The season has come down to this weekend’s stop in Las Vegas and the finale in two weeks coming at Pomona. Both stops will be heart-stopping, but, Tony Schumacher holds the top speed after one round of qualifying at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Courtesy: NHRA Media Relations
LAS VEGAS — Tony Schumacher raced to the qualifying lead in Top Fuel Friday at the NHRA Las Vegas Nationals.
Ashley Force Hood, Allen Johnson and Hector Arana also are qualifying leaders in their categories at the penultimate NHRA Full Throttle Series Countdown to the Championship event. The season will conclude Nov. 11-14 with the Auto Club NHRA Finals at historic Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California.
Schumacher powered his U.S. Army dragster to a performance of 3.812 seconds at a track record speed of 325.14 mph to lead the category during the opening day of qualifying at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“The car is fast,” said Schumacher, who is third in the point standings. “We know we have a good race car. We won six championships in a row and it doesn’t look like we’re going to win one this year, but I don’t get down about it. We’ve won five races this year and Dixon’s won 12, and that’s an amazing accomplishment. But we’ve won the second-most races this year and we have an amazing team. We’ve got a great car, a great crew chief, a great assistant crew chief, and the best sponsor you can put on the side of a car, so I’m enjoying life. We’re going to try to win the last two races and not let Dixon have all the money.”
Series leader Larry Dixon was second with a 3.825 at 318.99 in his Al-Anabi Racing dragster and second place Cory McClenathan was seventh with a 3.892 at 316.01 in his FRAM dragster.
Force Hood raced to the front of the Funny Car field with a 4.032 at 309.70 in her Castrol GTX Ford Mustang.
“I’m excited and our team is really pumped,” Force Hood said. “We made it down the track on both runs today and that’s a great way to start our weekend here in Vegas. We’re approaching each run just trying to run the best that we can. We’re not thinking about records and we’re not thinking about other people, we’re just going to take each run as it comes. Tomorrow we’ll look at the conditions and how we think the car will run and try to get the best run out of it.”
Series leader Matt Hagan was fourth with a 4.090 at 304.53 in his DieHard Dodge Charger and second place John Force was second overall with a 4.059 at 311.70 in his Castrol GTX High-Mileage Mustang.
Johnson was quickest in Pro Stock, posting a 6.660 at 207.46 in his Team Mopar Dodge Avenger.
“We didn’t make a very good run at all in the first session, so we knew we had more left in the car,” Johnson said. “The left lane is the preferred lane for Pro Stock here and we were able to take advantage of it this afternoon. We’re set on kill for this weekend. The kill button is pushed in, and we’re going to be aggressive on every run, try for all the bonus points that we can get, and hope for a miracle.”
Pro Stock championship frontrunner Greg Anderson is fifth in his Summit Racing Pontiac GXP and his top title challengers, Mike Edwards and Greg Stanfield, are second and 14th respectively.
Defending world champion Arana led Pro Stock Motorcycle on his Lucas Oil Buell, covering the distance in 6.929 at 192.30.
“After we made our 6.92 run this morning, we downloaded the computer data and everything seemed fine,” he reported, “but when we later went back to the computer we couldn’t find the data, and so we had to go up for the second qualifying run blind. We were very pleased with our 7.01. Hopefully we can download this one so that we can repeat for tomorrow.”
Series points leader Andrew Hines was fourth on his Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson and championship challenger LE Tonglet sits 12th on his NitroFish Suzuki.
Qualifying continues Saturday with sessions at 11:45 a.m. and 2:45 p.m.