Beckman, Infinite Hero Dodge hold top spot, Capps narrows gap; teammate Brown leads DSR Top Fuel dragsters with No. 3 position

POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 10, 2017) - RIS - Jack Beckman ended the opening day of the NHRA Finals Friday holding the provisional pole with Terry and Doug Chandler's Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car.   If his time of 3.835 seconds at 334.98 mph holds up after Saturday's last two qualifying sessions, it would be the second straight pole for the Don Schumacher Racing's Powered by Pennzoil Dodge with crew chiefs Dean Antonelli, John Medlen and Neal Strausbaugh.   Beckman, the 2012 Funny Car world champion, was delighted about his quick run and is looking for his first professional win at the historic track in Pomona, Calif., which is about an hour from his home in Norco.   But the pole and possible event win in the last NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event of the year is not how every driver wants to cap off the 24-race season.   "It's not any fun coming here and not being in the championship hunt," said Beckman, who ranks fourth in championship points and is 148 behind leader Robert Hight of John Force Racing and DSR teammate Ron Capps in the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge that is 14 behind Hight.   Beckman is not mathematically eliminated from contention as 183 points remain available in the 53rd annual NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway. But it would take a miracle to achieve that total.   "Our only real chance is if Ron and Robert get into a bar fight tonight and NHRA fines them 100 points," he joked. "We're not in the championship hunt; it's Capps or Hight. But that doesn't mean we won't do everything we can to end the season with our third Wally (trophy) of the year."   Capps with crew chief Rahn Tobler is qualified fourth and earned one qualifying bonus point to chip into the lead held by Hight, who was unable to get down the track on either of his two runs and is ranked 17th and currently not qualified.   DSR's Tommy Johnson Jr., driving the Chandlers' Make-A-Wish Dodge with crew chief John Collins was quickest in the opening session with a 3.887 (314.31) and is ranked third. Although he has been eliminated from contention he is intent on defending the Finals title he won a year ago.   Three-time and twice reigning Top Fuel world champion Antron Brown and DSR's Matco Tools team with crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald were the third quickest dragster of the day but trails points leader Steve Torrence by 133. Brown's best time was 3.696 (326.00).   "That was an excellent run for the Matco Tools/U.S. Army car," said Brown, who arrived at Pomona each of the last two years having already clinched the Top Fuel world title, the second and third of his career. "Tomorrow, we'll get two more good runs, so we've just got to keep pressing. Hoping that .69 will stay up there in the top-five and we'll dig tomorrow. This is the final race and we want to go out doing something special."   Leah Pritchett in the Papa John's Pizza dragster with crew chief Todd Okuhara was quickest in the first session with a 3.712 (326.32) and looks to defend the Winternationals title and pole she won at the track in February.   TOP FUEL                                                                                                                Provisional No. 1 qualifier: Brittany Force (John Force Racing) 3.667 sec.-track record, 330.31 mph   ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tools
Crew chiefs: Brian Corradi, Mark Oswald; Assistant: Brad Mason QUALIFYING Provisional qualifying position: No. 3 FRIDAY:6.302 sec., 105.999 mph (Session 1); 3.696, 326.00 (Session 2)   LEAH PRITCHETT, Papa John's Pizza Crew chief: Todd Okuhara; Assistant: Joe Barlam QUALIFYING Provisional qualifying position: No. 4 FRIDAY: 3.712 sec., 326.32 mph (Session 1); 7.775, 85.31, (Session 2)   TONY SCHUMACHER, U.S. Army
Crew chief: Mike Green; Assistant: Phil Shuler QUALIFYING Provisional qualifying position: No. 16 FRIDAY: 5.987 sec.,111.74 mph, (Session 1); 6.119, 117.35, (Session 2)   FUNNY CAR                                                                                                 Provisional No. 1 qualifier: Jack Beckman (Don Schumacher Racing) 3.835 sec., 334.98 mph   JACK BECKMAN, Terry and Doug Chandler's Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T
Crew chiefs: Dean Antonelli, John Medlen, Neal Strausbaugh QUALIFYING Provisional qualifying position: No. 1 FRIDAY: 6.825 sec., 95.35 mph, (Session 1); 3.835, 334.98, (Session 2)   TOMMY JOHNSON JR., Terry and Doug Chandler's Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T
Crew chief: John Collins; Assistant: Rip Reynolds QUALIFYING Provisional qualifying position: No. 3 FRIDAY: 3.887 sec., 314.31 mph, (Session 1); 8.146, 86.30, (Session 2)   RON CAPPS, NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T
Crew chief: Rahn Tobler; Assistant: Eric Lane QUALIFYING Provisional qualifying position: No. 7 FRIDAY: 6.107 sec., 113.64 mph, (Session 1); 3.956, 322.19, (Session 2)   MATT HAGAN, Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T
Crew chief: Dickie Venables; Assistant: Michael Knudsen QUALIFYING Provisional qualifying position: No. 14 FRIDAY: 7.606 sec., 91.30 mph, (Session 1); 7.947, 79.68, (Session 2)   COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS                                    (Official standings through Las Vegas 2; 23 of 24 events; DSR drivers in CAPS)   TOP FUEL                                                                                                    1. Steve Torrence (8)               2527     -----      2. Brittany Force (4)                 2507       -20      3. Doug Kalitta (1)                    2443       -84      4. ANTRON BROWN (4)          2392     -135      5. LEAH PRITCHETT (4)          2361     -166      6. TONY SCHUMACHER (1)    2340     -187   x-7. Clay Millican (1)                    2326     -201   x-8. Shawn Langdon                    2267     -260   x-9. Terry McMillen (1)                 2261     -266 x-10. Scott Palmer                         2169     -358 x=eliminated from championship contention   FUNNY CAR                                                                                                  1. Robert Hight (4)                    2548     ----      2. RON CAPPS (8)                   2533       -15      3. Courtney Force                     2423     -125      4. JACK BECKMAN (2)            2396     -152      5. MATT HAGAN (4)                 2387     -161   x-6. John Force (1)                     ­  2306     -242   x-7. TOMMY JOHNSON JR. (1)  2276     -272   x-8. Tim Wilkerson                        2237     -311   x-9. J.R. Todd (2)                          2233     -315 x-10. Cruz Pedregon                       2163     -345                 x=eliminated from championship contention            

Dusty Brandel

President of the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association, Inc. Worked with Mike Hollander since Tapsis, Compuserve, etc. and has posted to the website since the beginning. First Female photo-journalist to be given a garage and pit pass for the NASCAR garage, 1972 at Ontario Motor Speedway. One of first seven female writers, photographers given access to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway garage and pits in 1971. Past President of Greater Los Angeles Press Club, 1992-96, and first female editor of the 8-Ball publication for the Press Club

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Volume 2017, Issue 11, Posted 8:33 PM, 11.11.2017