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NHRA Thundering In The Desert
RIV Tony
At the NHRA qualifying earlier in the weekend in Phoenix, Top Fuel driver Tony Schumacher put up a 3.722 et at 325 mph to capture the pole for Sundays race. Photo By Jeff Burghardt

The NHRA Mello Yello Drag racing series arrived in the desert of Phoenix, Arizona for the 31st running of the Carquest Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park. Qualifying was led by last season’s series champions in all three professional classes.

In Top Fuel qualifying Tony (The Sarge) Schumacher and his US Army team reminded the rest of the top fuel competitors why they are the reigning champions. Schumacher put up a 3.722 et at 325 mph to capture the pole for Sunday’s race. Doug Kalitta’s Mac tools dragster would take the number two spot with a 3.733 et at 329 mph. The Geico dragster driven by Richie Crampton picked up the number three slot with a 3.739 et at 324 mph. in the fourth spot would be JR Todd and the Red Line oil team with a 3.753 et at 323 mph. Antron Brown’s Matco Tools car grabbed the fifth starting spot with his 3.753 et at 318 mph. Fan favorite Brittany Force was able to capture the tenth position for race day with a 3.792 et at 323 mph.

The Funny Car class brought fans to their feet with some stellar runs but also some fires. Matt Hagan and the Rocky Boots team, coming off their win at the season opener in Pomona two weeks ago, were looking to keep the momentum going as he grabbed the pole with a 3.978 et at 320 mph. The Traxxas Chevy Camaro of Courtney Force took home the second spot with a 3.996 et at 321 mph. Del Worsham in the DHL and his squad powered to the third position with their 3.997 et at 319 mph. Alexis Dejoria put her Tequila Patron Toyota Camry in the fourth slot with a 4.000 et at 313 mph. Tommy Johnson in the Make-A-Wish Charger would round out the top five at a 4.003 et at 315 mph. Fan Favorite 16-time Champion John Force and his Peak Chevy Camaro could only grab the seventh spot with his 4.025 et at 313 mph effort. Funny Car newcomer Shane Westerfield got a little warm under his Worsham Racing Dodge, when the engine let go, igniting a big fire. He was able to get the car stopped and climbed out unscathed. The 2012 series champion Jack Beckman, who failed to qualify in Pomona, struggled for most of qualifying in Phoenix, making only one full pass down the drag strip. Beckman’s 4.047 et at309 mph was only good enough for the twelve spot.

In Pro Stock, reigning champion Erica Enders-Stevens grabbed the pole by speed over Roger Brogdon with a 6.545 et at 211 mph in her Elite motorsports Camaro to his 6.545 et at 210 mph. Rookie standout Drew Skillman picked up the third spot with a 6.548 et at 211 mph. 2012 series champion Allen Johnson and his Dodge Dart took the fourth slot with a 6.551 et at 211 mph. Jason Line coming off his season opening win in Pomona qualified his Summit Racing Equipment Camaro in the sixth position with a 6.562 et at 211 mph. Four-time series champion Greg Anderson, and his Summit Camaro, was only able to put up a 6.578 et at 210 mph on the scoreboard, which was only good enough for the ninth position.