6:30 p.m. – Good night from The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Spectator gates will open Saturday morning at 7:30 and racing will resume at 8 a.m. with Sportsman eliminations. Professional qualifying sessions will be held at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Be sure to check back here throughout the day on Saturday for continual updates from the third and fourth rounds of pro qualifying for the 12th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals.
6:10 p.m. – Comments from provisional Top Fuel pole-sitter Larry Dixon following the second round of qualifying:
“To be honest, I was waiting for Del (Worsham) to take it away from me. We were just fortunate that it stuck. A 3.90 today, in those conditions, obviously I thought was a really good run (but) it might not even hold up. If it cools off tomorrow, it might not even stay in the show – that’s how much the guys can pick it up. For today, it was a great run by the team and got us qualified.”
(On having a two-car Top Fuel team this season:) “We obviously use the two cars for information – that’s the whole idea of it, to try and gather more data in every session. I’m sure that there are things that we learned and things that (Worsham’s team) learned. Between the two teams, you hope that they end up with a better package – better than everybody else, you hope. Today, yeah (it worked), but tomorrow’s a new day.”
6 p.m. – Comments from provisional Funny Car pole-sitter Cruz Pedregon following the second round of qualifying:
“It felt great. The Snap-On Wix Toyota was on a rail and my confidence meter was about a zero going into that session just because, first run, the car was acting weird and it sounded weird. We’re about 70 degrees track temperature warmer than when we ran No. 1 qualifier at Pomona about a month ago. We changed everything except for the chassis and the body as far as the setup on the car, just to negotiate the (conditions). It’s a great track but the heat really loosens it up and makes you have to pull on a few horses there. Happy would be an understatement. We’re just on cloud nine. It’s just qualifying but we were the best today.
“I wish the weatherman would keep the weather consistent because just as soon as we get our car (dialed in) – we’ve got a pretty good setup for a 130-degree track – it’s going to mess around and be 60-some degrees (on Sunday) and be a completely different setup. We’re going to enjoy this and, like everybody else, we’re going to have to put a whole new setup on the car from what the weatherman says. I just hope he’s wrong.”
5:38 p.m. – Comments from provisional Pro Stock pole-sitter Mike Edwards following the second round of qualifying:
“We made such a good run the first run; I think we were closer than everybody else, really. I think you’ll see it close way up tomorrow. The track is very hot and I was really impressed the way we kept up with the track tonight, to go out there and actually improve. I was really happy with all of the decisions the guys made. We’ve gotten off to a good start; we’ll just see what happens. The gap will definitely get closer tomorrow because everybody’s getting more runs so they’ll get it all figured out.
“If you look at my record over the years, we seem to run better in the summertime and when it gets kind of hot and nasty outside, we seem to do better. But it’s supposed to be really cool on Sunday so these conditions don’t look like they’re going to stick around all weekend. But you’ve got to race the conditions as well as the guy in the next lane on Sunday so we’ll see what happens. But we’re real pleased with what we did today.”
5:20 p.m. – Larry Dixon grabbed the provisional pole in Top Fuel with a pass of 3.904 seconds at 312.78 mph during Friday’s second round of qualifying. Del Worsham (3.938 at 299.40) is second, Antron Brown (3.939 at 311.34) is third, Spencer Massey (3.945 at 309.70) is fourth and David Grubnic (3.947 at 306.05) is fifth.
4:45 p.m. – Cruz Pedregon knocked John Force off the provisional pole with a 4.145-second pass at 306.19 mph in the second round of Funny Car qualifying. Force was second quickest, based on his second-round pass of 4.169 (304.25). Tim Wilkerson moved from 14th to third with a 4.196-second pass (295.21), Robert Hight jumped from 15th to fourth (4.197 at 304.87) and Bob Tasca III slipped from second to fifth despite a second-round pass of 4.202 at 294.63.
3:35 p.m. – Mike Edwards posted a blistering pass of 6.709 seconds (205.63 mph) in the second round of Pro Stock qualifying and retained the provisional pole in the category.
Edwards’ pass was the quickest and fastest in a session that was contested with a track temperature of 132 degrees. The top five qualifiers remained the same through two rounds of qualifying: Vincent Nobile was second, Rodger Brogdon third, Greg Anderson fourth and Erica Enders fifth.
2:45 p.m. – Mike Neff not only is the driver of the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang Funny Car for team owner John Force, he’s also his own crew chief. Neff assumed the dual role when driver Ashley Force Hood stepped out of the car this season to have her first child.
Despite what would seem to be a dizzying task of both tuning and driving the car, Neff has responded with a semifinal finish in the season opener and a victory three weeks ago at the Gatornationals. Neff, who comes into this weekend’s SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals as the Funny Car points leader, said his role as crew chief has not been a distraction when he gets behind the wheel.
“I think it’s almost helpful,” Neff said. “Before, when all I was doing was driving, you’d have all that time to sit around and think about it. I believe the worst thing a driver can do is start thinking. When you get up there and you think ‘I need to do this; I need to do that’ – the more you think, it seems like, the more trouble you get yourself into.
“The one positive thing is with all the stuff I have going, I don’t have to sit around and worry about the driving or my reaction times or anything like that. When it comes time to get in there, you just go and do it. It doesn’t seem like I’m playing all those mind games with myself like I used to.”
Neff’s first-round qualifying run on Friday was disallowed when he crossed the center line during his pass.
2:25 p.m. – Del Worsham is on the provisional pole after a pass of 3.938 seconds at 305.42 mph in the first round of Top Fuel qualifying. Tony Schumacher is second quickest at 3.962 at 305.98, Terry McMillen is third (3.982 at 302.75), Shawn Langdon fourth (3.989 at 297.81) and Spencer Massey fifth (4.027 at 273.05).
The track temperature rocketed to 131 degrees as the ambient temperature climbed to 86 degrees by the end of the Top Fuel qualifying session. The second round of professional qualifying is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m.
1:45 p.m. – John Force, who swept both races at The Strip last year, grabbed the provisional pole with a 4.187-second pass at 299.80 mph in the first round of Funny Car qualifying. Bob Tasca III (4.221 at 292.77) was second quickest and Tony Pedregon (4.260 at 286.80) third. Matt Hagan (4.275 at 283.73) and Jeff Arend (4.331 at 284.15) round out the top five.
1:25 p.m. – Bob Tasca III, driver of the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Funny Car, has been invited to attend the April 19 launch of the Shuttle Endeavor at Kennedy Space Center in Florida as a guest of Endeavor Commander Mark Kelly. Kelly is the husband of Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), who is recovering after being shot in the head during a meeting with her constituents Jan. 8 at a shopping center in Tucson.
1 p.m. – Mike Edwards, who won this event last spring at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, holds the No. 1 qualifying position after the first round of Pro Stock qualifying. Edwards posted a run of 6.715 seconds at 206.26 mph. Vincent Nobile was second quickest at 6.736 seconds (205.44) and Rodger Brogdon was third quickest at 6.736 (205.32). Greg Anderson (6.736 at 204.35) and Erica Enders (6.738 at 204.85) rounded out the top five.
11:55 a.m. – Good morning from The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where fans are basking under sunny skies for the first day of professional qualifying for the 12th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals. It’s sunny right now with an ambient temperature of 75 degrees and a slight breeze (3 mph) out of the north – but the forecast calls for a high of 91 degrees. The track temperature is 119 degrees as the Top Alcohol Dragsters and TA Funny Cars are wrapping up their first qualifying session. The first round of Pro Stock qualifying is set to begin at 12:30 p.m. (PDT) and the Funny Cars and Top Fuel Dragsters are slated to hit the track at 1 p.m. The second round of pro qualifying is slated to begin at 3 p.m.
Be sure to check back here often as we’ll be updating this blog throughout the weekend with news, results and driver interviews.