We just finished race one of the 2013 Countdown to the Championship to determine the four professional NHRA champions. It was our second visit of the season to the “Bellagio of drag strips” zMax Dragway at Concord near Charlotte.
Our weekend in North Carolina began on Wednesday with Tony and five-time NASCAR Champion Jimmie Johnson meeting at the Charlotte Motor Speedway for a dual burnout between the U.S. Army dragster and Jimmy Johnson’s No. 48 Lowe’s NASCAR. It was a great chance for the two drivers to learn about the other’s race car and great cross exposure for NHRA. Jimmie got to start Tony’s Army car and I think he looked a little spooked when they whacked the throttle.
Our drivers kept busy on Thursday with sponsor appearances in the Charlotte area. Matt and the Rocky Boots Funny Car visited Morgan’s Shoes and Bootery where he met fans and signed autographs. Johnny, Matt and Ron ended their day with an autograph signing with some other NHRA drivers at Whisky River downtown Charlotte. Earlier that day, Ron and Antron did the pre-event press conference at the track. Our guys are always on the go.
We were eager to get back to racing on Friday following our weekend off. Antron debuted a new look Toyota paint scheme for the weekend’s race and the car turned out great. Ron also had a different look for the weekend. He was racing his Carlyle Tools by NAPA Auto Parts car. Carlyle Tools also sponsored the race. It’s great to see that so many tool companies see value in NHRA.
It was a long day of qualifying, after a series of delays on Friday. We were supposed to start Q2 at 7:30 p.m. and didn’t begin Funny Car until after 9 p.m. We finished qualifying just before 11pm on Friday night. It was a pretty good day of qualifying for DSR. Both Tony and Matt led the team with number two qualifying spots. Matt and the Rocky Boots Charger ran a great 3.992 second run, it is so exciting to see more and more three second runs showing up on the score boards. Tony and the U.S. Army team led the DSR dragsters by running a 3.769.
After a late night Friday, the alarm came way too quickly Saturday morning. I got to the race track bright and early and spent the morning working on homework for my grad school classes while Don attended the PRO meeting in the tower.
We saw great weather conditions on Saturday with temperatures in the mid-70’s. That led to some exciting racing. Antron went into the last qualifying session not yet qualified and unfortunately for the team they we not able to get into the show and race on Sunday. It was a tough break for our Matco Tools team as their struggles continue after qualifying for 110 consecutive races. The six other DSR teams made the show and it was ready for race one of the Countdown.
Following qualifying I was able to grab dinner and frozen yogurt with two of my best friends, Courtney and Sarah, and enjoy some time away from the race track before race day. There’s a good Italian place near the track we all like to visit.
With a noon start time, we began race day a little bit later then normally, which was nice for everyone. Extra sleep! The teams could not fire up the cars until 11am, so at 11 it was a sea of nitro methane as pretty much every team fired up at that time. It was nitro and sensory overload! There are noise curfews at zMax.
Overall, Sunday was a very exciting and crazy race day. Following first round of Top Fuel only five of the teams in the Countdown had advanced. Unfortunately one of the losing teams was Tony and the U.S. Army team, they smoked the tires in their match-up against Leah Pruett. Both Al-Anabi cars lost too. It was a crazy E1.
After a lot of cleanups in the Top Fuel round we saw some pretty close and exciting races in the first round of Funny Car. We went three for four, with all but Johnny advancing. Johnny lost a close race to John Force, ESPN’s Marquee Match-up.
Ron lost a close race in the second round against Courtney Force by two thousandths of-a-second. That led to Jack and Matt racing each other in the semis. We were happy to know we would have at least one team in the final round.
Matt and the Rocky team ran on mean all day long, but lost in the final round to Robert Hight. It was a close race and overall a great weekend for our Rocky team who held on to the Funny Car Points lead and continue to run great.
Spencer and the Battery Extender carried the banner for the DSR dragsters. They made it to the final round and lost to Morgan Lucas in a close race. A bummer to go zero for two in the final round but that’s racing. Thankfully we don’t have long to wait before our next race starting Friday at Texas Motorplex in Ennis, Texas.
A few of our teams are testing today at zMax Dragway before packing up and starting the trip to Ennis outside of Dallas. So far it looks like we will be having warm conditions in the high 80s, which should make for another exciting weekend of NHRA racing!
Hope you all have a great week.
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