CLERMONT, Ohio (Aug. 31, 2012) - With the U.S. Nationals facing perilous weather forecasts for Saturday and Sunday, Friday's only qualifying session could have added importance.
On a humid but rain-free Friday night at Lucas Oil Raceway near Indianapolis, Don Schumacher Racing's Tony Schumacher in the U.S. Army ROTC Top Fuel Dragster and Jack Beckman in the Valvoline NextGen Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car earned provisional poles in their respective categories on opening day of the most prestigious event on the Full Throttle Drag Racing Series tour.
Schumacher, who has won the Top Fuel title at the U.S. Nationals eight times, recorded a run of 3.814 seconds at 324.67 mph. Beckman leads Funny Car with a run of 4.051 seconds at 302.62 mph with teammate Johnny Gray close behind in the second position after going 4.079 (310.98, top speed) in the Big O Tires/Service Central Dodge.
"I'd rather race here than anywhere else because of the amount of success we've had," said Schumacher, who is third in points with one title and five final round appearances this year. "We're just getting back to the way we used to be with the car running good."
In Top Fuel, Schumacher could record his fourth pole of the season and 71st of his career.
The U.S Nationals, the most prestigious event of the 23-race series, is the only one that has five qualifying runs in pro categories over three days leading to championship eliminations on Monday.
Drivers are scheduled to get two sessions Saturday and two more Sunday.
But Weather.com forecasts are not optimistic as remnants of Hurricane Isaac continue to move north into the Midwest.
Saturday's forecast is for a 70 percent chance of thunderstorms and 60 percent on Sunday. A 30 percent of isolated thunderstorms are called for on Monday.
"Probably because of the weather conditions and the forecast of rain more cars were more conservative. You had to play it smart and go out there and get it down the track," said Schumacher, who complimented crew chief Mike Green and assistant Neal Strasbaugh.
"The key is to get the car down the racetrack, and Mike and Neal did a great job getting it down the track and it was low (elapsed time)."
The time for Beckman's run directed by crew chief Todd Smith and assistant Terry Snyder was quicker than the driver expected. Beckman was just trying to keep the car going straight.
"It started to make a move toward the center line and you can't jerk the steering wheel," said Beckman, who is trying for his team's third pole of the season.
"So I'm moving (the steering wheel) a little bit, little bit, little bit and it started to settle in the lane. Then it dropped a hole (engine cylinder) and then another hole.
"I pulled the chutes and saw the 4.051 on the scoreboard and thought it must be for the other lane. That run never felt that quick."
The following are DSR qualifying results from Friday night's session and other notes:
Provisional No. 1 qualifier: Tony Schumacher (DSR), 3.814 sec., 324.67 mph
Tony Schumacher, U.S. Army ROTC dragster
Provisional qualifying position: No. 1
Session 1: 3.814 sec., 324.67 mph
Antron Brown, Matco Tools dragster
Provisional qualifying position: No. 6
Session 1: 3.844 sec., 319.37 mph
Spencer Massey, Prestone/FRAM dragster
Provisional qualifying position: No. 24
Session 1: 5.984 sec., 103.69 mph
Provisional No. 1 qualifier: Jack Beckman (DSR) 4.051 sec., 302.62 mph
Jack Beckman, Valvoline NextGen Dodge Charger R/T
Provisional qualifying position: No. 1
Session 1: 4.051 sec., 302.62 mph
Johnny Gray, NTB/Big O Tires/Service Central Dodge Charger R/T
Provisional qualifying position: No. 2
Session 1: Johnny Gray, 4.079 sec., 310.98 mph
Ron Capps, NAPA Shocks Dodge Charger R/T
Provisional qualifying position: No. 8
Session 1: 4.122 sec., 308.00 mph
Matt Hagan, Mopar/Aaron's Dream Machine Dodge Charger R/T
Provisional qualifying position: No. 13
Session 1: 4.225 sec., 294.95 mph
FULL THROTTLE NITRO SCHEDULE
Saturday: 3:30, 7 p.m., qualifying; 8 p.m. Traxxas Top Fuel championship round
Sunday: 12:30, 3 p.m., qualifying; 4:30 p.m., Traxxas Funny Car championship round
Monday: 11 a.m., Championship eliminations
Sunday: Qualifying, Shootouts, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. (ET),
Monday: Eliminations,12-6 p.m. (ET),
Saturday: high 78; 70 percent chance of thunder showers
Sunday: high 84; 60 percent chance of thunder showers
Monday: high 84; 30 percent chance of isolated thunder storms
NHRA TRAXXAS NITRO SHOOTOUT - TOP FUEL
The Top Fuel edition of the Shootout that will pay the winning team $100,000 is scheduled to run Saturday in conjunction with the day's 4 and 7 p.m. qualifying sessions. The two finalists would return for a championship race at 8 p.m. and a third run that will not count toward qualifying.
First-round pairings: No. 1 ANTRON BROWN vs. No. 8 Brandon Bernstein; No. 2 SPENCER MASSEY vs. No. 7 David Grubnic; No. 3 TONY SCHUMACHER vs. No. 6 Morgan Lucas; No. 4 Steve Torrence vs. No. 5 Doug Kalitta.
About Don Schumacher Racing
Don Schumacher Racing, headquartered in Brownsburg, Ind., consists of seven professional NHRA teams: in Top Fuel, the U.S. Army dragster driven by seven-time world champion Tony Schumacher, the FRAM/Prestone dragster of Spencer Massey and the Matco Tools dragster of Antron Brown; and in Funny Car, 2011 NHRA Funny Car champion Matt Hagan in the Aaron's Dream Machine/Mopar Dodge Charger R/T, Valvoline NextGen Dodge piloted by Jack Beckman, the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge of Ron Capps and the Service Central Dodge of Johnny Gray. DSR has won 190 NHRA national event titles and nine world championships.
Follow Don Schumacher Racing at ShoeRacing.com, on Twitter at @shoeracing and Facebook.com/shoeracing.
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