Notes from Friday Qualifying at the 2014 Gatornationals

Enders-Stevens sets Pro Stock national record speed

Erica Enders-Stevens set the national top speed record for Pro Stock on Friday with a 214.69 mile per hour run. She made the record-setting run in her first qualifying attempt lined up against Jeg Coughlin. With the run, Enders-Stevens also knocks off Mike Edwards as the track record holder at Auto Plus Raceway. Enders-Stevens previously held the track record in 2011.

Although Enders-Stevens’ speed was the fastest, Dave Connolly had the lowest E.T. on Friday, giving him the top qualifying spot.

 

Friday’s Top 5 Qualifying Results

Top Fuel:

Shawn Langdon set the track Low E.T. record on Friday with a 3.786 second run. He’ll enter Saturday’s qualifying as the top qualifier.

 

1)   Shawn Langdon            3.786 sec            320.58 mph

2)   Richie Crampton           3.816                   316.97

3)   Doug Kalitta                  3.819                   319.37

4)   Antron Brown                3.836                   315.78

5)   Steve Torrence             3.839                    319.22

 

Funny Car:

 

1)   Bob Tasca III                        4.103 sec            304.39 mph

2)   Jack Beckman                     4.108                   275.96

3)   Chad Head                          4.115                   300.46

4)   Ron Capps                          4.121                   302.14

5)   Tony Pedregon                   4.137                    285.41

 

Pro Stock:

 

1)   Dave Connolly              6.476 sec            213.98 mph

2)   Enders-Stevens            6.483                  214.69

3)   Jeg Coughlin Jr.            6.484                  214.01

4)   Shane Gray                   6.484                  213.60

5)   Allen Johnson                6.505                  213.98

 

Pro Stock Motorcycle

 

1)   Matt Smith                        6.800 sec            196.96 mph

2)   Andrew Hines                   6.813                   194.63

3)   John Hall                          6.830                    195.05

4)   Eddie Kraweic                  6.853                    196.16

5)   Shawn Gann                    6.856                    190.92

 

Track Conditions

Friday’s cool morning and afternoon highs in the mid-70s provided great race weather for fans and good atmospheric conditions for racing. “We obviously saw great air conditions out here,” current Top Fuel No. 1 qualifier Shawn Langdon said. “I mean you’re seeing some of the best air conditions we’ve seen in years.”

Despite the good air, inconsistencies in the track surface proved difficult for many drivers in qualifying. “Tracks a little tricky out there,” current Funny Car No. 1 qualifier Bob Tasca III said after his chart-topping run. “There’s bumps way down the track getting the car upset.”

The effects of the bump were evident in many of the qualifying runs as several cars got crooked near the end of the track. Erica Enders-Stevens, who set a Pro Stock national record for speed during Friday’s sessions, said the effect was not as bad for the Pro Stock cars, but the left lane ran better than the right.

“The first session I was in the right lane and it was very, very loose out there,” Enders-Stevens said. “I could feel the backend sashaying on me down there, but the second run in the left lane went right down Broadway.”

For the Top Fuel cars, the downforce and horsepower makes things a little more difficult. “It’s a matter of applying [the air conditions] to the racetrack and that’s been a little bit of the issue today with the Top Fuel cars. Obviously the Pro Stock cars are flying,” Langdon said. “For us it’s just managing that horsepower and getting into the track.”

“Keeping it in the groove is gonna be pretty important this weekend,” Tasca said of the Funny Cars.

Drivers also noted a strong headwind today kept cars and bikes from reaching their full potential. Temperatures are forecasted to rise for Saturday and Sunday’s events which could change the air conditions, but Enders-Stevens is not concerned.

“It’s supposed to be a little bit warmer but it was warmer this afternoon and Jeg (Coughlin Jr.) got within a few thousands of a mile an hour with the record,” she said.

Saturday’s forecast includes warmer morning temperatures, a high of 77, and 5-10mph winds out of the south-southeast.

 

Pro Stock Motorcycle adds mid-season Bike Battle

MiraMonte Records announced Friday morning they would sponsor a new mid-season bike battle similar to the NHRA Traxxas Nitro Shootouts and Pro Stock’s K&N Horsepower Challenge. The riders will receive points based on their qualifying positions leading up to the Sonoma Nationals to earn a berth into the 2014 MiraMonte Records NHRS Pro Bike Battle in California. The final winner will earn $25,000 and the runner up will earn $10,000. Semifinalists and first round finishers will also earn money prizes as well, with a total of $61,000 available for the Battle.

Additionally, the low qualifier in every race leading up to the Battle will receive a $1000 bonus.

MiraMonte Records is the label of country music singer Danny Griego who has recently taken an interest in NHRA and frequently performs concerts at NHRA races.

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