Dixon, Wilkerson, Johnson, Smith No. 1 at Dallas
Persistent showers pushed Saturday pro session well into the late evening, forcing NHRA officials to cancel the fourth round of Funny Car qualifying, while Top Fuel, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle completed their fourth rounds, with the cool, clean track conditions leading to some record-breaking runs in the final rounds.
Top Fuel points leader Larry Dixon rebounded from a wheel spin in round three to jump from fourth to the top of the field with a track-record 3.793 at 320.05 mph, besting the record of 3.820 he himself set in September of 2008.
In all, the top four qualifiers all beat the track record to advance their positions. Antron Brown was the first to top the mark with a run of 3.812 only to have Dixon surge back in front on the next run. Tony Schumacher and Cory McClenathan paired up for the final run and ran 3.799 and 3.805 to qualify second and third, respectively, pushing Brown to the fourth spot. Brandon Bernstein took the fifth spot with a 3.838.
Dixon earned his 47th career no. 1 qualifier and his seventh of the season. He’ll face Scott Palmer in Sunday opening round, looking to push his final round winning streak to 12 straight.
“It was a great run by our team,” said Dixon. “When I saw the number come up I didn’t think it was good enough. I knew it’d be in the top three obviously, but I really thought the two Schumacher cars that ran behind us I thought could run better than that and I’m sure they did, too. We were just fortunate to just be a little bit quicker and get the pole.”
“There’s a lot of memories at this track. I’ve got a winner’s circle picture when I was crewing for Ed McCulloch’s car in 1987. Obviously with Snake (Don Prudhomme), he got his last win in (Top Fuel) and Funny Car at this track. I got a lot of great memories at this place, and trying to make our own now.”
“(Friday) I just left a lot on the table to tell you the truth,” said Wilkerson. “We have a new combination that we’re testing and obviously it’s working pretty well. I don’t know if I know how to race it yet and we won’t find that out until tomorrow, but I think I do.
“We’ll just see how things go. Hopefully, I can prove that we’re not as dumb as we look, at least not as dumb as we looked last week. We just had a bad week last week and we needed to come back in order to stay in this chase.”
Hood had finally managed to get her first full pass of the weekend after wheel spins in both of Friday’s qualifying sessions, posting a 4.100 that was enough to hold onto the second spot. Jeff Arend stayed in the top five with a 4.121 to take third, followed by Bob Tasca III (4.126) and Ron Capps (4.129). Dale Creasy, Jr. took the bump spot to face Wilkerson in the opening round of eliminations.
Allen Johnson laid claim to the biggest comeback of the weekend, coming off his championship-crushing disqualification last weekend at Charlotte to top the ladder in the Pro Stock division.
Johnson’s third-round run of 6.611 was enough to bump points leader Mike Edwards out of the no.1 spot and earn him his fifth pole of the season and 12th of his career.
Edwards held second with a 6.619 while Jason Line, who had the fastest run in the final round but not enough to improve his position, took third with a 6.634. Larry Morgan (6.638) and Shane Gray (6.644) rounded out the top five.
Jeg Coughlin just managed to break into the field after breaking on his burnout in the third round. His final round time of 6.687 was just enough to knock Bob Yonke from the bump spot.
Matt Smith scored his second straight no.1 spot in the Pro Stock Motorcycle, bumping Eddie Krawiec from the top spot with a run of 6.923 for his 18th-career top qualifier spot.
“We made a picture-perfect pass,” said Smith. “We 60-footed at the top of the list and I think a lot of the other guys just missed it. They missed the track, it was that good.
“Anytime it rains like this and they get the track dry, it just makes for a very clean surface out there. Then those Funny Cars, they had six pair of them to run, they laid so much rubber down just doing what they did, I like - we got to go for it, we had nothing to lose. I just think some of those other guys didn’t take advantage of how good that track was.”
Krawiec, who topped the ladder in Saturday’s first session, came up one-thousandths of a second short of Smith’s mark with a 6.924. Friday’s top qualifier Karen Stoffer sits third with a 6.953 with points leader Andrew Hines in fourth with a 6.958. Steve Johnson took fifth with a 6.959, while second-place points man LE Tonglet is sixth at 6.963.
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