9 p.m. - Locals advance under the lights - Racing ran well into the night on Saturday, with a number of Las Vegas-area drivers behind the wheel in various elimination rounds. A few battled their way through the gauntlet and earned the opportunity to race on Sunday, which is a dream for any racer.
Justin Lamb of Henderson won both of his Super Stock races on Saturday, upsetting No. 11 qualifier Mike Pruss in the morning and moving on to the Round of 16 by defeating Norm Lapointe in the evening knockout session. Lamb, who qualified 40th, will face Dave Bridgewater (No. 48) on Sunday morning.
Super Comp drivers Keith Winters, Ryen Lamb, Elden Lacer and Shane Thompson all advanced to the third round of eliminations, with Lamb and Lacer winning their races to set up an all-area battle on Sunday morning. Thompson left the line seven-thousandths-of-a-second early in his race with Trevor Larson and did not advance, and Winters fell to Tommy Phillips in Round 3.
In the Stock Eliminator class, Earl Blake went 3-0 on the day to advance to the Round of 16. Blake defeated Sante Grossi in Round 3 and will face Jim Storms on Sunday.
Dwight Machael, Curtis Coulter and Paul Wong all won their Round 1 Stock Eliminator races before falling in Round 2, while Errol Farmer and Andy Kimball fell in the first round of eliminations in the morning.
Donald Kruse and Jim Naffziger won their second-round races in Super Gas, while Chris Naffziger fell to Aaron Kinard in Round 2. Jim Naffziger jumped the start in his Round 3 loss to top qualifier Don Westra, while Kruse also left early - by just .001 - for a red-light foul in his third-round race against Terry Keddington and did not advance.
6:20 p.m. – Enders-Stevens wins K&N Horsepower Challenge, ladders set for three pro classes – Erica Enders-Stevens defeated Vincent Nobile to win the Pro Stock's K&N Horsepower Challenge and extend her winning streak in Las Vegas to 14 rounds. She clocked a time of 6.650 seconds (208.01 mph) to Nobile's 6.694 (207.62) to pick up the $50,000 check.
"It was very exciting, and it was obviously a really fun day," Enders-Stevens said. "We had a 35-minute turnaround between races, but my guys did a really good job and kept their heads together in the pit. We stayed after in Charlotte and tested, and this new tire has been giving us some trouble, but we've finally figured it out.
"Fourteen rounds in a row – that's really awesome, and all the credit goes to my guys. I’m honored to be their driver."
Not only did Enders-Stevens win the big check, but her victory also meant fan Frank Savarese from Fort Wayne, Ind., won a 2015 K&N Horsepower Challenge Special Edition Toyota Tacoma.
"After the first two qualifying sessions, I said, 'We’re going to have a race car, and if I can do my job as a driver, I’m hopeful you can leave with that awesome Toyota truck," Enders-Stevens said. “We were able to get it done. He came here all the way from Indiana, and he gets to go home with a great-looking truck thanks to Toyota. I’m really excited for him."
The ladders are set for Sunday’s elimination rounds in the three pro divisions, and there are plenty of interesting first-round matchups. Enders-Stevens, the defending Pro Stock Las Vegas champion, qualified second and will face No. 15 Matt Hartford in the first knockout round, while top qualifier Jason Line will line up against No. 16 Joey Grose.
“My car is really good right now, so I’m excited about tomorrow,” said Line, the runner-up to Enders-Stevens at last year’s Spring race at The Strip. “I’m sure we learned some things today, and obviously being toward the front of the pack certainly changes your setup, for sure. I’m not ready to trade my car for anybody else’s, and we can win the race for sure.”
In Top Fuel, J.R. Todd was the top qualifier and will square off against No. 16 Steve Faria, while eight-time Las Vegas race champion Tony Schumacher (No. 2) faces five-time Las Vegas winner Larry Dixon (No. 15) in the opening round. No. 11 Spencer Massey, a winner of three races at The Strip, faces sixth seed Doug Kalitta, who won the 2004 fall race in Las Vegas.
“The track today was probably the hottest we’ve seen all year, and that’s when you need to go down the track because that’s the way it’s going to be on race day,” said Todd, who has five No. 1 qualifications in the last 11 races. “We just need to work on our consistency a little more, and there are some good cars in the bottom half of the field. Qualifying is important, but at the same time, there are no easy draws out there.
“We just need to go out there and race the track and not worry about who’s in the lane next to us.”
Reigning Funny Car World Champion Matt Hagan qualified first in the class after a 4.007-second pass on Friday and has drawn No. 16 Jeff Arend in Sunday’s opening round. Jack Beckman was second and faces Cruz Pedregon.
“We’ve got a great race car, and I think we’ve got a really good shot to come out here tomorrow and do big things,” Hagan said. “The track is definitely there, and Bruton (Smith), he builds a great track. I’ve been to a couple finals, but have never won this race, so I’m really looking forward to trying to do that tomorrow.”
Four-time Las Vegas winner John Force qualified eighth in Funny Car and will face No. 9 Chad Head, while defending Spring race champ Alexis DeJoria was fourth and will race No. 13 Courtney Force. Another interesting matchup involves NHRA Mello Yellow Drag Racing Series points leader Del Worsham (No. 5) and three-time Las Vegas winner Tony Pedregon, who qualified 12th.
The first round of eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday.
Jeff Speer of Las Vegas Motor Speedway set up a time-elapsed camera in Antron Brown’s pit area, and the RESULT was pretty awesome. The camera caught a bird’s-eye view of Brown’s crew working on his Don Schumacher Racing Toyota Top Fuel dragster.
4:15 p.m. – Hometown boy advances, K&N Horsepower Challenge final set – Nick Januik, a Las Vegas driver who won the Top Alcohol Funny Car division last Spring, got past Shane Westerfield in the opening round of eliminations. Januik made a pass of 5.63 seconds and hit 258.71 mph, while Westerfield was just a bit off at 5.74.
Januik will face Annie Whiteley in the quarterfinals at 12:15 p.m. on Sunday.
The K&N Horsepower Challenge semifinals were entertaining, with Erica Enders-Stevens – who won the Challenge and the overall Las Vegas Pro Stock title last year – edging Jason line by a fender. Vincent Nobile got past top qualifier Shane Gray after Gray got sideways early in his pass and will face Enders-Stevens in the finals at 5 p.m.
2:45 p.m. – Getting a time on the board – No Top Fuel drivers were able to best the top 12 qualifying times from yesterday, but a quartet of drivers did post successful passes that have them in the top 16 for Sunday. Terry McMillen, Larry Dixon, Steve Faria and Antron Brown posted qualifying times and stand 13th through 16th, respectively, heading into the late afternoon qualifying session.
Drew Skillman (ninth), Matt Hartford (15th) and Jeff Isbell (16th) also had successful passes in the Pro Stock division to qualify for Sunday’s elimination rounds.
The top 12 times in the Funny Car class from Friday also held up through Saturday’s mid-day qualifying session, but Courtney Force (13th), Cruz Pedregon (13th), Gary Densham (15th) and Jeff Arend (16th) got official times on the board.
The Strip’s track temperature hit 125 degrees – it was a comfortable 81 in Las Vegas this afternoon – so fast times were hard to come by. There should be more shuffling in the ranks – at least in the middle – in the late afternoon qualifying session if the track cools off a bit.
2:15 p.m. – Horsepower on display – Pro Stock drivers Shane Gray, Vincent Nobile, Jason Line and Erica Enders-Stevens each won their first races in the K&N Horsepower Challenge on Saturday and will face off in the semifinals at 4 p.m. Gray and Nobile will battle for a spot in the finals, while Line and Enders-Stevens will nose to the line alongside each other in the other race.
Even though he lost to Line in the quarters, Jonathan Gray posted a qualifying time of 6.695 seconds that is good enough for a top-16 spot in Sunday’s knockout bracket. Nobile’s time of 6.690 also put him in the top 16 for Sunday.
11 a.m. – Local drivers fare well in morning session – It's another beautiful day at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and the rubber has been flying early on Day 2 of the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals. Las Vegas-area drivers have performed well in the morning session, with several advancing to this afternoon’s second round of eliminations.
Paul Wong advanced in both the Super Stock and Stock Eliminator divisions, and he will face Dave Barcelon in the Super Stock second round and Bobby De Armond in the Stock Eliminator class. Donald “Keoki” Desa, Justin Lamb and Jeff Davison also advanced to the Super Stock’s second round, which will begin at approximately 5:45 p.m.
Three other locals will join Wong in the second round of Stock Eliminator knockouts this afternoon, with Dwight Machael, Curtis Coulter and Earl Blake Jr. also moving on.
Donald Kruse and the brother tandem of Jim and Chris Naffziger advanced in the Super Gas division, while Elden Lacer, Shane Thompson, Ryen Lamb and Keith Winters moved on in the Super Comp class.
The K&N Horsepower Challenge begins at 1, and the finals start around 5, so it will be a busy afternoon at The Strip. Locals will be back at it for two more rounds of eliminations under the lights, so stay tuned to see who keeps marching on.
Sunday's first-round pairings for eliminations for the 16th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the fifth 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, 3.758 seconds, 324.83 mph vs. 16. Steve Faria, 4.036, 243.72; 2. Tony Schumacher, 3.779, 325.45 vs. 15. Larry Dixon, 3.952, 300.86; 3. Shawn Langdon, 3.782, 316.01 vs. 14. Antron Brown, 3.916, 313.22; 4. Steve Torrence, 3.783, 323.89 vs. 13. Terry McMillen, 3.902, 312.64; 5. Richie Crampton, 3.787, 321.12 vs. 12. Troy Buff, 3.879, 307.02; 6. Doug Kalitta, 3.793, 317.94 vs. 11. Spencer Massey, 3.867, 323.43; 7. Brittany Force, 3.801, 310.77 vs. 10. Clay Millican, 3.847, 315.86; 8. Dom Lagana, 3.805, 300.66 vs. 9. Dave Connolly, 3.817, 320.66. Did not qualify: 17. Jenna Haddock, 4.110, 295.66; 18. Steven Chrisman, 4.617, 214.62.
Funny Car -- 1. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 4.007, 318.02 vs. 16. Jeff Arend, Charger, 5.090, 162.35; 2. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.014, 315.64 vs. 15. Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 4.393, 295.27; 3. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.020, 313.07 vs. 14. Gary Densham, Chevy Impala, 4.296, 290.76; 4. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.037, 308.78 vs. 13. Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.236, 297.16; 5. Del Worsham, Camry, 4.048, 316.52 vs. 12. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 4.129, 303.98; 6. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.065, 314.31 vs. 11. John Hale, Charger, 4.091, 311.92; 7. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.075, 316.15 vs. 10. Robert Hight, Chevrolet Camaro, 4.091, 314.97; 8. John Force, Camaro, 4.086, 317.19 vs. 9. Chad Head, Camry, 4.090, 303.84. Did not qualify: 17. Terry Haddock, broke.
Pro Stock -- 1. Jason Line, Chevy Camaro, 6.606, 208.75 vs. 16. Joey Grose, Camaro, 6.794, 203.46; 2. Erica Enders-Stevens, Camaro, 6.617, 208.94 vs. 15. Matt Hartford, Pontiac GXP, 6.768, 204.85; 3. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.621, 208.84 vs. 14. Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 6.695, 207.88; 4. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.624, 208.36 vs. 13. Deric Kramer, Dodge Avenger, 6.691, 206.51; 5. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.630, 208.49 vs. 12. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.690, 207.50; 6. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.631, 208.71 vs. 11. V. Gaines, Dodge Dart, 6.682, 207.98; 7. Larry Morgan, Camaro, 6.641, 208.30 vs. 10. Jimmy Alund, GXP, 6.647, 208.07; 8. Allen Johnson, Dart, 6.645, 208.59 vs. 9. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.647, 208.36. Did not qualify: 17. Jeff Isbell, 6.825, 203.00.
K&N HORSEPOWER CHALLENGE RESULTS
ROUND ONE -- Vincent Nobile, Chevy Camaro, 6.690, 207.40 def. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 13.718, 93.92; Erica Enders-Stevens, Camaro, 6.690, 207.98 def. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 17.154, 46.29; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.698, 208.17 def. Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 6.695, 207.88; Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.676, 207.91 def. V. Gaines, Dart, 6.688, 207.98.
SEMIFINALS -- Enders-Stevens, 6.652, 207.88 def. Line, 6.648, 208.62; Nobile, 6.706, 207.50 def. S. Gray, 7.850, 137.86.
FINAL -- Enders-Stevens, 6.650, 208.01 def. Nobile, 6.694, 207.62.