7 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 11th annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals begin at 10 a.m. and final eliminations in the four 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.
6:50 p.m. – Comments from Ron Capps, the top qualifier in Funny Car:
(How does this feel after not qualifying for the most recent race?) “Zero to hero? It’s pretty cool. I’m so proud of Tim (Richards, crew chief) and the guys because, obviously, we didn’t qualify in Phoenix and then the guys packed up Saturday night and I went to the track on Sunday and had to stand around and do my business with NAPA and all of the people.
It had been four years since I didn’t qualify so it was tough. The dedication for the NAPA guys to pack up, come here and spend (last Monday) testing a brand-new car when they could have gone home … that was what they needed; that was the spark the guys needed.”
(How aggravated were you after Phoenix?) “I wasn’t aggravated … yeah, maybe a little bit. You’re like, OK, this could have happened at any point in the season but now? It’s got to happen now, in the Countdown? It just seems like sometimes we can’t catch a break. You don’t want to cry about not winning a championship and the different ways that we’ve not won it and come close, but it’s just making us earn it. It’s making us work for it.”
(After four years, do you just expect to qualify?) “That streak kept going on and on and you hear the announcers talking about it. You’re like, ‘Gosh, four years, that just doesn’t seem right.’ And you take it for granted. I’m always bragging to the NASCAR guys that in our sport, John Force has won 15 championships but he still has to qualify for Sunday. We don’t have provisionals like these NASCAR guys and it’s not a given that we’re going to be there. It sucks that that rule is there, sometimes, when you have a big sponsor, for that very reason. We had 180 people show up (in Phoenix) from NAPA and I wasn’t there racing. But I think it’s the coolest part of our sport – that you’ve got to earn it every time, I don’t care who you are. That’s the part that reminds you … that you can’t take it for granted.”
6:38 p.m. – Comments from Del Worsham, the top qualifier in Top Fuel:
“It feels amazing. We were on a great run last night and kind of let one get away.
When it cooled down today and Alan (Johnson, team manager) walked in the trailer and said to Brian (Husen, crew chief) and myself, ‘How about if we just go 3.80 and take the one spot.’ I said, ‘Sounds good to me if you can do it.’ He lied – we went 3.79. But what a great run. The car went straight, it’s been running great all weekend and it’s a brand-new chassis this weekend. For the record, I’m not driving (Larry) Dixon’s car and it’s still running well.”
(How do you feel about tomorrow?) “We’re trying to make up these little points and there are 20 points around. It’s pretty big; we need to maintain that through Pomona now so that … if you’re 41 points out and you win two rounds more than the other guy, he still wins by one. But if you’re 39 points out and you win two rounds, you’re number one by one point. These little points are going to be very, very important here as the last two races shake down. We did all we could do this weekend, I believe. I thought we did very well in qualifying and now we’ve just got to race well tomorrow.”
(On losing the points lead four races ago) “We’ve run pretty well, we just haven’t won and when you don’t win, people think that you can’t. We’ve won a lot of races this year and the competition is tough. We’ve made some mistakes and I’ve made some mistakes and we just haven’t run as good as what everybody’s seen. Alan made the call to come into this race with a brand-new car and I believe in him 100 percent and he’s shown me, at least to this point, that that’s the right call.”
6:27 p.m. – Comments from Mike Edwards, the top qualifier in Pro Stock:
“It just feels to make a good run and we just did it at the right time.
The conditions were definitely the best all weekend this morning. We just made an outstanding run, really. It’s the fastest corrected run we’ve ever made so I’m pretty happy about that. Tomorrow is another day but the track has really been good all weekend for us. For where we came from the last race, it’s tremendously better.
“I feel good about the track tomorrow. The sun’s going to be a little bit hotter tomorrow and we’re going to be challenged by the track conditions but we’re like that every race we go to. Hopefully, tomorrow, we can make the right adjustments and go some rounds. We’ll try to go back to what we did this morning and adjust from there.”
5:59 p.m. – Comments from Hector Arana Jr., the top qualifier in Pro Stock Motorcycle:
(On taking the pole from his father) “I tell you what, he didn’t make it easy;
I had to take it from, he didn’t let me have it. It’s just a dream come true to come out here and race in NHRA. It’s a tough class – any of the racing divisions over here are tough. Everybody’s on their top game so in order to be good, you have to be 100 percent. We’re just having fun out here.”
(On the pressure of the championship race) “It feels good to know that I’m riding a consistent Lucas Oil Buell. This bike is amazing. It’s proved it numerous times that it goes right down the track and it repeats itself so it’s not just a one-hit wonder; it’s consistent. It’s a really good feeling. I like being the predator. I feel like Eddie (Krawiec) probably feels like the prey right now because I’m coming after it. Right now, I feel like a lion, getting ready to take that championship.”
5:37 p.m. – Here are the top 16 qualifiers in Funny Car for the 11th annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals:
1. Ron Capps; 2. Mike Neff; 3. Robert Hight; 4. Cruz Pedregon; 5. Matt Hagan; 6. Bob Tasca III; 7. Melanie Troxel; 8. Jack Beckman; 9. John Force; 10. Johnny Gray; 11. Alexis DeJoria; 12. Tim Wilkerson; 13. Jeff Arend; 14. Tony Pedregon; 15. Bob Bode; 16. Todd Lesenko.
4:45 p.m. – Here are the top 16 qualifiers in Top Fuel for the 11th annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals:
1. Del Worsham; 2. Spencer Massey; 3. Brandon Bernstein; 4. Bob Vandergriff; 5. Antron Brown; 6, Larry Dixon; 7. Rod Fuller; 8. Steve Torrence; 9. David Grubnic; 10. Doug Kalitta; 11. TJ Zizzo; 12. Tony Schumacher; 13. Clay Millican; 14. Dominick Lagana; 15. Ron August Jr.; 16. Shawn Langdon.
3:44 p.m. – Here are the top 16 qualifiers in Pro Stock for the 11th annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals:
1. Mike Edwards; 2. Jason Line; 3. Allen Johnson; 4. Rodger Brogdon; 5. Greg Anderson; 6. Larry Morgan; 7. Ron Krisher; 8. Ronnie Humphrey; 9. Erica Enders; 10. Shane Gray; 11. Vincent Nobile; 12. Steve Kent; 13. Kurt Johnson; 14. Greg Stanfield; 15. V Gaines; 16. Mark Wolfe.
3:18 p.m. – Here are the top 16 qualifiers in Pro Stock Motorcycle for the 11th annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals:
1. Hector Arana Jr.; 2. Eddie Krawiec; 3. Hector Arana Sr.; 4. Andrew Hines; 5. Matt Smith; 6. Gerald Savoie; 7. Steve Johnson; 8. Mike Berry; 9. Angie Smith; 10. LE Tonglet; 11. Michael Ray; 12. Jim Underdahl; 13. Bailey Whitaker; 14. Shawn Green; 15. David Hope; 16. Matt Guidera.
3:05 p.m. – Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Joe DeSantis took a spill off his bike as it was nearing the finish line during his fourth-round qualifying run. According to NHRA, DeSantis, 69, was conscious and alert and talking to the medical crew. DeSantis was transported to a local hospital for further evaluation.
2:15 p.m. – It should come as no surprise that Alexis DeJoria is among the top five in the Funny Car field through three rounds of qualifying for the 11th annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Although she is attempting to make only her third Funny Car race, DeJoria, 34, said she has been looking forward to this event for quite some time.
“This is one of my favorite tracks,” DeJoria said of The Strip. “It’s a great facility, the fans are awesome and there’s always a big turnout. My family has a home in Vegas, so I consider that town my second home, which really makes a difference. Plus, my sponsor, Tequila Patron, is headquartered in Vegas, so I’m excited for the Patron team to come out to the track and see us competing in this new class.”
DeJoria, who is driving a car prepared by Kalitta Motorsports, is the daughter of John Paul DeJoria, the co-founder of John Paul Mitchell Systems and owner of Tequila Patron. She had a successful career in the Top Alcohol Funny Car category, where she co-owned and operated her team.
2 p.m. – Johnny Gray posted the quickest time (4.118) in the third round of Funny Car qualifying and moves up one spot to No. 4. Robert Hight, Matt Hagan and Melanie Troxel hold the top three spots and Alexis DeJoria is fifth.
The final round of pro qualifying is scheduled to begin shortly.
1:19 p.m. – Just a reminder for fans who are thinking about attending Sunday’s final eliminations for the 11th annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals: A very limited number of reserved seats remain for the event. Call the LVMS ticket office at 702-644-4444 or visit www.lvms.com/tickets/ .
1:08 p.m. – Brandon Bernstein retained the No. 1 qualifying position after three rounds of Top Fuel qualifying. Del Worsham set the low time of the session at 3.838 seconds at 321.81 mph and is No. 2. Spencer Massey posted a 3.849 at 321.42 and is third, former Las Vegas resident Rod Fuller jumped from 10th to fourth with a third-round pass of 3.854 at 325.85 and Steve Torrence is fifth.
11:58 a.m. – Mike Edwards laid down a blistering pass in the third round of Pro Stock qualifying and established track records for both low elapsed time and fast speed.
Edwards claimed the provisional No. 1 qualifying spot with a record pass of 6.594 second at 208.81 mph. Jason Line (6.624) is second quickest, Allen Johnson (6.630) moves up to third, Rodger Brogdon (6.632) is fourth and Greg Anderson, who did not make a third-round pass because of a mechanical failure, is fifth.
11:45 a.m. – Hector Arana Jr. turned in the quickest pass of the weekend in the third round of Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying and bumped his father, Hector Arana Sr., off the provisional pole he held after the second round of qualifying.
Arana Jr.’s track-record pass of 6.879 seconds at 194.46 mph came on the final run of the session and with his father in the lane beside him.
Eddie Krawiec holds the No. 2 spot with a third-round pass of 6.894 seconds at 196.56 mph. Hector Arana Sr. is third, Andrew Hines fourth and Gerald Savoie fifth.
10:55 a.m. – Antron Brown has a 20-point lead over Larry Dixon and a 25-point edge over Spencer Massey in the Top Fuel standings going into the 11th annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals, but the six-time winner this season is not taking anything for granted as he pursues his first NHRA world championship.
“To be in the position we are, we are very blessed but there is still a lot of racing left,” Brown said. “There are two races … there are eight more rounds – plus the fact that you have to qualify because you have everybody and their momma coming out for these last few races trying to qualify and get in the show.
“We’re going to go out there and try to stay poised and give our best shot because right now it’s anybody’s race for this championship. We’re definitely going to put a good fight on for it.”
Brown, who drives for team owner Don Schumacher, said his Matco Tools team is not going to change the way it is approaching this weekend’s race or the season finale in Pomona.
“We’ve been an aggressive team throughout the season,” he said. “We go after it every race, never letting up on ourselves or the competition. Obviously, this approach has served us well and we think it’s the way to the best results. We’ve got the points lead, but we won’t go the rest of the way in a defensive mode. We’re going to play to win rather than play not to lose.”
10:25 a.m. – Good morning from The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the second day of professional qualifying for the 11th annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals.
It’s sunny with an ambient temperature of 63 degrees and a slight breeze (2 mph) out of the south. The forecast calls for a high of 79 degrees. The track temperature is 84 degrees as the professional classes prepare for qualifying later this morning. The third round of Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying is set to begin at 11 a.m. (PDT) and the Funny Cars and Top Fuel Dragsters are slated to hit the track at 11:45 a.m. The fourth and final round of pro qualifying is slated to begin at 1:45 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.