Eddie Krawiec wrapped up his fourth Pro Stock Motorcycle season title and first since 2012 by qualifying Saturday at the season-ending Auto Club NHRA Finals.
Krawiec powered his Harley Davidson to a 6.781-second pass at 197.68 mph to earn his sixth No. 1 of the season and 29th of his career. He has seven victories this season.
“I have to give this to teamwork,” Krawiec said. “All the guys that stand behind me when I’m on my motorcycle and make it go up and down the dragstrip as fast as it does. Everybody at Vance & Hines and NHRA for giving me a great place to race. I just couldn’t do it without my team. What makes it really special is I have my father, my wife and my little girl, Kayden, at home. This is something special.”
Krawiec will face Lance Bonham in the first round of eliminations.
Brittany Force (Top Fuel), Jack Beckman (Funny Car) and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) also topped qualifying.
Force piloted her dragster to a track elapsed-time record 3.667 pass at 330.31 on Friday for her second No. 1 qualifier of the season and eighth of her career.
Beckman ran a 3.835 pass at 334.98 in his Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car for his second No. 1 of the season and 23rd of his career.
In Pro Stock, Anderson, the points leader, secured his sixth No. 1 qualifier of the season, 93rd of his career and second consecutive by racing his Chevrolet Camaro to a 6.541 at 209.79.
William Byron claims a victory
A rag-tag pit crew led William Byron to his fourth victory of the season.
He also was one of the four drivers to qualify Saturday for next week’s Xfinity Series championship finale.
Byron, Justin Allgaier, and Elliott Sadler — all from JR Motorsports — and Daniel Hemric took the four spots in all-Chevrolet race for the Xfinity Series championship.
Byron wrapped up his spot on points during Saturday’s race at Phoenix Raceway. With nothing to lose, he used the final pit stop to take two tires in an effort to gain track position and win the race. He got out first, behind a crew that was assembled on the fly.
JR Motorsports, the team owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr., his sister, Kelley, and Rick Hendrick, found themselves scrambling Saturday morning when a mechanical issue forced a plane carrying its pit crews to make an emergency landed on its way from North Carolina.
The plane landed in Arkansas, and even though Hendrick Motorsports sent a plane to retrieve the crew members, they did not arrive at Phoenix in time for the race.
So, Byron, Sadler and Allgaier were missing regular pit crew members.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. said after the race he was “freaking out” when he learned about the crew situation.
Valtteri Bottas claims pole position
Valtteri Bottas claimed pole position for the Brazilian Grand Prix from a qualifying session in which Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton crashed on the first lap on Saturday.
Hamilton, who won his fourth Formula One championship two weeks ago in Mexico, walked away from the car without injury and will start at the back of the grid on Sunday.
It’s been a tough weekend in Brazil for Mercedes.
Several team members — Hamilton was not present — were held up at gun point on Friday. There were no injuries, and the team reported watches and passports being stolen when a team van was attacked.
Also, FIA spokesman Matteo Bonciani said the car in which he was riding from the track on Friday was also attacked by a gun-wielding gang. He was not injured as the thieves failed to penetrate the armor-plated car.
“First of all, I’m happy that everyone is one big piece,” Bottas said after qualifying, referring to Mercedes team members robbed at gun point. “Nothing happened physically to anybody, but obviously it’s a pretty bad situation to be in. I’m just happy everyone is still here.”
Hamilton stunned fans when he was out of qualifying just minutes after it began.
He came sideways out of a turn and crashed the left side of his car into a padded retaining wall. As the car was lifted off the track, the front left tire dangled from the mangled front end.
Hamilton suggested a damp track might have been to blame.
“I’ll do the best that I can to try to recover from it,” he said.
There’s almost nothing left in the season to decide, apart from the winners of the last two races. The secondary fight is for second, with Vettel of Ferrari leading Bottas by 15 points.