Team Speed Society Racing Friday Qualifying from Mopar NHRA Nationals
As the NHRA tour heads back to the northeastern part of the country and the Countdown ...
As the NHRA tour heads back to the northeastern part of the country and the Countdown to the Championship enters its second event, the entire Speed Society Racing team of drivers have kicked off Day 1 of the Dodge NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway with solid qualifying efforts. You’ll notice a couple of new names this week as we have officially added two more drivers to the team, bringing our total to six drivers in the pro ranks.
It’s no secret that Clay Millican and crew chief David Grubnic have really hit their stride late in the season, the perfect time for all the proverbial pieces to fall into place. After winning his very first NHRA event earlier this year in Bristol, Millican and Gubnic have quietly chipped away at the tuneup and have found themselves positioned to make a legitimate run at the 2017 Championship. A semifinal finish last week gave the team a great confidence boost headed into Reading, where Clay’s secured the provisional pole position after day one of qualifying. His stellar 3.69 elapsed time was the only sub-3.70 pass on the day, although he was just five thousandths of a second ahead of Charlotte winner and new points leader Doug Kalitta.
Four hundredths of a second behind Clay sits Leah Pritchett, whose DSR dragster has shed the familiar gold of the Papa John’s livery for the Mopar-sponsored event and is wearing the black and blut Mopar colors to celebrate the automaker’s 80 year anniversary, as well as the team’s familiar Pennzoil banner for the weekend. Co-crew chief’s Todd Okuhara and Joe Barlam struggled to keep the tired planted last weekend in Charlotte and are hoping to have better luck going A-to-B this weekend. Pritchett faltered early last week in Charlotte and is hoping to put the team’s second first-round loss of the season behind them quickly with a better showing this weekend. Pritchett fell from third to seventh in points, but didn’t lose too much ground as the two drivers ahead of her in points, Steve Torrence and DSR stablemate Antron Brown went out in round #2, leaving her 65 points out of the lead and just behind Millican, who sits at #6.
Speaking of Antron, the three time reigning Top Fuel world champion sits in the third sport in points and is currently qualified in the #8 spot with a solid 3.766 elapsed time. Brown, who came into the Countdown second in points behind Torrence, is also hoping to improve on his standing after exiting in the second round last weekend. Tuners Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald look to return Antron’s Matco Tools/U.S. Army fueler to it’s championship form at a track that’s known for holding big numbers. However, unseasonably warm temperatures will likely keep anybody from putting up huge numbers, forcing them instead to focus on getting down the hot, tricky surface. Antron’s team knows what it takes to win world titles, so expect to see the Matco Tools/U.S. Army car going rounds this weekend.
In the Funny Car ranks, new Speed Society team member Ron Capps has his Team DSR NAPA Auto Parts-sponsored Dodge Charger R/T sitting in the #3 spot with a solid 3.87 ET. The Rahn Tobler-tuned flopper entered the Countdown with the points lead following a near-dominant 2017 season. However, when the Countdown to the Championship begins, the points are reset, bringing the rest of the field to within striking distance. Capps would fall in the second frame last weekend to eventual winner Robert Hight, who also took over the points lead. Capps fell only one spot, though, and is looking to rebound and go back to his winning ways at the Mopar NHRA Nationals.
Jonnie Lindberg, Speed Society’s other new hired gun, sits in the #13 spot in the Head Racing Toyota Camry tuned by car-owner Jim Head, a legend within the NHRA’s nitro ranks. Head tuned the car to a solid 3.99 elapsed time at 323.43 MPH. With a good A-to-B pass on the books, look for the veteran tuner to send his new driver up the ladder if conditions cooperate on Saturday. The car has shown flashes of brilliance throughout the season, but the team’s struggled a bit with consistency. With the talented young Swede behind the wheel and Head and his crew turning wrenches, it’s only a matter of time before this team is running up front and looking to play spoiler for those teams in the hunt for the 2017 points championship.
Alex Laughlin has the Brian “Lump” Self-tuned Gas Monkey Energy Camaro sitting at #10 in Pro Stock after laying down a pair of solid 6.60 runs in the first two sessions. Laughlin, who just missed the countdown despite not running the full season, is looking to play spoiler as well for those teams chasing the title. His Elite Motorsports-powered Jerry Haas Camaro made two clean runs, and despite his position on the ladder, Alex is a mere five hundredths of a second off the #1 elapsed time of Bo Butner. In fact, a single hundredth of a second separate cars 6-10 in the field. Pro Stock, much more dependent on the weather conditions to improve than Top Fuel and Funny Car, is always a tightly-bunch field which always leads to some of the best racing in all of motorsports. It’s not at all uncommon for races in the class to be decided by a thousandth of a second, which is why reaction time and hitting each of the shifts is of paramount importance for the drivers in the class.
We’ll keep you updated on our drivers throughout the weekend. If you can’t make it to the race this weekend, don’t forget you can always tune in and watch on the Fox Sports family of networks.