Saturday, February 23, 2013

Gray takes Phoenix Funny Car pole for second straight year; Brown knocked to No. 2 heading to Sunday's eliminations

For the second consecutive NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event, Don Schumacher Racing teams were the quickest qualifiers in Top Fuel and Funny Car after the first two sessions.

And just like the season-opener a week ago at Pomona, Calif., only one survived to hold the No. 1 qualifying position after Saturday's two sessions heading into Sunday's championship eliminations in the NHRA Arizona Nationals near Phoenix.

It took a track-record run by Doug Kalitta of Kalitta Motorsports in the last session on Saturday to drop reigning world champion Antron Brown and his Matco Tools team to the No. 2 position.

But Johnny Gray in DSR's Pitch Energy Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car with crew chief Rob Wendland dominated qualifying with the two best runs of the weekend. Gray's time on Friday of 4.034 seconds at 313.80 mph held up and is 0.028 quicker than DSR teammate Matt Hagan's Mopar/Rocky Boots Dodge who holds the No. 2 spot.

It's the second straight year Gray has won the pole at Phoenix and the fourth of his career.

Gray showed the strength of his car by posting Saturday's best run with a time of 4.045 and his best speed of the young season at 314.46 in the third session. No other Funny Car ran below the 4.06 range.

The following are qualifying results and other notes from the NHRA Arizona Nationals:

No. 1 qualifier: Doug Kalitta (Kalitta Motorsports) 3.733 sec., 329.02 mph (track records)

Antron Brown, Matco Tools dragster
Qualified: No. 2
Sunday's first-round opponent: Terry McMillen
Session 1: 4.007 sec., 229.90 mph
Session 2: 3.765, 314.83
Session 3: 3.845, 318.77
Session 4: 3.805, 317.57

Tony Schumacher, U.S. Army dragster
Qualified: No. 3
Sunday's first-round opponent: Sidnei Frigo
Session 1: 3.768 sec., 321.96 mph
Session 2: 3.772, 321.81
Session 3: 5.924, 107.39
Session 4: 3.768, 325.37

Spencer Massey, Battery Extender Powered by Schumacher dragster
Qualified: No. 16
Sunday's first-round opponent: Doug Kalitta
Session 1: 4.034 sec., 222.22 mph
Session 2: 8.232, 74.04
Session 3: 3.874, 292.84
Session 4: 3.938, 256.31

No. 1 qualifier: Johnny Gray (DSR) 4.034 sec., 313.80 mph

Johnny Gray, Pitch Energy Dodge Charger R/T
Qualified: No. 1
Sunday's first-round opponent: Robert Hight
Session 1: 4.124 sec., 301.00 mph
Session 2: 4.034, 313.80
Session 3: 4.045, 314.46
Session 4: 8.364, 76.64

Matt Hagan, Mopar/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger R/T
Qualified: No. 2
Sunday's first-round opponent: Phil Burkhart FRIDAY Session 1: 4.142 sec., 293.15 mph Session 2: 4.062, 311.20 SATURDAY Session 3: 12.082/71.41, Session 4: 4.319, 212.49

Ron Capps, NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T
Qualified: No. 5
Sunday's first-round opponent: Tony Pedregon
Session 1: 4.167 sec., 293.15 mph
Session 2: 8.077, 84.24
Session 3: 8.077, 84.24
Session 4: 4.081, 308.35

Jack Beckman, MTS Mail for Wounded Warriors/Valvoline Dodge Charger R/T
Qualified: No. 10
Sunday's first-round opponent: Bob Tasca III
Session 1: 4.445 sec., 198.15 mph
Session 2: 4.322, 215.58
SATURDAY Session 3: 4.322, 215.58
Session 4: 4.139, 262.49

WHAT: 29th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals
WHERE: Firebird International Raceway, south of Phoenix
Sunday: Championship eliminations, 11:00 a.m.

Sunday: Qualifying, 1 a.m., 8 a.m. (ET)
Sunday: Championship eliminations, 8 p.m. (ET)

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