NHRA MIDWEST NATIONALS - EVENT NOTEBOOK
HAPPY BIRTHDAY! - When you tally sponsor Evan Knoll's birthday presents from his teams, he garnered three national event victories, two pole positions and a national record. Forget Hallmark - he got horsepower.
GETTING MORE IN THE MIDDLE – Melanie Troxel opened the 2006 season with five consecutive final rounds. The driver of the Vietnam Veterans/POW-MIA dragster presented by Torco Race Fuels and Lucas Oil eventually reached nine finals and won two of them.
This season has proven to be a tougher challenge.
Troxel’s St. Louis victory provided excellent healing salve following an uncharacteristic first round foul last weekend in Atlanta.
“After a few races we were struggling a bit,” Troxel said. “It wasn’t that we weren’t running well, we just couldn’t get the breaks. It was nice to come out here and have the breaks go our way. The best part is that we had a little bit of luck out there.
“Richard Hogan did a great job of getting the car down the track. We spun the car down track on several of the passes. I think this is exactly what we needed to energize the team.”
With the victory, Troxel moves within four points of fourth place.
Friday’s washout pushed the margin for error to zero.
“It added stress to the team,” Troxel said. “We were cut down to two runs and we struggled with some really tough conditions. There were no guarantees you were going to make it into the field.”
Troxel’s team struggled last year in the summer months.
“Running in the heat was something we didn’t do well last year,” Troxel said. “This may be a good sign that we are changing this.”
NO LONGER BUMPABLE – Troxel’s feat elevated her from ninth in the points to fifth.
“It’s early in the Countdown,” Troxel said. “It gives us that little jump to get in there. We got off of that bump spot.”
THE ULTIMATE TRIBUTE – Troxel and sponsor Evan Knoll unveiled their Vietnam Veterans/POW-MIA tribute car in Pomona and an abundance of tears were shed by those on hand. Her victory today elicited that same emotion.
“This experience has been amazing,” Troxel said. “All those veterans, especially the Vietnam veterans, who have come by and thanked us for doing this car have inspired us. You see the look on their faces … how honored they are … how excited they are for the car. Maybe this victory will let more of these Vietnam veterans see that we want to give something back to them to repay them for the sacrifices they made for us.
“Especially our Vietnam veterans and POW-MIA families, we want them to know they are not forgotten. They made a lot of sacrifices and while we may not have been there when they came home we are here now.”
TRUE GRIT – Cory McClenathan’s weekend began with controversy, and it continued in the ensuing days. The big question looming like a dark cloud over his head was - who owns the team?
McClenathan got more on the tire than his FRAM dragster following a second round victory over David Grubnic.
“Wes Cerny and the guys have done a great job with the car this weekend,” McClenathan said. “We had to change motors between rounds. That’s a tough thing to do. For Fram, Bendix, Jeg’s and everyone on the car, you make this car go down the track.
”You know what? Today, you own the car.
“The fans in the stands … you own the car, too.”
IN HER HEAD – Melanie Troxel offered insight into what goes
through her head in a pedal-fest similar to her second round win over
Bruce Litton. Troxel came to a stop with the engine smoking and oil
sloshing from the pipes.
“The worst part is when it starts smoking the tires, the driver’s first inclination is to step on the throttle immediately,” Troxel said. “You have to be patient and step off the throttle until the car settles down. It makes you feel terrible when the other driver is pulling away from you.
“That’s the nice thing about Sunday; drivers don’t have to worry about what they are tearing up and if they are oiling the track. We hate to do that for the fans, but we are out here to race and win.”
WATCHING HIMSELF? – There’s nothing like watching yourself on television, but for McClenathan, he did it during his semifinal triumph over Rod Fuller.
“It’s pretty bad to watch the Motel6 Vision to see if he’s coming after you,” McClenathan said. “I was on the gas and off and on again. The car was fluttering on falling apart. It’d not the way to win, but when it is your day – it is your day.” (Motel6/ESPN2)
MEETING WITH CAT – David Powers Motorsports sent a clear message when the Hot Rod Fuller-driven dragster showed up in Las Vegas in plain white paint. This weekend’s outing with Fabick Cat may have opened the door with Caterpillar corporate.
“We are hungry and my back is against the wall,” Fuller said. “We just want to find a primary sponsor so we can race. One thing we can do to make that happen is to qualify number one and win races to keep ourselves out there.”
Fuller confirmed on Saturday a meeting this week at Caterpillar’s corporate offices in Illinois.
“We want companies to know we are available,” Fuller said. “We’ll make them a good team and I’ll make them a good race car driver. It’s just tough to do it. I know if we had a deal for the 2008 season that we’d be fine for the 2007 season.”
PREPPING FOR THE TRACK PREP – Rod Fuller’s crew chief Rob Flynn couldn’t help but think he had allowed a golden opportunity to pass.
“They prepped the track before the semifinals, but we didn’t hook up,” Flynn said. “We compensated for the track temperature, but it wasn’t enough. We’ve run into these scenarios before where they prep the track and we struggle getting down. We’ve got to overcome that. We’ll see these types of conditions more often.”
CHAMP VERSUS CHAMP – Technically Clay Millican is still the defending IHRA Top Fuel world champion. Tony Schumacher is his NHRA counterpart. Millican won the head-to-head battle.
“We were all over the place,” Millican said. “The car went down the track like a slinky.”
WHAT DID HE SAY? – After losing to Troxel in the semis, Larry Dixon worked his way into her interview.
“I look forward to the day when I can finally beat my teammate’s wife,” Dixon said, helmet still on head.
JUST HAD TO BE THERE - Ron Capps captured his third victory of the season, the 25th of his career, and the third at Gateway International Raceway.
With his win over Del Worsham under some of the toughest conditions he and crew chief Ed "Ace" McCulloch have endured, Capps extended his points lead over Robert Hight to 121 points. Hight was eliminated in the first round.
En route to his fourth final round of the season in his 255th career national event, Capps disposed of Gary Densham in the opening stanza with a steady 4.813-second pass at 321.27 mph, then Cruz Pedregon with a 4.990/287.53, and Ashley Force in the semifinals with a 4.862/310.48.
Capps and the Brut team survived two engine changes, a broken body, changing weather conditions, and even having to qualify in only two sessions because of rain and moisture. But they prevailed.
"I don't think people at home watching the TV show are going to realize how tough today was, this weekend really," said Capps in the winner's circle. "We had two qualifying runs; the fans didn't get to see us run Friday night, [because] it was dangerous (due to a high dew point and moisture on the track). That was a tough call to make for (NHRA Senior VP, Racing Operations) Graham Light, but he made the right call.
"And then Saturday, only two qualifying runs, and there were some big names that didn't even qualify, so that told you how tough it was. And then the sun comes out today like our natural St. Louis weather should be, and when it did I got happy. That's Ed McCulloch, my crew chief. There's a lot of crew chiefs on the grounds, but very few of those guys are real good racers and he's one of them. He was probably here in the old days at the old drag strip that went in the other direction, I'm sure. He's got a lot of knowledge. I'm a lucky guy.
"That car is just incredible to drive and it makes me look better probably than I am.
"It's tough on the drivers, but I wouldn't want to be a crew chief. Man, I can't imagine the pressure those guys are feeling. It was just a great day. Every round win was like you won a national event. It was huge.
"We had lane choice first round and we knew Gary Densham could run good and we got by that round. Second round was Cruz Pedregon. We knew he could step up, but we got by that round. We had lane choice for those two. Well, when we beat Cruz we got over by the centerline and kind of spun the tires real good and we lost lane choice in the semis against Ashley Force. And we were pretty sure that they were going to put us in the right lane, because we had kept the left lane when we had lane choice. Well, we get up there and last minute they switch lanes on us and put us back over in the left. Ace just looked at me and I didn't say anything on the radio because a lot of teams listen to other teams' radios, so I just looked at him, like, Oh, cool, they put us over in the left lane. And it went down through there and actually spun the tires at the other end, but it still ran .86, and that gave us lane choice in the final over Del. So we went back over to the left.
"I could hear Del's headers right out my side window for a long way down there, so I knew, Oh, boy, he's right there if anything happens. I got on the chutes and looked over at my guardrail and it had that little (win) light on. It had to have been close. Every single inch was hard to get."
Said Ed McCulloch: "This is an endurance race. It tried everybody's patience. It was difficult for everybody and we were fortunate enough to make it down there, and here we are. We'll take it, and be happy that we got it. We weren't the quickest guys all day, but we were quick when we needed to be."
The Brut Revolution Dodge team also earned the Full Throttle award for consistency in qualifying.
THE SECRET OF HIS SUCCESS – It’s no secret that Mike Ashley has been on a tear with three consecutive pole positions. Neither is it a secret what is making it happen.
“We made a significant change on the chassis of this car,” Ashley said. “It has made it much easier to drive. We’ve made a significant discovery inside the car between the chassis and the clutch that has helped us to develop a measure of consistency.
“We are able to apply the power better. We can do it when it is hot or cold. We found this in testing. Having a consistent car means round wins.”
DANCING THE POLE – Mike Ashley says that the best offense is a strong defense.
“I think psychologically everyone handles racing differently,” Ashley said. “I’ve won a couple of Pro Modified championships and never went after anyone. I never think about the guy in the other lane. I only think about me. I have to race the race track in front of me and I can only do what I can do.”
Ashley’s been tempted to jump into the head games a time or two.
“We come out there and give the race track what it can take,” Ashley said. “We’ve gotten bit by the bug that entices us to back it down to make it down the track and then we end up shaking the tires. Basically we go out and give the track what we think it will take and don’t worry about what position we are qualified in or who we are racing against.”
Unfortunately, his day ended in the semi-finals opposite former teammate Del Worsham.
0 – 7 – Last season, Mike Ashley sat out the St. Louis event preparing for his transition from Worsham Racing to Don Schumacher Racing. It was ironic that he’s never beaten Worsham since joining the Funny car ranks.
1 – 7 – John Force was winless in 2007 until St. Louis. Force beat Jeff Arend in the opening round to advance to the second round for the first time in 2007. That milestone was short-lived until Arend’s teammate Worsham took him out.
”A win is a win,” admitted Force.
BLAME IT ON THE CLUTCH – Ashley Force’s impressive semifinal run in St. Louis came to an abrupt end with a sideways Funny Car.
“Guido (crew chief Dean Antonelli) said when we first got back after the run that he thinks something happened with the clutch,” Ashley said. “He thinks there was a malfunction. He thought it would run a five flat (so) for it to go right up in smoke like that there must have been something wrong.”
The only other woman to race in the semifinals of an NHRA national event was Della Woods, who lost to Kenny Bernstein in the semis of the 1985 Keystone Nationals at Reading, Pa. With her second semifinal appearance Ashley became the winningest female in the history of the class, but she said she is not focusing on gender records.
“(Being the lone female in Funny Car) really isn’t anything you can think about. There haven’t been that many girls in Funny Car, so every little thing we do there will always be something new. You can’t let that get into your head. It is not going to help you win rounds. It is not going to help our performance. It is better to just focus on what we are doing,” said Force.
SCELZI’S SUCCESS – Gateway had always shown favor to Gary Scelzi, until 2007.
'It's a one-lane race track," said Scelzi, the winningest NHRA pro driver at Gateway (three in Top Fuel, one in Funny Car). "Not having lane choice was critical. But the Mopar/Oakley Dodge made it to the transition before it started spinning the tires and Mike Ashley started driving away and I clicked it off. No sense in tearing up a bunch of equipment for getting your ass handed to you.
"But we did good. We got through the trouble zone. We didn't smoke the tires early. When you come to a one-lane race track you have to have lane choice and Mike Ashley's been running really well lately. So, we'll go to Bristol and hope it's not a one-lane race track.
"I know they just did new concrete there, took some of the bumps out, so maybe we'll have something to shoot at. I know we can run with them."
Scelzi is now tied for fourth place in the Funny Car rankings with Mike Ashley, who was eliminated in the semifinal round. Both have 385 points, 19 markers out of third (Tony Pedregon).
A PAYING GIG – Hey, Jerry Toliver did make the show. Too bad he got beat by a girl – John Force’s girl.
When the green light went on and Toliver dropped the hammer, the car moved away slowly. The throttle linkage broke and he had to coast to the finish line in 16.433 seconds at 66.71 mph while watching Ashley Force win in 4.860 seconds at 305.84.
“Every time we make a lap we get more information and we need laps,” Toliver said, “and we didn’t want to lose that one. We really wanted to get that lap, win or lose, to see how it would react with the tune-up we put into it from Saturday night’s qualifying. We are continuing to improve.
“We have a good hot-weather tune-up we are creeping up on and it’s going to get better. We tuned that car up to run 4.85 and if we’d been able to run that we would’ve won that round. But it didn’t, and we didn’t.
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON – Dave Connolly followed his father Ray Connolly’s lead in winning. Son won Pro Stock while Dad won Super Gas.
This weekend’s triumph marked Connolly’s first final in St. Louis and his 21st victory in five years.
"The real win for Victor Cagnazzi, Slammers and Torco was in the semis when Jeggie beat Greg (Anderson)" Connolly said. "That was a big feat. Then I had to come up behind him, and the pressure was on for me to beat a good friend and another Torco racer in Justin Humphreys. To get both cars in the final is a real tribute to everything that Victor's put together, all the way from the marketing people, to the chassis shop, to the engine shop; to the on-track performance is just excellent.
"Jeg and I are tough competitors and he's tough. He's one of my heroes. He 'treed' me in the final, but we just had the better car this weekend. Both Chevy Cobalts are running excellent, and we're looking forward to racing the rest of the season like this.
"We were friends before we were ever teammates, and that hasn't changed since. We learn a lot off of each other. We both kind of struggled and got beat on holeshots last weekend, so it was good for us to come out here and step up like we did. We learn off of other and we drive off of each other. That's what a team's all about and we've got a good thing going. But we kind of thought that when we got together at the beginning of the season anyway. Victor, Evan Knoll and everybody has a lot to look forward to."
WIN-WIN SITUATION – Nothing warms the heart like a race you can’t lose. Team Cagnazzi worked their way into a situation like that when Connolly and Coughlin made it to the finals.
"We couldn't screw this one up no matter what happened," Coughlin said. "What a great day for this race team and I'm so excited for Victor and Brita Cagnazzi. They've come a long way to get this first win and the fact we were able to start the party early with both Dave and I making it to the final was a bonus. What a perfect day for the team.
"This shows you what hard work and perseverance can produce. We've had top-four cars all year and we're definitely letting those guys at KB Racing know we're here to stay. My hat is off to the guys at the shop and the ones that come on the road for giving Dave and I these two exceptional hot rods to drive."
WOULD’VE, SHOULD’VE, COULD’VE – Allen Johnson reached the quarters today but he felt he could’ve advanced further.
"We made the best run over there," Johnson said of the right lane. "I think we would have beaten anybody else the whole round; he just made an awesome run. He had to have every bit of it.
"We can't take anything away from ourselves. Shoot, I think the next quickest car in the right lane was a 6.70. We were a 6.67, and Connolly went a .65. So, he did what he needed to do to beat us."
As for the continuing improvement in Team Mopar's performance: "I think we're onto something," he said. "We got some stuff on this car that we tested last week that's different from Richie's and it will definitely help his too. We just didn't have time to instigate it on his for this race. But, yeah, I think we've got a good race car now on hot, grimy tracks."
CHAMPION KILLER – Justin Humphreys had only qualified once prior to this weekend. Today he looked like a seasoned pro.
The rookie Pro Stock driver gave his category rivals a glimpse Sunday of what is to come from the Knoll-Gas Energy Pontiac GTO Pro Stock team when he reached the semifinals of the Midwest Nationals at Gateway International Raceway.
He not only picked up the first round win of his seven-race NHRA career, but did it against No. 2 qualifier Jason Line. And then the driver from Monrovia, Md., added another win before eventual race winner Dave Connolly sidelined him.
Humphreys got the starting-line jump against Line – .045-second to .107 – and never looked back. His slower 6.711-second elapsed time at 206.35 mph was enough to edge Line’s charging 6.663 at 207.85 by 14-thousandths of a second. He made it two straight by eliminating Warren Johnson in the quarterfinals – 6.719 at 206.23 to a shutting off 13.295 at 72.73.
The performance came in his third event with engine-builder/driver coach Richard Maskin.
“We’re excited,” said Humphreys. “We’ve only been with Maskin three races and that’s not a long time for a team to come together. We knew in the round against Connolly that we had to get after it because he was flying all day.”
Humphreys did all he could to upset Connolly and reach the title round, starting with a .003 reaction to a .039. But “the car shook the tires hard when I put it in second,” Humphreys recalled. He slowed to an 11.689 to the winner’s 6.682.
“We were happy with where we finished,” said Humphreys. “Getting to the semifinals here definitely got everybody’s attention. Hopefully we can move forward and keep getting better.”
SLEEPING BEAUTY – Kurt Johnson kept having that sleepy feeling during the day. He just couldn’t get off of the line quick enough.
“After having two .060 lights in qualifying, I came back with a .037 in the first round today, so I felt I was in good shape,” Johnson said.
“In the second round, I let the clutch out and thought it was a .020, .030 or .040 at the worst, any of which would have won the round. I couldn’t believe it when they told me at the finish line that I lost on a holeshot. It’s just one of those things. I’d been driving well lately, but I’m certainly not happy with that .60 light. Maybe I was just trying too hard.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE
HIS DAY - Matt Smith earned the maximum 138 points for winning the event, qualifying No.1 and setting the national record with his winning pass of 6.901 at 191.78 on his Torco Race Fuels Buell. Smith defeated Angelle Sampey, who turned in a 7.132 at 162.67 on her U.S. Army Suzuki.
Smith now sits atop the POWERade Series point standings, with a 53-point lead over Karen Stoffer. It was his first win of 2007, the third of his career and his first in St. Louis.
As impressive as those stats are, the one that pleased him the most was in winning the battle of the sexes.
Smith lost in the finals at Atlanta and Gainesville, both times to Stouffer.
"I finally beat the girls and it feels so good," Smith said. "I beat two of them today. It was in my head a little, I have to admit. Credit this team with giving me a bike that has been running so sweet all year. We've worked very hard for this win so to go out and get it done is very satisfying."
Smith's third career win and the 20-point bonus he earned for setting a national record vaulted him to a 53-point lead over Karen Stoffer. Sampey is five points back in third.
THE REPLACEMENT – Shawn Gann’s misfortune provided an excellent opportunity for aspiring Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Angie McBride. Gann was injured in a non-racing pit bike accident where he suffered a cracked skull and three blood clots on his spine.
The doctor’s prognosis will enable him to return following Sonoma. Until then, McBride is on the job.
Team owner Blake Gann contacted McBride the Tuesday before St. Louis inquiring if she’d be interested in filling in.
“I told him absolutely,” McBride said. “But, I did point out that I needed to test since I hadn’t been on a Pro Stock Motorcycle in nearly two years. He reassured me that he had faith in me and that all I needed were laps.”
McBride got some testing under her belt in the meantime. She failed to make the cut, but returns determined to make the field in Chicago.
“Obviously we didn’t qualify in St. Louis, but we did make two out three good laps here this weekend,” McBride said. “We spun the tire on the first and did well after that. We plan on testing more in the upcoming weeks.”
McBride had originally intended to ride a bike for George Bryce following the departure of Angelle Sampey but that didn’t work out. She did ride another Pro Stock Motorcycle with Gann horsepower on another occasion. This provides her best opportunity to showcase her talent.
“This is an opportunity for me to come out her and ride for exposure,” McBride said. “I was nervous with my first pass but I have been keeping in practice riding.”
McBride has been riding a low seven-second, no wheelie-bar bike during her time off.
WHEN IT RAINS IT POURS – Hector Arana had been winless since 1998 and today reached the semis.
THAT’S CLOSE – Though the Pro Stock Motorcycles don’t qualify for the Motel 6 Who Got The Light award, Angelle Sampey should have won with her .001 margin of victory over Chip Ellis. Both had .008 lights and Sampey’s 7.017 elapsed time was .001 quicker than Ellis.
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OH YEAH! – For the second straight week, “Hot Rod” Fuller nabbed the pole position. This time behind the wheel of the Fabick CAT dragster, Fuller blistered the Gateway International Raceway quarter-mile in 4.596 seconds to claim the No. 1 qualifying position. Last weekend, he led the Top Fuel field at the Atlanta NHRA race.
“It’s great for Fabick CAT, Caterpillar, Linn State (Technical College), Matco (Tools), Valvoline, and all the great sponsors that support us,” Fuller said. “We’re just continuing like we have been all season long, qualifying in the top three. Not having a full-time primary sponsor, it’s great to be No. 1 again. That keeps us going in the right direction to get the primary sponsor that we need. This is a really tough track to get down, so to qualify No. 1 is awesome.”
MAYBE A “CAT” FISH? – For the last two events, Fuller’s dragster has been referred to as the “great white shark” because of its plain white paint. This weekend the car is adorned in CAT tractor black.
“It’s no great white shark this weekend,” Fuller said. “It’s a big black shark.”
CONFIDENCE – Consecutive DNQs cannot break Morgan Lucas’ confidence.
“Last weekend was just a growing pain for us,” Lucas said. “We run a different combination than Rahn [Tobler] is used to running. We are just taking some time for him to get used to it and get acclimated with how it works.
“Lance and Rahn are working well together. They are having fun. I think when everything begins working as it should – it will be a perfect fit. I just think that over time we will get the data we need. That’s all we need.
Atlanta created a few problems and a shortened qualifying program in St. Louis created tougher-than-usual outings for the Lucas Oil team.
“We just got behind the eight-ball in Atlanta and couldn’t seem to get around it. It was one of those races where if you didn’t go down. People think I get bummed about it … but I’m not. I have so much confidence in Rahn and Lance and the future is where my thoughts are.
“Sometimes you have to take a step back to take two forward,” Lucas said. “The key to success is by being patient. We were patient last year and we are being patient right now. I think it is going to pay off.”
Lucas admits this optimism comes from the fact his team reached the semifinals in Vegas. Despite missing the field this weekend, he still feels very much in the championship chase with the new playoff format.
“It can play into my favor,” Lucas said. “You can be like Tony Schumacher and win every race, but then lose out early in the Countdown and not make it down to the end. Your championship season could be over by the time you get to Vegas.”
FUNNY CAR ASPIRATIONS – J.R. Todd may be openly discussing his aspirations of one day driving a flopper, but Lucas is still keeping an open mind about it. He’s pointed out on more than one occasion that he’d like to give it a whirl.
“If I get a spare chance to drive one, believe me, I’m going to do it,” Lucas said. “I love Funny Cars. They are cool looking. They’re fast just like dragsters except maybe more of a handful to drive. It seems like the more dangerous things are – the more fun they are for me.”
Lucas would also like to go skydiving. Better try Funny Cars first.
“Maybe I am just trying to push my luck,” Lucas said. “I can’t wait to get behind the wheel of one of those things. Maybe I can make a career out of it one day like John Force.”
The loss of friend Eric Medlen reminds Lucas of the inherent dangers.
“It does and doesn’t spook me,” Lucas said. “That was the first time something like that has happened in a while. With what’s happened with tires in the past … which isn’t Goodyear’s fault … I just think we are starting to make too much power.
“If I let something like that bother me, it would affect me in the dragster, too. They both make the same amount of power and they are as violent as they can be in a situation like that. I don’t think Eric would want that. I don’t think anyone at John Force Racing would want that either. I think the biggest thing is making them safer and working in that direction.
“I hate that it had to come to his. John Force is going to lead the way in Funny car safety. I made it clear to Eric that I wanted to drive one.”
LUCKY 13 – That’s how many cars traveled the Gateway International Raceway quarter-mile that couldn’t overtake Luigi Novelli’s opening 4.646 elapsed time.
Bob Vandergriff eventually sealed the deal with a 4.610 effort.
“Our butts were so puckered sitting back there waiting and knowing we only had two runs,” Vandergriff said. “You couldn’t have even driven a nail in there. Luigi’s run is going to spoil someone’s day.”
A SMALL DILEMMA – The hits just keep coming for Tony Schumacher in 2007. The defending world champion qualified eighth today.
“We did the burnout and the throttle stop was too small,” Schumacher said. “There was no engine rpm, so we backed up and did our normal thing. But when that happens you have to get that clutch right away. I was a little nervous with only one run left to get in the show.
“I was ready to pedal it and do what I had to do. When you are down to two runs, you have to get down there on the first.”
REVERSE PSYCHOLOGY – If you want to break a string of bad luck, then paint your car and sign a new sponsor. Larry Dixon admits that might be the best medicine to break a Gateway jinx.
“We’ve had our trouble here in St. Louis,” Dixon said. “Our car isn’t painted blue anymore; maybe that bad mojo went away when we painted the car orange.”
The last two seasons have produced first round losses and less than spectacular qualifying efforts. Dixon squeaked into the 10th spot.
Dixon faces two-time 2007 winner J.R. Todd in the first round.
BAZEMORE DERAILED – Just three races after pacing his first career Top Fuel race, Whit Bazemore failed to make the 4.782-second cut. In 343 career NHRA races, it is just the 23 time that Bazemore won’t compete on race day.
“Obviously, we’re disappointed,” Bazemore said. “We’re better than this. We just got behind the eight ball and it was tough out there. Hardships like these make you come back stronger and better, and that’s what has to happen. That’s what will happen. This Matco Tools team will come back with a strong effort at Bristol (Tenn.) in two weeks.”
JUST LIKE NEIGHBORS – Clay Millican lives outside of Memphis, Tenn., and used his geographical prowess to explain his proximity to St. Louis.
“This is like my hometown – just north,” Millican said. “We’re just right up the river.”
THE ASHLEY TRIFECTA – One had to feel sorry for Mike Ashley. He gained his first career pole position in Las Vegas and John Force stole the headlines when his 395-race qualifying streak was broken.
He repeated the feat in Atlanta last week and John racing daughter Ashley Force in Sunday’s first round nabbed top billing in the media.
The three Force cars were qualified 1-2-3 when Ashley pulled to the line for his final qualifying attempt in St. Louis and from there he wrote his own headline with a 4.799 elapsed time with a track record 331.77 blast.
It has been more than two years since another Funny Car driver qualified on top for three consecutive events. You guessed it – John Force did it in 2004.
Ashley powered past the pack in the heat of the day with a blistering 4.799/331.77 run. His speed once again set a track record, eclipsing the mark of 330.23 mph set by Gary Scelzi in June 2004. Ashley's speed also surpassed every Top Fuel Dragster, making his Torco Race Fuels Dodge Charger literally the fastest car on the grounds.
"Steve Boggs, Brian Corradi, Mark Oswald and the rest of the guys have given me a real hot rod, that's for sure," an ecstatic Ashley said. "Running number one again just solidifies the fact that we have an awesome team and we can get things put together and run at the top.
"I learned from my Pro Mod days that you win championships by being consistent, and this car is definitely that. Every lap counts, every round counts, every point counts, and we're all working together to reach the goal of reaching the Countdown to Eight in Indy, and then working forward from there," he said.
"Also, qualifying number one is special because today is my sponsor, Evan Knoll's, birthday, and this is a special gift I can give to him," Ashley said.
Ashley will once again match up against Tim Wilkerson in the first round of eliminations tomorrow morning. According to Ashley, however, he focuses on racing his own race, not his opponent.
"Every time I go to the line, I focus on my own routine, my own race. It's not really about who's in the other lane, it's about being consistent with what I do, so the car can do what they guys have set it up to do. So far, it's worked," he said.
ASSUME THE POSITION - Funny Car points leader Ron Capps qualified No. 7 in his 55th straight national event today, the category's longest qualifying streak. He posted a 4.873-second elapsed time at 314.02 mph in the first of only two qualifying sessions.
Both Funny Car qualifying sessions on Friday were rained out, and the driver of the Brut Revolution Dodge Charger R/T, along with his competitors, had to endure both sessions today in hot and humid conditions with another threat of rain. Capps' final attempt produced another consistent 4.878/312.13.
"It's hard enough and stressful with four runs, let alone being down to two runs, with the chance of weather impending," said Capps, who is 45 points ahead of Robert Hight entering this event. "So, in the first run everybody was really nervous, and I don't mean our team, I mean every team, and of course the threat of rain this afternoon made it really nerve-wracking.
"We wanted to get down the track, which we did, with the .87 earlier today. Ace (crew chief Ed McCulloch) made a call where he decided at the last minute to kind of back it down. We watched a couple of team cars go down there and saw the changes they made, so he felt like he needed to back it down. In hindsight the car would've made it and probably would've run a lot better, but that's part of it.
"We stayed in the top half of the field. When you look at it, it's actually our worst qualifying of the year, which is OK by me, because that was the goal we set for ourselves, and we got lane choice. And that's all that matters Sunday morning. We don't know what the weather is going to bring.
"I tell you, every weekend we talk about how brutal and how nerve-wracking it is, it's just incredible. There are a lot of big teams that didn't get in the show in Top Fuel and Funny Car. Right now, we're lucky we accomplished our two goals of qualifying and having lane choice."
Capps faces Gary Densham in first round of eliminations on Sunday.
BE SPECTACULAR – Del Worsham had some anxious moments during the final session when the left-side header pipes collapsed before the finish line, filling the inside of his car with sparks and smoke.
"I didn't know what was going on at first, I was just seeing a lot of sparks and junk flying around," Worsham said. "It wasn't exactly hauling hard anyway, and we probably wouldn't have improved enough to get into the top half, so it is what it is. It wasn't that easy out there, to go from end to end, so I'm happy the car was cooperating and I'm happy we're in the show.
"You know, when it's a shorter qualifying deal like this, with just the two runs to sort everyone out, you can't help but worry about fluke problems, broken blower belts, oil leaks, or anything else that can spoil a run. If you wanted to be in this race, you had to deliver with at least one out of two runs today, and we did. Tomorrow might be a totally new deal, so we'll just come out here and aim to get past a very tough team in round one."
LOOKING AHEAD – Gary Scelzi can’t help but looking ahead to tomorrow. After all, Scelzi has been at his best when the weather is hot and nasty. Tomorrow is supposed to be much warmer than today.
"Tomorrow is going to be hotter, it's going to be tricky, and going down the race track is going to be key. So, we're not going to worry about being the fastest. We're just going to worry about being consistent and going down it. If we can do that, who knows? This place has been pretty good for me in the past; maybe it will be kind to me tomorrow."
OH YEAH, IT’S AN HONAH – if anyone knows how to get a Funny car down a tough track, it’s Jim Dunn. If anyone knows how to give props, it’s his driver Tony Bartone.
“To qualify in the Funny Car or Top Fuel field at an NHRA event is almost like an honor,” said a satisfied Bartone. “It’s a very difficult undertaking and fortunately, we made a couple of good solid laps today. With only two qualifying sessions as compared to the usual four when weather permits. We’re just happy to get our Lucas Oil car into the show.
“You know, Jim Dunn has been around the block a couple of hundred thousand times in his 50 years of participation in the sport of professional drag racing, plus if anybody can get a car to go down a hot, slick racetrack it’s him.”
ONE IN A ROW - Jerry Toliver ended the day with a 4.966-second elapsed time at 300.80 mph that placed him 14th in the 16-car field and brought high-fives from the crew. It’s his first start since his return from a two-year hiatus. “We are very pleased to get in; very excited to get into our first race,” said Toliver.
“The ROCKSTAR guys have been very patient and I want to give them something back, so maybe Sunday we can go some rounds.” Toliver races Ashley Force (No. 3, 4.853 at 309.70) in the first round.
“The issue for us this year has always been laps,” added Toliver. “The other drivers have at least 50 laps more (experience) than we do this year and they are way ahead of us. We joined the circuit in Las Vegas (April 13, two races ago). We have a great team. We have a great sponsor.
“Our program just took us some time to get us to this point where we can run. We didn’t get stellar numbers in qualifying but we got good race-day numbers. We got down a hot race track, which is important, and we need to work on our Friday night qualifying performance. That’s something we haven’t had the chance to look at yet, but that’ll come.”
“It’s a tough field out there,” Toliver continued. “My God, Funny Car is tough. But we have way too much talent here to not be contenders.”
BAD DAY IN THE OFFICE – Jack Beckman, just like the driver he replaced, Whit Bazemore, had a bad day in the office.
"It's not just that you lost two qualifying runs, you lost two qualifying runs because the track was wet," said Beckman. "And when the track's wet, it changes the composition of the rubber, it delaminates it from the track, and it makes it a much trickier track than if you had dry weather all weekend.
"So, run one we went up there with a low-4.80 tune-up. I let the car move over to the right. It started lighting the tires down track, so I stepped off of it. We were still 14th after the first session and we thought we had some pretty good numbers to use for the second session.
"Arguably, you could say in the second session we weren't in the preferred lane and we had to run first, not because we were the last qualified, but because we were the slowest of the cars that needed to go in the left lane. NHRA has a formula and we abide by it. It makes perfect sense. It just put us first up, so we didn't have the opportunity to watch another Funny Car in front of us.
"All that being said, everything was perfect. We looked at the computer graphs, the engine rpm was perfect, and we broke a clutch lever arm. There are 18 of them, and we broke one about 40 ft. into the run. And what that does is it tries to make the car run a 4.72 on a track that might hold a 4.80 to a 4.85. So, at 50 ft. into the run it was trying to get the thing to go a lot quicker. The rear tires started shaking, so I had to pedal it. And my approach on qualifying session No. 2 would not be to pedal the car. But that was our last shot to get in. We actually improved by two and a half tenths (of a second), but we had four really good cars behind us who could still have bumped in. As it was, three of them got around us in that session.
"As for the clutch arms, I want to emphasize that it's not a case of it being a worn part. Clutch arms do a specific job. They pivot on the pressure plate and they apply pressure to the disc. They're checked every run, they're calibrated every run. There's no warning when one's going to break, and it just broke. This will probably not happen again this season for us. It was a fluke deal that cropped up at the worst possible time. Had it stayed there we would have run a 4.83 and it would have been a top-half car. But that's the part of nitro racing that you have to get used to.
"It's so frustrating because these MTS guys (led by crew chiefs Todd Okuhara and Phil Shuler) are a championship-contending crew and so is the MTS Dodge. And I know when you look at the points, I know when you look at the performance right now, it doesn't show that. But, there are not a whole lot of woes that won't disappear when we win the next Wally. I know I keep saying 'we'll win the next race,' but the reason I keep saying that is because this team and this car could win every race they go to."
ANDERSON BY THE NUMBERS – The fourth time that Greg Anderson recorded a track record this season also represented his 100th consecutive qualifying effort. He’s also notched 55 pole positions as well.
Remember the last time he had a DNQ? October of 2002 at Las Vegas was.
Only two drivers – Angelle Sampey, who has no DNQs in all 154 races she has attempted to qualify, and Antron Brown, who last missed a field at Gainesville in 1998 and now has qualified at 133 consecutive races – have a longer string than Anderson.
“It’s nice to keep that string of qualifying going. I think somebody said we were up to 100 qualifying times in a row right now,” said Anderson. “It’s not 392 or whatever John Force had, but it’s a pretty good amount as far as I’m concerned and still counting.”
Regarding qualifying, Anderson had the following thoughts: “It was short and quick. It was one shot, two shots to get into the show and that’s always nerve racking. I don’t really ever want to come into a race only having that but if it goes that way I think that we’ve got a team that as well prepared to do that and come out on top as anybody to do it. It’s tough when this stuff happens.
“We came out in the first session this morning really conservative and made a really nice run. We thought that the track was really better than we originally thought and we could get after it some now. We can run quicker than that this afternoon now we’re in the show. We tried that this afternoon and it didn’t want to hear about it. So I was wrong on that.
“At least we know now. We know what the track will take and we’ll tune accordingly for tomorrow’s eliminations, closer to what we had in the first session. Hopefully, we can get back down deep in the 6.60s. It should be interesting tomorrow. Anytime you qualify in this class you can definitely win. We’ll look forward to tomorrow and hopefully we’ll have weather conditions similar to what we have (today) so that we’ve got a tune up (that will go) from today to tomorrow and we’ll go see if we can win another race.”
Overall, Anderson has qualified for 158 races in a career that began in 1998. He has won three POWERade Pro Stock championships (2003-2005) and was No. 2 to his teammate, point leader Jason Line, last season. In his record-setting 2004 season he was named the Speed Channel Driver of the Year for all forms of motorsports winning 76 rounds of eliminations while advancing to 19 of 23 final rounds. That 2004 season, he won the Pro Stock championship by 742 points, the most points of any professional category in NHRA history.
FAST BREAK – Tom Hammonds was not so naïve to believe that his Friday night 6.74 would remain the best lap of the weekend. But at least for 12 hours his rain-shortened effort placed him atop the qualifying list.
“It was scary last night and the NHRA absolutely did the right thing by pulling the plug,” Hammonds said. “Somebody could have really gotten hurt. I really felt it when I pulled high gear. The car started moving around quite a bit.
“I thank God, he moved us safely down the track. We made a pretty decent run and we had to do what we had to do to get it down the track. Our combination was pretty soft. I didn’t think the track had too much to give us last night.”
The one person most proud of Hammonds effort was his crew chief Jerry Eckman. Eckman, a past national event champion, left Kenny Koretsky’s NitroFish operation to join Hammonds as crew chief.
“I was the most proud that we were able to negotiate that rough track when others couldn’t,” Eckman said. “It’s a great morale builder for all of us. We may not end up there at the end of the day, but we were there this morning.”
“We were never foolish enough to believe that run was going to stand throughout qualifying,” Eckman said. “Just making it down the track was tough and it provided us with insight for what we needed today.”
Hammonds pointed out this effort is just a preview of better times ahead for the nine-race old team. Vegas provided the only DNQ effort.
“When you look at how far we’ve come in such a short time, you get the picture of which way we’re headed,” Hammonds said.
The upward trend is most impressive when you consider just eight months ago the team didn’t have a single part or engine. I am so proud of my team. We don’t have an engine dyno yet, so we haven’t had a chance to really do any research and development. To come out here and just qualify is a feat in itself let alone doing your own engine program.”
Hammonds expects to have a dyno in place soon. That will be another key element to enable Eckman and the crew to shine.
“I am just so proud of this team,” Hammonds said. “To have Jerry Eckman here on our team is a blessing. I look back on our team and everyone is here because God wanted them here.
“It’s be design that Jerry is with us. We needed him and he needed us. We are just glad to have him. He has a wealth of knowledge. We give him all the confidence in the world to go out there and do his job the best he can do. He has the green-light to make any call he needs to.”
Hammonds concluded qualifying as the tenth quickest with a 6.731.
BLUE OVAL BOMBER – You just have to admire Jim Cunningham’s spirit. The man loves Fords and puts his money where his mouth is.
Cunningham’s Shelby Cobra has provided the only measure of pride for Ford Pro Stock fans this season. Jerry Haas is driving Cunningham’s award-winning ride. The car was voted Best Engineered during the St. Louis event.
“I’ve always been a Ford man,” Cunningham said. “I’ve just figured that if I can get this Mustang to run fast, we have a good shot of getting it in the field. Maybe Bristol might be our best shot.”
“You have to be different,” Cunningham said. “I just like the Ford stuff. Making this car competitive is a big challenge. If we can make it work, we will have accomplished what we set out to do. We’ll get there sooner or later. Sometimes you have to crawl before you can walk.”
It’s been often rumored that Cunningham was planning to join forces with past blue oval stalwart Bob Glidden.
“I talk to Bob all the time,” Cunningham said. “We are good friends. I don’t think he really knows what he wants to do. He’s a good guy and a workaholic. Someday it might happen. You never know.
“He needs to be out there whether it is with me or someone else. I have tried to get him to come out here, so I can learn some of his knowledge. He’s a smart man.”
Cunningham’s efforts are attracting a lot of fans but probably the most noteworthy is Funny Car racer Robert Hight, who calls the ride “extremely cool.”
The Mustang is so cool that Hight even conned his way into sitting behind the wheel.
KNOW WHEN TO YANK IT – Kenny Koretsky danced around most of the Gateway quarter-mile, but had it under control en route to a 6.738, 205.26. It didn’t take him long to see the difference 12 hours can make.
“We left a lot on the table,” Koretsky said. “I just yanked it back in, and you can do that when the weather is like this. We couldn’t do anything like this last night. This is pretty exciting. We have a fast race car; we just need some more laps.”
Kurt Johnson also experienced an adventure.
“I had to short-shift a little into second gear,” Johnson said. “It wanted to pull left but it seemed locked into the groove. The texture of the track is a little bit course and we had to make some changes. “
THAT’S NUMBER TWO - Justin Humphreys will start his second career time on Sunday.
"I'm happy we won't be loading up (the car) tonight and heading out of town," said Humphreys. "The good news is we are playing on Sunday. We are a new team and everything is definitely going in the right direction. This is a lot more fun."
Limited to three qualifying attempts when rain washed out Friday night's last session, engine builder Richard Maskin tuned up the Pontiac GTO on Saturday. Humphreys' opening run of 6.739 seconds at 205.59 mph assured him of making the starting lineup.
"We have the potential now to be sixth-to-eighth best," said Maskin. "That's where we are today; that's not where we're headed.
Humphreys, in his rookie year, will race Jason Line, who was No. 2, 6.680 at 207.05 mph.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE
THE PLAN – Now that he’s got qualifying out of the way, Matt Smith has a plan for Sunday.
“The strategy now is to win the race,” said Smith, who has two runner-up finishes this year, both to points leader Karen Stoffer. “We've proven we have a fast bike and we're No. 2 in the points. It's time to get a trophy. I always try to just shut out whose in the other lane and just execute the best pass I can and that's what I'll do tomorrow.”
Smith swapped motors for the first session, swapping to the motor that broke a crank in Atlanta. That is sometimes a tricky move.
He never found out on the first shot Saturday, Q2. The bike launched and never got out of first gear.
“Driver error,” Smith said. When pressed on specifics he said: “Do you know that little pin you put in the air-shifter button that you are supposed to take out before you run?”
He didn’t need to explain further.
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FRIDAY NOTEBOOK -
RAIN, RAIN – Persistent rain showers delayed the start of action until a little after 6 PM. A session of Pro Modified and Pro Stock went into the books before the rains halted action. The rain delayed the program for almost two hours before qualifying resumed.
DEW DONE DID IT IN – A few skating Pro Stockers during the first session was enough to convince Graham Light to end a frustrating day of fighting the elements. The dew-point had reached a point where competition was no longer safe.
“When you get in a situation where the temperature and the dew-point meet, you either have mist, fog or high humidity,” Light said. “It’s just what we had. We were watching the Pro Stocker’s come from under the bridge and you could see fog and moisture on the windshields and bodies. Obviously a lot of them were moving around. We walked the track and if you got out of the groove, it was slippery. It just wasn’t worth it.”
Light pointed out the runs that made it in will count while those waiting in line will lose the opportunity. “It’s pretty hard to take away something a driver has earned,” Light said. “The runs weren’t spectacular and shouldn’t have a bearing on the event.”
Tomorrow’s forecast calls for 80-degree temps with a 10% chance of rain.
NOT DONE – Despite what’s been reported, while the Carrier Brothers, Andy and Mark, have agreed in principle to sell their Top Fuel team to Scott Griffin, the purchase is not final.
“Contrary to reports, this is not a done deal,” Griffin told Torco’s Competitionplus.com this afternoon. “Those details are not going to be resolved this week. We have agreed to the initial terms. Out of respect for those involved, we aren’t going to rush with a formal announcement. We will be communicating heavily (with those involved in the purchase).”
Griffin purchased one-third of the Carrier Boys operation earlier this season after making the decision to park his own Top Fuel car, which was formerly driven by Andrew Cowin and had been slated for Scott Weis to drive in 2007. Due to a number of problems the team never made it out this season.
“I approached Mark and Andy earlier in the week as to whether there would be any interest on their behalf of selling the remaining shares,” Griffin said. “At this time we have reached terms on an agreement, although there are some details that still need to be determined.”
Griffin said there were more entities involved in the deal than just he and the Carrier brothers.
Current team co-owner Andy Carrier said he was surprised to read about the sale on the Internet before the transaction could be formally completed.
“No one contacted me or Mark to ask if we had sold the team,” Carrier said from his home in Bristol, TN. “Although this is the direction things are headed, it should come as no surprise to anyone. We have been in talks since last year about Scott purchasing the team.
“This wasn’t a knee-jerk reaction to anything,” Carrier continued. “It has been going on for months. Cory and I have been talking about this regarding keeping people in place for [Griffin] to take over. This has been headed that way for about six months. There has just been a spin put on the shock value here.”
Mark Carrier added that their reason for selling their ownership stake in the team is simply to devote more time to their families and growing business interests.
BUSINESS AS USUAL FOR CORY MAC - Driver Cory McClenathan admitted that he’s still learning the details of the still-pending Carrier Brothers team sale and he remains focused on winning races for the benefit of both the sponsors and team.
“I guess it’s all a reality,” McClenathan said. “I don’t know everything. I am just going off of what I’ve heard for the last few days. Mark and Andy, I guess, have decided to sell the team to Scott Griffin.”
McClenathan was aware of the previous 33% purchase of the team by Griffin. He assumed things were headed toward an outright buyout of the Carrier’s interests prior to the premature and somewhat inaccurate story that appeared elsewhere on the Internet.
“It’s sort of a surprise to everyone, myself and a lot of vendors,” McClenathan said. “The vendors had gotten letters saying that all bills were to be sent to Scott Griffin to get paid. This operation is going to keep headed in the same direction it has always been. If I am in charge that is what I expect to see. My job is to take care of the sponsors and the car, (to) make sure all of the guys have the tools they need to keep racing. As far as I am concerned, it’s day-to-day and I’m going to keep doing what I’m supposed to do.”
JUST WATCHING - On the eve of the O'Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals, over a soft drink and a plate of nachos in the lobby of their St. Louis hotel, Jim Brissette, Doug Herbert's longtime sidekick and team consultant, took an enjoyable jaunt down memory lane with an on-track rival from long ago.
John Muldowney is back on the scene.
Muldowney, fabricator extraordinaire who helped his famous mother Shirley win four Top Fuel championships (three in NHRA, one in AHRA), is attending this seventh stop on the Powerade Drag Racing Series tour as part of Herbert's Snap-On Top Fuel Dragster team.
"I'm going to enjoy the races. I'm going to do what Doug Herbert asks me to do," John Muldowney said.
"I don't want anybody's job. I'm not going to hover over the clutch guy. I'm going to hang back. I'm not going to get in there and say, 'We're going to do this' or 'We're going to do that.' That's not my style," he said. "I'm going to sit back in the shadows and take notes. I'm not going to give tuning information and opinions. I don't want them to think that."
Herbert extended the invitation with a win-win scenario in mind.
"I've been friends with Shirley for 100 years," Herbert said with his booming laugh.
"I don't really have a job or title for John. But he has great fabrication skills. John's biggest assets are racing with his mom and his fabrication skills.
"He's in St. Louis to take some notes and see if he sees a place where he can fit in. We're going to let him look and see what he sees and how he might be able to fit in with this team," Herbert said. – Susan Wade
HOTTER THAN BOB BARKER – Add Clay Millican’s name to the list on new reality show hosts. The multi-time Top Fuel champion from Drummonds, Tenn., recently recorded a new show for SPEED called “Blow It Up.”
The show is the brainchild of PINK’S Rich Christensen and features a battle between cars and Millican.
“Basically, I pick how many laps I want the car to make and if I can make it happen in that number without blowing up they win the show. It’s an exciting show expected to debut in July. I had a lot of fun doing it.”
Millican filmed the first five shows in two days at Cordova Raceway Park.
“We had a lot of good cars show up and I’m anxious to see how it all comes together,” Millican said. “This was an opportunity I just couldn’t turn down.”
Millican first met Christenson at the Performance Racing Industry trade show in Orlando last December. He complimented Christenson on his PINK’s show and that conversation led to a friendship.
“I wanted him to know I appreciated what he was doing with the Top Fuel episode featuring Bobby Lagana and Doug Foley. I really wanted to know how he was going to flag off two Top Fuel cars. That’s when he asked me if I had ever done television. I told him only when I hopped out of the car at the finish line.”
Millican is anxious to get “Blow it Up” into regular production.
“Write the folks at SPEED and call them to tell them you like it,” Millican said. “I had a lot of fun and wouldn’t mind seeing it a regular show.”
HE’S THE MAN – Gary Scelzi has won four world championships and largely due to his success at Gateway International Raceway. He is the track’s winningest professional drag racer.
Scelzi has won here four times, one more than any other NHRA pro driver. Scelzi has three Top Fuel triumphs here (2000, '99 and '98) and one Funny Car win (2004).
"I guess I'm the winningest NHRA pro driver at this track, and trust me this Mopar/Oakley Dodge team needs to win this weekend," said Scelzi, who has scored one victory this season in six national events and is fifth in the Funny Car rankings. "We're running in the daylight, so that's going to be a little different. The temperatures won't be near as hot as they normally are and we'll see if we can't get another win in Funny Car."
Scelzi holds both Funny Car elapsed-time and top-speed track records at Gateway (4.724 seconds, 330.23 mph), set in 2004 in an emotional victory following the death of Darrell Russell at the same event.
"Definitely the hardest win I've ever had was in St. Louis when I found out before the semis that Darrell Russell had passed away," said Scelzi, who's earned three career Top Fuel crowns and one Funny Car championship. "And then to have to go ahead and race the semis, win that, go to the final, and then win that, while trying to keep up your concentration level, was definitely a test to figure out what you're made of."
JUST NOT RACING CONDITIONS – Del Worsham has been around racing long enough that he recognizes an unsafe situation.
"It stinks that we were out here all day and ended up doing nothing, but they had to make this decision and I applaud it 100 percent," Worsham said. "Every side window and windshield was completely fogged up in the staging lanes, and you could clear them off with a towel only have them fog right back up again by the time you were done. The Pro Stock guys were having a real hard time just keeping the cars going straight, so this was the only call that was right. I feel badly for all these fans, who were out here all day putting up with the drizzle just like we were, because they didn't get to see much. You know we all love to race these cars, but none of us want to do it when it's unsafe, and these conditions were just not good enough to be racing in."
SLAM DUNK – Former NBA superstar Tom Hammonds was one of the few Pro Stockers to get a full pull in. His 6.742, 204.54 put him atop the qualifying list edging out Justin Humphreys’ 6.752 and Ron Krisher’s 6.768. Only 12 cars made qualifying runs.
HOT SHOE - Those who watch the Southern Nationals telecast noticed a line of fire trailing Greg Anderson’s Pontiac as it turned off following his runs during Sunday’s eliminations. Fear not, Anderson is not auditioning to be a flame-throwing Funny Car driver.
“I felt like John Force a couple of times when it happened,” Anderson said. “It was exciting and there’s no doubt about it. It can be exciting, but we aren’t sure what causes it.”
Andersons says it’s just unused fuel that spills on the headers after a run.
“It seems like the rougher tracks seem to cause it to happen more often,” Anderson said. “I don’t know if that is the sole cause of what. It was doing it on one car and not the other. It happens from time to time. It happens at some tracks and you go to others and it doesn’t happen. Don’t know what is causing it.”
Anderson was aware what was happening and says that while the fires at Commerce were noticeable, they have been going on for a while.
“You just have to start the car and it sucks the fuel back into the headers,” Anderson said. “It’s no big deal. Luckily it hasn’t burned anyone’s car to the ground. You start the car and it goes out.
“It’s probably exciting to watch on the outside, but no big deal on the inside.”
Has the NHRA ever said anything to Anderson about it?
“Yeah, start the car,” Anderson said. (Motel6/ESPN2 photo)
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE
THE ONLY ONE – Matt Smith paced the only NHRA POWERade category to get a full session in the books. The Torco-sponsored rider rode his Buell to a 6.970 to edge the 6.989 of Chip Ellis.
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Rain storms hit Thursday evening and continued into Friday. As of 12:45
PM, officials were drying the track in hopes of beginning professional
qualifying at 4 PM.
UPDATE: 3:28 pm, CST - No word on a start time, but the track is being dried. Realistically, one session will be completed today.
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NO MORE RADAR - Last season's outing in St. Louis marked the last time that J.R. Todd was able to fly under the radar.
Three weeks later everyone had a chance to see for themselves when the unheralded NHRA Top Fuel rookie Todd out-dueled reigning champion Tony Schumacher in the final round at Denver. And he repeated the feat two weeks later at Sonoma, Calif.“
Yes, it was at St. Louis last year when everything started to come together,” Todd recalled, “when we went to the semifinals at Gateway International Raceway.”The victory came in only his ninth professional race – the team did not attend four races earlier in the year. When the season concluded, Todd’s impressive credentials included three wins, one runner-up and eighth place in points. He was the runaway of the rookie of the year.
MOVING ON UP - Some memories are worth forgetting. Cory McClenathan is confident he is going to have a much better time than he did here a year ago.
“It’s hard to think about the race at St. Louis last year because we didn’t get to race there,” said McClenathan, who qualified the Carrier Boyz Racing Fram Top Fuel dragster seventh. “But we had a tire blow out later in qualifying and it put our car into the wall, destroying our second car of the season. That wasn’t too long after my crash at Bristol.
“This is a different time of year for us to be in St. Louis. I’m looking forward to it. It should be better for the drivers and cars and I think the fans will have more fun, too, because it won’t be so hot and humid.”
McClenathan is 10th in NHRA POWERade Series points with 241 and 54 out of seventh place.
“We definitely have a good car this year and it is showing a lot of promise right now,” he said. “What we need to do starting Friday is get qualified and then and worry about our race setup on Saturday.
“It’s time for us to win some rounds and climb into eighth place or higher. I think we can do that.”
MEMORIES OF A FRIEND - Doug Herbert had a good time in Atlanta and wouldn't mind continuing the fun in St. Louis.
Herbert made it to the semifinal round at Gateway Int’l Raceway two years ago. The track also brings back memories of the last time Herbert spoke to his friend and fellow Top Fuel racer, Darrell Russell, who lost his life as a result of a crash during eliminations in 2004.
“Darrell was the last person my son, James, and I talked to before we left the track in 2004,” said Herbert. “I remember it like it was yesterday, and with the recent passing of Eric Medlen, we’ve been reminded again what a dangerous business nitro racing can be. But if it were slow and boring, I wouldn’t love it like I do, and neither would anyone else. We would all be doing something else.”
UNCHARTED TERRITORY - Ron Capps hopes a change in scheduling for St. Louis provides a better outcome in 2007 than 2006 provided.
"Last year was not a good weekend for us," explained the driver of the Brut Revolution Dodge Charger R/T, also leading the points at the time, who qualified 15th then and was bumped out in the first round by his teammate Whit Bazemore. "This is going to be the first time in a long time St. Louis won't be in the same conditions we've had the last few years. It won't be a night race.
"You know how excited I get when a track gets tough and hot," said Capps, who has won twice so far this season and is 45 points ahead of Robert Hight in the rankings. "We usually do pretty well. It will still be warm and tricky, but it'll be interesting."
Temperatures in the 70s are expected this weekend in Madison, Ill., where Gateway is located, just across the river from St. Louis.
MEMORY LANE - Capps recalled his first of two victories at Gateway.
"I got to win the inaugural race there in 1997 against Cruz Pedregon, which is pretty special, so going back there is always a great feeling. It was when the event was on network TV. It was an ABC race and Gary Gerould was there working, and I was a big fan of his. It was huge to win one of those races when they had only three or four network races.
"Rusty Wallace, Kenny Wallace, Mike Wallace were all there, because they're from that area. Kenny Schrader was there and they all hung out afterwards. It was a lot of fun. It was also my first win with (former crew chief) Roland Leong.
"We're looking forward to going back. We also won there with the Brut car for the first time in '05. Gary Gerould was there for that win too. Ace (crew chief Ed McCulloch) was in the hospital for his first surgery, so we took the trophy back to him and that was pretty special. There are good memories for me at Gateway.
"Things are good right now. We're leading the points, we know it's going to be a whole new season in Indy (U.S. Nationals), so we just want to get into the Countdown to the Championship and still keep chugging along. It's going to be an exciting season."
MOMENTUM MAKES THE DIFFERENCE - Mike Ashley's April came and went like a lion, and now he's looking at May with the eye of the tiger. His "certifiably hot" nitro Funny Car posted the quickest and fastest marks at every event of April, ran the fastest lap in Funny Car history, set two track records, and earned two No. 1 qualifying spots. To top it off, he finished the month with a runner-up finish in Atlanta, just .285 seconds away from his ultimate goal: winning a Wally in NHRA competition.
Ashley is focused on making the next step: taking his Gotham City Racing team into the winner's circle.
"April is the most amazing month we've had since we started running Funny Car," Ashley said. "After driving as a part of other teams in 2006 and then taking on the role of owner/driver, it's pretty amazing to realize that we started the year as a brand new team.
"Look where we are now."
Ashley is currently in the No. 6 spot in POWERade points, 225 points out of first, and just 26 points out of fourth place.
REMEMBER LAST YEAR? - Ashley made a dramatic change in his career, choosing to end his association with Del Worsham prior to last year's event. He returned to his Pro Modified roots and drove one of Tim Tindle's Mustang's to victory.
BETTER LOOK OUT - Cruz Pedregon comes to St. Louis 10th in the hunt for the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series World Championship and ready to start a win streak. Flash back to 1992. In his march for the NHRA Championship, Pedregon went on a 5-race National Event winning streak. At the end of the season, it was Cruz Pedregon receiving the title of NHRA Funny Car Champion.
“I feel we are on the verge of a win streak,” said Pedregon. “We need consistent performance that I know we are capable of producing. Everyone on this Advance Auto Parts team knows what it takes to win and that’s exactly what we’re focused on winning.”
PICKING HIS BATTLES - Just a few races ago, Del Worsham was picking his battles in very conservative ways. After stumbling out of the gate in Pomona, he aimed to simply qualify in Phoenix, but failed to do so. He managed to make the show in Gainesville, but hadn't really turned the dial up to the "win rounds" setting, at that point. Heading into Houston, the goal was not just making the field, but picking up a round win on Sunday, and Worsham was able come through with a semi-final appearance. Now, as the NHRA POWERade tour heads to the Gateway City for this weekend's O'Reilly Midwest Nationals, Worsham has evened his record at 4-4, has moved up to ninth place on the points sheet, and is aiming higher. He's aiming to win.
It has been a significant turn-around for the popular Checker, Schuck's, Kragen driver, but the rapidity of his resurgence is deceptive, at the very least. Worsham and his crew have been working through problems with their tune-up for the better part of a year, and the answers didn't all occur to them within the last couple of weeks.
"It's been a very long road, and it's been so frustrating at times," Worsham said. "It was easy to get down, and it was easy to lose our confidence, but in the end my dad and I just kept working at it, and we utilized this two-car team exactly how we should, to help us turn it around. During Gainesville, and on the weekend after the Gatornationals, we made a conscious decision to use all of our resources to get our two cars running more the same. We plugged in some of the ideas we'd had, we asked everyone to open their eyes and see it their way, and it finally came around.
"It would be easy for people to think we just got lost for a year, and all of a sudden it all came back to us, but that's not how it's been. This has been a work in progress from start to finish, and we couldn't be where we are today without all of the trial and error we went through. Right now, though, it's coming together fast, so we want to keep improving and keep gaining on this thing. We hope we don't have to take any steps backward, before we keep going forward, but the competition is so tough out here, sometimes you don't have a choice."
BIG DIFFERENCE A MONTH MAKES - Worsham is no stranger to doing something big at Gateway International, having won this race back in 2003, when he took out Force in the final by running low E.T. of eliminations on the last lap down the track. That, of course, came in late June, when the entire St. Louis event was run at night in an attempt to avoid at least some of the midsummer St. Louis weather. This year, for the first time, the St. Louis race moves to the first week in May, and Worsham isn't sure what to expect.
"It's going to be different, that's for sure," he said. "We're so used to running here in the blast furnace, it's going to be exciting to see what this track can offer when the conditions are better, and there's no doubt it's going to be a lot more comfortable. We'll be back to a standard schedule, too, and that's very good. Our guys never could get used to the nighttime schedule, and when we did win the race, it was so late all the restaurants were closed. We couldn't even celebrate. Maybe this year, if we keep getting better, we can head to The Hill in south St. Louis for some great Italian food and a bottle of champagne. That would be a great way to celebrate, in my book."
GOOD TRACK RECORD - Kenny Bernstein has a stellar performance record at Gateway International Raceway, making four final round appearances in seven NHRA national events, all behind the wheel of the Budweiser/Lucas Oil Top Fuel dragster. Bernstein won the O’Reilly Midwest Nationals in 2002, the year he celebrated his “Forever Red” retirement tour.
This season, Bernstein has come out of retirement, piloting the Monster Energy/Lucas Oil Funny Car.
“There was a part of me that was never comfortable outside the cockpit standing on the starting line as a spectator,” said Bernstein. “On the other hand, I was no longer actively soliciting sponsorship, but suddenly the Monster Energy opportunity arose and I was fortunate enough to secure a multi-year association. Monster Energy drinks are distributed by Anheuser-Busch, so the deal continued to keep us in the A-B family. It was the perfect scenario."
THE LOCALS - There's nothing like a hometown edge.
Hailing from nearby Springfield, Ill., Tim Wilkerson is the local favorite. Having extra family and friends around for support always makes Wilkerson feel good. With sponsor, Levi, Ray & Shoup, Inc. (LRS) being headquartered in Springfield also, the support for Wilkerson at this weekend's O'Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals will be inspiring.
Dick Levi and his staff will host one of the biggest three-day parties held at Gateway International Raceway in order to cheer on Wilkerson in his beautiful LRS Funny Car. Over the course of the weekend, there will be over 800 LRS guests coming to the races to root for Wilkerson and his team. On Saturday, there will be a company outing with about 400 employees and their families. Besides that group, Levi has invited around 125 of his closest friends, including Springfield mayor, Tim Davlin.
"We're always excited to be in St. Louis," said Wilkerson. "We have a great time with the LRS group. They are all such nice folks. Their enthusiasm and encouragement is contagious, and that might just be the medicine we need to help us. A couple of years ago we went to the finals here, and it was an emotional day, and we need to do that again. It builds up the confidence of the team, first of all, and then we need to do it for the sponsor. We need to keep everybody happy.
"This will be the first race Dick has been able to make this year, which is unusual because he usually attends a handful of races. It will be great to have him join us. He is so supportive and that makes us feel good."
Levi is a huge Wilkerson and drag racing fan and tries to attend several races each year. But owning one of the top software companies in the world has made it tough for the high profile executive to fit racing into his busy schedule.
"I am really excited about attending my first race this year," said Levi. "I'll be bringing the Springfield mayor again (brought him year before last) along with two of his brothers and four additional friends of mine. The mayor loved the race two years ago and he's excited about attending again this year. The rest of the group has never been before and I especially enjoy watching the faces of those who've never attended a race when they see Tim and the car in action. I not only enjoy racing, I also enjoy seeing others enjoy it. I have a long list of family and friends that always look forward to this event. And we'd all love to see Tim put a win under his belt this weekend."
FEELING BLUE - It was late in June, during the summer of 2006, and Del Worsham was facing a tough decision of both the personal, as well as personnel, varieties. Having run his third Funny Car on the NHRA tour up until that point, with Mike Ashley driving and Mark Oswald tuning, Worsham found himself stuck in a quandary after Ashley left the program one race earlier than Worsham had expected.
Should he immediately park the car, or should he put another driver in the seat to run a St. Louis race in which he had originally planned to run all three cars?
Worsham's final decision involved putting Jeff Arend in the driver's seat, while also putting the team's "Madman Murray" body on the car, to help promote the Murray's Discount Auto chain, which had just been purchased by CSK Auto. It was a combination that lined up perfectly, and Arend went right out onto the blisteringly hot Gateway International track and made the show. Now, about 10 months later, Arend and Worsham are back, but the situation has changed. Jeff Arend is now the driver of the blue Checker, Schuck's, Kragen Impala, and he's quick to look back on that hot summer weekend as a turning point for his career.
"Del wasn't sure what to do last year, but he asked me about driving the car and I was honored to say yes," Arend said. "We had the car, the team, and the Murray's body, so it was just a matter of all showing up to see what we could accomplish. Del and I have known each other for more than a decade, but we'd never raced together, so I was happy to show him what I could do, and it was a ton of fun to be a part of Worsham Racing for that one weekend.
"This past winter, when it came time for Del to decide what direction to take with the blue Checker, Schuck's, Kragen car, I think my one-race audition probably helped me. Instead of him thinking 'I'm pretty sure Jeff can do a good job for us,' he had at least one race of real evidence to go by. As it's turned out, this has been the best thing that's ever happened to me and I can't even put into words how great it is to be a part of this organization. I think it's working out better than either of us anticipated."
SELF-IMPROVEMENT - Self-motivation or a personal disgust can get a driver's competitive mentality straightened out. Dave Connolly is angry enough to make it happen.
The driver of Evan Knoll’s Torco Racing Fuels/Slammers Ultimate Milk Chevy Cobalt has a score to settle during the O’Reilly Midwest Nationals at Gateway International Raceway. This isn’t something against a rival competitor that can play out on television because the subject of Connolly’s disgust is himself.
“I’m ready to get back in the car and redeem myself,” he said. “I’m really looking forward getting to St. Louis.”
Connolly – one of his category’s best when it comes to quick starting-line reaction times – was, uncharacteristically, on the receiving end of a hole-shot in the first round Sunday at Atlanta. In drag racing, the timer starts when the green light flashes and a .000-second reaction is perfect. Connolly’s was .069 against Kurt Johnson’s .017.
Johnson’s quicker leave turned on the win light in 6.710 seconds at 206.35 mph. Connolly was in close pursuit, but his 6.664-second, 206.61-mph run came up short by six-thousandths of a second.
“It’s very disappointing,” Connolly said. “Jeg (Coughlin, his Victor Cagnazzi Racing/Slammers Ultimate Milk teammate) and I have two of the fastest cars out here and I didn’t even get out of the first round. My (reaction) times have been off for the last three races. Maybe there’s something in the car that we can adjust to help the situation. We’ll definitely be working to find a solution.
“I’ll be spending a lot of time on the practice tree before we get to St. Louis.”
DID YOU KNOW? - Three of Jeg Coughlin Jr.'s 47 national event victories have come at Gateway International Raceway. Coughlin won the Pro Stock title here in 2002 during his second championship charge in the factory hot rod class. He also won Super Stock here in 1997 and 2003.
THIRD TIME THE CHARM?- With runner-up finishes in 1999 and 2003 at Gateway International Raceway, Allen Johnson – driver of the Mopar/J&J Racing Dodge Stratus R/T – is no stranger to the final round at the O’Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals. However, a visit to winner’s circle would be a first for Johnson at the venue.
“We’re a win waiting to happen, we just have to have the stars aligned just right,” said Johnson of his J & J Racing team, led by his father and engine builder, Roy Johnson, and crew chief Ingersoll. “We’re making really good runs, making good power. We just need a break or two.”
SEEING RED - Johnson’s first round Atlanta defeat was caused by a red-light foul. Although disappointed at the result, Johnson is happy with his aggressiveness.
“We’re pushing that tree a little. We’re on the red-side of perfect,” remarked Johnson. “I’m really on it. We’ve got to adjust the car maybe a little bit, just to slow it down a tad, but [other than that] I don’t need to change a thing.”
Seasons past have seen Johnson come on strong in the second half of the season after falling behind early in the points battle. With 8th place in the Pro Stock standings and a semifinals and runner-up finish already this season, a characteristic Johnson hot streak in the latter part of the year could make him a championship threat.
“I think we’re poised,” said Johnson. “I haven’t looked at the points, but I would say I’m not far out of 5th place [Johnson is 11 points behind the fifth-place Warren Johnson]. We’re grouped right there. We just need to stick to our plan.”
AWESOME - No wonder Greg Anderson likes this place.
“We like the track at St. Louis and have had some success there which hopefully we can continue this weekend. It will be a little different than in the past years when, to beat the heat, we have run in both day and night. This year it will be back to our regular deal – all daytime eliminations. But look out for Friday night qualifying. If the air stays dry, you will see an awesome show from these Pro Stock cars.”
On the Gateway International Raceway quarter-mile in Madison, Ill., Anderson has been to four finals: He won in 2004 over Steve Johns and was runner up in 2000 (Ron Krisher), 2002 (Jeg Coughlin), and 2005 (Kurt Johnson).
DETERMINED - Sometimes you have to find things out on your own. Justin Humphreys is getting an up-close look at how competitive NHRA’s Pro Stock category is.
The former Sport Compact and Nopi Series winner has qualified once in his first six attempts. Although he dislikes being off on Sundays during events, he definitely likes the direction his Knoll-Gas Energy Pontiac GTO Pro Stock team is taking.
Humphreys and his team, led by crew chief Eric Luzinski, formed a partnership with respected engine builder Richard Maskin two races ago. He tested prior to last week’s Southern Nationals and Monday to continue his learning process in preparation for the O’Reilly’s Midwest Nationals at Gateway International Raceway near St. Louis.
“We know it’s going to take some time,” Humphreys said. “We’re new out here and don’t have any data on running our Pontiac at any of the tracks. We are trying to learn everything on race weekends.”
NEW CAR - Change isn't usually welcomes by drag racers. But for Richie Stevens Jr., changing to a new car was a good move at the previous event in Atlanta — good enough to drive him to his best finish of the season.
“This car was so consistent,” Stevens said. “The old car, not saying anything bad against it, but we just had a problem with consistency. We tested [the new car in Gateway International Raceway], and the first few runs down the track it went as straight as could be. This car is also supposed to be a ‘sister’ car to the one that Allen has. That makes it easier on Mark [Ingersoll, crew chief for Stevens and Johnson] to tune the cars on race days and get similar set-ups on both cars.”
The Atlanta event marked the third straight race in which Stevens advanced past the first round. His recent run of round wins has moved the Team Mopar driver from 14th place in the Pro Stock standings prior to the Houston event to 9th place heading into this weekend.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE
KEEP ON KEEPING ON - Matt Smith will try and continue his St. Louis dominance as he trails Pro Stock Motorcycle points leader, Karen Stoffer by a mere 32 points. Smith is determined to gain more ground on her this weekend.
Advancing to the finals at two races already this year including last week’s race in Atlanta, Smith is still looking to capture his first Wally of the 2007 season. Breaking the crank at the release of the clutch lever last week, Smith failed to move off the starting line in the finals, resulting in the runner-up position for the second time this year.
“We were happy last week with the rounds we won, but we wanted that Wally really bad,” said Smith. “We knew the motor was hurt, but we were hoping it would hang on for one more round and it didn’t. We have however worked our tails off the last two days at the shop tearing the motor apart and putting it back together for this weekend. Sonny Leonard helped us fix the heads, where the piston hit the head. Charlie Buck honed the jug and S&S out of Wisconsin put the bottom end together for me. There would have been no way to rebuild it if these people hadn’t of helped out, so needless to say I am more than grateful to them.”
CHANGING THE TREND - Smith has experienced luck sparingly in the past at Gateway, but remains on a mission to change that this weekend. Running in much cooler conditions this season in St. Louis than in years past, Smith is looking forward the challenge.
“We normally run at Gateway in the middle of the summer and conditions are ridiculously hot, so this will be a change for the better, I hope.” said Smith. “We are going to go in there and try to qualify well, especially in Friday night’s session, and go some rounds on raceday. Staying in the top-eight is critical at this point in the season and that is our goal right now.”
BREAKING THE JINX - Andrew Hines, the three-time defending NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle champion, was the No. 1 qualifier there in 2005 but has yet to make it to the finals. He won his first round of the season on Sunday at Atlanta Dragway and is looking forward to continuing the round win streak this weekend.
"Gateway is a nice facility for us to race at and the fan base is great," Hines said. "I especially like racing there because the track is so smooth and we never have any issues with bumps or anything else going down the track. It's definitely one of my favorite surfaces on the NHRA tour."
MEMORY LANE FOR THE NEW KID - Eddie Krawiec has earned a trophy from a drag race at Gateway International Raceway before. Sure, the trophies didn't come from an NHRA POWERade national event, but he has winning experience at the track in Madison, Ill., just a few minutes outside of St. Louis, and that's what really matters.
Krawiec – the newest member of the Screamin' Eagle/Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson V-Rod team – is hoping his experience from his past will help him when he and teammate Andrew Hines start competing at this weekend's O'Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals.
"St. Louis has treated me well in the past," Krawiec said. "I've won a couple of AMA Prostar events and I've just always liked the race track and the area. I think the races there always attract a great fan base and there is a great atmosphere that produces lots of positive racing energy. There are a lot of motorcycle fans in St. Louis and that kind of support just makes you more anxious to get there and try to put on a good show for everyone."
a d v e r t i s e m e n t
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|THURSDAY, May 3, 2007|
|Parking, Registration & Tech (all categories)||8:00 AM - 6:00 PM|
|FRIDAY, May 4, 2007|
|Spectator Gates Open||7:30 AM|
|Final Registration and Tech Inspection (all categories)||8:30 AM - 12:00 PM|
|Sportsman Qualifying||8:30 AM|
|Comp Eliminator Qualifying Session||10 AM, 12:30 PM, 3 PM|
|Pro Mod Qualifying||3:30 PM|
|Pro Stock Qualifying Session (PS Motorcycle / PS Car)||4:00 PM|
|Nitro Qualifying Session (Funny Car / Top Fuel Dragster)||5:00 PM|
|Pro Mod Qualifying||6:00 PM|
|Pro Stock Qualifying Session (PS Motorcycle / PS Car)||6:30 PM|
|Nitro Qualifying Session (Funny Car / Top Fuel Dragster)||7:30 PM|
|Secure Track||9:00 PM|
|SATURDAY, May 5, 2007|
|Spectator Gates Open||7:30 AM|
|Sportsman Eliminations||8:30 AM|
|Comp Eliminator - Round 1||11:00 AM|
|Pro Stock Qualifying Session (PS Motorcycle / PS Car)||11:30 AM|
|Nitro Qualifying Session (Top Fuel Dragster / Funny Car)||12:30 PM|
|Pro Mod Qualifying||1:30 PM|
|Pro Stock Qualifying Session (PS Motorcycle / PS Car)||2:00 PM|
|Nitro Qualifying Session (Top Fuel Dragster / Funny Car)||3:00 PM|
|Pro Mod - Round 1||4:00 PM|
|Comp Eliminator - Round 2||4:30 PM|
|Sportsman Eliminations continue||4:45 PM|
|Secure Track||6:00 PM|
|SUNDAY, May 6, 2007|
|Spectator Gates Open||9:00 AM|
|Pre-Race Ceremonies||10:00 AM|
|Final Eliminations||11:00 AM|
|Secure Event||4:30 PM|
Schedule subject to change
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