NHRA Full Throttle coverage is presented by Sonny's Racing Engines.
February 23-27, 2011
Weekend wrap up
Photos courtesy Bob Snyder and Ray Camley
Top Fuel extras.
The win for Morgan Lucas was special for a number of reasons. Firstly, it puts the Lucas Oil Top Fuel Dragster in the points lead for the first time in Morgan's Top Fuel career. Secondly, it pitted him against his team mate and close friend Shawn Langdon, which put Langdon in second place in the standings, and thirdly besides being friends the two drivers were also classmates and friends in High School in Mira Loma California.
After his 3.83/316 mph victory, Lucas stated, "I don't really know how to feel, this is one of the most special races, in my eyes, (along with) Gainesville and Indy". The team will no doubt build on what can only be termed a historic victory in the NHRA's 60th anniversary year. My guess is they will be couple more wins for the team before the year is out. Dickie Venables is likely taking baby steps as the team is .05 back in performance of the best in the class.
The Alan John Al-Anabi team had mixed reviews for the weekend, with a national et record for Larry Dixon, the first record since 2008. But then a totally unexpected first round tire smoker against the #16 qualifier Terry McMillen. Dixon's team mate Del Worsham ran very well in his first race in a Top Fuel car in well over a decade. Roger Primm was the car owner when he drove a Top Fuel Dragster. He qualified in the top half with a 3.81 and went to the semi finals, where he lost to eventually winner Lucas.
The DSR team did not have the weekend they were expecting, especially after the first day. The team qualified #1, 2 and 3 with identical 3.804's. They improved in the final session with Schumacher and Brown running 3.78's and Massey running a 3.801. They ended up 2nd through 4th in final qualifying. In round one they looked like THE dominant team as well when they all took 1st round wins running 3.78, 3.78 and 3.80. In Round two, the DSR team lost two drivers as Massey and Schumacher both smoked the tires. Antron Brown won that round went to the semi finals, but blew up big time in his loss to Shawn Langdon.
TJ Zizzo qualified solidly for his first appearance at the Winternationals. This part time team would be a sold countdown qualifier if he was to run full time. It would be nice to see corporate America back the Zizzo team for the full season.
Ron August made his career best run in Top Fuel with a #13 qualifying 3.90. His weekend ended in round one though when he went up in smoke in round one against Spencer Massey.
David Grubnic did not start the season off well, as he failed to qualify for the first time since September 2008. His best was a 4.01. His teammate was well into the field and went to the 1/4 finals.
Steve Chrisman did not have the race he was hoping for. With new sponsor Nitro Fish on the side of the car, you know he wanted to put in a good effort. He did run decent in Thursday session with a 4.14, but it did not stay in the top 12, so for Saturday's qualifying he was not on the ladder. Both Saturday's runs were tire smokers right off the starting line.
Steve Faria also failed to make the field. So far in the nine events he has competed at since 2009 he has qualified three times.
Funny Car extras
Neff did not take long to get back in the swing of things driver wise. The fourth
year JFR crew chief is in his second year driving. He took over Ashley Force's
seat but is actually in John's car. John is driving Ashley's.
Ron Capps in one of the four DSR Funny Cars went to the semi finals before losing to eventual winner Robert Hight. #2 qualifier Johnny Gray lost in round one after being #2 in qualifying. Teammate Matt Hagan was runner-up.
Jack Beckman had a weekend he won't write home about. He did make the field in the last session with a 4.11 but lost to teammate Capps in round one. He smoked the tires in round one.
Gary Densham had a great opening weekend. He qualified with a 4.11. Densham did lose in round one though, when he had problems at half track.
Tony Pedregon probably wished he had tested in the pre season, as he barely made the field (#16) and then lost in round one to his brother.
Cruz ran great in qualifying, with two runs in the 4.0's including a career best
4.015/313 (the third quickest pass ever in the 1000 ft. era)
Brian Thiel failed to qualify in this his first full time season in NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car racing.
Melanie Troxel suffered the same fate as Thiel as she could not get the In-N-Out Funny Car to hook up in any of the three qualifiers.
The remaining three non qualifiers in Funny Car are all part time teams, as Jeff Diehl, James Day and Grant Downing all struggled. Day only made one attempt on Saturday and he only made it to half track before issues prevented him from making a full pass. Jeff Diehl also only made one run.
His 4.67 was okay but he did oil the track and failed to return for the final session Saturday. Grant Downing made it to the burnout box on all three runs but he only got fired on two attempts.
the two attempts he failed to get past 300 feet.
Pro Stock extras
There were two big
stories from the 51st Winternationals.
What effect that will have of Edward's 2011 season remains to be seen, but my guess is after the next two races he will be in the top ten.
will likely win at least one race this year, as she is in Jeg Coughlin's 2010
car, and by being able to move a bit of weight around the car, (as she is lighter
then Coughlin) might make that car more consistent.
Greg Anderson and Jason Line continued their strong showing in the class, as both drivers went deep in eliminations. Line's .001 light against his team mate was the big difference.
Ronnie Humphrey benefited from miscues in the first two rounds of eliminations, as he got by WJ in round one when the elder Johnson went red and then he got a break in the ¼'s when Erica Ender's car lost fire after the burnout. In both those runs Humphrey struggled off the line. In the semis, his 6.56 was his best run, but he lost to a quicker leaving and quicker run by Greg Stanfield.
Bob Yonke's debut with the very cool 'Rango' movie graphics on the car did not go well, and the car was a bit 'Rango' on most of his runs. He was loose and wild on all three launches in qualifying.
Two Ford cars were in the field for the first time in recent memory and both looked good. Solid 6.50's and the potential for a decent year. Larry Morgan's Ford ran a 6.588 best but he went red in round one. Buddy Perkinson the Pro Stock rookie went 6.59 in the first round of qualifying, and 6.60's in the other two rounds. In round one he shook and had to lift at half track.
Shane Gray is running the class alone this year as his father Johnny is in the Funny Car class. He has a lot of experience in his pit area as past champion Jim Yates is the crew chief. He qualified #15 but lost in round one to Greg Anderson despite his quickest et of the weekend (6.58).
Sportsman wrap up
Shields and his Shortline Express A/Fueler were strong from the start but had to challenge Chris Demke, who was driving the Maddern Racing Peen-Rite-Abrasive Finishing blown rail, for the No. 1 spot.
Demke was the early leader, but Shields answered back with a 5.233 to nab the pole position. In a first-round bye run, Shields wowed with a speedy 5.255 at 272.83 mph - the fastest pass of his career - and a couple pairs later, Shawn Cowie laid down an awesome 5.243 at 273.66 in his defeat of Johnny Ahten, the quickest pass in blown alcohol dragster history that also tied for second-fastest for the blown entries.
The final was the first eliminations meeting for Shields and opponent Don St. Arnaud, driver of the A&J Construction A/Fuel Dragster. St. Arnaud was quicker at the tree, .050 to .078, but Shields had him caught by 300 feet, winning with a 5.277 at 274.05 mph. It was the 16th career win for the Boulder City, Nev., racer and the second time he had won from the No. 1 spot. The victory also marked the first time since 2000 that the No. 1 qualifier in Top Alcohol Dragster had won the event.
Harrison drove his J/A Escort to a first-round win over Scott McClay, took a single in the second round when Tyler Hogan was a no-show, got the nod in round three when Ron Weems went red by .049, and then overcame a .124 reaction in the semifinals to beat Vinny Barone to the stripe in a .52-under 8.18 to .44-under 8.19 victory.
McClanahan drove his SS/BM Cobalt to a win in the first round over Alta Loma, Calif., racer Eddie Leabo and was almost perfect at the tree in round two, cutting a .001 light to aid in the defeat of Val Torres Jr. A too-quick -.035 reaction by Abe Loewen was the decider in round three, and Bob Bales broke before staging in the fourth act, giving McClanahan a free pass to move ahead. The defending world champ drove right to the quarterfinals (Don Thomas was a no-show) to grab the bye run into the final round, where he earned the fourth national event victory of his career.
The Puyallup, Wash., driver opened up eliminations with a defeat of Lindy Lindholm, who was absolutely perfect at the tree to Lang's nearly-as-good .002 but lost on a 12.386 (12.30 dial) to 12.383 (12.30). Lang won a double-breakout second round match with Dave Bridgewater, was better at both ends of the track to stop Steve Wann in round three, ran dead-on his dial with a five and got the nod in round four when Clark Holroyd broke out, eased ahead in the quarterfinals when Richie Pauley left the starting line .011-second too soon, and was awarded a bye run into the final.
Super Gas saw another first-time winner in Broussard, a resident of nearby Woodland Hills, Calif., who drove his '69 GT to the winner's circle by halting Steve Williams in the final. Both drivers put up 9.902 passes, and reaction times were the decider - Broussard had launched with a .018 to Williams' .035.
Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series competitors will next join the Full Throttle Series at the Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla., March 10-13.
Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series final results from the 51st annual Kragen O'Reilly NHRA Winternationals presented by Valvoline at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.
Top Alcohol Dragster -- Duane Shields, 5.277, 274.05 def. Don St. Arnaud, 5.385, 268.22.
Top Alcohol Funny Car -- Tony Bartone, Ford Mustang, 5.452, 264.70 def. Doug Gordon, Chevy Monte Carlo, 5.579, 259.26.
Competition Eliminator -- Rob Harrison, Escort, 7.610, 177.56 def. David Rampy, Bantam, 7.249, 169.30.
Super Stock -- Ryan McClanahan, Cobalt, 8.555, 161.32 def. Jimmy DeFrank, Cobalt, 8.675, 155.52.
Stock Eliminator -- Jody Lang, Malibu Wgn, 12.342, 97.19 def. Jim Meador, Camaro, 10.750, 123.27.
Super Comp -- Jim Glenn, Dragster, 8.915, 169.04 def. Tom Pappas, Dragster, 8.907, 178.33.
Super Gas -- Tony Broussard, Opel GT, 9.902, 155.92 def. Steve Williams, Corvette, 9.902, 168.41.
Sunday Pro and Top Alcohol eliminations:
photos courtesy Bob Snyder and Lee Camley
What a day! It was wall to wall Pros and Top Alcohol. The race saw a few delays in round one and two due to oil downs, and all the teams used up their freebies. But surprises abound in Top Fuel when teammates, and it was not the DSR team nor the Al-Anabi reaching the final.
It was Morgan Lucas and Shawn Langdon getting timely luck and great RTs to advance to the finals. Morgan who qualified #8 took out Brandon Bernstein in round one in a pedal fest, Terry McMillen in round two with a solid if not spectacular 3.85 and then a great light in the semis (.032) and a loose 4.04 in the semis against Del Worsham.
Shawn took out TJ Zizzo with a pedaling 4.01, a solid 3.84 over Tony Schumacher, when the Shoe went up in smoke. In the semi finals he defeated Antron Brown who blew up big time. Langdon was back at half track but went he saw the deal in the other lane he got hard on the gas and drove around Brown for a .4 second win.
The final would see the two Lucas/Geico cars face off for the win and the early season point lead. Who would have thought that? I did say that Morgan would have a break out year this year (read my 2011 predictions here), with Dickie Venables turning the screws. Yes it is early, but this will be a huge boost for the team after a dreadful 2010. Langdon was shallow but got a holeshot unfortunately Lucas had the tune up that gripped the track, had he overtook Langdon early with a 3.83/316 to a 4.04/313 blast by Langdon. Most would not have picked those two cars for the final, but it could be a solid precursor to what the Lucas team can do.
1. Morgan Lucas 114
In Funny Car it was a little bit of same ole same ole, as the JFR team and the DSR would face off in the final.
Robert Hight, the 2009 Champion took on 2010 runner-up Matt Hagan. Niether of the two were dominant in qualifying, but come Sunday they both did what they had to do. Robert Hight who qualified with a #4 with 4.071 defeated Bob Tasca with a 4.12, his boss John Force with a 4.10, Force went 4.12, and then in the semis he made his best run a 4.07(0) to just squeak by Ron Capps who also went 4.07(9) Hight had .031 at the tree.
Matt Hagan qualified #8 with a 4.106 took on independent Gary Densham in round one with low et of round, a great 4.060 in round one and and then he defeated Jeff Arend with a 4.106. In the semis, he defeated Hight team mate Mike Neff on a hole shot. His 4.13 defeated a 4.12 by Neff, In the final it was spectacular race as Hight got a hole shot and held on a very hard charging Matt Hagan. Hagan went 4.02 to Hights 4.04. It was one of the quickest side by side Funny Car finals.
Funny Car Standings
1. Robert Hight 118
In Pro Stock, it was a couple of top running Pontiacs facing off in the final, with Jason Line and Greg Stanfield battling for the first win of the year. Line qualified #11 with a 6.590 and Stanfield was #5 with a 6.562. Jason picked up big time et wise on Sunday and was absolutely stellar on the tree with a .002 light and a first round win over V. Gaines. In round two he defeated Vince Nobile in the Mountain View Tire Stratus. His .026 light and 6.535 was too much for the young driver. In the semis, Line was almost perfect on the tree with a .001 light and an even quicker et, a great 6.532 to defeat team mate Greg Anderson.
Stanfield got to the final by taking out Ford rookie Buddy Perkinson with a 6.566, Ron Krisher in round two with a 6.561 and in the semis a great 6.531 to get by Ron Humphrey. In the final Stanfield got the better light a solid .020 to get the early lead against Line but he wiggled at the top of second gear and that was all it took for the Summit HP to move around Stanfield. At the finish line Line was a car length in front and ran low et of the weekend, a career best 6.529 to Stanfield's 6.595
1. Jason Line 112
NHRA.com Sunday wrap up
POMONA, Calif. --
Lucas powered to a performance of 3.835 seconds at 316.38 mph in his GEICO Powersports/Lucas Oil dragster and was too much for Langdon, whose Lucas Oil/Speedco dragster lost traction for a moment and slowed to a 4.047 at 313.73. The two Lucas Oil Racing teammates graduated in 2001 from Jurupa Valley High School in nearby Mira Loma, Calif.
"I've never been in the points lead in Top Fuel before, and I don't really even know how to feel right now," said Lucas of his fourth career win and first since Oct. 2009. "Getting to race my teammate Shawn, who I went to high school with, this is just a dream come true, it really is. We were really fortunate in 2009 to get three wins, then we went on a big drought last year in 2010. I think that is one of those things that makes you appreciate success. I think as a team we're really going to appreciate this day and just enjoy it because, you know what, who knows when the next one is going to happen."
Lucas qualified ninth and defeated Brandon Bernstein, Terry McMillen and Del Worsham to advance to the final. Lucas said winning one of NHRA's "majors" is a big deal for him.
"The thing about it is this is probably one of the most special races there is," Lucas said. "In my eyes, it's here, Gainesville, Indy, and the Finals. Those are the races that if you're going to win one, those are the ones you want to win, and maybe a little, in a selfish way, the Lucas Oil Nationals in Brainerd just because of family."
"To win the Winternationals, the first race of the year, at Auto Club Raceway is just awesome," Hight said. "The biggest deal for me is how long it's been since we won, even a round. It goes clear back to Brainerd last year. What's really important to me is this is the fourth year in a row that my guys have stayed together, the complete team 100 percent of them, and that makes it so easy to get out here and do what you know how to do. And it makes it that much more special when you win because you pull together, you stay together. You become a family, and that's what makes these times so special."
To get the victory, Hight's Auto Club Mustang got progressively quicker in each round, starting with a 4.121 to outrun Bob Tasca in the first round and then finishing with the 4.056 to hold off Hagan in the final.
"You look at the class, it ain't that easy to get wins," Hight said. "Look at the guys I had to beat today: Bob Tasca; John Force, the 15-time champ; [Ron] Capps; Hagan. It's not that easy. If we would have slipped up just a little in the final, we would have been dust."
In Pro Stock, Line defeated Greg Stanfield to win for the 22nd time in his career and second time at this race. Line claimed his second win at this event with a run of 6.529 at 211.89 in his Summit Racing Pontiac GXP, while Stanfield trailed with a 6.595 at 210.70 in his Safety Sentry GXP.
"You can't start any better, I guess," Line said. "I've said before the year started that I wanted to win all the races, and if you want to win them all, you have to win the first one. It was kind of a strange weekend with the weather and everything else, but it was a great weekend, a great way to finish it. It feels awful good to win here, that's for sure. It's been kind of another strange offseason for us, so to start this way feels good."
Line, who qualified 11th, advanced to the final by beating V. Gaines, Vincent Nobile and teammate Greg Anderson in the first three rounds.
"My confidence wasn't that high [entering eliminations], but I kept thinking about Greg last year at Vegas and Dallas, where he qualified in the bottom half," Line said. "I thought, 'You know, if we can get down the right lane decent enough to win first round then we have a shot at it.' We actually went .53 and .53 in the right lane. The car, I would say, it was phenomenal. It drove like a Cadillac today and not a Pontiac. It was pretty good."
The NHRA Full Throttle Series continues March 10-13, in Gainesville, Fla. with the 42nd running of the Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway.
Sunday's final results from the 51st annual Kragen O'Reilly NHRA Winternationals presented by Valvoline at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. The race is the first of 22 in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series:
Top Fuel -- Morgan Lucas, 3.835 seconds, 316.38 mph def. Shawn Langdon, 4.047 seconds, 313.73 mph.
Funny Car -- Robert Hight, Ford Mustang, 4.056, 312.71 def. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 4.023, 310.20.
Pro Stock -- Jason Line, Pontiac GXP, 6.529, 211.89 def. Greg Stanfield, GXP, 6.595, 210.70.
Top Alcohol Dragster -- Duane Shields, 5.277, 274.05 def. Don St. Arnaud, 5.385, 268.22.
Top Alcohol Funny Car -- Tony Bartone, Ford Mustang, 5.452, 264.70 def. Doug Gordon, Chevy Monte Carlo, 5.579, 259.26.
(Photos by Bob Snyder and Ray Camley)
Hail on the parking lot greeted the fans and everyone else around 10:30 this morning.
(SpeedZone qualifying wrap up)
What do cool temperatures, low elevation track and fresh parts mean this weekend? It means the nitro classes were dominant on Saturday with a new national record in Top Fuel and the third quickest et in FC history. Top Alvlhol Drag ster was also awesome as four cars were in the 5.20's at over 270 mph.
Delays started the day off as the rains stopped early in the morning but the track temperature meant extra hard work for the drying team. They were close to getting underway when a freak hail storm came through Wally Parks highway.
The Downing team (Worshams car) spend the morning collecting enough white stuff for as mini snowman.
Racing got underway just after noon with the Nitro Coupes first up. It took until the fifth pair to get a teen and then they came hard and fast (Wilkerson went 4.168). Capps Tasca and Densham followed Wilk in the teens, then Mike Neff ripped off a 4.06. Hight went a '10 then in the final pair Johnny Gray stayed strong with a 4.049.
What a debut for Gray
In their second session Saturday the hits came fast and furious. Hagan ran his best lap a 4.09 in the second pairing , Arened and Beckman made their best laps a 4.17 and 4.11 to get in the field. Paul Lee went 4.13 in the next pair, then Jim Head blasted to a 4.09. Ron Capps improvedto a 4.10 then Bob Bode and John Force almost touched. Force was on another 4.0 pass but was close to the centre line and must have toched it befire the finish line as he got no et. Bode went 4.14 but Force was outfront of him. He crossed into Bode's lane and the chutes cameout right in front of Bode., No touch but it was close! RObert Hight and Cruz Pedregon were next and they ran an awesome side by side. A career best 4.01 for C.Ped and a 4.07 for Hight.
Cruz is showing he wants redemption for last year.
Both cars went 313 mph, faster then the current 312.13 speed record. That pairing set up a potential great final one, but it was not to be. Mike Neff was solid with a 4.09 but Johnny Gray had his first blemish a tire hazing 8 second pass.
Funny Car final order (Numbers courtesy DragRaceCentral.com)
71 Cruz Pedregon, Brownsburg IN, '09 Solara 4.015 313.22 313.22
------------ Not Qualified ------------
17 717 Brian Thiel, Brownsburg
IN, '10 Charger 4.214 293.28 293.28
Top Fuel was equally quick today, with Larry Dixon throwing down the mark to beat in Saturday's first session. He ran a great 4.78/322 lap that could not be equaled. Many teams went for the throat in that round and quite a few smoked the tires. Vandergriff, Torrence, Bernstein, Strasburg, Lucas and Buff all made solid 3.9 or better laps to get in the field after round two. The final session was going to separate the men from the boys. All the hitters came through and a number of others made career best laps. Aussie Terry Sainty ran 3.96 to temporarily get in the field. Ron August ran a 3.904 (his best) to land a spot. Terry McMillen finally got into the 3's with a 3.93. Doug Kalitta ran next up and he did not disappoint with a 3.85. TJ Zizzo ran another 3 but did not improve from his earlier 3.87. Bob Vandergriff stayed consistent as he was within a hundredth of his earlier 3.90. Bernstein improved by 1/100th to a 3.85. Shawn Langdon and Del Worsham were in the third to last pair and both overpowered the track. The second to last pair was Tony Schumacher and Antron Brown. They made the quickest side by side with 3.78's each. T. Shoe with a 9 as the thou and Brown with a 8 as the third digit. The final pair saw Larry Dixon and Spencer Massey. A short 2 minute sprinkle to add to the drama, a quick speed then the cars fired up.
They were side by side for 500 feet then the Alan Johnson HP slowing picked up ground and he ran through the back half in record incrementals to the tune of a record setting 4.770 (his earlier 4.87 was a back-up)@ 324.9 mph. Massey went 3.801@324 just a half car length back. What a round!
bit of History in Top Fuel though, despite the fact the teams have run the 1000
ft era for this the fifth year, the new et record is NOT as quick as the last
1320 ft. national record run set at the Finals in 2006 when Tony Schumacher went
4.428. To 1000 feet at those finals Tony went 660ft-3.003/283.19mph, and to 1,000ft
his et was 3.759. Two years prior to that Doug Kalitta ran 4.420 in Joliet (his
4.465 backup was .003 too slow) and his 1000 ft incremental was even quicker 660ft-3.004/283.73mph
Top Fuel Final Order.
1 1 Larry Dixon,
Brownsburg IN, Hadman-TFX 3.770$ 324.98 324.98
------------ Not Qualified ------------
17 830 Terry Sainty, Sydney AU, Sarmento-BAE 3.966 291.57 291.57
Pro Stock got a bit of the short end of the stick Saturday, when they only got one round of qualifying. The call was made after Top Fuel ran their second run Saturday that the track temperature was too cold for the swoopy bodies. Not sure if the PS contingent were happy but based on issues in 2010 my guess is they did not complain to much. In their lone session Saturday, 6.50's and 6.50's were commonplace and in the end a 6.64 was required to make the field. No one topped Erica Enders 6.553 from Thursday, so a female was the #1 qualifier in the class. The last time that happened was in 2006 and, yes you guessed right, it was Enders then as well. Greg Anderson tried hard to get the pole, but his 6.556 was just short of the mark. Surprisingly Mike Edwards failed to make the field as he shook and rattled the tires on both of his attempts. Two Fords made the field with Buddy Perkinson in his first Pro Stock race sitting #12 and Larry Morgan in the 10 slot. The top eight are separated by less than .02
1 48 Erica Enders, New Orleans
LA, '11 Cobalt 6.553 211.69 211.69
------------ Not Qualified ------------
17 406 Bob Yonke, Burleson TX, '11 GXP 12.562 70.20 70.20
Not the start Mike Edwards was anticipating.
NHRA.com wrap up
native Larry Dixon closed out a blistering day of qualifying with a national-record
pass of 3.770 at 324.98 to claim the No. 1 qualifying position in Top Fuel on
Saturday at the season-opening Kragen O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals.
Dixon, the defending champion from nearby Van Nuys, had run a 3.778 in his first pass of the day Saturday so he has the required back-up to validate the record previously set by Tony Schumacher (3.771 at Richmond in Oct. 2008).
"That run today was just spectacular from my standpoint," said Dixon, who drives the Al-Anabi Racing dragster. "It shook really hard, kind of just like (teammate) Del (Worsham)'s car did, and it was almost to the point where you give up, it's shaking that bad. It cleaned up, and then went the rest of the way down the track."
For Dixon, the No. 1 was the 49th No. 1 of his career, three shy of Don "The Snake" Prudhomme for No. 8 on the all-time NHRA No. 1 qualifiers list.
"With us only racing 1,000 feet, you can see the scoreboards now, so you click it off, and you see a .77 come up, and it's like, 'Wow, was that right?'" Dixon said.
Cruz Pedregon laid down a blistering 4.015 at 313.22 in his Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry that ranked as the third quickest in NHRA Funny Car history. It was the 40th No. 1 qualifier of his career and he will meet his brother Tony in the first round of eliminations on Sunday.
"It felt great, it felt incredible, especially when I took a quick peek at the scoreboard. I saw that 4.01 and I thought there it is, that's the big payoff," Pedregon said. "I've got to hand it to the (NHRA track) prep team. Crazy that we had sleet earlier in the day (Saturday). So great credit to the prep team."
In Pro Stock, Enders cemented the second No. 1 qualifier of her career in her ZaZa Energy Chevy Cobalt when her 6.553-second pass at 211.69 mph from Thursday held up through the final round of qualifying on Saturday.
"After we ran on Thursday and finished the session and stayed No. 1, I did feel confident that it would hold," said Enders. "I don't know if I'd say I'm surprised to be No. 1 just based on the championship-caliber team I'm with and the horsepower that we have over there, but I will tell you that it is a surreal feeling. I find myself pinching myself to see if it's real."
Enders, who has not run a full season since 2006, earned her only other No. 1 qualifier at the 2006 O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka. She's twice runner-upped, but never won in 89 career races entering Sunday's final eliminations.
"I've had a tough last couple of years," Enders said. "It's just awesome to be back with a team like this and to be back on top. I'm very excited."
Meanwhile, Mike Edwards, who has won 13 races and a championship over the last two seasons, did not qualify.
The 51st annual Winternationals eliminations begin Sunday at 11 a.m. with Top Fuel, followed by Funny Car and Pro Stock and they will be telecast by ESPN2 beginning at 7 p.m. ET.
8 A/FD Duane Shields, Boulder City NV, Hadman-B 5.233 271.08 271.08
6 Sean O'Bannon, Ontario CA, '08 Monte Carlo 5.522 258.47 260.26
Friday was rained out.
A very fast day one in Top Fuel with the top nine teams well into the 3.8's. For the first time in my memory the top three all ran the identical et to the thousandths and all three are from DSR, is that a typo. Antron Brown gets the nod by .08 mph, as his 319.98 is a tick faster than Spencer Massey's 319.90.
Del Worsham turned heads in his Top Fuel debut. The long time Funny Car driver ripped off a 3.814 at a whopping 321. Team Mate Larry Dixon is 5th with a 3.818.
Full Throttle first timer Terry Sainty just failed to make the top 12 as the Aussie ran a respectable 4.05 in the Glen Mikre tuned dragster.
Round one order.
1 4 Antron
Brown, Pittsboro IN, DSR-TFX 3.804 319.98 319.98
------------ Not Qualified ------------
13 830 Terry Sainty, Sydney AU, Sarmento-BAE 4.053 280.31 280.31
Funny Car had a familiar face on top but he hasn't been there for a while in his first run in a funny car in NHRA competition Johnny Gray blasted to a 4.079/306.
Lee Beard has not lost his tuning ability, that is for sure. Cruz Pedregon is also starting off strong with a solid 4.088. The Three Force cars round out the top five with the boss leading the way with a 4.093.
Bob Bode is well in the field with a 4.121 and Matt Hagan is #12 with a 4.367. 19 cars made laps Thursday and Jack Beckman sits at the bottom after a tire smoker.
1 31 Johnny Gray, Artesia
NM, '11 Charger 4.079 306.33 306.33
------------ Not Qualified ------------
13 116 Paul Lee, Anaheim CA, '10 Impala SS 4.411 241.20 241.20
This one day, the first in 2011 will be remembered by many as Erica Enders sits solidly #1 with a great 6.553/211.69. Switching back to a Chevy Powered car and solid Cagnazzi backing will possibly give her first first ever and well deserved win. Based on one run, is really premature to speculate but I would say that she will go deep into elimination's at a few races this year. The guy who took over her Cunningham ride is teenager Buddy Perkinson.
That Ford team found something as well, as the skinny youngster ripped of the first ever 6.5 pass for the Cunningham team, a sold 6.593/209 to sit #8 after day one. Ron Krisher is #2 with a6.562
(Greg Stanfield also ran a 6.562) and 6.4 man Allen Johnson is #4 with a 6.568. Not much air play about the WJ, KJ team for 2011 but they both made sold mid 6.57 laps. The top 12 are separated by only .049
Day one Pro Stock order
1 48 Erica
Enders, New Orleans LA, '11 Cobalt 6.553 211.69 211.69
------------ Not Qualified ------------
13 4 Shane Gray, Denver NC, '10 GXP 6.747 209.88 209.88
With cool temperatures, the Top Alcohol classes were sure to run hard. Seven of the cars ran last weekend at Phoenix and it was a blown dominated event with Canadian Shawn Cowie getting the early win. Corrected air should be 2000 feet better this weekend but that does not necessarily mean quicker times. Teams will be more aggressive this weekend and that may bite them. The early leaders were the leaders at Phoenix as well, and Chris Demke sits on top with his second 5.2 lap of the year.
A great 5.296 at 270.16. Cowie is #2 with a 5.318 @ a slowing 258.
He was .01 slower than Demke to the 1000 foot mark so even though he was 12 mph slower at the stripe then Demke I don't think he would have been in the '20's'. Jim Whiteley is #3 with a 5.33.
The next three cars are A/Fuelers and Chase Copeland is the quickest with a 5.34. Duane Shields is #5 with a 5.367 and Alberta's Don St. Arnaud is #6 5.368.
1 2 B/AD Chris Demke,
Sunland CA, Uyehara-BAE 5.296 270.16 270.16
Brett Williamson flat out kicked ass in round one with a career best 5.52/257.
The next four are no surprise as Sean O'Bannon, Alexis De Joria, Jay Payne and Tony Bartone site 2 through 5 after day one.
1 7238 Bret Williamson, Campbell CA, '01 Corvette 5.524 257.83 257.83
9 71 Steve Gasparrelli, W. Covina CA, '11 Monte Car 5.748 256.89 256.89
10 799 Sean Bellemeur, Tustin CA, '04 Camaro 5.862 253.28 253.28
1 7474 G/SMA Justin Lamb, Henderson NV, '10 Cobalt 8.599 9.30 -0.701
Tony Pedregon's new look
more photos below
Pre race press (Scroll down)
POMONA, Calif. --
WHEN: Thursday through Sunday, Feb. 24-27
Feb. 25 - LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations begin at 8:15 a.m.
SATURDAY, Feb. 26
- LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations begin at 8:15 a.m.
27 - Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m.
2010 EVENT WINNERS: Larry Dixon, Top Fuel; John Force, Funny Car; Mike Edwards, Pro Stock.
MOST WINTERNATIONALS VICTORIES: Bob Glidden, 7 (Pro Stock); John Force, 5 (Funny Car); Don Garlits, 5 (Top Fuel); Warren Johnson, 5 (Pro Stock); Don Prudhomme, 5 (4 Funny Car, 1 Top Fuel); Greg Anderson, 4 (Pro Stock); Larry Dixon, 4 (Top Fuel).
TICKETS: For tickets call (800) 884-NHRA (6472). Tickets also available online at www.NHRATIX.com.
GENERAL ADMISSION (includes pit pass) - Thursday: Adult, $28; Junior (6-12 years), $10. Friday: Adult, $33; Junior (6-12 years), $10. Saturday: Adult, $53; Junior (6-12 years), $10. Sunday: Adult, $53; Junior (6-12 years) $10. Children (5 years & under), admitted free in general admission and pit access areas each day.
RESERVED SEATS (includes pit pass) - Friday: Adult, $43; Junior (6-12 years), $15; Child (5 years & under), $10. Saturday: Adult, $65; Junior (6-12 years), $20; Child (5 years & under), $10. Sunday: Adult, $65; Junior (6-12 years), $20; Child (5 years & under), $10
Downing/Worsham entry for the WiInters.
Erica Enders back with Cagnazzi
Alexa De Joria's full time 2011 ride. TThe other is Nitro.
New Ford TAFC for Brian Hough
Melanie's new Toyota is bitchin
Bob Vandergriff is back full time in 2011.
C&J Energy Services on board as primary sponsor, Bob Vandergriff Jr. will
race the full 2011 season with continuing support from Speedco, along with financial
backing from Caterpillar Inc. as well. Sponsorship from these companies and new
changes within the team give Vandergriff hope for victory at this weekend's 50th
annual NHRA Winternationals, Feb. 24-27.
Speedco is known very well by the drag racing community as the only nationwide network of facilities set-up to specialize in quick-lube and tire service for heavy-duty trucks. The company services commercial and on-highway transportation vehicles with shops located along major interstates. Speedco will be extending its relationship with Vandergriff Motorsports throughout the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing season, making for their 11th consecutive season with the team.
"Bob and I have had a great relationship for a long time. What started as a typical sponsorship has turned into a great relationship as friends and business associates. Bob has introduced me to a lot of new clients along the way, and that business-to-business approach is a big part of what continues to make Speedco so successful on a daily basis," said Speedco President, Mark Clark.
"Through our 51 national locations we service over 1,000 rigs per day with their oil, filter, and tire needs. Bob is one of the people we work with that helps identify and bring new customer relationships to us, and we show him our support in return," added Clark.
Speedco is active in the community and is a proud charity participant of the Make-A-Wish-Foundation, recently raising over $25,000 for children with life-threatening illnesses.
Also joining Vandergriff Motorsports for the entire season as an associate sponsor is Caterpillar Inc. The heavy equipment industry leader is familiar with the NHRA, having been a team primary and league sponsor in 2008, and participated in various Cat dealer initiatives throughout the 2007 and 2009 seasons. Caterpillar's involvement this year will provide branding on the dragster, and allow Cat dealers throughout the U.S. to entertain customers at races in the private Vandergriff Motorsports hospitality area.
"Cat dealers were able to do several promotions with Vandergriff Motorsports during the 2009 NHRA drag racing season, and they found his team to be very professional. Since that time, Bob (Vandergriff Jr.) has been able to help Caterpillar put together a new business relationship with one of his other sponsors, which encouraged us to support his team as an associate sponsor for the entire 2011 season," said Dean Cervenka of Caterpillar Global Petroleum.
As the off season draws to a close, and the racing season turns to action on the track at Pomona this week, Vandergriff Motorsports will begin to activate its marketing relationships with customer hospitality for Cat dealers, and continue to introduce its sponsors to new business opportunities.
"It has been a busy and successful off season for our team, and we are excited to get going at the Winternationals. We have a great group of guests coming out from one of the large Cat dealers in Southern California, Johnson Machinery, and have another global company coming out to network with one of our other sponsors, so things are going to be happening in our pit area all weekend" said Vandergriff.
Vandergriff's team, including both Jim Dupuy, new Crew Chief Richard Hogan and returning crew members will compete in the NHRA Winternationals this weekend at the Pomona Fairplex, February 24-27.
Lucas and GEICO team ready to attack 2011 drag racing season
POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 21) With some new personnel, new parts, and a new attitude, Morgan Lucas and his GEICO/Lucas Oil Top Fuel dragster team are prepared to make the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Series season their best ever.
"Heck yeah, we're ready to go racing," Lucas said. "We're ready to show everyone that we're back and we're serious.
"I had a down year in 2010, the whole team was down. But the changes we made and way we finished Pomona at the end of the season, it's made me think we have a car that can compete with any car out there. That's exciting."
After winning three times in 2009, Lucas didn't find his way to the winner's circle in 2010. However the addition two-time champion crew chief Dickie Venables late in the year, combined with the latest and greatest cylinder heads acquired in the off season, have spirits high in the Morgan Lucas Racing shop, particularly after a solid test session last month in Florida.
It all adds up high hopes as the team enters the season-opening 51st annual Kragen O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals, Feb. 24-27, at historic Auto Club Raceway.
"The vibe around the shop is really good right now," Lucas said. "Everyone is eager to get out and do everything we've got to do to win again. To be honest with you, everyone has a lot of confidence and to me that's really important."
As usual for Lucas, there will be no easing in to the new season. Pomona is just a few towns over from Lucas Oil's main production facility in Corona, Calif. The youngest son of company founders Forrest and Charlotte Lucas knows there will be many red, white, and blue-clad fans at the track ready to root on the GEICO/Lucas Oil rail.
"The first day back at the track is always the busiest," Lucas said. "You have to make sure everything is back on the car the way it's supposed to, you have to shake a lot of hands, and you have get back in that rhythm of being back at the track.
"Then you have the first run of the season, which can be the most nerve wracking. But every year you race, it gets where you're more eager than nervous. I love what I do. I love to race cars for a living. So this is more of an opportunity for me than an obligation."
Qualifying for the 51st annual Kragen O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals gets under way at 1:30 p.m. PT on Thursday from Auto Club Raceway. Eliminations start at 11 a.m. on Sunday. ESPN2 will carry qualifying highlights at 8 p.m. PT, Saturday, and race day coverage at 4 p.m. PT, Sunday.
POMONA, Calif. Shawn Langdon is ready to change his routine.
"You sit at home in the offseason and get accustomed to just going to the shop every day, talking on the phone, and answering e-mails," Langdon said. "It's boring for me. I need to be racing. I can't wait to get started and get that race mentality back.
"Once you get back in the race season there's a lot of flying back and forth, meeting with fans, and talking with sponsors. It's a faster pace mentality. I love it."
Langdon hasn't been totally idle. He honed his lethal starting line skills last weekend while racing his Super Comp dragster at an event in Gulfport, Miss. Langdon will be running both Top Fuel and Super Comp at Pomona this weekend.
"I'll be pulling a little double duty and hopefully start off the year with a win in one of the classes," Langdon said. "I red-lit in the final last weekend in Gulfport, so it's just a matter of staying in the groove. I made 14 runs in two days in Gulfport and 12 runs in the Lucas Oil dragster during testing, so I feel like I'm ahead of the curve."
Growing up in nearby Riverside, Calif., Auto Club Raceway at Pomona holds a special place in Langdon's heart.
"All my friends and family are out there," Langdon said. "It's always a good way to start the year by racing at a place I grew up going to as a kid. I was always excited to go out there and watch as a kid. Now, I'm excited to get out there and race as an adult."
After finishing fifth in last year's standings, excitement and expectations are high around the Lucas Oil/Speedco pit. Langdon said the No. 1 goal remains the same breaking through for that first career Top Fuel win.
"In the last three races last year, we were in two finals," Langdon said. "We had some momentum built up and ended on a good note. It's a new year, so there are new parts and pieces on the car and you almost have to start building momentum from square one again. You really have to go to the first couple of races with an open mind.
"Everyone is ready. All my guys are talking at the shop and are ready to go. We're looking up and hoping that first win comes sooner rather than later."
With last-minute assist, Larry Morgan points Lucas Oil Mustang to Pomona
POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 23) It took some last minute financial help, but Larry Morgan and his Lucas Oil Ford Mustang Pro Stock car will be at the starting line when the 51st annual Kragen O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals starts this Thursday.
"Speedco Truck Lube came through at the last minute and really helped us," Morgan said. "I've got great sponsors in Lucas Oil, Summit, and Ford and I can't wait to get out there and kick some butt for all of them this year."
Part of Mogan's race income comes from his engine shop, and there's not a lot of customers out there right now, which left him fighting for funding to get the year started.
"Until I get out there and run real good to get a Ford customer, it's going to be tough for me," Morgan said. "I decided that if I can't do it right, I'm not going to do it. Thankfully I got some help to get my car out there."
Morgan said he was busy during the offseason perfecting his second-year Ford program and the results during preseason testing have given him something to smile about.
"We've done more with the engine and the car in the last two months than we did all last year," Morgan said. "It gave us time to help us concentrate on making a better program. I think we're going to do well; I'm really counting on it.
"We went 6.523 (seconds) at 211.88 mph at testing. I'm really happy with that and looking forward to going out there and racing."
Pro Stock qualifying starts at 1 p.m. PST on Thursday with a single session. There will be another single session on Friday and two rounds Saturday. Eliminations start at 11 a.m. PST Sunday from Auto Club Raceway. ESPN2 will carry qualifying highlights at 8 p.m. PT, Saturday, and race day coverage at 4 p.m. PT, Sunday.
Maddern Racing (Chris Demke preview)
Ca -- The Top Alcohol Dragster Team of Maddern Racing with Chris Demke behind
the wheel is ready for their first ever National Event Repeat Victory. The 2010
Winternationals Top Alcohol Dragster Champion team is based in Sun Valley, California
and is looking forward to competing at their home track where family and friends
'We suffered a fuel pump malfunction after Monday's rained out rescheduled qualifier in Phoenix last week" noted Demke, "that forced us to change engines before eliminations. We were under a significant time restraint and not able to warm up the car prior to going to the staging lanes.
"Unfortunately, we had a fuel leak that was inadvertently missed and forced us to abort the run".
That was then and this is now. The Peen Rite - Clean Boost Oil Sponsored Team is more than ready to defend their 2010 Championship in Pomona this weekend at the 51st Annual running of the Kragen-O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Full Throttle Winternationals.
Qualifying at the The Kragen-O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals for the Top Alcohol Class begins on Thursday, February 24th, 2011 at 11:30 A.M. and continues on Friday at 11:30 and 2:30. 1st Round of Eliminations are scheduled for Saturday at 12:45 with Final Eliminations slated to begin at 11:00 A.M on Sunday.
Schedule is subject to change.
For continuous drag racing coverage, please log on to: http://www.dragracecentral.com
For more information on Chris Demke and Maddern Racing, please log on to: http://www.maddernracing.com