Monday's Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals photo blog
Monday, October 08, 2012

News and views from the 
Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals
Last update: 2:30 p.m.
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[10:30 a.m.] (Below) The NHRA Safety Safari presented by AAA is out on the track doing the prep work in advance of today's eliminations. Skies are a little overcast and temps are cool, but everyone is anticipating completing the event. In addition to thinking about record runs, everyone is bundled up this morning, including Angie Smith (right), whose husband, Matt, is part of the 16-bike Pro Stock Motorcycle field that will run all four rounds of competition.

[10:45 a.m.] The first pair of Top Fuel cars have fired up, and the Funny Cars are in the lanes behind them ... the Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals have resumed at Maple Grove Raceway.

[11 a.m.] The wait to make his second-round run against Doug Kalitta was well worth it for Shawn Langdon, who made the quickest and fastest run in NHRA history, a 3.712 at 334.15 mph. Langdon's e.t. was backed up by his 3.741 in the first round, giving him possession of the national record at this point. Langdon will face teammate Khalid alBalooshi in the semifinals. In the other semifinal pairing, Antron Brown will select his lane against Brandon Bernstein.

[11:15 p.m.] Jack Beckman won a crucial second-round match with teammate and incoming points leader Ron Capps, and Beckman is now officially the class points leader. At this point, Beckman leads Capps by three points, which does not include the 20 bonus points for the national record, which will be added at the end of the weekend. Beckman posted a 4.04 on his victory lap, which gives him lane choice over fellow Don Schumacher Racing driver Johnny Gray, who ran a 4.06.

[11:15 a.m.] Mike Neff ran low e.t. of the second round, a 4.024, when he dispatched Jim Head. In the semi's, Neff will face boss John Force, who bested Todd Lesenko.

[11:30 p.m.] Vance & Hines Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidson teammates Andrew Hines, left, and Eddie Krawiec put on a performance showcase in the opening round of Pro Stock Motorcycle. First, Krawiec blasted to a 6.758, which ranked second all time at that moment, then Hines lowered the boom with the quickest run ever, a 6.742, and the fourth fastest at 198.73 mph. Hines needs a run of 6.809 or quicker to back up his 6.74 for the national record.

[11:30 a.m.] There were a couple of very odd runs during the opening round of Pro Stock Motorcycle, including the first pair with Karen Stoffer (pictured) and Michael Ray; Stoffer won with a limping 21.988-second pass.

[11:45 a.m.] And the national records continue to fall at Maple Grove Raceway. Jason Line made the fastest run in Pro Stock history, 214.35 mph. The speed was backed up by his 213.64 mph in the opening round. Though he ran the monster speed, Line's car shook early, slowing him slightly in the e.t. department, and as a result, he will give up lane choice to V. Gaines in the semi's. Gaines ran a career-best 6.489 to Line's 6.527.

[11:45 a.m.] Jeg Coughlin Jr. has lane choice in the other Pro Stock semifinal after he clocked a 6.527 to defeat Erica Enders, who slowed to a 6.589. Coughlin faces Enders' teammate, Dave Connolly, who caught a lucky break when Allen Johnson red-lighted while Connolly's car slowed significantly, posting a 26.68.

[12:50 p.m.] After watching Shawn Langdon take over the national record earlier today, Antron Brown (below) reclaimed it with a stunning 3.701 (left) in his semifinal defeat of Brandon Bernstein, who posted the quickest losing time, a 3.740, ever.

[12:50 p.m.] Rookie driver Khalid alBalooshi, near lane, will race in his first Top Fuel final after he scored a stunning upset of teammate Shawn Langdon in the semifinals. Langdon's car spun the tires immediately, while alBalooshi ran a strong 3.73.

[1 p.m.] Johnny Gray, far lane, advanced to the Funny Car final after edging teammate Jack Beckman in a spectacular 4.02 to 4.02 battle. Gray got off the starting line first and parlayed it into a slight 4.026 to 4.025 holeshot win. Gray will have lane choice over Mike Neff in the final.

[1 p.m.] Mike Neff won the John Force Racing side of the Funny Car semi's, powering to a 4.03 to easily defeat boss John Force, who shook at the hit.

[1:05 p.m.] Andrew Hines now owns the national e.t. record in Pro Stock Motorcycle after he ran a 6.783 in his second-round victory over Chip Ellis to back up his first-round 6.742. Hines will face Matt Smith in the semi's.

[1:05 p.m.] Hector Arana Jr. has a tough task in the semifinals, facing No. 1 qualifier and perennial 6.7-second runner Eddie Krawiec. Arana got a free pass in the second round when John Hall's bike broke on the starting line. Arana will surrender lane choice to Krawiec in the semi's after he posted a 6.84 to Krawiec's 6.77.

[1:15 p.m.] The name of the game in the Pro Stock semi's was holeshots; both pairings were determined by reaction time. In the first semifinal match, Dave Connolly (below) parlayed a .004 to .023 lead at the Tree into a 6.53 to 6.52 win against Jeg Coughlin Jr. In the other pairing, V. Gaines (left), who has been sporting the "Grumpy" hat and cigar handed out to all Pro Stock racers this weekend in honor of Bill Jenkins, left the starting line first, .030 to .044, and he turned it into a 6.51 to 6.50 victory over Jason Line. Gaines will have lane choice in the final.

[1:30 p.m.] The Harley boys continued to fly in the semifinals, posting the two quickest runs in NHRA history. Andrew Hines lowered his previous national record with a 6.728 that got him the nod over Matt Smith, and Eddie Krawiec (pictured) just missed the 6.72s, clocking a 6.730 in his win against Hector Arana Jr.

[2:30 p.m.] V. Gaines, near lane, earned his first win since the 2008 Phoenix event when Dave Connolly red-lighted in the final; Gaines ran a 6.51 on his victory pass.

[2:30 p.m.] Mike Neff, near lane, took home the Funny Car title and aided his championship cause, defeating Johnny Gray in the title round. Gray smoked the tires immediately while Neff clocked a 4.03.

[2:30 p.m.] Rookie Khalid alBalooshi placed his Al-Anabi dragster, near lane, in the winner's circle for the first time when he defeated points leader and new national record holder Antron Brown in the title round. The race was over early when Brown hazed the hides. alBalooshi ran a 3.91.

Friday's Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals live photo gallery
Saturday's Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals photo blog
Sunday's Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals photo blog