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Jason Line takes pleasure in celebrating the holiday at Bristol,
Courtney Force satisfied with consistency in early season; heads to Bristol with hope of earning victory
Courtney Force, the 23-year-old daughter of 15-time Funny Car world champ John Force has come a long way since February’s season-opener. Since then she has qualified for every race, posted semifinal efforts at Phoenix and Englishtown, shined during final qualifying at Topeka and logged a career-best time of 4.098 seconds. She’s also tagged the wall at high speed and experienced an engine explosion up close and personal.
Steve Torrence beat Tony Schumacher and Spencer Massey in earlier rounds with quicker reaction times and then used a horsepower advantage to edge Brandon Bernstein at the finish line in the final round. In the final, Torrence’s Capco Contractors dragster finished in 3.800 seconds at 323.66 mph while Bernstein’s MAV TV/Lucas Oil machine trailed with a 3.807 at 321.04.
Ron Capps, who has raced to four consecutive finals and one victory since new crew chief Rahn Tobler took over tuning duties for his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger in early April, claimed his 12th career No. 1 qualifying position with the historic performance of 3.964 seconds at 320.89 mph during Friday evening’s qualifying session.
Spencer Massey powered his FRAM/Prestone dragster to a time of 3.728 seconds at 329.91 mph to lead an extremely quick Top Fuel field. Morgan Lucas was second with a 3.739 at 324.51 in the GEICO/Lucas Oil dragster and Shawn Langdon powered his Al-Anabi Racing dragster to a 3.742 at 324.36.
Ron Capps, who used a consistent string of 4.16-second runs to take his 34th career victory, outran Robert Hight in the final round, who was trying to give JFR its seventh consecutive win of the season. Capps’ Napa Auto Parts Dodge Charger posted a 4.166 second run at 303.91 mph to take the win, while Hight’s Auto Club Ford Mustang trailed with a 4.399 at 273.44.
Robert Hight, who has won four of the first six races in 2012, claimed his fourth No. 1 qualifying position of the season Saturday with a leading performance of 4.104 seconds at 308.35 mph in his Auto Club Ford Mustang. Hight teammates John Force and Mike Neff won the other two races to give the JFR team a stronghold on the winner’s circle this season.
Tony Schumacher, who earned his last victory 29 races ago in Oct. 2010, powered his U.S. Army dragster to a track record time of 3.815 seconds at 322.58 mph, putting him in position to earn his first No. 1 qualifying position of the season and 68th of his career if the run holds through Saturday's final two qualifying sessions (11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.).
Mike Neff powered his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang past Ron Capps’ NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T in the final round of eliminations. Neff’s 4.239 second pass at 301.67 mph was too much for Capps, who hazed the tires in the Texas heat and clocked a 4.476 second pass at 211.79 mph.
The GEICO/Lucas Oil Top Fuel team of Morgan Lucas ran low E.T. of the event during Friday evening’s qualifying session and the 3.772 second pass at 327.74 mph held up as the No. 1 qualifying position throughout Saturday’s warm weather conditions.
Cruz Pedregon’s Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry team struggled in the beginning of the season, but Pedregon feels like the team is finally coming together. If the team holds onto the No. 1 spot through Saturday’s qualifying sessions it will be his second of the season and 32nd of his career.
Auto Club Ford Mustang driver Robert Hight becomes just the fifth Funny Car racer to win four consecutive events in NHRA history, and joins the ranks of Don Prudhomme, Kenny Bernstein, his team owner John Force and Cruz Pedregon, who he defeated in the finals, to accomplish the feat. Hight used a reaction time of .058-second at the start of his 4.076 second pass at 314.83 mph to secure his 27th career win.
Robert Hight was outside the 16-car field looking in when he powered his Auto Club Ford Mustang to the top of the field with a run of 4.074 seconds at 317.19 mph during the third round of qualifying. This is his 42nd No.1 qualifying position of his 166-race career. Hight has won the last three events and if he continues his winning streak at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, he will become the fourth Funny Car driver to win four in a row joining legends Don Pruhdomme, Kenny Bernstein and John Force.
Ron Capps powered his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger to the top of the class with a run of 4.105 seconds at 301.81 mph. Capps has yet to record a No. 1 qualifying this position season but has 11 in his 368 race career. The provisional No. 1 run comes off a recent addition of Rahn Tobler as crew chief for the team.
The lone racetrack on the NHRA tour with four lanes, zMax Dragway in Concord, NC allows for an unusual style of racing where four cars simultaneously race one another. The major obstacle for the contestants is the staging process as they must deal with three other drivers putting their racecars in the beams for a fair start.
Robert Hight, the defending NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car winner of this event, raced to his second No. 1 of the season and 41st of his career with a performance of 4.132 seconds at 310.41 mph in his Auto Club Ford Mustang.
Morgan Lucas, who won two weeks ago in Gainesville, Fla. with a dominating performance, rallied from a 10th place effort in the opening round of qualifying to vault to the No. 1 spot during the day’s final session with a leading run of 3.817 seconds at 321.96 mph in his GEICO/Lucas Oil dragster.
The first eight times that Vegas oddsmakers tapped the 62-year-old icon as the Funny Car favorite in the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals, an event contested this week for the lucky 13th time, Force took his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang beyond the second round just once and never raced for the title.
Morgan Lucas powered his GEICO/Lucas Oil dragster to the second-quickest run in NHRA history with a 3.743 second time at 326.87 mph to hold off seven-time world champ Tony Schumacher, whose U.S. Army dragster lost traction early.
After taking a year off from racing in the professional ranks, Coughlin returned to Pro Stock with a vengeance last month, reaching the final round of the season-opening Winternationals in California. Combined with a narrow round one defeat in Phoenix a week later, Coughlin enters the Gators ranked fifth in the world.
Antron Brown held off fellow Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tony Schumacher in the final round when he powered his Matco Tools dragster to a 3.793-second pass at 319.82 mph. It was Brown’s first win of the season in his second consecutive final round appearance. It was also his 32nd career win, with 16 wins in Top Fuel and 16 wins in Pro Stock Motorcycle.
Johnny Gray followed his runner-up finish at Firebird International Raceway in 2011 with the quickest Funny Car lap of the day Friday. Gray powered his Service Central Dodge Charger to the top of the order with a 4.074 at 298.93. If it stands it would be his second career No. 1 qualifying position.
The Prestone/FRAM team qualified second in last weekend's NHRA season-opener and then recorded consistent times of 3.782, 3.776, 3.745 and 3.750 seconds during Sunday's elimination rounds. Massey needed the record run to get past DSR teammate Tony Schumacher in the semifinals and needed another stout run against teammate Antron Brown in the final.
Spencer Massey, who finished second in the points standings last year, opened the new season in first place by outrunning Antron Brown in the final round to take his seventh career Top Fuel victory and first at Pomona. Massey posted a 3.750 at 325.77 in his FRAM/Prestone dragster to hold off Brown’s charging Matco Tools dragster, which trailed with a 3.794 at 320.43.
Morgan Lucas powered his GEICO / Lucas Oil dragster to a 3.783-second run at 325.06 mph to take the top spot in the field as teams took advantage of cooler track and air temperatures. It was Lucas’ fifth No. 1 qualifier of his career and first at the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals, where he raced to the Top Fuel victory one year ago.
Bob Tasca drove his MotorCraft/Quick Lane Ford Shelby Mustang to the provisional No. 1 position with a 4.109 second pass at 309.34 mph during Friday’s qualifying efforts. If it holds, it would be Tasca’s third career No. 1 qualifying position.
Spencer Massey drove his FRAM/Prestone dragster to a winning 3.821-second run at 319.07 mph to beat Top Fuel points leader Del Worsham on a holeshot. It was Massey’s second consecutive win of the season (Topeka) and fourth of his career.
John Force could pass NHRA Pro Stock icon Warren Johnson at the top of the all-time list by qualifying first in the 16-car Funny Car lineup at the event where Larry Dixon (Top Fuel), Bob Tasca (Funny Car), Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) and Michael Phillips (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are the defending event winners. Force and Johnson are currently tied at the top with 138 No. 1 qualifiers apiece.
Antron Brown drove his Matco Tools dragster to a 3.856-second run at 318.69 mph to hold off teammate Tony Schumacher and earn his second win of the season, 27th of his career and fourth at Atlanta Dragway (two in Top Fuel, two in Pro Stock Motorcycle).
Despite being winless this season, Larry