SATURDAY - BROWN, GRAY AND EDWARDS CLAIM VICTORIES AT NHRA SOUTHERN NATIONALS
Antron Brown raced to the Top Fuel victory Saturday at the weather-delayed Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway.
Johnny Gray (Funny Car) and Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) also were winners at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event, which was delayed for one week due to persistent rain showers.
Brown claimed his second victory of the season and his fifth win at the Georgia dragstrip, powering past Brandon Bernstein in the final round. Brown covered the distance in 3.801 seconds at 321.25 mph in his Matco Tools dragster, while Bernstein’s ProtectTheHarvest.com dragster lost traction at the start and finished in 7.105 at 90.64.
“It’s big to win down here at the Southern Nationals,” said defending world champion Brown, who also defeated Pat Dakin, Spencer Massey and Doug Kalitta in earlier rounds to secure his 39th career victory.
“This track’s been real special to me,” Brown continued. “It reminds me of going to a racetrack in my hometown. It’s been around forever, and it has that special atmosphere with great fans that pump you up. You get that aura of the passion for the sport that they have. Everybody was running so strong this weekend that it was monumental for us to get the job done.”
With the win, Brown moved to second place in the points order, within five points of series leader Tony Schumacher.
"Every team gets in a groove, and our car can run what the track will hold when we’re in our groove,” Brown said. “People probably know that, if they want to take that win from us, they’re going to have to step up because we’re not going to leave any scraps on the table. We threw some good numbers out there.”
In Funny Car, Gray earned his second win of the season by defeating event No. 1 qualifier Matt Hagan in the final round. Gray’s Pitch Energy Dodge Charger led the entire way down the track with a performance of 4.077 at 314.17 and Hagan trailed in his Magneti Marelli/Rocky Footwear Charger with a 4.160 at 309.49.
The victory pulled Gray out of bit of a mini-slump, which he had been in since winning in Gainesville, Fla. in March and included a DNQ at the Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte and a pair of second round losses at Las Vegas and Houston.
“We got over-center here for a couple of races and struggled pretty good,” said Gray, who moved up from fifth to third in the series standings with the win. “The car was getting really inconsistent, and the boys made the election just to back the thing way down, get way over on the soft side, and start picking their way back up. I didn’t know they’d pick it up quite that quick, but they picked on it pretty good today. The thing came back real strong.”
Gray outran Robert Hight, Ron Capps and points leader Cruz Pedregon in earlier rounds to claim his fifth career victory and first ever at Atlanta Dragway.
“We’re tickled to death,” Gray said. “[Crew chiefs] Rob [Wendland] and Rip [Reynolds] are pretty phenomenal over there. They get a little left of center there every now and again, but, boy, it doesn’t take them long to reel it back in, and when they’ve got it reeled in, man that’s a hot rod. They give me a car good enough even I can’t screw it up.”
Edwards scored his second Pro Stock win of the season and the 36th of his career by defeating Gray’s son Shane in the final round with a 6.595 at 209.14 in his Interstate Batteries/I Am Second Chevy Camaro.
“All things considered, it was a great day in the office,” said Edwards, who beat Warren Johnson, V. Gaines and Greg Anderson in the first three rounds. “Man, it just seemed like we were a little bit faster than a few of them. We’re making good runs, just need to make better runs. We just tried all day long and couldn’t make it go any faster, but hey, it just feels good to come out with a win. It was a great win for me and my guys.”
The younger Gray posted a 6.643 at 208.17 in his Gray Motorsports Camaro in the runner-up effort in his third consecutive final round appearance. He barely missed joining his father in the Mello Yello Series winner’s circle, which would have been a first in the sport. The only other time a father-son tandem advanced to final rounds in different Mello Yello Series categories at the same event was in 2008 at Brainerd, Minn., with Brandon Bernstein in Top Fuel and Kenny Bernstein in Funny Car. Neither driver won that day.
“Shane was on today,” said Edwards, who with the win increased his series points lead to 126 over second-place Jeg Coughlin. “I asked him down there at the other end what he had this morning, and he said a big ol’ box of Wheaties, so that’s what I’m having in Kansas. He did a phenomenal job. I think that’s three finals in a row for that team, so they’re definitely catching fire, and they’re running good.”
Gray rattled off several amazing reaction times to advance to the final round, including back-to-back .002 and .001 starts in the semis and final. Edwards, the 2009 world champ, says winning an NHRA Pro Stock race just keeps getting tougher and tougher.
“The competition is amazing,” Edwards said. “Pro Stock is just a great class. It’s fun to be a part of, but I’ll tell you what, the older I get, my nerves are getting shot. It’s tough. Them guys are so good. They pull up there and just pop them .00s on you. Man, we made a real nice run in the final. I was a little worried because that was the first time we were going to be the first pair out, but it made a sweet run. It’s all good when you win.”
The NHRA Mello Yello Series continues with the NHRA Kansas Nationals, May 17-19 at Heartland Park Topeka (Kan.).
FRIDAY - HAGAN, LANGDON AND EDWARDS RACE TO NO. 1 QUALIFYING POSITIONS AT RAIN-DELAYED SOUTHERN NATIONALS
Matt Hagan ended a 29-race drought from the top of Funny Car’s qualifying order by racing to the No. 1 position Friday at the rain-delayed Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway.
Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel) and Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) also will lead their categories into Saturday’s 11 a.m. eliminations as the No. 1 qualifiers in their categories at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event.
The 2011 Funny Car world champ powered his Magneti Marelli/Rocky Footwear Dodge Charger to a track record time of 4.067 seconds at 312.86 mph to claim his first No. 1 qualifying position since November 2011 and the 11th of his career. Hagan will open eliminations against No. 16 qualifier Tony Pedregon, a two-time world champ.
“I guess this is my first pole since my championship year, but I just look at (last year) as just a wash,” said Hagan, who finished 11th in points last season, missing the Countdown to the Championship playoffs. “I don’t even think about it anymore; it’s behind me. We’re looking ahead to bigger and brighter things with (crew chief) Dickie Venables and this car and this crew. My lights (reaction times) are great, and the car’s running great, and that’s a hard combination to beat when you put two and two together. The confidence just keeps building, but, like I said, without my guys busting their butts, it’s not happening. It’s a great feeling to be back up at the top, No. 1.”
Ron Capps qualified second with a 4.073 at 313.15 in his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger and will race second year driver and recent Charlotte runner-up Blake Alexander in the first round. Meanwhile, series points leader Cruz Pedregon qualified third in his Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry with a 4.086 at 303.37 and will begin his quest to earn his third win of the season by facing Jeff Arend in the first round.
In Top Fuel, Langdon took his second No. 1 qualifying position of the season and eighth of his career, powering his Al-Anabi Racing dragster to both ends of the track record with a performance of 3.791 at 324.36. Langdon will race GEICO/Lucas Oil dragster driver Morgan Lucas in the first round.
“With only having two runs today, we were a little conservative on the first run to try to get down the racetrack," Langdon said. "We accomplished that and found a lot of areas that we could improve on, and I think that showed a little bit on the second run.”
Langdon has advanced to the last two final rounds and hopes to claim his second win of the season and improve on his third place points position with a strong showing this weekend.
“The crew chiefs have been doing a great job of working hard to basically finish up what we were trying to accomplish with these cars last year,” Langdon said. “We got behind the eight-ball a little bit last year trying to test some new stuff. They’re getting it figured out now."
Defending Top Fuel world champ Antron Brown qualified second in his Matco Tools dragster with a 3.826 at 321.35 and will race veteran driver Pat Dakin, while Doug Kalitta was third in the Mac Tools dragster with the same time as Brown’s at a speed of 320.36 and will race rookie Leah Pruett in the opening round.
Points leader and seven-time world champ Tony Schumacher, who has never won at Atlanta Dragway, will open in a tough first round pairing against local favorite Bob Vandergriff, who resides in nearby Alpharetta, who is still riding the momentum from scoring his first win of the season two weeks ago in Houston.
In Pro Stock, Edwards claimed his sixth No. 1 qualifying position of the season with a performance of 6.583 at 210.57 in his Interstate Batteries/I Am Second Chevy Camaro. He will face six-time champ and longtime Buford, Ga. resident Warren Johnson in the opening round of eliminations.
“We were being conservative because we only get two sessions, so you’ve got to get down the racetrack to get qualified, so we feel real good about how we ran,” said Edwards, the current series points leader and a two-time winner at Atlanta Dragway. “We feel like we can run a little bit better, so that makes us feel even better. Hat’s off to all my guys. The Interstate Battery/I Am Second Camaro is just running flawlessly, and I’m just hoping we can run good tomorrow and have a long day.”
Jeg Coughlin qualified second with a 6.590 at 209.75 in his JEGS.com/Mopar Dodge Avenger and will face fellow Ohio driver Larry Morgan, who pilots the Lucas Oil Ford Mustang, while Rickie Jones will start third with a 6.596 at 210.11 in his Elite Motorsports Camaro and face veteran driver Kurt Johnson in the opening round.
SPORTSMAN RESULTS - WINNERS CROWNED ON FRIDAY IN COMMERCE
Under the threat of stormy weather for Saturday in the Atlanta area, NHRA officials chose to run the sportsman portion of the Summit Southern Nationals to conclusion on Friday.
David Latino headlined the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series winners as he won the Super Stock division behind the wheel of his GT/DA Cobalt. Latino ran an impressive 9.699 elapsed time in a heads-up, no breakout match against the GT/DA Camaro of Ryan Richardson.
Jeff Strickland, who earlier scored a runner-up in Top Dragster, sealed the deal in Stock eliminator when he pushed his B/Stock Nova to a 10.686 on a 10.64 dial to beat Jeff Adkinson. Adkinson races a C/Stock Automatic 1969 Camaro.
Lauren Freer won the Super Comp crown when Michael Rastall broke out. Freer was on the winning side of the 8.90 index with an 8.904.
Billy Upton, from nearby Taylors, SC, ran a 9.915 in his Corvette to beat Scott Lawton for the Super Gas title.
Troy Williams Jr. was perfect on the starting line in Super Street, and this was more than enough to push Mike Deslo into the negative. Williams won with a 10.944.
In the fast bracket competition, Ray Miller won Top Dragster while Jeffrey Barker was the king of the hill in Top Sportsman.
1 2343 Jeffrey Barker, Kathleen GA, '06 Cobalt 6.692 208.55 208.55
2 25 Tommy Turner, Naples FL, '12 GXP 6.723 208.68 208.68
3 204 Ronnie Davis, Suwanee GA, '63 Corvette 6.810 203.49 203.49
4 24 Dylan Stott, Columbus NC, '67 Mustang 6.870 199.82 199.82
5 2002 Bruce Thrift, Waycross GA, '07 GTO 7.007 197.13 197.13
6 491C Mario Boesch, Kenner LA, '03 Grand Am 7.060 201.67 201.67
7 2965 Paul Robison, Greer SC, '66 Nova 7.132 188.44 188.44
8 2708 Donny Urban, Pittsboro NC, '06 Cobalt 7.147 191.73 191.73
9 200C Chad Morrison, Statesville NC, '57 BelAir 7.329 185.23 185.23
10 2230 Ed Richardson, Bradenton FL, '06 Cobalt 7.339 186.67 186.67
1 24 SS/BS Gary Coccaro, Panama City FL, '05 Sunfire 8.841 9.65 -0.809
2 4520 GT/DA David Latino, Donaldsonville LA, '06 Coba 9.696 10.50 -0.804
3 7 GT/HA David Rampy, Piedmont AL, '87 Camaro 10.353 11.05 -0.697
4 400A SS/BM Larry Cummings, Hammond LA, '03 Cavalier 8.542 9.20 -0.658
5 213A SS/AS Anthony Bertozzi, Ashland VA, '98 Grand Am 8.989 9.60 -0.611
6 26 SS/BM Jeff Adkinson, Damascus GA, '10 Cobalt 8.624 9.20 -0.576
7 243 SS/BA Roy Hill, Sophia NC, '13 Mustang 9.339 9.90 -0.561
8 2428 GT/AA Andy Fogle, Aiken SC, '05 Cavalier 9.620 10.10 -0.480
9 2992 GT/DA Amanda Manuel, Winston-Salem NC, '09 G5 10.068 10.50 -0.432
10 41 SS/CM Slate Cummings, Hammond LA, '03 Cavalier 9.070 9.50 -0.430
1 335X CC/SA Dave Connolly, Mooresville NC, '12 Camaro 9.741 10.60 -0.859
2 2004 B/SA Jeff Hairrington, Kathleen GA, '13 Mustang10.434 11.25 -0.816
3 10 C/SA Jeff Adkinson, Damascus GA, '69 Camaro 10.665 11.40 -0.735
4 1364 B/SA Raymond Skipper Jr, Richmond VA, '93 Cama 10.541 11.25 -0.709
5 400B C/SA Britt Cummings, Hammond LA, '00 Corvette 10.742 11.40 -0.658
6 1781 E/SA Dan Fletcher, Churchville NY, '69 Camaro 11.067 11.70 -0.633
7 2824 H/SA Brian Rowe, New Bern NC, '90 Camaro 11.567 12.15 -0.583
8 2324 E/SA Garry Glazener, Jackson SC, '72 Mustang 11.130 11.70 -0.570
9 44 A/SA Jody Simoneaux, Napoleonville LA, '99 Fir 10.438 11.00 -0.562
10 2124 B/S Jeff Strickland, Red Bay AL, '70 Nova 10.696 11.20 -0.504
1 22 S/ST Gaines Hickman, Barnesville GA, '65 Malib 10.912 10.90 0.012 2 R228 S/ST Jacob Rutledge, Hoschton GA, '79 Mercury 10.929 10.90 0.029 3 2277 S/ST Jerry Jamison, Greer SC, '77 Nova 10.931 10.90 0.031 4 204 S/ST Doug Ramsey, Mt Airy NC, '68 Camaro 10.938 10.90 0.038 5 2446 S/ST Ed Swearingen, Reynolds GA, '67 Camaro 10.958 10.90 0.058 6 D233 S/ST David Clark, Brunswick GA, '85 Chevy P/U 10.980 10.90 0.080 7 2218 S/ST Ike Heckler Jr, Malabar FL, '67 LeMans 11.056 10.90 0.156 8 H247 S/ST Cole Hickman, Barnesville GA, '68 Camaro 11.061 10.90 0.161 9 2789 S/ST Troy Williams Jr., Bradenton FL, '96 S10 11.064 10.90 0.164 10 2124 S/ST Mike Desio, Seminole FL, '67 Chevy II 11.428 10.90 0.528
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1 1055 S/C Ken Moses, Colonia NJ, American-Chevy 8.902 8.90 0.002 2 2151 S/C Lindsey Barker, Kathleen GA, Undercover-C 8.905 8.90 0.005 3 2920 S/C Edmond Richardson, Greenbrier TN, America 8.906 8.90 0.006 4 222 S/C Michael Rastall, Rainsville AL, Mullis-Ch 8.908 8.90 0.008 5 2940 S/C Matt Weston, Hendersonville NC, American- 8.911 8.90 0.011 6 2908 S/C William Manuel, Winston-Salem NC, RaceTec 8.912 8.90 0.012 7 2421 S/C Buck Holmes, Chipley FL, Undercover-Chevy 8.912 8.90 0.012 8 2710 S/C Steven Farrow, Chattanooga TN, American-C 8.919 8.90 0.019 9 1660 S/C Ronnie Siani, Harrisburg NC, Undercover-C 8.920 8.90 0.020 10 2771 S/C Raymond Miller, Spring Hill FL, Miller-Ch 8.922 8.90 0.022
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1 2062 S/G Todd Ewing, Vinemont AL, '05 Corvette 9.904 9.90 0.004 2 2833 S/G Billy Upton, Taylors SC, '63 Corvette 9.913 9.90 0.013 3 2952 S/G Scott Lawton, Sanford NC, '57 Corvette 9.915 9.90 0.015 4 4 S/G Steven Furr, Harrisburg NC, '68 Camaro 9.927 9.90 0.027 5 2508 S/G Jim Perry, Niota TN, '00 S-10 9.940 9.90 0.040 6 280 S/G Ronnie Wilkerson, Buford GA, '92 Grand Pr 9.942 9.90 0.042 7 4766 S/G Shannon Brinkley, Highlands TX, '02 Corve 9.944 9.90 0.044 8 3362 S/G Michael Crick, Nortonville KY, '71 Duster 9.977 9.90 0.077 9 2870 S/G Clint Lindsey, Montgomery AL, '97 Cutlass 10.103 9.90 0.203 10 2342 S/G Kenny Threatt, Springfield TN, '63 Corvet 10.160 9.90 0.260
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SATURDAY - HEAVY RAINS FORCE NHRA TO POSTPONE EVENT UNTIL NEXT WEEK
Persistent rain showers at Atlanta Dragway and a forecast for more heavy rain throughout the remainder of the weekend forced NHRA officials to postpone the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals until next weekend, May 10-11.
Two sessions of qualifying for the seventh of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series will take place Friday, May 10, at 2 and 4 p.m. Eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 11.
NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series competitors in Super Stock, Stock, Super Comp, Super Gas, and Super Street will begin racing at 8 a.m. on Friday, May 10, with one time run and then go straight into the first round of eliminations on a random pairing. Top Dragster and Top Sportsman racers will get one qualifying session, and then their fields will be set for first-round eliminations.
FRIDAY - NHRA SOUTHERN NATIONALS QUALIFYING CANCELLED UNTIL SATURDAY DUE TO PERSISTENT RAIN SHOWERS
Persistent rain showers forced NHRA officials to cancel qualifying on Friday for the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway.
Eight Pro Stock cars were able to get down the track before consistent showers returned to the track located northeast of Atlanta. Rickie Jones in his 2013 Camaro led those drivers who made qualifying runs with a time of 6.596 seconds at 210.11 mph.
Qualifying resumes on Saturday with two qualifying sessions scheduled for 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Eliminations will take place on Sunday at 11 a.m.
1 3558 SS/CA Ronald Matcham, Grafton OH, '12 Mustang 8.987 10.05 -1.063
2 24 SS/BS Gary Coccaro, Panama City FL, '05 Sunfire 8.703 9.65 -0.947
3 38 SS/AAA Drew Skillman, Greenwood IN, '12 Mustang 8.455 9.40 -0.945
4 4488 GT/CA Terry Pearson, Spanish Fort AL, '06 Caval 9.475 10.40 -0.925
5 3028 GT/CA Jerry Silveus, Van Buren OH, '05 Cavalier 9.504 10.40 -0.896
6 3499 SS/M Gary Summers, Franklin KY, '85 Mustang 10.705 11.60 -0.895
7 201 GT/DA Herbie Null, Greencastle PA, '87 Camaro 9.667 10.50 -0.833
8 2093 GT/LA Bobby Dennis, Shorter AL, '90 Calais 10.753 11.55 -0.797
9 2096 GT/LA Stan Perry, Greenbrier TN, '95 Achieva 10.753 11.55 -0.797
10 2471 GT/KA Ronnie Dutton, Southside AL, '80 Monza 10.662 11.45 -0.788
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1 2426 K/SA Johnny Fisher, Raleigh NC, '80 Mirada 11.669 12.65 -0.981
2 2004 B/SA Jeff Hairrington, Kathleen GA, '13 Mustang10.291 11.25 -0.959
3 2885 AA/SA David Rampy, Piedmont AL, '13 Mustang 9.043 10.00 -0.957
4 3074 M/S Tommy Turner, Tompkinsville KY, '85 Musta 11.945 12.85 -0.905
5 355X AA/SA Mike Kubiak, Grafton OH, '13 Mustang 9.096 10.00 -0.904
6 6 A/SA Robbie Shaw, Bowdon GA, '01 Firebird 10.108 11.00 -0.892
7 1364 B/SA Raymond Skipper Jr, Richmond VA, '93 Cama 10.376 11.25 -0.874
8 4909 E/SA Dempsey Pendarvis, Gonzales LA, '10 Chall 10.834 11.70 -0.866
9 27 C/SA Jim Marshall, Indian Land SC, '88 Camaro 10.536 11.40 -0.864
10 2924 D/SA Bud Rowe, Bridgeton NC, '97 Trans Am 10.686 11.55 -0.864
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