TWO NEW MARKS - FRAM Dragster driver Spencer Massey rewrote both ends of the track record in edging Terry McMillen, who gave him a strong run for his money. Massey ran a 3.777-second elapsed time at 328.62 mph; McMillen had a 3.991, 294.82. Shawn Langdon had set the standard in he second pairing of the day, and Massey improved it in the next-to-last match-up of the round.
FEATS OF CLAY - Clay Millican closed the first round of eliminations in dramatic fashion, recovering from early tire smoke, taking advantage of Morgan Lucas' traction problems a split-second later in the opposite lane, and advancing with a 4.053-second, 310.55-mph clocking.
TEAMMATE VS. TEAMMATE - For the first time this season, the two Al-Anabi/Toyota dragsters squared off against each other. Langdon took bragging rights over Khlaid al Balooshi and advanced to the quarterfinals with a track-record 3.780-second elapsed time at 323.97 mph. "That felt fast! It left, man. It shot out of there and it was going," Langdon said after exiting the car. But he understood his teammate's disappointment and said, "We want to see Balooshi get in that Countdown."
RED LIGHT - Steve Torrence was overeager to race Antron Brown, and he red-lit away a 3.788-second, 323.66-mph effort. Brown ran a 3.782, 322.88.
SURVIVES 'BAY AREA BLASTER' - Tony Schumacher had to hustle against Bay Area racer Mike Salinas to avoid a second straight upset loss in the first round. "RPMs seemed high along the way." He said he wanted to be celebrating the Eric Medlen Ice Cream Social, juggling an ice-cream dish and a Wally trophy. Schumacher's winning time in the U.S. Army Dragster was 3.792, 323.74. Salinas recorded a 4.001, 248.75.
ALSO ADVANCING - Moving on to the quarterfinals were Brandon Bernstein (who defeated Bob Vandergriff), Dave Grubnic (against Mike Strasburg), and No. 1 qualifier Doug Kalitta (against Scott Palmer). All the drivers in the top half of the order won in the first round.
BB A BULLET - Brandon Bernstein sailed into his second straight semifinal round with a 3.849-second, 320.05 showing in the MAVTV/Lucas Oil Dragster, as No. 2 qualifier Dave Grubnic smoked his tires early with the Optima Batteries Dragster.
TALKING WITH FOOT - Doug Kalitta is rather quiet but is letting his right foot do the talking with the Technicoat Dragster, advancing to his fifth semifinal of the season with a 3.825-second pass at 323.89 mph. Kalitta has won 75 percent of his elimination rounds at Sonoma. Larry Dixon declared across the P.A. system that Kalitta "flat shines" here.
BROWN BLAZES ON - Antron Brown matched Kalitta's 3.825-second E.T. in his victory over tire-smoking Tony Schumacher. He'll pick his lane against Brandon Bernstein in the semifinal.
YES, I'M KEEPING SCORE - Top Fuel leader Spencer Massey helped protect his standing in the class with s 3.804-second, 326.40-mph victory against Shawn Langdon (4.414, 190.92). And he made no bones about his calculating. "You've got to count points. You've got to know the game. This is what we do for a living," Massey said.
MASSEY'S POINTS LEAD ON LINE - Spencer Massey will race for a class-best fifth victory as he tries to protect his points lead. He earned the right after running away from Doug Kalitta, 3.802, 324.12 to 4.161, 239.70, in the semifinal. Because he is running against Antron Brown, this will be the 22nd time two DSR dragsters have faced each other in the final round. That has happened four times this year in the Top Fuel class (at the Winternationals at Pomona, Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Charlotte) -- and Massey has won three of those.
BACK TO THE FINALS - Surviving what he called "another tough round," Antron Brown eliminated Brandon Bernstein in a rematch of last Sunday's Denver final to reach his seventh final round of the season. Brown will be making his third final in the past four races as he goes for a fourth victory
THE SWEEP IS STILL IN EFFECT - Anton Brown moved into a tie for the Top Fuel points lead with Spencer Massey after defeating Massey in the final round. Brown ran a 3.814-second E.T. at 318.02 mph to edge Massey (3.826, 323.50) by five-thousandths of a second.
STUNNING UPSET - Gary Densham scored the day's first upset, and it spoiled Ron Capps' chance to chase a third straight victory at Sonoma in the NAPA Dodge Charger. But Densham said his own Charger had some sort of problem -- "It quit on me" halfway through the run, he said. That leaves John Force still as the only one in the class to claim three consecutive victories here.
RACING SMART - Top qualifier Cruz Pedregon has his Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry running like a bracket car with another 4.0-second pass. His winning 4.060-second, 309.56-mph performance easily topped Jeff Diehl's 4.383, 274.55. Pedregon said at the top end of the track that he was learning from "a lot of tough lessons," from coming to the starting line many times with a fast car and making a mistake. Noting that brother Tony Pedregon failed to qualify and was providing analysis with public-address announcer Bob Frey, he said, "I hate to be out here without Tony. It's not the same without him."
BECKMAN LUCKY - Jack Beckman followed Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps and had troubles in his Valvoline NextGen Dodge Charger, too, but managed to hold off Dale Creasy Jr. "We made it further than Capps," Beckman said. 'We thought we were out of the trouble zone." He really wasn't, but his 4.323, 235.47 worked out in his favor, as Creasy looked strong but not strong enough with a 5.511, 128.87. That Creasy was able to bring Steve Plueger's Impala to the starting stripe was a moral victory. He said his crew worked at the track until 2:30 a.m. today, repairing the damage from his top-end fire and stuck-throttle incident during the final round of qualifying. "I just want to thank Steve Plueger for letting me drive his car," Creasy said.
NOT SCARED OF FORCE - Jeff Arend telegraphed his confidence after knocking off John Force with a 4.110, 312.21 to Force's 4.188, 306.67. The Kalitta Motorsports driver in the DHL Toyota Camry prefaced his comments by expressing respect for 15-time champion Force, but said, "He was a lot more worried about us than we were about him." As an example, he noted the trick at the Christmas Tree that the veteran tried and reminded that it didn't work.
ALREADY A WINNER - Matt Hagan said, "I feel like I just won a race" after ousting the surging Courtney Force. The victory couldn’t have come at a needier time for Hagan, who knows the clock is ticking on his chances to make the Countdown and try to repeat his Funny Car championship. "We can take this on the chin only so long," Hagan said after driving his DSR-owned Aaron's Dodge Charger to a 4.105-second E.T. and 308.28 mph and lane choice in the quarterfinals against Jeff Arend.
HELPING EVERYONE - A breathless Johnny Gray panted after his 4.075-second pass at 313 mph dispatched Tim Wilkerson and his 5.103, 146.81, "I was amped up for the run. I needed to help Matt [Hagan, who is battling Wilkerson to climb into the top 10 by the end of the Indianapolis race]. I needed to help myself." He will face Gary Densham in the quarterfinal.
'DON'T TREAD ON ME' - Alexis DeJoria continued her jinx on the John Force Racing organization, defeating Mike Neff (the third JFR driver to bow out early), 4.132, 306.74 to his 5.027, 154.94. Tony Pedregon remarked that the message DeJoria sent to not just JFR but all competitors was "You're not going to walk on us." Said DeJoria, who'll have lane choice over Beckman in Round 2, said it was a major turnaround for her Del Worsham-led team from the past two races.
HIGHT ENCOURAGED - Robert Hight had seen his three JFR teammates lose ahead of him, but the company president will carry the banner to the quarterfinals with his victory over Bob Tasca. "I already had a lot of pressure," Hight said about having to run fellow Ford racer Tasca. "Man, when you see Ron Capps go out, you've got to take advantage of it. I think we've got a shot here." Hight didn't have lane choice against Tasca, and Cruz Pedregon will pick in their match-up next round.
U-G-L-Y AND THEY AIN'T GOT NO ALIBI - Jack Beckman got the win light against Alexis DeJoria as both pedaled their cars and lunged down the racetrack, desperately trying to hook up the tires. Beckman advanced with an unlikely 4.972-second E.T. DeJoria crossed the line in 5.12 seconds. Announcer Bob Frey sarcastically said, "Yeah, that's just what he planned: 'If I can run a 4.97, I can win this round.' " DeJoria's team was fussing under the body of the Tequila Patron Camry at the last second, but crew chief Del Worsham downplayed it, explaining that the turnaround time had them scrambling in general. "We ran the seventh pair in the first round, then we were first pair. We put a new body on it," he said" and explained that he noticed some delaminating of the body material.
COUNTING HIS PESOS AND ROUND-WINS - Cruz Pedregon was thrilled to beat Robert Hight and erase the final remaining John Force Racing name from the list. He said after climbing from his Snap-on Camry that he was keeping score with the Force team. Keeping score? "We all do," Pedregon said. "That's a John Force car. They have lots of money. We have a few pesos we can scrape together, too."
IMPROVING - Johnny Gray halted Gary Densham's dreams of pulling off another upset with a 4.115-second , 303.91-mph blast in the Big O/SpeeDee Oil Change & Tune-Up Dodge. "We've had a great race car. We've just had bad luck. Just stupid things, then we just didn't run good at Denver," Gray said. But he's shaking that performance slump and headed to his fourth semifinal. Gray will have lane choice against DSR colleague Jack Beckman in the next round.
ANOTHER UGLY ONE BUT ' YEE-HAW!' - Matt Hagan wiggled and smoked and pedaled his way down the 1,000-foot course track to eliminate an equally lurching, tire-smoking, twisting and pitching Jeff Arend. "Yee-haw! That was fun! It's just awesome!" an elated Hagan said after riding his bucking bronco of a Funny Car to his first semifinal of the year. "Our guys are really getting it together. We're just having some fun."
FUN'S OVER - Jack Beckman's fun and luck-round magic is over. Johnny Gray saw to that with a winning 4.092-second E.T. and 307.16-mph speed. Beckman's 4.118, 304.19 was his best clocking of the day but it wasn't enough.
HAGAN FINALLY MAKING FINAL - Matt Hagan said he hopes Don Schumacher Racing colleague Johnny Gray "won't take me to school" in the final round. But he was excited just the same, just to be making first final-round appearance by defeating top Sonoma qualifier Cruz Pedregon. Hagan trailed at the eighth-mile but Pedregon began putting out cylinders and slowed to a 4.293, 233.84. Hagan's victory ensured DSR will have its 188th and 189th overall victories, with the DSR duo of Spencer Massey and Antron Brown the Top Fuel finalists. The last time all four nitro finalists were DSR drivers was last August 21 at Brainerd, Minn., when Brown beat Tony Schumacher and Gray beat Ron Capps.
DSR SHINES AGAIN - The Gray-Hagan match-up marks the 15th time the Funny Car final round pits two DSR drivers. Gray was involved in one of the two previous such situations from earlier this year -- he beat Ron Capps at Englishtown. Beckman beat Capps in the other one.
GRAY, A TWO-TIME WINNER - Johnny Gray became a two-time winner, denying Don Schumacher Racing mate Matt Hagan a long-awaited first this season. Gray closed the deal with a 4.142-second pass at 305.15 mph. Hagan, experiencing engine trouble downtrack, trailed with a 5.461, 146.67.
PROFESSOR STILL WINLESS – Warren Johnson did everything he could to put himself in a position to win a round for the first time this season. Unfortunately for WJ, getting off of the line ahead of Jeggie Coughlin wasn’t one of them. Coughlin scored the victory by a 6.585 to 6.553 margin. The margin of victory was .001.
MORGAN ADVANCES – Two of the first three winners in the first round of Pro Stock came from slower qualified cars. Larry Morgan beat V. Gaines in a 6.565 to 6.569 decision and a .005 margin of victory.
CAMAROS ARE COMING AROUND FOR KB RACING – Both Greg Anderson and Jason Line advanced in their new Camaros. Anderson ran a 6.539 to beat Ron Krisher and his 212.29 mile per hour speed tied top speed for the event.
Line ran a 6.526 to beat Shane Gray.
“The comfort level was a four or five headed into the day, it’s a few spots higher now,” admitted Anderson.
LOW ELAPSED TIME – Anderson will need the confidence as Erica Enders’ 6.512, 211.56 in beating JR Carr not only established low elapsed time of the weekend, but gave her lane choice in their second round match. Enders made history earlier this month when she defeated Anderson to become the first female Pro Stock winner.
NOT A FOUL - On paper, the records will show Kurt Johnson fouled against Vincent Nobile. The video tells a different story.
"I believe what I see and I know I didn't move first," Johnson said. "Vincent came up with a .006 foul and I had a .2 red. Our sixty foots were off two tenths, the reaction time was off two-tenths and the car didn't move. We basically got screwed on this one and don't want it to happen again."
The NHRA's Graham Light confirmed Johnson's reaction time was incorrect but added there was no conclusive evidence to overturn the end result of the race.
JOHNSON ADVANCES - No. 1 qualifier Allen Johnson defeated Matt Hartford in the opening round.
RIVERA NEARLY STEALS ONE – Mike Edwards was extremely tardy off of the starting line, .170 reaction, against Gordie Rivera. Rivera was a tenth ahead at half-track and led the race until the 1,000-foot mark. Edwards caught him at the stripe with a 6.533, 212.06.
CUTTING IT CLOSE – Allen Johnson showed no ill-effects of an engine change prior to his second round match against Jeg Coughlin Jr. Johnson tied his qualifying run with a 6.517 and established top speed with at 212.46.
“We barely made the run,” Johnson admitted. “We didn’t event crank the car until right before we got ready to run. We didn’t know for sure it was going to start.”
Johnson believes a dead cylinder precipitated the change.
DENYING THE KID – Jason Line used a .001 reaction and a slightly quicker elapsed time to repel Vincent Nobile’s bid to clinch a playoff spot in Sonoma. Line won by a 6.534 to 6.537 margin.
“We left a lot out there, but the win light came on and that’s all that matters,” Line said.
A RIVALRY IN THE MAKING – Their slow staging battle was the least of which transpired between Greg Anderson and Erica Enders. Enders rolled the beams too early with a .003 foul. Anderson won with a 6.553 as Enders wasted a 6.550. The drivers exchanged words in the shutdown area after ESPN2’s Gary Gerould revealed to Enders how Anderson had taken issue in her celebration following the Route 66 Nationals win. Enders took offense citing, “I’ve done nothing but speak highly of them and their team, Summit and the guys over there. I think they’re great and to be the best you have to beat the best. If we did something unsportsmanship-like, I wish he’d have brought it to my attention.”
ADVANCING ON – Mike Edwards clinched a playoff spot by winning the first round over Gordie Rivera. He clinched a semi-final berth with a 6.587, 211.89 to beat Larry Morgan.
ANDERSON ADVANCES – Greg Anderson became the first Pro Stock finalist when Mike Edwards fouled. Edwards rolled the tree -,014 red, handing the win to Anderson, who ran a 6.572.
THE RUBBER CRANK BOUNCES TO FINAL – Allen Johnson stands as one of two remaining drivers still in the running to sweep the Western Swing. Johnson outreacted and outran Jason Line to set up another final round between the Rubber Cranks [Mopar] and the Off Brand [KB Racing]. Johnson won with a 6.532 and has lane choice in the final.
TWO DOWN, ONE TO GO - Allen Johnson entered the famed Western Swing seeking a sweep. In defeating Greg Anderson, he's two-thirds of the way there. Johnson ran a 6.542, 211.76. Anderson made a race of it with a 6.573 and a .001 reaction time.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE
HARLEYS HAMMER THE COMPETITION –The Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson team runs quick enough without help from Mother Nature. Armed with a tailwind both Eddie Krawiec and Andrew Hines ran low elapsed time of the event.
Hines was first with a 6.793, 196 to eliminate Matt Guidera. Krawiec reclaimed his place as the top bike on the property with a 6.785, 198.32 to beat Angie Smith.
TEAM BRYCE ROLLS – George Bryce orchestrated his riders John Hall and Scotty Pollacheck into the second round. Pollacheck ran a 6.857 to beat Jerry Savoie.
Hall ran a personal best 6.870 elapsed time to beat Michael Ray.
“I love it,” said Hall. “It felt awesome from start to end.”
STOFFER’S SUZUKI HAULS – Karen Stoffer leaned on her Suzuki in beating Michael Phillips, who fouled. Stoffer remained in the throttle and laid down a 6.827, 194.30 to win.
“You have to do something to keep up with those big ole motors,” added Stoffer.
HECTORS WIN – Hector Arana Sr. and son Hector Jr. won their first round matches. In a tale of different ends of the reaction time spectrum, Hector Sr. nailed Steve Johnson with a .001 reaction to win with a 6.803, 195. Junior, on the other hand, needed every bit of the quarter-mile to track down Katie Sullivan when he left with a .112 light. He won by a 6.812 to 6.947 margin.
UGLY – Shawn Gann coasted to a 7.702 win as both he and Matt Smith had problems with their bikes.
IT’S THE HECTORS AND HARLEYS IN THE SEMIS – The final round will either match two Harleys or two Hectors, or one of each.
The Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson riders, Andrew Hines and Eddie Krawiec will have lane choice over Hector Arana Jr. and Sr. respectively.
Andrew Hines’ 6.799-second pass was more than enough to beat Scotty Pollachek and secure low elapsed time of the round. Krawiec used a 6.803, 197 to eliminate John Hall, the other Sovereign Racing bike managed by George Bryce.
Hector Arana Jr. didn’t let a .001 reaction time from Shawn Gann rattle his cage as he won with a 6.815. Hector Sr. won with a 6.803.
ALL HARLEY, ALL THE TIME – The Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson team secured their eleventh consecutive victory dating back to 2011 when Eddie Krawiec [6.812] beat Hector Arana Sr. and Andrew Hines [6.842] eliminated Hector Jr.
IT'S YOU AGAIN - Eddie Krawiec scored his fifth 2012 win defeating teammate Andrew Hines in the final. Krawiec won with a 6.809, 197.74 run to complete the Harley-Davidson domination for this event. Krawiec was the No. 1 qualifier.
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