The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series hits the halfway point of the 2018 Countdown to the Championship with today’s AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals at Texas Motorplex. With the top playoff contenders in all four classes establishing themselves in the first two rounds at Maple Grove Raceway and Gateway Motorsports Park, the time is now for anyone who had a tough start to the six-race chase to find a little something extra and step up.
Eliminations start at 11AM local time (noon ET), while TV coverage kicks off at 1PM ET/10AM ET with qualifying highlights on FS1 before switching to FS2 for eliminations. Here’s what we’ll be paying close attention to during the event:
Can anyone—or anything—stop Steve Torrence’s incredible run?
If you watched last year’s Top Fuel season, you know that Torrence should be going for his second straight title this year. But it was an incident here in Dallas that helped to open the door for Brittany Force to charge through and steal the crown. Torrence and company learned from that hardship, and have come back even stronger in 2018. He’s second on the ladder for today’s action, and will look to build upon his 70-point lead over top qualifier Clay Millican.
How will this weekend’s ladder affect the Funny Car points?
Sixth-ranked Tommy Johnson Jr. took the top Funny Car qualifying spot for today’s elimination, while points leader Robert Hight starts sixth and third-place Courtney Force is all the way down in 12th. The slightly upside-down qualifying results have given JR Todd (second in points, fourth in qualifying) and Tim Wilkerson (fourth in points, third in qualifying) an opportunity to earn some major points today. Meanwhile, Matt Hagan’s struggles continue as he lines up 15th, against second seed Bob Tasca III.
Do LE Tonglet and Eddie Krawiec have the speed to beat a surging Matt Smith?
Smith’s hot start to the Countdown has given him a 21-point lead over Tonglet and 41-point advantage over Krawiec coming into Dallas. But Krawiec was able to outqualify the points leader, giving him the upper hand as he looks to take his third straight Dallas victory and hopefully reclaim the championship lead. Smith will still start second, while Tonglet’s path to victory will be slightly more difficult from the fifth spot on the ladder. Tonglet will also get Krawiec’s teammate Andrew Hines in the first round.