By Lee Elder
RICHMOND, Virg. (June 9, 2018) – Tony Schumacher will start from the top position on the eliminations ladder in Top Fuel for the NHRA Virginia Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park.
Saturday’s hot, sultry conditions made it difficult for the NHRA’s professional teams to improve on their Friday performances.
Courtney Force topped the field in Funny Car, Greg Anderson was number one in Pro Stock and Hector Arana Jr. led Pro Stock Motorcycle.
“We smoked the tires on our first run today, but that’s because we were trying to go better than that 3.77 (-second pass that made him the top qualifier),” Schumacher said. “We wanted to push it and see what the track would handle in the day.”
Schumacher’s pole time was 3.777 seconds, 327.51 mph. As there were only 15 Top Fuel entrants, Schumacher gets a bye run in the first round Sunday. It was his third number one qualifier of the season and the 87th of his Hall of Fame career.
“We don’t race at night, so that Friday night run is all about getting the number one spot in a 15-car field,” Schumacher said.
The starting field for eliminations is short a car but the field was closely packed. How tough is the competition in Top Fuel? Clay Millican has won the last two races in Top Fuel but Sunday he will start in the 12th position on the ladder.
Force’s Friday night run, 3.983 seconds, held up through Saturday’s two rounds. She told reporters, “It’s good to be number one, but it’s really important to us to be consistent and continue to go rounds.”
It was the sixth time this season that Force has finished qualifying at number one.
Anderson’s Pro Stock leading time was 6.571 seconds and 210.67 mph and it got him his 99th career number one starting spot on the eliminations ladder. Six of those top qualifier performances have come this season, but Anderson has yet to win a race in 2018. Hard to believe that the current points leader and four-time champion has made it to June without a victory and Anderson himself is determined to change that.
“I need a win,” he told Fox television Saturday. “I need a win bad.”
Arana’s 6.795-second, 198.15 mph lap turned Friday kept him atop the Pro Stock Motorcycle ladder. It was his second number one of the season and 21st of his career.
Arana said, “We’ll see what happens tomorrow because it’ll be cooler and maybe even rainy.”
NOTES: Cruz Pedregon’s Funny Car suffered through a dramatic explosion in the third round of qualifying. The body was blown into hundreds of pieces. The team planned to put another body on the same chassis for the fourth round of qualifying but could not get the car ready in time. … Rahn Tobler, crew chief for Ron Capps Funny Car team, switched the car from the six-disc clutch package it had been using back to a five-disc package in order to get the car to work better with the NHRA’s new track preparation method. … Antron Brown has lost in the first round of five straight races. … Deric Kramer, who went in to the weekend fourth in Pro Stock points and just two points behind Erica Enders for third place, did not compete in Virginia. … J.R. Todd has earned bonus points in nine of the team races this season, one of two Funny Car drivers to accomplish that. The other is Courtney Force. … The racing surface at VMP is entirely concrete.