5:35 p.m. – Racing resumes at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway at 9 a.m. Sunday with Sportsman eliminations. Pre-race ceremonies for the 12th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals begin at 10:15 a.m. and final eliminations in the three pro categories start at 11 a.m.
Good evening from The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and be sure to check back here Sunday for updates throughout the day.
5:05 p.m. – Comments from John Force, the top qualifier in Funny Car:
“(Crew chiefs) Dean Antonelli, taught by Austin Coil, and Ron Douglas – those two kids run the car. Guido (Antonelli) wasn't trying to run low because he said there are too many guys behind us and they'll see us do it and they'll just step it up. He just tried to run what he thought the lane would hold and we got away with it. It makes me feel good for those kids. Let's not forget that's Ashley Force Hood, my daughter's car. More than anything, I want to do good for her because that car means a lot to her and those kids that she raced with for four years. One day, I'll get out at the other end, I'll get on that freeway and you'll never see me again. I'll just disappear and leave it to the kids when they're ready to run it because I won't have a final tour and I don't like good-byes.”
(On tomorrow’s predicted cooler temperatures:) “Without a doubt, we'll step up. It'll make the track better. Where people get confused, the minute all of your gauges show you what the car will do, then you've got to play the game that what if the track isn't there...and you think the conditions are good but underneath it's not. Like I said to Guido, if we can run low e.t. or the top two, three or four, then we get to watch what everybody can do and then you can see what they can do. Otherwise, the slowest car in the field can take you out. We're going to watch the ones ahead of us and then try to look at his numbers and try to put a number, just an edge, on them.”
4:35 p.m. – Comments from Larry Dixon, the top qualifier in Top Fuel:
“They weren’t great runs today but it’s still good information. The first run, it went out there and spun the tires and I clicked it off and the second run, it kind of felt like it was doing the same thing and it knocked the burst panels out. To be honest, I’m really surprised that a 3.90 stuck for pole; I really thought there would be some cars that would actually knock that off. I think we were really fortunate that it held.
(On tomorrow’s predicted cooler temperatures:) The track temperature is what it comes down to. If you get a 10-degree cooler track, you’ll probably see three-, four-hundredths quicker (elapsed times) but you’ve got to wait and see. Fortunately for me, my job is the same whether it’s 60 degrees or 160 – it’s the same thing. We’ve just got to go out there and try real hard and know that the Al-Anabi team is going to do their best to give me a great race horse. Whether we get in the winner’s circle or not, I don’t think that really has any bearing on confidence. With a great team and driving a great racecar, we’ll do our best to try – along with everybody else. It’s not our confidence; we’ve got a great car all year long but one reason or another has kept us from advancing any further in races but I wouldn’t trade my car for (anybody else’s).”
11:05 a.m. – Kenny Bernstein said his second retirement is feeling a whole lot more comfortable than his first.
Bernstein, a six-time NHRA world champion and the first drag racer to surpass the 300-mph barrier, returned for one season as a driver in 2007 after retiring in 2002. He said this week that he is content with his role as owner of the Kenny Bernstein Racing Copart Top Fuel Dragster, which is driven by his son Brandon.
“Yeah, I think so,” the elder Bernstein said when asked if his retirement from driving was final. “I learned a long time ago not to say ‘never’ because I goofed up on that and did (retire) and six months later, I was back in there (driving) and I was having fun again.
“I don’t plan on (driving again) right now; I don’t have anything pushing me. My feelings on that today are completely different than they were two years ago. Two years ago, I was still a little itchy; it was a little tough to get out of the Monster Funny Car, to be honest about it, but I thought it was the right thing to do. I have really, really calmed down and I understand now that this is where I need to be.”
Brandon Bernstein is qualified No. 8 in the Copart Dragster going into today’s final two rounds of qualifying for Sunday’s 12th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
10:25 a.m. – Good morning from The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the final two rounds of professional qualifying for the 12th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals.
The weather has changed from yesterday’s summer-like conditions; it’s cloudy and 80 degrees this morning with winds coming out of the south at 17 mph. The forecast calls for partly sunny skies and a high of 89 degrees.
The third round of professional qualifying is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. with 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 p.m.
Check back here throughout the day, as we’ll be updating this blog with news, results and driver interviews.