Busch Not Qualified After Two Rounds

Kurt Busch

Busch experienced tire-shake on his first attempt and failed to stage in time in his second attempt. (Photo: NHRA)

Matt Hagan continued his torrid run dating back to the end of last year by earning the provisional No. 1 qualifier in Funny Car on the first day of qualifying at the 42nd annual Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals Friday.

The other provisional No. 1 qualifiers at the second of 22 races in the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season were Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), Rodger Brogdon (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

Also Friday, 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Kurt Busch, making his NHRA Full Throttle Series debut in Pro Stock, experienced tire-shake on his first attempt and failed to stage in time in his second attempt. He’ll get two more shots to qualify Saturday.

“An interesting day to say the least,” Busch said. “A lot of rookie things that I’m ready to put behind me. We just didn’t do our job today.”

Hagan, who has been to the final round at four of the last five races including his runner-up at the 2011 season-opening Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals, secured the provisional No. 1 with a track-record 4.030-second pass at 309.84 mph in his DieHard Dodge Charger.

“I’m excited, coming off of a runner up (at Pomona) and coming here and being No. 1 … we’ve got a strong race car and a strong team and I’m really looking forward to having some fun out here,” Hagan said.

In Top Fuel, seven-time champion Tony Schumacher earned the provisional top spot with a 3.814-second pass at a track-record 325.45 mph in the U.S. Army dragster.

“I thought we’d go quicker; I thought everyone would go quicker. If someone would have told me the No. 1 qualifier would run a 3.81 I would have been surprised,” Schumacher said. “We didn’t get down the track our first pass so we had to be cautious on that run. It was soft. It chattered (the tires) but made it down the track, and when we looked at the data on the computer, we could see there’s a lot left.”

It was an auspicious start for Schumacher, who has been to five final rounds at the Gatornationals with event titles in 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2010.

“I’ve always considered (the Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals), quite possibly, the biggest (race of the year), it’s always been special to me,” Schumacher said.

In Pro Stock, Brogdon earned the provisional No. 1 with a 6.495-second pass at 213.47 mph in his Attitude Apparel Pontiac GXP. This would be the first No. 1 of Brogdon’s career that spans 62 races.

“There’s a lot of fast guys out there, we just happened to go a little bit faster than them,” Brogdon said.

Mike Edwards (213.47) and Greg Anderson (212.86) also ran 6.495s, but theirs were slightly slower and therefore behind Brogdon in the qualifying order. Also, Erica Enders recorded the fastest-ever Pro Stock run with a top speed of 213.57 in her ZaZa Energy Chevy Cobalt.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Arana set the pace in his Lucas Oil Buell with a national-record time of 6.777 at 195.36 mph.

“Unbelievable, when they give me a 6.77, that’s great, it felt slow …” Arana said.

The run came not long after Arana watched his son, 21-year-old Hector Arana Jr., who is making his pro debut, kiss the wall near the top end.

“I don’t know if he’s letting the pressure get to him, but it sure is getting to me,” Arana said. “I’m pretty sure he does not want to hear what I have to say.”

Qualifying at the Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals concludes with the third and fourth sessions on Saturday when the fields will be set for Sunday’s final eliminations.


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