O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals
Arend loses after wild first-round run
Topeka, Sunday: CMKXtreme Machine Funny Car driver Jeff Arend lost a wild first round battle during the 16th annual O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals, the ninth stop on the 23-race POWER Drag Racing Series schedule. Arend was defeated by defending POWEWRade Funny Car champion Tony Pedregon after qualifying the CMKXtreme Machine Corvette for his fourth event this season.
The temperature was the coolest it had been all weekend when Arend and the CMKX car lined up against Pedregon's green machine during the first round action. Arend left the starting line first with a .088 to .144 reaction time when the CMKX car shook the tires several hundred feet into the run. Arend pedaled the throttle but when he got back on it the front end of the car came off the ground. The veteran nitro pilot wisely clicked it off when the front of the car came back to earth and Pedregon sailed to the win with a 4.800 at 312.13 mph to Arend's 'on again-off again' 5.366 at 220.19 mph.
"It was unfortunate that Gilbertson oiled down the (left) lane right in front of us," said Arend after the first round of Funny Car ended. "The CMKX car left hard but then it shook the tires about 150-feet out," Arend explained, "so I pedaled it and then got back on it because I could still see Pedregon just a few car lengths in front of me. Then the car went in to a wheel stand so I decided I better it click it off."
Arend and CMKX mining for a victory
Topeka, Saturday: Jeff Arend qualified the CMKXtreme Machine Funny Car for the fourth time this season at the 16th annual O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals, held at spacious Heartland Park Topeka in Kansas. Arend qualified the CMKXtreme Machine Corvette in the No. 15 position with a 4.950 at 311.99 mph and will face Tony Pedregon during Sunday's opening round of eliminations at the Summer Nationals.
Arend began his weekend with a 5.661 at 178.31mph to finish the first session qualified 13th. "We were among the first pair of fuel cars to go down the track so we just wanted to get the CMKX car to the other end without any problems. The car started drifting right and then began to smoke the tires so I shut it off," said Arend. "With only 16 cars here, we know we're in Sunday's show so there's no reason to be a hero, plus it gives (crew chief) Paul Smith a chance to try some different things with the tune up."
The second run by the CMKXtreme Machine was held during the Friday evening session. Arend improved to a 4.950 at 311.99 mph and finished the round in the No. 15 qualifying position. "The track cooled down really fast before we had a chance to make a run," Arend offered. "We wanted to step up but I think we left a lot on the table on that run. We'll keep working on our race day tune up and try and get into the top half of the field during the final two qualifying sessions on Saturday."
The weather Saturday afternoon was warm, windy and partly overcast as Arend and the CMKX team approached the starting line for the third Professional qualifying session. Arend, who now has over 20 runs behind the wheel of the CMKX Corvette adorned Victory chassis, romped to a 4.974 at 308.92 mph to remain in the No. 15 position on the qualifying ladder. On his final attempt Arend could do no better. Running the new Goodyear 2096 rear tire that was put into competition here in Topeka, the CMKXtreme Machine made a move toward the right just after the launch and Arend quickly lifted, coasting to a 8.640 at 91.68 mph to finish qualify in the 15th spot.
"The last run was pretty wild, "said Arend. "The car felt funny after the burnout. It launched hard with a .897 60-foot time and the numbers showed it was on another 4.80, then it made a quick move to the right and I had to let up. We we're already in the show so there was no use staying with it, but the CMKX car was really moving. We'll be ready for eliminations tomorrow."
Arend ready to shine in Topeka
Topeka, pre-race: CMKXtreme Machine Funny Car driver Jeff Arend heads into competition at the 16th annual O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals with plenty of confidence. The Canadian native enters this weekend's event with a ton of momentum after the CMKXtreme Racing team made four strong runs at the Route 66 Nationals in Chicago. Arend reset his career-best speed mark three times in the Windy City and made the quickest run of his life with a 4.844 to qualify for his third event in four starts this season.
Arend and crew chief Paul Smith are no strangers to the Heartland Park Topeka quarter-mile. The pair teamed up during Arend's rookie season in Funny Car in 1995 and qualified for both races at the beautiful Kansas facility. Arend reached the semifinals at the first race in Topeka that season and returned to qualify for the second event in late September. Now, as he stands poised to win his first round of the season, Arend is eager to continue and improve on his performance in the Corvette.
"Paul Smith is definitely getting a handle on the tune-up," said the fastest Canadian racer in drag racing history. "When you consider how quickly we put this team together (in just two weeks) it really shows you how knowledgeable Paul is as a crew chief. He has had to deal with a new team and a new tire and he's still been able to produce the best performance numbers of his career and mine. I have no doubt that the CMKX team is on the right path to eventually reach the winner's circle."
Arend is currently ranked 18th in the POWERade Funny Car points standings after competing in only four of the eight completed races this season. The 41-year-old former national event champion will be competing at all of the remaining 15 races on the 2004 NHRA schedule.
"I would love to show my appreciation to Urban Casavant (CMKX Diamonds founder and Chairman of the Board) with a national event victory," said Arend from his San Dimas, Calif., home. "Everyone involved with the CMKXtreme Machine team is working as hard as they can to make winning a reality. We're headed in the right direction now and we're not going to let up until we've attained our goals."
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