Lucas, Pedregon, Line, Smith Top zMax Qualifying
Defending Top Fuel champion Antron Brown failed to qualify for the event after dismal runs in the final three sessions, coming up just short in his final run on Saturday, amounting to a big hit in the points for the driver who came into the Countdown sixth in the standings
Lucas earned his second no. 1 qualifier spot of the season and 10th of his career after topping the Top Fuel ladder with a pass of 3.749 seconds at 324.51 mph in Friday’s session that went untouched on Saturday.
“I’m really proud that the guys put in so many hours before, around, and after Indy,” Lucas said. “They really want it right now. I feel like we’re on the right track. Tomorrow is the day when all the pressure is going to be on.”
Tony Schumacher (3.766, 321.19) was second, followed by series points leader Shawn Langdon (3.768, 327.27), Khalid alBalooshi (3.779, 325.53) and Steve Torrence (3.787, 327.59) as the top five qualifiers held their positions from Friday’s qualifying.
While the top five remained unchanged, the drama was building on the bump spot - with Brown, Terry McMillen, Pat Dakin, and Chris Karamesines all battling for the final two spots in the field.
Coming up as one of the first qualifiers in the final session, Dakin ran a 3.822, 316.90 to lock up the 12th spot and in the show, while McMillen came up next and posted a 3.885, 320.36 to claim the bump spot.
Antron Brown was next up, needing to run 3.88 or better to make the show, but ended up losing power as he came to the finish line to run 3.893,317.72 and out of the field
It was the second-career DNQ for Brown and his first since Pomona in 2008.
“You never imagine this kind of thing happening,” said Brown, who dropped to eighth in the points standings. “We just went out there and we were trying to run hard. Things just didn’t go our way. That’s how racing can be. You can do all the right things and they still come up wrong.
Although his run on Friday was enough to eclipse the national ET record, he was unable to back that up on Saturday to secure the record and the all-important 20 bonus points that go with it. He can still clinch the national record with a run of 4.020 or quicker in Sunday’s eliminations.
“We’re still excited that we were able to run that 3.98,” said Pedregon, who will face Bob Gilbertson in Sunday’s opening round. “We feel great to run the second quickest run in Funny Car. To be at 278 mph at halftrack is great. In the big picture tomorrow is going to be the day that we all forget about that 3.98 and hopefully have a good day and have the race round wins and points to show our efforts for the weekend.”
Series points leader Matt Hagan took second with a quick pass of 3.992, 320.58, followed by Tim Wilkerson at 4.020, 318.99. Courtney Force was fourth with a 4.021, 319.37 and Alexis DeJoria rounded out the top five, going 4.027, 310.70
Line’s qualifying effort was his first top qualifier of the season, 34th of his career and his fifth at zMax Dragway. He’ll face Warren Johnson in Sunday’s opening round.
“We need to go rounds if you want to contend for the championship, especially starting from the deficit we are starting with,” said Line. “That goes for both Greg [Anderson, teammate] and myself. This is a must-win deal, and tomorrow is going to be a hard day.”
Shane Gray (6.545, 211.76), Erica Enders-Stevens (6.546, 211.83) and Allen Johnson (6.549, 211.59) rounded out the top five.
Matt Smith swept the weekend in Pro Stock Motorcycle, setting the low ET in all four rounds of qualifying including a 6.854, 194.97 in Saturday’s opening round that held up through the afternoon session to give Smith his fourth no. 1 qualifier of the season and 22nd of his career.
Smith will be looking for his second zMax win when he faces Jim Underdahl in the first round of eliminations on Sunday.
Michael Ray held onto the second spot with a 6.871, 194.38, while Hector Arana improved on his time in the second round, going 6.891, 194.77 to move up to third. Scotty Pollacheck took fourth, jumping from 10th to fourth with a 6.891, 191.43. Adam Arana was fifth, running 6.892, 194.16.
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