|(T to B) Brown, Pedregon and Smith|
Antron Brown and his Don Schumacher Racing teammates flexed their muscles and raced their way to the top of the Top Fuel leaderboard on Saturday in the second day of qualifying for Monday's 57th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway near Indianapolis, Ind.
Cruz Pedregon remained the top qualifier in Funny Car, while Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also held onto their provisional poles with two more sessions remaining during Sunday’s final qualifying.
Cooler track conditions during the late-evening session led to some major shakeups in the Top Fuel and Funny Car divisions, with several of the top-five qualifying spots changing hands.
Antron Brown jumped from fifth to first in the Top Fuel ladder with a final run of 3.818 at 322.96 mph to knock Larry Dixon off the provisional pole.
Tony Schumacher took the second position with a 3.856 at 320.36, followed by Spencer Massey at 3.875, 319.37 to give DSR a sweep of the top three.
“We came out here last week and tested a whole variety of things we wanted to test," said Brown. “We came up with some stuff and have just been running the same package that we have run all year and will run the rest of the season. Brian (Corradi, co-crew chief) and Mark (Oswald, co-crew chief) and the boys have just been refining it and just making it better and better."
Top Fuel points leader Del Worsham rallied back from a disqualification on Friday and an aborted run in Saturday’s opening session to take the fourth qualifying spot with a run of 3.376, 316.38 in the final session. Dixon was unable to best his run from Friday and held the fifth spot.
Among the Countdown contenders still not qualified were Doug Kalitta and Shawn Langdon.
Pedregon crushed the field to retain the top spot in Funny Car, pulling off the quickest pass of the event so far with a 4.071 at 301.54 mph as speeds increased significantly from Saturday’s afternoon session.
“The first run yesterday was a great run in the heat," said Pedregon. “The second we just were trying to take it down the track and were just too slow. But the last run tonight, I never like to use the phrase ‘going for it,’ but we take advantage of the conditions and we made a calculated guess at what the track would handle and we put it together and like we’ve done all year, the car hung on and man, it was haulin’ down there."
Tim Wilkerson moved from sixth to second with a low ET of 4.138 at 302.96 mph, while Melanie Troxel pulled off the fastest top speed of the weekend with a 4.139 at 309.63 mph, enough to move her from seventh to third on the grid.
Ron Capps fell back on his qualifying run from Friday of 4.161, 302.08 and slipped to fourth ahead of Paul Lee, who moved from tenth to fifth with a 4.171, 307.86.
Countdown drivers Jeff Arend and Bob Tasca III are still on the outside looking in and will need to qualify on Sunday to make the show.
Greg Anderson continued to lead the Pro Stock class, backing up Friday's run with a pass of 6.629 at 208.01 mph in Saturday's final session. Jason Line held onto second with a 6.640, 208.17. Erica Enders cracked the top five, running third with a 6.651, 207.30. Mike Edwards (6.657, 208.04) and Ronnie Humphrey (6.660, 207.02) rounded out the top five.
Matt Smith holds the top spot in Pro Stock Motorcycle with Friday's pass of 6.954 at 190.97 mph. Although the top three remain unchanged, Hector Arana III moved up to fourth while Michael Phillips got bumped out of the top five as LE Tonglet took over the number five spot.