SCHUMACHER, HIGHT AND ANDERSON TAKE NO. 1 QUALIFYING POSITIONS AT LAS VEGAS LAS VEGAS -- Reigning Top Fuel champion Tony Schumacher leads all qualifiers at the seventh annual NHRA SummitRacing.com Nationals. Schumacher covered The Strip at Las...
SCHUMACHER, HIGHT AND ANDERSON TAKE NO. 1 QUALIFYING POSITIONS AT LAS VEGAS
LAS VEGAS -- Reigning Top Fuel champion Tony Schumacher leads all qualifiers at the seventh annual NHRA SummitRacing.com Nationals. Schumacher covered The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway's quarter-mile in 4.501 seconds at 327 mph in his U.S. Army dragster to post his fourth No. 1 qualifying effort of the first five races and 26th of his career.
Robert Hight and Greg Anderson also finished qualifying at the front of their respective categories Saturday at the $1.7 million race, the fifth of 23 in the $50 million POWERade Drag Racing Series. Sunday's eliminations start at 11 a.m.
Winless on the season thus far, Schumacher will now try and become the first top qualifier in a nitro-powered category this year to convert a No. 1 qualifying effort into a win on race day.
"You can't win a championship eight points at a time," Schumacher said of the extra bonus points he's earned for qualifying No. 1. "All I know is there's nothing we can do differently to make this car better. We've just been beaten down by stupid little things.
"I started worrying about the points race getting away from us two races ago. You just can't post anyone too big a lead."
Current Top Fuel point leader and Schumacher teammate Melanie Troxel improved to fourth place on the grid in the final session with a 4.543 in the Skull Gear/Torco Fuels dragster.
Hight's track-record 4.702 at 327.11 mph in his Auto Club Ford Mustang earned him his seventh career low qualifier award and first of his sophomore season in Funny Car.
"It's awesome to be No. 1 no matter when it happens," Hight said. "I honestly think our three Fords have a distinct performance advantage at the moment. We're just a little quicker and faster then the others. But a performance advantage doesn't always win you races."
Hight teammates John Force and Eric Medlen finished second and fourth, respectively. Force's Castrol GTX Ford posted a 4.715 at 326.16 mph, while Medlen's Syntec Mustang recorded a 4.758 at 318.47 mph.
Former series champion Tony Pedregon failed to qualify for the first time in 114 races. Pedregon's second round effort of 4.79 seconds from Friday night was disqualified by NHRA officials after his team failed to stop and weigh his hot rod following the run.
Anderson didn't improve on his class-leading 6.787 at 202.82 mph from Friday night, but he did let his Pro Stock competitors know his Summit Racing Pontiac GTO would be tough to beat by posting a pair of 6.79s Saturday to top each of the final two qualifying sessions.
"This remains a very important race for us," said Anderson, who earned his fourth No. 1 qualifying effort of the year and the 44th of his career. "Not only is it [team owner] Ken Black's home track, but we're just not where we need to be with our entire program. We haven't found our comfort zone, our happy place, yet. We've been able to qualify well but we still end up guessing at things in eliminations. You're not gonna win like that, at least not consistently."