17th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.  Qualifying will continue Saturday for Sunday’s final eliminations.

Top Fuel

1. Clay Millican, 3.773 seconds, 326.63 mph; 2. Spencer Massey, 3.792, 324.05; 3. Shawn Langdon, 3.797, 311.99; 4. David Grubnic, 3.806, 324.12; 5. Steve Torrence, 3.818, 323.66; 6. Tommy Johnson Jr., 3.820, 316.90; 7. Antron Brown, 3.821, 319.45; 8. Brandon Bernstein, 3.823, 322.65; 9.Tony Schumacher, 3.823, 322.58; 10. Khalid alBalooshi, 3.828, 320.89; 11. Morgan Lucas, 3.849, 321.50; 12. T.J. Zizzo, 3.852, 284.33.

Not Qualified: 13. Terry McMillen, 3.858, 321.88; 14. Bob Vandergriff, 3.897, 283.97; 15. Doug Kalitta, 4.249, 209.62; 16. Luigi Novelli, 4.558, 177.42; 17. Chris Karamesines, 4.750, 161.04; 18.Brittany Force, 4.850, 151.70; 19. Tim Cullinan, 6.606, 92.98.

Funny Car

1. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 4.044, 315.34; 2. Robert Hight, Ford Mustang, 4.054, 312.64; 3. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.056, 312.64; 4. John Force, Mustang, 4.073, 316.45; 5. Johnny Gray, Charger, 4.074, 312.06; 6. Courtney Force, Mustang, 4.094, 309.63; 7. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.096, 308.99; 8. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.098, 311.41; 9. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.114, 306.53; 10. Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 4.128, 303.98; 11. Chad Head, Camry, 4.134, 288.83; 12. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.145, 303.78.

Not Qualified: 13. Blake Alexander, 4.177, 301.81; 14. Dale Creasy Jr., 4.279, 286.32; 15. Tony Pedregon, 4.496, 209.65; 16. Jeff Arend, 4.511, 199.88; 17. Cruz Pedregon, 4.626, 180.36; 18. Bob Bode, 5.535, 129.10.

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Pro Stock

1. Vincent Nobile, Dodge Avenger, 6.580, 209.43; 2. V. Gaines, Avenger, 6.592, 209.49; 3. Mike Edwards, Chevy Camaro, 6.593, 210.21; 4. Allen Johnson, Avenger, 6.595, 209.46; 5. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.600, 209.17; 6. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.603, 209.62; 7. Jeg Coughlin, Avenger, 6.605, 208.81; 8. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.610, 209.30; 9. Mark Martino, Pontiac GXP, 6.613, 208.59; 10. Erica Enders-Stevens, Camaro, 6.618, 208.65; 11. Larry Morgan, Ford Mustang, 6.630, 208.39; 12. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.634, 208.59.

Not Qualified: 13. Greg Stanfield, 6.645, 207.40; 14. Chris McGaha, 6.670, 207.21; 15. Steve Kent, 6.676, 207.50; 16. Deric Kramer, 6.696, 206.70; 17. Dave River, 6.801, 203.19; 18. Mark Hogan, 6.814, 203.49.

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