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Brown Provisional P1 In Topeka

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, May 23 2015

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Top Fuel point-leader Antron Brown raced to the qualifying lead Friday during the opening day of time trials for the 27th annual NHRA Kansas Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka.

Chad Head (Funny Car) and Erica Enders (Pro Stock) also were qualifying leaders at the season’s eighth of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.

Competing in unseasonably cool conditions, Brown powered his Matco Tools dragster to a track-record 1,000-foot time of 3.727-seconds at 313.37 mph. Brown, a former NHRA world champion who won last weekend at Atlanta Dragway, is looking for his third national event victory of the season.

“When we came in here this track was an unknown variable,” said Brown, who has been the No. 1 qualifier twice at Topeka. “My hat’s off to the NHRA and the Safety Safari for getting this track going. Cars haven’t ran here since last October. To have all the track records here just shows the foundation that this track is built on. This track is buttery smooth. We were able to go out there and run some phenomenal times. We were able to put on a great show for the fans and that’s what we love as drivers.”

Brown defeated first-time finalist Leah Pritchett last Sunday at Atlanta Dragway to claim his 49th career victory. He never has won at Heartland Park but said taking the qualifying lead on the first day is a good start.

“We wanted to go A-to-B on the first lap,” said Brown, of Don Schumacher Racing. “That’s the most crucial thing to getting off to a good weekend. The momentum means nothing here because you go from one race to the next race; you go from hero-to-zero. Once you make that first lap, it sets the tone for the weekend.”

Last season’s NHRA Rookie of the Year, Richie Crampton, is second with a 3.744-second lap at 327.66 mph in his Lucas Oil dragster. Eight-time and reigning world champ Tony Schumacher is third at 3.748-seconds and 304.32 mph in his U.S. Army dragster.

In Funny Car, second-generation racer Head sped to a track-record 1,000-foot time of 3.967-seconds at 316.15 mph in his Head Racing Toyota Camry to move to the top of the order. Like Brown, Head credited NHRA’s track prep as a key component of his career-best elapsed time.

“As long as we can keep going up-and-down the racetrack, it’s awesome,” Head said. “Things are good right now. That could change (Saturday). We haven’t seen air like this in a long time. The most important thing is what NHRA did with this racetrack and how much hard work they put into the starting line. I take my hat off to everyone here. It took a lot of massaging, scraping the rubber and dragging. With the conditions, it was really fast out there.”

Head, who earned his lone No. 1 qualifying position in 2013 at zMAX Dragway in Concord, N.C., said the tune-up for his run was provided by his legendary racing father, Jim Head, a past winner at Topeka.

“I’m just really happy for my father; he’s been doing this for 40 years,” Head said. “Dad is the crew chief and he makes all the calls. I just try to keep it straight. I’m shocked that some other folks didn’t run faster and didn’t run to their potential. It isn’t over for sure. If it doesn’t rain tomorrow, it’s out there. There’s some really fast cars out here. We’ll see what happens.”

Three other cars joined Head in the 3-second zone. Former two-time world champion Cruz Pedregon qualified second with a 3.979-second pass at 316.01 mph in his Snap-on Tools Camry. Former world champion Jack Beckman ran 3.991-seconds at 319.37 mph in his Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger and Alexis DeJoria was fourth in her Patron XO Café Incendio Camry, posting numbers of 3.994-seconds at 255.92 mph. Series leader Ron Capps qualified 10th in his NAPA Auto Parts Charger at 4.038-seconds and 218.41 mph.

Reigning world champion Enders powered her new Racing In Red Chevy Camaro to a track-record quarter-mile time of 6.515-seconds at 211.43 mph to lead qualifying in Pro Stock.

“We’ve had a really good hot rod all year,” Enders said. “We’re taking baby steps to make it run good. This weather is uncharacteristic here for this time of year so it’s cool to capture the record. We’ve got our work cut out for us.”

A two-time winner this season, Enders earned her first career No. 1 qualifying position at this event in 2006. By the end of the weekend she would like to claim her first Heartland Park Topeka victory.

“I’m proud of our guys,” Enders said of her Elite Motorsports team. “The biggest difference for us is we’ve picked it up at 60-foot. I have three tremendous crew chiefs, Rick and Rickie Jones and Mark Ingersoll. They were out there looking at the track (Thursday) and they made the right calls. The car is leaving nice and smooth with the wheels up and that’s been good. Our cars like it when it’s cool and dry. We thought it might be a little bit faster (in the second session) and we figured we would be able to improve, but the water (humidity) moved in and that’s what slowed it down a little bit.”

Greg Anderson, a four-time world champion, is second at 6.526-seconds at 211.20 mph in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro with Chris McGaha third in his Harlow Sammons of Odessa Camaro. Series leader Jason Line, a two-time world champion, sits fifth after two sessions at 6.535-seconds at 210.67 mph in his Summit Racing Camaro.

Qualifying is scheduled to continue Saturday with two afternoon sessions. However, the forecast calls for rain, which could wash-out the final two qualifying sessions.

ESPN2 will air two hours of qualifying coverage Saturday at 6 p.m. (EDT). The network also will air three hours of eliminations Sunday starting at 10 p.m. (EDT).

Friday’s qualifying results after the first two of four rounds of time trials for the 27th annual NHRA Kansas Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka, eighth of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Qualifying will continue Saturday for Sunday’s final eliminations.

Top Fuel _ 1. Antron Brown, 3.727-seconds, 314.68 mph; 2. Richie Crampton, 3.744, 327.66; 3. Tony Schumacher, 3.748, 317.49; 4. J.R. Todd, 3.759, 328.06; 5. Shawn Langdon, 3.760, 327.19; 6. Brittany Force, 3.762, 325.14; 7. Larry Dixon, 3.767, 327.51; 8. Spencer Massey, 3.775, 325.85; 9. Steve Torrence, 3.786, 325.37; 10. Dave Connolly, 3.789, 325.69; 11. Clay Millican, 3.790, 316.30; 12. Leah Pritchett, 3.828, 246.35.

Not Qualified _ 13. Kebin Kinsley, 3.836, 316.60; 14. Doug Kalitta, 3.859, 259.01; 15. Kyle Wurtzel, 3.892, 287.66; 16. Terry McMillen, 3.925, 88.41; 17. Pat Dakin, 4.376, 269.89; 18. Luigi Novelli, 10.021, 86.08.

Funny Car _ 1. Chad Head, Toyota Camry, 3.967, 316.15; 2. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 3.979, 316.01; 3. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 3.991, 319.37; 4. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 3.994, 255.92; 5. Del Worsham, Camry, 4.013, 312.42; 6. Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.015, 324.20; 7. Robert Hight, Camaro, 4.021, 318.77; 8. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.030, 315.56; 9. John Force, Camaro, 4.033, 320.74; 10. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.038, 90.02; 11. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.061, 308.99; 12. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.064, 319.22.

Not Qualified _13. Tony Pedregon, 4.129, 85.96; 14. John Hale, 4.222, 186.33; 15. Brian Stewart, 4.607, 188.49; 16. Todd Simpson, 4.655, 179.97; 17. Dale Creasy Jr., 8.929, no speed.

Pro Stock _ 1. Erica Enders, Chevy Camaro, 6.515, 211.43; 2. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.526, 211.20; 3. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.532, 211.10; 4. Larry Morgan, Camaro, 6.533, 211.20; 5. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.535, 210.83; 6. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.537, 210.93; 7. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.543, 210.01; 8. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.544, 211.13; 9. Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 6.546, 210.34; 10. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.547, 210.83; 11. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.563, 210.60; 12. V. Gaines, Dart, 6.574, 209.88.

Not Qualified _ 13. Deric Kramer, 6.592, 209.56; 14. Bo Butner, 6.596, 209.46; 15. Mark Hogan, 6.730, 204.70; 16. Dave River, 6.731, 203.49.

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, May 23 2015
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