Friday's Finals Photos
Friday, November 11, 2011

News and views from the Automobile 
Club of Southern California NHRA Finals
Last update: 5 p.m.
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[9:30 a.m.] Through this portal pass some of the West Coast's hottest hot rods. Sportsman qualifying continues this morning at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona before jumping into their eliminations later this afternoon.

Courtney Force dropped the ceremonial "first puck" at last night's National Hockey League game between the hometown L.A. Kings and the Vancouver Canucks. Kings captain Dustin Brown, left, and Canucks skipper Hendrik Sedin took part in the pre-game draw. The Canucks won the game, 3-2. (Gary Nastase photo) You can read an interview with Courtney on the Mayor's Manor blog, which covers the Kings.

Also last night, NHRA feted the drivers competing for National Championships in the NHRA Summit Racing Series at the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum presented by Automobile Club of Southern California. Drivers from all seven NHRA geographic divisions who won their regional championships will go head to head in front of the Auto Club NHRA Finals fans to determine the national champs. This is the 12th year of the program.


As a special thanks to the brave men and women who serve this country in the armed forces and to help celebrate Veterans Day, NHRA is offering free general-admission tickets to both active and retired military for today's action at the 2011 Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals. Top Fuel racer Terry McMillen welcomed PFC Brooks, of nearby Ontario, Calif., into his pits.

Toyota Funny Car racers Cruz Pedregon and Alexis DeJoria spent part of their morning greeting fans and answering questions at the Toyota Racing display in the Manufacturers Midway.

The final event in NHRA's 60th Anniversary season has expectedly drawn a number of legends of the sport, including "Big Daddy" Don Garlits, who signed autographs for fans this morning.

In addition to again fielding a dragster with popular veteran Cory McClenathan, Rapisarda Racing entered a second Top Fueler this weekend, piloted by Aussie Damien Harris. Harris' first NHRA attempt yesterday didn't quite go according to plan, ending with him coasting to a 5.84 after shaking the tires early. Harris enters today's qualifier 21st in the order.

Cruz Pedregon and his Snap-on Funny Car team, headed by crew chief Danny DeGenaro (right), are hoping for better fortunes in today's lone qualifying session. Pedregon, one of the drivers in contention for this year's Funny Car championship, smoked the tires on yesterday's run, and he enters today ranked 23rd out of 23 cars.   

A strong turnout of Southern California race fans prowled the pits this morning to meet the drivers.

Top Alcohol Funny Car racer Brian Smith, who repaired damage to his car suffered after contact with the guardwall yesterday, had another rough run after his Camaro went out of control and entered the sand trap at the end of the shutdown area. Smith was checked and released by NHRA emergency services officials.

Popular Pro Stock Motorcycle competitor Mike Berry was transported to an area medical center for evaluation after he was injured in an accident while working on his bike in the pit area prior to the day's qualifying session. NHRA emergency services officials reported that Berry was alert and conscious following the incident.

[12:40 p.m.] Pro Stock Motorcycle's Eddie Krawiec earned two more bonus points (three for the event) to extend his lead over second-place Hector Arana Jr. to 70 points. Krawiec's 6.854 was the second-best pass of the session behind teammate Andrew Hines, who ran 6.847 to lead the session, as he did yesterday. Hector Arana Sr. (6.871) was third. Krawiec's speed on his run was 198.12 mph, a track speed record.

[1 p.m.] Greg Anderson made the best run of the second Pro Stock qualifying session with a 6.543 clocking in his Summit Pontiac. Teammate Jason Line (6.553) and Friday leader Mike Edwards (6.560) had the round's next best times. Edwards still leads the field with his 6.52 from yesterday.

Veteran Larry Morgan and his Lucas Oil Ford Mustang have a top-four spot after two Pro Stock sessions with a best of 6.554, just a few ticks off of his 6.543 career best.

In March 1992 at the NHRA Gatornationals, Kenny Bernstein broke the 300-mph barrier when he tripped the timers at Gainesville Raceway with a 301.70-mph pass that etched his name forever in the annals of NHRA history and was voted the No. 5 Greatest Moment by NHRA fans. Announcer Alan Reinhart introuduced Benrstein, who received a huge applause from the crowd for his historic accomplishment. [Story]

NHRA acknowledged Veterans Day with a series of guests, including U.S. Army Top Fuel driver Tony Schumacher, then paraded some military vehicles down the return road to the proud cheers of the Pomona fans.

Happy birthday to "the Greek," Top Fuel's Chris Karamesines, who refuses to share his age, but it's more than 80!

[2:15 p.m.] Del Worsham, who led the Top Fuel points most of the season before surrendering his lead at the opening Countdown event in Charlotte, got the top spot back by earning three points with the best run of the session, 3.834. Worsham, who ran 3.830 yesterday, now leads Spencer Massey — who failed to earn any bonus points this session — by two points. Tony Schumacher continues to lead the field with his Friday run of 3.827.

Southern California Funny Car veteran Gary Densham is competing in his 32nd NHRA Finals event, the most in class history. Densham is currently qualified No. 10 with a 4.163.

[3 p.m.] Matt Hagan increased his points lead in Funny Car over second-ranked Jack Beckman to four markers with a sizzling 4.088 in the DieHard Advanced Gold Dodge that earned him three points. Beckman’s solid 4.136 was not among the round’s three quickest. Robert Hight had the round’s next best time, a 4.102, and remains the field leader with his Friday 4.084. Jeff Arend was third quick at 4.122.

After Funny Car qualifying, the John Force Racing drivers hosted an autograph session in the display area that hosts some 25 of his race and collectible cars. Force, daughters Brittany and Courtney, Robert Hight, and Mike Neff signed autographs and chatted with fans. The line was impressively long, wrapping around the John Force Road Show display inside the compound.