19-year-old Tanner Gray becomes youngest NHRA season champ

19-year-old Tanner Gray becomes youngest NHRA season champ

Updated Mar. 4, 2020 10:17 p.m. ET

POMONA, Calif. (AP) — Tanner Gray became the youngest NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season champion Saturday by qualifying at the season-ending Auto Club NHRA Finals.

The 19-year-old Pro Stock driver from New Mexico has seven victories this season. In the Countdown to the Championship, he has two wins and has topped the points throughout the playoffs.

"It has been a heck of a year," Gray said. "It started out pretty slow and I wasn't quite sure it would end up here. About midseason we were able to find something, and everything seemed like it started clicking from there. We did so much testing at the beginning of the season and it really paid off. It was like a light flipped and everything started coming together. We had a strong running going there for a little bit and came into the Countdown and executed on race day really well."

Jeg Coughlin Jr. took the No. 1 spot in Pro Stock qualifying with a 6.510-second run at 211.49 mph in a Chevrolet Camaro.

Leah Pritchett topped Top Fuel qualifying, Ron Capps was the fastest in Funny Car, and Matt Smith led the Pro Stock Motorcycle field. Pritchett ran a 3.631 at 332.84, Capps powered his Dodge Charger R/T to a 3.848 at 331.53, and Smith, had a 6.754 at 201.10 on an EBR.