NHRA Funny Car driver John Force is showing no signs of slowing down as he looks for his 16th title, capturing the No. 1 qualifier for the NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel), Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also earned No. 1s in their respective categories.
Force, who has won the last two events, qualified with a track-record time of 4.011 seconds (317.79 mph) and meets Gary Densham in the first round of eliminations. Force’s daughter, Courtney, qualified No. 2 (4.5052 seconds/318.24 mph) and defending Funny Car champ Jack Beckman qualified No. 3 (4.052 seconds/315.56 mph).
“This car has had a little magic these last few races and just seemed to get away with everything,” said Force. “We went up there and went right down the race track. It was like a rocket ship. It was pretty awesome. I’ve got a great team and we’re just going to have some fun (Sunday).”
Langdon earned his seventh No. 1 qualifier of the season with a pass of 3.778 seconds (324.28 mph), just ahead of Steve Torrence, who took the No. 2 spot with a pass of 3.783 seconds (327.35 mph – track-record speed). Seven-time Top Fuel champ Tony Schumacher took the third position (3.784 seconds/324.59 mph). Langdon faces Terry McMillen in the first round on Sunday.
“We’ve started out very well with qualifying,” said Langdon. “During the two weeks off the whole Al-Anabi team was really trying to focus on just a couple areas of the car, trying to find a couple thousandths of a second. You really try to treat this like any other race, but there’s a lot of pressure in the last two races of the season. You just can’t have any mistakes with just two races left. We’ll try to keep making good runs and maybe we’ll have some race-day luck here in Vegas.”
Edwards earned his 14th No. 1 qualifier of the season with a Pro Stock run of 6.632 seconds (208.23 mph); he’ll face Kurt Johnson in the first round. V. Gaines took the No. 2 qualifier (6.641 seconds/206.20 mph), and Jeg Coughlin Jr. took the third position (6.645 seconds/207.43 mph).
“We took advantage of the conditions and made an extremely good run,” said Edwards. “We got a few little qualifying points and those are critical. Now we have to worry about (Sunday). Whoever does the best job over the next two races is going to be champion. We just have to win here. We need to win here, but there is no pressure. I feel good about our team and our chances, and I just need to do my deal.”
Arana earned his third No. 1 in the last four races with a pass of 6.930 seconds (192.44 mph) in the two-wheel class, and meets Shawn Gann in the first round of eliminations. Steve Johnson took the No. 2 spot (6.945 seconds/191.92 mph), while Arana’s youngest racing son Adam qualified in the No. 3 spot (6.946 seconds/192.71 mph).
“That was an awesome run,” said Arana. “We just had two weeks off and we wanted to use that time to concentrate on our bikes and get ready for the last two races. We have to stay calm and not take anything for granted. I have to stay focused and keep doing the same thing (Sunday).”
Final eliminations for the NHRA Toyota Nationals take place Sunday at 11 a.m. PT. Keep up with the action at www.nhra.com.
Quotes in this piece provided by the NHRA.
Check out Paula’s Examiner columns on motorsports:
Follow Paula on:
· Twitter - @paulat14
· Website – paulathompsonfreelance.com
· Flickr – Paula Thompson Freelance
Contact Paula at email@example.com