The heat went up even further for the final day of NHRA qualifying as NHRA Full Throttle Series as the dragsters visit Washington for the last race in the famed Western Swing. The heat kept speeds down, but there was plenty of action as Sunday’s elimination ladders were set.
Spencer Massey, Ron Capps and Allen Johnson fired the first shots by leading their respective divisions Friday, and Mother Nature and the August heat made those times stand up for a Seattle pole.
The day was historic for Pro Stock pacesetter Allen Johnson, who led today;’s third and fourth rounds of qualifying, making him the first driver to sweep all 12 rounds of the Western Swing.
"Anytime you can put your name in the record books of any kind is awesome," Johnson said. "The Western Swing has some sort of aura about it, so it would be great to become the eighth guy to ever sweep the Swing but we'll see what happens tomorrow."
The Top Fuel drivers were able to put up competitive times on a warm Washington afternoon, but no one was able to come close to Spencer Massey’s top effort of Friday, giving the series points leader the top qualifying spot. His time of 3.837 seconds was matched by teammate Antron Brown yesterday, but Massey’s superior top speed numbers gave him the #1 spot.
"Our goal in qualifying was to get data for raceday and we ran great Friday and ran pretty good in the heat today," Massey said. "The conditions should be about the same tomorrow and we have a race car that can get down the hot track so I think we're ready for raceday. We have Ron Smith tomorrow and he's a guy that comes out once a year; we have to watch out for guys like that. We have to make sure we don't let him play spoiler. We're going to stick to our game plan and try not to beat ourselves and hopefully that will get us to go some rounds tomorrow."
Doug Kalitta and Brandon Bernstein were the only drivers among the top 12 to improve their times on Saturday, and interestingly, they came in the same third-round pair. Bernstein was the only driver to benefit though as he jumped over Bob Vandergriff to claim the 10th spot. That tenth spot will match him up with the seventh-seeded Kalitta again in the opening round of Sunday’s eliminations.
The Funny Car ladder saw some movement in the third round as first-round lane choice swapped hands, but nobody was able to get enough power down to get under Ron Capps’ time from Friday night. Capps earned the top qualifier spot for the second time this year and the 13th time in his career.
"I feel good," Capps said. "I've been here as the 14th or 15th qualifier and won from the bottom before so I know we can win from any position here. We got down the track today on the hot track so we'll sleep good tonight, and I'll be on my game tomorrow.
Capps’ Don Schumacher Racing teammate Jack Beckman will start from the #2 position after he missed besting Capps’ 4.119-second run by just .002 seconds on Friday. Cruz Pedregon and Johnny Gray each led a round of qualifying today but had to settle for the third and fourth spots respectively while Tim Wilkerson jumped up and took the eighth position, giving him lane choice tomorrow against Tony Pedregon.
The Funny Car class was the only one that sent anyone home as Todd Lesenko and Joshua Crawford failed to make the show, as Jeff Diehl took the last bump spot. The John Force Racing quartet is all lodged in the bottom half of the ladder, with patriarich John leading the squad at 10th.
The beat goes on in Pro Stock qualifying, as Allen Johnson led all four qualifying sessions for the third consecutive event, meaning that the Mopar driver led all 12 sessions on the Western Swing. And while nobody made any headway against very warm Seattle temperatures, Johnson was the only Pro Stocker to get under 6.6 seconds all day.
His Friday of 6.554 seconds at 211.66 mph gave Johnson the top qualifying spot, leaving Vincent Nobile to settle for the second rung on the ladder after going just .01 seconds slower than Johnson
"It was warm today and we hurt a motor early, but in the fourth qualifying session we went out there and ran well so I think we have a good race day tune-up for the hot track tomorrow," Johnson said. "I thought we'd run a little better and we missed the tune-up a little bit, but we were still able to go low of the round. This Hemi is running awesome."
Third- and fourth-placed Mike Edwards and Erica Enders set identical 6.573-second runs on Friday that stood ,while points leader Greg Anderson is fifth on the ladder getting down the strip at 6.577 seconds. Ron Krisher led the drivers that needed to qualify today and will draw Erica Enders in the first round as a result.
1) Spencer Massey 3.837/319.60
2) Tony Schumacher 3.837/318.02
3) Steve Torrence 3.838/319.37
4) Shawn Langdon 3.842/316.23
5) Antron Brown 3.842/311.63
6) Khalid alBalooshi 3.857/317.34
7) Doug Kalitta 3.859/312.57
8) Morgan Lucas 3.864/318.62
9) David Grubnic 3.873/312.42
10) Brandon Bernstein 3.893/313.44
11) Bob Vandergriff 3.906/310.77
12) Clay Millican 3.912/312.78
13) Terry McMillen 4.036/299.20
14) Steve Chrisman 4.176/281.30
15) Scott Palmer 4.259/214.79
16) Ron Smith 5.088/235.35
1) Ron Capps 4.119/298.47
2) Jack Beckman 4.121/302.82
3) Cruz Pedregon 4.125/300.53
4) Johnny Gray 4.147/300.86
5) Matt Hagan 4.157/296.89
6) Mike Neff 4.161/297.16
7) Alexis DeJoria 4.165/293.54
8) Tim Wilkerson 4.174/296.18
9) Tony Pedregon 4.186/284.75
10) John Force 4.193/291.57
11) Bob Tasca III 4.213/298.47
12) Jeff Arend 4.222/295.85
13) Robert Hight 4.226/292.27
14) Courtney Force 4.237/262.44
15) Gary Densham 4.324/289.20
16) Jeff Diehl 4.337/271.35
Did Not Qualify
17) Joshua Crawford 4.398/274.89
18) Todd Lesenko 4.416/271.73
1) Allen Johnson 6.554/211.66
2) Vincent Nobile 6.564/210.87
3) Mike Edwards 6.573/210.97
4) Erica Enders 6.573/210.73
5) Greg Anderson 6.577/210.97
6) Jason Line 6.587/210.54
7) V Gaines 6.599/210.70
8) Warren Johnson 6.599/209.95
9) Shane Gray 6.603/210.01
10) Larry Morgan 6.606/209.65
11) Jeg Coughlin Jr. 6.612/210.05
12) Kurt Johnson 6.629/209.04
13) Ron Krisher 6.630/209.56
14) JR Carr 6.637/207.27
15) Mark Wolfe 6.674/207.62
16) Matt Hartford 6.685/208,55