First Passes Of 2012 Are In Books

| , RacinToday.com Thursday, February 9 2012

Jack Beckman on top in Pomona in Funny Car. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Harold Hinson)

The first round of qualifying in the 2012 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series was held on Thursday and making the fastest passes were Morgan Lucas in Top Fuel, Jack Beckman in Funny Car and Mike Edwards in Pro Stock.

The first event of the season is the 52nd O’Reilly Auto Parts Winternationals in Pomona, Calif.

Lucas’ pass was at 320.28 mph and in 3.832 seconds.

Although Lucas won this event last year, he went winless for the rest of the season, so he knows not to get too excited about one run, no matter how good it appeared to be.

“My optimism level is very guarded,” Lucas said. “In past years, I’ve been really optimistic coming into the season because of new people we hired or established situations within the team. I’ve learned not to get my hopes too far up and try to be a realist about it. You take the good when it comes but you need to be able to keep your head up when the bad is hanging around, too.

“To be honest with you, the win last year is so far out of my mind it’s not even funny. Last year was so bad toward the middle and end of the season that, for us, it’s more important to just get the car down the racetrack every run. I didn’t think we were even trying to run that quick just now. It was only the first run of the season, but we’re all excited to get this GEICO dragster down the race track, and hopefully get some more stuff to build off of and continue some progress throughout the season.”

Second fastest was seven-time champion Tony Schumacher while Shawn Langdon, making his first run for Al-Anabi Racing was third.

“That was a great way to start the season right there,” Schumacher said. “It seems like we just picked up where we left off in testing last month. It’s always nice to make a solid run right out of the box.

“We’re way overdue for that to happen,” said Schumacher, a two-time Winternationals winner. “There is no doubt in my mind we have one fast hot rod. We can definitely go out on Sunday and win this thing.”

The 2011-champion Al-Anabi gold Top Fuel car, which was driven a year ago by Del Worsham but with newcomer Khalid alBalooshi at the wheel this year, was seventh fastest Friday.

Spencer Massey, who finished second in 2011, was sixth fastest. Antron Brown, Massey’s Don Schumacher Racing teammate, was 16th.

Beckman’s fast Funny Car pass was at 308.14 mph and in 4.139 seconds.

“The most important thing is if we can go down the track and get good computer data, we can pick away at it from there,” Beckman said. “If you go out there and smoke the tires, you don’t know how much you missed it by. We all know that 4.13 is not going to hold, but we feel we have as good a shot of stepping up as any other car out there.”

Second fastest in Funny Cars was Bob Tasca III. Third was Johnny Gray.

Matt Hagan, last year’s Funny Car champion, sat fourth at the end of the day. Fifteen-time champion John Force was fifth. Right behind was Force’s daughter, Courtney at sixth.

Courtney Force posted a solid time of 4.21 seconds at 303.16 mph.

“My first run was very exciting,” she said. “It was very nerve-racking. It is something I have been thinking about for such a long time. I think my dad was a little more nervous than me. I definitely had some butterflies and I just went up there knowing I didn’t have anything to lose. This was the dream that I was getting to live.

“I just wanted to go out there and do the best that I could as a driver. I wanted to take everything I learned from last year and take it to the race track. I am still a new driver and I am still learning every time I get in the car.”

In Pro Stock, Edwards went the 1,000 feet in 6.545 seconds and at 211.86 mph.

Just behind Edwards was Ronnie Humphrey. Third was Vincent Nobile.

“It feels really, really good,” Edwards said. “When you start off a new season, you never know what to expect, and we got off to a great start. It was a great run. My guys did a phenomenal job. We just made one of the nicest runs we’ve made in Pomona in a long time, so it’s a great start for us. Hopefully, we can build on this tomorrow and see what happens.”

Qualifying at the Winternationals presented by Super Start Batteries at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona will continue Friday, Feb. 10 at 1:30 p.m. followed by the final two qualifying sessions Saturday, Feb. 11 at 11 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. Eliminations will begin Sunday at 11 a.m.

Thursday’s results after the first of four rounds of qualifying for the 52nd annual O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals presented by Super Start Batteries at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, first of 23 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. Qualifying will continue Friday for Sunday’s final eliminations.

Top Fuel — 1. Morgan Lucas, 3.832 seconds, 320.28 mph; 2. Tony Schumacher, 3.838, 320.58; 3. Shawn Langdon, 3.857, 319.29; 4. Steve Torrence, 3.857, 318.39; 5. Brandon Bernstein, 3.865, 314.90; 6. Spencer Massey, 3.866, 320.20; 7. Khalid alBalooshi, 3.873, 318.47; 8. Clay Millican, 3.884, 309.34; 9. Doug Kalitta, 3.887, 314.53; 10. Bob Vandergriff, 3.889, 316.01; 11. Cory McClenathan, 3.968, 310.13; 12. Terry McMillen, 4.194, 233.60. Not Qualified: 13. Steven Chrisman, 4.686, 165.54; 14. David Grubnic, 5.413, 122.03; 15. Rod Fuller, 5.676, 114.01; 16. Antron Brown, 6.615, 96.45; 17. Steve Faria, 8.662, 65.92; 18. Troy Buff, broke.

Funny Car — 1. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 4.139, 308.14; 2. Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 4.150, 307.37; 3. Johnny Gray, Charger, 4.158, 307.23; 4. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.177, 307.23; 5. John Force, Mustang, 4.192, 302.89; 6. Courtney Force, Mustang, 4.210, 303.16; 7. Bob Bode, Chevy Impala SS, 4.244, 295.08; 8. Tony Pedregon, Impala SS, 4.253, 288.33; 9. Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Solara, 4.433, 207.75; 10. Alexis DeJoria, Solara, 4.438, 211.00; 11. Jim Head, Solara, 5.021, 163.91; 12. Todd Lesenko, Impala SS, 5.133, 152.45. Not Qualified: 13. Ron Capps, 5.850, 117.62; 14. Jeff Arend, 7.551, 87.60; 15. Mike Neff, 7.594, 85.48; 16. Tim Wilkerson, 7.761, 84.74; 17. James Day, 8.823, 78.29; 18. Jack Wyatt, broke.

Pro Stock — 1. Mike Edwards, Pontiac GXP, 6.545, 211.86; 2. Ronnie Humphrey, GXP, 6.561, 211.39; 3. Vincent Nobile, Dodge Avenger, 6.574, 210.97; 4. Allen Johnson, Avenger, 6.580, 211.23; 5. Shane Gray, GXP, 6.584, 209.95; 6. Rodger Brogdon, GXP, 6.594, 209.92; 7. Ron Krisher, GXP, 6.595, 210.60; 8. Greg Anderson, GXP, 6.600, 211.49; 9. Kurt Johnson, GXP, 6.620, 209.17; 10. Greg Stanfield, GXP, 6.627, 209.20; 11. Larry Morgan, Ford Mustang, 6.629, 210.47; 12. Jason Line, GXP, 6.653, 211.06. Not Qualified: 13. Grace Howell, 6.680, 207.43; 14. V. Gaines, 7.182, 206.07; 15. Warren Johnson, 7.250, 203.89; 16. Erica Enders, 13.387, 65.63; 17. Jeg Coughlin, 18.205, 81.37; 18. Steve Kent, 19.142, 43.76.

| , RacinToday.com Thursday, February 9 2012
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