Sunday's View From Vegas II
Sunday, October 30, 2011

News and views from the 
Big O Tires NHRA Nationals
Last update: 4:10 p.m.
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Pre-eliminations notes:

Jason Line could become the first Full Throttle Drag Racing Series driver to clinch a championship today. If Line reaches the final round — which he has done eight times this year — he will clinch his second Pro Stock championship. If he falls early, the door is left barely open for second-place teammate Greg Anderson and fellow Pro Stock racers Mike Edwards and Vincent Nobile (tied for third) and Erica Enders. If Line wins his first-round match, any of the trailing trio will have to reach the final to still have a chance.


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Antron Brown

As a result of their qualifying efforts, teammates and championship contenders Antron Brown and Tony Schumacher will meet in a rare first-round Top Fuel match up. They’ve faced each other nine times this season with Brown winning seven of those races.

“I hate it that we have to race Tony in the opening round, but that’s the way it is,” said Brown, the current Top Fuel points leader. “We’re going to give it our best shot, and I’m sure Tony and his team will do the same thing. I’m confident it will be a hotly contested race."

Schumacher posted his worst qualifying performance thus far in 2011, a No. 12 start. He had never qualified lower than eighth. “We’ve had some issues this weekend,” admitted the seven-time world champion. “But I’m sure the guys will figure it all out, and we’ll be set for tomorrow. It’s unfortunate we have to race Antron in the first round, but that’s just the way it ended up. If we are to stay in the world title hunt, facing the leader early in the day is probably the way to go. Of course, we have to go out and beat him to make it work.”

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Spencer Massey
Ron Capps

DSR teammates Spencer Massey and Ron Capps rebounded nicely from their DNQs in Phoenix two weeks ago. Massey qualified his FRAM/Prestone Top Fuel dragster No. 2 and Capps his NAPA Auto Parts Charger No. 1 in Funny Car.

“This erased Phoenix,” Massey said. “Before we even entered this event, we decided Phoenix didn’t even happen. We had to do that — both for our mental well-being and because we had no information from which to set up the car. We came right here to Vegas on the Monday after not qualifying in Phoenix to test. We found a mechanical issue which had been the cause of our problems, solved it, and made solid runs, thus boosting our confidence for this race."

“It’s tough to fly here after packing up on Saturday in Phoenix and spending the following Monday testing instead of going home to be with your family, but it went really well and gave everyone the spark they needed to come out and do what we did today," said Capps, who ran 4.080 seconds at 315.49 miles per hour, a track speed record.

“The run was bad ass,” exclaimed Capps. “I was in the trunk of the Charger, and as I went down the track, I was thinking there was no way this was going to stick until the finish.”

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Matt Hagan’s five bonus qualifying points and four position points in Funny Car qualifying enabled him to pass DSR teammate Jack Beckman and begin Sunday with a one-point lead. Mike Neff, 13 points behind, Cruz Pedregon, 45, and Robert Hight, 50, are all within three rounds of the lead. Neff picked up enough bonus points to gain a round on Hagan and Beckman. Neff entered the race two rounds behind the Dodges and will go into Sunday only one round behind

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Tim Wilkerson will race on Sunday with his standard Levi, Ray & Shoup Shelby Mustang body after suffering damage to his special-edition LRS Big Website Makeover body. "We did some damage to the rear tree under the body, and there are some other cracks we found, but the one in the rear of the car is big enough that the right-side parachute pack could, literally, break right off the back of the car, so we're not going to run it like that," he said. "It's a great-looking car, but safety comes first. It can be fixed, good as new, but I don't think it's best to wear my guys down and keep them out here late if we have another body we can put right on the car and go run."

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Erica Enders

Could Las Vegas be the place where Erica Enders gets her historic first win in Pro Stock? Enders says she’s feeling lucky after a solid weekend in and out of the ZaZa Energy Chevrolet Cobalt.

"I found a lucky penny [Saturday]," said Enders, who qualified No. 9 but was third-fastest in Q4, where track and weather conditions are closest to Sunday's eliminations. "All my guys have been lucky this weekend in the casino. So far, they've all been winners. We were joking around about it that maybe it's our weekend.

"And as we pushed my car out of the pit, there under the car laid a heads-up penny. Superstition? Maybe. But we'll take it for what it's worth."

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Pro Stock’s Allen Johnson has been suffering this weekend from a persistent flu bug. “I’m just sucking it up, taking some Alka-Seltzer, and going for it,” said Johnson, who is sixth in the Pro Stock Countdown to the Championship standings. The Team Mopar veteran made his move in the first qualifying session Saturday, recording a 6.630 to place himself among the top three starters. On his final effort yesterday, he suffered a transmission malfunction and shut his car down shortly after leaving the starting line.

Sunday's action at The Strip started early with a Track Walk with NHRA Legends Don Prudhomme and Tom McEwen, who were then introduced, Vegas-style, during the pre-race ceremony and gave the start-up command for the first pair of Top Fuelers in the first round, Dave Grubnic and Steve Torrence.

  [11:35 a.m.] Spencer Massey (above) had low e.t. of the Top Fuel first round with a 3.830 against red-lighting Ron August Jr.

(Left) Antron Brown’s crew chiefs, Mark Oswald, left, and Brian Corradi, put their heads together and dealt their driver a 3.836 to get past teammate Tony Schumacher in a key championship match.

Second-round pairings (lane choice first): Del Worsham vs. Dave Grubnic, Brown vs. Bob Vandergriff Jr., Massey vs. Rod Fuller, and Larry Dixon vs. Brandon Bernstein.

[12:30 p.m.] Funny Car points leader Matt Hagan and the DieHard Advanced Gold Dodge (above) kept the hammer down with a 4.138 victory over Tim Wilkerson. He has lane choice over Cruz Pedregon, who ran 4.17 to trailer Jeff Arend. Paul Lee (below) and owner/tuner Jim Dunn pulled off the upset of the first round when they took out third-place Mike Neff, who smoked the tires. Lee will cede lane choice to Johnny Gray, who beat Melanie Troxel. Other second-round pairings (lane choice first): Ron Capps vs. Jack Beckman and Bob Tasca III vs. Tony Pedregon.

[12:40 p.m.] Larry Morgan put an end to the slim Pro Stock championship hopes of Vince Nobile by beating the rookie in round one, 6.65 to 6.67, after both had fine .004 reaction times. Morgan will surrender lane choice to Allen Johnson in round two. In other first-round action, points leader Jason Line and second-place teammate Greg Anderson both won their first-round dates, as did Mike Edwards, who took over sole possession of third place from Nobile, to keep the title battle alive. Other second-round pairings (lane choice first): Edwards vs. Ronnie Humphrey, Anderson vs. Kurt Johnson, and Line vs. Ron Krisher.

[1 p.m.] Pro Stock Motorcycle's Andrew Hines had low e.t. of round one, a 6.953, in a victory over Bailey Whitaker. He'll have lane choice against Jim Underdahl, who upset Matt Smith, whose Buell bogged hard off the line. Championship frontrunners Eddie Krawiec and Hector Arana Jr. both won their matches. Other second-round pairings (lane choice first): Arana vs. Angie Smith, Krawiec vs. LE Tonglet, and Hector Arana Sr. vs. Jerry Savoie.

 [2:05 p.m.] Del Worsham (above) reeled off a 3.860 in round two to defeat Dave Grubnic in a points-crucial second round of Top Fuel.  Worsham's win moved him into third place, 28 points behind points leader Antron Brown, whom he'll face in the semifinals.

Brown (right) won his battle with Bob Vandergriff Jr. but banged the blower and left oil on the track, costing him 10 precious points. He now leads Spencer Massey, who also won, by just six points.

Worsham has lane choice in the semi's over Brown, and Massey will pick his lane over Brandon Bernstein, who upset Larry Dixon in their second-round go, putting a serious hurt on Dixon's hope to defend his championship.

   [2:20 p.m.] The second round of Funny Car shook up the points standings when both points leader Matt Hagan and second-place Jack Beckman lost. Ron Capps (above) took out Beckman, 4.18 to 4.20, and Cruz Pedregon (left) was the benefactor of a stunning starting-line blower explosion for Hagan. With the round-win, Pedregon moved past Mike Neff and into third place in the standings, just 26 points behind Hagan.

Capps will have lane choice over Pedregon in the semifinals.

The other semifinal round will pit Johnny Gray against Bob Tasca III; Gray has lane choice.

[2:35 p.m.] Jason Line (above) moved within a round of clinching his second Full Throttle Pro Stock championship when he beat Ron Krisher in round two. He'll face Allen Johnson in the semi's and has lane choice. Mike Edwards (below) beat Ronnie Humphrey to advance to the semi's but was eliminated from title contention by Line's win. Edwards will have lane choice against Greg Anderson, the only one who can still catch Line.

[2:25 p.m.] Eddie Krawiec (above) took a big step towards his second Pro Stock Motorcycle title when the 2008 champ beat reigning champ LE Tonglet in round two, and his closest pursuer, Hector Arana Jr., was beaten on a 7.04 to 6.97 holeshot by Angie Smith (below). Andrew Hines, who defeated Jim Underdahl, will have lane choice over Smith in the semi's; Krawiec picks his choice over Hector Arana Sr., who beat Jerry Savoie.

  [3:50 p.m.] Spencer Massey (above), who failed to qualify in Phoenix, retook the points lead by reaching the Top Fuel final, where he'll take on Del Worsham (left) for the event title.

Oddly, both Massey and Worsham advanced on red-lights, by Brandon Bernstein and points leader Antron Brown, respectively.

Worsham has lane choice after running 3.878 to Massey's 3.890.

[3:55 p.m.] Johnny Gray (above) will have lane choice in the Funny Car final against DSR teammate Ron Capps (below) after both ran 4.12, but Gray was two-thousandths quicker in beating Bob Tasca III than Capps was in besting Cruz Pedregon. Quite a comeback for both: Capps DNQ'd two weeks ago, and Gray's car blew up yesterday.

[4 p.m.] Thoughts of an all-Summit Racing Pro Stock final disappeared in the semifinals when Jason Line red-lighted with a -.013 reaction time to Allen Johnson (above), and Mike Edwards (below) beat Greg Anderson on a holeshot. Anderson's loss clinched the championship for Line. Edwards will have lane choice on A.J. in the final.

[4:10 p.m.] Harley-Davidson teammates Eddie Krawiec (left) and Andrew Hines (right) will square off in the Pro Stock Motorcycle final, where Hines has lane choice. Krawiec will be looking to build on his current 49-point championship lead on second-place Hector Arana Jr., who lost in the second round.

Pro Stock Motorcycle points leader Eddie Krawiec, near lane, boosted his advantage heading into the season final in Pomona, defeating Harley teammate Andrew Hines, 6.93 to 6.99. Krawiec leads second-place Hector Arana Jr. by 69 points.

Mike Edwards, near lane, went to wire to wire in Pro Stock when the No. 1 qualifier sealed his weekend with a final-round victory over Allen Johnson, 6.64 to 6.66.

Ron Capps, far lane, went from not qualifying two weeks ago to winning the Funny Car final, besting Johnny Gray in the title bout with low e.t. of eliminations, 4.109 to Gray’s 4.203. Capps is now just 72 points out of first place.

Del Worsham, near lane,  jumped into second place in the NHRA Full Throttle Top Fuel points standings, just two points behind Spencer Massey, whom he defeated in the final by just a thousandth of a second. Massey got the better reaction time, but Worsham battled back to win, 3.823 to 3.834.

The 2011 Big O Tires NHRA Nationals NHRA Full Throttle Pro event champions