LAS VEGAS – Tony Schumacher piloted his U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster to the top of the class Friday at 17th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Jack Beckman (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were also provisional No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories at the fifth of six events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship.
Schumacher raced a track elapsed-time record of 3.673-seconds at 332.67 mph in his U.S. Army dragster. He is in hot pursuit of his fourth No. 1 qualifier of the season and 84th of his career. Schumacher has the most Top Fuel victories at this track with eight wins on his resume.
“We’ve won this race a lot of times and we probably have more data than anyone at this race track,” Schumacher said. “We have a good quality map to look at and we know what to do here. It’s hard to run great here, yet we go out and do it.”
Points leaders Steve Torrence is in second with his 3.694 at 330.15 mph in his Capco Contractors/Torrence Racing dragster. Shawn Langdon currently holds the third spot.
Beckman powered his Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger R/T to a 3.867 pass at 329.50 mph to take the preliminary lead in the Funny Car category. Beckman moved to the top of the order early in the second qualifying session.
“The problem with running good early is that the track is going to continue to cool down,” Beckman stated. “It’s going to get better and they just saw what the track is capable of. Everybody else is smart enough to go back and give it a little more clutch. To watch it stand for the rest of the Funny Cars surprised me.”
Courtney Force follows right behind him in second after racing her Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro to a 3.878 at 331.77 mph and teammate and leading Funny Car championship contender Robert Hight currently holds the third position.
Points leader Anderson raced to a 6.663 at 204.73 mph in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro during Friday’s final qualifying round to sit atop of the Pro Stock ladder.
“We stepped on them tonight,” said Anderson. “Tonight, the sun went down, and we got after them. We knew the track would tighten up and we went for it. That’s what you do on Friday night qualifying. If you want the pole you’ve got to be bold.”
Drew Skillman is currently in the second spot with a 6.664 at 205.32 mph in his Ray Skillman Chevrolet Camaro and Bo Butner is in the third slot.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Krawiec currently leads the class in points and in qualifying with a 6.936 pass at 191.76 mph on his Screamin’ Eagle/Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson from the evening qualifying session.
“I’ve got a great motorcycle under me and a great team behind me,” Krawiec stated. “I think there’s a good potential for people to go faster tomorrow though. You need to have your stuff together coming out of here and be on your game.”
Hector Arana Jr. is in the No. 2 spot with a 6.940 pass at 192.55 mph on his Lucas Oil Buell and Andrew Hines rounds out the top three.