Fast Friday at the US Nationals

GT Tonglet raced down the quarter mile at Indianapolis Raceway Park Saturday night to win the Ringers Gloves Pro Bike Battle, a special Pro Stock Motorcycle event held during the NHRA Mac Tools US Nationals this weekend. Tonglet defeated Chip...

GT Tonglet raced down the quarter mile at Indianapolis Raceway Park Saturday night to win the Ringers Gloves Pro Bike Battle, a special Pro Stock Motorcycle event held during the NHRA Mac Tools US Nationals this weekend. Tonglet defeated Chip Ellis in the final round of the battle to take the $15,000 winner's prize. Both Antron Brown and Andrew Hines tripped the red light in the semi-final round giving Tonglet and Ellis an easy ride to the finals.

It's been an emotional week for Tonglet, a Metairie, Louisiana resident. His wife lost her job in downtown New Orleans and he is unsure of the condition of his home in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Tonglet said when he puts on his helmet he's able to concentrate on drag racing. If Tonglet can keep the momentum going and pick up a win in Monday's US Nationals finale he'll pick up a bonus $10,000 from Ringers for the double victory.

But the people affected by the storm are clearly on the minds of everyone. Cruz Pedregon announced he's actioning off his signed Carlos Santana guitar on Ebay to benefit the NHRA hurricane relief fund as well as two other charitable foundations. The NHRA has also welcomed donations from fans for the fund. The Professional Racing Organization, which counts many drivers and team owners as members has collected over $150,000 for the relief effort.

Qualifications for what is widely considered the super bowl of drag racing continued Saturday. Ideal track conditions created the opportunity for several new IRP track records. Three qualification attempts were completed Friday night and Saturday with two remaining on Sunday.

Points leader Andrew Hines' V-Rod currently sits in the number one qualifier position in the Pro Stock Bike division. Hines set a new track record low E.T. of 7.081 seconds. Confident his number one position is safe, Hines plans to use the remaining two sessions to test new Dunlop tires. Angelle Sampey set a new track speed record of 192.25 MPH though her E.T. of 7.102 was only good enough for third. Hines' teammate Tonglet currently sits in the second qualifying spot with his E.T. 7.096 seconds.

Defending US Nationals champion Greg Anderson continued to show his team's strength by taking the pole position in the Pro Stock division with a track record low E.T. 6.689 seconds, also setting a new track speed record 205.51 MPH. Anderson said his team has found the right setup for Monday's race and hopes other teams run out of time before they discover it too. Kurt Johnson and Larry Morgan hold the second and third qualifying positions respectively.

The Professor, Warren Johnson sits in the seventh qualifying spot after announcing his new 3 year agreement with GM Performance Parts to continue racing Pro Stock despite his 2005 School's Out retirement tour. Johnson committed to drive the next two years with the third year potentially a transition year for the team.

Top Fuel defending champion Tony Schumacher broke the track E.T. record Friday night with a 4.459 second run and repeated the feat Saturday night. The Sarge also set a new track speed record Friday night reaching 329.18 MPH. Despite the track records, Schumacher was disappointed in his Saturday night run as he was actually aiming for a world record Saturday night. He felt the conditions were ideal with cool, clean air and a good car set-up. In the midst of an intense battle for the Top Fuel points championship, a world record would've given him a bonus 20 points.

Schumacher's pole position is considered safe with both qualifying sessions on Sunday scheduled during daylight hours. He's followed by in second and in third going into those last two sessions.

In a bizarre incident during the afternoon qualifying session, Tony Pedregon's Funny Car lurched across the center board after a throttle problem caused the car to jump into the timing system at the start line. Two members of Pedregon's crew, including chief Dickie Venables were treated and released for minor injuries. Pedregon and his full crew were able to return for the night qualifying session with a new chassis and body and currently sit in fifteenth.

John Force captured his first top Funny Car qualifying spot of 2005 with a track record low E.T. 4.726 seconds. "It was good for us to get that, cause my boys needed it," Force admitted. "We've been goofed up for a while and we don't know why," he continued. "But we're starting to get a handle on where we came from." Force's teammate Robert Hight is second followed by Frank Pedregon. Del Worsham set a track speed record powering his car to 328.14 MPH but sits in fourth.

The NHRA Pros wrap up qualifications Sunday and compete in the biggest race of the season on Monday.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Antron Brown , Frank Pedregon , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Del Worsham , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Greg Anderson , Larry Morgan , Cruz Pedregon , Andrew Hines , GT Tonglet , Chip Ellis , Robert Hight , Angelle Sampey