HIGHT, DIXON, EDWARDS AND ARANA LEAD QUALIFYING AT MAC TOOLS U.S. NATIONALS INDIANAPOLIS -- Robert Hight raced to the Funny Car qualifying lead Friday at the 55th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil, the world's most...
HIGHT, DIXON, EDWARDS AND ARANA LEAD QUALIFYING AT MAC TOOLS U.S. NATIONALS
INDIANAPOLIS -- Robert Hight raced to the Funny Car qualifying lead Friday at the 55th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil, the world's most prestigious drag race.
Larry Dixon, Mike Edwards and Hector Arana also were qualifying leaders in their respective categories at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event at historic O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis.
Defending winner Hight, who is in a tight battle with Cruz Pedregon and Matt Hagan for the 10th spot in the Countdown to 1, NHRA's championship playoffs, gained some confidence for his quest when he powered his Auto Club Ford Mustang to the top of the qualifying order with a performance of 4.107 seconds at 305.36 mph.
Pedregon qualified third in his Advance Auto Parts Toyota Solara with a 4.124 at 302.35, while Hagan was sixth in his Shelor.com Dodge Charger with a 4.171 at 299.46. Pedregon is currently 10th in the standings, followed by Hagan in 11th and Hight is 12th, 38 points back.
The top 10 drivers in each pro category after this event will race for NHRA Full Throttle Series world championships in a six-race playoff, which starts Sept. 18 at zMAX Dragway in Concord, N.C.
"This is definitely a great start to a big, big weekend for the Auto Club team," Hight said. "We've dug ourselves a huge hole, and what's amazing is we're within striking distance, two rounds. It's going to be important to out-qualify Cruz and Hagan because qualifying points could put me behind and make it to where I have to make up three rounds. It's 38 points now. That's two rounds, so we want to keep it under 40, and this was definitely a good start."
Hight feels like his team will have to run quicker during tomorrow's two sessions (noon and 5:45 p.m.) to hang on to the top spot.
"Tomorrow, we're after Top Fuel, so we're going to be running when it's a little darker, a little later, and a little cooler," said Hight, who has advanced to the final round at this event the last three years, winning twice. "And as the weekend goes on, more cars run, and the track gets a little better. Tomorrow night, I'm betting that that 4.10 will not hold up, so we're going to have to step up a little tomorrow night if we want to maintain the top spot. This definitely gives us an opportunity to press a little harder tomorrow night because we're in the show. You know (crew chief) Jimmy Prock, that's his forte. We'll be trying to run a 4.0 tomorrow night, I guarantee it."
Dixon led Top Fuel qualifying with a 3.850 at 302.89 in his Alan Johnson Al-Anabi Racing dragster. It would be his fifth No. 1 of the season if the time holds up through Sunday's final two qualifying sessions (11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.).
"It's nice to get down the track and know you have a car that will stay in the top 12," Dixon said. "It was a long day for the team. I think we made more changes in the clutch in the staging lanes than we did all day in the pits. We're happy with the run, and I think tomorrow night's session will really determine who gets the pole."
Edwards is in position to claim his 10th No. 1 qualifying position of the season in Pro Stock. He drove his ART/Young Life Pontiac GXP to a leading time of 6.624 at 207.66.
"It's a long way to go to be No. 1 on Sunday," Edwards said. "Four more runs, and there are a lot of good cars. We're just getting started and I'm sure that won't hold up. We'll have to keep battling away and try to make the best adjustments we can, race the track, and see what comes up."
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Arana, who is the No. 1 seed for Saturday's Ringers Gloves Pro Bike Battle all-star event (1:15 p.m.), powered his Lucas Oil Buell to the top qualifying position with an effort of 6.985 at 190.30.
"We just freshened up our engine, so we have zero runs on that motor [before the run], so I was a really nervous because I didn't know what it was going to do," said Arana, who will face Matt Guidera in the first round of the Ringers Gloves Pro Bike Battle, of which the winner will take home a $25,000 payday. "I saw several guys laying 7.0s and I was wondering who was going to be the first to run 6.90s. The run felt alright; it wasn't the perfect run, but I'll take a 6.98 for the first hit at the U.S. Nationals. This is my hometown now, so I want to do good."