Both are leading candidates for the prestigious Auto Club Road to the Future Award, presented each season to the top rookie driver at the season-ending awards ceremony.
Both drivers have experienced growing pains throughout their rookie campaigns; however, each has had plenty of moments to shine as well.
Force has reached two final rounds behind the wheel of her Traxxas Ford Mustang this season as well as having learned how difficult the 7,000-horsepower nitro-burning machines can be to drive when she brushed the wall at high speed early in the season.
DeJoria has also reached a final round, in Bristol, but the Tequila Patron Toyota Camry team has learned what it’s like to be on the sidelines Sunday morning after posting DNQs at races in Phoenix and Norwalk.
Following the NHRA Sonoma Nationals, Force is seventh in the points standings and has qualified for each of the 14 races.
“There have definitely been some ups and downs during my rookie season in Funny Car,” Force said. “I have learned a lot so far this season and will continue learning each time I’m in the seat, and every pass down the racetrack, I am learning something new. Overall, I’m very excited with how this season is going.”
DeJoria is 13th in the series standings and will need to make a move at the next three events if she is going to join Force in the top 10 and qualify for the Countdown to the Championship. However, no matter the outcome, she’s pleased with how her team, which is led by former driver Del Worsham, has performed this season.
“If I had to grade my personal performance, I’d give myself a seven out of 10,” DeJoria said. “I think I’ve overcome a lot, and I’ve done pretty well this season. I always strive to do better and am constantly pushing myself to do better.”
As the tour heads to Seattle, both drivers are looking forward to returning to the track where they earned their first Wally in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series. DeJoria won in Top Alcohol Funny Car at the event last season, and Force claimed a Top Alcohol Dragster victory at the scenic facility in 2009.
“I’m so excited to be back in Seattle being that I earned my first ever national event Wally at this racetrack when I was competing in Top Alcohol Dragster,” Force said. “I’m really hoping this is my lucky track and I’ll be able to do just as well in the Funny Car class this weekend.”
Said DeJoria, “It’s very exciting to go back to the place where I won last season in Top Alcohol Funny Car. You can’t help but feel confident going back to a place where you’ve had such great success.”
They are two of the most high-profile rookies to enter NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series competition in many seasons, so ultimately, there is quite a bit of pressure for both to not only perform on the track, but also off the track as ambassadors for NHRA Drag Racing and their sponsors.
“Taking on the role of an ambassador and role model is something that I value very much,” said DeJoria, daughter of famed entrepreneur John Paul DeJoria. “I’m very passionate about what I do, which makes it very easy for me to talk so openly about it. I have a daughter myself, so it’s important for me, and if I can be a positive role model to not only my daughter but any other young girl seeking someone to look up to, I feel as if I’ve done my job.”
The 24-year-old Force is the daughter of 15-time NHRA Funny Car world champ John Force. Racing has been a part of her life for as long as she can remember.
“I love what I do for a living,” Force said. “It has always been a dream of mine to race professionally in the NHRA, so it is an amazing feeling to also have the opportunity to fulfill the duty of representing my favorite sport, the NHRA. As far as being a role model, I just hope I can be represented as a symbol of what young girls are capable of doing when they grow up and that if they stick to their dream, they can make it happen with enough motivation, drive, and a positive attitude.”
As much as DeJoria and Force hope to earn their first Funny Car victories at Pacific Raceways, many other drivers in the category will be battling with them for the title. That includes three-time defending event Funny Car winner Tim Wilkerson, who is fighting for a spot in the top 10.
Reigning Funny Car world champ Matt Hagan is coming off his first final round of the season and hoping to build on that success in Seattle by passing Wilkerson in 11th and John Force in 10th so that he can earn a playoff berth.
In Top Fuel, Don Schumacher Racing has dominated all season, with Antron Brown and Spencer Massey tied atop the points standings. Tony Schumacher is in third right behind his teammates. The battle is brewing between Clay Millican and Bob Vandergriff Jr. for the 10th and final spot in the Countdown to the Championship. Millican is four points out of 10th with just three races left until the Countdown begins.
Allen Johnson and his Mopar Dodge Avenger took over the Pro Stock points lead in Denver and extended it with a win against Greg Anderson at the most recent NHRA event in Sonoma. The battle at the top is tight, but so is the battle for the ninth and 10th spots, between Ron Krisher, Jeg Coughlin Jr., V. Gaines, and Larry Morgan. With only three races left before the Countdown, the battle for the final top 10 spots in all of the classes kicks into high gear starting in Seattle.
* TICKETS: For tickets for the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries, call 800-884-NHRA (6472) or log on to www.NHRATix.com.
* ON TV: ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise 90 minutes of qualifying coverage at 10:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Aug. 4, and three hours of eliminations coverage at 6 p.m. ET on Sunday, Aug. 5.
* LUCAS OIL SERIES: The O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries will feature competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, where some of the future stars of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series are born. Lucas Oil Series qualifying begins at 9:15 a.m. on Aug. 3; eliminations begin at 9:15 a.m. on Aug. 4 and continue through Aug. 5.
ENNIS, Texas (Sept. 21, 2010) – It’s only natural that 17-year-old Kaley Caperton sings at Texas Motorplex during the O’Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals every year.
Caperton, after all, comes from a racing family. Steve Caperton, Kaley’s father, raced Super Comp and Super Gas in Divisions 4 and 5 for years. Kaley Caperton didn’t want to race, but can’t imagine not being at the race track.
“I don’t think I have ever missed a Fall Nationals event at Texas Motorplex,” Caperton said. “I can’t imagine not being at the track for the big NHRA event. I love the fans and love singing in front of a home town crowd.”
Caperton has been the national anthem singer in past years but this year will be the featured live performer on Friday night and again before the 25th anniversary DRAW auction in Champion’s Club on Saturday night.
Caperton has opened for acts such as Lady Antebellum, Craig Morgan, Asleep at the Wheel, the Eli Young Band, Wade Bowen, Restless Heart, the Randy Rogers Band, Rick Trevino and Ted Nugent. She will be one of the featured performers at the Texas State Fair’s Chevy Main Stage on Oct. 16.
For more information about Caperton, go online to www.kaleycaperton.com, follower her on Twitter or friend her on Facebook.
The Texas Motorplex was the first all-concrete stadium-style drag racing facility ever constructed. Built in 1986, The Texas Motorplex has been the place of many drag racing milestones and world record performances. The Billy Meyer-owned facility hosts a number of racing and car show events between March and November each year and also features the Champions Club – an 11,000 square-foot facility – that serves fully catered events throughout the year.
The ticket renewal deadline on February 12, 2010 for the 25th Anniversary O’Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals is fast approaching and is now only 23 days away. Renewing your tickets is the best way to ensure that you keep the same great seats that you had in 2009 for this years 25th Anniversary event, also by renewing your ticket order you will receive a special thank you gift, the book Faith, Family & Fortune authored by Paul J . Meyer.
ENNIS, Texas – Robert Hight continued his impressive post-season performance by racing to the Funny Car victory Sunday at the O’Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec.
Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel); Greg Anderson (Pro Stock); and Hector Arana (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were winners in their respective categories at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event.
Hight, who barely advanced to the Countdown to 1, has now won the first two of the six championship playoff events. He defeated Jack Beckman in the final-round at the Texas Motorplex, after outrunning Leif Helander, Tim Wilkerson and Ashley Force Hood in earlier rounds. Last weekend he beat Matt Hagan in the final-round to win the NHRA Carolinas Nationals near Charlotte, N.C.
“The first two weeks of the Countdown couldn’t have been any better for us,” said Hight, who posted a 4.218 second run at 296.44 mph in his Auto Club Ford Mustang, to hold off Beckman’s Valvoline/Mail Terminal Services Dodge Charger in the final, which finished in 4.271 at 292.58. “We won them and went from worst to first, so it’s very exciting for me. It’s something I never thought was going to happen. I never lost faith in my team. You dream big, but this is huge.”
With the win, Hight moved into the series lead for the first time this season. Entering the final race of the regular season, Hight was 12th in the point standings and in jeopardy of not making the playoffs.
“This is probably the best race car I’ve ever had,” Hight said. “We’ve won races and been close to winning the championship, but we’ve never been this dominant, this consistent, this steady; it’s going down the racetrack every run.”
Schumacher defeated rival Larry Dixon in the Top Fuel final. Schumacher finished in 3.944 at 312.86 in his U.S. Army dragster for his fifth win of the season and 61st of his career, while top qualifier Dixon trailed with a 4.232 at 225.18 in his Al-Anabi Racing dragster. With the victory, Schumacher, who has won the last five Top Fuel season titles and six overall, moved back into the points lead.
“This was huge,” said Schumacher, who advanced to the final by outrunning T.J. Zizzo, Antron Brown and Spencer Massey in the first three rounds. “Beating Larry Dixon and Alan Johnson and my old team is just special; if you can’t rise to the occasion against guys like that who you know are great like that, you don’t belong in here racing cars.”
Anderson claimed his first playoff victory and second win of the season in Pro Stock by driving his Summit Racing Pontiac GXP to a 6.684 at 207.11 to hold off former Funny Car racer Johnny Gray, who earned his second runner-up finish this season with a 6.713 at 206.64 in his Johnny Gray Racing Dodge Stratus.
Anderson qualified fifth and beat former employer Warren Johnson, Allen Johnson and top qualifier and series points leader Mike Edwards in a critical semifinal round.
“I can’t remember stealing one like we did today,” said Anderson of his 59th career victory. “I didn’t exactly wake up this morning brimming with confidence because Mike Edwards is making us all look bad. We like to be the performance leader and we’re not, and it’s driving us nuts. It certainly wouldn’t have been a big shock to exit early today. We just fought and clawed and found a way to win all four rounds and, honestly, if we had another first-round loss today we probably would have been done for the Countdown.”
Despite beating Edwards in the semis, Anderson only earned 26 points on the leader since Edwards earned the 12 maximum bonus points during qualifying, giving him 90 points for the weekend in his A.R.T. / Young Life GXP.
“We found a way to win today and bought ourselves a little time to try to find some performance in this car and get to where Mike Edwards is, or get closer to him,” Anderson said. “It feels good to win the race because, even though you can’t win the Countdown in the first race or two, you certainly can lose it.”
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Arana raced to his third consecutive victory and fifth of the season with a final-round performance of 6.979 at 190.67 on his Lucas Oil Buell to hold off championship rival and defending world champ Eddie Krawiec, who finished in 7.005 at 190.43 on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson. With the win, Arana increased his series lead to 27 over Krawiec.
“I’m really pleased with the performance of the bike and this S&S motor,” said Arana, who defeated Joe DeSantis, David Hope and three-time world champ Andrew Hines in the first three rounds. “It’s a helluva piece, and (Pro Stock driver) Larry Morgan’s guys are working hard to keep me winning rounds and races and the title, something we’ve always dreamed of. My team never slowed down, even in 90 degrees of heat. They just worked so hard. I have to thank Lucas Oil for sticking with me and believing in me, and allowing me to grow with them. It’s amazing how everything has turned around for me to win five races this season; now I just need to win three more and I’ll be good. I really don’t want to focus on the championship, just about getting the motor ready and going to Memphis.”
The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series championship playoffs continue next weekend (Oct. 2-4) with the O’Reilly Mid-South Nationals at Memphis (Tenn.) Motorsports Park.
* * *
ENNIS, Texas — Final finish order (1-16) for professional categories at the 24th annual O’Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec at Texas Motorplex. The race is the 20th of 24 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.
1. Tony Schumacher; 2. Larry Dixon; 3. Spencer Massey; 4. Shawn Langdon; 5. Brandon Bernstein; 6. Antron Brown; 7. Cory McClenathan; 8. Morgan Lucas; 9. Bob Vandergriff; 10. Terry Haddock; 11. Clay Millican; 12. Mike Bowers; 13. T.J. Zizzo; 14. Doug Kalitta; 15. Steve Torrence; 16. Mike Strasburg.
1. Robert Hight, Ford Mustang; 2. Jack Beckman; 3. Jerry Toliver; 4. Ashley Force Hood; 5. John Force; 6. Tim Wilkerson; 7. Mike Neff; 8. Bob Tasca III; 9. Tony Pedregon; 10. Del Worsham; 11. Ron Capps; 12. Cruz Pedregon; 13. Jeff Arend; 14. Grant Downing; 15. Matt Hagan; 16. Leif Helander.
1. Greg Anderson, Pontiac GXP; 2. Johnny Gray; 3. Jeg Coughlin; 4. Mike Edwards; 5. Ron Krisher; 6. Allen Johnson; 7. Rodger Brogdon; 8. Matt Hartford; 9. Kurt Johnson; 10. Greg Stanfield; 11. Warren Johnson; 12. Jason Line; 13. Tom Hammonds; 14. Steve Spiess; 15. Larry Morgan; 16. V. Gaines.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE:
1. Hector Arana; 2. Eddie Krawiec; 3. Andrew Hines; 4. Matt Smith; 5. David Hope; 6. Douglas Horne; 7. Angie McBride; 8. Michael Phillips; 9. Karen Stoffer; 10. Junior Pippin; 11. Steve Johnson; 12. Mike Berry; 13. Redell Harris; 14. Craig Treble; 15. Shawn Gann; 16. Joe DeSantis.
ENNIS, Texas — Sunday’s final results from the 24th annual O’Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec at Texas Motorplex. The race is the 20th of 24 in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series:
Top Fuel — Tony Schumacher, 3.944 seconds, 312.86 mph def. Larry Dixon, 4.232 seconds, 225.18 mph.
Funny Car — Robert Hight, Ford Mustang, 4.218, 296.44 def. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 4.271, 292.58.
Pro Stock — Greg Anderson, Pontiac GXP, 6.684, 207.11 def. Johnny Gray, Dodge Stratus, 6.713, 206.64.
Pro Stock Motorcycle — Hector Arana, Buell, 6.979, 190.67 def. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 7.005, 190.43.
Top Alcohol Dragster — Marty Thacker, 5.372, 265.43 def. Shawn Cowie, 5.418, 265.74.
Top Alcohol Funny Car — John Lombardo Jr., Chevy Camaro, 5.691, 252.61 def. Alexis De Joria, Ford Mustang, 5.861, 242.54.
Competition Eliminator — Bruno Massel, Chevy Cobalt, 7.455, 145.66 def. Tom Schmidt, Chevy S-10, 9.291, 110.41.
Super Stock — Bryan Chaney, Chevy Camaro, 10.207, 124.43 def. Bobby Dennis, Olds Calais, 10.949, 114.38.
Stock Eliminator — Monty Bogan, Pontiac Firebird, 10.331, 126.96 def. Kevin Helms, Chevy Camaro, 10.574, 124.67.
Super Comp — Lloyd Parfait, Dragster, 8.887, 168.70 def. Mark Powers, Dragster, 8.876, 172.83.
Super Gas — David Jones, Pontiac Firebird, 9.906, 157.76 def. Roger Warren, Olds Cutlass, 9.892, 153.20.
ENNIS, Texas — Final round-by-round results from the 24th annual O’Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec at Texas Motorplex, the 20th of 24 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series:
ROUND ONE — Brandon Bernstein, 3.948, 275.56 def. Steve Torrence, 5.376, 44.62; Spencer Massey, 3.931, 305.42 def. Bob Vandergriff, 3.911, no speed; Shawn Langdon, 3.911, 309.13 def. Clay Millican, 4.051, no speed; Antron Brown, 3.911, 312.78 def. Terry Haddock, 3.985, 300.20; Larry Dixon, 3.884, 308.64 def. Mike Bowers, 4.170, 234.78; Morgan Lucas, 4.188, 215.20 def. Mike Strasburg, 5.625, 124.56; Tony Schumacher, 3.884, 316.60 def. T.J. Zizzo, 4.627, 173.65; Cory McClenathan, 4.127, 265.95 def. Doug Kalitta, 5.150, 147.65;
QUARTERFINALS — Massey, 3.942, 304.67 def. Lucas, 4.758, 161.96; Langdon, 4.236, 237.96 def. McClenathan, 4.403, 190.14; Dixon, 3.938, 308.85 def. Bernstein, 3.954, 309.70; Schumacher, 3.915, 315.49 def. Brown, 4.113, 266.00;
SEMIFINALS — Dixon, 3.957, 308.28 def. Langdon, 5.037, 154.92; Schumacher, 3.960, 310.91 def. Massey, 4.363, 219.44;
FINAL — Schumacher, 3.944, 312.86 def. Dixon, 4.232, 225.18.
ROUND ONE — Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 4.241, 292.77 def. Matt Hagan, Charger, 5.704, 124.03; Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 4.177, 297.22 def. Tony Pedregon, Chevy Impala, 4.300, 266.69; Jerry Toliver, Chevy Monte Carlo, 4.277, 290.38 def. Jeff Arend, Toyota Solara, 4.920, 211.06; Robert Hight, Mustang, 4.202, 297.75 def. Leif Helander, Chevy Camaro, 5.889, 131.65; John Force, Mustang, 4.250, 300.53 def. Grant Downing, Monte Carlo, 5.008, 160.50; Ashley Force Hood, Mustang, 4.197, 296.89 def. Del Worsham, Solara, 4.631, 232.87; Mike Neff, Mustang, 4.294, 286.50 def. Cruz Pedregon, Solara, 4.772, 179.28; Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.212, 288.64 def. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.685, 222.33;
QUARTERFINALS — Beckman, 4.219, 294.11 def. Force, 4.271, 289.63; Hight, 4.224, 295.01 def. Wilkerson, 4.311, 283.49; Toliver, 4.354, 289.45 def. Tasca III, 4.588, 261.17; Force Hood, 4.245, 296.83 def. Neff, 4.582, 199.26;
SEMIFINALS — Beckman, 4.546, 218.55 def. Toliver, 4.555, 214.01; Hight, 4.270, 288.46 def. Force Hood, 5.984, 108.80;
FINAL — Hight, 4.218, 296.44 def. Beckman, 4.271, 292.58.
ROUND ONE — Ron Krisher, Chevy Cobalt, 6.681, 207.53 def. Greg Stanfield, Pontiac GXP, foul; Johnny Gray, Dodge Stratus, 6.673, 207.30 def. Larry Morgan, Stratus, 6.723, 207.27; Rodger Brogdon, GXP, 6.691, 206.95 def. Kurt Johnson, Cobalt, 6.688, 207.27; Greg Anderson, GXP, 6.680, 206.89 def. Warren Johnson, GXP, 6.695, 207.66; Allen Johnson, Stratus, 6.666, 207.40 def. Tom Hammonds, Cobalt, 6.699, 206.32; Mike Edwards, GXP, 6.629, 208.14 def. V. Gaines, Stratus, 6.751, 204.23; Matt Hartford, Stratus, 6.751, 205.04 def. Jason Line, GXP, 6.697, 205.98; Jeg Coughlin, Cobalt, 6.681, 206.76 def. Steve Spiess, Cobalt, 6.705, 206.13;
QUARTERFINALS — Coughlin, 6.676, 207.40 def. Brogdon, 6.692, 206.83; Gray, 6.699, 207.08 def. Hartford, foul; Anderson, 6.676, 207.40 def. A. Johnson, 6.668, 206.99; Edwards, 6.626, 208.65 def. Krisher, 6.662, 207.69;
SEMIFINALS — Gray, 6.719, 207.02 def. Coughlin, 10.181, 91.82; Anderson, 6.689, 207.37 def. Edwards, 13.595, 54.40;
FINAL — Anderson, 6.684, 207.11 def. Gray, 6.713, 206.64.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE:
ROUND ONE — Angie McBride, Buell, 7.130, 185.61 def. Shawn Gann, Buell, foul; David Hope, Buell, 7.119, 184.85 def. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 7.102, 185.66; Michael Phillips, Suzuki, 7.041, 190.92 def. Craig Treble, Suzuki, 7.266, 184.02; Douglas Horne, Buell, 7.094, 186.38 def. Mike Berry, Buell, foul; Matt Smith, Suzuki, 7.071, 187.63 def. Junior Pippin, Buell, 7.134, 186.36; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 7.038, 188.67 def. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 7.144, 184.02; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 7.024, 187.78 def. Redell Harris, Buell, 7.200, 181.13; Hector Arana, Buell, 6.949, 190.75 def. Joe DeSantis, Suzuki, 10.978, 76.93;
QUARTERFINALS — Smith, 6.997, 189.34 def. Horne, 7.068, 191.35; Hines, 6.985, 192.17 def. Phillips, foul; Krawiec, 6.997, 190.51 def. McBride, 7.083, 186.74; Arana, 6.954, 192.47 def. Hope, foul;
SEMIFINALS — Krawiec, 7.004, 188.86 def. Smith, 7.069, 186.74; Arana, 7.037, 188.44 def. Hines, foul;
FINAL — Arana, 6.979, 190.67 def. Krawiec, 7.005, 190.43.
ENNIS, Texas — Point standings (top 10) for NHRA professional categories following the 24th annual O’Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec at Texas Motorplex, the 20th of 24 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series -
1. Tony Schumacher, 2,272; 2. Larry Dixon, 2,245; 3. Cory McClenathan, 2,218; 4. Antron Brown, 2,207; 5. Shawn Langdon, 2,188; 6. Brandon Bernstein, 2,155; 7. Spencer Massey, 2,152; 8. Morgan Lucas, 2,124; 9. Doug Kalitta, 2,074; 10. Clay Millican, 2,062.
1. Robert Hight, 2,241; 2. Ashley Force Hood, 2,228; 3. Jack Beckman, 2,196; 4. Tony Pedregon, 2,182; 5. Bob Tasca III, 2,170; 6. Ron Capps, 2,147; 7. John Force, 2,131; 8. Tim Wilkerson, 2,129; 9. Mike Neff, 2,099; 10. Del Worsham, 2,085.
1. Mike Edwards, 2,288; 2. Jeg Coughlin, 2,223; 3. Greg Anderson, 2,208; 4. Allen Johnson, 2,179; 5. Jason Line, 2,177; 6. Greg Stanfield, 2,169; 7. Johnny Gray, 2,146; 8. Kurt Johnson, 2,113; 9. Ron Krisher, 2,093; 10. Rickie Jones, 2,020.
Pro Stock Motorcycle
1. Hector Arana, 2,318; 2. Eddie Krawiec, 2,291; 3. Andrew Hines, 2,207; 4. Matt Smith, 2,170; 5. Douglas Horne, 2,156; 6. Michael Phillips, 2,139; 7. Karen Stoffer, 2,127; 8. Shawn Gann, 2,125; 9. Craig Treble, 2,104; 10. Matt Guidera, 2,020.
ENNIS, Texas – Pro Stock racer Mike Edwards took advantage of NHRA’s new qualifying bonus point system and earned the maximum 12 points during two days of qualifying at the O’Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals. For his efforts, the Oklahoma racer earned his category-leading 12th No. 1 qualifying position of the season Saturday at the Texas Motorplex.
Larry Dixon, Robert Hight and Eddie Krawiec also claimed No. 1 qualifying positions in their categories at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event. The race is the second of six events in the Countdown to 1, NHRA’s championship playoffs.
Edwards was quickest in both sessions for the day in his A.R.T. / Young Life Pontiac GXP, but it was his 6.597 second run at 209.88 mph from Friday that earned him the top spot. He will face V. Gaines in Sunday’s 11 a.m. eliminations.
Per the new rule, the top three qualifiers in each pro category earn 3, 2, and 1 points respectively during each qualifying session. Edwards’ total increased his series lead over defending champ Jeg Coughlin, who earned 5 qualifying bonus points.
“Hat’s off to all my guys, they were making some really good judgments for this last qualifying run,” Edwards said. “We had like 122 track temp, and I just made a phenomenal run. Moved around just a little bit down low, but boy, it was really nice. Hopefully we can make good decisions tomorrow. I’m really happy with my team and the car and my performance and everything. But tomorrow is another day, so we’ll see what happens. We’re all out here trying to win rounds so every round you can win you try to do all you can. If we could win this race here, it would really help us a lot, but there are 15 other guys who are trying to do the same thing. It’s going to be a tough job, but I think we’re capable.”
In Top Fuel, Al-Anabi Racing’s Dixon earned his sixth No. 1 of the season, 37th of his career and second consecutive in the playoffs, with his 3.833 at 312.93 mph performance from Friday. Brandon Bernstein and Spencer Massey were quickest of the day.
“Yesterday was a lot more fun than today,” Dixon said. “Conditions were obviously pretty warm. We went out there and tried a few things on the first run, then we went back to a normal set-up and still got the tires loose, so we’ll calm her down a little more. It’s going to be hotter tomorrow, so we’ve got to make sure we get our car down the racetrack.”
The two-time world champ will face opening round opponent Mike Bowers, who is making his first career start in Top Fuel. Dixon says with warm conditions forecast for Sunday, anything can happen.
“The first couple of rounds probably won’t be too bad, but if we’re fortunate enough to get to the semifinals, we’re going to be running around 3 o’clock, and that’s the hottest part of the day,” Dixon said. “We measured 127 [degrees track temperature on the second run], so it was pretty hot. But when you’re sitting in that car ready to run and the last thing you see is Alan Johnson stick his hands in their and turn the knobs, you don’t worry about anything; it’s a good feeling.”
Hight took his third No. 1 position of the season and 31st of his career in Funny Car with his Friday run of 4.109 at 305.56 in his Auto Club Ford Mustang. Ashley Force Hood and Bob Tasca III posted the quickest runs of the day.
“We knew that with today’s weather that we were definitely going to stay No. 1; nobody was going to run a .10,” Hight said. “But we only got down the track once today and I’d feel better going into race day if we’d done better in the heat. It dropped a cylinder on that last run and if that hadn’t happened it probably would have run near what the quick guys were running.”
Hight will face first-time NHRA Funny Car racer Leif Helander in the opening round as he tries to keep his recent hot streak going.
“We’re racing a guy from Sweden and you know he’s got to be hungry,” Hight said. “There are no easy ones. You know he’s going out there trying to get his first national event round-win, so we’re going to have to do our job tomorrow. Looking at the ladder, there are a lot of first-round match-ups of the Countdown cars, so a lot of those guys are going to be gone early and if we can do what we did in Charlotte we can keep this thing rolling. But it won’t be easy. It’s going to be hotter tomorrow and we’ve got to go down the track to win.”
The three marquee Countdown to 1 first-round pairings Hight was referring to include Tim Wilkerson vs. Ron Capps; Force Hood vs. Del Worsham; and Tasca III vs. Tony Pedregon.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Krawiec claimed his second top qualifying position of the season with his Friday performance of 6.908 at 192.55 on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson. Krawiec earned eight qualifying bonus points for the weekend, but Saturday’s quickest riders were Krawiec teammate Andrew Hines and series leader Hector Arana.
“Like I said yesterday, I really didn’t think my run was going to hold up for the session this morning,” said Krawiec, who will face Redell Harris in the first round. “I was fortunate that it got a little hotter and the humidity went up. The weather conditions weren’t quite as good I was able to maintain the No. 1 position. I think on any race day, it doesn’t matter where you qualify or where you are in the field. Bottom line is, as long as you qualify, you have a shot. I don’t take any competitor out here lightly. They all have fast motorcycles they all just have to get tuned into the track conditions and weather conditions. I think anybody out there can possibly shine tomorrow. I’m just going to go out there and race my own race.”
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ENNIS, Texas — First-round pairings for Sunday’s professional eliminations Sunday at the 24th annual O’Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec at Texas Motorplex, the 20th of 24 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series, and the second of six events in the Countdown to 1, NHRA’s championship playoffs. Pairings based on results in qualifying, which ended Saturday. DNQs listed below pairings.
Top Fuel — 1. Larry Dixon, 3.833 seconds, 312.93 mph vs. 16. Mike Bowers, 4.018, 296.50; 2. Morgan Lucas, 3.859, 313.58 vs. 15. Mike Strasburg, 4.017, 304.05; 3. Tony Schumacher, 3.860, 312.78 vs. 14. T.J. Zizzo, 3.992, 307.16; 4. Shawn Langdon, 3.872, 311.56 vs. 13. Clay Millican, 3.984, 306.88; 5. Cory McClenathan, 3.878, 315.86 vs. 12. Doug Kalitta, 3.979, 308.28; 6. Antron Brown, 3.878, 314.61 vs. 11. Terry Haddock, 3.954, 304.46; 7. Spencer Massey, 3.879, 307.16 vs. 10. Bob Vandergriff, 3.931, 307.93; 8. Brandon Bernstein, 3.889, 313.44 vs. 9. Steve Torrence, 3.901, 310.20. Did Not Qualify: 17. Urs Erbacher, 4.102, 294.18; 18. Scott Palmer, 4.154, 270.05; 19. Todd Simpson, 4.731, 209.33.
Funny Car — 1. Robert Hight, Ford Mustang, 4.109, 305.56 vs. 16. Leif Helander, Chevy Camaro, 10.185, 89.49; 2. John Force, Mustang, 4.149, 302.41 vs. 15. Grant Downing, Chevy Monte Carlo, 4.374, 255.63; 3. Jerry Toliver, Monte Carlo, 4.163, 302.55 vs. 14. Jeff Arend, Toyota Solara, 4.256, 292.27; 4. Ashley Force Hood, Mustang, 4.173, 295.79 vs. 13. Del Worsham, Solara, 4.246, 294.05; 5. Mike Neff, Mustang, 4.181, 298.40 vs. 12. Cruz Pedregon, Solara, 4.234, 294.43; 6. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.188, 294.56 vs. 11. Tony Pedregon, Chevy Impala, 4.228, 291.95; 7. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 4.194, 296.44 vs. 10. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.207, 294.75; 8. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.204, 294.95 vs. 9. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.207, 295.27.
Pro Stock — 1. Mike Edwards, Pontiac GXP, 6.597, 209.88 vs. 16. V. Gaines, Dodge Stratus, 6.700, 206.10; 2. Jason Line, GXP, 6.611, 209.33 vs. 15. Matt Hartford, Stratus, 6.697, 206.99; 3. Jeg Coughlin, Chevy Cobalt, 6.614, 209.33 vs. 14. Steve Spiess, Cobalt, 6.695, 207.15; 4. Tom Hammonds, Cobalt, 6.620, 208.17 vs. 13. Allen Johnson, Stratus, 6.688, 207.94; 5. Greg Anderson, GXP, 6.628, 208.97 vs. 12. Warren Johnson, GXP, 6.660, 208.68; 6. Kurt Johnson, Cobalt, 6.639, 208.52 vs. 11. Rodger Brogdon, GXP, 6.655, 207.94; 7. Johnny Gray, Stratus, 6.639, 208.10 vs. 10. Larry Morgan, Stratus, 6.653, 207.72; 8. Greg Stanfield, GXP, 6.643, 208.49 vs. 9. Ron Krisher, Cobalt, 6.645, 208.17. Did Not Qualify: 17. Mark Buehring, 8.928, 202.15.
Pro Stock Motorcycle — 1. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.908, 192.55 vs. 16. Redell Harris, Buell, 7.179, 183.24; 2. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.912, 193.07 vs. 15. Joe DeSantis, Suzuki, 7.127, 188.81; 3. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.930, 191.95 vs. 14. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 7.113, 183.72; 4. Matt Smith, Suzuki, 6.944, 192.14 vs. 13. Junior Pippin, Buell, 7.094, 188.89; 5. Douglas Horne, Buell, 6.966, 190.75 vs. 12. Mike Berry, Buell, 7.092, 186.56; 6. Michael Phillips, Suzuki, 6.976, 194.60 vs. 11. Craig Treble, Suzuki, 7.074, 187.50; 7. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.997, 190.75 vs. 10. David Hope, Buell, 7.068, 185.28; 8. Shawn Gann, Buell, 7.014, 190.62 vs. 9. Angie McBride, Buell, 7.049, 186.56. Did Not Qualify: 17. Bailey Whitaker, 7.256, 183.34; 18. Blaine Hale, 7.279, 184.40.