Spencer Massey (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), Pro Stock drivers Greg Anderson, Jason Line and Allen Johnson and Pro Stock Motorcycle teammates Eddie Krawiec and Andrews are in.
Now, a handful of other drivers also have a chance to secure Countdown to the Championship top 10 spots this weekend at NHRA’s Somona (Calif.) Nationals. The six race Countdown to the Championship begins Sept. 14-16 at Charlotte, N.C.
Antron Brown, the winner of the Top Fuel title at the Mile-High Nationals Sunday, can clinch a Countdown spot by making a Sonoma qualifying attempt.
“That’s what we work so hard for in the regular season to get in the Countdown,” said Brown to CompetitionPlus.com Wednesday. “The earlier we can do it the more you can relieve the pressure off.”
Brown also admitted his team’s objective is to enter the Countdown to the Championship in the No. 1 spot. Brown is second in points 11 behind Massey.
“The more points we can have for the Countdown the better,” Brown said. “If you go in there No. 1 that’s an extra 20 points, and that is an extra round of racing.”
Tony Schumacher also can get in the Countdown depending on his qualifying position and the number of qualifying bonus points he earns or by advancing to round two.
Schumacher is third points and Steve Torrence is fourth. Torrence also can clinch a position by going two rounds further than either Bob Vandergriff Jr. or Clay Millican.
Funny Car drivers Ron Capps, Mike Neff and Jack Beckman all can secure Countdown spots with different Sonoma scenarios.
Capps, who is second in points 66 behind Robert Hight, has the easiest path into the Countdown as all he has to do is qualify at Sonoma.
“It is a big deal,” Capps said about getting in the Countdown. “It’s funny fans or media people laugh when you say we will just be happy to qualify at the next race. In this case, it sounds like it is a done deal, you qualify and you clinch, but it is so hard just to make these shows. That’s huge to qualify (for the Countdown). Especially when you set down at the beginning of the season and you look at all the teams and there are way more good teams than spots for the Countdown.”
Neff can clinch with a nearly perfect weekend of points plus a Tim Wilkerson round one loss. Beckman can clinch with a nearly perfect weekend of points plus a Tim Wilkerson DNQ. Neff is one point in front of fourth-place Beckman who won the Mile-High Nationals.
Mike Edwards and Vincent Nobile, who are fourth and fifth in Pro Stock points, can each snare Countdown spots with solid Sonoma weekends.
Edwards can clinch during qualifying depending on qualifying position and qualifying bonus points, or by advancing to round two. Nobile will clinch by going to the semifinals.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, teammates Hector Arana Jr. and his father, Hector Sr. also can secure Countdown spots in Sonoma. Arana Jr. can clinch by qualifying and Arana Sr. could clinch by advancing to round two with enough qualifying bonus points, or by advancing to the semifinals.
“That’s great if we can secure our Countdown spots early,” Arana Sr. said. “That gives you a chance to go and try something else so we can be ready when the Countdown starts. Of course the higher up we finish the greater chance you have of winning the championship. Everything is coming down so quick, so if we find something we need to try it. Everything is falling into place for those Harleys. We qualify well and then in eliminations we have problems. Those are the things that happen when you push the motor past the limit to run well. We are definitely trying to run with the Harleys.”
Harley-Davidson teammates Krawiec and Hines have combined to win all seven Pro Stock Motorcycle national events this season.
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