Morgan Lucas (Top Fuel, ABOVE) and Robert Hight (Funny Car) continued to make headlines Friday as they raced to the qualifying lead at the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Jason Line (Pro Stock) also topped qualifying at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event.
Lucas, who won two weeks ago in Gainesville, Fla. with a dominating performance, rallied from a 10th-place effort in the opening round of qualifying to vault to the No. 1 spot during the day's final session with a leading run of 3.817 seconds at 321.96mph in his GEICO/Lucas Oil dragster.
“The first session we were a little overcenter, and Aaron [Brooks, crew chief] just went back and was going to back it down, but we went back up there with generally the same setup,” Lucas said. “We just made a couple of small tweaks, and it went right down there. I'm really proud of the whole team, and it's been a lot of fun to drive this car.
“If somehow we can make it through tomorrow and stay No. 1, it would be a really cool thing for us to start the season with three out of four races being No. 1 qualifier.”
Spencer Massey was second with a 3.825 at 322.88 in his FRAM dragster and Clay Millican was third in his Parts Plus dragster with a 3.844 at 318.77. Series points leader Tony Schumacher was fourth overall with a 3.849 at 318.09 in his U.S. Army dragster.
In Funny Car, Hight, winner of the last two races, powered his Auto Club Ford Mustang to a leading performance of 4.132 at 310.41.
"Everybody struggled the first run, so I think everybody was erring on the side of caution for the night run,” Hight said. “Based on what everybody ran the first run, you've got to be cautious and make sure you get down there.
"Jimmy [Prock, crew chief] told me he thought it would run a .12 or .13, so it's really cool right now because he definitely has a handle on this race car. It says a lot when you can go from a place like Gainesville and then we're here and we're halfway in elevation to Denver from sea level and make the changes and have it respond and run that close to what you think it will run. Good job to Jimmy Prock, and you can see the confidence in him. He's just so confident in all the moves he's making, and it's a lot of fun to drive this thing right now. The confidence is there when you can see your crew chief and how confident he is. Maybe that 4.13 won't stick, but for today it was No. 1, and we're happy.”
Two-time world champ Cruz Pedregon was second in his Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry with a 4.159 at 306.19, while Bob Tasca III was second in his Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Shelby Mustang with a 4.165 at 303.23.
Defending class champion Line raced to the top of the order in Pro Stock, covering the distance in 6.659 at 207.34 in his Summit Racing Equipment Pontiac GXP.
“This is probably the nicest run I've made this year,” Line said. “To be able to outrun Mike Edwards, who always runs well here, is an accomplishment. And because it is a Summit-sponsored race and we're in [team owner] Ken Black's home town, it makes it all the better. We were a little bit soft in the first round, and I still think there's at least a hundredth or more left in the car. It was important for us to qualify well today because of the forecasts for winds tomorrow.”
Edwards, who won both races here last season and holds both ends of the track record, was second with a 6.669 at 207.30 in his Penhall/Interstate Batteries Pontiac and Allen Johnson was third in his Team Mopar Dodge Avenger with a 6.679 at 206.92.
Qualifying continues Saturday with sessions at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Sunday's eliminations begin at 11 a.m.