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NHRA Notes: JFR Attacks In Force

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Friday, September 3 2010

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

Clermont, Ind. – It was a John Force Racing kind of September evening on the opening day of the 2010 NHRA Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at O’Reilly Raceway Park.

Led by defending Funny Car champion Robert Hight, the JFR bunch swept the top three spots in first-round of qualifying for the Full Throttle Series’ big event, which this year, also kicks off the Countdown to 1 playoffs.

Hight made a track-record pass in 4.055 seconds.

“You know when you run number like that, you’re going to be qualified,” he said. “You don’t know if it’s going to hold up for No. 1 or not.”

His speed was 310.98 mph.

Temperatures were cool for Friday’s session, but a hefty win was blowing across the track. Low temperatures, which produce high speeds and good times, are expected to continue through the weekend.

“It’s a perfect way to start the season and this is a new season for us,” Hight said.

After Hight, regular-season points leader John Force was second fastest and set the track speed record with a pass at 312.86 mph.

If Hight earns the No. 1 qualifying spot, it will be the seventh time this season he has done so.

Third was Ashley Force Hood.

Bob Bote was fourth and Jeff Arend was fifth.

In Top Fuel, Cory McClenathan turned the fastest pass as he went the 1,000 feet in 3.789 seconds. That was a new track record. His speed was 319.98 miles per hour.

McClenathan arrived in Indy second in points behind Larry Dixon. Dixon smoked his tires on Friday night.

Second fastest in Top Fuel was Antron Brown, McClenathan’s teammate at Don Schumacher Racing, with a time of 3.808 seconds and a speed of 319.22 seconds.

Defending Top Fuel champion Tony Schumacher was fifth.

“It was a nice start for the U.S. Army team,” said Schumacher. “We wanted to put down a clean lap and that’s exactly what we got. We’ll try to get after it even more the next couple of days.”

Mike Edwards, the defending Pro Stock champion and current points leader, was fastest in that class. Edwards covered the 1,000 feet in 6.596 seconds. His top speed was 208.46 mph.

Second was Allen Johnson, who is second in points. Johnson turned his lap in 6.601 seconds and at 209.46.

Jason Line was third and Greg Stanfield was fourth.

Andrew Hines was fastest in Pro Stock Motorcycle with a pass at 6.974 seconds and at 185.69 mph.

Hines came to Indy as the points leader.

Behind Hines Friday was LE Tonglet with a time of 6.985 seconds and 187.26 mph.

Matt Smith was third fastest while Eddie Krawiec was fourth.

Hector Arana, the defending bike champion, was sixth.

Two more rounds of qualifying will be held on Saturday, two more on Sunday and eliminations are scheduled for Monday.

Legend returns: Back in a Pro Stock car Friday was Bob Glidden. Glidden, who had been retired since 1997, won 85 national events during his career. That is the third most behind John Force and Warren Johnson. He won 10 NHRA championships.

Glidden had a pass at 204.94 mph and in 6.78 seconds. That put him 19th of 29 cars in qualifying session No. 1.

More TV: The NHRA said that ESPN will be expanding its coverage of the NHRA Full Throttle Series’ six-race playoff across multiple platforms and making all of the racing available live to racing fans.

The six-race playoff begins this weekend with the traditional Labor Day running of the 56th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil. ESPN2 HD will carry the final eliminations on Monday Sept. 6 from 1-6 p.m. (ET).

Live coverage of the full days of eliminations action for all six races in the Countdown to 1 will be televised on ESPN3, ESPN’s live sports broadband network at www.espn3.com.

It is available at no additional cost to fans who receive their high-speed Internet connection from an affiliated service provider, and is currently available in more than 53 million homes – a majority of U.S. broadband homes. It is also available at no cost to approximately 21 million U.S. college students and U.S.-based military personnel via computers connected to on-campus educational networks and on-base military networks.

Television coverage of the remaining five races in the Countdown to 1 will be split between ESPN2 HD and ESPN HD and each of the five races will be presented in prime time.

The O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at zMax Dragway in Charlotte (Sept. 19) and the O’Reilly Auto Parts SuperStart Batteries NHRA Nationals at Texas Motorplex in Ennis, Texas (Sept. 26) will be  televised at 7 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2 HD.

The final three races – the Toyo Tires Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa. (Oct. 10), the NHRA Las Vegas Nationals from the Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Oct. 31) and the Auto Club NHRA Finals from Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California (Nov. 14) – will all begin at 9 p.m. (ET) and be televised on ESPN HD.

Foose wear: Automobile designer Chip Foose was about three words into a press conference announcing that he had partnered with apparel company Oakley on a new line of shoes, when a couple of Top Alcohol Funny Cars left the line.

Foose, world renown for his hot rod designs, paused and smiled and said, “Just want to enjoy that sound.”

Foose, who has gained fame from through appearances on rod-building cable television shows, is also the grand marshal at this year’s race.

Of the shoes he designed for Oakley, he said he did not want them to be too have the fancy European drivers shoe look.

“What I wanted was something a guy with a ’70 Chevelle would want to wear. It’s not a serious driving shoe. It’s something I’d want to wear around the shop.”

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.com

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Friday, September 3 2010
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