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Force Kicks It Up At Route 66

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Saturday, June 30 2012

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Mired in a slump since winning the 2012 season-opener, John Force raced to the Funny Car qualifying lead Friday at the O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries.

Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Sr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were qualifying leaders at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill.

Force powered his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang to a leading performance of 4.050-seconds at 310.77 mph during the first of two night qualifying sessions at this event. The 15-time world champion won the season-opener at Pomona, Calif. in February, but needs a surge during the final few events of the regular season to guarantee that he qualifies for the six-race Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship, NHRA’s playoffs.

“The win at Pomona is kind of “we were there” but we didn’t really look that good,” said Force, currently eighth in the point standings. “This is simple. I’m a 15-time champ. I owe sponsors and fans better than what I have been giving them last year and this year. I know what the game is. We’ve showed some consistency lately, but not much to be excited about.”

If the effort stands it will be Force’s NHRA-record 140th No. 1 qualifying position and first of the season. Force has claimed five poles and three victories in his career at Route 66 Raceway.

“A 4.05 is good but let’s see if we can do it again (Saturday),” Force said of his 1,000-foot pass. “I thought (Ron) Capps or (Robert) Hight would be right there to break it. All I want to do is play the game. I love it so much.”

Jack Beckman was second in his Schumacher Electric Dodge Charger with a 4.054-second pass at 311.56 mph and John Force Racing teammate Hight was third in his Auto Club Mustang at 4.060-seconds and 309.91 mph. Capps, who has a six-race final-round streak going for Don Schumacher Racing, was the leader after the first session but ended up eighth in his NAPA Auto Parts Charger at 4.121/303.98.

In Top Fuel, DSR’s Brown cruised to the top of the order with a 3.773-second pass at 322.50 mph in his Matco Tools dragster to hold off Al-Anabi Racing’s Shawn Langdon at 3.784-seconds and 322.73 mph. DSR’s Spencer Massey stands third with a 3.788-second 1,000-foot pass at a track record speed of 326.79 mph in his FRAM/Prestone dragster.

“One thing that I can tell you is that right when I step on the gas, the Matco dragster got out of Dodge,” Brown said. “That was a good, good feeling. It hiked the front tires right up and it just kept going and going and didn’t stop pulling. When it starts arching up, you know you’re on a great run.”

Brown and the rest of the Top Fuel contingent took full advantage of the cooler conditions of the evening qualifying session, with another round looming Saturday.

“We know that if we can get the car off the starting line we can put the big numbers up,” Brown said. “You get that momentum going early, and everything takes care of itself. Tonight we got off the starting line good, and that’s what it’s all about. I’m stoked and pumped and really looking forward to Saturday.”

Johnson led Pro Stock with a quarter-mile pass of 6.597-seconds at 209.26 mph in his Team Mopar Dodge Avenger. If the time holds, it would be his fifth No. 1 of the season and 23rd of his career.

“We’ve just got an awesome team right now,” Johnson said. “We’re very consistent, we’re very fast. The Hemi engines are absolutely awesome. Dad (Roy) has managed to find even a little bit more horsepower. Losing the last race (at Bristol, Tenn.) was a heartbreaker, especially at home. Hopefully we’ll get a little bit of the good stuff at this race to make things come our way.”

Reigning world champion Jason Line was second-quick at 6.629-seconds and 207.88 mph in his Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro, while Bristol winner Mike Edwards was third with numbers of 6.635/208.10 in his Penhall/Interstate Batteries Pontiac GXP.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, former world champion Arana Sr. paced the field with a quarter-mile performance of 6.915-seconds at 192.22 mph on his Lucas Oil Buell.

“The first race this year (at Gainesville, Fla.) was slow, but we’ve picked up the pace and have been doing great ever since,” said Arana Sr., who took the top spot in the first qualifying session of the day. On his second attempt, his bike slowed near the finish line.

“I was on a great pass,” Arana Sr. said. “The bike was going straight and at about 1,000-foot it started slowing down and I felt my leg getting cold. Then the other leg got cold and I knew what had happened. I had a fuel leak and that is what slowed us.”

Hector Arana Jr. sits second on his Lucas Oil Buell with a 6.939-second run at 193.21 mph. Three-time world champion Andrew Hines is third on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson V-Rod with a 6.945-second run at 192.55 mph.

Qualifying continues Saturday with sessions at 4 and 7 p.m. (EDT). A 90-minute qualifying wrap will air Saturday at 6 p.m. (EDT) on ESPN2, with a repeat at 3 a.m. (EDT) Sunday.

Sunday’s eliminations begin at 11 a.m. (EDT), with a three-hour eliminations program to air from 6 to 9 p.m.

Friday’s results after the first two of four rounds of qualifying for the 15th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries at Route 66 Raceway, 11th of 23 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. Qualifying will continue Saturday for Sunday’s final eliminations.

Top Fuel _ 1. Antron Brown, 3.773 seconds, 322.50 mph; 2. Shawn Langdon, 3.784, 322.73; 3. Spencer Massey, 3.788, 326.79; 4. Steve Torrence, 3.795, 317.42; 5. Khalid alBalooshi, 3.825, 318.54; 6. Hillary Will, 3.828, 312.71; 7. Brandon Bernstein, 3.850, 318.69; 8. Clay Millican, 3.855, 316.15; 9. Terry McMillen, 3.855, 303.50; 10. Cory McClenathan, 3.862, 309.70; 11. Bob Vandergriff Jr., 3.868, 319.98; 12. Tony Schumacher, 3.884, 300.80.

Not Qualified _ 13. Rit Pustari, 3.946, 304.74; 14. T.J. Zizzo, 3.948, 295.14; 15. Doug Kalitta, 3.953, 265.06; 16. Chris Karamesines, 4.001, 300.00; 17. Morgan Lucas, 4.047, 257.63; 18. Troy Buff, 4.086, 291.01; 19. Ike Maier, 4.192, 274.89; 20. Luigi Novelli, 4.241, 214.08; 21. Tim Cullinan, 4.818, 155.51; 22. David Grubnic, 5.082, 137.12; 23. Brady Kalivoda, 7.636, 85.45.

Funny Car _ 1. John Force, Ford Mustang, 4.050, 310.77; 2. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 4.054, 311.56; 3. Robert Hight, Mustang, 4.060, 309.91; 4. Johnny Gray, Charger, 4.074, 312.57; 5. Jeff Arend, Toyota Camry, 4.075, 309.49; 6. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.076, 310.63; 7. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 4.116, 303.43; 8. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.121, 303.98; 9. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.150, 301.13; 10. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.172, 302.89; 11. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.193, 294.43; 12. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.198, 299.33.

Not Qualified _ 13. Dale Creasy Jr., 4.230, 294.82; 14. Bob Bode, 4.343, 229.35; 15. Todd Lesenko, 4.352, 233.44; 16. Terry Haddock, 4.357, 273.61; 17. Courtney Force, 4.526, 208.14; 18. Mike Neff, 5.184, 145.34.

Pro Stock _ 1. Allen Johnson, Dodge Avenger, 6.597, 209.26; 2. Jason Line, Chevy Camaro, 6.629, 207.88; 3. Mike Edwards, Pontiac GXP, 6.635, 208.10; 4. V. Gaines, Avenger, 6.635, 206.95; 5. Vincent Nobile, Avenger, 6.636, 208.33; 6. Ron Krisher, GXP, 6.639, 207.66; 7. Erica Enders, Chevy Cobalt, 6.640, 206.83; 8. Rodger Brogdon, GXP, 6.644, 207.69; 9. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.649, 207.37; 10. Greg Stanfield, Camaro, 6.650, 207.62; 11. Ronnie Humphrey, GXP, 6.651, 207.30; 12. Jeg Coughlin Jr., Avenger, 6.660, 207.11.

Not Qualified _13. Shane Gray, 6.660, 206.67; 14. Larry Morgan, 6.677, 206.89; 15. Chris McGaha, 6.688, 206.39; 16. Warren Johnson, 6.693, 206.01; 17. Kurt Johnson, 6.700, 205.91; 18. Grace Howell, 6.767, 204.26; 19. Kevin Lawrence, 6.772, 203.98; 20. Steve Spiess, 6.775, 203.89; 21. Mark Hogan, 6.805, 203.77; 22. John Gaydosh Jr, 6.885, 201.19; 23. Dave River, 6.892, 200.35.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ 1. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.915, 192.22; 2. Hector Arana Jr., Buell, 6.939, 193.21; 3. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.945, 192.55; 4. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.988, 190.51; 5. Matt Smith, Buell, 7.009, 190.89; 6. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 7.010, 189.26; 7. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 7.016, 190.43; 8. Michael Ray, Buell, 7.017, 190.06; 9. Chip Ellis, Buell, 7.021, 189.95; 10. Shawn Gann, Buell, 7.034, 190.83; 11. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 7.045, 189.92; 12. Mike Berry, Buell, 7.061, 191.02.

Not Qualified _ 13. John Hall, 7.061, 186.30; 14. Angie Smith, 7.072, 188.25; 15. Scotty Pollacheck, 7.094, 189.63; 16. Wesley Wells, 7.098, 186.46; 17. Jerry Savoie, 7.106, 186.82; 18. Justin Finley, 7.109, 190.57; 19. Matt Guidera, 7.180, 182.18; 20. Danny Krier, 7.415, 177.11; 21. Michael Phillips, 7.631, 131.59; 22. Kieth Burley, 10.173, 103.90; 23. Katie Sullivan, 16.595, 36.55.

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Saturday, June 30 2012
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