HOUSTON — official series release — NHRA photo —
Texas native Spencer Massey raced to his first No. 1 qualifying position in nearly two years and his first ever in the Lone Star state Saturday at the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA SpringNationals presented by Super Start Batteries.
Jack Beckman (Funny Car) and Jason Line (Pro Stock) also will lead their respective categories into Sunday’s 11 a.m. eliminations as No. 1 qualifiers at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event near Houston.
No one improved on Massey’s track-record performance of 3.734 seconds at 330.07 mph in his Red Fuel dragster from Friday and he will race fellow Texan Kebin Kinsley’s Gas Monkey Garage dragster in the first-round. It is Massey’s eighth No. 1 of his career and first at Royal Purple Raceway.
“It’s definitely awesome to come to the home state track and run well,” said Massey, who earned his last No. 1 at Bristol in 2013. “It’s awesome to go out and do a great job and have the car run extremely well. It ran well last night at 330 mph and we made it down the track both runs today without smoking the tires and that’s key. That’s what we need it to do Sunday, and go four rounds.”
Massey, who has 18 career victories but none in his home state, would like to change that stat tomorrow.
“To get among the list of drivers who’ve won here in Baytown [Texas] would be spectacular,” Massey said. “This is my second track to ever go to as a little kid, and my first ever to get my nitro license was here at this track. It would be huge just to win at a Texas racetrack, to get a win in front of my friends and family, and to get a second win out of the season because nobody in Top Fuel has won two times this season yet. It would be spectacular for us to win and walk away with the Wally (trophy) tomorrow, but it’s just huge to be able to go rounds and have fun doing it. I’m just happy to be No. 1.”
Tony Schumacher qualified second in his U.S. Army dragster with a 3.754 at 326.24 and will face familiar foe Jenna Haddock in the first round. The eight-time world champ and rookie driver Haddock have met in the first round in each of her previous three starts, with Schumacher holding a 2-1 edge. Richie Crampton, winner of the most recent event in Las Vegas, qualified third and will meet Clay Millican in the opener.
In Funny Car, Beckman claimed his 11th career No. 1 with his track record run from Friday, a performance of 3.988 at 318.17 in his Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger R/T. The 2012 world champ will face journeyman racer Terry Haddock in the opening round.
“I feel really confident,” Beckman said. “I’ve always felt I could win the next race I go to because DSR always gives us the best ability to do that. I always feared pulling up next to [crew chief] Jimmy Prock’s car on race day even if I had driven a car that had performed better. Now I’m taking a lot of comfort in the fact that we might be doing that to the people in the other lane.”
Del Worsham qualified second in his DHL Toyota Camry with a 4.023 at 314.97, and he will open against old rival and recent Las Vegas winner John Force, a seven-time winner at this event. Ron Capps qualified third and will face Texan John Hale in the opening round. Defending world champ and current series points leader Matt Hagan qualified sixth and will race two-time champ Tony Pedregon.
In Pro Stock, Line powered to a track record time of 6.519 at 212.29 in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro on the final run of the day to earn his second No. 1 of the season and 40th of his career. It is Line’s third No. 1 at this track, and he will open eliminations against Deric Kramer.
The two-time world champion, who has two victories at this event, was nearly giddy about the performance of his race car.
“People always say I whine about not making a good run, but I made a good run that time,” Line said. “It was bad to the bone. It might need a little ice after that one. This is about as excited as I get. We actually put on some new parts today, and we’re definitely better. Going forward we’re going to be tough.”
Friday leader Shane Gray qualified second with a 6.536 at 211.56 in his Gray Motorsports Camaro and will race new Mopar Dodge Dart driver Richie Stevens in the first round. Line’s teammate Greg Anderson qualified third in his Summit Camaro and will face teammate Jimmy Alund. Local favorite Erica Enders-Stevens qualified fourth and will begin defense of her title at this event by facing longtime rival Allen Johnson in the opener.
CREDIT: National Hot Rod Association