Dixon Jumps To The Top In Top Fuel
By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
Concord, N.C. – It was cloudy, relatively cool and it seemed the conditions at the zMAX Dragway were pretty darn good for Friday’s first two rounds of qualifying for the NHRA Carolina Nationals.
But, warned Top Fuel driver Antron Brown, the conditions were not perfect so he did not expect that his provisional No. 1 qualifying effort would hold up through the daytime runs of Saturday.
Brown was correct, though disappointed.
Larry Dixon posted the quickest Top Fuel run of the weekend on Saturday morning when he took advantage of overcast skies and lower humidity to make a pass at a track record 3.844 seconds and at 313.66 mph.
That pushed him past Brown, who set the track speed record with a 317.87 mph pass Saturday, and sent Dixon to the finals as No. 1.
Then Dixon warned against placing too much emphasis on meteorological conditions.
“This was a tribute to this team,” Dixon said of his pole-winning run of Saturday morning. “It’s what happens “when you get one more shot (at making the car faster) and look what happens.”
Brown held on to No. 2 spot while Tony Schumacher will start from the No. 3 spot on Sunday.
Clay Millican, who started the Countdown 10th, needed a good final qualifying run to qualify for eliminations.
John Force was the big mover in Funny Cars on Saturday. In his final run, he jumped from seventh to second with a pass at 4.095 seconds.
Cruz Pedregon hung onto the No. 1 qualifying spot, potentially setting up a grudge match against Force in Sunday’s finals.
It was those two drivers who were at the heart of the controversy which rocked the U.S. Nationals two weeks ago. That’s when Pedregon and his brother, Tony, accused Force of taking a dive in his semifinal in order to get teammate/employee Robert Hight into the Countdown.
As a result, Cruz Pedregon was bounced out of the Countdown.
“We were dodging bullets” in qualifying, Pedregon said. “It’s great to be No.1 qualifier in the first race of the Countdown at Charlotte, but it’s time to go out and win some rounds tomorrow.”
Hight as the No. 3 qualifying spot heading into eliminations at zMAX.
Mike Edwards has now qualified No. 1 11 times in 2009. He has now qualified in the top spot four times in a row. What he has only done three times this season is win national events.
Edwards’ last victory came at Seattle five races ago.
Now would be a good time to win again, he said, and the place to start resides in his bathroom mirror.
“We’ve struggled with the driving part,” Edwards said. “It’s time for me to step it up and do a better job.”
Ronnie Humphrey held onto the No. 2 qualifying spot on Saturday while Kurt Johson was third. Points leader Jeg Coughlin qualified 12th-fastest while Jason Line, second in points, was fifth.
Ron Krisher’s hopes for a championship took a huge blow Saturday when he failed to qualify. Krisher, who was seventh in points when the weekend started, red-lighted in the final round of qualifying.
Also missing eliminations was Countdown driver Ricky Jones. He was ninth when the Countdown started. It was his first DNQ of the season.
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Arana will start eliminations with a run against Joe DeSantis and will be hoping to end it with his third victory in the last four events.
“I’m having the best time of my life right now,” Arana said after grabbing the top qualifying spot on Saturday.
Andrew Hines qualified second fastest while Shawn Gann was third. Points-leader Eddie Krawiec was fifth.
* Many teams and drivers have no idea where the money will come from next year, let alone the years after. Funny Car driver Bob Tasca III now does.
Ford Motorcraft officials announced Saturday that they have extended their sponsorship of Tasca. The deal was termed multi-year.
“We are proud to extend our relationship with Bob Tasca and everyone at Tasca Racing,” said Ken Czubay, Vice President, Ford U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service. “Our sponsorship with the Motorcraft and Quick Lane Shelby Mustang fits with our business plan and performance of solid products and results. “From a start-up operation just over a year ago, to winning races and being in position to contend for the NHRA Funny Car title is a credit to the hard work this team has put in.”
Tasca is participating in his first Countdown to 1.
* Excitement seems to building about Sunday’s exhibition in which four fuel cars will race at the same time at the unique four-lane zMAX strip.
John Force warned fans not to miss it and other drivers less prone to hype also said they were looking forward to seeing the event.
– Jim Pedley can be reached at email@example.comNo Comment