Schumacher, Force and Johns Take The Top Spots in Qualifying KENT, Wash. - John Force drove to the top of the 16-car Funny Car order Saturday night, earning his 119th career No. 1 qualifying award during the final round of qualifying at the 17th...
Schumacher, Force and Johns Take The Top Spots in Qualifying
KENT, Wash. - John Force drove to the top of the 16-car Funny Car order Saturday night, earning his 119th career No. 1 qualifying award during the final round of qualifying at the 17th annual CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at Pacific Raceways.
Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel) and Steve Johns (Pro Stock) also earned the No. 1 qualifying positions in their respective categories at the $1.4 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event.
Force drove his Castrol GTX Start-Up Ford Mustang to a 4.923-second run at 306.67 mph to lead the category for the second time this season.
Track temperatures soared into the 140s, making the crew chiefs work that much harder for the qualifying spots.
"(Crew chief) Austin Coil thinks we are going to see some colder temperatures on Sunday," Force said. "But all I see on TV are stories about people in Seattle buying fans. All we can do is try to race the track."
Force has earned two wins in five final round appearances this season and leads the Funny Car category point standings. The quarter-mile track at Pacific Raceways was resurfaced during the offseason, much to the delight of the racers.
"It's anybody's race," Force said. "It never got cooler and that's why nobody ran big numbers. It wouldn't have mattered where we were racing, when it's hot like this, a five-flat looks real good."
Schumacher went 4.631 at 319.90 in his U.S. Army dragster to pace Top Fuel for the second time this season and 11th of his career.
The last time Schumacher was the top qualifier this season was at Bristol, Tenn. and he earned the event victory. That was before the rule on fuel changed. The Top Fuel and Funny Car classes had to reduce the level of nitromethane mixture down to 85 percent from 90 percent.
"It seems like there has only been one change this race, with everyone going from 90 to 85 percent nitro," Schumacher said. "But the reality is there have been lots of changes to deal with. Yeah, we've had a race to get used to the new tires but that race was Denver where everything is totally thrown off by the altitude. Then we've got a new track to deal with here. So there's been a lot of changes all the way around."
Schumacher has earned four victories in six final round appearances en route to the No. 1 spot in the point standings.
"Tomorrow's gonna be a drag race," Schumacher said. "It won't be who has the right lane or who avoids the bump. It will be two teams lining up their cars and let's see who wins. That's the way it's supposed to be."
Johns drove his Sportlite Chevy Cavalier to the top of Pro Stock for the second time this season and fourth of his career with a 6.762 pass at a track record speed of 205.29.
Johns and the rest of the Pro Stock category will be attempting to earn the event win and keep points leader Greg Anderson from earning another win. Anderson has 10 victories in 11 final round appearances this season.
"Greg's team is very established and we're definitely not up to their speed yet, but we're getting there," Johns said. "To qualify No. 1 is nice. It shows our potential. But we need to get wins for me to be happy. We'll get there.
"There's a lot of mutual respect between Greg and I so I don't necessarily take pleasure in knocking him off (the top of the qualifying ladder). We've both been getting our hands dirty out here for a long time, since the early 80s. I admire what he's doing, crushing all these records. It motivates us to do better."
Final eliminations are set for 11 a.m. on Sunday.