Jul 19, 2014 8:24 PM by Posted by Greg Smith
MORRISON - Tony Schumacher had the last laugh Friday in the top fuel competition.
On an unseasonably cool day that produced sizzling track-record runs at Bandimere Speedway, the seven-time NHRA world champion produced the quickest pass of the day. His track-record elapsed time of 3.823 seconds gave him the provisional pole heading into Saturday's final two qualifying sessions for the Mopar Mile-High Nationals.
Steve Torrence is No. 2 on the top fuel ladder and produced the day's top two speeds, bettering the track record both times. He went 322.81 mph on his first run and 322.96 on his second, with elapsed times of 3.845 (quickest of first session) and 3.831. Schumacher's top speeds were 319.75 and 314.09.
"We're up here on the mountain trying to put on a show," Torrence said of his first qualifying pass. "I can't even breathe, but the race car ran so good."
Pro stock motorcycle's Hector Arana Jr. also made a track-record pass, covering a quarter-mile in 7.178 seconds to break his previous record of 7.237 set in the 2012 event. Arana also laid down the best pass of the second round (7.197) to back up his record-breaking run.
Much cooler than typical Mile-High Nationals, temperatures were favorable to produce quick passes. It dipped to 72 degrees in the second qualifying session, and all four classes benefited to the delight of the fans.
Force was with them. John Force Racing's John Force and Robert Hight stood 1-2 on funny car's qualifying ladder after the first and second sessions, making their improving passes against each other in sizzling side-by-side duals. Force, the legendary 16-time world champion, is the team's founder, and Hight is his son-in-law.
Both smashed the previous track records (4.073, 309.91) that were set a year ago. The entertaining Force (4.049, 318.39) met a handful of Broncos before the first round and talked extensively about his new friendships and attending the ESPYs on Wednesday night in Los Angeles.
Big Gaines. Lakewood's V Gaines briefly took the provisional pole in pro stock before five-time Bandimere winner Allen Johnson knocked him off in the second session. Gaines, who has lost to Johnson in Mile-High finals the past two years, climbed to No. 1 with a 6.944-second pass (198.15 mph) before Johnson went 6.923 (198.90).
Gaines, who has failed to win an elimination-round race in the past five events, slipped to fourth after Jason Line and Erica Enders Stevens went faster as sunset came into play.
Nevertheless, Gaines said he was "really making some great strides."
Footnotes. Pro stock's Deric Kramer of Sterling is 11th in what is a 16-car field thus far, and Littleton's Mike Berry stands 10th on the 18-bike ladder. Mike Chambers, The Denver Post