Saturday's View from Vegas
Saturday, March 31, 2012

News and views from the NHRA Nationals
Last update: 
6:45 p.m.

Great sunny weather and hot action on the track attracted a huge throng of fans that filled up the grandstands at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

While many other teams struggled to find the right combo for the hot, sun-drenched track during the first qualifying session, Tony Schumacher’s group was the exception to the rule, posting an impressive 3.93 that was about eight-hundredths better than any other Top Fuel team.

Mike Neff registered the lone 4.1-second pass of the third Funny Car qualifying session, a 4.18 that nearly matched his run from Friday night. Neff later improved on the pass with a 4.15 during the final qualifying round.

After having handling problems that held him to a 6.968 best, Larry Morgan made a straight and true run with his Ford Mustang to improve to a 6.753, which placed him in the No. 15 position for the Pro Stock field. Morgan’s run, along with Steve Kent’s 6.790 in the other lane, knocked Gordie Rivera out of the show.

V. Gaines’ Pro Stock Dodge also had problems with tire shake in the first and third qualifying rounds and a blown engine in the second session, but he put it all together on his last attempt to nail down the bump spot with a 6.786, which pushed out Steve Kent.

Ron Krisher saved his best for the Saturday afternoon’s Pro Stock session with a 6.690 that moved him from sixth to fourth in the order. It was also the third-best run of the round, which earned him a qualifying bonus point.

Jason Line established himself as the favorite for Sunday’s eliminations; he had the quickest car in all four rounds of Pro Stock qualifying to earn the maximum possible total of 12 bonus points. Line’s times were 6.679, 6.659, 6.662, and 6.666.

Brandon Bernstein’s team made two solid runs to wrap up Top Fuel qualifying, posting a third-best 4.01 in the first session and a 3.93 on his final attempt. Bernstein ended up ninth in the order and will face Doug Kalitta in the first round.

  The Al-Anabi team showed the way in the final Top Fuel qualifying session with the only 3.8-second runs of Saturday. (Above) Khalid alBalooshi was low of Q4 with a 3.889, and his teammate, Shawn Langdon (left), was just a little behind him, registering a 3.892.

Though he isn’t racing this weekend, Chris “the Greek” Karamesines did come out to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to take in the action and visit with his racing friends, including Funny Car racer Jim Head. Unfortunately for Head, things didn’t quite go his way this weekend, and he was unable to qualify.

Courtney Force was all smiles when she was interviewed by ESPN at the top end following her 4.14-second pass in the fourth qualifying round. Force’s run kick-started an incredible final Funny Car session that featured four 4.14s, two 4.13s, and a 4.15.

Bob Tasca III jumped up to the No. 2 starting spot by wheeling his Motocraft/Quick Lane Ford to a 4.134 in the Saturday evening session. Tasca will square off with Jeff Arend in the opening round of Funny Car.

Robert Hight remained the Funny Car polesitter, and he was the lead driver in the final session, matching his 4.132 from Friday night. Hight also recorded a 4.21 on his first attempt Saturday, giving the team a good baseline for eliminations.

The MavTV Missile was one of two jet cars on hand that made exhibition runs after the conclusion of the Friday and Saturday qualifying sessions.

Doug Horne, a former standout in Pro Stock Motorcycle, went into the final round of Nitro Harley qualifying in the No. 1 spot with a 6.288 and solidified his hold on the pole position with an even quicker 6.248.