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Force, Schumacher, Edwards and Pollacheck Lead Early NHRA Qualifying at Chicago

John Force

JFR_JForce-burnout_Chicago_Lewis640John Force (above) kept his recent hot streak going Friday at Route 66 Raceway by powering to the qualifying lead in Funny Car at the O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries.

Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) and Scotty Pollacheck (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were qualifying leaders in their categories at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event.

Force, who won at Bristol, Tenn. two weeks ago and was the top qualifier and finished runner-up at Epping, N.H. last weekend, was the quickest in the 8,000-horsepower category during a rain-shortened day of qualifying at the state-of-the-art dragstrip just south of Chicago. NHRA officials were forced to cancel one of the day’s two scheduled qualifying sessions due to early afternoon rain showers.

John Force

John Force

Still riding the momentum from his success at the past two events, Force covered the distance in 4.035 seconds at 314.02 mph in his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang to lead the qualifying order.

“Anytime you come to Chicago you usually have killer conditions and after old [rookie Chad] Head went out there and ran 4.05 we knew it was there,” said Force, a three-time winner at this track who has moved from 10th to fifth place in the series standings in the last two weeks . “Anytime you run good you’re excited and I ain’t had a car that runs like this for a while. Mike Neff [crew chief] and the crew did a great job.”

If the performance holds through Saturday’s final two qualifying sessions (4:15 and 7:15 p.m.) it will be the 143rd No. 1 qualifying position of the 15-time champ’s legendary career. Sunday’s eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m.

Force says with the right conditions Route 66 Raceway’s first three-second run in the Funny Car category might be possible. Matt Hagan holds the track record at 4.022 seconds.

“Now, tomorrow, we’ll push it because we made a good run tonight,” Force said. “Then, you might see a three.”

Series leader Hagan was second with a 4.040 at 317.19 in his Magneti Marelli/Mopar/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger and defending world champ Jack Beckman qualified third in his Valvoline/MTS Charger with a 4.043 at 313.15.

Hometown favorite Schumacher, from nearby Long Grove, Ill., led Top Fuel qualifying with a performance of 3.772 at 325.45 in his U.S. Army dragster, edging out Doug Kalitta for the top spot by virtue of his faster speed. Kalitta qualified second with an identical time at a slower speed of 322.34 in his Mac Tools dragster.

Tony Schumacher

Tony Schumacher

“We were actually a bit conservative on the run because we knew we had to make it down the track just in case we have rain tomorrow,” Schumacher said. “But if we don’t have any problems with the weather, the conditions could be even better on Saturday because it will be a couple of degrees cooler. I’m sure that a 3.77 won’t hold for No. 1 tomorrow. But having run the 3.77 on our first pass, that gives us the luxury of going all out on Saturday, and that’s what we plan to do.”

Top Fuel series leader Shawn Langdon qualified third in his Al-Anabi Racing dragster with a 3.789 at 325.92 and Brandon Bernstein, who sat out the last two events recovering from back surgery, was fourth in his TV dragster with a 3.794 at 323.04.

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In Pro Stock, series leader Edwards is in position to earn his 10th No. 1 of the season and 51st of his career as he drove his Interstate Batteries/I Am Second Chevy Camaro to a quick pass of 6.602 at 208.68.

“We made a nice run and feel like we might have been a little bit soft in some areas,” Edwards said. “We didn’t know how many runs we were going to get so we just wanted to get down the track. The conditions will be better tomorrow so we’ll see a lot of changes. I think it will be quite a bit better.”

Defending world champ Allen Johnson was second in his Team Mopar Dodge Avenger with a 6.614 at 208.68 and his teammate, four-time Chicago winner Jeg Coughlin, was third overall in his Avenger with a 6.615 at 209.36.

Defending event Pro Stock winner Erica Enders-Stevens, who made history at this event last year by becoming the first female to win an NHRA Pro Stock race, qualified fourth in her Cagnazzi Racing Camaro with a 6.620 at 207.75.

If Pollacheck’s leading time of 6.929 at 191.24 on his Sovereign Star Racing Buell holds he will earn his first career No. 1 qualifying position in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

“We hope that will hold up because we really need a good weekend especially after last week,” said Pollacheck, who qualified fourth at Epping but was upset in the first round by No. 13 qualifier Steve Johnson. “Michael [Ray, teammate] has had a great bike, but we’ve had some gremlins with mine. Hopefully we have them exterminated. I think we do have some left over. That wasn’t a perfect run, so maybe tomorrow we can run quicker.”

Hector Arana Sr. qualified second on his Lucas Oil Buell with a 6.930 at 193.32 and Matt Smith was third on his Viper Motorcycle Company Buell with a 6.937 at 193.82.

(Photos courtesy NHRA/National Dragster; JFR: Click to enlarge)


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JOLIET, Ill. — Friday’s results following the first of three rounds of qualifying for the 16th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries at Route 66 Raceway, the 12th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.  Qualifying will continue Saturday for Sunday’s final eliminations.

Top Fuel

1. Tony Schumacher, 3.772 seconds, 325.45 mph; 2. Doug Kalitta, 3.772, 322.34; 3. Shawn Langdon, 3.789, 325.92; 4. Brandon Bernstein, 3.794, 323.04; 5. Spencer Massey, 3.795, 319.98; 6. Khalid alBalooshi, 3.798, 326.32; 7. Morgan Lucas, 3.798, 322.27; 8. Bob Vandergriff, 3.827, 315.56; 9. Larry Dixon, 3.832, 317.87; 10. Brittany Force, 3.849, 317.49; 11. Leah Pruett, 3.853, 316.08; 12. Tim Cullinan, 3.910, 301.40.

Not Qualified: 13. Sidnei Frigo, 3.912, 311.13; 14. T.J. Zizzo, 3.913, 311.34; 15. Steve Torrence, 4.016, 323.81; 16. Chris Karamesines, 4.216, 281.01; 17. Clay Millican, 4.370, 182.38; 18. David Grubnic, 4.380, 182.67; 19. Antron Brown, 6.366, 100.46; 20. Pat Dakin, 7.714, 81.24; 21. Terry McMillen, 8.359, 79.62; 22. Luigi Novelli, 10.900, 70.68.

Funny Car

1. John Force, Ford Mustang, 4.035, 314.02; 2. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 4.040, 317.19; 3. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.043, 313.15; 4. Chad Head, Toyota Camry, 4.053, 312.21; 5. Robert Hight, Mustang, 4.055, 315.71; 6. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.060, 306.74; 7. Johnny Gray, Charger, 4.064, 310.70; 8. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.069, 311.27; 9. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 4.093, 304.67; 10. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.094, 299.53; 11. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.100, 305.63; 12. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.124, 306.88.

Not Qualified: 13. Jeff Arend, 4.139, 295.59; 14. Dale Creasy Jr., 4.268, 283.25; 15. Terry Haddock, 4.410, 279.85; 16. Bob Bode, 4.649, 182.28; 17. Del Worsham, 4.679, 179.09; 18. Courtney Force, 9.742, 52.00; 19. Todd Lesenko, 10.176, 65.21; 20. Justin Schriefer, 12.149, 67.87.

Pro Stock

1. Mike Edwards, Chevy Camaro, 6.602, 208.68; 2. Allen Johnson, Dodge Avenger, 6.614, 208.68; 3. Jeg Coughlin, Avenger, 6.615, 209.36; 4. Erica Enders-Stevens, Camaro, 6.620, 207.75; 5. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.636, 208.17; 6. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.637, 208.30; 7. Vincent Nobile, Avenger, 6.642, 208.23; 8. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.643, 208.55; 9. V. Gaines, Avenger, 6.645, 208.52; 10. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.666, 199.46; 11. Greg Stanfield, Camaro, 6.669, 207.21; 12. Rickie Jones, Camaro, 6.670, 208.10. 

Not Qualified: 13. Larry Morgan, 6.670, 206.51; 14. Steve Kent, 6.724, 206.54; 15. Mark Martino, 6.738, 180.43; 16. Mark Hogan, 6.749, 204.23; 17. Steve Spiess, 6.758, 204.88; 18. Dave River, 6.836, 202.27.

Pro Stock Motorcycle

1. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 6.929, 191.24; 2. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.930, 193.32; 3. Matt Smith, Buell, 6.937, 193.82; 4. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.946, 192.44; 5. Adam Arana, Buell, 6.979, 191.27; 6. John Hall, Buell, 6.980, 192.60; 7. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.981, 192.00; 8. Michael Ray, Buell, 6.988, 192.06; 9. Mike Berry, Buell, 7.028, 190.46; 10. Angie Smith, Buell, 7.051, 192.06; 11. Shawn Gann, Buell, 7.067, 189.84; 12. Joe DeSantis, Suzuki, 7.069, 189.34.

Not Qualified: 13. Andrew Hines, 7.073, 189.39; 14. Jerry Savoie, 7.074, 190.03; 15. Steve Johnson, 7.082, 187.29; 16. Jim Underdahl, 7.097, 190.54; 17. Eddie Krawiec, 7.109, 188.99.

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This story was originally published on June 29, 2013. Drag Illustrated

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