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Keeping Pace

Dixon, Beckman, Johnson and Arana score top qualifying positions at NHRA event in Sonoma

NHRA logo courtesy of NHRA Media Relations
NHRA logo courtesy of NHRA Media Relations

NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing actions continues on Sunday with final rounds beginning at 11 a.m. The event is televised on ESPN2.

Courtesy: NHRA Media Realtions

SONOMA, Calif. – Funny Car driver Jack Beckman set both ends of the Infineon Raceway track record en route to his first No. 1 qualifier of 2010 at the 23rd annual FRAM-Autolite NHRA Nationals Saturday.


The other No. 1 qualifiers at the 15th of 23 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Series season were Larry Dixon (Top Fuel), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana (Pro Stock Motorcycle).


Beckman paced the Funny Car field with a 4.063-second pass at 311.56 mph on Friday night in his Valvoline/MTS Dodge Charger and the time held up on a warmer afternoon on Saturday. The No. 1 was the third of Beckman’s career.


“I signed a visor this morning for a cancer fundraiser and I started to write, and this was this morning, No. 1 qualifier and I thought, ‘I cannot do that,’” Beckman said. “It was going to be pretty tough for anybody to run anything better than a 4.12 but I still didn’t sign (No. 1). I told the guy to bring it back at the end of the day and hopefully I could add No. 1 to it.”


Also in Funny Car, Robert Hight clinched his berth in the Countdown to 1 NHRA Playoffs


The No. 1 qualifier for Dixon (3.839 at a track record 317.79 mph) was his fifth this season in the Al-Anabi dragster and the 45th of his career, moving him into a tie with Angelle Sampey for ninth place on the all-time list of No. 1 qualifiers (all classes) in NHRA Full Throttle Series history.


“Really, today was a good day just being able to get two runs in in the sun which is what we’ll be racing in (Sunday),” Dixon said. “We were fourth quick in the first session (Saturday) and second quick in the second session. So overall there were some things (Alan Johnson and Jason McCulloch were) working on, some good and some bad, and hopefully it will pay off tomorrow.”


In Pro Stock, Allen Johnson led the field with a 6.545 at 210.77 (both track records) in his Team Mopar Dodge Avenger on Friday and it held up on Saturday for his third No. 1 of 2010 and the 10th of his career.


“I think the conditions this afternoon will be like the conditions we’ll see in the first round tomorrow, may be even a little warmer,” Johnson said. “We didn’t do too good of a job tuning for tomorrow on that last run, but we’ve got a good car and a veteran team.”


In Pro Stock Motorcycle, defending NHRA Full Throttle Series champion and current points leader Hector Arana (6.876 at 192.69) set the track record for elapsed time en route to his fourth No. 1 of 2010 aboard the Lucas Oil Buell.


“The bike left good, I knew I was on a good run, it drifted a little bit to the left and I corrected it and to my surprise it was an 87 so I was pleased and happy with it,” Arana said.


Final eliminations at the 23rd annual FRAM-Autolite NHRA Nationals will begin at 11 a.m. PT on Sunday.


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Keeping Pace

Motorsports correspondent Doug Pace keeps up with motorsports news and notes from around the region.