Saturday's Big O Tires NHRA Nationals live photo gallery
Saturday, October 27, 2012

News and views from the 
Big O Tires NHRA Nationals
Last update: 6 p.m.
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  [10:15 a.m.] It's a beautiful Saturday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Yesterday's headwind has disappeared like an unlucky gambler's stake, and a bright-blue Nevada sky and comfortable temperatures are welcoming Silver State fans.

As the Full Throttle teams prepare for their third qualifying session at 11 a.m., fans are out hunting autographs in NHRA's world-famous open pits. Top Fuel championship challengers Antron Brown (left) and Spencer Massey (above) are among the NHRA stars interacting with the fans this morning.

Fans looking for their NHRA keepsakes can find everything they need at the huge NHRA Nitro Mall in the pits.

  Fans also are enjoying checking out a lineup of street rods on display, everything from mid-'50s Chevys to current-year Ford Mustangs.

The eye-catching '55 Chevy sports a clever theme with a supercharger appearing to burst through its hood.


Meanwhile, on the racetrack, Sportsman eliminations are continuing while fans also are treated to a regular air show high above with fighter jets departing from nearby Nellis Air Force Base and soaring overhead.

Points update: The table below shows the status of the four Full Throttle points races following Friday qualifying with incoming deficits, points earned so far in qualifying, and the current deficit. Three points are awarded for the quickest run of each qualifying session, two for second-best, and one for third-best. On Sunday, round-wins are worth 20 points each.

Driver Incoming Deficit Qual. Pts. Earned Current Deficit
Antron Brown 0 0 0
Spencer Massey -104 2 -102
Tony Schumacher -136 3 -133
Jack Beckman 0 0 0
Ron Capps -23 0 -23
Mike Neff -54 3 -51
Allen Johnson 0 6 0
Jason Line -82 1 -87
Erica Enders -125 0 -131
Eddie Krawiec 0 6 0
Andrew Hines -17 0 -23

The brothers Tonglet are both in competition this weekend in Las Vegas. Big bro GT (left), a former rider on the Harley-Davidson team, is making his first start since the Dallas event last year riding the family's Nitro Fish entry; he's not yet in the field. LE (right), a tour regular with the Zloop Suzuki, is currently qualified No. 6.

[11:30 a.m.] Hector Arana Jr. had the second-best time of the third Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying session with a 6.912 but could not overhaul Friday leader Eddie Krawiec, who ran a 6.902 to hold on to the No. 1 spot.

[11:45 a.m.] Jason Line (above) reset both ends of the Pro Stock track record in Q3 with a 6.590, 209.72-mph blast to grab the No. 1 spot (old records: 6.594 and 208.84, both set by Mike Edwards at this race last year). Line got three bonus points but only one more than points leader Allen Johnson, who was second-quick with a 6.606. Erica Enders (below), third in points behind A.J. and Line, earned one point with a 6.626, the third-best run.

[12:35 p.m.] Spencer Massey's 3.787 was the quickest pass of the third qualifying session and lifted him to the No. 2 spot behind Tony Schumacher's Friday 3.773, but more importantly, it earned him three bonus points; with points leader Antron Brown earning no points in that round, Massey cut Brown's lead from 102 points to 99, or now less than five rounds.

Khalid alBalooshi (below) had the session's second-quickest pass with a 3.804, and Schumacher also chewed a point off of Brown's lead with a third-best 3.807. Schumacher now trails Brown by 132 points. 

[12:50 p.m.] Paul Lee, who has partnered with veteran Gary Densham for the final two events of the season, wheeled the Densham-owned, McLeod-sponsored Dodge Charger to a 4.190 that currently has him in the field. 

[1:15 p.m.] Johnny Gray made the event sponsor proud by driving his Big O Tires Dodge to a 4.089, the best pass of the third Funny Car session, good for the No. 3 spot. Three drivers behind him -- Courtney Force, Jack Beckman, and Matt Hagan, based on speed -- ran 4.091. Beckman's one bonus point gives him a 24-point lead over Ron Capps in the race for the championship. Mike Neff still leads the field with his Friday 4.071.

Between qualifying sessions, fans have flocked back to the pits to watch the teams prepare for the event's final qualifying session, which will set the fields for Sunday's final eliminations.

This being Las Vegas, there are always plenty of interesting personalities at LVMS enjoying a day at the drags.

Motorcycle daredevil Robbie Knievel, right, who along with his famous father, Evel, had some pretty memorable (and forgettable) moments in Las Vegas, was interviewed by NHRA announcer Alan Reinhart.

Knievel and Jesse James are hanging out this weekend with Alexis DeJoria and the Tequila Patron Funny Car team.

A picture-postcard day has brought out fans in huge numbers to the The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Wheelstander legend  Ed "the Outlaw" Jones, who has been entertaining fans for decades with his two-wheel antics, performed for the fans with his Jelly Belly firetruck.

As is his custom after every exhibition, Jones tossed Jelly Belly candy packets to the fans.

Just in time for Halloween ...

[3:10 p.m.] Matt Smith had the best time of the final Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying session with a 6.949.

Eddie Krawiec, near lane, won the rain-delayed Reading final when teammate Matt Hines fouled. This weekend, Krawiec has expanded his lead over Hines from 17 to 51 points.

A Pro Stock Motorcycle tradition at the event features crewmembers in Halloween costumes. (Above) Katie Sullivan was wished good luck by Bert and Ernie. (Below left) Noted crew chief Ken Johnson (a real-life amputee) made a great pirate. (Below right) Hector Arana Jr. had a ... well ... Playboy bunny assisting him.

[3:40 p.m.] Greg Anderson accomplished what he hoped to do in qualifying: slotting his Summit Racing Camaro for a possible early encounter with points leader Allen Johnson to benefit his second-place teammate, Jason Line. By shutting off early, Anderson qualified No. 7, and should he and Johnson, the No. 2 qualifier, both win their first-round races, they will square off in round two, where Anderson would hope to take him out and allow Line to hopefully close the gap. Line, the No. 1 qualifier, is on the opposite side of the ladder. Johnson (below) had the best time of the final session, a 6.622; he earned 11 of 12 possible bonus points in qualifying.

[4 p.m.] After struggling throughout the weekend, Morgan Lucas entered the final Top Fuel qualifying session not in the field but quickly rectified that with a 3.835 that put his GEICO dragster solidly into the show. 

It hasn't been the Big O Tires NHRA Nationals that Top Fuel points leader Antron Brown envisoned. He earned no bonus points in qualifying and won't have lane choice in round one against Khlalid alBalooshi after qualifying just 13th, his worst start of the season.

His incoming points lead of 104 (five rounds) over teammate Spencer Massey is now down to just 90 (four rounds) after two days of quailfying.

On the positive side, Brown already has won six event titles this year, marking the third time in his five-year Top Fuel career and second consecutive season he has done that. He also has advanced to the final round in 11 of 21 events this year.

[5 p.m.] Doug Kalitta set a track speed record of 327.11 mph (old mark: 326.08) on a 3.798 pass with the Mac Tools entry. Spencer Massey had the best run of the session with a 3.776 to back up his earlier 3.787.

[5:30 p.m.] Fifteen-time Funny Car champ John Force wasn't in the field when he staged his special-edition Destination Force Mustang for his final qualifying attempt, but a 4.108 got him easily into the field. The Strip once was Force’s nemesis; he won just once in his first 18 appearances and twice failed to qualify. In fact, Force's untouchable record of 395 consecutive successful qualifying efforts, which started at the 1988 Winternationals, ended when he stumbled at the 2007 spring race at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

[6 p.m.] It was another under-the-lights finish for nitro racing, and Cruz Pedregon took full advantage by powering the Snap-on Toyota to a 4.066 to take the No. 1 spot from Mike Neff.