Shrapnel cut the left rear tire, but the Swiss pilot expertly brought the car to a safe stop with the help of the automatically deployed parachutes that are required under NHRA rules. Simpson competed in Top Alcohol Funny Car from 1995 through 2003, then moved to nitro Funny Car before stepping into Top Fuel this season in a car purchased from Doug Foley and tuned by his brother, Byron, and father with help from former Division 4 Top Alcohol Funny Car champ Dal Denton. For the third straight race, Kragen O'Reilly NHRA Winternationals champ Doug Kalitta entered the final qualifying session not qualified, but, unlike in Phoenix and Gainesville, this time he missed when the car smoked the tires after a good launch, and his 4.42 fell just short of Simpson's 4.31.
22nd annual O’Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals presented by Pennzoil, March 27-29, Houston (Above) Most people expected Del Worsham and the new Al-Anabi team to be among the performance leaders in Funny Car; so far, they have not disappointed. He was the only driver in the 4.0s on race day with an opening-round 4.08. (Right) Several Pro Stock Motorcycle riders were in the 6.8s, including three-time champ Andrew Hines, who rode the Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson V-Rod to a 6.889 in qualifying. (Far right) Almost everyone in Pro Stock was quick in Houston, but nobody ran quicker than former champ and current points leader Jason Line, who guided his Summit Racing Equipment Pontiac to a 6.544 in qualifying. Class rookie Shawn NOTEBOOK TOP FUEL against Antron, and we got it, then Tony got me Langdon’s John Stewart- tuned Lucas Oil/Dixie Chopper car was steady all weekend. “We’re having fun; the car’s getting down Cory McClenathan followed his Gainesville runner- on a holeshot in the final. Today, we lived by the there and doing it up as bridesmaid again, but he was happy, sword and died by the sword.” consistently,” said Langdon. despite losing to his former crew chief, Mike “I’m getting comfortable. Green, who now tunes for Tony Schumacher, who Urs Erbacher experienced a massive blower and I’m still learning a lot beat Cory Mac on a final-round holeshot. “It was engine explosion while racing Larry Dixon in every run and still trying a really round one. Shrapnel cut the left rear tire, but the little bit to catch up with weird Swiss pilot expertly brought the car to a safe stop the car, but I don’t get in having with the help of the automatically deployed the car as intimidated by it as I used to.” Mike parachutes that are required under NHRA rules. coming “The first thing I heard was the boom, and then Texan Todd Simpson and father Dickie made a over to the tire went, so I had my hands full at 270 mph,” successful Top Fuel debut by qualifying their wish me said Erbacher. “It was a good, hard test for my Modular Systems dragster. Simpson competed in good luck,” old heart, but it’s still working really good. I’m Top Alcohol Funny Car from 1995 through 2003, he noted, okay, and I think we can fix the car before Las then moved to nitro Funny Car before stepping into “but we’ve Vegas. We have a backup car, but this is a new Top Fuel this season in a car purchased from Doug had two chassis, so we’d like to fix it.” Foley and tuned by his brother, Byron, and father races in a row now where there’s only been one with help from former Division 4 Top Alcohol guy who came away happier than me, and we’ll Houston was good again to Joe Hartley, the surprise Funny Car champ Dal always take that. That’s the way you win runner-up at this event in 2007 who hadn’t won a Denton. They plan to run in championships.” round this season entering this race but won two Madison and possibly Denver here. The team windowed a couple of blocks in later this year. McClenathan, who beat Antron Brown on a qualifying, so they sat out the final qualifying holeshot in the second round, attributed his session to diagnose the malady. Hartley’s day ended The Simpsons ran IHRA inconsistent lights to a new throttle-pedal layout in tire smoke in the semifinals against Funny Car last year before he began using after red-lighting in Phoenix. “I McClenathan. the class was dropped and used to have a hoop at the top of the pedal, and may bring their Funny Car now I use a heel-cup design,” he said. “It takes Hartley was a runner-up at this event in Top to NHRA. Denton may drive some getting used to because I raced with the old Alcohol Dragster in 1998, a year after his father, one of the two cars at select setup for 17 years. I knew I needed a good light Allen, accomplished the feat. events. 4 20 finals in the last eight years for Craig Treble at this event ✦ National DRAGSTER 6 of the top 10 all-time Pro Stock speeds set at this event 8 Pro Stock drivers to exceed 210 mph 16 career No. 1s for Antron Brown, five in Top Fuel For the third straight race, Kragen ahead of me and we’d be safe, but by O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals the time I rolled into the lights, I champ Doug Kalitta entered the final was, ‘What, I’m 17th again? If this
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