John Force Holds Onto No. 1 Qualifying Spot In Northwest
Drag racing icon John Force raced to his 150th Funny Car pole position Saturday during final qualifications for the 27th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals.
Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel) and Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) also will lead their respective categories into Sunday morning’s eliminations at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event in Kent, Wash., near Seattle. ESPN2 will air a three-hour program Sunday starting at 7 p.m. (EDT).
Force entered Saturday’s activity at Pacific Raceways as the No. 1 qualifier but briefly lost the top spot to daughter Courtney in the final qualifying round. John rallied with a track record 1,000-foot pass of 4.057- seconds at 307.86 mph in his Castrol GTX High-Mileage Ford Mustang to take pole from his daughter. This is Brut Force’s fourth No. 1 of the season and sixth at Pacific Raceways, the third and final stop of the annual Western Swing.
“I was overloaded today, had too much on my plate,” said Force, the 16-time/reigning world champion. “And then she bumped me. I figured (teammate) Robert (Hight) would do it; he didn’t. (Crew chief) Jimmy (Prock) turned around and said, ‘What do you want to do?’ I said, ‘Turn ‘er up.’ We knew what it would do, but you really don’t want to show the competition what you have. If you can hold your cards and get them in the evening, then you can step on it.”
Courtney Force, who won last weekend in Sonoma, Calif., was pushed to the No. 2 position with a run of 4.082-seconds at 306.33 mph in her Traxxas Ford Mustang. Courtney will face former John Force Racing driver Gary Densham on Sunday. Matt Hagan, the 2011 world champion for Don Schumacher Racing, qualified third at 4.100-seconds and 302.69 mph in his Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger and will aim for his second win when he faces Terry Haddock.
Piloting his U.S. Army dragster, Schumacher retained his No. 1 qualifying position from Friday and will lead the Top Fuel category into eliminations. Schumacher will make his 400th series start against rookie Jenna Haddock in the opening round.
“We have a great car,” said “The Sarge,” a seven-time world champion. “I wouldn’t want to race me tomorrow. The fact that we went down both lanes just shows what (crew chiefs) Mike (Green) and Neal (Strausburg) have been looking for for a long time. We just didn’t go down the track but we were first or second each session and had some 0.820/60-foot times. They’re making some great calls. Our initial launch is what we’ve been longing for. Everyone knows that if you get the car moving, you can apply clutch quicker.”
Top Fuel point-leader Doug Kalitta qualified second in his Mac Tools dragster at 3.805-seconds at 320.28 mph and is paired against Mike Salinas in Round 1. Reigning world champion Shawn Langdon of Al-Anabi Racing will begin eliminations in the third position after his run of 3.807-seconds at 317.05 mph and will face Clay Millican. Khalid alBalooshi, the winner last Sunday in Sonoma and Langdon’s Al-Anabi teammate, qualified sixth at 3.813-seconds and 319.22 mph. He will be paired against Brittany Force of JFR in Round 1.
Johnson retained his No. 1 qualifying position in Pro Stock via Friday’s quarter-mile effort in his Mopar/ Magneti Marelli Dodge Dart at 6.535-seconds and 211.86 mph. Johnson nailed down the 35th pole of his career and third at this event. Johnson has four poles this season but has yet to win when he starts from the top spot.
“The guys did an awesome job here,” said Johnson, the 2012 world champion. “All four rounds low and building up them baby points. That last round the track was representative of what we will see (Sunday). We made a really good run and we just need to keep doing what we are doing and be very consistent. If the driver does his job, we can get this thing done.” Because the Pro Stock field contains only 15 cars, Johnson will receive a bye into Round 2.
Mopar teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr., the five-time/reigning world champion, qualified fourth at 6.553-seconds and 211.13 mph and will face Larry Morgan in eliminations. Shane Gray, the No. 1 qualifier at Sonoma, qualified second at 6.538-seconds and 211.96 mph in his Gray Manufacturing Chevy Camaro. Gray will be paired against Travis Mazza in Round 1.
Sunday’s first-round elimination pairings for the 27th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries at Pacific Raceways, the 16th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Pairings based upon results in qualifying, which ended Saturday. DNQs listed below pairings.
Top Fuel _ 1. Tony Schumacher, 3.804-seconds, 320.20 mph vs. 16. Jenna Haddock, 4.176, 273.44; 2. Doug Kalitta, 3.805, 320.28 vs. 15. Mike Salinas, 4.158, 283.79; 3. Shawn Langdon, 3.807, 317.05 vs. 14. Clay Millican, 3.967, 305.77; 4. Richie Crampton, 3.809, 317.19 vs. 13. Terry McMillen, 3.931, 313.73; 5. Bob Vandergriff Jr., 3.812, 318.77 vs. 12. Antron Brown, 3.884, 309.34; 6. Khalid alBalooshi, 3.813, 319.22 vs. 11. Brittany Force, 3.848, 310.84; 7. Spencer Massey, 3.815, 318.09 vs. 10. Troy Buff, 3.845, 311.41; 8. J.R. Todd, 3.827, 314.83 vs. 9. Steve Torrence, 3.834, 316.45.
Did Not Qualify _ 17. Ron Smith, 4.339, 269.83.
Funny Car _ 1. John Force, Ford Mustang, 4.057, 308.07 vs. 16. Jeff Diehl, Toyota Solara, 4.361, 283.49; 2. Courtney Force, Mustang, 4.082, 306.33 vs. 15. Gary Densham, Chevy Impala, 4.303, 292.46; 3. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 4.100, 302.69 vs. 14. Terry Haddock, Impala, 4.199, 292.46; 4. Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Camry, 4.101, 303.23 vs. 13. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 4.175, 294.18; 5. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.102, 304.19 vs. 12. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.156, 297.29; 6. Robert Hight, Mustang, 4.107, 303.91 vs. 11. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.150, 301.40; 7. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.120, 306.40 vs. 10. Del Worsham, Camry, 4.136, 298.34; 8. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.126, 296.18 vs. 9. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.131, 300.53.
Did Not Qualify _ 17. Bucky Austin, 4.398, 276.63; 18. Paul Lee, 4.979, 204.20.
Pro Stock _ 1. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.535, 211.86 vs. Bye; 2. Shane Gray, Chevy Camaro, 6.538, 211.96 vs. 15. Travis Mazza, Ford Mustang, 8.038, 129.28; 3. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.549, 211.36 vs. 14. Mark Wolfe, Mustang, 7.060, 205.57; 4. Jeg Coughlin Jr., Dart, 6.553, 211.13 vs. 13. Larry Morgan, Mustang, 6.695, 207.82; 5. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.556, 211.56 vs. 12. Deric Kramer, Dodge Avenger, 6.615, 209.85; 6. V. Gaines, Dart, 6.561, 211.26 vs. 11. Matt Hartford, Avenger, 6.597, 210.67; 7. Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 6.562, 211.46 vs. 10. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.588, 210.57; 8. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.569, 210.73 vs. 9. Dave Connolly, Camaro, 6.587, 210.60.No Comment