Las Vegas II: Series Saturday qualifying report

SCHUMACHER CLINCHES SIXTH CHAMPIONSHIP; HIGHT, COUGHLIN, SAMPEY ALSO NO.1 AT THE STRIP AT LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY LAS VEGAS -- Top Fuel driver Tony Schumacher clinched his sixth NHRA POWERade Series world championship by qualifying at The Strip...

SCHUMACHER CLINCHES SIXTH CHAMPIONSHIP; HIGHT, COUGHLIN, SAMPEY ALSO NO.1 AT THE STRIP AT LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY

LAS VEGAS -- Top Fuel driver Tony Schumacher clinched his sixth NHRA POWERade Series world championship by qualifying at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Robert Hight, Jeg Coughlin and Angelle Sampey were the other No. 1 qualifiers in their categories Saturday at the eighth annual ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals, the fifth of six events in the NHRA Countdown to 1 playoffs.

Schumacher achieved his fifth consecutive and sixth world championship with his commanding run from Friday night. His U.S. Army dragster ran a time of 3.781 at 316.60. This is his eighth top qualifier of the season and his 55th career top qualifier. With this championship Schumacher moves ahead of Joe Amato for most career championship in the Top Fuel category, and joins legend Kenny Bernstein, Bob Glidden and Warren Johnson at third all-time.

"I think it's very gratifying to wrap up number one because after the whole season being as great as it was, and the last two years coming down to the last run of the year and how exciting it was, you know, we show up and they say, 'All you have to do is qualify,'" said Schumacher. "We got to remember we won 14 races. We didn't just have to qualify. We had to do all of that to get here. So to be number one, at least it is a little bit of an exclamation point. We clearly earned it. I don't think there is a question anywhere in the country that we left anything on the table. It's amazing. To be able to do it in Vegas was great. There is just something special about Las Vegas."

The rain played into the hands of Hight. Right after his burnout light rain fell on the track and racing was halted for a short time. Hight then drove his Auto Club/Los Angeles Dodgers Ford Mustang to his fifth No. 1 in 2008 with a run of 4.043 at 309.20. It's also his 28 career top qualifier.

"It was probably the most confusing run I ever made," said Hight. "Having to do the burnout and its raining. Then seeing the side windows have water all over them and getting back past the tree and Rick Stewart (NHRA chief starter) is telling me to shut it off. I was telling the crew guys to do everything right (before restarting). We know we have to do everything perfect. We have been number one here a lot and lost first round too. My radio didn't work. I didn't even know what it ran, but I knew it had to be pretty good run. It was a weird run."

Sampey ran a track record time of 6.993 at 188.23 with her Rush Racing Products Buell Pro Stock Motorcycle in the first round of qualifying. It was her first top qualifier of the season and 45th career top qualifier.

"After the first round I was praying for 20 mile an hour headwinds because I wanted to keep the No. 1 spot," said Sampey. "I'm really excited. I haven't been No. 1 qualifier in so long I have forgotten what it feels like."

Pro Stock driver Coughlin ran a track record time of 6.703 at 205.47 in his JEGS.com Chevy Cobalt. This is his third No. 1 qualifier of the season, 15th of his career and second at Las Vegas.

"I got a little aggressive with the car in the left lane this morning, but had to abort the run," said Coughlin. "We came back and ran nice and tied for low of the round with Jason Line. The momentum we were looking for, the consistency we were looking for is exactly what we accomplished. We feel confident going into tomorrow."

Eliminations begin tomorrow at 11 a.m.

-credit: nhra

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Kenny Bernstein , Tony Schumacher , Joe Amato , Bob Glidden , Robert Hight , Angelle Sampey