NHRA Pro Stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens, who missed a number of races late in the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series’ “regular season” without a sponsor, took her new sponsor Husky Liners to the top of the chart in qualifying for the AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals at Texas Motorplex in Ennis. The popular Texas native earned her first No. 1 of the season with a pass of 6.557 seconds at 210.93 mph and faces fellow Texas Chris McGaha in the first round of eliminations on Sunday. Friday’s qualifying rounds were rained out, leaving only two sessions on Saturday.
Rickie Jones and Shane Gray qualified in spots No. 2 and 3, respectively, in Pro Stock.
"This is a great feeling for sure, especially doing it in front of my hometown fans in Texas," said Enders-Stevens. "It was kind of nerve-wracking with only two qualifying sessions, so I hope to have more peace of mind during Sunday's eliminations."
Shawn Langdon earned the No. 1 spot in Top Fuel, his fifth of the season, with a fast pass of 3.819 seconds at 321.04 mph. He’ll meet T.J. Zizzo in the first round. Doug Kalitta qualified No. 2, with Brandon Bernstein in the No. 3 spot.
“It was huge to come out here and make as strong a run as we did in the first session,” said Langdon, who claimed the No. 1 qualifying spot in Dallas for the second straight year. “It was our goal to try to bring the deficit behind (points leader) Spencer Massey to less than one round. Now our focus is to win the race.”
For the second straight Countdown race, a top-10 driver did not qualify in Top Fuel, as Khalid alBalooshi, Langdon’s teammate, missed the cut.
Robert Hight led Funny Car qualifying with a pass of 4.052 seconds at 311.85 mph; he’ll face Del Worsham in round one of eliminations. Cruz Pedregon qualified No. 2, with points leader Matt Hagan qualifying No. 3.
"It’s a lot of fun right now,” said Hight. ‘It couldn’t happen at a better time than at our sponsor’s race. That was a good run. (Crew chief) Mike Neff is not one of these guys that goes up there and throws a Hail Mary."
Hector Arana took the Pro Stock Motorcycle No. 1 with a fast pass of 6.846 seconds at 195.42 mph, just ahead of his son and points leader Hector Arana Jr. in the second spot. Arana faces Michael Phillips in round one Sunday. Matt Smith qualified in the No. 3 spot in PSM.
“We’ve always had the power, but could not take full advantage of it,” said Arana Sr. “This year, we’ve taken it easy on our runs. I’m truly blessed because I’m racing for a living and having my sons right with me to help out.”
Eliminations for the AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals begin Sunday at 11 a.m. CT. Keep up with this weekend’s action at www.nhra.com.
Quotes in this piece provided by the NHRA.
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