NHRA 3; Rain 1
So it’s cold, windy and rainy here at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, where NHRA is wrapping up its Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season exactly where it started. While there was a clean slate back in February at the start, there are still four titles up for grabs at this season closer.
Right now, three of four categories have taken their first runs on the quarter mile and 1000-foot dragstrip. We’re on a weather delay after having to shut down the qualifying order after the final pair went through the lights in Funny Car. As is customary for the first of four qualifiers, we went by season standings, so the final two floppers up were point leader Jack Beckman and Ron Capps, who’s four points behind Beckman, his Don Schumacher Racing teammate.
Well, Beckman was faster to the stripe than Capps but his body exploded as he crossed the finish line, breaking into hundreds of tiny sharp objects. The chutes were attached to the body so Beckman came to a halt without their assistance and climbed fro his car without any problems. Whew! His time was still good enough for fifth place while Capps was 13th, left out of the top-12 Thursday qualifiers.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Andrew Hines beat teammate Eddie Krawiec on their Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidsons (yawn), while Matt Smith was third on his S&S Buell, followed by the similar machine of Hector Arana Jr. Steve Johnson earned top Suzuki marks for his sixth-place effort. There are 24 bikes vying for 16 spots this weekend.
Pro Stock champion-in-waiting Allen Johnson’s Dodge Avenger led a field of 21 door-slammers this afternoon with second-place in points Jason Line next up in his Chevrolet Camaro. Mike Edwards’ GXP, V Gaines’ Avenger, Erica Enders’ Chevy Cobalt and Kurt Johnson’s GXP made up the top six. Four-time champion Greg Anderson continued to struggle and was 19th on the day.
Courtney Force’s rookie season is ending on a high note as she’s taken top spot in initial qualifying this afternoon over teammate Mike Neff, both of them gaining valuable bonus points in their Ford Mustangs. Her ET of 4.032 seconds was tantalizingly close to the magical sub-four-second mark, and there were five cars under the 4.10-second mark. Not yet in the show are Capps, Alexis DeJoria, John Force, Matt Hagan, Bob Tasca III and Tony Pedregon.
The rain has abated, the trucks have completed track preparations so it’s time for the Top Fuel contingent to take to the track and see if they can get some good times in the fading light.
Or not… the wonderful NHRA Safety Safari prepped the track, the cars were told to return to the staging lanes and then, once again, the rain came down. So it doesn’t look like Top Fuel will get to run in these darkening skies after all, as it’ll take at least an hour to get the track right and the rain shows no sign of stopping.
By Anne Proffit