NHRA Notes: Ken Black Back At The Track

WELCOME BACK, BOSS: Jason Line (left) and Greg Anderson (right) pose with team owner Ken Black after Anderson beat Line to win the Pro Stock final during the NHRA Las Vegas Nationals Sunday. (Ted Rossino, Jr. Photo)
WELCOME BACK, BOSS: Jason Line (left) and Greg Anderson (right) pose with team owner Ken Black after Anderson beat Line to win the Pro Stock final during the NHRA Las Vegas Nationals Sunday. (Ted Rossino, Jr. Photo)

LAS VEGAS — It doesn’t happen all that often, according to Greg Anderson.

But he was lost for words Sunday when his KB/Summit Racing Pontiac team put on a special final-round Pro Stock thriller at the Las Vegas Nationals. Anderson beat teammate Jason Line with an e.t of 6.654 seconds at 207.43 miles per hour to 6.656/207.46 on The Strip at Las Vegas quarter mile.

“Without a doubt, this is the best day I have ever had at a race track,” Anderson said. “I am just about speechless, which sounds odd for me. It was truly unbelievable how this Summit Racing team won today. Everything I wished and prayed for came true.

“The competition in this category is so tough and after qualifying, I obviously didn’t have an advantage on anybody. I didn’t have lane choice all day and wasn’t making particularly good runs. But somebody was just guiding my car to the finish line ahead of the other guy.

“I couldn’t have drawn this weekend up any better than it turned out, and the best part is how it’s going to impact Ken Black.”

The team owner made his return to the track in his hometown after nearly a year of rehabilitation following a stroke.

– As his reign as Funny Car champion winds down, Robert Hight had to live with even more disappointing news this past weekend. He failed to qualify his John Force-owned Auto Club Ford Mustang, managing only to take the No. 19 spot. His bid to repeat officially over, Hight will go to Pomona trying to shake his lone DNQ of the season and just the sixth of his career.

– NAPA Dodge Charger Funny Car driver Ron Capps couldn’t survive his second-round match-up against Bob Tasca III. But he did endure a spectacular engine explosion that occurred late in his victory run against tire-smoking Del Worsham in the opening round.

As he crossed the finish line, Capps, who advanced past round one for the first time during the Countdown, was rocked from any celebration with a fiery engine concussion that detonated much of what was under the hood and damaged the body.

“In the first round we got a little bit of luck and we haven’t seen much of that in a long time,” Capps said. He said the car struck the tires and backfired. “I was trying to remember the last time we had an explosion like that,” he said.

– Ashley Force Hood waited out rain and seemingly endless clean-ups from oildowns Saturday and remained No. 1 in the Funny Car lineup. Driving her Queen of Hearts Castrol GTX Ford Mustang, she tied Chuck Etchells for 10th all-time in the Funny Car class list of No. 1 qualifying positions (14). Force Hood also has the second most No. 1s for any female professional.

The first nitro qualify session stretched out to more than four hours, and the second session was delayed for almost two hours by one oildown after another — and a spectacular accident by Funny Car driver Jeff Diehl as he ran in the opposite lane from her teammate, Robert Hight.

“To see that pair was really upsetting on both ends,” Force Hood said. “To see Robert not make the show and then to see Diehl’s accident was scary, and I am so glad he is OK. I have never been in this long of a session. You get past the point of being worried about it. It is what it is and I am glad a handful of fans stuck it out and watched until the end. I was just glad we made a good pass that was worth waiting around for. It made it worth the wait.”

– Just as everything went Matt Hagan’s way at Reading with the national e.t. record, the No. 1 starting position, and a move into the points lead — all at the expense of John Force, it didn’t play out the way the DieHard Dodge Charger Funny Car driver wanted at Las Vegas.

He reached the final, certainly a boost to his hopes for a first championship. But Force won, shaking Hagan by cutting 20 points from his points lead (from 57 to 37).

“We just can’t let this championship slip out of our hands,” the Don Schumacher Racing driver said. “We had a pretty good grasp coming into here. We have to start picking up some more of those qualifying bonus points.

“Force did everything he was supposed to this weekend. We have to do everything we’re supposed to,” Hagan said.

“We missed it in qualifying and gave up a lot of points there. But to come out strong that first round really turned things around. We matched Force round for round. It could have been a lot worse of a swing.”

Hagan qualified No. 5, and Force was No. 2 on the grid.