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The Sarge Marches To Pole At Maple Grove

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, October 5 2014


Top Fuel point-leader Tony Schumacher claimed pole position Saturday as his march toward an eighth world championship continued during the 30th annual NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway in Mohnton, Pa.

Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car), Erica Enders-Stevens (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also will lead their respective categories into Sunday’s 11 a.m. eliminations at the fourth of six playoff events during the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship.

Schumacher, who won the opening two events of the Countdown, posted a career-best 1,000-foot pass of 3.733-seconds at 327.51 mph in his U.S. Army dragster to lead the field into eliminations. It was the 76th career No. 1 qualifier, fourth of the season and seventh at Maple Grove for “The Sarge.” Schumacher, who has a class-best 76 career victories, will open eliminations against Bob Vandergriff Jr.

“We had a great race car,” said Schumacher, a four-time winner at Maple Grove. “That was a fantastic run. There was more left out there. I was stuck in the track. Mike (Green, crew chief) had an excellent baseline because that was exactly what we were going for.”

Schumacher’s seventh pole at Maple Grove is a Top Fuel qualifying record. No other driver has earned more than six No. 1s at a single track.

Brittany Force qualified second with a 3.737-second pass at 328.78 mph in the Castrol EDGE dragster. She will face Terry McMillen to start eliminations. Kalitta Motorsports teammates J.R. Todd and Doug Kalitta drove to the third and fourth starting spots, respectively, with Todd running a 3.738-second pass at 325.77 mph in the Optima Batteries dragster while Kalitta posted a 3.747/326.95 in the Mac Tools machine. Todd will race Dom Lagana while Kalitta opens with Clay Millican.

Gateway Motorsports Park winner and 2012 world champ Antron Brown will face Khalid alBalooshi in the first round following a pass of 3.762-seconds at 323.50 mph in his Matco Tools dragster.

Pedregon claimed the top spot in Funny Car with his Friday 1,000-foot run of 3.991-seconds at 319.52 mph in the Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry, only one of two Funny Cars to run in the three second range during the four qualifying sessions. Pedregon, a two-time world champion, secured his third pole of the season, 57th of his career and third at Maple Grove. He faces first-timer John Bojec in the opening round.

“I’m happy for the team,” said Pedregon, a two-time winner at Maple Grove Raceway. “This is our third (No. 1 qualifier) here, it’s been a good track to us. We need the points, all the help we can get. We’re trying to dig ourselves out of the hole points-wise.”

John Force qualified second with a 3.997-second run at a track record speed of 323.97 mph in the Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang. Force, the 16-time/reigning world champ and seven-time winner at Maple Grove, will open eliminations against fellow-Ford driver Bob Tasca III.

Don Schumacher Racing’s Matt Hagan raced to a 4.008-second run at 321.50 mph in the Rocky Boots Dodge Charger, good for the No. 3 spot and a first-round matchup with two-time world champion Tony Pedregon. Courtney Force, trailing her father by 30 points in the standings when the weekend began, is fourth in the Traxxas Ford Mustang following a run of 4.008-seconds at 320.36 mph. She will race Jeff Arend on Sunday.

Robert Hight, the 2009 world champion, will face Tim Wilkerson from the No. 5 spot after his 4.009-second pass at 320.13 mph in the Auto Club Mustang.

In Pro Stock, Enders-Stevens earned her second top qualifying position in a row, fifth of the season, 11th in her career and first at Maple Grove following a track-record quarter-mile elapsed time of 6.465-seconds at 213.16 mph in the Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro. Enders-Stevens, third in points, will race Frank Gugliotta in the opener.

“It was very exciting,” Enders-Stevens said. “We knew conditions were conducive for that. We didn’t necessarily expect to go an 0.46; we had thought we would be able to go 0.48 so it even blew our minds a little bit. Great racing surface and the weather was awesome. How much fun was that?”

Shane Gray, winner at Indianapolis to end the regular season, sits second after a 6.484-second pass at 212.33 mph in the Gray Manufacturing Chevy Camaro. Gray will open eliminations against Kenny Delco.

Point-leader Jason Line, a two-time world champion, is third in his Summit Racing Chevy Camaro with a 6.500-second pass at 213.23 mph, earning a first-round faceoff with John Gaydosh. Allen Johnson rebounded from a tough start in the Countdown with the No. 4 qualifying spot after a 6.505-second pass at 212.79 mph. Johnson, the 2012 world champion, will drive his Magneti Marelli Dodge Dart against first-round foe Larry Morgan.

Route 66 Raceway winner Vincent Nobile starts fifth in his Mountain View Tire Chevy Camaro and will race Dave Connolly after a 6.505-second pass at 212.46 mph in his Charter Communications Camaro. Connolly, who has won the last two Countdown races, is second in points to Line.

Arana Jr. qualified No. 1 in Pro Stock Motorcycle after a 6.796-second run aboard his Lucas Oil Buell during the last session. It was his second pole of the season and 15th of his career. Arana Jr., who sits third in points, opens against Brian Pretzel on Sunday.

“We’re going to go one round at a time,” said Arana Jr., the winner at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill., in June. “We struggled this weekend in qualifying. We were trying different things but couldn’t get it figured out. We threw a Hail Mary at it. We’ve got nothing to lose. It went right down the track and we went all the way to No. 1. I was shocked.”

Point- leader Andrew Hines, a three-time world champion, was second aboard his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson V-Rod after a 6.799-second run at 196.27 mph, setting up a match with Joe DeSantis. Jerry Savoie, last Sunday’s winner at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Ill.,, was third with a 6.821-second pass at 195.62 mph aboard his Savoie’s Alligator Farm Suzuki. He will face John Hall in Round One.

Three-time world champion Eddie Krawiec, the second Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson entry, will open eliminations against Shawn Gann following his run as the No. 4 qualifier with numbers of 6.822-seconds at 195.34 mph. Adam Arana is fifth on his ProtectTheHarvest.com/MAVTV Buell at 6.862/193.93 and will race Steve Johnson.

ESPN2 will re-air 90 minutes of qualifying at 4:30 p.m. (EDT) Sunday. The network will follow with three hours of final eliminations programming starting at 8 p.m. (EDT).

Sunday’s first-round elimination pairings for the 30th annual NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway, the 22nd of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and fourth of six playoff races in the Countdown to the Championship. Pairings based on results in qualifying, which ended Saturday. DNQs listed below pairings.

Top Fuel _ 1. Tony Schumacher, 3.733-seconds, 327.51 mph vs. 16. Bob Vandergriff Jr., 7.358, 179.64; 2. Brittany Force, 3.737, 329.50 vs. 15. Terry McMillen, 3.977, 318.39; 3. J.R. Todd, 3.738, 325.77 vs. 14. Dom Lagana, 3.847, 315.86; 4. Doug Kalitta, 3.747, 326.95 vs. 13. Clay Millican, 3.835, 316.15; 5. Antron Brown, 3.762, 323.50 vs. 12. Khalid alBalooshi, 3.834, 316.82; 6. Spencer Massey, 3.767, 327.90 vs. 11. Leah Pritchett, 3.821, 316.52; 7. Shawn Langdon, 3.773, 325.77 vs. 10. Richie Crampton, 3.814, 317.49; 8. Steve Torrence, 3.786, 324.83 vs. 9. Larry Dixon, 3.788, 325.30.

Funny Car _ 1. Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 3.991, 319.52 vs. 16. John Bojec, 5.029, 270.92; 2. John Force, Ford Mustang, 3.997, 323.97 vs. 15. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.568, 246.21; 3. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 4.008, 321.50 vs. 14. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 4.171, 293.98; 4. Courtney Force, Mustang, 4.008, 320.36 vs. 13. Jeff Arend, Charger, 4.093, 310.55; 5. Robert Hight, Mustang, 4.009, 320.13 vs. 12. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.090, 314.46; 6. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.017, 316.97 vs. 11. Chad Head, Camry, 4.088, 309.34; 7. Del Worsham, Camry, 4.046, 316.15 vs. 10. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.087, 307.02; 8. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.063, 320.20 vs. 9. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.065, 316.01.

Did Not Qualify _ 17. Mike Smith, 5.142, 228.07; 18. Jeff Diehl, 5.377, 302.14.

Pro Stock _ 1. Erica Enders-Stevens, Chevy Camaro, 6.465, 213.16 vs. 16. Frank Gugliotta, Ford Mustang, 6.599, 208.68; 2. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.484, 212.33 vs. 15. Kenny Delco, Chevy Cobalt, 6.597, 208.59; 3. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.500, 213.23 vs. 14. John Gaydosh Jr., Pontiac GXP, 6.579, 210.14; 4. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.505, 212.79 vs. 13. Larry Morgan, Mustang, 6.575, 209.95; 5. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.505, 212.46 vs. 12. Dave Connolly, Camaro, 6.552, 210.93; 6. Richie Stevens, Camaro, 6.506, 212.26 vs. 11. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.540, 211.53; 7. Jeg Coughlin Jr., Dart, 6.525, 211.93 vs. 10. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.539, 212.49; 8. Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 6.528, 211.56 vs. 9. V. Gaines, Dodge Avenger, 6.531, 211.66.

Did Not Qualify _ 17. Travis Mazza, 6.677, 207.30; 18. Val Smeland, broke.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ 1. Hector Arana Jr., Buell, 6.796, 197.22 vs. 16. Brian Pretzel, Suzuki, 7.309, 182.21; 2. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.799, 196.27 vs. 15. Joe DeSantis, Suzuki, 7.074, 185.79; 3. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.821, 195.62 vs. 14. John Hall, Buell, 6.939, 190.32; 4. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.822, 195.90 vs. 13. Shawn Gann, Buell, 6.927, 193.38; 5. Adam Arana, Buell, 6.862, 194.58 vs. 12. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.922, 193.65; 6. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.863, 196.50 vs. 11. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 6.912, 191.62; 7. Chaz Kennedy, Buell, 6.866, 191.92 vs. 10. Angie Smith, Buell, 6.900, 192.47; 8. Angelle Sampey-Drago, Buell, 6.868, 191.65 vs. 9. Matt Smith, Buell, 6.878, 192.58.

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, October 5 2014
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