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Saturday, April 26, 2014

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NHRA SpringNationals
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With the track’s proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, it is not unusual to see seafood dinners throughout the pits. Last night, several members of the Pro Stock community, including, from left, Richie Stevens Jr., Erica Enders-Stevens, and Jeg Coughlin Jr., feasted on crawfish at a celebration for Pam Johnson. Johnson, wife of Pro Stock low qualifier Allen, is celebrating a birthday this weekend.

Texas race fans came out in force for the final day of qualifying at Royal Purple Raceway today, which was a complete sellout. Fans who packed the stands and lined the fence were treated to a great day of action that included a new low qualifier in Top Fuel, some last-minute qualifying heroics by John Force, and more.

Since the mid-1990s, world champions in Comp have been passing down a motocross-style number plate from titlist to titlist, each one signing it before passing it along to the next winner. Reigning champ Alan Ellis received the plate at this event. Ellis is still alive in Comp eliminations after two rounds.

After a somewhat challenging opening day that included an aborted run due to a broken engine and a 6.60 in Q2, defending event Pro Stock champion Jason Line dipped into the 6.5s in the third qualifying session, posting a 6.594 that moved him from the bottom half of the field to the top half. Line faces Chris McGaha in the opening round.

Houston native Erica Enders-Stevens improved her qualifying time slightly with a 6.562 run in the third round of Pro Stock qualifying. Enders-Stevens posted another 6.56 in the final round, meaning all four of her timeslips in qualifying had 6.56 on them. She squares off with Matt Hartford in round one.

Cooler conditions set the stage for Steve Torrence to knock Richie Crampton off the pole in the second pair of the third Top Fuel session. The Capco Contractors driver ran a 3.786 at 321.81 mph.

Tony Schumacher was one of five drivers to record a 3.7-second run during the third Top Fuel session by running a second-quickest 3.790.

Robert Hight kicked off Saturday qualifying in Funny Car with a 4.073, 312.42 that vaulted the AAA Texas Ford Mustang well up into the field.

Alexis DeJoria made a big move into the top half during the third qualifying session in Funny Car when her Patron Café XO Toyota Camry ran a strong 4.078.

Rodger Brogdon, who is racing one hour from his home in Tomball, Texas, had a little qualifying drama today. He rolled the beams on his first attempt and came into Q4 with no time on the sheets. Brogdon’s team was able to handle the pressure on his final attempt, posting a 6.63 to move into the Pro Stock field. Brogdon finished 14th and faces Dave Connolly in the first round.

Allen Johnson’s 6.555 remained untouched through the two rounds of qualifying today, and the 2012 NHRA Mello Yello Pro Stock world champion will start No. 1 for the first time this season. Johnson, who has Greg Stanfield in the opener, made two solid passes today, posting a 6.56 and 6.57.

In a session where the No. 1 spot in Top Fuel seemed safe, Antron Brown came within .001-second of taking the top spot when his Matco Tools dragster recorded a 3.787, 322.04.

Shawn Langdon ran a pair of 3.7-second runs during Saturday action with his last 3.788 moving him up to the No. 3 spot in Top Fuel for a Sunday matchup against Houston native Troy Buff.

John Force’s streak of 126 consecutive races without a DNQ was in jeopardy going into the last session. His Castrol GTX Ford Mustang prevailed with a 4.112 that moved the 16-time champ into the top half of the field.

Following his late-round showing in Charlotte, Tim Wilkerson was the picture of consistency throughout Funny Car qualifying. His final 4.118 has the Levi, Ray & Shoup driver starting in the No. 8 position.

After wrapping up qualifying earlier in the day, the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Services returned after the final NHRA Mello Yello qualifying session for the first round. Defending series champion Rickie Smith had low e.t. of round one, posting a 5.868 in his win against Steven Whiteley.

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