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Slick Track Makes For Trouble at Summer Nationals

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 30 2009
Antron Brown's Friday qualifying run put him in the top spot for Sunday. (NHRA photo) 

Antron Brown's Friday qualifying run put him in the top spot for Sunday. (NHRA photo)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor

Topeka, Kan. – Following Satuday’s qualification runs for Sunday’s NHRA O’Reilly Summer Nationals, it became pretty apparent that track records at Heartland Park Topeka are in zero jeopardy this weekend.

Heck, an inexplicably slippery track made just making a run of any kind at Heartland all but impossible Saturday.

And that is no exaggeration. During Saturday’s two rounds of qualifying, only two Top Fuel drivers were able to make under-power passes.

After the second of those rounds, Antron Brown, who earned the No. 1 Top Fuel starting spot in Sunday’s eliminations as a result of his qualifying times on Friday, said, “It is bad out there. They are conditions we have not seen all year.”

The track was just plain slippery. When drivers would go to the power, the tires would break lose, off would come the power and the cars would limp to the finish line.

Qualifying second fastest in Top Fuel, again from a run made on Friday, was Larry Dixon.

Tony Schumacher will start Sunday’s eliminations as the No. 3 qualifier while Brandon Bernstein will be fourth.

The situation was better for the Funny Cars, but not much as less than half the runs featured cars which made under-power runs in the two Saturday sessions.

Ashley Force Hood will have the top seed in Sunday’s finals, thanks to, again, a run she made on Friday.

She said that she thinks that heat was playing a big part in the problem. She said that the weather, with track temperatures exceeding 130 degrees was throwing tuners for a loop.

“I think maybe teams have not got (hot weather) tuning under their belts,” Force Hood said.

Second in qualifying was her father, John Force.

Tony Pedregon was third and Mike Neff was fourth, give John Force Racing three of the top four seeds.

Points leader Ron Capps was seventh.

Mike Edwards, the hottest driver in Pro Stock, was top qualifier in that division. Allen Johnson was second and Greg Anderson was third. 

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.com

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 30 2009
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