Dixon, Brown 1-2 In Norwalk Qualifying
Larry Dixon led Antron Brown as the Toyota-sponsored drivers swept the top-two spots in Top Fuel qualifying in preparation for Sunday’s NHRA Summit Racing Equipment Nationals at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio.
Dixon’s blistering 3.780-second run came late Friday evening and marked the fourth time this season that he’s been the number one qualifier, matching Brown’s total as the series leaders. His other pole positions have come at Houston, Atlanta and Chicago. It was also the third time this season that Dixon and Brown have run one-two in qualifying.
"You need to hit Friday night just right because you know you’re going for the pole, so you swing for the fences,” said Dixon, who also was the quickest in Saturday’s final qualifying session. "The Al-Anabi team did a great job today as well, with two good runs in the middle of the day. The forecast for tomorrow is similar so that’s a good sign.”
Dixon has won in each of the three previous races in which he was low-qualifier. In addition, he has now qualified in the top three in 12 of 13 races this season.
Brown, who was the number one qualifier last weekend in Bristol, continued a strong recent run that has seen him qualify first or second in six of the past 11 events. He’s advanced to the finals and the semi-finals in the each of the last two races.
Castrol GTX Mustang driver Ashley Force Hood came out swinging in the first session of Saturday qualifying at the 4th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals running the second quickest time of the session but it was Mother Nature who landed the knock-out punch. The second qualifying session of Funny Cars was cancelled as two strong but brief rain showers blew through Norwalk and drenched the capacity crowd and racing surface. The final Funny Car qualifying session was cancelled after just seven cars took to the track. Force Hood’s Friday night time of 4.032 seconds held up at the top elapsed time.
Luckily for John Force Racing and its legions of fans John Force was able to be one of the only seven Funny Cars to make runs. Unfortunately his final run of the day, 4.238 seconds, was only quick enough to eek him into the field as the No. 16 qualifier and he will race Force Hood in the first round.
Force Hood does not relish the fact that she will have to race her father and teammate in the first round but she knows that there are many thing that are out of her control. Weather and her loquacious father are two of those things.
“You get a lot of confidence from running well in the night session and in the hot sessions. It shows that we are able to adjust to what is thrown at us. You can’t control the weather. You can only control your car and how you adapt. My team and crew chiefs have done a great job this weekend,” said the 12-time No. 1 qualifier.
This is the 11th time in thirteen races of the 2010 Full Throttle Drag Racing Series that a JFR Ford Mustang has been the No. 1 qualified car. BrandSource will give a lucky fan a Whirlpool Washer & Dryer set through the “Win with Force” at track and online promotion. John Force Racing has never not held the No. 1 qualifying spot at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals.
Force Hood has a high level of confidence in her Mustang as well as her crew. She also knows that her Mustang even with as much personality as it has is still just a machine.
“I just have a really good running car. We have had it all weekend long and we are excited to be going into race day feeling this confident. The car doesn’t know who is in the other lane whether it is dad (John Force), my brother-in-law (Robert Hight), my best friend or someone you don’t like. It just doesn’t know the difference. That is how we race and especially when we race my dad,” said Force Hood.
“He talks so much and he is so involved and I have a very different style than him. I do my own thing. I do think he tries to mess with me. I don’t think he does it on purpose but he is constantly talking about everything to do with the runs. I want to tell him, ‘Dad you just do your thing you have been doing it for over 30 years. I’ll do my thing.’ Whoever has the best car will go on to the next round and most importantly whoever wins should go out and win the race.”
After John Force ran posting a 4.238 second time Tony Pedregon and Jeff Arend were the last two Funny Cars to race and neither improved their positions. As the cars were turning off at the top end a steady rain turned into a downpour almost instantaneously as teams and photographers scrambled to cover-up their valuable equipment. Ironically, the stands began emptying seconds before the hard stuff really came down. Force Hood chalked that up to local weather knowledge.
“I was in my Mustang belted up and ready to go and then the rain just started pouring. It surprised all of us. I think the locals all knew because someone said the stands cleared out before it started raining really hard. We were going to try and make another really strong run. In the heat I don’t think we would have been trying to improve too much on our time,” said Force Hood.
In the lone full qualifying session of Saturday Force Hood posted the second quickest time a lap of 4.185 seconds while teammate and eventual No. 4 qualifier Robert Hight smoked the tires on a 4.829 second run. Force Hood was the only Funny Car driver to collect valuable qualifying bonus points in all three sessions ringing up an additional seven points.
Hight will face Jeff Diehl in the first round. He has never raced the journeyman driver from Salinas, California.