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Johnson Jr. Fastest In Funny Car As Countdown Begins

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, September 17 2016
Tommy Johnson Jr. took the lead in Funny Car qualifying in Concord on Friday. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

Tommy Johnson Jr. took the lead in Funny Car qualifying in Concord on Friday. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

RacinToday.com

Tommy Johnson Jr. sprinted into the qualifying lead in Funny Car Friday at the ninth annual NHRA Carolina Nationals _ first race of the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship at zMAX Dragway in Concord, N.C.

Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel), Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Jerry Savoie (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also emerged as provisional leaders in their respective categories at the 19th event of 24 on the 2016 schedule.

 Johnson Jr. pushed his Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car to a 1,000-foot track elapsed time record of 3.876-seconds at 323.43 mph. Johnson, who has a win in Bristol, Tenn., this season, is competing for his first pole of2016 and 14th of his career.

“It just shows how much we want this and the Countdown and how on top of it they are,” said Johnson Jr., referring to his Don Schumacher Racing team. “You have to be aggressive and take the championship, you can’t wait for it to come your way. Really happy with the performance and still shocked. We ran an .87 and I thought the low would be about an. 85.”

Countdown No. 1 seed Ron Capps, also of DSR, currently holds the second spot while 16-time world champion John Force is third. Reigning world champion Del Worsham of Kalitta Motorsports currently sits 12th.

Kalitta piloted his Mac Tools dragster to a 1,000-foot pass in 3.721-seconds at 325.77 mph for the Top Fuel qualifying lead. Kalitta has three No. 1 qualifiers this season and three wins. The facility near Charlotte is one of two tracks on the NHRA circuit where Kalitta has yet to record a pole.

“The conditions are definitely good out there,” Kalitta said. “The track is in great shape so they’re doing a great job with it. With the cooling off and then watching everyone in front of us with a bunch of .73s and .74s, I was going down there hoping we were going to be in front of those guys. Hats off to my guys. It was a great set-up for the conditions.”

Brittany Force, a three time winner this season for John Force Racing, is second heading into Day 2 of qualifying Saturday while eight-time champion Tony Schumacher of DSR is third. No. 1 seed and reigning world champion Antron Brown, also of DSR, is sitting in the No. 7 spot.

Line holds the qualifying lead in Pro Stock with a quarter-mile pass in 6.581-seconds at 210.41 mph in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro. Line, the top seed heading into the Countdown, has six No. 1 qualifiers this season and 47 in his career.

“It was a good run for us,” said Line, a two-time world champion. “I think there was probably a little more left. That’s the good news. I’m very happy. I can sleep well tonight. All-in-all a very good day.

“This race really is a must-win _ it really is. I think it’s huge. You have to have a good showing here no matter what. Maybe you don’t have to win, but you at least have to make it to the final round. I think it’s a huge deal and obviously starting off in a good qualifying position is the way to start that.”

 Vincent Nobile sits in the second position with Shane Gray in third. Line’s Ken Block Racing teammate and the No. 2 seed _ four-time world champion Greg Anderson _ currently is seventh.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Savoie rode his White Alligator Racing Suzuki to the top spot with a quarter-mile pass in 6.850-seconds at 195.19 mph. Savoie has five poles in his career and is looking for his first of the season, as well as his first victory at zMAX Dragway. 

“We should be really good this weekend,” Savoie said. “(Saturday is) another day. Take it day by day and don’t put yourself under a lot of pressure. The main thing is to go have fun and try to win.”

Three-time world champion Angelle Sampey, the winner at Englishtown, N.J., currently is qualified second and Chip Ellis sits in the third spot. Top seed and five-time/reigning world champion Andrew Hines is fifth.

Qualifying will continue Saturday at 12:45 p.m. (EDT) with the fourth and final session at approximately 3 p.m. Fox Sports 1 will carry one hour of qualifying coverage Saturday at 11:30 a.m. The network will air three hours of live finals coverage Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

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Friday’s provisional qualifying results after the first two rounds of time trials for the ninth annual NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMax Dragway, 19th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.  Qualifying will continue Saturday for Sunday’s final eliminations:

Top Fuel _ 1. Doug Kalitta, 3.721-seconds, 325.77 mph; 2. Brittany Force, 3.729, 324.67; 3. Tony Schumacher, 3.730, 325.14; 4. Steve Torrence, 3.732, 323.27; 5. Shawn Langdon, 3.741, 328.14; 6. J.R. Todd, 3.741, 325.37; 7. Antron Brown, 3.742, 317.94; 8. Richie Crampton, 3.744, 320.51; 9. Clay Millican, 3.767, 319.82; 10. Pat Dakin, 3.791, 320.89; 11. Leah Pritchett, 3.809, 317.27; 12. Wayne Newby, 3.815, 318.39.

Not Qualified _ 13. Scott Palmer, 3.895, 315.78; 14. Ike Maier, 4.102, 277.43; 15. Paul Noakes, 4.461, 209.69; 16. Cameron Ferre, 4.873, 150.15; 17. Terry McMillen, 5.037, 146.77.

Funny Car _ 1. Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger, 3.876, 323.43; 2. Ron Capps, Charger, 3.878, 324.20; 3. John Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.881, 331.04; 4. Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Camry, 3.887, 324.67; 5. Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.904, 327.82; 6. Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.912, 323.66; 7. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.921, 321.50; 8. Courtney Force, Camaro, 3.939, 321.50; 9. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.940, 323.81; 10. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 3.940, 318.54; 11. Chad Head, Camry, 3.956, 311.77; 12. Del Worsham, Camry, 3.963, 318.99.

Not Qualified _ 13. Dave Richards, 4.093, 309.56; 14. John Bojec, 4.179, 234.57; 15. John Hale, 4.599, 194.30.

Pro Stock _ 1. Jason Line, Chevy Camaro, 6.581, 210.41; 2. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.593, 210.28; 3. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.595, 210.18; 4. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.597, 210.44; 5. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.603, 209.01; 6. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.606, 209.88; 7. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.609, 210.50; 8. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.641, 209.10; 9. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.641, 208.36; 10. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.646, 209.79; 11. Jeg Coughlin Jr., Dart, 6.651, 208.17; 12. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.659, 207.24.

Not Qualified _ 13. Erica Enders, 6.678, 207.56; 14. Curt Steinbach, 6.699, 206.04; 15. Shane Tucker, 6.777, 206.64; 16. Alan Prusiensky, 6.801, 203.89; 17. John Gaydosh Jr., 7.362, 168.01.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ 1. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.850, 195.19; 2. Angelle Sampey, Buell, 6.861, 195.82; 3. Chip Ellis, Buell, 6.864, 195.03; 4. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.867, 195.96; 5. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.869, 194.02; 6. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.871, 194.83; 7. Hector Arana Jr., Buell, 6.876, 194.86; 8. Matt Smith, Victory, 6.884, 194.21; 9. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.892, 192.82; 10. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.894, 195.73; 11. Melissa Surber, Buell, 6.905, 192.58; 12. Cory Reed, Buell, 6.937, 192.66.

Not Qualified _ 13. Karen Stoffer, 6.959, 192.17; 14. Mike Berry, 6.980, 191.10; 15. Angie Smith, 6.986, 189.07; 16. Mark Paquette, 7.014, 190.03; 17. Shawn Gann, 7.027, 191.92; 18. Steve Johnson, 7.076, 191.08; 19. David Hope, 7.203, 186.02; 20. Lance Bonham, 7.227, 180.07; 21. Brian Bognuda, 7.261, 180.50; 22. Chaz Kennedy, 7.351, 185.03.

 

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, September 17 2016
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