Class Ceiling

This week in motor sports: NHRA'S women of power

Clay Millican set a record in qualifying. NHRA.com

Who runs the world? GIRLS!!!! Dubbed the Weekend of Women, Brittany Force, Karen Stoffer and Melissa Surber: Oh my! (The latter two both run in Pro Stock Motorcycle).

The Classy ladies of the NHRA  called the shots at the Atlanta Dragway for the NHRA Southern Nationals Powered by Mello Yello! Also in attendance: Erica Enders, ( Pro Stock)  Angelle Sampey, Angie Smith, (Pro Stock Motorcycle) Courtney Force (Funny Car), Audrey Worm (Top Fuel), and Leah Pritchett. (Top Fuel)  We continue to be intrigued as the NHRA Mello Yello Series 2018, heats up.

We are happy that J.R. Todd,  stayed off the wall! (Excellent driving my friend.) Also one of my personal favorites,  Clay Millican, the No. 1 Qualifier, set the Top Fuel Dragster speed record Friday,  (someone get this kid a consistent car, He's a winner!) as the Matrons  of Mello were gearing up for the winner's circle as the weekend went on! 

DSR has issues with a blown motor for the Sarge, Antron Brown, not firing on all cylinders,  but not to worry. Leah Pritchett   brings home baby for the team with her first win of the year over track mate Blake Alexander. 

Courtney Force , 2012 Rookie of the year, is a bad,bad chick. She surfed on by Diehl (Surfer Boy) as he got wicked right off the starting line in the eliminations round 1 and she  went on to win Funny Car this weekend against Matt Hagan ,making it her second this season, her 10th career victory! She again has made NHRA history as the most victorious female funny car driver.

On a sad note, it is with our deep condolences that we report  that Top Sportsman Racer Randy Alexander did not survive his injuries sustained after a high speed crash at the Atlanta Raceway. Our hearts and our prayers go out to the family and friends. 

And the band plays on as the 2018 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series  visits Topeka, Kansas,  May 18-20, 2018 for the Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals by Minties at Heartland Motorsports Park. 

Check out Sunday's Results from the  38th annual NHRA Southern Nationals Powered by Mello Yello at Atlanta Dragway:


Top Fuel -- Leah Pritchett, 3.874 seconds, 322.42 mph def. Blake Alexander, Foul - Red Light.

Funny Car -- Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.046, 313.73 def. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 4.148, 291.13.

Pro Stock -- Vincent Nobile, Chevy Camaro, 6.599, 209.72 def. Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.614, 209.52.

Pro Stock Motorcycle -- Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.922, 194.91 def. Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, 6.958, 193.18.

Top Alcohol Dragster -- Josh Hart, 5.313, 269.40 def. Megan Meyer, 5.318, 269.94.

Top Alcohol Funny Car -- Jay Payne, Chevy Camaro, 5.557, 260.81 def. Ulf Leanders, Camaro, 5.645, 263.20.

Competition Eliminator -- Van Puckett, Chevy Cavalier, 8.682, 127.19 def. Brian Browell, Dragster, Foul - Red Light.

Super Stock -- Kevin Helms, Olds Achieva, 8.869, 148.92 def. Byron Worner, Chevy Camaro, Foul - Red Light.

Stock Eliminator -- Jeff Strickland, Chevy Camaro, 9.280, 141.85 def. Robbie Shaw, Pontiac Firebird, Foul - Red Light.

Super Comp -- Gene Quinn, Dragster, 8.907, 152.88 def. Lauren Freer, Dragster, 8.926, 181.84.

Super Gas -- Tommy Turner, Chevy Corvette, 9.922, 172.83 def. Carl Watts, Chevy Cavalier, 9.867, 160.35.

Super Street -- Keith Mayers, Porsche, 10.926, 143.58 def. Jesse McKnight, Chevy Camaro, 10.884, 127.17.

Top Dragster presented by RacingRVs.com -- Les Feist, Dragster, 6.089, 226.73 def. Larry Roberts, Dragster, 6.202, 225.33.

Top Sportsman presented by RacingRVs.com -- Bob Mandell Jr., Chevy Bel Air, 6.856, 191.97 def. Vince Hoda,

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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