Female Drivers Have Big Days At ZMAX

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, September 13 2014

Alexis DeJoria nailed the top spot in Funny Car qualifying on Saturday at zMAX Dragway. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

CONCORD, N.C. – Fresh off a victory in the U.S. Nationals, Alexis DeJoria emerged as the No. 1 qualifier in Funny Car for the second time in her career Saturday during preparations for the Pep Boys NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway.

DeJoria, who was fourth quickest in Friday’s opening round, sat out the second one, then jumped to the top of the chart in Saturday’s first qualifying session with an E.T. of 4.100. In Saturday’s final round, DeJoria maintained the No. 1 position with a 4.090 E.T. Robert Hight, who was second in qualifying, produced the top speed of 308.14 mph.

DeJoria said she sat out the second qualifying round because there was a problem with her Toyota Camry that her crew couldn’t fix in the staging lanes.

“If they hadn’t (fixed it) and we tried to run, the downside would have been a possible bad explosion,” DeJoria said. “Better safe, than sorry.”

Other No. 1 qualifiers Saturday were J.R. Todd in Top Fuel (3.804), Erica Enders-Stevens in Pro Stock (6.568) and Eddie Krawiec in Pro Stock Motorcycle (6.849). Enders-Stevens was the only No. 1 qualifier to win all four rounds. The second seed in the six-race Countdown to the Championship, which begins at zMAX, Enders-Stevens’ performance gave her 12 bonus points entering Sunday’s elimination round, while No. 1 seed Jason Line acquired only two points during qualifying. Enders-Stevens also posted the top speed of the four rounds at 210.37 mph.

“We call them baby points; the points you are awarded for running low E.T. of every qualifying session and they all add up,” Enders-Stevens said after earning her third No. 1 qualifier this season and the ninth of her career. “We picked up 10 points on Jason which is so, so crucial with only 24 rounds of racing left.”

Even though it’s possible Enders-Stevens could face husband Richie Stevens in Sunday’s second round it will be Funny Car’s first round that will draw considerable attention when 16-time champion John Force squares off against his daughter Courtney. The 65-year-old Force entered the Countdown as the No. 1 seed with Courtney seeded sixth. In qualifying at zMAX, John was ninth with a 4.141 E.T. and Courtney eighth with an E.T. of 4.126.

The Force family announced a year ago that at the end of the 2014 season long-time sponsors Ford and Castrol would leave the operation. John said Friday he would never ask his daughters to sit on the sidelines so he could race if sponsorship became an issue for 2015.

“I don’t want to give up being in the game because it’s what I love, but if there’s a worst scenario, then my kids will race,” John said. “Brittany will race. She’s evolved. I’ve set her on fire. I’ve crashed her and now I’m going to say after all the dreams we had, all this year of training you and teaching you, I’m sorry I don’t have enough money Brittany. I’m going to race and I’m going to let you sit it out. I would never do that to my child.”

Courtney, who has Traxxas as her sponsor, said she wouldn’t want to see it come to her father having to make a choice.

“I’m out here because of my dad, because I grew up watching him and he’s the one that gave me the motivation to do what I want to do in this series and that’s to drive a Funny Car,” said Courtney, who obtained the 100th NHRA event win by a female earlier this year. “I want to be out here competing against him and with him. I hope it doesn’t come down to that. I hope he’s out here for a long, long time because it won’t be nearly as much fun without him.”

John said he would continue to be around the NHRA, “one way or the other”.

“If I don’t have any money, it will be a little embarrassing, but I’ll be out there, some way, somehow,” John said.

Sunday’s first-round pairings for eliminations for the Seventh annual Pep Boys NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMax Dragway, the 19th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and first of six playoff rounds in the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship. Pairings based on results in qualifying, which ended Saturday. DNQs listed below pairings.

Top Fuel — 1. J.R. Todd, 3.804 seconds, 317.64 mph vs. 16. Clay Millican, 3.902, 286.44; 2. Steve Torrence, 3.810, 320.58 vs. 15. Richie Crampton, 3.891, 311.05; 3. Doug Kalitta, 3.831, 318.62 vs. 14. Morgan Lucas, 3.887, 278.46; 4. Billy Torrence, 3.832, 319.75 vs. 13. Pat Dakin, 3.887, 311.77; 5. Tony Schumacher, 3.833, 320.43 vs. 12. Bob Vandergriff, 3.868, 316.08; 6. Shawn Langdon, 3.840, 317.05 vs. 11. Khalid alBalooshi, 3.867, 315.27; 7. Brittany Force, 3.841, 312.42 vs. 10. Leah Pritchett, 3.857, 307.65; 8. Spencer Massey, 3.851, 319.37 vs. 9. Antron Brown, 3.853, 311.99. Did Not Qualify: 17. Terry McMillen, 3.909, 315.64; 18. Chris Karamesines, 3.951, 307.09; 19. Ike Maier, 3.965, 301.94.

Funny Car — 1. Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Camry, 4.090, 300.53 vs. 16. Dave Richards, Toyota Solara, 5.167, 157.26; 2. Robert Hight, Ford Mustang, 4.108, 308.14 vs. 15. Chad Head, Camry, 4.598, 189.39; 3. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 4.114, 304.25 vs. 14. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 4.338, 261.17; 4. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.123, 300.60 vs. 13. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.204, 297.29; 5. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.123, 302.55 vs. 12. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.185, 292.77; 6. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.124, 305.22 vs. 11. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.162, 305.84; 7. Del Worsham, Camry, 4.126, 306.46 vs. 10. Jeff Arend, Charger, 4.161, 303.03; 8. Courtney Force, Mustang, 4.126, 300.33 vs. 9. John Force, Mustang, 4.141, 287.66. Did Not Qualify: 17. Bob Gilbertson, 6.117, 113.34.

Pro Stock — 1. Erica Enders-Stevens, Chevy Camaro, 6.568, 210.37 vs. 16. John Gaydosh Jr, Pontiac GXP, 6.697, 207.24; 2. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.579, 209.88 vs. 15. Larry Morgan, Ford Mustang, 6.671, 207.72; 3. Dave Connolly, Camaro, 6.582, 209.39 vs. 14. Shane Tucker, Camaro, 6.644, 209.26; 4. Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 6.592, 209.72 vs. 13. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.637, 208.49; 5. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.595, 209.79 vs. 12. V. Gaines, Dart, 6.632, 209.20; 6. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.596, 210.24 vs. 11. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.622, 208.01; 7. Jeg Coughlin, Dart, 6.602, 209.33 vs. 10. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.618, 209.85; 8. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.605, 209.52 vs. 9. Richie Stevens, Camaro, 6.606, 209.23.

Pro Stock Motorcycle — 1. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.849, 194.30 vs. 16. Brian Pretzel, Suzuki, 7.254, 185.43; 2. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.876, 195.48 vs. 15. Shawn Gann, Buell, 7.066, 190.11; 3. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.893, 193.77 vs. 14. Michael Ray, Suzuki, 7.013, 192.17; 4. Matt Smith, Buell, 6.925, 192.17 vs. 13. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.996, 192.60; 5. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.937, 192.38 vs. 12. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.982, 192.36; 6. John Hall, Buell, 6.940, 192.44 vs. 11. Angie Smith, Buell, 6.968, 191.08; 7. Chaz Kennedy, Buell, 6.945, 192.85 vs. 10. Adam Arana, Buell, 6.956, 192.44; 8. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.952, 192.69 vs. 9. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 6.956, 192.11.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, September 13 2014
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