Tony Schumacher (LEFT) raced to the No. 1 qualifying position in Top Fuel competition Saturday at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals. Jack Beckman (Funny Car), Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Sr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also will lead their respective categories into Sunday's 11 a.m. eliminations at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event.
No one was able to improve on Schumacher's Friday performance, where he powered his U.S. Army dragster with the cockpit canopy to a performance of 3.791sec at a track record speed of 323.97mph. It is his third top qualifying position of the season and 70th of his career. This is his sixth No. 1 qualifying position at Brainerd International Raceway.
“The best part is a godsend. Twice, we went out and ran the same number as my teammate (Antron Brown) who doesn't have a canopy,” said Schumacher, who will face Terry McMillen in the opening round. “I'm already hearing people talking about how it's all in the canopy, but the driver in the other lane doesn't have one and run the exact same time.”
Brown was second in his Matco Tools dragster with a 3.791 at 323.74, while series points leader Spencer Massey was third with a 3.794 at 323.12 in the FRAM/Prestone dragster.
In Funny Car, Beckman earned his second No. 1 of the season and sixth of his career with a track record time of 4.018 at 314.61 in his Valvoline NextGen Dodge Charger. He will meet Dale Creasy Jr. in the first round.
"It cleared the finish line, and I could hear them yell ‘4.0-something, No. 1' on the radio,” said Beckman. “I said, ‘I could've told you guys at 300 feet that that was the run.' It didn't do anything but accelerate. It was a beast from the time it took off and never laid down.”
Tim Wilkerson was second overall in his DYS Mustang with a 4.049 at 307.16 and Cruz Pedregon was third in his Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry, with a 4.051 at 311.85. Johnny Gray, who qualified fourth in his Service Central Charger, posted a track record speed of 316.75 mph.
Enders claimed her first No. 1 starting position of the season and the fourth of her career in Pro Stock with a time of 6.550 at 210.37 in a Chevrolet Cobalt sponsored by GK Motorsports. She will face Shane Gray in the opening round.
“Today, we just wanted to keep the top spot,” Enders said. “It really doesn't matter as long as you're in the top half of the field, but it was nice for us to keep it. We did get the [K&N Horsepower Challenge] points so that's an extra bonus.”
Greg Anderson, a native of Minnesota, qualified fifth in his Summit Racing Chevy Camaro with a 6.582 at 210.54 while points leader Allen Johnson landed second in his Team Mopar Dodge Avenger with a 6.560 at 210.87.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Arana Sr. claimed his fourth No. 1 qualifying position of the season and 21st of his career, powering his Lucas Oil Buell to a category-best effort of 6.884 at 192.63. Arana Sr. will race veteran rider Michael Phillips in the first round.
“Today, we struggled a little bit. Our clutch tune-up is off,” Arana Sr. said. “We tried some different things and we fixed one end of the problem, but found another. We are going to go back to [yesterday's tune-up] for tomorrow. Still, I'm pleased with the outcome.”
Hector Arana Jr. qualified third on his Lucas Oil Buell while the Screamin' Eagle Vance & Hines Harley Davidson duo of Eddie Kraweic and Andrew Hines were fourth and second.