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NHRA Toyota Nationals: Burning Questions

by Chris Leone // Website // Twitter
Images via Clay Millican (1); JR Todd (2)

The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway hosts its second NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series round of the season, as well as the second-to-last round of the 2018 schedule, with today’s NHRA Toyota Nationals kicking off later today. It’s also the fifth race of the six-round Countdown to the Championship, the playoff system that has added plenty of drama to multiple class championship battles.

Clay Millican (Top Fuel), Tommy Johnson Jr. (Funny Car), Jeg Coughlin Jr. (Pro Stock), and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) hold the top spots on the ladder coming into the elimination rounds. Before you tune into tonight’s telecast on FS1, here are some of the top storylines coming into the day:

Can Clay Millican stop Steve Torrence’s quest for the perfect Countdown?

Millican has been one of Torrence’s top challengers for the Top Fuel championship this season, and qualified atop the ladder in Las Vegas with the 3.699 pass he made on Friday night. But Torrence lines up second, as he looks for his fifth consecutive win in this year’s Countdown, and hopes to extend the 169-point lead he held over Millican coming into the weekend. Torrence just needs to advance one round further than Millican to clinch the championship before the season finale in Pomona.

How will the Funny Car battle between Robert Hight and JR Todd play out?

Separated by only 11 points, Hight and Todd are the closest matched first and second place drivers in the NHRA right now. Las Vegas will be a crucial matchup for the two of them, as Todd qualified second and Hight seventh—meaning they’ll face off in the second round if both racers win their initial matchups. That could lead to a massive shift in the standings, and perhaps even allow Ron Capps to climb further back into the fight from third, as he’s on the opposite side of the ladder (albeit seeded 12th).

Is this Eddie Krawiec’s best chance to take control of the title chase?

Krawiec’s second place qualifying time in Pro Stock Motorcycle could give him a huge advantage as he looks to defend last year’s title. Points leaders Matt Smith and LE Tonglet are facing off in the first round, and as the eighth and ninth place qualifiers, whoever wins will have to face top qualifier Hector Arana Jr. in the second round. Krawiec’s biggest obstacle, points-wise, could be a second-round matchup with Jerry Savoie, who sits just one spot behind him in fourth and qualified 10th.

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