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The latest update as of October 25, 2018

NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip (Las Vegas Motor Speedway)

The 2018 NHRA championship drag racing season has wound down to the final two events of the year and the penultimate race on the schedule kicked off under warm, sunny desert skies this morning. Today was just the hors d'oeuvre with the sportsman classes having the track to themselves, while tomorrow sees the first qualifying sessions for the Pro and Pro Sportsman racers.

There's still a number of World Championships at stake but the battle has been lost for most of the pro racers already, with just eight rounds of competition remaining before the end of the season on November 11th at the LA County Fairgrounds (Pomona, CA). In Top Fuel it's turning into a runaway for points leader Steve Torrence as his nearest pursuer, Clay Millican, is 169 points behind coming into Las Vegas. Below them, the third place holder in the standings, Tony Schumacher, is 210 points behind Torrence, and coming close to being mathematically eliminated. After him, the balance of the Top Ten are done and gone.

Funny Car on the other hand has a very close race developing as points leader (and defending champion) Robert Hight is just 11 points in front of the rapidly closing J.R. Todd and fighting to hang on to the lead. Still in the hunt are the #3 and #4 challengers, with Ron Capps and Tim Wilkerson lurking barely 100 points behind Todd. And the mathematical possibilities stretch all the way down to eighth place, where Matt Hagan sits 216 points in arrears.

Skipping past Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle to the Pro Sportsman ranks, the battle for supremacy in the Top Alcohol Dragster class is turning into high drama, as defending champion Joey Severance has pulled almost even with season-long points leader Shawn Cowie, trailing by just 10 points. In the more complicated points structure for the Lucas Oil Series racers, both Severance and Cowie can gain points at the final two events but can only do so by waiving previously earned national event points.

Looking at Cowie's record for 2018 shows that he earned 42 points at two events that he can waive, but Severance has a 31 and 42 point event that could be waived, giving him a slight advantage. In theory, Severance could take the championship by just ONE point if he can match Cowie's placings in the final two races. In all probability it will come down to a head-to-head matchup between the two, either this weekend or in two weeks time in Pomona.

We've got a treasure trove of photos from Bakersfield to go through and get posted over the next few days, but we can guarantee they will be worth waiting for. Here's a couple of highlight shots from Friday to whet your interest. Stay tuned for updates tomorrow and through the weekend.

Luke Balogh - '554 Special Coupe'

All the way down from North Vancouver, BC came Luke Balogh in his absolutely flawless replica of the famed "mooneyham & Sharp" 554 Coupe. And it's not only a looker, but it can blaze the tires with the best of them. Unfortunately his efforts were all for naught as he qualified near the bottom of the Nostalgia Eliminator I field and was a no-show for eliminations