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NHRA countdown: What to watch, when

- dscott@charlotteobserver.com
Saturday, Sep. 10, 2011

The National Hot Rod Association returns to Concord’s zMax Dragway next week with the O’Reilly Auto Parts Nationals. The Concord races are the first of the NHRA’s Countdown to the Championship, which concludes five races later with the season-ending Auto Club Nationals at Pomona, Cali.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Remember, this weekend’s races are in the conventional two-wide setup. The spring’s event at zMax Dragway is the NHRA’s only four-wide competition.

Top Fuel Dragster points leader Del Worsham won the Four-Wide Nationals at zMax last spring and hasn’t broken stride. Worsham has won six times this season and takes the points lead into the countdown. Worsham’s 2,110 points (points were reset for the countdown) leads second-place Antron Brown’s 2,080. Brown has five victories.

Two of the sports big stars – Top Fuel’s Tony Schumacher and Funny Car’s John Force – are having off years. Shumacher hasn’t won yet and is fifth in points. Force has one victory and starts the Countdown in seventh. Force will be going after his 16th title.

Mooresville’s Greg Anderson, who won the Pro Stock Car event at the Four-Wide event in the spring, is the points leader in that division. Anderson has won five races.

Unlike in the spring, the motorcycles will run this weekend. Eddie Krawiec is the points leader. But LE Tonglet has four victories, the most on the circuit. David Scott

SCHEDULE

Thursday

8 a.m.: Gates open.

9 a.m.: Sportsman qualifying.

5 p.m.: Comp Eliminator qualifying

Friday

8 a.m.: Gates open

9 a.m. Sportsman eliminations

2 p.m.: Comp Eliminator qualifying

2:30 p.m.: Pro Mod qualifying

3:30 p.m.: Pro Stock qualifying

4:30: Nitro qualifying

5:30 p.m.: Pro Mod qualifying

6:15 p.m.: Pro Stock qualifying (motorcycle and car)

7 p.m.: Nitro qualifying (Funny Car, Top Fuel Dragster)

Saturday

7:30 a.m.: Gates open

8:30 a.m.: Sportsman eliminations

9:30 a.m.: Comp Eliminator, Round 1

11:15 a.m.: Pro Stock q

Noon: Nitro qualifying

1 p.m.: Pro Mod qualifying

1:45 p.m.: Pro Stock qualifying

2:30 p.m.: Nitro qualifying

3:30 p.m.: Pro Mod, Round 1

5 p.m.: Comp Eliminator, Round 2

Sunday

9:30 a.m.: Gates open

11 a.m.: Prerace ceremonies

Noon: Final eliminations

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