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NHRA countdown near at zMax

- dscott@charlotteobserver.com
Sunday, Sep. 08, 2013
Highlights Friday 4:15 p.m.: Pro stock qualifying 5:15 p.m.: Nitro qualifying (Funny Car, Top Fuel Dragster) 6:45 p.m.: Pro stock qualifying 7:30 p.m.: Nitro qualifying Saturday 1 p.m.: Pro stock qualifying 2 p.m.: Nitro qualifying 3:15 p.m.: Pro stock qualifying 4:15 p.m.: Nitro qualifying Sunday 11 a.m.: Prerace ceremonies Noon: Nitro eliminations, round one 1 p.m.: Pro stock eliminations, round one 2 p.m.: Nitro eliminations, round two 2:30 p.m.: Pro stock eliminations, round two 3:30 p.m.: Nitro eliminations, round three 3:45 p.m.: Pro stock eliminations, round three 4:50 p.m.: Pro stock finals 4:55 p.m.: Nitro finals Tickets 800-455-FANS; www.zmaxdragway.com

The National Hot Rod Assocation’s Countdown to the Championship playoffs begin next week at Concord’s zMax Dragway.

The Carolina Nationals are the start of the NHRA’s six-event countdown, culminating in the Auto Club Nationals on Nov. 7-10 in Pomona, Calif.

Here’s how each of the NHRA’s four divisions shapes up heading into the countdown (points were reset after the regular season, with each leader holding a 30-point advantage over the second-place driver and points separating the rest):

Top Fuel Dragster

The leader: Shawn Langdon’s victory at Indianapolis last week was his fifth of the season. Langdon finished fourth in the countdown last season, a career best.

Contenders: Second-place has won four times. Steve Torrence and Bob Vandergriff clinched the final two spots in the countdown at Indy. Antron Brown, last season’s champ, is sixth.

Standings: 1. Shawn Langdon (2,110); 2. Spencer Massey (2,080); 3. Tony Schumacher (2,070); 4. Doug Kalitta (2,060); 5. Khalid alBalooshi (2,050); 6. Antron Brown (2,040); 7. Clay Millican (2,030); 8. Morgan Lucas (2,020); 9. Steve Torrence (2,010); 10. Bob Vandergriff (2,000).

Funny Car

The leader: Matt Hagan, who won the title in 2011, has won four times this season, tied for the Funny Car lead with Johnny Gray.

Contenders: Ron Capps has won three times and is second. Cruz Pedegron also has three victories, but hasn’t been as consistent and is sixth. Robert Hight clinched his spot in the countdown with a victory at Indy last week. That snapped a 35-race winless streak for Hight.

Standings: 1. Matt Hagan; 2. Ron Capps; 3. Johnny Gray; 4. John Force; 5. Jack Beckman; 6. Cruz Pedegron; 7. Courtney Force; 8. Tim Wilkerson; 9. Robert Hight; 10. Del Worsham.

Pro Stock Car

The leader: Mike Edwards is the leader and won his sixth race this season at Indy.

Contenders: Defending champ Allen Johnson has won four times, most recently at the Mile-High Nationals in Denver in July.

Standings: 1. Mike Edwards; 2. Allen Johnson; 3. Jeg Coughlin; 4. Vincent Nobile; 5. Johnny Gray; 6. Jason Line; 7. Greg Anderson; 8. V. Gaines; 9. Erica Enders-Stevens; 10. Rodger Brogdon (2,000).

Pro Stock Motorcycle

The leader: Hector Arana Jr. has been dominant, with four victories.

Contenders: Michael Ray and John Hall have won two times, with Matt Smith entering the countdown in second place.

Standings: 1. Hector Arana Jr.; 2. Matt Smith; 3. Michael Ray; 4. John Hall; 5. Hector Arana Sr.; 6. Scotty Pollacheck; 7. Eddie Krawiec; 8. Adam Arana; 9. L.E. Tonglet; 10. Shawn Gann.

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