Jack Beckman set both ends of the track record for the Funny Car class during the final qualifying session to secure the No. 1 position at the 17th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also clenched No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories at the fifth of six events on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship.
Beckman’s pass of 3.854 seconds at 335.57 mph in his Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger R/T clinched his first No. 1 qualifier of the season and 22nd of his career. He is seeking his third season victory and 27th of his career tomorrow.
“I think we’ve got a great hot rod right now,” Beckman stated. “It’s always nice before eliminations to eat a little bit at the lead of the car ahead of you and to put a little bit of distance to the ones behind you. I told my team to go 3.85 would be fun and they were right.”
Beckman will race Jim Campbell to open eliminations on Sunday. Following in the No. 2 spot is Courtney Force in her Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro with a pass of 3.878 at 331.77. She will race Jeff Arend. Category points leader Robert Hight qualified third and will face Tim Wilkerson in the opening round.
The winningest Top Fuel driver, Tony Schumacher, locked in the No. 1 spot after piloting his U.S. Army dragster to a set the track elapsed-time record of 3.673 at 332.67 during Friday’s qualifying session to earn him his fourth No. 1 qualifier of the season and 84th of his career.
“We’ve got the points, we made a good run and that really gives me the confidence,” Schumacher explained. “The crew chiefs are making call and the car is reacting. That is more important than the numbers and where you qualify. We need to go out there and win that trophy.”
Schumacher will face off against Troy Buff in round one. Points leader Steve Torrence qualified in the No. 2 spot with a run of 3.694 at 330.15 in his Capco Contractors dragster and he will meet Terry Haddock at the line.
Pro Stock points leader, Anderson raced a 6.663 at 205.35 in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro during Friday evenings qualifying session to secure his fifth No. 1 qualifier of the season and 92nd of his career.
“It’s fun to be here in Vegas when you look and both sides of the grandstands are full,” Anderson said. “We’re having fun and having a good time. Las Vegas is my team owner’s home track and it just means a whole lot more to me. I’ve had a lot of special weekends here and look forward to making another one.”
Anderson will line up against Alan Prusiensky to begin eliminations. Drew Skillman qualified in the No. 2 spot with a 6.664 at 205.32 in his Ray Skillman Chevrolet Camaro and will take on Deric Kramer.
Krawiec, the Pro Stock Motorcycle points leader, secured his fifth No. 1 qualifier of the season and 38th of his career with his 6.936 at 191.76 from the second round of qualifying on Friday on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson.
“I’m happy with how the bike is performing,” Krawiec stated. “I just need to go out there and stay focused and race. We need to turn on those win lights since that’s what gets you points. That is all I’m concerned about right now at this point.”
Krawiec will face John Hall in the first round. Hector Arana Jr. is in the second spot with a 6.940 at 191.87 on his Lucas Oil Buell and will line up against Katie Sullivan. LE Tonglet is third on his Nitro Fish Racing Suzuki.
Eliminations at the 17th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals begins Sunday at 11 a.m. at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.