(NHRA press release)
Matt Hagan took another step towards a second Funny Car world championship when he qualified No. 1 with the sixth quickest time in NHRA Funny Car history at the NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday.
J.R. Todd (Top Fuel), Erica Enders-Stevens (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were top qualifiers at the penultimate playoff event in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship.
Hagan powered his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger to a career-best performance and a track record 3.983-second pass at 322.42 mph to claim the top spot, taking away the No. 1 qualifier from his rival John Force, who sits second in points. The run was the first three-second Funny Car pass at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
"I'm glad we were able to do the three-second run for the fans out there," said Hagan, who secured his second No. 1 qualifying position of the season and 17th of his career. "They wanted to see a three-second run. Heck when we were coming back, there were a lot John Force fans were cheering for it. Just great for my guys."
Force, who announced Peak Antifreeze as a major sponsor for 2015, qualified second with 4.022 at 320.66 in the Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang. Force, who trails Hagan by 41 points, will race Jon Capps in his elimination opener.
Courtney Force, who is third in points, posted a 4.024 at 320.66 in the Traxxas Ford Mustang, good enough for the third starting spot. Force, who reached the finals of both Las Vegas events last season, faces Paul Lee. Ron Capps' NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger qualified fourth with a 4.037 at 322.34 and goes up against Tony Pedregon. Jeff Arend drove the Alo Drink Dodge Charger to a fifth place qualifying effort with a 4.042 at 310.91, securing a first round matchup with Robert Hight.
Todd, a winner at Denver earlier this season, raced to the No. 1 position in Top Fuel with his track record run of 3.732 at 327.43 in his Optima Batteries dragster. Todd, whose first race of the season was here in the spring, has three No. 1 qualifiers this season and six in his career. He will face T.J. Zizzo in the opening round.
"To me, Las Vegas is not one of the places where I come to expect to set records," Todd said. "The conditions are way different than they were yesterday. I think it's going to be like this tomorrow. I honestly didn't think it would hold up with the two cars behind us."
Spencer Massey piloted his Red Fuel powered by Schumacher dragster to a 3.732 at 327.43, taking the No. 2 qualifier. Massey, who has wins at Atlanta and Topeka this season, takes on Terry McMillen in round one.
Doug Kalitta, who sits second in Top Fuel points, put his Mac Tools dragster third with a 3.747 at 317.74, setting up a first round bout with Brittany Force. Richie Crampton, Friday's No. 1 qualifier, was fourth with a 3.748 at 325.14, pitting him against Bob Vandergriff on race day. Points leader Tony Schumacher was fifth quickest with a 3.754 at 329.18. His U.S. Army dragster faces Billy Torrence.
Enders-Stevens ran a Pro Stock track record 6.576 at 209.75 to claim her third straight No. 1 qualifying position in the Royal Purple Chevy Camaro. Enders-Stevens, who now has six No. 1 qualifiers this season and 12 in her career, set the track speed run during her first qualifying session of the day at 209.88 mph. With her qualifying effort both days she trimmed series leader Jason Line's advantage from 35 entering the race to 23 points entering eliminations. She will pair up against Jeff Isbell in the first round.
"As I said yesterday, I love racing here," Enders-Stevens said. "I've got a really good hot rod. It was encouraging going into the fourth qualifying session because we hadn't laid down a really great run yet. My crew chief said we were going after it and we sure did."
Shane Gray's Gray Manufacturing Chevy Camaro was second quickest with a 6.596 at 208.97, setting up a first round matchup with Larry Morgan. Gray is currently fourth in points.
Reigning world champ Jeg Coughlin qualified his JEGS.com Dodge Dart third after a 6.597 at 209.20. He faces Aaron Stanfield in round one. Dave Connolly, who sits third in points, took his KYMCO Chevy Camaro to the No. 4 qualifier with a 6.601 at 208.78. He opens with V Gaines. Points leader Jason Line's Summit Racing Chevy Camaro went 6.605 at 209.56, claiming the fifth starting spot and a first round pairing with Matt Hartford.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Hines, who entered Las Vegas with a 25-point advantage over Screamin' Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson teammate Eddie Krawiec, posted a track record 6.946 at 192.55 on a Suzuki to claim his first top qualifying position of the season and 35th of his career. He will face John Hall in the first round.
"I've been close a couple times," Hines said of a No. 1 qualifier this season. "It was nice to finally lay down a good clean, straight pass in my v-rod and go to the top. It's been quite a dry spell. Almost two years to the date."
Reigning world champ Matt Smith was second in his Stockseth Racing Buell with a 6.882 at 195.76, setting up a first round pairing with Scotty Pollacheck. Smith is looking for his first win of the season.
Michael Ray qualified third with a 6.883 at 195.79 on his Arrow M Ranch Suzuki. He will take on Jim Underdahl. Krawiec is the No. 4 qualifier with a 6.893 at 192.88, good enough for a first round matchup with Hector Arana Jr. Recent St. Louis winner Jerry Savoie was fifth following a 6.930 at 194.41 on the Savoie's Alligator Farm Suzuki. He races Shawn Gann in round one.
Eliminations for the NHRA Toyota Nationals begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday. The race is televised by ESPN2.
Sunday's first-round pairings for eliminations for the 14th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the 23rd of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Pairings based on results in qualifying, which ended Saturday. DNQs listed below pairings.
Top Fuel -- 1. J.R. Todd, 3.732 seconds, 327.43 mph vs. 16. T.J. Zizzo, 3.835, 316.15; 2. Spencer Massey, 3.744, 330.39 vs. 15. Terry McMillen, 3.827, 323.04; 3. Doug Kalitta, 3.747, 322.81 vs. 14. Brittany Force, 3.805, 325.37; 4. Richie Crampton, 3.748, 325.14 vs. 13. Bob Vandergriff, 3.793, 320.05; 5. Tony Schumacher, 3.754, 330.55 vs. 12. Billy Torrence, 3.791, 326.63; 6. Leah Pritchett, 3.755, 319.29 vs. 11. Antron Brown, 3.790, 320.89; 7. Steve Torrence, 3.760, 327.66 vs. 10. Shawn Langdon, 3.787, 320.66; 8. Larry Dixon, 3.766, 326.71 vs. 9. Khalid alBalooshi, 3.781, 320.36. Did Not Qualify: 17. Kebin Kinsley, 3.850, 316.97; 18. Clay Millican, 3.854, 319.90; 19. Noah Stutz, 3.876, 315.19; 20. Troy Buff, 3.885, 313.73; 21. Steve Faria, 4.021, 254.71; 22. Steven Chrisman, broke.
Funny Car -- 1. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 3.983, 322.42 vs. 16. Terry Haddock, Toyota Solara, 4.290, 294.69; 2. John Force, Ford Mustang, 4.022, 320.66 vs. 15. Jon Capps, Chevy Impala, 4.163, 279.21; 3. Courtney Force, Mustang, 4.024, 320.66 vs. 14. Paul Lee, Charger, 4.151, 301.40; 4. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.037, 322.34 vs. 13. Tony Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 4.131, 305.42; 5. Jeff Arend, Charger, 4.042, 310.91 vs. 12. Del Worsham, Camry, 4.090, 311.13; 6. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.045, 318.84 vs. 11. Robert Hight, Mustang, 4.089, 316.52; 7. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.061, 313.58 vs. 10. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.079, 314.17; 8. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.065, 311.41 vs. 9. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.076, 308.35. Did Not Qualify: 17. Cruz Pedregon, 4.719, 294.05; 18. John Bojec, 4.960, 232.51; 19. Jeff Diehl, 5.377, 202.79.
Pro Stock -- 1. Erica Enders-Stevens, Chevy Camaro, 6.576, 209.88 vs. 16. Jeff Isbell, Camaro, 6.829, 204.29; 2. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.596, 209.30 vs. 15. Larry Morgan, Ford Mustang, 6.673, 206.54; 3. Jeg Coughlin, Dodge Dart, 6.597, 209.20 vs. 14. Aaron Stanfield, Camaro, 6.670, 206.57; 4. Dave Connolly, Camaro, 6.601, 208.78 vs. 13. V. Gaines, Dodge Avenger, 6.653, 208.59; 5. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.605, 209.56 vs. 12. Matt Hartford, Avenger, 6.649, 208.14; 6. Allen Johnson, Dart, 6.605, 209.10 vs. 11. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.645, 207.59; 7. Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 6.614, 209.20 vs. 10. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.633, 208.68; 8. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.616, 208.65 vs. 9. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.627, 209.36. Did Not Qualify: 17. Steve Schmidt, 6.843, 202.48; 18. Deric Kramer, 7.308, 203.31.
Pro Stock Motorcycle -- 1. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.856, 194.38 vs. 16. John Hall, Buell, 7.036, 190.92; 2. Matt Smith, Buell, 6.882, 195.76 vs. 15. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 7.027, 189.68; 3. Michael Ray, Suzuki, 6.883, 195.79 vs. 14. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.996, 190.14; 4. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.893, 193.60 vs. 13. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.989, 194.41; 5. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.930, 194.41 vs. 12. Shawn Gann, Buell, 6.986, 191.16; 6. Katie Sullivan, Suzuki, 6.935, 192.49 vs. 11. Adam Arana, Buell, 6.979, 193.68; 7. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.941, 194.07 vs. 10. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.972, 191.62; 8. Angie Smith, Buell, 6.960, 193.27 vs. 9. Chaz Kennedy, Buell, 6.967, 192.06. Did Not Qualify: 17. Elvira Karlsson, 7.037, 188.67; 18. Mike Berry, 7.062, 189.60; 19. Rhett Lougheed, 7.114, 190.75; 20. Freddie Camarena, 7.835, 191.67; 21. Lance Bonham, 7.891, 174.05; 22. Redell Harris, 9.334, 190.22; 23. Angelle Sampey, broke.