COUNTDOWN SPOTLIGHT SHINES BRIGHTEST ON STANFIELD, STOFFER Larry Dixon, Tony Pedregon, Allen Johnson, Hector Arana qualify No. 1 INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Heading into Sunday's final day of qualifying at the 54th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at...
COUNTDOWN SPOTLIGHT SHINES BRIGHTEST ON STANFIELD, STOFFER
Larry Dixon, Tony Pedregon, Allen Johnson, Hector Arana qualify No. 1
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Heading into Sunday's final day of qualifying at the 54th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis, the hottest seats in the house will be under Greg Stanfield and Karen Stoffer.
Larry Dixon (Top Fuel), Tony Pedregon (Funny Car), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana (Pro Stock Motorcycle) claimed the provisional No. 1 qualifying positions at the 18th and final regular season race of the NHRA POWERade Series season, but the focus on Sunday's final two rounds of qualifying will be on the drivers hanging on to the final playoff berths in Pro Stock (Stanfield) and Pro Stock Motorcycle (Stoffer).
Neither of those drivers has successfully qualified for Monday's race and if they don't get in during one of the final two qualifying rounds on Sunday, they may be bumped from the six-race Countdown to 1 NHRA Playoff, which begins Sept. 12-14 at the Carolinas Nationals.
In fact, Stoffer would be passed by Arana if she DNQs. Stanfield, meanwhile, does still have some room for error; if he DNQs, 11th place and six-time world champion Warren Johnson (qualified fifth with a 6.668) would still need to reach the final round to bump him.
There are also two notable driver not yet qualified in Top Fuel: Morgan Lucas and Tony Schumacher.
Lucas, sporting the special Lucas Oil Stadium wrap on his dragster, is currently in 11th place and needs to get in the show to have a shot at bumping 10th-place Doug Kalitta or ninth-place Dave Grubnic.
Schumacher, meanwhile, has to get in the show to have a chance to set the NHRA Top Fuel record for consecutive wins (6) and wins in a season (11) and tie Joe Amato for most wins all-time in Top Fuel (52).
In the Ringers Gloves Pro Bike Battle bonus race, Eddie Krawiec defeated Harley-Davidson teammate Andrew Hines to win and the $25,000 first-place purse. It was his first event title of any kind in the NHRA POWERade Series.
"This (Screamin' Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson) team had a lot of faith in me and I'm really glad it's starting to show," said Krawiec.
Pedregon's 4.073-second pass at 301.94 mph in his Q Horsepower Chevy Impala put him in position to earn his third No. 1 qualifier of the season.
"We knew the conditions were very good. We've been too conservative for the last, really, dozen races. We figured it would go or smoke the tires and it went," said Pedregon, currently second to Tim Wilkerson in the Funny Car standings.
Dixon, a three-time winner at the prestigious Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, glided down the track in his U.S. Smokeless dragster in 3.841 seconds at 307.23 mph to earn the provisional No. 1 qualifying position in Top Fuel.
"This is a special place. If you're going to peak, this would be a nice time to do well," said Dixon, who is currently in third place behind Schumacher and Antron Brown. "But I'm not writing any acceptance speeches yet. I'm just really happy with the run."
With the humidity about half what it was on Friday, Johnson lowered the No. 1 mark to 6.657 at 206.76 in his Team Mopar J&J Racing and he suspects that the Sunday morning session may be even quicker. Still, he's happy to be where he is.
"It makes you sleep better (and) to qualify No. 1 at Indy has been a dream of mine," said Johnson, who is looking for his second No. 1 of the season and first since Phoenix.
Arana, who entered this race in 11th place and 12 points behind Karen Stoffer for the 10th and final playoff berth, set the Pro Stock Motorcycle pace with his 6.954-second pass at 189.79 mph aboard his Lucas Oil Buell.
"I don't know what will happen with the weather, but I sure want to hold on (to the No. 1 qualifying position)," Arana said. "Lucas Oil came by with some of the Colts players (the NFL's Indianapolis Colts play in Lucas Oil Stadium) so they're going to be my bodyguards (Sunday) and help me hold onto No. 1."