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Shawn Langdon, Robert Hight, Erica Enders-Stevens, Hector Arana Sr Lead NHRA AAA Texas FallNationals Fields

2013 AAA Texas FallNationals Header

By NHRA Communications

NHRA Funny Car driver Robert Hight secured his second No. 1 qualifying position of the season and 45th of his career on Saturday with a track-record performance, and he will try for his third straight victory of the season on Sunday at the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals at Texas Motorplex.

Hight and his Auto Club Ford Mustang climbed to the top of the class with an impressive second round showing of 4.052 seconds at 311.85 mph. The red-hot Hight, who broke the elapsed time track record with the run, will open eliminations against two-time event winner Del Worsham.

It’s a lot of fun right now. It couldn’t happen at a better time than at our sponsor’s race,” said Hight, who jumped to third in the points standings with a win at Charlotte last weekend. “That was a good run. (Crew chief) Mike Neff is not one of these guys that goes up there and throws a Hail Mary.”

Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry driver Cruz Pedregon, a three-time event champ, holds the second position with run of 4.092 at 304.32 while series points leader Matt Hagan sits in the third spot with a performance of 4.093 at 312.78 in his Magneti Marelli/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger. Hagan’s speed also broke the track record.

In Top Fuel, Shawn Langdon powered his 10,000-horsepower Al-Anabi Silver Racing dragster to his fifth No. 1 qualifier of 2013 and 11th of his career with a strong pass of 3.819 at 321.04. Langdon, who has a class-best five wins this year and earned three bonus points with the quickest pass of the first session, will meet T.J. Zizzo in the first round of eliminations.

It was huge to come out here and make as strong a run as we did in the first session,” said Langdon, who claimed the No. 1 qualifying spot in Dallas for the second straight year. “It was our goal to try to bring the deficit behind (points leader) Spencer Massey to less than one round. Now our focus is to win the race.

Doug Kalitta claimed the No. 2 spot with a run of 3.825 at 318.39 in his Mac Tools dragster. Protect the Harvest/MAV TV dragster driver Brandon Bernstein, who holds the track record in Dallas, secured the third spot after going 3.827 at 316.38. Fellow Texans Steve Torrence and points leader Massey, who has been the runner-up at his home track the past two years, took the No. 4 and No. 8 qualifying positions, respectively.

In Pro Stock, Texas native and fan favorite Erica Enders-Stevens earned her first No. 1 qualifier position of the season and sixth of her career with a stellar performance of 6.557 at 210.93 in her newly-funded Husky Liners Chevy Camaro.

Erica Husky

This is a great feeling for sure, especially doing it in front of my hometown fans in Texas,” Enders-Stevens said of her first No. 1 qualifier in her home state of Texas. “It was kind of nerve-wracking with only two qualifying sessions, so I hope to have more peace of mind during Sunday’s eliminations.”

Rickie Jones in his Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro took the No. 2 position with a run of 6.574 at 211.33 while his teammate, Gray Motorsports Chevy Camaro driver Shane Gray, finished as the No. 3 qualifier with his pass of 6.591 at 210.77.

Enders-Stevens, who currently sits in the No. 7 spot in the series points standings, will take on fellow Texan Chris McGaha in the first round. Points leader Mike Edwards qualified No. 6 and will race Larry Morgan in the opening round.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Hector Arana, Sr. earned his second No. 1 qualifier of the season on his Lucas Oil Products Buell with a run of 6.846 at 195.42. Arana, who was the runner-up last weekend in Charlotte, claimed his 23rd career No. 1 qualifier with the run and will meet Michael Phillips in the first round.

Hector Arana Sr

We’ve always had the power, but now we’re focusing more on consistency, taking it one round at a time,” said Arana Sr., who is the No. 1 qualifier for the second time in the past three races.

Son and points leader Arana Jr. took the No. 2 spot after a challenging first session on his Lucas Oil Buell, going 6.897 at 194.66 in the final qualifying session. He will face No. 14 qualifier Shawn Gann in the opening round. In the third spot is Matt Smith with his time of 6.893 at 194.07 on his Viper Motorcycle Company Racing Buell.

We’ve always had the power, but could not take full advantage of it,” Arana Sr. said of his racing family. “This year, we’ve taken it easy on our runs. I’m truly blessed because I’m racing for a living and having my sons right with me to help out.

Sunday’s first-round pairings for eliminations for the 28th annual AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals at Texas Motorplex, the 20th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Pairings based on results in qualifying, which ended Saturday. DNQs listed below pairings.

Top Fuel —
1. Shawn Langdon, 3.819 seconds, 321.04 mph vs. 16. T.J. Zizzo, 3.949, 290.44;

2. Doug Kalitta, 3.825, 320.58 vs. 15. Larry Dixon, 3.939, 292.71;

3. Brandon Bernstein, 3.827, 316.38 vs. 14. Antron Brown, 3.895, 311.05;

4. Steve Torrence, 3.832, 320.89 vs. 13. Tony Schumacher, 3.878, 320.20;

5. Clay Millican, 3.835, 320.74 vs. 12. Morgan Lucas, 3.872, 317.87;

6. Spencer Massey, 3.839, 318.02 vs. 11. J.R. Todd, 3.871, 311.27;

David Grubnic, 3.848, 320.43 vs. 10. Brittany Force, 3.871, 312.06;

8. Billy Torrence, 3.853, 316.52 vs. 9. Bob Vandergriff, 3.870, 316.75.

Did Not Qualify:
Scott Palmer, 3.975, 302.48; 18. Troy Buff, 4.041, 284.45; 19. Khalid alBalooshi, 4.179, 260.31; 20. Terry McMillen, 4.302, 124.13.

Funny Car —
1. Robert Hight, Ford Mustang, 4.052, 311.85 vs. 16. Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 4.262, 291.95;

2. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.092, 304.32 vs. 15. Blake Alexander, Dodge Charger, 4.210, 294.56;

3. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.093, 312.78 vs. 14. Jeff Arend, Charger, 4.187, 301.27;

4. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.096, 306.88 vs. 13. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 4.178, 288.39;

5. Courtney Force, Mustang, 4.115, 309.13 vs. 12. John Force, Mustang, 4.174, 297.94;

6. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.122, 306.12 vs. 11. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.166, 303.50;

7. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.137, 301.87 vs. 10. Chad Head, Camry, 4.161, 304.12;

8. Johnny Gray, Charger, 4.154, 304.39 vs. 9. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.154, 302.41.

Did Not Qualify:
John Hale, 4.430, 277.94; 18. Todd Simpson, 4.706, 192.06; 19. Terry Haddock, 5.701, 126.29.

Pro Stock —
1. Erica Enders-Stevens, Chevy Camaro, 6.557, 210.93 vs. 16. Chris McGaha, Dodge Avenger, 6.654, 208.68;

2. Rickie Jones, Camaro, 6.559, 211.33 vs. 15. Matt Hartford, Avenger, 6.622, 209.14;

3. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.563, 210.77 vs. 14. Steve Kent, Camaro, 6.612, 209.92;

4. Allen Johnson, Avenger, 6.564, 211.23 vs. 13. Greg Stanfield, Camaro, 6.609, 209.17;

5. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.566, 211.16 vs. 12. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.607, 210.31;

6. Mike Edwards, Camaro, 6.567, 211.56 vs. 11. Larry Morgan, Ford Mustang, 6.601, 209.46;

7. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.567, 210.90 vs. 10. Jeg Coughlin, Avenger, 6.583, 210.31;

8. Vincent Nobile, Avenger, 6.582, 210.47 vs. 9. V. Gaines, Avenger, 6.582, 210.31.

Did Not Qualify:
Paul Pittman, 6.734, 206.07.

Pro Stock Motorcycle —
1. Hector Arana Sr, Buell, 6.846, 195.42 vs. 16. Michael Phillips, Suzuki, 7.071, 189.28;

2. Matt Smith, Buell, 6.893, 194.07 vs. 15. Mike Berry, Buell, 7.034, 188.81;

3. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.897, 194.66 vs. 14. Shawn Gann, Buell, 7.005, 190.75;

4. Michael Ray, Buell, 6.899, 194.21 vs. 13. Angie Smith, Buell, 6.999, 185.18;

Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.902, 193.27 vs. 12. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.969, 190.57;

6. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.913, 192.55 vs. 11. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.963, 193.54;

7. John Hall, Buell, 6.933, 190.22 vs. 10. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.955, 190.78;

8. Adam Arana, Buell, 6.936, 193.32 vs. 9. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 6.941, 191.46.

Did Not Qualify:
Steve Johnson, 7.083, 187.03; 18. Freddie Camarena, 7.132, 189.42; 19. Redell Harris, 24.467, 33.91.

Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel), Erica Enders-Stevens (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Sr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also lead their categories as the No. 1 qualifiers at the second of six races in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship playoffs.

Rains washed out both of Friday’s qualifying sessions as competitors made two runs Saturday. Sunday’s eliminations start at 11 a.m.

Sunday’s eliminations will air on ESPN2 beginning at 8:30 pm [Eastern] 7:30 pm [Central]

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Texas Governor Rick Perry Enjoys a Day at the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals Near Dallas

Rick Perry John Force Brittany Force

Texas Governor Rick Perry, second from right, chatted with John and Brittany Force at the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals. Perry, who was attending his first drag race, was a guest of AAA Chairman of the Board Tom McKernan, second from left. (Gary Nastase photo)

John Laurie Governor Perry Robert Brittany Courtney

Left to Right: John Force, wife Laurie, Robert Hight, Governor Perry, Brittany Force, Courtney Force (Gary Nastase photo)

By Phil Burgess, Editor, National DRAGSTER

Texas Gov. Rick Perry was an honored guest Saturday at the 28th annual AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals at the Texas Motorplex at the invite of good friends Tom McKernan, the chairman of the board of AAA, and Texas Motorplex owner Billy Meyer. Perry met with drivers in the pits and staging lanes and stood on the starting line during Funny Car qualifying to watch Robert Hight’s AAA of Texas Mustang. It was the governor’s first trip to an NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series national event.

I’ve been asked a half-dozen times to come out before but always had a conflict, but I’m glad it worked out that we could be here today,” Perry said. “It was great to see the grandstands full of happy Texans. We’re sorry about that rain yesterday, but we really needed it.”

Although it was the governor’s first trip to a big-league drag race, he’s no stranger to drag racing – invoking the name of legendary “Big Daddy” Don Garlits in his heyday – or to fast cars. As a youngster growing up in Texas in the 1960s, he and his friends would devour Hot Rod magazines on the newsstand at the local drugstore and dream of owning a hot rod of their own.

We’d go in there and look at the magazines, and it would have been like my mom looking at the Sears catalog dreaming of what we’d like to have,” Perry said with a nostalgic grin. “My dream car was anywhere between a ’69 and a ’72 Chevelle SS with a 396.”

He has also been the guest at the Formula 1 event at the new Circuit of the Americas in Austin and at NASCAR races at Texas Motor Speedway, so he has other experiences to compare to NHRA Drag Racing, although it appears that there’s no contest in the governor’s eyes.

I’ve been on the deck of the USS Reagan when an F-18 launched, but I’ve never done anything like this that assaulted all of my senses,” he said. “The feel, the sight, the smell are really something. Someone can tell you about what it’s like to be at a drag race, but it’s hard to describe. I’m going to go home to my wife and try to explain how intense this was, and I know I’m going to do a really poor job.

I like that the sport also is highly technical. I was in the pits and the drivers and teams are all very friendly. I went into the AAA technology van, and it’s science, technology, engineering, and math. The Army has its recruiting efforts here, too, so it’s clear that the NHRA does a good job of reaching out to the community to help kids understand that there’s a great future in this business. Not only is it a lot of fun, but there are some good-paying jobs.”

The governor cites a favorable economic climate for the expansion of business and racing in his state, and it’s clear that he’s passionate about that and keeping it that way.

The great thing about having so many nice venues in our state is that fans get to experience a wide variety of motorsports. They’re all different, but I’m sure there are some NASCAR and Formula 1 fans here today, too, and over the last 12 years we’ve really been focused on keeping taxes reasonable, a regulatory climate that’s fair and reasonable, and a legal system that doesn’t allow for over-suing, and we continue to appropriately fund accountable schools so that you have a skilled workforce, and the businesses come and they expand because of our business climate.

Rick Perry John Force

No trip to an NHRA event would be complete without meeting NHRA legend John Force, especially because the John Force Racing teams count AAA among their sponsors.

What a character, and what a great family man and champion,” said Perry. “His daughters are just wonderful, and so is Robert Hight. They’re great folks.”

Perry with The Forces NHRA Dignitaries

Left to Right: 15 Time NHRA Funny Car World Champ John Force; NHRA President Tom Compton; Governor Perry; 2012 NHRA Rookie of the Year, Funny Car driver Courtney Force; Top Fuel driver Brittany Force; AAA Chairman of the Board Tom McKernan; John Force Racing President, Former Funny Car World Champion,and reigning U. S. Nationals Champion, Robert Hight (Gary Nastase photos)

***Final eliminations ESPN2 at 8:30 PM [Eastern] 7:30 [Central]

Robert Hight, the reigning U.S. Nationals Champion, and winner of the most recent race in Charlotte, is the number one qualifier in Funny Car, for Sunday’s final eliminations. Hight set a new track record for the class running a 4.052 second pass at 311.85 mph. This is Hight’s second number one of the season, and the 45th of his career. He will being going for his third event win in a row on Sunday.

Courtney Force put her Ford Mustang Funny Car into the field at number 5, with a 4.115 second pass at 309.13 mph, she will face her dad, John Force in the first round. John drove his Mustang to a 4.174 at 297.94 mph to qualify number 12. Courtney has a winning record against John. Both are in the fight for the 2013 NHRA Mello-Yello Funny Car World Championship, along with teammate Robert Hight.

Only two of the normal four qualifying rounds were held, due to Friday’s persistent, but much needed rain. Should make for an interesting race day Sunday.

A side note, Governor Perry looking rather spiffy in those glasses.

~ Gary

AAA Texas FallNationals

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