Lucas Tops In Fuel Qualifying At Gateway
The NHRA was finally able to get in a full day racing at the O’Reilly Midwest Nationals near St. Louis Saturday and the field was set for Sunday’s eliminations.
Heading into the eliminations as top qualifiers at Gateway International Raceway are Morgan Lucas in Top Fuel, Ron Capps in Funny Car, Greg Stanfield in Pro Stock and Andrew Hines in Pro Stock Motorcycle.
All but one round of Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying was rained out on Friday.
Lucas, who scored his first Top Fuel win two weeks ago in Atlanta, was fastest Saturday with a pass at 3.881. He also had a pass at 3.90 on Saturday.
“It feels great to keep the momentum going,” Lucas said. “You never want to have something really big happen and then just fail the next week miserably, you always want to do the best you can. Its not making big changes, not doing anything radical and getting ourselves lost, staying down the path we’ve been going down.”
Lucas was challenged by Cory McClenathan, who drove his Fram dragster to a 3.882, which missed the pole by a thousandth. Tony Schumacher posted a 3.885 and Massey drove the Donnie Bender-tuned U.S. Smokeless entry to a 3.896 for the fourth spot.
Capps, the Funny Car points leader, had a pair of 4.11 runs on Saturday.
Rookie of the Year contender Matt Hagan is seeded second after posting a 4.14 in his Shelor Motor Mile Dodge and Del Worsham is third after driving the Al-Anabi Toyota to a 4.144. Cruz Pedregon also ran a 4.144, but missed the fourth spot by speed, running 297.81 mph to Worsham’s 298.40.
“For a while,” Capps said, “No. 1 always felt like you were a little bit jinxed going into Sunday and it didn’t really matter as long as you were top four and you had lane choice.
“The more impressive thing was to be rained out yesterday and then have (crew chief) Ed McCulloch put me in a car that ran 4.11 in both lanes. The left lane (in the second session) has a slightly bigger bump and they’re pretty equal. I was astounded when they told me on the radio I ran another .11. That was pretty neat.
“I thought for sure Ashley (Force Hood) was going to drop an .08 or an .07 on us (she’s No. 7 with a 4.162/294.95). And when all those cars were running .14s and .15s (in the final session) it showed me how good that run was in the first session.”
Capps faces No. 16 qualifier Terry Haddock in the opening round of Sunday’s eliminations.
The opening round of Funny Car will feature several interesting pairings as No. 5 qualifier Bob Tasca III will take on Robert Hight, Tony Pedregon will be paired with Ashley Force Hood, and Atlanta champ Jack Beckman will face John Force, who has just one win in 13 starts in Madison.
Stanfield drove to his fifth-career pole with a 6.573 run and will face No. 16 qualifier Dave Northrop in Sunday’s opening round.
Mike Edwards, who has qualified in the top half of the field at every event this season, including the top spot in Phoenix, Gainesville, and Las Vegas, is just two thousandths behind Stanfield with a 6.575 while Kurt Johnson is third quickest with a 6.576.
The top half of the field features Greg Anderson, Allen Johnson, Jason Line, Ron Krisher, and Jeg Coughlin round out the top eight.
Not making the field in Pro Stock were six-time champion Warren Johnson, V. Gaines, and Dave Beckley, who had qualified for his last four races.
Hines turned in the quickest pass in the history of the Pro Stock Motorcycle class with a 6.860 aboard his Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson for the No. 1 spot. Hines had earlier run a 6.920, which provide the necessary one-percent back-up required to establish a NHRA elapsed time record. If Hines can keep the record for the balance of the weekend, he will earn an additional 20 bonus points towards the Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship. It was the third-straight pole for Hines and the 25th of his career.No Comment