Saturday's Finals Photos
Saturday, November 12, 2011

News and views from the Automobile 
Club of Southern California NHRA Finals
Last update: 5:40 p.m.
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Saturday has dawned cold and cloudy, and a light mist has action on hold. The NHRA Safety Safari presented by AAA's Randy Robbins waits on the jet track dryer ready to begin the drying process. Although forecasts earlier in the week had looked like a washout for the day, rain chance is only 10 percent through noon and then clearing. So we're hopeful that the final two Full Throttle qualifying sessions will get in.

One piece of championship business that was completed last night was in Super Gas; Mike Sawyer, near lane, needed to reach the final round to pass incoming points leader Peter Biondo to win the title. Biondo, however, was waiting for him in the staging lanes and was able to pair up with and defeat him in round one to clinch the title. For Biondo, it's his sixth championship, which includes four in Super Stock and one in Stock.

Last night, the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum presented by Automobile Club of Southern California hosted its annual Night of Champions event, featuring a car show and a panel discussion with NHRA drivers. This year's group was made up of Matt Hagan, Ron Capps, T.J. Zizzo, Terry McMillen, Robert Hight, Bob Tasca III, and Jack Beckman. The museum is open throughout the NHRA Finals weekend.

Voting for the NHRA Full Throttle Hard-Working Crew Awards completes tomorrow night at midnight Eastern, and some fans are stumping for Chris Karamesines to win the Top Fuel portion. Four crews in each of the four classes have been nominated for the awards, which salute outstanding team achievements. [Vote now]

[10:15 a.m.] And we're running cars! Stock round two kicks off the day, albeit two hours late. Despite the delay, the day's first Full Throttle qualifying session will take place, as scheduled, at 11 a.m.

[11:30 a.m.] Finnish Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Frerick Fredlund made it an all-six-second field after a 6.995 pass with his Suzuki but was bumped to No. 17 by subsequent riders. The bump, with one session remaining, is 6.960, held by Bailey Whitaker, who was on the bump of the record (6.946) field that was established earlier this year in Reading.

Andrew Hines remained No. 1 and had low e.t. of the round at 6.830. Shawn Gann (6.87) and LE Tonglet (6.89) were the next quickest.

[11:50 a.m.] Rodger Brogdon's The Edge Pontiac had the quickest pass of the third Pro Stock session with a 6.552. Jason Line was next best at 6.554, and Greg Anderson was third at 6.556, but Mike Edwards' Thursday  6.520 continues to lead the pack with one session left later this afternoon.

[12:15 p.m.] Championship contender Cruz Pedregon entered the third qualifying session not yet in the Funny Car field but blasted a 4.087 with his Snap-on Tools Toyota to make it safely into the show.

[12:30 p.m.] Matt Hagan picked up three valuable bonus points by powering his Tommy DeLago-tuned DieHard Advanced Gold Dodge Funny Car to a 4.033, the best pass of the round and the new No. 1 qualifying number. Hagan now leads second-place Jack Beckman — whose 4.113 was just seventh best and earned him no markers — by seven points. Melanie Troxel's 4.087 at 309 was second best ahead of Pedregon's same e.t. at a lower speed (307). The bump spot, with just one session remaining, is 4.1999, held by Bob Bode.

[12:35 p.m.] Former Funny Car and Pro Mod driver Mike Ashley is wheeling Dexter Tuttle's dragster in his Top Fuel debut. His 3.956 early in the third session has him temporarily in the field in the No. 16 spot.

  [1 p.m.] Top Fuel championship front-runner Antron Brown, who has won the Auto Club NHRA Finals the last two seasons, wasn't in the Top Fuel field when he pulled the Matco Tools dragster to the line in the third qualifying session, but he and crew chief Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald quickly rectified that with a 3.848 pass that put him provisionally in the No. 6 spot.

[1:25 p.m.] Al-Anabi teammates Del Worsham, left, and Larry Dixon were the stars of the third Top Fuel session. Points leader Worsham grabbed the No. 1 spot with a 3.773 that earned his three bonus points and moved him up to five points ahead of Spencer Massey and 20 ahead of Antron Brown. Dixon, whose 3.791 was second best of the round, is 46 points behind Worsham. Tony Schumacher made the round's third-best pass, 3.801.

Dom Lagana lit up his Lucas Oil Top Fueler at the stripe while Mike Ashley fought for control of his ride.

[2:45 p.m.] Light drizzle had the event on a weather hold. Racing resumed at 3 p.m.

[3:40 p.m.] Points leader Eddie Krawiec put a little more distance between himself and second-place Hector Arana Jr. by powering his Screamin' Eagle Harley to a 6.850, low for the round and three more points in his ledger.

Krawiec enters eliminations 70 points — or more than two rounds — ahead of Hector Arana Sr., meaning that Arana has to hope for an early exit for the Harley rider if he wants to overtake him for the championship.

Arana Jr. picked up two points for second-quick pass (6.851) .

[4 p.m.] Ronnie Humphrey was the surprising performance leader in the final Pro Stock session with a 6.555 that was quicker than new champ Jason Line's 6.560. Mike Edwards held onto the No. 1 spot with his earlier 6.520.

The event isn't called the World Finals anymore, but it's still international in flavor. Among the visitors competing are Norway's Thomas Nataas in Top Fuel (above) and Australia's Peter Russo (below) in Funny Car.

[5:40 p.m.] Persistent rain slowed the show in the late afternoon and eventually forced NHRA officials to call a halt to racing early in the final Funny Car session but not before Tony Pedregon raced his way into the field with a last-ditch 4.150 that bumped Bob Bode. Bode was next in line to run when racing was halted.