9:55 p.m. – Racing resumes at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway at 8 a.m. Sunday with Sportsman eliminations. Pre-race ceremonies for the 10th annual NHRA Las Vegas Nationals begin at 10 a.m. and final pro eliminations begin at 11 a.m.
Good night from The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and be sure to check back Sunday for updates throughout the day.
9:50 p.m. – Comments from Ashley Force Hood, the top qualifier in Funny Car:
“We’re really happy with the car and we’re really pumped for tomorrow. Of course, everybody wants to go for a (national record) but I’d rather take a good run any day than not get down the track. With the changing conditions here earlier, we were hoping to maybe get delayed a little to get to run in that cool temperature. Then we got really, really delayed and I worried, ‘is it getting too cold?’ You hate to wait all that time and go 10 feet on your run so I was really excited to know I was on a really good run. I’m surprised that more cars didn’t step up and run quicker. I was really proud of my team that despite all those distractions, we still managed to have a really good run.
“I’ve never been in this long of a session but you get past the point of being worried about it and it is what it is. I’m just glad we made a good pass, that it was worth it in the end to see a couple of good passes. It made it worth the wait for the handful of fans that stuck it out.”
9:30 p.m. – Here are the top 16 qualifiers in Funny Car for the 10th annual NHRA Las Vegas Nationals:
1. Ashley Force Hood; 2. John Force; 3. Ron Capps; 4. Cruz Pedregon; 5. Matt Hagan; 6. Bob Tasca III; 7. Tim Wilkerson; 8. Bob Bode; 9. Jack Beckman; 10. Melanie Troxel; 11. Gary Densham; 12. Tony Pedregon; 13. Jim Head; 14. Del Worsham; 15. Jeff Arend; 16. Paul Lee.
8:25 p.m. – Comments from Tony Schumacher, the top qualifier in Top Fuel:
“(The delay) is not what you hope for but NHRA does the best they can do and I’m sure the guys that oil the track down, they’re not trying to do it. We’re supposed to be running at 3:30 and home having a nice dinner and watching the freaky people dress up in Vegas on Halloween … and here we are, it’s 8 o’clock at night and Funny Car has just started. Long day but tomorrow will be great.
“Now it’s cold. These guys in Funny Cars right now -- and most of us in Top Fuel -- the conditions are cold. The track is 68 degrees; it’s just a little bit too cold. I look forward to tomorrow. I wouldn’t want to race against my car tomorrow. I think we have an incredible car. We definitely have the tune-up for this racetrack in these conditions.”
8:15 p.m. – Jeff Diehl was involved in a serious crash early in the final round of Funny Car qualifying but he appears to have escaped injury.
Diehl’s car broke loose at half-track and slammed head-on into the right-hand wall. The body broke loose from the chassis as Diehl’s car burst into flames but Diehl climbed from the cockpit moments after it came to a stop beyond the finish line.
“It was a hit – it took my breath away,” a visibly shaken Diehl said several minutes after the incident. “It shook and I lifted the throttle but it hung wide open. I don’t know what it hung on. I just had to ride it out.
“I was scared I was going to hit Robert (Hight). What a mess. I’m just embarrassed – what can I say?”
7:50 p.m. – Here are the top 16 qualifiers in Top Fuel for the 10th annual NHRA Las Vegas Nationals:
Tony Schumacher; 2. Cory McClenathan; 3. Larry Dixon; 4. David Grubnic; 5. Steve Torrence; 6. Clay Millican; 7. T.J. Zizzo; 8. Brandon Bernstein; 9. Shawn Langdon; 10. Antron Brown; 11. Dom Lagana; 12. Chris Karamesines; 13. Scott Palmer; 14. Troy Buff; 15. Mark Mariani; 16. Bob Vandergriff.
7 p.m. – Comments from Allen Johnson, the top qualifier in Pro Stock:
“We knew that this (last) run would be the best one (after the long delay earlier in the day). When the sun goes down, the track gets awesome here so we knew we had to get after it to keep (the pole) and that’s what we did – we stepped it up. This is the second race in a row where Dodges are one and two.”
6:54 p.m. – Comments from Hector Arana, the top qualifier in Pro Stock Motorcycle:
“As you can see, we’re going in the right direction. For me, it means everything to come back (after struggling this season). We had a problem, we fixed it and we came back. I’m going to try to relax so I can have a good night’s sleep and concentrate for tomorrow.”
6:15 p.m. – Here are the top 16 qualifiers in Pro Stock for the 10th annual NHRA Las Vegas Nationals:
1. Allen Johnson; 2. V Gaines; 3. Jeg Coughlin; 4. Ron Krisher; 5. Jason Line; 6. Rodger Brogdon; 7. Shane Gray; 8. Greg Stanfield; 9. Mike Edwards; 10. Kurt Johnson; 11. Greg Anderson; 12. Larry Morgan; 13. Ronnie Humphrey; 14. Dave Connolly; 15. Bob Yonke; 16. Johnny Gray.
5:40 p.m. – Here are the top 16 qualifiers in Pro Stock Motorcycle for the 10th annual NHRA Las Vegas Nationals:
1. Hector Arana; 2. Eddie Krawiec; 3. Karen Stoffer; 4. Jim Underdahl; 5. Shawn Gann; 6. Matt Smith; 7. Andrew Hines; 8. Bailey Whitaker; 9. LE Tonglet; 10. Craig Treble; 11. Michael Phillips; 12. Angie Smith; 13. David Hope; 14. Steve Johnson; 15. Matt Guidera; 16. Scotty Pollacheck.
4:05 p.m. – Among the notable spectators at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday include Patrick Carpentier, a NASCAR driver and former open-wheel racer who lives in Las Vegas, and Rod Fuller, a seven-time winner in the NHRA Top Fuel category and a Las Vegas resident.
3:55 p.m. – Ashley Force Hood, John Force and Cruz Pedregon remained atop the Funny Car speed chart after three rounds of qualifying. Ron Capps posted the quickest run of the session at 4.092 seconds and moved up two spots to No. 6.
3:05 p.m. – After several lengthy delays for oil-downs and a track cleanup, the third round of Top Fuel qualifying has ended in spectacular fashion. Tony Schumacher backed up his national speed-record run from yesterday (325.14 mph) with a blistering pass of 3.816 seconds at 324.12 mph – within the 1 percent required to certify Friday’s run as the record. Schumacher remained the top qualifier, Cory McClenathan moved up to No. 2 and Larry Dixon is No. 3.
12:50 p.m. – Allen Johnson turned in the quickest and fastest pass of the weekend (6.651 seconds at 207.82 mph) and retained the No. 1 qualifying position in Pro Stock after three rounds. V Gaines moved up to No. 2 (6.665 at 206.39) and Mike Edwards is No. 3 (6.671 at 207.02).
12:30 p.m. – Hector Arana improved on his qualifying time in the third round with a 6.922-second pass (190.30 mph) and remained the top Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifier after three rounds. Karen Stoffer (6.956 at 192.22) improved to No. 2 and Jim Underdahl (6.961 at 193.24) moved up to No. 3.
12:20 p.m. – Matt Smith, commenting on his wild ride into the sand after his third-round qualifying run:
“I’m OK, but I hit my head pretty good. But I’m all right. I just got down there and I had no brakes whatsoever. There was nothing I could do but hold on.”
12:03 p.m. – Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Matt Smith had trouble stopping his bike at the end of his third-round qualifying run today and dumped his bike in the sand pit at the top end of the track. Smith walked away from his bike under his own power and appeared to have suffered no serious injuries, although he will be checked out by NHRA medical personnel.
11:30 a.m. – Jack Beckman knows he has his work cut out for him if he is to leapfrog John Force and Don Schumacher Racing teammate Matt Hagan and win the NHRA Funny Car world championship.
Beckman entered the weekend trailing Hagan by 93 points and second-place Force by 29 points and finds himself seventh in qualifying after two rounds. Force is the No. 2 qualifier and Hagan is No. 4 going into this morning’s action.
“It’s a tough situation to be in,” Beckman said. “We’re basically five rounds out of the points lead and the way that (Hagan) has been qualifying, we can’t let them out-qualify us because if they gain eight more points, that’s an extra round for us to have to make up and we’ve only got eight rounds left.
“We have to make the final round here and we have to hope they lose early – and that’s never the way that you want to win a championship. You don’t want to go in and rely on somebody else struggling; you want to do it off your performance. But that’s where we’re at. At the end of the day, we still have a realistic shot at the championship but to be able to say that going into (the season finale in) Pomona, we have to make a final round here.”
Beckman said he likes his chances this weekend because he counts Las Vegas as his favorite track on the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.
“Coming back to Vegas and Pomona to end the season are my two home tracks,” he said. “I taught at the drag-racing school (at Pomona) for 10 years and Vegas, of all the NHRA tracks, I definitely have the most amount of runs at Vegas because with my Sportsman car, I used to come out and race here all the time. It’s my favorite racetrack. It’s always safe, it’s always prepped well, it’s got an uphill shutdown area, it’s got paved pits, it’s got wonderful grandstands and it’s got great atmosphere with the town here. It’s my favorite place to race.”
10:50 a.m. – Good morning from The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the final two rounds of professional qualifying for the 10th annual NHRA Las Vegas Nationals. It’s partly cloudy and 63 degrees with winds gusting to 20 mph out of the southwest. The forecast calls for partly cloudy skies, a high of 74 degrees and wind gusts to 25 mph.
The third round of professional qualifying is scheduled to begin at 11:45 a.m. with Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock, followed immediately by the third round of Nitro qualifying. The fourth and final round of pro qualifying is scheduled to begin at 2:45 p.m.
Check back here throughout the day, as we’ll be updating this blog with news, results and driver interviews.