Despite both drivers being eliminated in the second round of the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals Sunday, the Summit Racing team leaves Las Vegas, NV. atop the Pro Stock point standings.
Reigning Pro Stock champion Jason Line moved into second place, just behind 2010 champion Greg Anderson, who remains in the points lead after the fourth event in the 2012 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.
At the conclusion of Saturday’s qualifying for the Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, four-time Pro Stock champion Anderson, who qualified sixth, expressed hope that his 2012 pattern of struggling in qualifying followed by strong race day showings would continue during Sunday’s final eliminations. In the first round against Chris McGaha, it seemed as though the Summit Racing driver would get his wish, as he set low elapsed time and top speed of the weekend, blazing through the quarter-mile in 6.612-seconds, 208.30 mph.
However, in the second round against veteran and No. 3 qualifier Allen Johnson, the combination of an uncharacteristic reaction time and a subpar 6.670-second, 207.66 mph run put an early end to Anderson’s weekend. In an unusual development, a piece of debris was blown into Johnson’s finish line sensors, forcing NHRA officials to resort to the videotape to confirm the results of the race.
“The weekend was not a complete loss,” Anderson said. “We made some progress with my race car, learning things that we can apply moving forward. We were also able to hold on to the points lead, with Jason (teammate Line) moving into second. Finally, there is an open weekend before the next race in Charlotte, which is our hometown, so we’ll have extra time to prepare, which we will certainly put to good use.”
After using a dominant performance to secure the No. 1 qualifying position, Line entered the final eliminations cautiously optimistic about his chances of scoring his second win of the season.
Things went according to plan in the opening round, as Line took advantage of Sunday’s cooler conditions to record his quickest and fastest pass of the weekend at 6.616-seconds, 208.04 mph to eliminate veteran V. Gaines. This set the stage for a second-round match-up with sophomore racer Vincent Nobile, already established as one of the category’s best “leavers.”
Although under normal circumstances Line would have been able to overcome his opponent’s starting line advantage, his race car fell off its earlier pace, slowing to a 6.656-second, 207.82 mph lap, allowing his rival, who crossed the finish line in 6.665-seconds, to hold on for the win.
“I guess you could say we got off to a bad finish,” Line said. “I had a really good Summit Racing Pontiac all weekend, but we made a couple mistakes in the second round and it cost us. Right now, we can probably get by with a single mistake, but certainly not two. I didn’t do my job as a driver, and we made our worst run of the weekend, with the result being that our race was over.
“After such a strong performance in qualifying, to come away with nothing is pretty disappointing, but the good news is that we still have two pretty good hot rods. We just have to do a better job of executing. I don’t believe in dwelling in the past, so we’ll put this weekend behind us and concentrate on doing better at the next race.”
NHRA Pro Stock Point Standings
- Greg Anderson 362
- Jason Line 324
- Mike Edwards 307
- Allen Johnson 258
- Vincent Nobile 238
In Funny Car, Robert Hight raced to his third consecutive victory of the season.
Hight earned his 26th career victory with a final round performance of 4.154 at 312.93 in his Auto Club Ford Mustang to defeat Bob Tasca III, who trailed with a 4.213 at 292.14 in his Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Shelby Mustang. It is the second time Hight has won three races in a row.
“This class and the parity has never been this close,” said Hight, who took the series points lead with the win. “It is exciting, and it makes winning three in a row all the more special. It is harder to start a streak than keep it going. It is not that easy to win out here. Most of the time when you lose out here, you beat yourself. There are no underdogs.”
In Top Fuel, Massey edged teammate Antron Brown at the finish line for his second victory of the season and the eighth of his career. Massey finished in 3.830 at 323.89 in his FRAM dragster, while Brown trailed with a 3.849 at 315.86 in his Matco Tools dragster.
Massey, who qualified second, outran Steven Chrisman, Terry McMillen and Steve Torrence in the first three rounds to advance to the final. Massey moved to third in the point standings with the win. Runner-up Brown took the series lead. Top qualifier Morgan Lucas remained in second with his semifinal effort.
“This year it seems like everybody has really stepped up tremendously,” Massey said. “You look through the Lucas cars, the Al-Anabi cars, these DSR cars, and even the newcomers, like Steve Torrence, who has this new team this year, and everybody is running extremely strong. It’s like Pro Stock racing. It’s like running a bracket race. You have to go up there and cut your tree and do flawless on the run. You have to count every thousandth of a second. Back 10 years ago, it was almost hundredths of a second or by a tenth of a second, but now it’s that close, and it makes for that much better of a race.”