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Schumacher Rips Into Vegas

| , RacinToday.com Friday, October 29 2010

Tony Schumacher is on the provisional pole in Las Vegas. (File photo courtesy of the NHRA)


Tony Schumacher nailed the provisional pole position in Top Fuel Friday during the first day of qualifying for the Las Vegas Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The defending world champion stopped the clock in 3.812-seconds at a sizzling 325.14 mph during the second session and that was good enough for the No. 1 position going into Saturday’s final two qualifying runs.

Also on provisional pole are Ashley Force Hood in Funny Car, Allen Johnson in Pro Stock and Hector Arana in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Schumacher’s speed is the fastest ever recorded since the NHRA went to 1,000-foot racing for the nitro cars. He will need to post a speed of at least 321.89 mph on Saturday or Sunday to set the national speed record.

“That was a tremendous job by the U.S. Army team,” said the Chicago-area resident. “We needed to come out to Las Vegas and make some noise this weekend, so this was a big step in the right direction.”

Schumacher arrived in “Sin City” holding third-place in the standings, 154 points behind leader, Larry Dixon. While not mathematically eliminated from world title contention, he knows an uphill battle remains.

“We’re going to try and win the race here and then the season finale in two weeks,” he said. “After that, the points will be what they will be. If we’re not the champion, we’ll go over and shake that person’s hand and offer congratulations. That’s the way it has to be.”

Having won six consecutive Full Throttle trophies, Schumacher is keenly aware he’s had a good run for an extended period of time.

“It’s been a terrific ride no matter how it turns out this year,” he added. “Like I said, we want to win the last two races and, hopefully, that will set the tone for 2011. The guys want to have that championship feeling again real soon.”

Force Hood raced her special-edition Queen of Hearts to the top of pack with a 4.032 and her father John was right behind with a 4.059 for second.

“At the end of the day, you just have to push your car to the point of making a really good run but not past the point of not getting A to B,” said Force Hood. “We can’t worry about what this person ran and or how many points this person has because it’s distracting and it really doesn’t help us at all. Our car is only going to do what it’s going to do, but sometimes you find that magic and it runs a little better than you thought it would.

“I’m excited and our team is really pumped. We made it down the track on both runs today and that’s a great way to start our weekend here in Vegas. We’re approaching each run just trying to run the best that we can. We’re not thinking about records and we’re not thinking about other people, we’re just going to take each run as it comes. Tomorrow we’ll look at the conditions and how we think the car will run and try to get the best run out of it.”

If it holds it will be Force Hood’s fifth No. 1 of the season, though all eyes are on her father, who is locked in a close battle with Matt Hagan for the championship. After a tire-smoking first pass, Force’s second run was second-quick of the session to earn him two bonus points, but Hagan was third quickest and got one point to set his lead at 63 points. Hagan is qualified fourth with a 4.090, behind first-session leader Cruz Pedregon’s third-ranked 4.087 meaning that with a good effort Saturday Force conceivably could get his deficit below 60 points or three rounds, which would making winning a 15th championship more plausible.

Johnson raced to the top of the Pro Stock pack in the day’s second session, placing his Mopar Dodge Avenger in the No. 1 spot with a 6.660 that denied reigning world champ Mike Edwards the provisional pole.

“We didn’t make a very good run at all in the first session, so we knew we had more left in the car, said Johnson, whose opening 6.671 was the third best of that session. :The left lane is the preferred lane for Pro Stock here and we were able to take advantage of it this afternoon. We’re on kill for this weekend. The kill button is pushed in, and we’re going to be aggressive on every run, try for all the bonus points that we can get, and hope for a miracle.

“I haven’t checked out the weather for Saturday, but my dad told me that tomorrow morning could have the best atmospheric conditions for the weekend, so we need to be ready to take advantage of that.”

Arana, the low qualifier in Pro Stock Motorcycle at the most recent event in Reading, opened Friday’s qualifying with a solid 6.92 that put his Lucas Oil Buell atop the field but the reigning world champ was not able to use the run as a springboard to a better pass in the second session because of am issue with his data recorder. Although he ran just 7.013, which was second quickest for the session, he retained the top position because no one could better his opening effort.

“After we made our 6.92 run this morning, we downloaded the computer data and everything seemed fine,” he reported, “but when we later went back to the computer we couldn’t find the data, and so we had to go up for the second qualifying run blind. We were very pleased with our 7.01. Hopefully we can download this one so that we can repeat for tomorrow.

“Earlier in the year my computer crashed and I lost a lot of data. But the biggest problem we had was that something happened to the bike that made it not respond to our tune-up. We’d make an OK run and then apply what we thought were the right tune-up changes, and the bike would slow down. But once we found out the problem, we started running good again.”

Results Friday after the first two of four rounds of qualifying for the 10th annual NHRA Las Vegas Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, 22nd of 23 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series and the fifth of six events in the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship playoffs. Qualifying will continue Saturday for Sunday’s final eliminations.

Top Fuel — 1. Tony Schumacher, 3.812 seconds, 325.14 mph; 2. Larry Dixon, 3.825, 318.99; 3. Steve Torrence, 3.865, 312.71; 4. David Grubnic, 3.874, 315.27; 5. Clay Millican, 3.878, 309.77; 6. Brandon Bernstein, 3.885, 302.55; 7. Cory McClenathan, 3.892, 316.01; 8. Antron Brown, 3.911, 311.27; 9. Shawn Langdon, 3.918, 312.21; 10. T.J. Zizzo, 3.923, 309.49; 11. Dom Lagana, 3.928, 309.27; 12. Troy Buff, 3.973, 289.51. Not Qualified: 13. Morgan Lucas, 3.977, 299.93; 14. Tim Boychuk, 4.019, 261.83; 15. Mike Strasburg, 4.024, 305.98; 16. Stig Neergaard, 4.109, 257.87; 17. Steven Chrisman, 4.110, 281.01; 18. Steve Faria, 4.379, 216.03; 19. Mark Mariani, 4.479, 190.73; 20. Doug Kalitta, 4.535, 168.66; 21. Terry McMillen, 4.681, 163.22; 22. Rob Passey, 4.846, 164.37; 23. Bob Vandergriff, 5.401, 123.94; 24. Scott Palmer, 6.281, 106.63; 25. Chris Karamesines, 6.522, 96.83; 26. Ron August, 8.251, 88.99.

Funny Car — 1. Ashley Force Hood, Ford Mustang, 4.032, 309.70; 2. John Force, Mustang, 4.059, 311.70; 3. Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Solara, 4.087, 304.67; 4. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 4.090, 304.53; 5. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.092, 309.20; 6. Bob Bode, Chevy Impala SS, 4.122, 302.08; 7. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.124, 306.74; 8. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.126, 301.74; 9. Melanie Troxel, Charger, 4.139, 306.88; 10. Gary Densham, Charger, 4.161, 281.83; 11. Jim Head, Solara, 4.187, 277.03; 12. Jeff Arend, Solara, 4.218, 301.33. Not Qualified: 13. Tim Wilkerson, 4.225, 291.70; 14. Jeff Diehl, 4.462, 245.27; 15. Robert Hight, 5.317, 141.11; 16. Del Worsham, 5.319, 135.71; 17. Tony Pedregon, 5.747, 119.53; 18. James Day, 6.033, 111.94; 19. Paul Lee, 7.080, 94.94; 20. Terry Haddock, 8.049, 90.11.

Pro Stock — 1. Allen Johnson, Dodge Avenger, 6.660, 207.46; 2. Mike Edwards, Pontiac GXP, 6.667, 206.57; 3. Rodger Brogdon, GXP, 6.670, 206.07; 4. Jason Line, GXP, 6.678, 206.92; 5. Greg Anderson, GXP, 6.680, 206.95; 6. Shane Gray, GXP, 6.690, 206.07; 7. Ron Krisher, GXP, 6.696, 206.51; 8. Jeg Coughlin, Chevy Cobalt, 6.699, 206.01; 9. V. Gaines, Avenger, 6.702, 205.79; 10. Dave Connolly, Cobalt, 6.708, 206.64; 11. Ronnie Humphrey, GXP, 6.708, 206.01; 12. Larry Morgan, Ford Mustang, 6.711, 205.26. Not Qualified: 13. Vinnie Deceglie, 6.718, 206.23; 14. Greg Stanfield, 6.718, 205.85; 15. Warren Johnson, 6.721, 205.91; 16. Johnny Gray, 6.734, 205.07; 17. Kurt Johnson, 6.739, 205.57; 18. Bob Yonke, 6.747, 204.57; 19. Richard Freeman, 6.748, 204.60; 20. Bob Glidden, 6.763, 203.52; 21. Gordie Rivera, 6.887, 201.82; 22. Steve Kalkowski, 6.929, 197.59; 23. Erica Enders, 12.299, 69.81.

Pro Stock Motorcycle — 1. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.929, 192.30; 2. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.963, 194.13; 3. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 7.001, 190.46; 4. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 7.002, 192.19; 5. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 7.016, 190.89; 6. Michael Phillips, Suzuki, 7.030, 190.92; 7. Craig Treble, Suzuki, 7.034, 189.36; 8. Angie Smith, Buell, 7.034, 186.48; 9. Shawn Gann, Buell, 7.068, 187.42; 10. Bailey Whitaker, Buell, 7.068, 186.28; 11. Matt Smith, Buell, 7.113, 184.22; 12. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 7.125, 186.67. Not Qualified: 13. Joe DeSantis, 7.127, 185.00; 14. Matt Guidera, 7.137, 186.59; 15. David Hope, 7.139, 186.10; 16. Steve Johnson, 7.157, 189.02; 17. James Surber, 7.196, 185.36; 18. Chris MacLaurin, 7.226, 183.47; 19. Scotty Pollacheck, 7.257, 182.38; 20. Redell Harris, 7.258, 185.51; 21. Freddie Camarena, 7.262, 183.82; 22. Rhett Lougheed, 7.278, 180.28; 23. Dawn Matthews-Baugues, 7.868, 167.01; 24. Mike Berry, 8.057, 120.25; 25. Katie Sullivan, broke.

| , RacinToday.com Friday, October 29 2010
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