Northwest Nationals: Brown, Wilkerson and Anderson on top
Antron Brown raced to the No. 1 position in Top Fuel Saturday to close qualifying at the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways.
Tim Wilkerson (Funny Car) and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) will lead their categories into Sunday’s 11 a.m. eliminations as No. 1 qualifiers of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event, the final stop of the three-race Western Swing.
Brown, who won his third race of the season last weekend in Sonoma, claimed his first top qualifying effort of the year and 27th of his career with a performance of 3.809 seconds at 321.58 mph in his Matco Tools dragster.
“Our team really never worries about No. 1, but it’s good for the points,” said Brown, who hopes to improve on his third-place points position with a win tomorrow. “We just have to come in and focus on race day because that is where all the points are made up. That’s where we need to focus — on being consistent, fast, and quick. Our Top Fuel class, by all measures, is tough, and all the guys are swinging at the fence. You have five teams that have already clinched for the Countdown, and we’re within 200 points of each other. You don’t get any closer than that. That’s just a tribute to our sport and how everyone is rising up to the occasion.”
Series points leader Del Worsham qualified second in his Al-Anabi Racing dragster with a 3.823 at 321.65, and Spencer Massey was third in his FRAM/Prestone dragster with a 3.845 at 319.67.
In Funny Car, two-time defending event winner Wilkerson took his first No. 1 qualifying effort of the season and 16th of his career by powering his Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Mustang to a run of 4.109 at 303.71. His run denied John Force the top spot and the 15-time world champ dropped to second in the order with a 4.115 at a track record speed of 308.85 mph in his Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang.
“It’s been a little bit of dismal season so far,” said Wilkerson, who was runner-up last weekend at Infineon Raceway but sits 10th in the point standings. “It’s been a struggle. It makes me feel good to see my crew smile a little bit. I am happy for those guys more than anything else. We’ve really done well on the Western Swing in the past. We couldn’t have come on at a better time, that’s for sure. We need to keep Johnny Gray behind us [in the standings]. I think we have a pretty good chance tomorrow, and there are no gimmies for sure.”
Matt Hagan was third in his DieHard Dodge Charger with a 4.117 at 301.74, and Auto Club Mustang driver Robert Hight qualified fourth with a 4.125 at 306.26.
In Pro Stock, Anderson claimed his second No. 1 of the season and 75th of his career by posting a track record time of 6.536 at 211.26 in his Summit Racing Pontiac GXP.
“It’s another great day,” said Anderson, who also was a winner here last year. “These are definitely our type of conditions. This team seems to excel when you have good, cool air like this. It seems to come into our game a little better. You need to make the hay on the tracks where you’re strong like here and Sonoma. We did well last week and finished the job, and we need to go ahead and finish the job tomorrow and get the two Summit Pontiacs in the final, win the race, and take another trophy home.”
Anderson’s teammate Jason Line was second with a 6.538 at 211.20 in his Summit Racing GXP, and series points leader Mike Edwards is third in his Penhall/Interstate Batteries GXP with a 6.541 at 210.97.