Dixon, Pedregon, Anderson and Matt Smith Top qualifying
Larry Dixon, Cruz Pedregon, Greg Anderson and Matt Smith stood atop the ladder following the opening round of qualifying as the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series rolled into Lucas Oil Raceway for the 57th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals and the final race before the Countdown to the Championship begins.
With bonus points - and potentially their championship hopes – on the line, teams on the bubble looked to race their way into the top 10 and those already locked in looked to improve their positions, with a total purse of over $2million awaiting the winners of one of drag racings most prestigious events.
Dixon, the defending winner in Top Fuel, led all qualifiers with a low ET of 3.883 at 315.56 mph, well below the track record he set here a year ago, as unseasonably warm temperatures led to slick track conditions and slow speeds even as qualifying stretched into the twilight hours.
“It was night qualifying, but we still had hot, humid conditions,” said Dixon. “I think Jason (McCulloch, crew chief) was shooting for a little bit more than that, but we ended up low (ET) which is a great job for the Al-Anabi team.
“That probably won’t stick for the pole, it might not even get you qualified, but for today we did well. It’s just one run that happened to be the best run of the day, but it won’t be the best run of the weekend”
Morgan Lucas held the provisional second spot with a 3.891 at 313.80 mph, followed by Terry McMillen (3.893, 317.64), Tony Schumacher (3.893, 316.23) and Antron Brown (3.896, 316.67).
Dixon’s teammate and Top Fuel points leader Del Worsham was disqualified for the round after oiling down the track during his run and will have to try again on Saturday to qualify into the field.
Pedregon held the top spot in the Funny Car division with a pass of 4.4147 at 300.40 mph, followed by Ron Capps (4.161, 302.08 mph), Johnny Gray (4.192, 303.03), Robert Hight (4.196, 301.47) and Matt Hagan (4.212, 290.76).
“It’s a good way to open up the weekend,” said Pedregon. “It’s a good indicator of what we can do, but by no means is this run going to stay No. 1, and by no means is it going to win the race. But it’s certainly a great way to start.”
Jack Beckman, Bob Tasca III and 15-time Funny Car champion John Force were among the drivers still not in the field.
Anderson, who has qualified second or better in four of the last five events, was quickest in the Pro Stock class with a run of 6.650 at 208.04 mph. Jason Line (6.650, 207.62), Mike Edwards (6.657, 208.04), Vincent Nobile (6.673, 207.66) and V Gaines (6.679, 207.24) rounded out the top five.
Among the top ten in points who have not yet qualified are Rodger Brogdon and Ron Krishner.
Matt Smith holds the no. 1 spot in the Pro Stock Motorcycles with a low ET of 6.954 at 190.97 mph, followed by Andrew Hines (6.969 192.49), Chip Ellis (6.972, 190.48), Michael Philips (6.994, 193.29) and Hector Arana III (7.002, 193.05).