Tony Schumacher raced to the No. 1 spot in Top Fuel as qualifying came to an end Saturday at the O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at zMAX Dragway.
Matt Hagan, Jason Line, and Eddie Krawiec also took the No. 1 qualifying spots in their respective categories at the 17th of 22 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series and the first of six races in the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship, the six-race playoffs to determine the world championships.
Schumacher powered his U.S. Army dragster to the top of the field on the last pass of Saturday qualifying. His run of 3.771sec tied for the third quickest in Top Fuel history, but Schumacher's speed of 325.92mph was the third fastest in Top Fuel history. The run gave the seven-time world champion his fifth No. 1 qualifier of the season and 66th of his career.
“I love coming here,” said Schumacher. “Bruton Smith built a great racetrack, and it's topped off with the great weather we have this weekend. The crew chiefs just turned it up all the way. We saw [Larry] Dixon running 3.7sec and knew that's where we had to be. The U.S. Army dragster went 3.80, 3.80, and 3.77 in its last three runs. I couldn't be happier.”
Top Fuel points leader Del Worsham qualified fourth in the field, and Worsham's teammate, Dixon, took the third spot. Schumacher will face Morgan Lucas in the first round of eliminations on Sunday.
Hagan, who made NHRA history Friday night when he drove his DieHard Dodge Charger to the first three-second pass in Funny Car history, stayed at the top of the field with his run of 3.995 at 316.23mph. With the history-setting run, Hagan collected his third No. 1 qualifier of the season and ninth of his career.
“It's Tommy's [DeLago, crew chief] call whether we try to go for [the national record] tomorrow or just go rounds,” said Hagan, who still needs to back up his 3.995 pass to set the national record and earn 20 bonus points in the process. “It's anybody's ballgame right now, and I'm just excited to have a competitive race car underneath me. I can't wait to get going in the morning, and hopefully, we can do big things out here.”
Funny Car points leader and Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil winner Mike Neff will start Sunday eliminations from the second spot, and defending event winner Cruz Pedregon qualified ninth in the field.
In Pro Stock, Line kept his Summit Racing Pontiac GXP at the top of the field as qualifying came to an end. His Friday run of 6.520 at 212.66mph was strong enough to give Line his third No. 1 qualifier in a row, fifth of the season, and 22nd overall, and Line's teammate and current points leader, Greg Anderson, secured the second spot heading into eliminations on Sunday.
“We just have to make it so that the No. 1 qualifier wins instead of the No. 2 qualifier,” said Line. “We've kind of been jinxed on that the last three races, but we're going to fix that tomorrow. Obviously to peak right now as the Countdown starts is a great thing. As a racer and a team, that's what you dream about, so it feels really good. We just need to do our job tomorrow and capitalize on it.”
Krawiec's Friday run on his Screamin' Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson stayed strong to give him the top spot in Pro Stock Motorcycle. With a track record run of 6.833 at 196.70mph, Krawiec earned his third No. 1 qualifier of the season and ninth of his career. Krawiec will face Steve Johnson in the first round of eliminations on Sunday.
“It definitely feels good to be No. 1 heading into tomorrow,” said Krawiec. “We got a bunch of qualifying points with low e.t. of three of the four rounds, and the only time we didn't get low e.t. was when we missed it last night. I lost the championship one year by two points, so I know that an extra point here and there really adds up.”
Troxel powered her In-N-Out '53 Corvette to a 5.815sec pass at 256.55mph Friday to take the provisional top spot in the NHRA Get Screened America Pro Mod Drag Racing Series and held on to it through Saturday qualifying to take her second consecutive No. 1 qualifier of the season and third for the year. Troxel then went on to win her first round match-up against Kenny Lang.
“It's a nice change to know we have two really good racecars on Saturday night,” said Troxel, who also qualified third in her NHRA Full Throttle ProCare Rx Toyota Funny Car. “We had a few hiccups where the car didn't go down the track, but [tuner] Steve Petty always does a great job of putting the In-N-Out Pro Mod back where it needs to be when it's time to step up to the game.”
Current points leader Khalid Balooshi lost in the first round of eliminations to Donald Martin, and second-place driver in the points standings Danny Rowe held off Mike Knowles to advance to the second round of eliminations.