Both ends of the Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle national records were toppled during a record-shattering opening day at the Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway. Rodger Brogdon leads the Pro Stock field with his record run of 6.495. Tony Schumacher, Matt Hagan, and Hector Arana lead the other fields at the second of 22 races in the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season.
Hagan continued his torrid run dating back to the end of last year by earning the provisional No. 1 qualifier in Funny Car on the first day of qualifying at the 42nd annual Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals Friday.
Hagan, who has been to the final round at four of the last five races including his runner-up at the 2011 season-opening Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals, secured the provisional No. 1 with a track-record 4.030-second pass at 309.84 mph in his DieHard Dodge Charger.
“I’m excited, coming off of a runner up (at Pomona) and coming here and being No. 1 … we’ve got a strong race car and a strong team and I’m really looking forward to having some fun out here,” Hagan said.
In Top Fuel, seven-time champion Tony Schumacher earned the provisional top spot with a 3.814-second pass at a track-record 325.45 mph in the U.S. Army dragster.
“I thought we’d go quicker; I thought everyone would go quicker. If someone would have told me the No. 1 qualifier would run a 3.81 I would have been surprised,” Schumacher said. “We didn’t get down the track our first pass so we had to be cautious on that run. It was soft. It chattered (the tires) but made it down the track, and when we looked at the data on the computer, we could see there’s a lot left.”
It was an auspicious start for Schumacher, who has been to five final rounds at the Gatornationals with event titles in 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2010.
“I’ve always considered (the Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals), quite possibly, the biggest (race of the year), it’s always been special to me,” Schumacher said.
In Pro Stock, Brogdon earned the provisional No. 1 with a 6.495-second pass at 213.47 mph in his Attitude Apparel Pontiac GXP. This would be the first No. 1 of Brogdon’s career that spans 62 races.
“There’s a lot of fast guys out there, we just happened to go a little bit faster than them,” Brogdon said.
Mike Edwards (213.47) and Greg Anderson (212.86) also ran 6.495s, but theirs were slightly slower and therefore behind Brogdon in the qualifying order. Also, Erica Enders recorded the fastest-ever Pro Stock run with a top speed of 213.57 in her ZaZa Energy Chevy Cobalt.
Overall, Pro Stock drivers recorded the seven quickest elapsed times in class history and nine of the top 10, as well as resetting the 10 fastest speeds in history.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Arana set the pace in his Lucas Oil Buell with a national-record time of 6.777 at 195.36 mph.
“Unbelievable, when they give me a 6.77, that’s great, it felt slow …” Arana said.
The run came not long after Arana watched his son, 21-year-old Hector Arana Jr., who is making his pro debut, kiss the wall near the top end.
“I don’t know if he’s letting the pressure get to him, but it sure is getting to me,” Arana said. “I’m pretty sure he does not want to hear what I have to say.”
The Pro Stock Motorcycle contingent combined to record the three quickest and three fastest performances in class history.
Also Friday, 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Kurt Busch, making his NHRA Full Throttle Series debut in Pro Stock, experienced tire-shake on his first attempt and failed to stage in time in his second attempt. He’ll get two more shots to qualify Saturday.
“An interesting day to say the least,” Busch said. “A lot of rookie things that I’m ready to put behind me. We just didn’t do our job today.”
Qualifying at the Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals concludes with the third and fourth sessions on Saturday when the fields will be set for Sunday’s final eliminations.
Khalid Balooshi raced to the qualifying lead Friday in the season-opener for the NHRA Get Screened America Pro Mod Drag Racing Series.
Balooshi, from Doha, Qatar, covered the quarter-mile distance in 5.846 seconds at 243.24 mph in his 1968 Camaro.
Rickie Smith (5.878, 241.67) and Roger Burgess (5.881, 255.10) qualified second and third, respectively.
Defending Series champion Von Smith opened the year with a 5.928 at 246.80 that has him in seventh position entering Saturday’s final qualifying session.
Notable drivers not yet qualified into the 16-car field include Jay Payne, Melanie Troxel and Danny Rowe, the 2010 Series runner-up.