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ENNIS, Texas – Courtney Force raced to the Funny Car qualifying lead Friday at the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals with a track record performance at Texas Motorplex.
J.R. Todd (Top Fuel), Shane Gray (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) led their respective categories during round two of the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs near Dallas.
Force set both ends of the track record in her Traxxas Ford Mustang with a 4.039-second pass at 314.90 mph. She has three No. 1 qualifying positions this year and six in her 65-race career.
“Going into this race I was confident that we had a good car,” said Force. “To go out there and go to the No. 1 spot with our Traxxas team and run a number like that, is a good weekend so far. We still have tomorrow and it is going to down since we are running later in the day but I’m excited and proud of my team.”
In Top Fuel, Todd raced to the qualifying lead with a track record time of 3.761 at 317.87 in his Optima Batteries dragster. If the time holds, it will be Todd’s second consecutive No. 1 position in the Countdown playoffs.
“We were a little aggressive in Q1 and Q2,” said Todd, who was the No. 1 qualifier last weekend in Charlotte and will meet Spencer Massey in the quarterfinals of the delayed Pep Boys NHRA Carolina Nationals tomorrow. “I felt there were a couple more cars that were going to run better than what we did, but you can never count out Connie (Kalitta, team owner) and James (Oberhofer, crew chief) and they are always loaded for bear when the conditions call for it and the track’s definitely good here this weekend.”
Gray led Pro Stock qualifying with a run of 6.577 at 209.88 in his Gray Manufacturing Chevy Camaro. Gray will meet Erica Enders-Stevens in the second round of Charlotte eliminations. Other Charlotte Pro Stock first round winners today included Dave Connolly, Jonathan Gray and
“We wanted to make a couple of runs and see what happens,” said Gray. “I don’t think we were swinging for the fences by any means, but it all came together and it made a nice smooth run down there. It actually felt a little bit slow it was so smooth.”
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Arana Jr. led qualifying with a run of 6.855 at 194.63 on his Lucas Oil Products Buell. Arana Jr. also won his first round of eliminations for the Pep Boys NHRA Carolina Nationals. He will face Chaz Kennedy when eliminations continue on Saturday. Other PSM first round winners included Eddie Krawiec, Scotty Pollacheck, Andrew Hines, Matt Smith, Steve Johnson and Angie Smith.
“We made a swing for the tune-up and nailed it right on the head,” said Arana Jr. “We went right to the top in Q1. There was actually a little more we wanted to do, but we had to be conservative because we were going into round one of eliminations. We took away a little bit, and it stayed consistent on the line. I actually got lucky. The bike didn’t want to shift, and I kept pushing the button. Finally, when it hit the rev limiter, I was able to plug it in the next gear and stay ahead of him for the win.”
Qualifying continues for the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals on Saturday at 11:15 a.m. and 2:15 p.m. Eliminations for all pro categories from the Pep Boys NHRA Carolina Nationals will be completed during scheduled qualifying rounds; quarterfinals at 11:15 a.m., semifinals at 2:15 p.m. and finals at 4:30 p.m.
ENNIS, Texas — Friday’s results after the first two of four rounds of qualifying for the 29th annual AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals at Texas Motorplex, 20th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and the second of six playoff races in the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship. Qualifying will continue Saturday for Sunday’s final eliminations.
Top Fuel — 1. J.R. Todd, 3.761 seconds, 317.87 mph; 2. Doug Kalitta, 3.765, 326.71; 3. Bob Vandergriff, 3.770, 320.13; 4. Shawn Langdon, 3.774, 320.36; 5. Steve Torrence, 3.786, 323.74; 6. Tony Schumacher, 3.790, 322.11; 7. Billy Torrence, 3.813, 322.50; 8. Spencer Massey, 3.814, 320.89; 9. Richie Crampton, 3.816, 319.60; 10. Larry Dixon, 3.819, 324.20; 11. Leah Pritchett, 3.823, 317.49; 12. Khalid alBalooshi, 3.829, 317.57. Not Qualified: 13. Antron Brown, 3.830, 314.17; 14. Terry McMillen, 3.885, 314.02; 15. Troy Buff, 3.893, 304.12; 16. Kebin Kinsley, 4.111, 261.37; 17. Brittany Force, 4.319, 186.95; 18. Clay Millican, 4.986, 141.33; 19. Morgan Lucas, 7.964, 73.99.
Funny Car — 1. Courtney Force, Ford Mustang, 4.039, 314.90; 2. Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Camry, 4.041, 305.42; 3. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.051, 311.92; 4. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.076, 309.42; 5. John Force, Mustang, 4.081, 314.24; 6. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.083, 312.86; 7. Chad Head, Camry, 4.084, 309.06; 8. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.087, 312.35; 9. Robert Hight, Mustang, 4.088, 312.13; 10. Del Worsham, Camry, 4.088, 307.79; 11. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.096, 306.26; 12. Jeff Arend, Charger, 4.106, 310.55. Not Qualified: 13. Tim Wilkerson, 4.119, 305.15; 14. Cruz Pedregon, 4.154, 298.27; 15. Terry Haddock, 4.240, 291.38; 16. Tony Pedregon, 4.258, 248.57; 17. Todd Simpson, 4.323, 285.83; 18. Jeff Diehl, 4.358, 285.77.
Pro Stock — 1. Shane Gray, Chevy Camaro, 6.577, 209.88; 2. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.582, 210.24; 3. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.582, 209.72; 4. Dave Connolly, Camaro, 6.592, 209.95; 5. Erica Enders-Stevens, Camaro, 6.594, 210.31; 6. Jeg Coughlin, Dodge Dart, 6.596, 209.59; 7. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.597, 209.88; 8. Allen Johnson, Dart, 6.607, 209.75; 9. Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 6.607, 209.56; 10. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.627, 209.26; 11. Aaron Stanfield, Camaro, 6.627, 208.78; 12. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.629, 208.49. Not Qualified: 13. V. Gaines, 6.635, 209.04; 14. Matt Hartford, 6.649, 208.91; 15. Shane Tucker, 6.661, 208.88; 16. John Gaydosh Jr, 6.662, 207.53; 17. Larry Morgan, 6.676, 206.95.
Pro Stock Motorcycle — 1. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.855, 194.63; 2. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.869, 194.10; 3. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.919, 192.80; 4. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.961, 191.00; 5. Adam Arana, Buell, 6.964, 190.62; 6. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 6.975, 189.92; 7. John Hall, Buell, 6.983, 190.46; 8. Angie Smith, Buell, 6.983, 189.47; 9. Chaz Kennedy, Buell, 6.992, 191.24; 10. Matt Smith, Buell, 6.993, 191.76; 11. Hector Arana, Buell, 7.008, 193.29; 12. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 7.019, 189.18. Not Qualified: 13. Jerry Savoie, 7.020, 188.41; 14. Angelle Sampey, 7.025, 189.34; 15. Shawn Gann, 7.066, 187.13; 16. Freddie Camarena, 7.108, 190.03; 17. Michael Ray, 7.137, 186.02; 18. Mike Berry, 7.170, 181.96; 19. Redell Harris, 7.332, 158.15; 20. David Barron, 20.055, 27.45.
WITH COUNTDOWN NERVES BEHIND HIM, TEXAN CHRIS MCGAHA EYES FIRST CAREER PRO STOCK WIN AT AAA TEXAS NHRA FALLNATIONALS
ENNIS, Texas — Appearing in his first ever NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship, Pro Stock driver Chris McGaha didn’t have quite the opening race that he wanted.
But the stage is set perfectly for McGaha to make up for it in a major way at this weekend’s 29th annual AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals at the Texas Motorplex.
The facility is McGaha’s home track and a victory, which would also be his first in his NHRA Pro Stock career, would quickly ascend to being one of the biggest moments of his drag racing career. Currently sitting in 10th position in the Countdown to the Championship it would also do wonders for his first championship run in his Harlow Sammons of Odessa Chevy Camaro.
“It would mean everything,” McGaha said of winning in Dallas. “I think we want to win Dallas more than any other race on the schedule. Of course everyone wants to win the U.S. Nationals, and yes, I would love to win that one, too. But I wonder if I wouldn’t trade that win for one in Dallas. I was at this race in 1986, the year Texas Motorplex opened. This is home for us.”
Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel), Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car), Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will once again be televised nationally on ESPN2. It marks the second of six races in the Countdown to the Championship. The continuation of eliminations for the Countdown opener, the Pep Boys NHRA Carolina Nationals, will also be completed during qualifying rounds at the Texas Motorplex. Top Fuel and Funny Car have three rounds of Charlotte racing to complete while Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle need to complete all four rounds.
Four first-round pairs of Pro Stock cars remain, but unfortunately for McGaha he lost in a first-round race to points leader Jason Line. It wasn’t the ideal way for McGaha to start the Countdown but getting past the red-hot Line has been difficult for any driver in recent races.
“We had high hopes after leaving Indy and coming to Charlotte, but it didn’t work out well for us there,” McGaha said. “We aren’t as close as we’d like to be, but we went right back to the shop and got to work, and hopefully we’ll be better for the second race of the Countdown.”
As far as the experience of the Countdown, taking part in it for the first time in his career nearly got the best of McGaha, who has now appeared in 45 career NHRA Pro Stock races.
He admitted that the intensity was cranked up and McGaha noticed it nearly from the moment his trailer pulled into zMAX Dragway. After that first-hand experience, plus the comforts of racing at his home track McGaha is confident he will feel more at ease in Dallas. Of course seeing a strong and consistent performance in qualifying would go a long way in helping that.
“I’ve had to calm myself down,” McGaha said. “Before we even got to the race, I felt like we were in the second round or the semis. I was that psyched up coming to Charlotte, and even right before the first round the adrenaline level felt like I was already in the semis.
“You want to take it one round at a time, but the performance has to be there. That’s just the way it is in this class. It’s all about performance, and without that, you don’t stand a chance.”
Line has had one tremendous performance after another heading into the Countdown, but the list of championship challengers also includes reigning champion Jeg Coughlin, Allen Johnson, Erica Enders-Stevens, V Gaines, Shane Gray, Jonathan Gray, Vincent Nobile and Dave Connolly.
It’s a daunting list to compete against but McGaha knows how much a victory at the Texas Motorplex during the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals would mean to his team and his family. In fact, he joked it may be enough for him to walk off into the sunset.
“Dallas has never really been very good to me – sometimes it’s been better than others – but to win here would mean everything,” he said. “Heck, I might quit racing if I won there just so I could quit while I was ahead. I wouldn’t really, but it would sure be something if we accomplished it.”
In Top Fuel, Kalitta has advanced to nine final rounds in 2014 and will be after a second straight Dallas win, while the ultra-talented field also features Countdown qualifiers Tony Schumacher, who has five Dallas wins, Antron Brown, reigning world champion Shawn Langdon, Spencer Massey, Brittany Force, Khalid alBalooshi, U.S. Nationals winner Richie Crampton, Steve Torrence and J.R. Todd.
In Funny Car, two-time world champ Pedregon took home the Wally last season but he is chasing points leader and reigning world champion John Force. Two-time Dallas winners Del Worsham and Robert Hight, Courtney Force, Matt Hagan, Indy winner Alexis DeJoria, Ron Capps, Tim Wilkerson and Tommy Johnson Jr. are among other championship hopefuls.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Krawiec and his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson team has been the most consistent this season in the two-wheel category. Teammate Andrew Hines is the current points leader and Krawiec enters the Countdown off his first Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals win. Reigning world champ Matt Smith, Michael Ray, Angie Smith, Steve Johnson, Hector Arana, Hector Arana Jr. and Scotty Pollacheck are a few of the Pro Stock Motorcycle riders who will attempt to take home a Dallas victory.
The race will also mark the return to competition for three-time Pro Stock Motorcycle world champ Angelle Sampey. After sitting out the last five seasons to start a family, she is returning to action at this event riding the Star Racing Buell owned by George Bryce. It is a fitting return for the Louisiana native during a season where women have made a huge impact with a record number of wins on the track. She is the winningest female racer in NHRA history with 41 career victories.
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and enjoy some cherished face time and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
Fans also will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
The event will also feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying sessions are scheduled for Friday, Sept. 19, with sessions at 2:15 and 5:15 p.m. (also Charlotte PS and PSM eliminations). The final two qualifying sessions, which will both include Charlotte eliminations, will take place Saturday, Sept. 20, at 11:15 a.m. and 2:15 p.m. The Charlotte final rounds will be held Saturday at 4:30 p.m. Final eliminations for the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 21.