Funny Car title contender Jack Beckman set a national record en route to his fourth No. 1 qualifying position of the season Saturday at the Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway.
David Grubnic (Top Fuel), Jason Line (Pro Stock), and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories at the fourth of six playoff events in the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship.
After a dominating performance during Friday’s qualifying runs, Beckman powered his Schumacher Electric Dodge Charger to a time of 4.003 seconds in Saturday’s first qualifying attempt, which was quick enough to certify his 3.989 effort from Friday as an NHRA national record. Beckman, who now trails series points leader Ron Capps by only 17, will earn a 20-point bonus if he hangs onto the record following the completion of Sunday’s 11 a.m. eliminations.
“We want to win the championship,” said Beckman, who will face Mike Smith in the opening round of eliminations. “Some people would tell you they want to win at all costs, and I’m not one of those people. We want to win because we did everything right out there, and we want the other cars to be at their prime. We’d like to do it the right way.”
Cruz Pedregon was second with a performance of 3.997 at 320.58 in his Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry, and Mike Neff was third in his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang with a 4.017 at 318.84. Points leader Capps will start eighth in his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger after qualifying with a performance of 4.055 at 317.64. Countdown contender Tim Wilkerson, who had charged from 10th to fifth in the points standings during the first three playoff races, failed to qualify for eliminations in his Levi, Ray & Shoup Shelby Ford Mustang.
In Top Fuel, Grubnic drove his Rocky Boots dragster to a performance of 3.728 at 327.11 mph to earn his first No. 1 qualifying position this season and first since 2008. His time tied the quickest Top Fuel run in history, and he could certify it as a national record during Sunday’s eliminations when he opens against Canadian driver Ike Maier.
“It’s good to be back in the No. 1 spot,” Grubnic said. “When I started with Connie [Kalitta] in 2004, we were No. 1 qualifier five times that year, and so it’s great to be back in that position. Not only that, but [teammate] Doug Kalitta running 331 mph side by side with me, it’s great for the team, great for Connie, great for all the guys that work on the car, and great for our sponsors.”
Morgan Lucas, who qualified second with a 3.733-second effort in his GEICO/Lucas Oil dragster, set the Top Fuel national elapsed time record on that run. Series points leader Antron Brown was 11th in his Matco Tools dragster with a 3.758 at 325.14, and Spencer Massey, currently second in the standings, was eighth with a 3.763 at 321.12. Four-time Maple Grove winner Tony Schumacher qualified third in the U.S. Army dragster with a 3.736 at 325.14.
In Pro Stock, defending world champion and event winner Jason Line raced to his seventh No. 1 qualifying position of the season and 31st of his career in his Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro with a time of 6.515 at 212.36. Line will race Shane Gray in the opening round.
“Tomorrow should be interesting and fun to watch,” Line said. “Especially if it’s cold out, and we could set a new national record. Those 20 points could really come in handy.”
Pro Stock points leader Allen Johnson was sixth with a 6.545 at 211.49 in his Team Mopar Dodge Avenger, and title challenger and St. Louis winner Erica Enders was second in her GK Motorsports Chevy Cobalt with a 6.538 at 211.30.
Pro Stock Motorcycle points leader Eddie Krawiec rode his Vance & Hines Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson to his fourth No. 1 of the season with a performance of 6.799 at 196.56, bringing his career total to 13.
“I have a good race-day bike,” said Krawiec, who will meet veteran rider Craig Treble in the first round. “I think it’s just consistently getting it down the track, getting it off the starting line, and going. I’m going to do the best I can. I am just going to look for good green lights, and I think the rest will come.”
Krawiec’s teammate, Andrew Hines, was second on his Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson with a 6.824 at 195.85, and the father-and-son Lucas Oil Buell duo of Hector Arana Sr. and Jr. head into eliminations third and fourth, respectively.
Friday: Beckman blasts to FC No. 1; Lucas, Gaines, Krawiec also pace opening day in Reading