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Conditions ripe for records to be broken at NHRA Four-Wide Nationals

Lower temperatures help increase speeds going into final day

- Correspondent
Saturday, Apr. 20, 2013

Could records be broken during Sunday’s elimination rounds at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals?

There are no guarantees, but Saturday’s qualifying rounds at zMax Dragway showed that conditions are right for it to happen – possibly more than once.

Just on Saturday, one national elapsed-time record has been broken and others have come within hundredths of a second of track and NHRA records in the four professional divisions.

“Obviously, the track is there, the conditions are there, there’s no reason why we couldn’t set records tomorrow,” said Chad Head, the No. 1 qualifier in the Funny Car division. “If we can run 4.01 (seconds) when the track is 103 (degrees), there’s no reason why a guy like Del Worsham or the Schumacher (Racing) group or the (John) Force (Racing) group couldn’t run better.”

After Friday night’s severe weather, temperatures dropped significantly Saturday – into the mid-60s – at zMax Dragway, with the same or even lower temperatures expected Sunday.

The lower temperatures were the main reason pro stock driver Mike Edwards cited for his national-record qualifying run of 6.471 seconds, beating the mark he set last month in Gainesville, Fla., by 0.002 seconds.

“That record isn’t safe, by no means,” Edwards said. “Tomorrow, somebody could go even faster. Hopefully it’s us.”

By comparison, temperatures were 10-12 degrees warmer at zMax Dragway during last year’s Four-Wide Nationals. That weekend, Spencer Massey went on to set a national top fuel speed record (332.18 mph), and Jason Line set pro stock track records in both elapsed time (6.493 seconds) and and top speed (213.91 mph).

“Obviously, with the weather changes overnight, the air got really good,” said Shawn Langdon, the No. 1 qualifier in the top fuel division. “The track can be good, but if you don’t have the air to go with it – it has to coincide to be able to run those kind of numbers.

“I definitely think there’s a possibility of setting some track records. You’ll definitely see some good racing.”

Top of the grid: Edwards, Head, Langdon and Hector Arana Jr., were at the top of the qualifying charts after Saturday’s final rounds, earning lane choice for Sunday’s elimination rounds.

Edwards’ record run put the 2010 Four-Wide Nationals winner No. 1 in pro stock qualifying for the fifth straight race and atop qualifying for the 46th time in his career.

“It’s been an amazing start,” said Edwards, who also has 34 career pro stock wins, but has gone 0-for-5 this season. “It’s all kinda fell into place.”

Head took his first career No. 1 qualifying spot in the Funny Car division with a run of 4.014 seconds at 3165.19 mph, edging 15-time champion John Force by 0.025 seconds (4.039 seconds at 316.08 mph).

Langdon picked up his first No. 1 qualifier in top fuel this season and the seventh of his career, posting a run of 3.751 seconds at 327.90 mph. That was 0.023 seconds better than defending champion Massey (3.774 seconds at 326.24 mph).

Arana, who won the season-opening pro stock motorcycle event at Gainesville last month, won his first No. 1 qualifier this season and the 11th of his career. He had a best pass of 6.826 seconds at 195.19 mph, besting Scotty Pollacheck of Medford, Ore., by 0.008 seconds (6.834 seconds at 193.88 mph).

Today’s schedule: Elimination rounds will begin at noon Sunday with the four professional divisions, followed by the pro modified, alcohol dragster, funny car and sportsman classes.

Prerace ceremonies for the finals in all divisions will begin approximately 3 p.m.

IF YOU GO

NHRA Four-Wide Nationals

When/where: Sunday, zMax Dragway, Concord

TV: 7 p.m., ESPN2 (delayed).

Tickets: 800-455-FANS; www.zmaxdragway.com

Sunday’s schedule

11 a.m.: Pre-race ceremonies

Noon: Final eliminations