Allen Johnson has horsepower at altitude and sea level
Photos: Anne Proffit
Moving from the mountain altitude of Bandimere Speedway to the fog-laden oasis at Infineon Raceway Sears Point, the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series begins the second leg of its three-race Western Swing with the Fram Autolite NHRA Nationals on the Sonoma, CA dragstrip.
There have been four qualifying sessions, including the traditionally cold and windy second Friday evening runs that dragged on with oil-down problems in the nitro classes.
While point leader Del Worsham aced the first Top Fuel qualifying session, it was seven-time champion Tony Schumacher who took over and earned the mark unequaled by any of the other 19 contenders, 3.814 seconds at a track record 321.65 mph, set in the cool of Friday night. His Don Schumacher Racing teammate Spencer Massey is second, while another DSR driver, Antron Brown is third. Terry McMillen qualified fourth, followed by 2010 champion Larry Dixon, David Grubnic, Worsham and Brandon Bernstein.
In Funny Car, Denver winner John Force led from the first to final qualifying sessions, earning his record 139th No. 1 at 4.060/311.99, again on Friday night. Almost seeming to be trying to remind himself Force keeps repeating, "I've got to get my head into the race." Teammate Robert Hight is second, while Dodge Charger driver Ron Capps lies third. Melanie Troxel put her Toyota Solara fourth, Tim Wilkerson is fifth in a Mustang, followed by the Dodge Chargers of Jack Beckman, Matt Hagan and Gary Densham completing the top half of the field. Only early season winner Jeff Arend failed to make the field.
Pro Stock qualifying remains Allen Johnson country, as the Greeneville, TN Dodge Avenger driver hit paydirt at 6.538 seconds at a rapid 211.56 mph, set in the mid-day heat of the third, Saturday qualifying session. He's followed on the totem pole by six GM-product drivers including three-time champion Greg Anderson, Erica Enders, Greg Stanfield, Denver winner Mike Edwards, Ronnie Humphrey and Kurt Johnson. The top half of the field is complete with Larry Morgan, the sole Ford Mustang pilot.
Former champion Eddie Krawiec took the lead in Pro Stock for the first qualifying session, but it was rookie Hector Arana III, son of the 2009 titleholder who assumed No. 1 status Friday night at 6.881 seconds at 193.99 mph on his Buell. Krawiec's V-Rod Harley-Davidson is second, followed by his teammate Andrew Hines, Buell riders (and married couple) Matt and Angie Smith, Michael Phillips, point leader Karen Stoffer and current champion LE Tonglet, all riding Suzuki motorcycles.
Mornings around here have been cool and overcast - as customary - with burnoff at mid-day and with brisk winds keeping the temperatures on the mild side, which is great for racing. We expect more of the same on Sunday, which should bring out the enthusiastic crowds that have found their way to this bucolic racetrack on Friday and Saturday.
© 2011 Anne Proffit
15-time Funny Car champ John Force continues to pile on the records.