FORCE LOOKS FOR FIRST TOP QUALIFIER; SCHUMACHER, COUGHLIN, SAMPEY ALSO NO.1 AT THE STRIP AT LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY LAS VEGAS -- Funny Car driver John Force looked to grab his first No. 1 qualifier of the season in his Castrol GTX-High Mileage...
FORCE LOOKS FOR FIRST TOP QUALIFIER; SCHUMACHER, COUGHLIN, SAMPEY ALSO NO.1 AT THE STRIP AT LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
LAS VEGAS -- Funny Car driver John Force looked to grab his first No. 1 qualifier of the season in his Castrol GTX-High Mileage Ford Mustang at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Tony Schumacher, Jeg Coughlin and Angelle Sampey were the other provisional No. 1 qualifiers in their categories Friday night at the eighth annual ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals, fifth of six events in the NHRA Countdown to 1 playoffs.
With the sun going down and cool track and air temperatures, Force used a second round run to vault himself from fifth to first with a run of 4.062 seconds at 307.37 mph. If the time holds it would be the 14-time world champions first No. 1 qualifier of the season and 132nd of his career.
"I picked a good time in front of all these Vegas fans to have a good run but a bad time for this championship chase," Force said. "I am still looking for that Hail Mary. I need a miracle but I believe in 'em. I already had one in Dallas. It is just good to be back and be able to come up here and have my old hot rod running good. It has been a while."
Schumacher, who can clinch his fifth consecutive and sixth career world championship by qualifying for Sunday's eliminations, ran a time of 3.781 at 316.60 in his U.S. Army dragster. This would be his eighth top qualifier of the season and his 55th career top qualifier.
"It shook and then it just went into warp speed," said Schumacher. "We have not had the most success on Friday nights. It was great. It was fun. The circumstance where you got to qualify to be the champ, you've won 14 races, you don't want it to be anticlimactic."
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 would be her first No. 1 qualifier of the season and 45th of her career.
"I love Las Vegas," said Sampey. "It was a great run. We had all of our bad luck at the beginning of the year. I'm really hoping these next couple of races go well. We know we can win. It's definitely still got the power for tomorrow."
Pro Stock driver Coughlin ran a track record time of 6.703 at 205.47. If it stands it would be Coughlin's third No. 1 qualifier of the season, 15th of his career and second at Las Vegas.
"We made two flawless runs here today," Coughlin said. "We want to keep this hot rod on the pole. It's do time right now with the Countdown to 1. This is perfect timing for the Jeg's and the JEGS.com car to come out and shine. We need to run flawless all weekend."