Records Fall On Cool Day At The Four-Wides

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, March 29 2015

Courtney Force shot to the top in Funny Car qualifying on Saturday. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer

CONCORD, N.C. – Even though track records were broken Saturday in three of the NHRA’s four professional classes, competitors thought their two qualifying runs in the Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway would have been faster due to the unseasonably cold temperatures.

Funny Car was the only class that didn’t have a track record fall, but it possibly had one of the most dramatic runs as Courtney Force jumped from the 16th spot to No. 1. With her 4.011 E.T., Force dropped her father, 16-time Funny Car champion John Force, to the No. 2 position for Sunday’s elimination round. It was her first No. 1 qualifying position at zMAX, her second of the season and the ninth of her career.

Only two qualifying rounds were held for this year’s NHRA Four-Wide Nationals due to inclement weather cancelling Friday’s activities.

“Going from zero to hero, it’s really my crew chiefs and my team,” the 26-year-old Force said. “It’s easy to look like a hero when your car is flying down there … but we still have a lot to work on.”

Force was surprised there weren’t some times in the 3-second range.

“But, then again, I think a lot of people were trying to be a little bit safe because we only got two passes out of the four,” she said. “You’re new to each lane. You’re just trying to stay safe, get the car down to the other end and get the car in the field.”

Even though no track record was broken in Funny Car, it didn’t take the competitors long in the other classes to set new marks.

Top Fuel had track records broken in each qualifying session. In the first round, Pat Dakin broke the E.T. record with a 3.715-second run. Then J.R. Todd erased that record in the final session with an E.T. of 3.713 seconds to take over the No. 1 position. The old record of 3.749 seconds was set by Tony Schumacher in September 2012. For Todd, it was the first time this season he has secured a No. 1 qualifying position, his second at zMAX and the seventh of his career.

“The thing didn’t even make it to the finish line under power, so I think for sure we’ll run 3.70 if not .69 (Sunday),” Todd said after posting his career best. “I was kinda mad we didn’t get to run yesterday because we needed some cars on the track to get the rubber laid down that we needed. But looking at the weather forecast all week, I think everybody’s been licking their chops to get here and run. I thought there would be more low .70s than what there were. The air the way it is and the track being new, I think it’s throwing all of these teams a little bit of a curve ball.”

Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying began at 1:15 p.m. Saturday in 44-degree weather with a wind chill factor that made it feel like 37. That put the track temperature at 84. Hector Arana Jr. immediately snapped the track record with a 6.794-second E.T. The old record of 6.810 seconds was set by Eddie Krawiec in September 2011.

“We had a feeling we would run good, but we were surprised with the numbers. It was definitely a pleasant surprise,” Arana said after snaring his first No. 1 qualifying position of the season and the 17th of his career.

In Pro Stock, Jason Line broke his own record for top speed in the first qualifying round with 214.04 mph. His old record of 213.91 mph was set in April 2012. He was the provisional No. 1 qualifier with an E.T. of 6.481 seconds, but in the final round Chris McGaha bumped him to No. 2 when he posted a 6.474-second E.T. It was McGaha’s second consecutive No. 1 qualifying position for the season, the second straight for the event and fourth overall. However, the Odessa, Texas, driver said he was surprised more 6.40s weren’t recorded.

“Our problem was the track was green to all of us,” McGaha said. “None of us had ever been down it except for a few guys in lane 2. I think we were all being very conservative and holding back.”

Perhaps the biggest surprise in the single day of qualifying was 2014 Pro Stock champion Erica Enders-Stevens, who failed to complete a run. She enters Sunday’s elimination round in the No. 16 position. Eliminations begin at 1 p.m.

First-round pairings for Sunday’s professional eliminations at the sixth annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway, fourth 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. J.R. Todd, 3.713-seconds, 309.84 mph vs. 16. Shawn Langdon, 5.089, 275.56 vs. 8. Antron Brown, 3.792, 318.62 vs. 9. Dave Connolly, 3.807, 317.05; 2. Pat Dakin, 3.715, 318.84 vs. 15. Chris Karamesines, 4.343, 185.72 vs. 7. Richie Crampton, 3.771, 327.03 vs. 10. Brittany Force, 3.826, 318.32; 3. Tony Schumacher, 3.726, 328.94 vs. 14. Leah Pritchett, 4.130, 305.70 vs. 6. Clay Millican, 3.768, 315.05 vs. 11. Larry Dixon, 3.829, 314.75; 4. Spencer Massey, 3.730, 326.32 vs. 13. Ike Maier, 4.020, 303.84 vs. 5. Doug Kalitta, 3.736, 325.06 vs. 12. Steve Torrence, 3.837, 321.35.

Did Not Qualify _ 17. Terry McMillen, 10.498, 87.29.

Funny Car _ 1. Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.011, 312.35 vs. 16. Dale Creasy Jr., Chevy Impala, 5.087, 172.01 vs. 8. Chad Head, Toyota Camry, 4.077, 303.91 vs. 9. Del Worsham, Camry, 4.101, 305.63; 2. John Force, Camaro, 4.040, 310.84 vs. 15. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.839, 218.55 vs. 7. Robert Hight, Camaro, 4.061, 308.07 vs. 10. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 4.123, 300.53; 3. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.051, 308.78 vs. 14. Paul Lee, Charger, 4.634, 184.40 vs. 6. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.059, 304.67 vs. 11. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.132, 251.20; 4. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.055, 306.60 vs. 13. John Hale, Charger, 4.317, 296.63 vs. 5. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.055, 300.06 vs. 12. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.167, 305.42.

Did Not Qualify _ 17. Jeff Diehl, 7.463, 103.78; 18. Bob Tasca III, 12.969, 63.65.

Pro Stock _ 1. Chris McGaha, Chevy Camaro, 6.474, 213.70 vs. 16. Erica Enders-Stevens, Camaro, broke vs. 8. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.525, 211.99 vs. 9. Buddy Perkinson, Dodge Avenger, 6.528, 212.49; 2. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.481, 214.18 vs. 15. John Gaydosh Jr., Pontiac GXP, 6.858, 176.07 vs. 7. Larry Morgan, Camaro, 6.523, 213.16 vs. 10. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.532, 213.84; 3. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.487, 213.57 vs. 14. Mark Hogan, GXP, 6.741, 206.73 vs. 6. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.517, 213.47 vs. 11. Jimmy Alund, GXP, 6.536, 212.76; 4. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.502, 213.64 vs. 13. V. Gaines, Dodge Dart, 6.683, 206.48 vs. 5. Allen Johnson, Dart, 6.513, 213.77 vs. 12. Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 6.545, 212.26.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ 1. Hector Arana Jr., Buell, 6.794, 198.03 vs. 16. Katie Sullivan, Suzuki, 6.966, 192.91; 2. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.826, 194.77 vs. 15. Mike Berry, Buell, 6.956, 191.51; 3. Angelle Sampey, Buell, 6.853, 187.11 vs. 14. Matt Smith, Victory, 6.953, 190.92; 4. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.861, 195.03 vs. 13. Shawn Gann, Buell, 6.949, 193.49; 5. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.870, 192.55 vs. 12. Freddie Camarena, Suzuki, 6.925, 197.77; 6. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.907, 195.62 vs. 11. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 6.924, 189.42; 7. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.913, 193.46 vs. 10. Brian Pretzel, Buell, 6.924, 190.70; 8. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.914, 195.53 vs. 9. Chaz Kennedy, Buell, 6.924, 192.25.

Did Not Qualify _ 17. Jeremy Teasley, 6.982, 193.54; 18. Jerry Savoie, 6.988, 192.80; 19. Angie Smith, 7.129, 184.30; 20. Steve Johnson, 7.155, 189.02; 21. Roy Olsen, 7.261, 182.16.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, March 29 2015
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