Class Ceiling

First quarter-season NHRA recap

Fast Jack Beckman had a strong first quarter. NHRA.com

So what If the NHRA were the NFL? Yike,s that would  be crazy. Based on the opening Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals, February 8-11,2018,  here is how the season recap would go: 

So go long! That was the scene at the  Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals /Pamona where Top Fuel Round 1 went more than an hour. Q.B  Brittany Force of the Monster Energy JFR team met with unnecessary roughness as she crossed the center line of scrimmage right across the middle and hit the wall on both sides of the track.  Safety Safari was all over it, with no Zebras in sight. No worries. Safety valve in place with family  on starting line. Whew. Our girl is  all right. Her Passer Rating has her returning with a vengeance.

Wide receiver Doug Kalitta blew a supercharger  round one but takes the finals against The Sarge and he scores! He goes on to become  the Top Fuel winner making this his 44th career win.

And what does Bo know? Defending Champion Bo Butner makes a real football move by winning the season opener making this his sixth win in Pro Stock putting him on an 8 round winning streak.

Touchdown! Matt Hagan lands on "snake eyes" as he brings home his second straight Winternationals Funny car title, against Robert Hight, (matching Don "The Snake" Prudhomme who won the Winternationals back to back 1976-1977)., in what  was dubbed the quickest side-by-side Funny Car race in NHRA history.

Perfect segue to the second event of the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, (Feb 23-25, 2018)the  34th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park.

This is where Courtney Force, blitzes the Funny Car  field as she was the No. 1 qualifier and goes on to keep control of the ball in her Chevy Camaro, with a 3.834, 337.16 def. Tommy Johnson Jr., in his Dodge Charger. 

A Hail Mary in Pro Stock as  Chris McGaha, in his Chevy Camaro,  runs a 6.529, at 211.59 mph  def. Jason Line, in his  Camaro.  McGaha is a one car team, a one man army and had to take down Tanner Gray, Erica Enders and Alex Laughlin for his first win this season.

In Top Fuel: Steve Torrence,takes down the Big Uglies  Steve Chrisman, Blake Alexander and his father, Billy Torrence, on his way in to the red zone. In the finals he runs a 3.729 seconds, 330.72 mph , def. Scott Palmer.

Fast Forward to the Amalie NHRA Gatornationals Gridiron  at Gainesville Raceway in Florida (March 15-18,2018)...Tailgating is in full effect and yes, there is some fumbling past the rumbling.

Welcome to the Gatornationals 2018  Where Any Given Sunday is March 18, the day of the underdog! It is the day the Play Makers Antron Brown, Leah Pritchett, Steve Torrence, Brittany Force and even Tony Schumacher were benched.

And the Wally goes to: In Top Fuel -- Richie Crampton. This player did not even have a car last year, and what an upset! He runs a 3.854 seconds, 314.90 mph def. Shawn Reed. 

In Funny Car... I'd like to refer to fast Jack Beckman, and his teammates as The Option. Fast Jack  gets his first Gainesville win in his Dodge Charger, 4.035, 323.58 defeating DSR mate Matt Hagan, in his Charger, Matt took one for the team! 

And last but not least is Pro Stock: Young Tanner Gray, in his Chevy Camaro, ran  6.588, 210.18 def. Bo Butner, Camaro, making this Tanners first  touchdown since last year in Charlotte. 

What an Option: With team DSR, you have Antron Brown, Leah Pritchett, Tony Schumacher, Ron Capps, Matt Hagan, Tommy Johnson Jr,   and Fast Jack Beckman.

As quick as the first half went by, that's what I call a no huddle offense! 

For more Femmefanaticsports  features from the 2018  NHRA  Mello Yello Drag Racing Series - Checkout our other articles  on SportsMap.com or reach out on twitter @red_tery.

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Houston is back in the win column

McCullers Jr. spins a gem as Astros get a much-needed win over Giants

Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images

After getting swept by the A's in Oakland to end a road trip with a five-game losing streak, the Astros returned to Houston to try and get back on track. To do so, they'd need a win against the Giants on Monday night. Here is a quick recap of the series opener:

Final Score: Astros 6, Giants 4.

Record: 7-9, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (2-1, 6.10 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Logan Webb (1-1, 2.81 ERA).

Houston builds up an early lead

The early goings of Monday's game went very similar to the last time Lance McCullers Jr. took the mound. He would have a terrific first three innings while his offense gave him an early lead. The first run came in the bottom of the second, with Yuli Gurriel reaching base on a one-out double, moving to third on a wild pitch, then scoring on an RBI-single by Carlos Correa.

Correa would take part in a four-run inning in the third, as Houston would score two on a two-RBI ground-rule double by Michael Brantley, another on an error, then Correa's second RBI of the night, a groundout to bring in a run and make it 5-0. Unlike the last start in Arizona, where the roof opened and McCullers Jr. fell apart in the fourth, he was able to make quick work of his opponent for a 1-2-3 frame. As he kept recording scoreless innings, Martin Maldonado added another run to the lead with a one-out solo home run in the bottom of the sixth, making it 6-0.

McCullers Jr. takes a no-hitter into the seventh

While the Astros were building their lead, McCullers Jr. was spinning a gem on the mound. He allowed just one baserunner through the first six innings, which came on a hit-by-pitch. He entered the seventh with a no-hitter in progress, but the Giants would get their first hit of the night to end the no-hit bid.

Regardless, the start was precisely what McCullers Jr. needed to restore his confidence after the disastrous inning he had in his last appearance. He would go on to complete the seventh inning before Houston would go to the bullpen with the large lead in the eighth. His final line: 7.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K 0 HR, 1 HPB.

Houston gets back in the win column despite more struggles by Josh James

Josh James entered out of the bullpen for the top of the eighth but allowed the first run of the night for San Francisco via a solo home run with one out to make it 6-1. He would complete the inning and then return for the top of the ninth. He would have another rocky inning, issuing a leadoff walk before a single and double would make it a four-run game at 6-2, still with no outs in the inning and runners on second and third, prompting another call to the bullpen.

Dusty Baker would bring in his current closer, Ryan Pressly, to try and finish the game, now in a save situation. Pressly would retire the first two batters he faced before allowing a two-RBI single to make it 6-4, but would eventually get the final out to get Houston the much-needed win. With the victory, the Astros moved back into second place in the AL West standings.

Up Next: The middle game of this three-game set will start Tuesday at 8:10 PM Central. The Giants, working with a fluid rotation, have not yet fully decided on their starter, while the Astros will get another start from Brandon Bielak (2-0, 0.87 ERA) who will look to repeat the success of his five-inning, no-run start in Arizona last week.

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