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‘The Sarge’ On Early Pole At Vegas

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, October 28 2017

Tony Schumacher is on a roll in Las Vegas. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Garry Eller)

RacinToday.com

Embracing the awkward role of playoff spoiler, eight-time NHRA Top Fuel world champion Tony Schumacher emerged as provisional pole-sitter Friday after two rounds of qualifications for the 17th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals.

Despite sitting sixth and a nearly insurmountable 192 points behind leader Steve Torrence, Schumacher covered the 1,000-foot distance at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in a track record elapsed-time of 3.673-seconds and speed of 332.67 mph _ the latter his career-best.

“I was pretty sure that 3.67 was going to hold for the top spot,” said Schumacher, who has won nine poles and eight national event titles in Vegas. “That 3.67 was such a good run, it forces people to go out and try a little too hard a lot of times.

“The Sarge,” whose Don Schumacher Racing entry is tuned by crew chief Mike Green and assistant Phil Shuler, hopes to secure his fourth No. 1 qualifier of the season and 84th of his career when qualifying continues Saturday.

“Let’s remember we’ve won this race a lot of times and have more data than just about everyone else here,” Schumacher said. “We have a good quality map of this place. Yes, it’s a different racetrack under different situations. It’s hard to run great here, but we’re able to make those kind of runs with the U.S. Army car because of the outstanding notes and ability of the incredible people working together on this team that make it happen. They evaluated the situation and made good decisions and we made a great run tonight.”

Schumacher is acutely aware his qualifying prowess has not translated into victories this season, as evidenced by fellow-Texan Torrence’s 8-1 advantage in Wally trophies.

“Look, we qualify fine, but we race terrible right now (on Sunday). And we have to change that,” Schumacher said. “I don’t care where we qualify, we’ve got to win the race.”

Jack Beckman (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were provisional No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories at the fifth of six events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship playoffs.

Torrence, who crashed-out of the 32nd annual AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals at Texas Motorplex in Ennis two weekends ago, sits second with his pass in 3.694-seconds at 330.15 mph in the Capco Contractors/Torrence Racing dragster. Kalitta Motorsports’ Shawn Langdon, the 2013 world champion, currently holds the third spot in his Global Electronic Technology car.

DSR’s Beckman powered his Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger R/T to a 1,000-foot pass in 3.867-seconds at 329.50 mph to take the preliminary lead in Funny Car. “Fast Jack” moved to the top of the order early in the second session.

“The problem with running good early is that the track is going to continue to cool down,” said Beckman, the 2012 world champion. “It’s going to get better and they just saw what the track is capable of. Everybody else is smart enough to go back and give it a little more clutch. To watch it stand for the rest of the Funny Cars surprised me.”

Courtney Force of John Force Racing is second after wheeling her Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro SS to a 3.878-second pass at 331.77 mph. Force recovered from a Q1 run in which she struck the rear tires and coasted across the finish line.

“Great job by my team,” Force said. “I’m really proud of my guys to pull together and pick up two bonus points in our second pass and go into the No. 2 spot. The 3.87 was a solid run, and we think we can do even better tomorrow.”

JFR teammate and point-leader Robert Hight, the 2009 world champ and winner at Texas Motorplex, currently holds P3 in his Camaro.

Pro Stock point-leader Anderson covered the quarter-mile in 6.663-seconds at 204.73 mph in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro fielded by Ken Black Racing during Round 2.

“We stepped on it tonight,” said Anderson, a four-time world champ who has six career poles at The Strip. “Conditions are great. It’s Chamber of Commerce weather out there, and tonight when the sun went down a little bit we got after it. The first run (6.688-seconds at 205.04 mph) was very nice, and we had a great baseline. We knew that once the sun went down the track would tighten up. We went for it, and that’s what you do in Friday night qualifying. If you want to get the pole, you have to be bold.”

With weather conditions forecast to be similar Saturday, Anderson is optimistic his numbers will hold.

“It’s probably going to be sunny in the afternoon, and it’ll be tough for cars to get around that,” Anderson said. “I’m not saying it can’t happen, but it’ll finish in the top three or four anyway. We got bonus points today, and I just feel great. I’ve had a great playoff run so far and my team has been doing a really great job on Sunday, but I just haven’t quite had the speed that I need. So we went home (after the FallNats) and used every hour we could. I’ve got a lot of new parts under the hood, and lo and behold, it’s showing some fruit.

“We’ve got two races to go and four cars locked in a heck of a points battle. You’re going to need every bonus point you can get, and you need the fastest hot rod you can get. My Camaro is a great car that can get the job done, so now it’s up to me to see if I can find a way to get that championship.”

Drew Skillman currently is second at 6.664-seconds at 205.32 mph in his Ray Skillman Camaro while Bo Butner, Anderson’s KB Racing teammate, is third in his Camaro.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, point-leader Krawiec cranked-out a quarter-mile pass in 6.936-seconds at 191.76 mph aboard his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Street Rod during the evening qualifying session.

“I’ve got a great motorcycle under me and a great team behind me,” said Krawiec, who is chasing his fourth world championship after winning at Texas Motorplex. “I think there’s a good potential for people to go faster tomorrow though. You need to have your stuff together coming out of here and be on your game.”

Hector Arana Jr. is in the No. 2 spot with a 6.940-second pass at 192.55 mph on his Lucas Oil Buell. Andrew Hines, a five-time world champion and Krawiec’s factory H-D teammate, is third.

Live qualifying coverage Saturday will be carried on NHRA.com and FOX Sports Go from 7-9 p.m. (EDT). FOX Sports 1 will air a one-hour qualifying show Sunday at 3 p.m. (EDT), followed by three hours of live finals coverage at 4 p.m.

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Friday’s provisional qualifying results after the first two of four rounds of time trials for the 17th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The race is the 23rd of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and fifth of sixth during the Countdown to the Championship playoffs. Qualifying will continue Saturday for Sunday’s final eliminations:

Top Fuel _ 1. Tony Schumacher, 3.673-seconds, 332.67 mph; 2. Steve Torrence, 3.694, 330.15; 3. Shawn Langdon, 3.742, 319.98; 4. Leah Pritchett, 3.754, 324.20; 5. Brittany Force, 3.758, 327.51; 6. T.J. Zizzo, 3.758, 327.35; 7. Antron Brown, 3.760, 325.61; 8. Doug Kalitta, 3.764, 324.83; 9. Terry McMillen, 3.789, 307.65; 10. Shawn Reed, 3.854, 315.64; 11. Terry Haddock, 3.953, 286.25; 12.Troy Buff, 3.978, 260.01; 13. Scott Palmer, 4.065, 226.81; 14. Clay Millican, 4.666, 156.41; 15. Mike Salinas, 7.480, 74.15; 16. Richie Crampton, 9.863, 77.09.

Funny Car _ 1. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 3.867, 329.50; 2. Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.878, 331.77; 3. Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.880, 329.99; 4. J.R. Todd, Toyota Camry, 3.884, 330.23; 5. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 3.897, 329.67; 6. Ron Capps, Charger, 3.916, 325.06; 7. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 3.927, 326.71; 8. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.929, 330.88; 9. Jonnie Lindberg, Camry, 3.937, 322.50; 10. Del Worsham, Camry, 3.953, 287.60; 11. Gary Densham, Ford Mustang, 3.999, 317.87; 12. John Force, Camaro, 4.013, 302.82; 13. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.021, 286.74; 14. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.029, 302.55; 15. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.117, 302.62; 16. Bob Bode, Charger, 4.257, 275.28.

Not Qualified _17. Jeff Arend, 4.530, 185.03; 18. Jeff Diehl, 4.641, 189.98; 19. Tim Gibbons, 6.184, 114.67.

Pro Stock _ 1. Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.663, 205.04; 2. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.664, 206.16; 3. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.672, 205.51; 4. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.679, 205.82; 5. Jeg Coughlin Jr., Camaro, 6.686, 205.98; 6. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.687, 206.42; 7. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.696, 205.98; 8. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.701, 205.13; 9. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.716, 206.32; 10. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.717, 204.42; 11. Brian Self, Camaro, 6.735, 205.10; 12. Larry Morgan, Camaro, 6.740, 204.82; 13.

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, October 28 2017
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