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Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals: Burning Questions

by Chris Leone // Website // Twitter
Images via Quarter Mile Media

Brainerd International Raceway plays host to the latest round of NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series competition with today’s Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals. The 17th of 24 rounds of the 2018 season has already seen plenty of excitement, including a new track record set by Matt Smith in Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying coming into Sunday’s elimination rounds.

The penultimate race of the 2018 regular season will see plenty of racers looking to secure a spot in the Countdown to the Championship at the series’ only Minnesota stop. As you’re watching all the action today, don’t sleep on these three storylines to affect how the weekend plays out:

After qualifying 1-2, will we see an all-Torrence final round in Top Fuel?

Steve Torrence’s domination of the Top Fuel class so far in 2018 is well-known by now, as the championship points leader has piled on five wins already in 16 starts. But it was his father Billy, who runs a second Capco Contractors dragster in a limited program, who knocked him off of the top spot in qualifying on Saturday with a run of 3.784 seconds. Any time we see two family members face off for a win at an NHRA race, it’s a special occasion; this one would be a massive party if it happens.

Which drivers will be next to punch their Countdown tickets this weekend?

With only two races left before the playoffs, it’s go time for some of the sport’s biggest names to lock themselves in. The six confirmed Top Fuel racers so far don’t include defending class champion Brittany Force, while her father, 16-time Funny Car champion John Force, is still looking for his own playoff spot. The Pro Stock field seems to be fairly well set, with 11th-place Alex Laughlin sitting 214 points behind Bo Butner for the final slot, but sixth through 10th are only separated by 44 points right now.

Who’s ready for Pro Stock Motorcycle to race every round from here on out?

The Pro Stock Motorcycle season always starts slow, with only eight appearances in the first 16 rounds of the season. But after the CatSpot NHRA Northwest Nationals two weekends ago, the final eight rounds of the year all feature PSM competition. Five different riders have won so far this season, with Eddie Krawiec’s three victories tops in the class and L.E. Tonglet the only other repeat winner in 2018. But it’s Andrew Hines, who has yet to win in the first eight rounds, who currently leads the points.

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