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Rookie Funny Car Driver Stuns Field, Self at zMAX

Deb Williams | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, April 20 2013

Chad Head has secured his first NHRA Funny Car pole. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Rusty Jarrett)

CONCORD, N.C. – Always expect the unexpected in racing, especially when it comes to the Dollar General NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway where Funny Car rookie Chad Head earned his first-ever No. 1 qualifying position Saturday.

With an ET of 4.014 seconds – 315.19 mph – one could say Head even surprised himself.

“I’m just lucky the car went straight, because it doesn’t have anything to do with me; with my ability,” said the 39-year-old Head. “It’s the way the guys set the car up; the way they do the stager and all that stuff. It’s 100 percent on those guys. There’s no way in 25 runs that I have the ability to go 4.01. That just shows you how good that team is.”

Head, the son of former drag racer Jim Head, said when he resigned as director of racing operations at Al-Anabi Racing at the end of 2012 he didn’t have any intention of driving the Funny Car formerly campaigned by his father. The younger Head’s objective was to work in the family construction business.

“This just comes along with it,” Head continued. “He [father] wants to continue to race. If I have the ability and I can stay up with his ability, then we will continue. If not, I will fire myself. It’s not a problem.”

When Head started driving he said his father told him two things: Don’t hit anything and don’t cross the center line.

“Jim Head is the type of guy who says ‘Just try to slide down there, run 4.08, 4.10,’” his son said with a smile. “That’s the same thing he did to me in testing. The first run out of the trailer (in testing) it was 4.05 and he comes to me and says, sorry. We ran 4.05, which is like 280, and it scared the shit out of me. He kinda apologized to me that time. He didn’t apologize to me this time. He just kinda grinned at me and said, ‘What did you think of that one?’ I said, ‘I don’t know. I couldn’t see much from about half track on. I was lucky enough to see the finish line. I shut (it) off and I hit the parachutes and I didn’t hit anything. So that’s a good thing.”

The weather Saturday was ideal for fast runs: Sunny with temperatures in the mid-60s. The same is predicted for Sunday when eliminations begin at noon.

“Obviously, the track is there, the conditions are there. There’s no reason why we couldn’t set records tomorrow [Sunday],” Head said.

The No. 1 qualifiers in two of the other three NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series agree, although they quantify it could be limited to track records.

Shawn Langdon, the No. 1 qualifier in Top Fuel with an ET of 3.751 seconds – 327.90 mph – noted that in order to post record numbers a good track and good air must coincide.

“The first run we made today we felt we left a little bit on the table,” Langdon said after earning his first No. 1 this season and the sixth of his career. “We shot a plug out about halfway down the track. We only went 318 mph. We felt confident if the track was holding up we could shoot for the No. 1 position. Fortunately, it held.”

Mike Edwards set a track record in Pro Stock with an ET of 6.471 seconds – 213.64 mph. His fifth consecutive No. 1this season and the 46th of his career, also was the quickest pass in NHRA Pro Stock history.

“It never entered my mind I would have five consecutive No. 1 starting positions to start the season,” Edwards said. “The engine program is phenomenal.”

Pro Stock Motorcycle is the only category where No. 1 qualifier Hector Arana Jr. doesn’t expect any records. He said the records set last year by the engines in the HD V-Rod bikes won’t be broken any time soon.

“It will probably be years before we can touch them,” Arana Jr. commented.

– Deb Williams can be reached at dwilliams@racintoday.com

First-round pairings for Sunday’s professional eliminations at the fourth annual Dollar General NHRA Four-Wide Nationals fueled by Full Throttle at zMax Dragway, the fifth of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Pairings based on results in qualifying, which ended Saturday. DNQs listed below pairings.

Top Fuel — 1. Shawn Langdon, 3.751 seconds, 327.90 mph vs. 16. Sidnei Frigo, 3.884, 316.52 vs. 8. Tony Schumacher, 3.823, 321.19 vs. 9. Brittany Force, 3.836, 323.81; 2. Spencer Massey, 3.774, 326.24 vs. 15. T.J. Zizzo, 3.883, 315.19 vs. 7. Antron Brown, 3.822, 322.19 vs. 10. Brandon Bernstein, 3.849, 317.42; 3. Morgan Lucas, 3.788, 324.90 vs. 14. David Grubnic, 3.855, 314.53 vs. 6. Steve Torrence, 3.820, 320.81 vs. 11. Larry Dixon, 3.851, 314.75; 4. Khalid alBalooshi, 3.804, 324.05 vs. 13. Doug Kalitta, 3.852, 315.05 vs. 5. Bob Vandergriff, 3.818, 324.12 vs. 12. Leah Pruett, 3.851, 310.84. Did Not Qualify: 17. Pat Dakin, 3.974, 299.20; 18. Chris Karamesines, 4.022, 302.14; 19. Clay Millican, 4.091, 233.08; 20. Terry McMillen, 5.051, 274.27.

Funny Car — 1. Chad Head, Toyota Camry, 4.014, 315.19 vs. 16. Robert Hight, Ford Mustang, 4.879, 166.25 vs. 8. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.194, 296.83 vs. 9. Jeff Arend, Dodge Charger, 4.264, 290.32; 2. John Force, Mustang, 4.039, 316.08 vs. 15. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 4.739, 189.18 vs. 7. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.162, 307.16 vs. 10. Blake Alexander, Charger, 4.280, 293.22; 3. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.071, 311.99 vs. 14. Dale Creasy Jr., Chevy Monte Carlo, 4.618, 267.06 vs. 6. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.137, 303.09 vs. 11. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.319, 219.72; 4. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.095, 306.95 vs. 13. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.571, 244.38 vs. 5. Del Worsham, Camry, 4.111, 309.27 vs. 12. Courtney Force, Mustang, 4.533, 190.65. Did Not Qualify: 17. Johnny Gray, 5.363, 230.10.

Pro Stock — 1. Mike Edwards, Chevy Camaro, 6.471, 213.64 vs. 16. Frank Gugliotta, Ford Mustang, 6.690, 208.20 vs. 8. Vincent Nobile, Dodge Avenger, 6.522, 212.39 vs. 9. V. Gaines, Avenger, 6.545, 212.13; 2. Jeg Coughlin, Avenger, 6.495, 213.47 vs. 15. Lewis Worden, Mustang, 6.681, 206.73 vs. 7. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.516, 213.54 vs. 10. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.573, 211.10; 3. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.498, 213.03 vs. 14. Warren Johnson, Pontiac GXP, 6.669, 208.75 vs. 6. Erica Enders-Stevens, Camaro, 6.508, 212.96 vs. 11. Greg Stanfield, Camaro, 6.589, 210.54; 4. Allen Johnson, Avenger, 6.500, 213.30 vs. 13. Kurt Johnson, GXP, 6.606, 209.95 vs. 5. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.508, 213.67 vs. 12. Larry Morgan, Mustang, 6.603, 209.33. Did Not Qualify: 17. Buddy Perkinson, 6.756, 207.98; 18. John Gaydosh Jr, 7.124, 200.32.

Pro Stock Motorcycle — 1. Hector Arana Jr., Buell, 6.826, 195.19 vs. 16. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.972, 190.00 vs. 8. Adam Arana, Buell, 6.895, 193.24 vs. 9. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.912, 192.36; 2. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 6.834, 193.88 vs. 15. Mike Berry, Buell, 6.960, 190.14 vs. 7. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.890, 195.48 vs. 10. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.914, 192.60; 3. Matt Smith, Buell, 6.837, 194.63 vs. 14. Angie Smith, Buell, 6.949, 190.81 vs. 6. Michael Ray, Buell, 6.885, 193.88 vs. 11. Shawn Gann, Buell, 6.933, 193.93; 4. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.860, 194.24 vs. 13. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.942, 193.90 vs. 5. John Hall, Buell, 6.868, 192.74 vs. 12. Katie Sullivan, Suzuki, 6.940, 192.44. Did Not Qualify: 17. Chip Ellis, 6.979, 191.59; 18. Michael Phillips, 7.023, 191.00; 19. Wesley Wells, 7.068, 189.63; 20. Freddie Camarena, 7.112, 190.75; 21. James Surber, 7.117, 185.36; 22. Redell Harris, 7.148, 188.67; 23. Joe DeSantis, 7.216, 178.35.

Deb Williams | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, April 20 2013
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