‘The Sarge’ Is Refusing To Surrender In Las Vegas

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, October 28 2012

Tony Schumacher will begin final eliminations in Top Fuel from P1 on Sunday.

Antron Brown and Spencer Massey have reduced Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tony Schumacher to the unusual role of Top Fuel “third wheel” after four rounds of the NHRA’s Countdown to the Championship.

But beware “The Sarge.” A seven-time world champion, Schumacher secured the No. 1 qualifying position Saturday as time trials concluded for the 12th annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car), Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were No. 1 qualifiers at the fifth of six races in the Full Throttle Countdown, the NHRA’s playoffs.

Schumacher powered his U.S. Army dragster to a 1,000-foot pass of 3.773-seconds at 324.20 mph to earn his fourth pole of the season, bringing his career total to 71. In so doing, Schumacher kept his Countdown hopes alive heading into Sunday’s 11 a.m. eliminations.

“Side-by-side racing is really what it’s become,” Schumacher said of the current competition level. “There was a time when one car was a tenth-of-a-second faster than everybody else, and he just didn’t have to make a mistake and he would win. But now it’s incredibly close. It’s going to be a battle, and I’m glad we all got today in to see where the conditions are going to be. How many cars ran 3.80s? It was one after another after another and there were even a couple 3.7s. It’s great. The track is prepared good, and it’s getting better every day. We’re going to have some fantastic racing.”

The battle atop the point standings remained hot as leader Brown and his Matco Tools team qualified 13th with a run of 3.869-seconds at 313.88 mph. Runnerup Massey landed second on the 16-car ladder with a time of 3.776-seconds at 323.43 mph in his Prestone/FRAM dragster. Brown will face Al-Anabi Racing rookie Khalid alBalooshi – most recent winner on the circuit – in the first round of eliminations.

Pedregon paced the Funny Car class with a 1,000-foot pass of 4.066-seconds at 312.50 mph in his Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry to earn his fifth pole of the season and 50th in his career. Pedregon currently is fifth in the Countdown standings.

“To be honest with you, the conditions came to us,” said Pedregon, a two-time world champion. “Had we run when we were supposed to, I think the track wouldn’t have held that. But hey, we took advantage of it, as did a couple of cars. I think when I pulled into the water box we were fourth or fifth. It’s a credit to our team. It’s the fifth No. 1 of the year for our Snap-on Toyota, and man, is it a great car. It’s one of the best cars I’ve driven in my 20-year Funny Car career. But we’ve got a goose egg in the win column so we’ve got to enjoy this. We’re going to go out (Sunday) and see if we can’t get that win.”

Meanwhile, championship leader Jack Beckman wound up seventh at the end of qualifying with a 4.091-second pass at 309.06 mph in his Battery eXtender Powered by Schumacher Electric/Valvoline NextGen Dodge Charger R/T. DSR teammate Ron Capps, currently second in points, landed eighth with numbers of 4.098-seconds at 308.78 mph in his NAPA Auto Parts/Carlyle Tools Dodge. John Force Racing’s Mike Neff, the most recent event winner and third in points, qualified his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang second and will face Jeff Arend in Round 1 of eliminations.

In Pro Stock, two-time/defending world champion Line posted a track record quarter-mile performance of 6.590-seconds at 209.72 mph in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro to earn his eighth pole of the season and 32nd of his career. Line will face Shane Gray in Round 1.

“My mindset is easy. Just win,” said Line, runnerup in the Countdown standings to Allen Johnson. “Obviously, (teammate) Greg’s (Anderson) mindset is a little bit different than mine. He’s trying to help me win, which is a great thing. You can say that it’s unorthodox because it hasn’t been done before. But that’s why we have teammates. Our philosophy has never been to try to race each other and dive. That’s been done in the past and nobody likes that. That’s not real racing.”

Countdown leader Johnson and his Team Mopar/J & J Racing Dodge Avenger team qualified second at 6.600-seconds and 209.07 mph, and will face Deric Kramer in Round 1. Erica Enders, third in the standings, qualified fourth at 6.626-seconds and 208.71 mph in her GK Motorsports Chevy Cobalt.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Screamin’ Eagle/Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson rider Krawiec won the rain-delayed final elimination round from Reading, Pa., with a quarter-mile pass of 6.966-seconds at 194.13 mph against V-Rod teammate Andrew Hines. Krawiec, the two-time/reigning world champion, earned his eighth win of the season and increased his Countdown lead to 51 points over Hines. Krawiec also scored his fifth pole of the season and 14th of his career at 6.902-seconds and 195.11 mph.

“Man, to win today was huge,” said Krawiec, who along with Hines have been waiting to complete a final that was rained-out at Maple Grove Raceway on Oct. 8. “I sort of had mixed emotions when we didn’t have the chance to run the final in Reading. I thought I had a great opportunity then. But after unloading my bike here, we still had a fast motorcycle. We made some good laps this weekend and I feel I have a very consistent bike.”

Hector Arana Jr., currently third in the points, qualified second with a time of 6.912-seconds at 194.41 mph on his Lucas Oil Buell. His father, Hector Sr., landed seventh on the ladder with a 6.989-second pass at 192.60 mph. Hines qualified fourth with a run of 6.963-seconds at 194.07 mph on his Harley.

ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise one hour of qualifying coverage at 4 p.m. (EDT) on Sunday. The networks also will televise three hours of eliminations coverage at 8 p.m. (EDT) on Sunday.

Sunday’s first-round pairings for eliminations at the 12th annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the 22nd of 23 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. Pairings based on results in qualifying, which ended Saturday. DNQs listed below pairings.

Top Fuel _ 1. Tony Schumacher, 3.773 seconds, 324.20 mph vs. 16. Terry McMillen, 3.893, 314.02; 2. Spencer Massey, 3.776, 323.43 vs. 15. T.J. Zizzo, 3.878, 316.23; 3. Doug Kalitta, 3.798, 327.11 vs. 14. Cory McClenathan, 3.871, 305.91; 4. Khalid alBalooshi, 3.804, 325.69 vs. 13. Antron Brown, 3.869, 313.88; 5. J.R. Todd, 3.806, 324.05 vs. 12. Brandon Bernstein, 3.869, 320.43; 6. Shawn Langdon, 3.809, 323.19 vs. 11. Clay Millican, 3.860, 315.71; 7. Bob Vandergriff Jr., 3.810, 324.28 vs. 10. David Grubnic, 3.853, 319.22; 8. Steve Torrence, 3.823, 317.94 vs. 9. Morgan Lucas, 3.835, 317.79.

Did Not Qualify _ 17. Steven Chrisman, 4.074, 272.94; 18. Mike Salinas, 4.319, 226.73; 19. Chris Karamesines, 4.382, 201.76; 20. Troy Buff, 4.654, 160.46.

Funny Car _ 1. Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 4.066, 312.50 vs. 16. Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 4.136, 305.15; 2. Mike Neff, Mustang, 4.070, 313.73 vs. 15. Jeff Arend, Camry, 4.136, 308.99; 3. Robert Hight, Mustang, 4.074, 317.27 vs. 14. Paul Lee, Dodge Charger, 4.125, 301.40; 4. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.077, 310.98 vs. 13. Jon Capps, Charger, 4.114, 290.51; 5. Johnny Gray, Charger, 4.089, 313.22 vs. 12. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.108, 299.20; 6. Courtney Force, Mustang, 4.091, 313.51 vs. 11. Jim Head, Toyota Solara, 4.108, 308.78; 7. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.091, 309.06 vs. 10. John Force, Mustang, 4.108, 310.27; 8. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.098, 308.78 vs. 9. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 4.099, 305.70.

Did Not Qualify _ 17. Alexis DeJoria, 4.164, 296.76; 18. Josh Crawford, 4.377, 282.48; 19. Todd Lesenko, 4.476, 240.29; 20. Tommy Johnson Jr., 5.617, 139.52; 21. Jeff Diehl, 9.371, 67.23; 22. Terry Haddock, 10.780, 86.03.

Pro Stock _ 1. Jason Line, Chevy Camaro, 6.590, 209.72 vs. 16. Shane Gray, Pontiac GXP, 6.693, 206.35; 2. Allen Johnson, Dodge Avenger, 6.600, 209.07 vs. 15. Deric Kramer, Avenger, 6.689, 206.67; 3. Mike Edwards, GXP, 6.615, 208.71 vs. 14. JR Carr, Ford Mustang, 6.681, 205.66; 4. Erica Enders, Chevy Cobalt, 6.626, 208.71 vs. 13. Kurt Johnson, GXP, 6.657, 207.34; 5. Vincent Nobile, Avenger, 6.635, 208.01 vs. 12. Chris McGaha, Avenger, 6.653, 206.51; 6. Ron Krisher, GXP, 6.636, 208.04 vs. 11. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.650, 206.45; 7. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.636, 197.39 vs. 10. Jeg Coughlin Jr., Avenger, 6.647, 207.02; 8. V. Gaines, Avenger, 6.639, 208.78 vs. 9. Warren Johnson, GXP, 6.646, 207.50.

Did Not Qualify _ 17. Steve Kent, 6.698, 206.70; 18. Mark Wolfe, 6.700, 206.04; 19. Steve Kalkowski, 6.830, 203.55; 20. Larry Morgan, broke.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ 1. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.902, 195.11 vs. 16. GT Tonglet, Beull, 7.079, 190.03; 2. Hector Arana Jr., Buell, 6.912, 194.41 vs. 15. Redell Harris, Buell, 7.068, 189.23; 3. Matt Smith, Buell, 6.949, 192.96 vs. 14. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 7.059, 189.68; 4. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.963, 194.07 vs. 13. Shawn Gann, Buell, 7.011, 190.43; 5. Michael Ray, Buell, 6.970, 191.05 vs. 12. John Hall, Buell, 7.006, 190.38; 6. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.973, 192.52 vs. 11. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.996, 190.89; 7. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.989, 192.60 vs. 10. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.994, 190.22; 8. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 6.989, 189.87 vs. 9. Chip Ellis, Buell, 6.990, 191.24.

Did Not Qualify _ 17. Michael Phillips, 7.079, 188.62; 18. Kieth Burley, 7.108, 186.38; 19. Freddie Camarena, 7.169, 187.13; 20. James Surber, 7.172, 184.04; 21. Mike Berry, 7.175, 185.23; 22. Katie Sullivan, 7.183, 186.00; 23. Wesley Wells, 7.192, 185.13; 24. Matt Guidera, 7.196, 185.23; 25. Charles Sullivan, 7.350, 175.78; 26. Daryl Meadows, 7.443, 176.33; 27. Jerry Savoie, 7.643, 187.42.

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, October 28 2012
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