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Schumacher, Hight, Line, Arana No.1 at Atlanta

by Pete McCole
Sunday, May 06, 2012

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Tony Schumacher leads Top Fuel
Rhonda McCole/AR1.com
Topping their respective divisions during Friday’s opening qualifying rounds, Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana, Sr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) remained atop the leaderboards following Saturday’s qualifying for the 32nd Annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event at Atlanta Dragway.

Friday’s cooler track temperatures gave way to hotter, slicker track conditions in Saturday’s two sessions as the track temperature reached 139 degrees and speeds fell way below Friday’s record-breaking numbers.

In Top Fuel, the top 12 remained unchanged from Friday with Schumacher holding the top spot with a run of 3.815 at 322.58 mph - enough to eclipse the previous track record of 3.820 set by Spencer Massey in April of 2009 – and secure his first no.1 qualifier position of the season and 68th of his career.

“We’ve got a great race car,” Schumacher said. “Being the No. 1 qualifier, we’re going to go out there and at least have a chance to run where we want to run, what lane we want, and all those good things that come with it. I’ve been saying all along we’re not going to go out and have any easy rounds, but at least it’s our choice when and what lane. We’re going to win one of these things.

“We’ve got a great car, a great team. We’ve just had terrible luck. If we go out and get a little luck, it will turn. It always does. I look forward to starting a winning streak tomorrow.”

Steve Torrence continued his stellar run with his third straight top two start, clocking in at 3.827 at 320.74 mph to take the second position. Shawn Langdon (3.830/313.88), Spencer Massey (3.839/320.13) and Antron Brown (3.842/323.12) rounded out the top five.

The only real drama in top fuel was at the back of the pack, as eight drivers jockeyed for the final four spots.

Morgan Lucas rallied back from going up in smoke twice on Friday to race his way to the 13th position. Clay Millican, J.R. Todd and Pat Dakin all raced their way in, bumping Dom Lagana from the field. Dakin will face Schumacher in the opening round.

Robert Hight
Rhonda McCole/AR1.com
It was the same story in Funny Car as the top 12 stayed right where they were from Friday with Robert Hight claiming his fourth pole of the season and third in the last four events, posting a 4.104 at 308.35 mph in his quest for his fifth victory in the last six races and the seventh straight for John Force Racing.

“There’s a lot of cars that are bunched up there,” said Hight, who will face Bob Bode in the opening round of eliminations on Sunday. “It’s going to be a tough, tough race tomorrow. I’m excited for it. You’re going to see a lot of close, side-by-side racing.

“When you win a race like this, it’s a little more special. You probably are going to need a few breaks along the way because anything can happen in this heat.”

Ron Capps will start second with a 4.114/309.27, followed by Bob Tasca III (4.121/302.35), Cruz Pedregon (4.135/304.19) and Tim Wilkerson (4.138/303.23)

Hight’s teammate Mike Neff had an abysmal weekend, failing to make a complete pass with three blown engines and missed the field for the first time since 2008. Blake Alexander and Todd Lesenko also failed to qualify.         

Speeds were a bit faster in Pro Stock qualifying, but the top five remained unchanged with defending event winner Jason Line winning his fourth no. 1 qualifier spot of the season.

Line posted a 6.607 at 209.04 mph to improve on his time from Friday and remain the top qualifier. He has qualified second or better in all seven events so far this season.
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“It was obviously hotter out here today, but the NHRA crew did a great job,” Line said. “For a race track that was this hot, I’d say that their preparation work was phenomenal. We just tried to make good, safe runs today, and we feel very good about going into tomorrow’s eliminations.”

Allen Johnson will start second, posting a 6.613 at 209.23 mph. Greg Anderson took third at 6.625/208.84, with Ronnie Humphrey (6.631/208.88) fourth and Mike Edwards (6.635/208.71) fifth.

Warren Johnson qualified in the bump spot and will face Line in the opening round.

Hector Arana, Sr. earned his second straight no. 1 qualifier in Pro Stock Motorcycle with a pass of 6.894 at a track speed record of 193.82 mph. Eddie Krawiec took second at 6.895/195.42. Hector Arana Jr. was third at 6.950/192.85 followed by Michael Ray (6.981/191.21) and Andrew Hines (6.987/192.06)

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