Robert Hight raced to the qualifying lead in Funny Car Thursday at the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. Tony Schumacher, Mike Edwards and Andrew Hines are also qualifying leaders at the season-ending race of the 2011 Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.
Hight powered his Auto Club Ford Mustang to the provisional top spot in the field with a run of 4.084sec at 312.13mph. Hight earned three bonus points toward the battle for the NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car world championship.
“Basically, we did today what we have to do every single run in qualifying,” said Hight, who entered the event fifth in the standings, 71 points behind leader Matt Hagan. “We dug ourselves a big hole in Vegas and it would be cool to cut this thing down to less than three rounds so that we don't have to rely on the top two guys going out in the first round because they haven't done that a lot. But it's only one day. I think I was up in the media room the first day in Vegas and we all know how that turned out.”
Hight's teammate and fourth-place driver in the point standings Mike Neff is second and picked up two bonus points, while Las Vegas winner Ron Capps raced to the third spot and earned one bonus point.
In Top Fuel, Schumacher powered his U.S. Army dragster to the front of the field with a run of 3.827 at 321.19. If it stands, it would be his seventh No. 1 qualifier of the season, 68th of his career and fifth consecutive at this event.
“We haven't won this season,” said Schumacher, a four-time winner of this event. “Getting a pewter Wally is something we wanted to do and joked about earlier in the year. We won a lot of the special Wallys like the 50th Indy and the 50th Dallas. If you told me earlier this year that we wouldn't have any wins coming into this race, I wouldn't have believed you. This car and this team are too good. It is what it is. I'm out here watching my teammates compete for championships and hoping I can help them by beating the Al-Anabi guys.”
Al-Anabi Racing dragster pilot and second-place driver in the point standings, Del Worsham, raced to the provisional second spot and picked up two bonus points in the process. Worsham entered the event two points behind leader Spencer Massey, who took the provisional third place and grabbed one bonus point.
In Pro Stock, Edwards powered his Penhall/Interstate Batteries Pontiac GXP to the top spot with a run of 6.520 at 210.93. If it stands it would be his sixth No. 1 qualifier of the season, 40th of his career and third straight in the Countdown.
“This was a great way to start,” said Edwards, who is coming off a recent win in Las Vegas. “The first thing that you have to do is qualify. We just have to race the track and the conditions. Hats off to my guys for doing a great job."
In Pro Stock Motorcycle Hines rode his Screamin' Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson to a 6.820 at a track record speed of 197.54 to take the provisional top spot in the class. If it stands, it would be his second No. 1 qualifier of the season, 30th of his career and third at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.
“It does feel real good to get No. 1 on Thursday,” said Hines. “It gets your mindset in a whole different frame for the rest of the weekend. This is the only track where we qualify on Thursday but we have to act like it's Saturday and go out there and try to kill it. I'm trying to catch Matt Smith for third place so that three bonus points could come in handy. Hopefully we can go around him on Sunday. We also prevented Hector (Arana) Jr. from getting three bonus points which helps (teammate) Eddie (Krawiec).”