Spencer Massey and Ron Capps raced to the quickest runs in NHRA history in their respective categories to lead qualifying Friday at the Toyota NHRA SuperNationals at historic Old Bridge Township Raceway Park. Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were qualifying leaders at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event.
Both nitro drivers took advantage of cool weather conditions in the evening qualifying session to post the track record performances. Should each driver record another performance within 1 percent, as required by NHRA rules during the course of the weekend, those times will become NHRA national records.
Massey powered his FRAM/Prestone dragster to a time of 3.728 seconds at 329.91 mph to lead an extremely quick Top Fuel field. Morgan Lucas was second with a 3.739 at 324.51 in the GEICO/Lucas Oil dragster, and Shawn Langdon powered his Al-Anabi Racing dragster to a 3.742 at 324.36.
“It's unbelievable watching all these cars go down the racetrack and go excellent numbers,” Massey said. “I mean, Morgan [Lucas] went a .73. I believe Tony [Schumacher] went a .74 and didn't even get bonus points for getting in the top three. That just shows you how awesome this Top Fuel field is. Todd [Okuhara] and Phil [Shuler, crew chiefs] both told me if it sticks, hang on because it's going to run. I've heard that from them before, and it's usually right.”
Massey, who leads the points standings with three victories in four finals this season, said it was an amazing run from his viewpoint.
“It left, and it started quivering the tires a little bit when it started setting the front end down, and I'm just going, ‘Don't smoke, don't smoke, don't smoke,' and it made it,” Massey said. “Once it made it past that point, I knew it was going to be killer. I didn't think it was going to be .72. I figured maybe a .73 and change, but a .72 with an eight came up on the board, and I watched it go past when I crossed the finish line. Trust me, it was like winning a race jumping out at the top end. It's amazing to have a great group of crew guys and crew chiefs back there that can put my entire race car together and give me a chance to do what I just did.”
Capps became the second Funny Car driver in history to post a three-second time when he finished his qualifying attempt in 3.964 seconds at 320.89 in his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger. His teammate, Matt Hagan, was the first Funny Car driver to post a three-second run, with a 3.995 second effort, last September in Charlotte.
“It still hasn't sunk in,” Capps said. “My teammate [Matt] Hagan came over and high-fived me and about hurt my arm. I just can't believe it. We rolled up there, and guys kept throwing down quicker and quicker numbers. It was like a video game. We were the next pair, and we saw the .02 and the .01 pop up, and at that point Rahn [Tobler, crew chief] said, ‘Strap in as tight as you've ever been because we're going for it.' John Collins [assistant crew chief] was on the radio screaming something, something, six, and I was hoping it wasn't a 4.06, so I screamed back, ‘Now before I get out of the car and make an idiot of myself on the other end, you're saying 3.96, right?' And he was screaming, so that's when I knew. What a feeling.”
Like Top Fuel, the Funny Car session was very quick as well. More than 10 of the cars posted runs in the 4.0-second range. Robert Hight was second in the Auto Club Ford Mustang with a 4.013 at 318.02, and Johnny Gray was third in his Service Central Charger with a 4.022 at 318.84.
“Believe me, if we have the clouds and stuff tomorrow like could happen, this track is legendary when it cools off,” said Capps, who has advanced to the last four final rounds and is second in the points standings. “It's legendary anyway, but it's neat to get this historic track a record like that because it deserves it.”
Defending Pro Stock world champ Line sped to the top spot in the factory-hot-rod category with a 6.518 at 212.16 in his Summit Racing Pontiac GXP.
“I should have my new Camaro in Bristol, but I am still liking my old car,” Line said. “We slipped the clutch just a little, but it was a good run. I don't know if it will be good enough to hold up tomorrow, but I'm happy with it. To be honest, we should have run a little faster than that. This track is fast, and as long as we don't have rain, it might be even faster tomorrow.”
Topeka winner Allen Johnson was second in his Team Mopar Dodge Avenger with a 6.528 at 211.56, and 2009 world champ Mike Edwards was third, pushing his Penhall/Interstate Batteries Pontiac to a 6.529 at 211.73.
Krawiec, an Englishtown native and former track manager here, powered his Screamin' Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson to a track record performance of 6.782 at 197.48 to lead the Pro Stock Motorcycle category.
“It's a great feeling to be back out here making runs,” Krawiec said. “When you run so good off the trailer, it always sets the tone for the weekend. Our bike is running really well lately. I have an awesome motorcycle. It's fun to ride, and it's very consistent and smooth. That lets me do my job.”
Hector Arana Sr. took the second spot on his Lucas Oil Buell with a 6.836 at 195.42, and his son, Hector Arana Jr., was third with a 6.856 at 194.21, also on a Lucas Oil Buell.
“I'd love to stay No. 1, but qualifying really doesn't mean much,” said series points leader Krawiec, a two-time winner this season who has never won at his home track. “I want to make good consistent clean runs on race day. Having fast bike helps, but making good runs is the most important thing.”
Qualifying continues Saturday with sessions at noon and 2:30 p.m. Sunday's eliminations start at 11 a.m.