By Lee Elder
LAS VEGAS, Nev. (April 6, 2018) – The more things change, the more they can stay the same.
The racing venue at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway expanded from two lanes to four between seasons, the track surface was hot and the cars were fast, as usual, at the desert’s glitter capital. And Greg Anderson led Pro Stock qualifying after two rounds of qualifying.
Anderson recorded a 6.669-second pass to lead his category in the first round and his time held up when the track temperature climbed to 125 degrees before the start of the second round. The track surface measured 106 degrees and the air temperature was 81 at the start of the first round. The teams were more readily able to generate traction with the cooler temperatures during the earlier round.
“You don’t want everything to be the same and for it to be mundane,” Anderson said Friday of racing on a new track. “You want stiff challenges, just like Majors on a golf course. It’s good to have stiffer challenges and I think our guys step up to that challenge.”
Robert Hight led Funny Car and Antron Brown topped the Top Fuel chart after two rounds.
The Las Vegas facility was originally intended to sport four lanes when it was constructed in 2000 and would have been the only four-lane track on the NHRA’s Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule back then. Time marched on and now The Strip has four lanes. The sport had tracks with four lanes in other eras and has had a four-lane track at zMAX Dragway in Concord, North Carolina in recent years.
Anderson has treated The Strip as a pet project through the years. He has won eight times in Las Vegas and has been the top qualifier seven times. He has also won twice in four-wide racing at the North Carolina track. But, he said, he has not always been a fan of the four-lane configuration.
“If you would have asked us four or five years ago, we would have said everything negative we could about racing four-wide,” said Anderson. “But over the last few years, we’ve learned a little bit more about it, and it’s actually not so bad. We’ve had some success at it … in Charlotte, so I don’t see why we can’t have that same success in Las Vegas.”
Derek Kramer and Bo Butner were second and third, respectively, after the first day our qualifying in Pro Stock.
Brown’s Top Fuel-leading 3.772-second pass came in the second round. Doug Kalitta and Leah Pritchett were immediately behind Brown. Billy Torrence led after the first round with a 3.819-second run.
Hight’s quickest lap was 3.963 seconds. Tommy Johnson Jr and Ron Capps were second and third, in that order, behind Hight’s after the first day.
“Our track guy, Lanny Miglizzi, says it’s the flattest track in the country,” Hight said.
NOTES: The Top Fuel category attracted just 13 cars for Friday’s opening round of qualifying and had 14 for the second round … Funny Car had 20 entrants and Pro Stock each had a 16-car field … Friday was Don Prudhomme’s 77th birthday and Tommy Johnson Jr’s 50th … Tony Schumacher was 13th after one round of qualifying, then he went from worst to first by making a 3.817-second pass in the second round, good enough to lead the pack at the time he made the pass … The K&N Pro Stock Challenge will be part of Saturday’s activities … After an explosive start to the season, John Force Racing tested in Bakersfield, California between races and Robert Hight quipped after Friday’s second round, “It’s a good day when John (Force) and I can come back to the pits with the bodies on the car.”