ELIMINATIONS ROUNDS RECAPS
TOP FUEL ROUND 1 (12:35 p.m.): Dom Lagana pulled off the round’s upset, at least based on points, when he took out Countdown runner Shawn Langdon, though Lagana’s car had outperformed Langdon’s in qualifying. Low qualifier Clay Millican continued to shine, running low e.t. of the first round with a 3.705 on a solo run for the 15-car field. Millican’s run was more than two-hundredths better than the next best run, a 3.725 logged by steady Brittany Force in beating Wayne Newby.
Second-round pairings (lane choice first): Clay Millican vs. Antron Brown; Brittany Force vs. Tony Schumacher; Doug Kalitta vs. Dom Lagana; Leah Pritchett vs. Steve Torrence
FUNNY CAR ROUND 1 (1 p.m.): Former world champ Jack Beckman’s milestone 600th round of competition was a winning one, boosting his record to 362-238 in beating Cruz Pedregon for the sixth straight time this season, five of which have come in the first round. As it was in Top Fuel, the low qualifier also had low e.t of the opening stanza as Robert Hight ran 3.879; he’ll face teammate Courtney Force in round two in a rematch of last weekend’s final round in Charlotte. Tim Wilkerson beat J.R. Todd for the first time in five tries this season, avenging his final-round Sonoma loss and his centerline-crossing Indy semifinal defeat.
Second-round pairings (lane choice first): Robert Hight vs. Courtney Force; Jack Beckman vs. Jonnie Lindberg; Matt Hagan vs. Tim Wilkerson; Ron Capps vs. Tommy Johnson Jr.
PRO STOCK ROUND 1 (1:30 p.m.): Matt Hartford pulled the lone upset of the opening round, defeating the higher qualified Alex Laughlin to advance. It was the first round-win of the 2017 season for Hartford. The KB Racing contingent continued to show the way in performance with Bo Butner and Jason Line recording the two quickest runs of the round. Butner was the best, putting up the lone 6.5, a 6.594, while Line wasn’t too far behind him with a 6.601. Also near the top of the performance sheets were Greg Anderson and Tanner Gray, both of whom ran 6.623. They face each other in the next round. Anderson will get lane choice thanks to a better speed, 208.94 to 207.98.
Second-round pairings (lane choice first): Bo Butner vs. Erica Enders; Drew Skillman vs. Allen Johnson; Jason Line vs. Matt Hartford; Greg Anderson vs. Tanner Gray
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE ROUND 1 (1:40 p.m.): Matt Smith had the quickest run of an opening round that featured all eight top-half qualifiers advancing. Smith wheeled his Polaris to a 6.865 to defeat Joey Gladstone and set up a second-round match with No. 1 qualifier Scotty Pollacheck, who ran a 6.884 en route to victory over Andie Rawlings. Jerry Savoie (6.872), Eddie Krawiec (6.879), and Hector Arana Jr. (6.889) also were in the 6.8s on their winning passes.
Second-round pairings (lane choice first): Matt Smith vs. Scotty Pollacheck; Eddie Krawiec vs. Andrew Hines; Jerry Savoie vs. LE Tonglet; Hector Arana Jr. vs. Karen Stoffer
TOP FUEL ROUND 2 (2:15 p.m.): Steve Torrence, who entered the Countdown in the No. 1 spot in points, regained that lead by beating Leah Pritchett right after incoming points leader Doug Kalitta lost to Dom Lagana for the third time in four career meetings. Brittany Force had low e.t. of the round with a 3.743 in besting Tony Schumacher.
Semifinal pairings (lane choice first): Brittany Force vs. Antron Brown; Steve Torrence vs. Dom Lagana
FUNNY CAR ROUND 2 (2:25 p.m.): Reigning world champ Ron Capps, who barely escaped a first-round race with Jim Campbell, reached the semifinals by besting teammate Tommy Johnson Jr., and now will face another of his Don Schumacher Racing teammates, Matt Hagan, in the semi’s. Jack Beckman had low e.t. of the round, 3.952, to make it three DSR cars in the final four, where he will take on Courtney Force, who beat her teammate, low qualifier Robert Hight, in round two.
Semifinal pairings (lane choice first): Jack Beckman vs. Courtney Force; Matt Hagan vs. Ron Capps
PRO STOCK ROUND 2 (2:45 p.m.): It’s a trio of KB Racing cars and Allen Johnson remaining in Pro Stock after a second round that featured a wild double-tire-shaking match between two of the class’ top drivers, Greg Anderson and Tanner Gray. Anderson’s teammate, Jason Line, did not have the same troubles, cruising to a 6.62 that was low e.t. of the round en route to victory over Matt Hartford. That sets up a semifinal match between the two Summit cars in the semi’s. Fellow KB Racing runner Bo Butner also advanced, defeating Erica Enders, and Johnson got around a tire-shaking Drew Skillman.
Semifinal pairings (lane choice first): Bo Butner vs. Allen Johnson; Jason Line vs. Greg Anderson
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE ROUND 2 (2:55 p.m.): A pair of teammate battles was among the highlights of the second round of two-wheel competition. The White Alligator Racing duo of Jerry Savoie and LE Tonglet met up in round two for the second straight week, but in a reverse of the Charlotte event, Tonglet came out this time around, leaving the starting line first and outrunning Savoie, whose bike drifted towards the centerline midway through the pass. The Harleys also faced off, a contest in which Eddie Krawiec ran low e.t. of the round, 6.87, to turn on the win light against Andrew Hines. No. 1 qualifier Scotty Pollacheck defeated Matt Smith, and Hector Arana Jr. stopped Karen Stoffer to round out the final four.
Semifinal pairings (lane choice first): Eddie Krawiec vs. Scotty Pollacheck; Hector Arana Jr. vs. LE Tonglet.
TOP FUEL SEMIFINALS (3:30 p.m.): Brittany Force reached her third final round of the season by defeating Antron Brown, ending the world champ’s 10-round unbeaten streak at this event. Steve Torrence reached his 10th final round in 20 events this season, ending Dom Lagana’s longshot dream with a 3.741 to the Nitro Ninja’s tire-smoking effort. Torrence, who will leave the event with the points lead, will have lane choice after Force’s engine-wounding 3.905 victory over Brown.
FUNNY CAR SEMIFINALS (3:35 p.m.): Courtney Force, runner-up at the Countdown opener last weekend in Charlotte, reached the final round again, beating Jack Beckman on a 3.96 to 3.94 holeshot. Force joins her Top Fuel-driving big sister, Brittany, with a chance to win an event title, but will cede final-round lane choice to Ron Capps, runner-up at this event last year, after Capps beat DSR teammate Matt Hagan. Capps was already leading Hagan at halftrack but pulled away further when Hagan’s parachute deployed prematurely.
PRO STOCK SEMIFINALS (3:50 p.m.): The Pro Stock Wally will go to KB Racing after Bo Butner and Greg Anderson advanced to the final round. Butner punched his ticket to the final first when he bested Allen Johnson, 6.65 to 6.68. Anderson then followed suit, winning the all KB match against Jason Line, who shook the tires early and slowed to a 9.06. Anderson went right downtrack, recording a 6.67. Butner will have lane choice over Anderson in the title-round bout.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE (3:55 p.m.): Eddie Krawiec will try to pick up his third straight win and second consecutive at this event after he got around No. 1 qualifier Scotty Pollacheck in the semi’s. Krawiec, winner of the Chevrolet Performance Nationals over Labor Day weekend and the NHRA Carolina Nationals last weekend, used a .016 to .054 lead at the Tree to win on a slight holeshot, 6.89 to 6.88. Krawiec will have lane choice against LE Tonglet, who rode his Nitro Fish Suzuki to a 6.94 victory over Hector Arana Jr., who slowed to a 7.10.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE FINAL (4:45 p.m.): Eddie Krawiec extended his points lead when he bested No. 2 points runner LE Tonglet in the final. The pair launched at the same time with matching .027 lights, but the race was over shortly after that when Tonglet’s Suzuki experienced troubles about 100 feet out, and he was forced to click it off. Krawiec would have been tough to beat anyway because he clocked a 6.852, low e.t. of race day, on his victory pass. The run continued a string of strong 6.8s throughout eliminations. Krawiec began with a pair of 6.87s against Kelly Clontz and teammate Andrew Hines, then posted a 6.89 in the semifinals against Scotty Pollacheck. The win is Krawiec’s third straight and his fifth of the season, tying Tonglet for most wins in the class in 2017. It is also his second consecutive at the Dodge NHRA Nationals and fifth overall at the Reading race. Krawiec leaves Maple Grove Raceway with a 71-point advantage, the biggest lead in any Pro category.
PRO STOCK FINAL (5 p.m.): After taking back the points lead he earned in the regular season when he won in round two and Charlotte winner Tanner Gray lost, Bo Butner, far lane, extended his advantage when he bested KB Racing stablemate Greg Anderson to earn his fourth Wally of the season. Anderson made Butner earn his latest trophy, cutting a near-perfect. 008 light to the .047 of Butner, and that kept the pair glued to one another as Butner chased the four-time champ down and eventually went around him right before the stripe. Butner finished .008-second in the front with a 6.610 vs. the 6.660 of Anderson. The win capped a solid overall weekend for Butner, who had one of the best cars on the property. Butner qualified No. 1, then ran a 6.594, low e.t. of eliminations, to defeat Val Smeland in the first round. Butner continued to run steadily downtrack every round, running 6.6s against Erica Enders and Allen Johnson in the second round and semifinals, respectively.
FUNNY CAR FINAL (4:45 p.m.): Ron Capps, near lane, collected his seventh win of the season in Funny Car, taking a huge final-round victory over Courtney Force. Capps race to a 3.968 at 326.48 mph to pull away from Force, whose parachute deployed early, slowing her to a 3.993 at 311.70. It’s Capps’ first victory since the Chicago event in June and gave him back the points lead he lost last weekend in Charlotte.
TOP FUEL FINAL (4:45 p.m.): Brittany Force, far lane, scored her second win of the season, racing past Steve Torrence after the points leader’s engine faltered with the lead past halftrack. Force took the win, the fifth of her career, 3.756, 326.24 to Torrence’s fading 3.857 at just 258.76 mph.
LUCAS OIL SPORTSMAN RESULTS: Former NHRA Pro Stock racer Tom Martino drove Ken Voight’s entry to the Comp win, his first in the class. Martino, who won five Pro Stock event titles between 1997 and 2006, also has won in Super Gas, in 1984. Seven classes of NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series entries also competed at the Dodge NHRA Nationals. Final-round results:
Top Alcohol Dragster
Jeff Veale def. Jackie Fricke
Top Alcohol Funny Car
Sean Bellemeur def. Phil Burkhart Jr
Tom Martino def. Scott Benham
Byron Worner def. Anthony Bertozzi
Karl Martel def. Lenny Williams
Kevin Robb def. Ray Sawyer
Lauren Freer def. Jeff Kundratic
Brittany Force’s Monster entry was the only Top Fueler to make it down what was a sometimes-tricky Maple Grove Raceway track on all four qualifying attempts, making passes of 3.758, 3.731, 3.754, and a saving-the-best-for-last 3.730 in Q4.
“The Monster team is pumped about how qualifying has gone Friday and Saturday,” Force said. “Four solid runs down the race track and putting awesome numbers on the board every single run. We got bonus points for low of the session that last round.
“That’s what we’ve been looking for: Being able to run in cool conditions and the heat,” she added. “We did just that, so we’re pumped going into race day.”
Save for surprising No. 16 spot in Atlanta, she’s qualified in the top half of the field at every race this season, including No. 1 in Chicago.
Force will draw a familiar opponent in round one in Australian Wayne Newby, who she faced and defeated last weekend in round two in Charlotte.
Dom Lagana sits just seventh on the qualifying sheets, but the Nitro Ninja may well be the day’s stealth-mode favorite as he made it down the track on all three qualifying runs following an opening tire smoker. Only one driver –- Brittany Force –- made it down the track on all four passes and only three drivers -- Doug Kalitta, Steve Torrence, and Palmer’s CatSpot teammate, Scott Palmer –- even made it down on three of the four attempts. Palmer actually got successfully to three-quarter track on all four but banged the blower downtrack on his third qualifying pass.
Lagana’s run of record, 3.762, came in Friday night’s “hero” session, but he followed with runs of 3.809 and 3.776 in Saturday’s heat. The latter was the third-best run of the final session. Last weekend in Charlotte he qualified just 12th and lost in round one to Clay Millican.
The event is the sixth and final event for Lagana behind the wheel this season. Next weekend in St. Louis he'll be working with brother Bobby on Steve Torrence's car, then, beginning in Dallas and for the final three races of the year, he'll be tuning on the Top Fuel car driven by Torrence's father. Billy.
Update: After reaching the semifinals Sunday, Lagana has decided he will take his car west to compete in St. Louis.
Tony Schumacher’s qualifying account hopscotched around, with two full runs and two aborted passes, but his best run, a 3.736, came in the heat Saturday and was best of the third qualifying session. A lot of teams have struggled with the heat at this event, normally known for cold weather.
“We can’t control a lot of things like the weather, but I do know we have a really good program for a hot track,” he said. “We made two good runs in the heat both Saturday and Sunday in Charlotte. All the cars out there are too good to predict anything right now. It’s whoever brings an A-game. It has nothing to do with Saturday or Friday. We’ve been doing this a long, long time and they’re all good cars and anyone can win on any given Sunday. The conditions are going to be even hotter than they were [Saturday] and this U.S. Army team is ready to get after it. We had low e.t. of the day with the sun out and conditions that are as close to [Sunday] as we’ve seen. I love this playoff atmosphere. Set the weight of the world on our shoulders and watch us do our job.”
After having a car that made it down the track on all four qualifying runs, Scott Palmer had big hopes for a long Sunday and a chance to move up in the points, but those hopes ended before the burnout in round one as the team suffered a locked-up drivetrain as they went to fire the CatSpot entry to race Tony Schumacher.
“That’s not the way we wanted it to end,” he said. “We were hoping to run a high-.70. We were parked on a downhill [in the staging lanes] and it looks like a clutch lever got hung up in the input shaft. Everything looked good when we warmed it up, but it’s just one of those things. We saw someone else [Shawn Langdon] do that yesterday and it lunged forward and I didn’t want to take the chance of hurting somebody.”
Fortunately for ninth-place Palmer, he won't lose a lot of ground as 10th place Langdon and eighth-place Terry McMillen also both lost in round one.
Points leader Robert Hight could use another Sunday like last weekend at the Countdown opener in Charlotte where he beat fellow Countdown drivers in all four rounds, making for an effective run to the title, his third of the season.
Hight took out Matt Hagan, Tommy Johnson Jr., and J.R. Todd before beating teammate Courtney Force in the final round.
Hight, who has scored at least one victory in all 13 of his seasons on the circuit and at least three victories in nine of the13 seasons, has just one victory at Reading – winning in 2011, but a win here, in what his 300th career event, would be especially memorable.
In his 299 previous starts, Hight has 40 victories and 22 final-round appearances; his No. 1 qualifying berth this weekend was the 55th of his career, and leads the field by three hundredths of a second on the strength of crew chief Jimmy Prock’s tuning.
“Jimmy is just so confident right now; I can see it in his eyes,” Hight marveled. “He and Chris Cunningham are talking about everything and really have a handle on the car and what it can run, If you can do what they do, which is to run within a hundredth of what you set it up for, man, you’ve got it going on.”
Hight picked up 10 of a maximum 12 bonus points in qualifying and the eight points he earned as the No. 1 qualifier boosted his lead to 52 points.
Tommy Johnson Jr. and Robert Hight both had some anxious moments on their final qualifying pass when their braking parachutes didn’t deploy. Both got their moutns stopped safely, with Johnson just dipping the nose of his Make-A-Wish Dodge into the top-end sandtrap.
“We have an air button on the steering wheel so we can get them out quicker, but I hit it and I didn’t feel anything,” he said. “I was already on the brakes because that’s part of the procedure, but I looked over at the [manual parachute] levers because I didn’t feel the tug of the ‘chutes. They looked like they were all of the way forward, but I gave them another smack and went right back to the brakes, but still nothing. That’s when you start to panic a little bit. It’s hard because when that happens you have time to think what’s coming. When it blows up it happens so fast and you’re just, ‘Oh wow … OK,’ but when the chutes don’t come out and you know you’re approaching the sand fast you have time to think about it. I started pulling on the brakes with both hands, steering with my knee.
“Because we’ve laid the rear spoilers back for speed, we don’t have that drag anymore; that almost used to be like a third parachute. The cars also are heavier and just don’t slow down like they used to.
“We had one parachute get wrapped up underneath the body and the other one didn’t even come out until late. It was a handful, there were moments I thought I was going to make it then that I wasn’t going to make it, then I was going to make it. Just glad I got it stopped with just the nose in the sand.”
Hight’s parachutes came out but got tangled in one another, reducing their effectiveness.
“I was on time with the chutes, but when I hit them, they got all tangled up,” he said. “That’s probably one of the biggest jolts you have in the car, when you hit those chutes, and it slams you forward. It’s negative-3 Gs, so it slams you around pretty good. So, I knew instantly I didn’t have any chutes. I was able to stop it. It would’ve been a shame to put the quickest and fastest Funny Car in history in the sand.”
John Force may have qualified 13th – tied for his season low this season – and only made it down the track on two of four qualifying runs, but the 16-time champ remains optimistic about his chances.
He’s earned seven wins and seven runner-ups in his 32 visits to the track and owns an enviable 59-25 win-loss record. His last win here, in 2013, coincided with his last championship run. Even though the results might not show it, the Peak team began to feel better about their combination after testing in Charlotte after last weekend’s race. His final pass Saturday, a 4.11, had the makings of a good pass before the car started drifting toward the wall.
“We finally leaned on this thing,” Force said. “She’s like a woman that you like but doesn’t like you back. She didn’t want to dance with me. She stood straight up out there at about 400 feet. It was going to be a hell of a run. But that’s the excitement of the sport. Sure, I’ve been struggling recently, but I want to win too. So I’ll be OK.”
Force is eighth in the Funny Car standings, but he’s less than a round out of fifth and less than three rounds out of third.
This weekend is a milestone for Allen Johnson, who is racing in his 500th Pro Stock event.
“No, I really didn’t,” said Johnson, when asked if he imagined hitting 500 events when he started racing. “You know, 22 years and 500 races, that’s a lot, isn’t it? But it’s been a fun time. It’s been a great time being able to do it with your family and see the success we’ve had. I mean we’re not top of the chart, but we’re up there middle of the road somewhere success in drag racing, so it’s been a great run.”
Included in that great run is a world championship. Johnson finished No. 1 in 2012.
“There’s a few things that we haven’t claimed that we’d like to, but a world championship ain’t one of ’em,” said Johnson, who announced in Indy that he’s stepping away from full-time competition after this season.
With just five races left in this season, Johnson is aiming to nab another win or a few before he steps out of regular racing. If qualifying here is any indication, Johnson has a car capable of going to the winner’s circle. Johnson had four steady, consistent passes in qualifying, recording a 6.57, 6.58, and a pair of 6.59s.
“You know, I’ve known we had a good car for a while, but I think it’s finally translating to the track,” said Johnson. “We hit it a little bit better [Friday] than we did [Saturday], but we’ve got a top-six car right now, and we can definitely win with that. I just have to do my job in my Marathon Petroleum/J&J Racing Dodge Dart, and if we can make the same runs we did in qualifying, we could come home with it this weekend.”
Today is National Gold Star Mother’s Day. Created to recognize and honor those who have lost their son or daughter while serving our country in the United States Armed Forces, the day features a day of recognition in Washington D.C., but the celebration is also extending here to Maple Grove Raceway thanks to some in the Pro Stock pits, including Bo Butner, who welcomed Gold Star Mothers to his pit this weekend and is running commemorative stickers on his entry.
“On the hood of my car, I have 21 guys,” said Butner. “It’s actually National Gold Star Mother’s Weekend, and that’s for all the heroes that have lost their life. There’s over 400 of them that are going to be in Washington D.C. [Sunday], and all the mothers are here, and they all stuck their sticker on my car. If you get a chance, come by and look at ’em. It’s pretty touching, and now I have something to run for. It’s a neat and special honor for me.”
After a truly forgettable Saturday, during which her car shook on both attempts and coasted, things turned around a bit for Erica Enders in the first round when she was able to turn on the scoreboard against Chris McGaha. The win was a true team effort with Enders’ .045 to .086 reaction-time edge assisting the 6.65 pass the crew gave her to defeat McGaha, who was a little quicker at 6.64.
“That’s what these Elite Motorsports guys are all about. They continue to dig deep,” said Enders. “It was so frustrating yesterday. We about wrecked the car twice trying to get off the starting line, but hat’s off to my group of men. They’re the best in this business. I love racing here in Reading. It’s a little warmer here than last year, but we’ll see if we can go the distance today.”
Two weeks ago, the fans at zMAX Dragway were on their feet when Jonathan Gray and Steve Jackson got into a staging duel during the Pro Mod final. Alex Laughlin and Matt Hartford gave the Maple Grove Raceway fans a reason to cheer in the opening round of Pro Stock when the followed suit. Both drivers pre-staged, then sat and waited, trying to push the other one to go in first. Though his original intention was not to be the first to blink, ultimately Hartford did, rolling his entry into the stage beam ahead of Laughlin.
“I wasn’t planning on going in first, but I realized he wasn’t either, and I said, ‘Let’s just win this round,’ ” said Hartford, who turned on the win light with a 6.62 vs. the tire-shaking 11.76 of Laughlin.
This was the first round-win of the 2017 season for Hartford, who is competing in his 11th event of the season. After working with Warren Johnson the past few years, Hartford switched to Gray Motorsports power in Indy, and though they are making progress, the team is continuing to sort through the new combination.
“We’re working through a lot of this stuff, trying to run Gray stuff,” said crew chief Eddie Guarnaccia. “They’ve given us an excellent opportunity to go forward, and we’re glad to get a win here for Kenny Koretsky, Rob’s Towing, and everybody else who supports us. It’s just good to get to the next round.”
Earlier this weekend, Greg Anderson made a quip about being tired of being beat by “the kid.” Well, the four-time world champion was finally able to get a win against “the kid,” aka Tanner Gray. That was only the second time in six meetings that Anderson has turned on the win light against the rookie phenom, and though Anderson was quite happy with the victory, it came at a cost to him.
“Holy tire shake! I don’t know how I got it back in gear, but I was just slamming and banging, and somehow I got it into gear,” said Anderson. “I got it two or three or four gears, and I looked over, and I couldn’t believe he wasn’t there, first of all. He wasn’t, so I was like, ‘Please, just get it to the finish line.’ Then it comes out of gear and goes right to the high side and blows the motor up, so everything that could happen went wrong, and I still won the race, so maybe it’s my day.”
The Pro Stock Motorcycle field includes three riders who are making their first race-day start: Lance Bonham, Ron Tornow, and Andie Rawlings. With these three qualifying, the list of people who have qualified for a Pro Stock Motorcycle field is now at 200. Bonham qualified in his 29th attempt, placing 15th in the order. He will face reigning world champ Jerry Savoie in the first round. Tornow made his Pro Stock Motorcycle debut last weekend but just missed that field. Here, Tornow ran his first six-second pass to qualify No. 12 and earn a first-round match with Andrew Hines. Rawlings is also a newcomer this year to the class, having entered seven previous events. In her eighth attempt, Rawlings qualified on the bump and will face off with No. 1 qualifier Scotty Pollacheck in the opener.
After cutting identical .034 lights, Karen Stoffer and Steve Johnson put on a great side-by-side show for the fans in the opening round, running within .008-second of one another. The win light came on in Stoffer’s lane after she posted a 6.94 vs. the 6.95 of Johnson, and though she was thrilled to see the light come on in her lane, Stoffer admits she didn’t do the best job getting her Suzuki downtrack.
“You know, I did a poor job of riding, so it’s a good thing we pulled out of that,” said Stoffer. “But, you know, Stevie J., he played a little game on the starting line there. He went on his two-step before he went in [and staged], but I’ve raced with Steve for a long time, I know how he is, I held my composure, and we came out with the win light. We got this SkillmanMotorsports.com bike to the next round and hopefully up the points in the Countdown.”
When Andrew Hines and Eddie Krawiec lined up against each other in the second round, it was the third time this season they have raced in eliminations, and was the case the other two times, the win light this time came on on Krawiec’s side of the track.
“I’m not nice to myself,” Hines quipped when it was noted that Krawiec was beating up on him a bit this year. “It is what it is. We win as a team, and we lose as a team. I try to give him my best tune-up that I can for his bike and for my bike, and it’s just a battle of who can get off the starting line quicker. We were both pretty close on the Tree, but he 60-footed a little better, and it just worked better all the way down the track. I just couldn’t catch him. I walked over there before that run and said, ‘Do you want me to give you my best?’ I’m not going to detune him. I’m not going to do anything. I’m going to give him the best chance for us to win. That’s our deal.”
Tempers flared in the semifinals following the match between LE Tonglet and Hector Arana Jr. Tonglet staged first in the race, and his team, including team owner Jerry Savoie, felt Arana took too long to stage, creating a potential issue for the engine in Tonglet’s Buell. After the win light turned on in Tonglet’s name, his crew confronted the Arana crew, and a screaming match ensued. NHRA officials eventually stepped between them, but the screaming continued as both groups walked back to their pit vehicles.
“We sat down there, the motor’s getting hot, and they’re farting around,” said Savoie. “[Tonglet] pre-staged and waited forever, and he still didn’t roll in. Then when [Tonglet] finally went in and lit both bulbs, they waited forever still. You want to play that [stuff], we in the Countdown. The game’s on.”
Dodge Funny Car drivers Jack Beckman and Tommy Johnson Jr. led this morning’s SealMaster NHRA Track Walk, which was well attended by the Northeast drag racing fans that have packed Maple Grove Raceway all weekend.
Every year, Maple Grove Raceway donates a portion of ticket sales to Make-A-Wish. Track manager Lex Dudas, center, presented this year’s check to Make-A-Wish driver Tommy Johnson Jr. and another representative for the charity.
NHRA’s Graham Light presented a special-edition Wally to former Division 2 Director and longtime Maple Grove Raceway employee Lex Dudas, who is retiring after 55 years working in the sport.
Scotty Pollacheck was the final Pro Stock Motorcycle racer introduced during pre-race activities after he collected his first green hat as No. 1 qualifier.
Audrey Worm was introduced to fans at her home track this morning after she qualified for the Top Fuel field in her class debut.
Eddie Krawiec was congratulated by Mello Yello's Al Ronson after his third straight Pro Stock Motorcycle victory.
Bo Butner reclaimed the points lead with his victory in Pro Stock.
Funny Car winner Ron Capps gave his Wally his traditional Mello Yello shower after his win.
Courtney Force, right, runner-up to Ron Capps in Funny Car, congratulated her sister, Brittany, on her Top Fuel win.
Event champions Eddie Krawiec, Bo Butner, Brittany Force, and Ron Capps celebrated in the Maple Grove Raceway winner's circle.
First-round matchups and ladders for today's final eliminations: