ENGLISHTOWN - Friday Recap by Larry Sullivan ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. - SUMMIT FastNews - Friday's qualifying sessions for the 29th annual NHRA Mopar Parts Nationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park rewrote the track record book and made some ...
ENGLISHTOWN - Friday Recap
by Larry Sullivan
ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. - SUMMIT FastNews - Friday's qualifying sessions for the 29th annual NHRA Mopar Parts Nationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park rewrote the track record book and made some inroads on the "fastest- and quickest-ever" page of the national ledger. By the time the final car made its way down the dragstrip Friday night, Gary Scelzi, Cruz Pedregon, Kurt Johnson, and Matt Hines were atop the first-day ladders in their categories and David Nickens upheld Mopar's honor by leading the Pro Stock Truck field into Saturday's eliminations.
Scelzi snatched the Top Fuel honors away from Joe Amato in the evening qualifying session, posting a track record 4.582 second elapsed time at 315.64 mph, quicker than Amato's 4.588. Amato held on to the track speed record for Top Fuel, however, posting a 321.19 mph speed in the first session, earlier in the day.
Scelzi gave all the credit to crew chief and car owner Allan Johnson, saying it was almost a perfect run, "Very close, except at the end of the run. It picked the front wheels up, set them down, and then picked them back up again around 300 feet." At the end of the run, "The throttle hung and I had to pull it up with my foot. When you drive into the chutes like that it tears them off." Was he scared? "If I had cymbals between my knees, I'd have sounded like a marching band."
In Funny Car, Pedregon shared the honors with John Force. Pedregon ran the second-quickest elapsed time in history, a 4.832 at 313.15 mph, to take the number one spot away from Force, but Force's 4.843 was paired with a 323.35 mph speed, the fastest ever recorded for either Top Fuel or Funny Car.
Like Scelzi, Pedregon credited his crew chief, Wes Cerny, saying, "What you are seeing is not an accident. I've got to give Wes a lot of credit. I used to see John Force with crew chief Austin Coil and think, 'I'd like to have a crew chief like that.' Well, now I've got one."
Force also credited his crew chief, saying "He doesn't always tell me when it's going to run a number like that. I just knew it was on a good run, smooth, and I never lifted. We just had a good race track here tonight."
Kurt Johnson took the top spot in the all-six-second field by running a 6.906 at 199.14 mph, saying afterward, "We just threw everything we had at it." Kurt's father, Warren, expected to do even better, a low 6.80s elapsed time, but ended up sixth, though his 6.929 at 200.00 mph was good enough to reset the track speed record.
In Pro Stock Bike, Matt Hines continued his season-long dominance, setting both ends of the track record with a 7.280 second ET in the evening session and a 185.92 mph speed in the first session of the day. He holds a 0.06 second advantage over the number two qualifier, and a tenth of a second or more over the rest of the field.
In Pro Stock Truck, Dodge Dakota driver David Nickens brought smiles to the event sponsor Mopar suite and frowns to the Chevrolet contingent by taking the number one qualifier spot away from Jerry Haas, who held it through the first three rounds. Nickens' 7.670 at 175.21 mph bested Haas' 7.678, though Haas retained the national speed record with his first-session 176.70 mph run.
Sixteen trucks will face off in eliminations Saturday. In addition, the eight best qualifiers over the past year will meet in the Pro Stock Challenge and the four Professional categories making their first two qualifying attempts today will try twice more Saturday, setting Sunday's eliminations ladders.
Results provided by the FastNews Network, courtesy of Summit Racing Equipment ** http://www.summitracing.com/ **