NHRA Friday Qualifying | Gainesville

Friday Report

Robert Hight raced to the Funny Car lead Friday during a rain-shortened day of qualifying at the Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals.

Defending world champion Hight powered his Auto Club Ford Mustang to a Gainesville Raceway track-record performance of 4.060 seconds at 310.13 mph to move to the top of the 16-car qualifying order.

"A lot of guys went out there and [lost traction], but [crew chief] Jimmy Prock has got a good handle on this race car," Hight said. "We were hurting it a little bit in Phoenix, so he decided to put a new fuel pump on it, and he was even second-guessing himself a little after we had the threatening weather and one run today. But he stuck with it, and as you can see, it ran 310. It was a flawless run. If we can get some more conditions tomorrow, maybe we can lower that a little bit because there’s a lot of other cars out there that can do that. An .06 is a great start, and it’s definitely going to stay in the top four, five."

Tony Schumacher, Mike Edwards and Junior Pippin also were qualifying leaders in their respective categories at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event. NHRA officials were forced to cancel one qualifying round due to persistent rains, which lasted until just past noon.

Seven-time world champion Schumacher also posted both ends of the track record in his U.S. Army dragster with a performance of 3.823 at 318.03 to pace Top Fuel qualifying.

The track was fine, actually a lot better than what we just ran," Schumacher said. "That was a good run, and it was fairly soft; just a nice, easy run down the racetrack. I’m kind of surprised the other cars didn’t do better. There’s probably a lot more track than they thought. It’s a good track, a good facility."

Schumacher, a three-time winner of the historic event, still gets goosebumps when he pulls to the line for a run at The Swamp.

"This is a big race," he said. "It’s like Indy and Pomona, the list of people who have won this one is amazing. People spend extra time and energy to win this one. I don’t know how we dig any deeper than we dig normally, but this is Gainesville. It’s an amazing place, an amazing crowd, a great track, and I just love winning this one. It’s a great trophy to put on your shelf."

Edwards, who will face Greg Anderson tomorrow in the continuation of the weather-delayed Pro Stock eliminations from Phoenix, covered the distance in 6.610 at 208.97 in his Penhall/Interstate Batteries Pontiac GXP to lead his category.

"We figured the track would be pretty good," said defending world champ Edwards. "Of course, it rained most of the day, but when it did dry off, we had cloud cover all day, so we knew the track would be cool. So we thought the track would be pretty good, and it was."

The Edwards-Anderson matchup will be one of four quarterfinal rounds left over from Phoenix that will be completed during tomorrow’s first qualifying session (noon). The semifinals will take place in the second qualifying round (2:45 p.m.). The two Phoenix finalists will then get an additional run tomorrow.

"[With Phoenix eliminations tomorrow], the focus does change," Edwards said. "You’re doing two things at once. It’s different. You know, you’re qualifying but you’re also racing, so your mindset’s going to be a little different, that’s for sure. It’s going to be a little nerve-racking because if conditions change a lot, we’ll have to make a lot of changes to these cars, so we’ll just have to wait and see."

Pippin led Pro Stock Motorcycle with a 6.959 at 190.14 on his PiranaZ Buell.

Junior Pippen Speaks…

"We just threw a Hail Mary at it to be honest with you, and, by golly, she went on down the boulevard, so I guess we’ll throw more Hail Marys at her," Pippin said. "For the first pass I’ve made since Pomona [in November], we’re really happy and surprised. It felt good. I short-shifted a couple of gears, so there’s more in it. We’ll come out tomorrow and see if we can’t get faster because I’m sure the .95 won’t stand up, but it’s the best start we’ve had."

It is the first time Pippin has led his category since he joined the series in late 2007.

"For the last two years, we’ve really worked hard on it," Pippin said. "We’ve had some little glitches here and there, but hopefully it’s all coming together now. It’s not because of lack of effort, I’ll tell you that."


Results Friday after the first one of three rounds of qualifying for the 41st annual NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway, third of 23 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. Qualifying will continue Saturday for Sunday’s final eliminations.

Top Fuel — 1. Tony Schumacher, 3.823 seconds, 318.02 mph; 2. Shawn Langdon, 3.829, 317.12; 3. Doug Kalitta, 3.846, 315.49; 4. Doug Foley, 3.891, 312.35; 5. Steve Torrence, 3.893, 311.99; 6.Antron Brown, 4.208, 203.40; 7. Morgan Lucas, 4.258, 245.76; 8. Pat Dakin, 4.458, 192.60; 9. David Grubnic, 4.520, 169.23; 10. Brandon Bernstein, 7.784, 84.15; 11. Larry Dixon, 8.004, 83.38; 12. Terry McMillen, 8.085, 85.83. Not Qualified: 13. Cory McClenathan, 8.407, 78.10; 14. Bobby Lagana Jr., 8.798, 82.14.

Funny Car — 1. Robert Hight, Ford Mustang, 4.060, 310.13; 2. John Force, Mustang, 4.093, 307.72; 3. Ashley Force Hood, Mustang, 4.094, 308.99; 4. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 4.104, 304.12; 5. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.110, 303.64; 6. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.135, 306.05; 7. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.136, 300.00; 8. Bob Bode, Chevy Impala SS, 4.165, 292.65; 9. Tony Pedregon, Impala, 4.198, 302.21; 10. Melanie Troxel, Charger, 4.255, 271.41; 11. Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Solara, 7.435, 83.43; 12. Jeff Diehl, Chevy Monte Carlo, 7.705, 92.33. Not Qualified: 13. Del Worsham, 7.967, 82.70; 14. Jim Head, 8.114, 80.12; 15. Bob Tasca III, 8.455, 77.18; 16. Jeff Arend, 9.131, 77.45; 17. Paul Lee, 11.867, 76.33.

Pro Stock — 1. Mike Edwards, Pontiac GXP, 6.610, 208.97; 2. Ron Krisher, Chevy Cobalt, 6.619, 207.91; 3. Rodger Brogdon, GXP, 6.629, 208.26; 4. Vinnie Deceglie, Dodge Avenger, 6.631, 207.53; 5. Jeg Coughlin, Cobalt, 6.642, 208.49; 6. Warren Johnson, GXP, 6.650, 207.91; 7. Shane Gray, GXP, 6.654, 206.83; 8. Greg Stanfield, GXP, 6.655, 207.69; 9. Johnny Gray, GXP, 6.660, 206.42; 10. Jason Line, GXP, 6.661, 207.59; 11. Larry Morgan, Ford Mustang, 6.661, 206.95; 12.Allen Johnson, Avenger, 6.670, 207.62. Not Qualified: 13. Rickie Jones, 6.684, 206.26; 14. Kurt Johnson, 6.685, 207.02; 15. Justin Humphreys, 6.700, 207.11; 16. John Nobile, 6.709, 205.35; 17. John Gaydosh Jr, 6.880, 199.88; 18. Bob Benza, 8.083, 116.61; 19. Ronnie Humphrey, 8.614, 169.15; 20. Erica Enders, 11.251, 78.61; 21. V. Gaines, 12.456, 69.95; 22. Greg Anderson, 12.818, 66.89; 23. Steve Spiess, 15.402, 75.67; 24. Bob Yonke, 32.803, 401.86.

Pro Stock Motorcycle — 1. Junior Pippin, Buell, 6.959, 190.14; 2. Shawn Gann, Buell, 6.972, 190.70; 3. Matt Smith, Buell, 6.986, 190.35; 4. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.987, 191.51; 5. David Hope, Buell, 7.000, 189.66; 6. Hector Arana, Buell, 7.059, 190.40; 7. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 7.067, 188.20; 8. Angie Smith, Buell, 7.083, 185.38; 9. Douglas Horne, Buell, 7.086, 184.93; 10. Craig Treble, Suzuki, 7.093, 189.10; 11. LE Tonglet, Buell, 7.127, 187.16; 12. Darin McCurdy, Suzuki, 7.140, 188.60. Not Qualified: 13. Steve Johnson, 7.148, 190.97; 14. Mike Berry, 7.148, 186.61; 15. Andrew Hines, 7.174, 189.55; 16. Wesley Wells, 7.266, 185.66; 17. James Surber, 7.366, 186.33; 18. Katie Sullivan, 7.459, 181.84; 19. Joe DeSantis, 7.471, 179.14; 20. Karen Stoffer, 8.496, 107.08; 21. Redell Harris, broke.

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One of the few moto journalists based on the East Coast, Ron Lieback joined the motorcycle industry as a freelancer in 2007 and is currently Editor at Large at Ultimate Motorcycling. He is also the author of 365 to Vision: Modern Writer's Guide (How to Produce More Quality Writing in Less Time).