NHRA Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, Aug. 28-Sept. 2, 2013 at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, IN, USA

John Hall WINS all MSR/Viper Indy final!

story and photos by Tim Hailey

 

John Hall came from 15th to beat MSR/Viper Motorcycles teammate Matt Smith in the U.S. Nationals final

Second year NHRA Mello Yello Pro Stock Motorcycle racer John Hall raced from the 15th starting position all the way to the win at the 59th annual Chevrolet Performance NHRA U.S. Nationals. Making the triumph even sweeter for the Matt Smith Racing/Viper Motorcycles team that Hall races with was his final round opponent—teammate Matt Smith, himself a former U.S. Nationals winner.

Qualifying started out great for the MSR/Viper team, with Smith leading Friday’s session and all four MSR bikes in the top 12. Hall was 3rd, part-time teammate Dawn Minturn 8th, and Matt’s wife Angie 11th. Saturday’s sessions saw the team get bumped down a few notches, but Sunday was nearly calamitous for MSR/Viper, and for Angie it was.

The Sunday morning session saw the best racing weather so far of the weekend, and with the temps slated to rise in the afternoon, this was everyone’s last shot to perform. Hall’s mistake was the most lurid—leaving before the tree was activated. Fortunately, his Saturday morning 7.022 held up for 15th—second to last place. Matt’s 6.989 placed him 9th, Minturn’s 7.012 14th, but Angie’s 7.033 put her 17th and out of the field.

After failing to make the show, Angie Smith was disconsolate on Sunday but ecstatic with the team win Monday

To make matters worse, the crank in Hall’s bike had tightened up. “Dean ‘Guido’ Antonelli at John Force Racing helped us press the crank out of the engine,” reported Viper Marketing and Racing Operations VP Colbert Seagraves. “We didn’t have the necessary tools with us and those guys helped us out.”

Working late Sunday night, the MSR/Viper team completed the swap and Monday—Labor Day for the nation and Raceday for the NHRA—saw an unusual turn of events. The Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson team had looked very strong in Sunday’s qualifying, nailing the tune-up and looking as if they were finally back in contention after the 2013 rules package put them on a level playing field with the rest of the class.

3X champ Eddie Krawiec was loose as a goose and seemed to have the upper hand

Hall faced the toughest draw—V&H/H-D rider Eddie Krawiec, the three-time national champ. Connecticut resident Hall and New Jersey native Krawiec first started racing against each other many years ago at Englishtown before they both started touring with the AMA/Prostar series. Both competed in the hotly contested, factory-based Supersport class. And in all that time, from the local track to the AMA and now NHRA Pro Stock, Hall had never beaten Krawiec.

And Krawiec—now an Indianapolis resident and comfortable with his new home track—oozed confidence after rising from 11th to 2nd in the order on Sunday. And why shouldn’t he be? His team did the best job of adapting to Sunday’s changing weather and now he faced his old whipping boy Hall. And so it was a stunning turn of events when 15th qualifier Hall turned the winlight on against his old rival.

eliminations round 1

(W) John Hall .060 rt 6.977 at 188.62 mph
Eddie Krawiec .054 rt 7.011 at 189.73 mph

(W) Matt Smith .028 rt 6.994 at 190.00 mph
Andrew Hines .024 rt 7.034 at 188.70 mph

Smith faced the other V&H/H-D three-time national champ, Andrew Hines, and when Matt’s winlight also flashed on the proof was in the pudding—this time it was MSR/Viper that nailed the tune-up while V&H swung and missed.

In round 2 it was two Buells in the other lane—Sovereign/Star Racing’s Michael Ray against Hall and number 1 qualifier Hector Arana against Smith.

The Hall/Ray match-up has a history. Last year Ray raced with MSR/Viper and Hall was a Sovereign/Star team member. The two effectively swapped seats in the offseason, with Ray leading the change when he announced he would leave MSR for Star. While Smith and Ray mostly get along, there is still a strong strain of bitterness between them. Hall is a cool customer and mostly remains above the fray, but he delivered one for the MSR/Viper team when he nailed a .006 light and beat Ray on a holeshot.

eliminations round 2

(W) John Hall .006 rt 7.156 at 186.25 mph
Michael Ray .073 rt 7.116 at 186.82 mph

(W) Matt Smith .000 rt 6.992 at 191.00 mph
Hector Arana .060 rt 7.001 at 192.77 mph

And if Hall’s .006 light was a home run, Smith’s perfect .000 against Arana was a grand slam! And speaking of history, just try Googling “Matt Smith Hector Arana Englishtown” and settle in for an exciting read…But now, both MSR/Viper Buells were advancing to the semis of the U.S. Nationals.


Young former low budget champ LE Tonglet made this year's Countdown with an E2 waxing of Hector Arana Jr.

Hall faced young former champ LE Tonglet, who locked himself in as the only Suzuki racer in the Countdown to the Championship in round 2 and knocked Minturn out in round 1. Both Hall and Tonglet had good reaction times but LE’s bike bogged badly at the start, crawling to a 1.24 60-foot time. Hall ran a good, consistent lap to advance to the final.

eliminations semifinals

(W) John Hall .024 rt 7.006 at 190.24 mph
LE Tonglet .031 rt 7.256 at 188.12 mph

(W) Matt Smith .035 rt 7.018 at 190.54 mph
Scotty Pollacheck .037 rt 7.019 at 189.92 mph

In perhaps the best PSM race of the day, Smith faced Ray’s current (and Hall’s former) teammate Scotty Pollacheck. Both riders left within .002 of each other and ran ETs only .001 apart. You can’t ask for any better racing than that and for the MSR/Viper team, Smith’s winlight loaded the final round in their favor.

Seagraves has spent his whole life in the motorsports sponsorship business, and he knows a good thing when he sees it. He was all pink cheeks and bright smiles when he rode up to the Indy starting line, because both bikes competing for the prestigious U.S. Nationals win—the Super Bowl of drag racing—had his Viper logo on them. It was the first time ever that two bikes from the bottom half of the qualifying order would meet in a U.S. Nationals final.

Would relentless competitor Smith dial a winning tune-up into Hall's bike for the final?

It is often said in these situations that team orders prevail, and the haters assumed that ultra-competitive team leader Smith would never put a winning tune-up in Hall’s bike when the two were facing off in a final, and certainly not the final of the U.S. Nationals! But when Hall got his first win at the inaugural New England Nationals in New Hampshire earlier this year, he had to get past Smith in the semis to do it. And now, as then, the teammates raced straight-up for the win.

“Handle your biz bro!” was a text that Hall received from former U.S. Nationals winner Reggie Showers just before the final, and Hall planned on doing just that. With lane choice and a better light from the semis in hand, Hall had every reason to think this win could be his. Doubt must have sunk in, though, when he gave up .020 to Smith at the tree. He was still further behind at the 60 foot and had only gained .001 back by the 330. It was there his Buell made a move, pulling dead even at the eighth mile. At 1000 feet, Hall had built a .012 advantage but Smith’s bike was now adding a little steam for higher MPH through the traps. At the stripe Hall retained a 3 foot gap for his second Pro Stock Motorcycle win, and this one was at Indy!

eliminations final
(W) John Hall .056 rt 7.034 at 188.38 mph
Matt Smith .035 rt 7.065 at 189.66 mph

“Matt put the tune-up in the bike,” said Hall. “There’s no mistrust going up against my teammate. I knew he was gonna cut a good light. I didn’t have a great light, but his bike fell off a little bit and luckily I got the win. With this great team behind me, and a guy like Bobby Webb turning the wrenches, I know I just have to do my job and the bike will be there. I also want to thank my wife Ivette and our kids John and Mika. You can’t travel the country and do this without a very supportive family and I’ve got the best.”

“We knew after the semifinals that my motor was starting to go away,” said Smith. “But we didn’t have time to change it. It was a team final, so it was one of those deals. I thought I could leave on him enough to pull it out, but he was too close to me and I didn’t hit the tree hard enough. A .035 just didn’t cut it. But it was a great day for MSR/Team Viper.”

Smith has had a long relationship with Steve Nichols, the ECU master who brought the Magneti-Marelli to motorcycle drag racing and now champions the Australian Haltech system. Nichols was hustling around the track this weekend, as he often is at big events. Did his presence have any effect on the outcome? “I mighta helped,” said Nichols. “I twisted some knobs. But these guys gotta ride the bikes.”

“Steve was a big help with the maps on my bike this weekend,” said Hall. “Our team always does well when he’s at the track.”

The all-Viper Motorcycles final meant huge exposure for the new brand as it continues to build the racing program towards putting their own chassis and bodies onto the track, and eventually it’s own engine developed from the gorgeous Ilmor motors that makes Viper’s stylish streetbikes the most powerful V-Twin cruisers in the world.

But for now the team still runs the venerable S&S Pro Stock Motor, and Hall was quick to give the boys from Viola, Wisconsin their due—especially the motor with the new cam chest that has carried him to both of his victories.

While the Viper dragbike build is a slow grind, the streetbikes and dealer network are full speed ahead. “We’ve got the two new bikes that will likely debut at the start of the new year, including the new one that the NHRA bike will be modeled after,” said Seagraves. “We’ve also got a few 2013 Diamondbacks left, so customers or potential dealers should contact us in Auburn.” You can find out everything you need to know about Viper Motorcycles at http://vipermotorcycle.com/#

The MSP/Viper team clearly has momentum heading into the Countdown, with five finals, three wins and two number 1 qualifiers in the last six races starting with New Hampshire. Smith won the U.S. Nationals in 2006 and went on to win the championship the following season. Hall hopes to do just a little better than that, winning both in the same year—THIS year. With Smith second in the Countdown points and Hall fourth only 20 points behind, you can be sure they will be waging a friendly war with each other as well as the rest of the top 10. Hector Arana Jr. is the points leader with Ray in third and Arana Sr. fifth.

"We embrace Dawn and her team as well," Seagraves said about MSR renter Minturn, in the nerar lane above

“I think the Countdown is gonna be extremely exciting,” said Seagraves. “Anybody in the top 10 has a legitimate shot and we like that, especially with two players in the game. But the Harleys are coming on and Eddie will be tough, the Hectors will be tough, and Star Racing will be tough.”

Hall, who actually considered skipping The Big Go for his dad’s 93rd birthday, has a long history of racing no-bar bikes in the former AMA/Prostar series, but still considers himself new to the world of wheelie bar bikes—let alone Pro Stock. “My biggest competition is myself,” Hall admits about his chances in the upcoming Countdown. “I have to go up against myself every round. You can be your own worst enemy out there. Everybody out there is tough, I take that for granted. You saw qualifying, and then I came from fifteenth and won this race. Clearly, anybody can win. You have to be on your game, your lights have to be consistent and good, and your times also.

“Last year was a learning year, and this year I’ve felt comfortable. You just never know if you’re gonna get a win like this, there are so few opportunities. But it felt great to get this one, and I want to get another one and another one.” It should be noted that Hall was the only driver to bring his Wally to the post-race interview, and indeed took it to the team dinner a short time later. “It’s my buddy.”

“Last year with Michael Ray, we were the only team to beat the Harleys,” beamed Seagraves. “This year John’s joined us and he’s got two wins. There were people last year that said John couldn’t ride, but he’s won the U.S. Nationals and proved them all wrong. When John had a couple of races he didn’t do well, he didn’t point fingers—he went out and won the U.S. Nationals. The guys at Team Viper and MSR are harder on themselves than anybody. I don’t have to beat them up about mistakes because they do that themselves.”



All through the loud, raucous celebration dinner that had fellow diners posing for photos with the team’s Wally, Smith and Seagraves were every bit as thrilled about the win as Hall. “I’ve been with a lot of great race teams in winners circles at the U.S. Nationals, the Daytona 500, and everywhere,” said Seagraves. “And to have two bikes in the winners circle here was huge and really exciting. I’m really excited for John, Matt, the team and our company.”

Even Guido and the folks at John Force Racing were thrilled that they’d contributed to the Indy win. “We definitely appreciated their help and they were excited to hear that it was the motor they worked on that won the race,” finished Seagraves.

Now if Hall, Smith and the whole MSR/Viper team can just keep all their motors powering through to the championship at season’s end, an even louder and crazier dinner will certainly be the result.

John Hall, Matt Smith and Colbert Seagraves would like to thank Matt Smith Racing , Viper Motorcycle Company , Rush Racing Products , Red Line Oil , PJ1 , S&S Cycle , Mark Stockseth Racing , Worldwide Bearings , Nitro Fish , and Haltech

John Hall and the Matt Smith Racing/Viper Motorcycles team races next September 13-15 in the Sixth annual Carlyle Tools NHRA Carolina Nationals presented by NAPA Auto Parts at zMAX Dragway in Concord, North Carolina.

EARLIER: Smith vs Hall in all MSR/Viper Indy final

EARLIER: LE Tonglet makes Countdown!

EARLIER: US Nats field shuffles behind Arana's wake

Tim Tindle's '68 Camaro Pro Mod showers both sides of the wall with parts after a head-on hit that carried the car over the wall and tunbling through the grass. Tindle reportedly walked to the ambulance.

Hector Arana Sr's Buell (near lane) has exercised a significant performance advantage the last three qualifying rounds at the US Nats. LE Tonglet (far lane) is qualifie third on his Suzuki. "My dad is awesome," LE said about his father/tuner/former racer Gary.

Hector Arana Sr. maintained the top spot in Pro Stock Motorcycle Sunday at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, going 6.938 at 193.88 mph on his Lucas Oil Products Buell. It gives Arana his first No. 1 qualifier of the season and 23rd of his career, and also his first No. 1 qualifier at Indy. He will meet his son, rookie Adam Arana, in the first round of eliminations, but remains focused on his second career Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals victory. “It’s definitely a little bittersweet racing your own son in the first round, but by the same I token I want to win just like he wants to win,” Arana said. “We’ll see what happens. I’m going out there to win and that’s how I’ll always play. I just need to stay consistent like I have been during qualifying. My only focus is doing my job and doing everything I can to win.”

Ten other riders joined Arana in the six-second zone, as defending world champion Eddie Krawiec qualified second on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson after going 6.948 at 190.89. L.E. Tonglet took his Nitro Fish Suzuki to the third spot with a pass of 6.966 at 191.38. Tonglet currently trails Steve Johnson by 30 points for the 10th and final spot in the Countdown to the Championship.

Peggy Llewellyn approves of Harvey Deanes's Falls City beer. His man Steve Johnson dropped from 3rd to 10th in Q3

Shawn Gann opted for the campy Adam West TV Batman over the Dark Knight when designing his new leathers

Shawn Langdon and Jack Beckman raced to thrilling $100,000 Traxxas Nitro Shootout victories in their respective categories Sunday at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals and both drivers will carry that momentum into Monday’s 11 a.m. eliminations as they are each chasing their first victories in the world’s most prestigious drag race.

Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car), and Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) will lead their categories as No. 1 qualifiers at the world’s most prestigious drag race, the 18th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.

Top Fuel Points leader Langdon won the rain-delayed Traxxas Nitro Shootout in Top Fuel, knocking off Steve Torrence in the final round. Langdon beat Brown to reach the championship round, furthering the momentum for his Al-Anabi Racing team, which has claimed four victories this season. “This was eight of the best cars battling it out for $100,000 and to win it here at Indy, it’s just a great feeling,” Langdon said. “The only way you could top this is to win (Monday) and then win a world championship. The team is working hard, having a good team and the car is running excellent, so it’s all good vibes right now.”

Defending world champion Beckman won the $100,000 Traxxas Nitro Shootout prize in Funny Car with an explosive final round victory against Cruz Pedregon. Beckman used a holeshot start in his Valvoline/MTS Dodge Charger and powered to a performance of 4.086 at 310.77 before a spectacular engine explosion launched the body off Beckman’s car at the finishline. Beckman, who defeated Ron Capps and Courtney Force to reach the final round of the eight-car field, was uninjured and he talked about the magnitude of the Traxxas Nitro Shootout victory.

“We’re the only car with the chance of doubling up at Indy and you have to like that,” Beckman said. “It’s a fairly surreal experience and the fact that we haven’t won anything this year makes it that much bigger. This just feels fantastic and truly is amazing. It’s one of those events that years from now you will always remember.”

The final qualifying fields were set for the Big Go, and defending NHRA Top Fuel world champion Brown went from the last qualifying spot to the No. 1 position with a thrilling run on his final attempt. Brown, who was the No. 16 qualifier just moments before his final qualifying run, powered his Matco Tools dragster to a leading performance of 3.811 seconds at 320.58 mph. Brown, the 2011 winner here, earned his second No. 1 qualifying position of the season and 34th of his career. He will match up against Morgan Lucas in the first round of eliminations.

“It was a struggle for everybody on our team and we really had nothing to lose going into that run,” Brown said. “We weren’t scared, we got after it and we stepped up to the plate. This class has some big-name players and you can’t be afraid to go after things. We had been tip-toeing it and you can’t do that. Racing Morgan in the first round is like a final round matchup and we have to be ready and prepared to get the job done.”

Nine-time Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals winner Tony Schumacher, who wasn’t qualified before his final run, jumped all the way to No. 1 with a 3.814 at 319.82 in his U.S. Army dragster on his final pass before his teammate unseated him. Schumacher will start from the No. 2 position and Torrence will start third in his Capco Contractors dragster after posting a 3.815 at 325.61.

Hagan stayed atop the field in Funny Car in his Magneti Marelli/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger with his track-record run of 4.007 at 319.22 mph from Friday. That gives Hagan, the Funny Car points leader, his fourth No. 1 qualifier of the season and 14th of his career. Hagan also clinched the No. 1 position for the Countdown to the Championship. “We missed out on winning that Traxxas Shootout so I guess you can’t have it all, but it’s up to us to go out and try to win (Monday),” said Hagan, who is also seeking his first Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals win. “We’ve got a consistent car that’s doing down the track and that’s where you want to be this time of year. We want to make sure we do that again (Monday).”

Johnny Gray claimed the No. 2 qualifying position with a run of 4.012 at 312.13 in his Pitch Energy Dodge Charger. Del Worsham, who is currently 11th in the points standings and 27 points behind 10th place Robert Hight, qualified third with a 4.045 at 313.15 in his DHL Toyota Camry.

Pro Stock points leader Edwards jumped to the No. 1 qualifying position on Saturday by taking his Interstate Batteries/I Am Second Chevy Camaro to the top of the order with a run of 6.621 at 208.20. It is Edwards’ 13th No. 1 qualifier this season, putting him closer to the class record of 16 he shares with Greg Anderson, and 54th of his career. Edwards will face off with Chris McGaha in the opening round of eliminations. “We made a really good run at the right time, and the conditions were the best we had all weekend,” Edwards said. “The car was just phenomenal today and we were low both sessions. It was just a really good day and hopefully it carries over to (Monday). I don’t care what class it is, winning here is the ultimate goal for everybody.”

V. Gaines also made a big jump in his Kendall Oil Dodge Avenger, moving to second after a pass of 6.637 at 208.59. Jeg Coughlin qualified third after powering his JEGS.com/Mopar Dodge Avenger to a time of 6.637 at 206.99.

EARLIER: Arana Knocks Smith Out...of PSM Lead at Indy

Hector Arana was the only Pro Stock Motorcycle rider to reach the 6-second zone Saturdayin qualifying for the 59th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, going 6.968 at 192.80 on his Lucas Oil Products Buell. If it holds, it would be the first No. 1 qualifier of the season for Arana and 23rd of his career. “We didn’t know what to expect because of the heat and we didn’t think it would be that fast,” Arana said. “But we stayed calm and made a great run. I was happy and jumping up and down. I’ve been struggling for a little bit and I needed a run like that to get my confidence back.”

Matt Smith, who ran a 7.010 at 192 on his Viper Motorcycle Company Racing Buell on Friday, was bumped to second. Steve Johnson is currently third with a 7.017 at 190.65 on his Suzuki while Shawn Gann moved to fourth after going 7.020 at 189.71 on his Pirana Z Racing Buell.

Matt's dad Rickie joined him as a first day #1 qualifier with a 6.04 at 240 mph Pro Mod blast

Rickie Smith stayed in the qualifying lead on Saturday during the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series portion of the U.S. Nationals.The class was limited to one qualifying session on Saturday due to rain and drivers will get one final qualifying run on Sunday at 2 p.m. Eliminations for the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series will start at 5 p.m. on Sunday and continue Monday at approximately 2:30 p.m.

Smith’s run of 6.042 seconds at 240.51 mph in his IDG Chevy Camaro from Friday kept him as the No. 1 qualifier for a second straight day. Smith, who drives a nitrous-injected Camaro, has won the last two NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series events and is the points leader. Should he stay in the top qualifying position, Smith would gain his second straight No. 1 qualifier.

Von Smith and his Al-Anabi Racing Camaro remained in second with his pass of 6.061 at 236.70. Danny Rowe made the biggest jump in his Agave Underground Tequila Camaro, jumping to third after going 6.080 at 240.51. Mike Janis stayed in fourth but improved upon his time from Friday with a 6.080 at 238.76. Harold Martin rounded out the top five after a performance of 6.081 at 234.41.

What do #1 qualifying fathers and sons do at the end of the day? Party at Eatmyink HQ, of course

Jerry Savoie (near lane) imrproved to a 7.037 but dropped to 10th. Michael Ray's 7.032 put him 8th

"Jerry es muy loco" Savoie crew chief Tim Kulungian seems to be saying to WAR crewman Jeremy

Redell Harris, still unqualified, extolls the virtues of the "Un-Cola Nut"

Star Racing's Ken "Big" Johnson found out he loves photography at the Eatmyink/John Hall Racing party

Karen Stoffer back on track at Indy, although sans major sponsorship

Matt Hagan's post rain delay, track recod 4.007 blast put him #1 in Funny Car

NHRA Funny Car points leader Matt Hagan shattered both ends of the track record and took over the qualifying lead. Brittany Force (Top Fuel), and Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) also were qualifying leaders at the world’s most prestigious drag race, the 18th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Series.

Rain wiped away Saturday’s second qualifying session as competitors made one qualifying run for the second straight day. The final two qualifying sessions are scheduled for 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. Eliminations are set for Monday at 11 a.m.

Rain showers also moved the final two rounds of the Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Top Fuel to Sunday and they will now take place at the start of Top Fuel’s regularly scheduled qualifying times. The Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Funny Car will take place during its regularly scheduled time on Sunday.

After the three-hour rain delay, Hagan powered his 8,000-horsepower Magneti Marelli/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger to a leading performance of 4.007 seconds at 319.22 mph in considerably cooler conditions. Hagan, who has four wins in 2013, would gain his fourth No. 1 qualifier of 2013 and 14th of his career if the run holds. The 2011 Funny Car world champion is also seeking his first Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals victory. “It was an incredible run and it was an awesome deal to be able to do that at Indy,” Hagan said. “It was worth the wait for us. It’s just been a phenomenal year and it was cool to see the fans so pumped after that. My team does an amazing job and I’m so glad we could set the track record here.”

Johnny Gray went 4.012 at 312.13 in his Pitch Energy Dodge Charger to take over the second spot while Del Worsham jumped to third after he powered his DHL Toyota Camry to a 4.045 at 313.15. Worsham is currently 11th in the points standings and trails Robert Hight by 30 points for the 10th and final spot in the Countdown to the Championship.

Hagan will meet Tim Wilkerson in the first round of the $100,000 Traxxas Nitro Shootout on Sunday. “What an awesome car Dickie (Venables, crew chief) gave us and we’re really fired up for the Traxxas Shootout (Sunday),” Hagan said. “It’s going to take a really good car to beat us right now.”

In the first round of the Top Fuel Traxxas Nitro Shootout, top seed Shawn Langdon squeezed out a holeshot victory over Brittany Force, running 3.874 at 316.60 in his Al-Anabi Racing dragster. He will meet Antron Brown in the semifinals after the defending world champion knocked off Langdon’s Al-Anabi teammate Khalid alBalooshi with a 3.985 at 301.67 in his Matco Tools dragster.

Spencer Massey went 3.931 at 311.77 in his Battery Extender/Schumacher Electric to set up a semifinal matchup with Steve Torrence in a rematch of the 2012 Traxxas Nitro Shootout final. Torrence powered his Capco Contractors dragster past Tony Schumacher dragster with a run of 3.878 at 316.82.

“To run that 3.87, that’s exactly what we were trying to do,” Langdon said. “We knew we couldn’t take Brittany lightly. We had to race our race but also know we were going up against a fast car. I heard her the entire way down the track and it was a great first-round race, so we were fortunate to get the win. We’re going to be in pressure situations from here on out, so we have to have our ‘A’ game.”

Despite the razor-thin first-round loss in the Traxxas Nitro Shootout, Force remained the No. 1 qualifier in Top Fuel with her performance of 3.820 at 313.44 in her Castrol Edge dragster from Friday. If it holds through Sunday, rookie driver Force, the daughter of NHRA Funny Car icon John Force, would gain the first No. 1 qualifying position of her career.

Doug Kalitta and his Mac Tools dragster jumped to the second position after powering his way to a 3.829 at 320.81. Massey is third with a 3.837 at 316.38.

Nobody could match Johnson’s top qualifying time of 661 at 207.02 from Friday in Pro Stock, keeping the defending world champion in the No. 1 position in his Team Mopar Dodge Avenger. Johnson, who is looking for his first Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals win, would claim his third No. 1 qualifier of the season and 31st of his career if it holds on Sunday.

Shane Gray stayed qualified second in his Gray Motorsports Chevy Camaro after going 6.665 at 207.78 on Friday. Points leader and five-time 2013 winner Mike Edwards remained third in his Interstate Batteries/I Am Second Camaro with his run of 6.669 at 206.70.

Jet Cars on a Saturday night!

You missed it? For shame

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