Matt Hagan Sets National Record in zMax Qualifying
Hagan’s final run of the day shattered the track record of 4.024 set by Robert Hight in March of 2010 and put him atop the leader board with the provisional no. 1 qualifier spot in the opening race in the Countdown to the Championship.
Unseasonably cool temperatures thanks to a passing cold front led to fast track conditions with new track records set in Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle as well with track temperatures below 75 degrees as the second qualifying session of the day began under the lights at the “Bellagio of Drag Racing”.
Hagan held the no. 1 spot through the first round until “Fast” Jack Beckman lived up to his nickname, pulling off the fastest pass in Funny Car history with a 318.92 mph run at 4.044 seconds to take the top spot.
Funny Car points leader Mike Neff took over the provisional pole with a run of 4.038 at 314.71 mph, which appeared to be enough to take the no. 1 spot until Hagan came up with Johnny Gray as the final pair and launched from the starting line with a jaw-dropping pass that brought the crowd to their feet.
“To be a part of history and be the first person in the three-second range, that’s something that they can never take away from you,” said Hagan. “I just can’t say enough about (crew chief) Tommy DeLago. What a mad scientist that guy is to put a race car like that underneath me. My guys just do such a great job and it’s incredible. It’s just a real testimony to how good of a job they do.”
Neff held onto the second spot, followed by Beckman, Jeff Arend (4.048, 313.44) and Melanie Troxel (4.049, 308.85).
Among the drivers still not in the show include Cruz Pedregon, Ron Capps and John Force, all three of whom smoked the tires on their respective runs.
The records continued to fall in the Pro Stock division, where the first and second drivers in the championship chase split the track low ET and speed records.
Points leader Greg Anderson and second-place Jason Line lined up as the final pair in the opening session with both going under the low ET mark of 6.520 and speed record of 212.46 mph.
Line pulled off a pass of 6.510 at 212.56 mph to beat out his teammate for the track ET record and the provisional top qualifier, but Anderson took the speed record with an equally impressive 6.515 at 212.69 mph.
“I think there was a lot left in that run and if we get any kind of weather tomorrow, it’s not going to hold,” said Line. “We feel like we could have gone a .49 or run close to or under the record, and that’s the goal, especially in my case. Making up 20 points on Greg would be a really good thing, but his car is obviously just as capable and I think there are a couple of other cars that are capable as well. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.”
Mike Edwards was third at 6.540, 211.93, followed by Allen Johnson (6.541, 211.99) and Kurt Johnson (6.550, 211.43).
Pro Stock Motorcycle points leader Eddie Krawiec paced the field in both of Friday’s sessions with a track-record setting 6.833 at 196.70 in the opening round, breaking the previous best of 6.875.
Matt Smith was the first to eclipse the record during his opening run, 6.871 at 191.84 mph to take the no.1 spot before Krawiec came on deck as the final bike of the session at snatched the record away.
“Any time you come out and make a run like that out of the box, it sets the tone for your camp,” said Krawiec. “We underestimated the track on our second run. We second-guessed ourselves and turned the rpm down, making the bike bog. We’ll bounce back tomorrow, and we need to because our time probably won’t hold up.”
Karen Stoffer was third at 6.873, 195.59. Hector Arana, Jr. held fourth with a 6.914, 191.51 followed by 6.920, 190.46.
Defending Top Fuel winner Larry Dixon was fastest with a sweep of both of Friday’s sessions, coming close to the track ET record of 3.780 with a time of 3.784 at 324.83 mph to beat out Antron Brown, who jumped from 15th to second in Friday’s final session with a time of 3.802 at 324.44 mph.
“The first run was great,” said Dixon. “It gave us a backup for a national record and kind of put us in position to go for it tonight. We had nothing to lose. We were aggressive, but it just didn’t stick. This racetrack is so smooth with so much grip. The credit goes to the preparation of the racetrack, and the conditions came right to it to give us a chance to go fast today.”
Top Fuel points leader Del Worsham (3.803, 322.27), Tony Schumacher (3.808, 321.88) and Spencer Massey (3.808, 321.42) rounded out the top five.
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