Sunday News and Notes from the Auto Club NHRA Finals – NHRA.com | CarTailz

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The fight in the first round between Ton Millican and Tony Schumacher may seem inconsequential in the face of a tense championship battle with no one involved, but the duo fought for other prestige, for the final spot in the top 10 in points.

Millican came into the round in 10th, 41 points clear, and then beat tire-smoking Schumacher to pretty much cement his finish in the top 10.

For Schumacher, who finishes 12th, it’s the first time the eight-time world champion has finished outside the top 10 after a full season since 1999, a span of 21 seasons (barring 2021 when he didn’t compete).

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Lea Prutt, who had one of her best qualifying performances of the season, advanced to the second round after a wild battle with Alex Laughlin. Laughlin’s Havoline dragster smoked tires early, Pruett continued downhill, and both fans exploded, Pruett in spectacular fashion, but Pruett took the win, passing Schumacher for 11th place. She still has a chance to put the Tony Stewart Racing/Dodge Power Brokers team in the top 10 and could face Millican in the semifinals.

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After seeing both Alex Laughlin and Doug Kalitta smoke the tires in front of them in the right lane, crew chief David Grubnic didn’t flinch and held Brittany force on the late lane and was rewarded with a 3.70 win over Steve Chrisman.

Force’s win eliminated both Antron Brown and Steve Torrence from the championship chase. For Torrence, it’s the end of a dominant class monopoly that has spanned the past four seasons.

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A pair after Force’s solid run, Mike Salinas, also staying in the right lane, smoked the hoops and was eliminated from the championship fight, leaving just Justin Ashley and Force. Losing Salinas was emotional for both him and the driver who beat him. Krista Baldwinwho drives a car with a retro livery to the car her late father Bobby drove in the 1990s and with her father’s former crew chief, Scott Graham, tuning,

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The excitement continued at Top Fuel Ron August defeated outgoing World Champion Steve Torrence by 3.903. It was the first career round win at Top Fuel for August, who drove the Top Alcohol Funny Car from 1995 to 2010 before joining Top Fuel and a 2006 Las Vegas national event win in class and a 2009 license with Top Fuel scored

August, who was the 1993 NHRA Division 7 champion in Super Eliminator (precursor to Top Dragster), will face Antron Brown in round two.

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The top fuel championship fight that would last into last week ended on round one when Justin Ashey smoked the tires early and Antron Brown slammed and blocked Brittany force into their second world championship.

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Top Fuel pairings in Round Two (lane pick first): Brittany Force vs. Clay Millican; Austin Prock vs. Leah Pruett; Antron Brown vs. Ron August Jr.; Josh Hart vs. Krista Baldwin

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The wild, excited first lap continued in Funny Car, where Matt Hagan smoked the tires against a few hundred yards away Steven Densham, and then came sideways, giving up the round and his hopes of another championship. The title fight now lies with Robert Hight and Ron Capps.

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It was quite an event for Cruz Pedregon, who had four consecutive 3.84s in qualifying better than his previous career best of 3.861: 3.840, 3.840, 3.849, 3.847 and 3.841. Only two other riders – Bob Tasca III and Tim Wilkerson – were in the top three for all four qualifying heats.

The Cruzer pulled off another strong run on lap one, a 3.862, to defeat Jason Rupert.

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Unlike the Top Fuel fight, the Funny Car championship race advances to at least the second round when Ron Capps defeats Jeff Arend and championship leader Robert Hight defeats Chad Green.

Capps will face Wilkersonin in the second round while Hight will face Bob Tasca III. Both have lane choices.

Capps and Hight could meet in the semifinals, where a win by Capps and then a win in the finals would make Capps a back-to-back champion, the first in the class in 20 years. If Hight wins this potential round, he’ll be a four-time world champion.

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Funny Car second round pairings (lane first): Ron Capps vs. Tim Wilkerson; Robert Hight vs. Bob Tasca III; Cruz Pedregon vs. John Force; Alexis DeJoria vs. Steven Densham

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