Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals
by Phil Burgess, NHRA.com
Doug Herbert, who has been trying desperately all year to win one “For My Boys,” sons Jon and James, who were killed in a traffic accident Jan. 26, had a good-luck angel with him in Tony Pedregon, who earlier in the day had warned his opponents that “the road to the championship still goes through the Pedregons,” made that stand up by defeating Robert Hight in the Funny Car final. Greg Anderson was the hero for event and car sponsor
Doug Herbert, who has been trying desperately all year to win one “For My Boys,” sons Jon and James, who were killed in a traffic accident Jan. 26, had a good-luck angel with him in
Tony Pedregon, who earlier in the day had warned his opponents that “the road to the championship still goes through the Pedregons,” made that stand up by defeating Robert Hight in the Funny Car final. Greg Anderson was the hero for event and car sponsor
“Unbelievable,” said Herbert, who cut a superior .018 reaction time in the final. “It’s such an emotional day, and I’m just happy to get the job done. Going up there, I knew I was going to dig down and give it everything I had. I just wanted to do everything I could do to beat [Bernstein] because I didn’t want to have a mistake that I made cost us the race. Luckily, I have my little lucky charm [Jessie] with me, and we did a lot of thinking about her brothers today, and I’m sure they were riding with me on that final-round win.
“Winning a race was important to me because that substantiates and justifies what we’re trying to do. I feel like I’m a winner, and I want my kids to be proud of me and think of me as a winner. I set some real high goals for myself this year, and they haven’t changed. I’m going to drive the wheels off that car every run, I guarantee you.”
Herbert reached his first final of the season by powering his Kevin Poynter-tuned SnaponFranchise.com dragster to a 4.69 and a pair of 4.66s to defeat Tory Buff, Dave Grubnic, and low qualifier Rod Fuller, who shook the tires a round after setting low e.t. of 4.54 in conquering friendly rival Tony Schumacher in a rematch of last year’s final.
Bernstein made it to his second straight final after his runner-up a week earlier in Englishtown. Bernstein qualified the Tim Richards-guided Budweiser dragster No. 3 with a 4.64 and took down Luigi Novelli, Antron Brown, and a red-lighting Cory McClenathan with a 4.68 and back-to-back 4.65s to reach the final, his third of the season.
With the Funny Car winner guaranteed to take over second place in the standings from Ashley Force, Pedregon turned back low qualifier Hight on a wire-to-wire 4.88, 306.26 to 4.90, 304.74 count.
“We knew we had a tough opponent in the final round, it always is anytime you race a Force car, and my crew chief really nailed it for the conditions,” said Pedregon, whose victory was the 39th of his career. “We expected a tough race, and they were right there. Just to reach the winner’s circle at any race is good, but this one puts us right back in the game, and I think every race from this point on is going to be very important.
“I’ve dedicated the race to Scott’s [Kalitta] kids and his wife. I think it’s important that everyone out here wants them to know we care about them. I think the time coming up we’ll use to regroup and heal, and we’ll never forget him.”
Pedregon, a winner earlier this season in
Hight, who opened the season with a win in Pomona and was runner-up in Phoenix, has never beaten Pedregon in a final round but pushed his Jimmy Prock-wrenched Automobile Club of Southern California Mustang past teammate Mike Neff, former teammate Gary Densham, and Cruz Pedregon with runs of 4.92, 4.92, and 4.95 to earn the right to face another former teammate, Tony Pedregon, in the final round, the 19th of his young career. Ten of 12 races this season have featured at least one Force Racing car in the final round.
“I certainly got slapped in the [Horsepower Challenge] final,” said
“I would love to have the No. 1 spot [heading into the Countdown to 1]; it’s worth 20 points. That’s really the goal. We haven’t done too well up until the last couple of weekends. We’ve got a great race team, and we’ve kind of been getting shown the way home this year, but it looks like we’re making a recovery. It sure feels good to come to a race with a chance to win, and for the last couple of months, we didn’t have too good of a chance to win and needed a miracle. I think we’re back in the fight, and we’re going to keep swinging out there, trying to make it better by the time we get to the Countdown [to 1].”
Morgan, the homestate favorite who missed the field at the first eight races this season then reached the final at the ninth, in Topeka, where he was runner-up, reached his second final of the year and his second straight at this event with a trio of steady passes – 6.71, 6.71, and 6.72 – from his Lucas Oil Dodge to defeat Vinnie Deceglie, Horsepower Challenge champ Johnson, and hungry Justin Humphreys. The final-round appearance was the 30th of Morgan’s Pro Stock career. Morgan’s last win was almost six years ago, in
Arana, who had reached his two previous Pro Stock Motorcycle finals, both in 1997, bested Treble in the final, 7.027, 187.60 to 7.061, 187.83. He denied low qualifier Eddie Krawiec the chance to run for his first title by riding his Lucas Oil Buell to a tight .007-second 7.07 to 7.07 victory over the low-qualifying Harley rider in the semifinals.
“I have to thank Forrest and Charlotte Lucas for believing in me and believing I could do this job,” said Arana of his longtime backers. “I never gave up, and my crew guys never gave up, and I’ve met a lot of wonderful people who have given me a hand over the years and never stopped trusting in me, and I’m glad I was able to do it. It’s an awesome, awesome feeling, and it hasn’t sunk in yet, but it feels great to accomplish what I’ve been working for all these years.”
Arana, who had won just two rounds of racing in the season’s first six events, also beat a pair of this year’s national event winners, Gainesville champ Matt Guidera in round one and reigning world champ and
“We figured out what’s been wrong with the bike since Englishtown, where we ended up in the sand," he said, "and yesterday I had a bucking-bronco run that almost threw me off, and I’m glad it happened in qualifying because we were able to figure out the problem, which was an electrical switch was shutting the bike down. We got it figured out and started the day off good in round one.”
The quick-leaving Treble still will get full marks from team owner Harry Lartigue after riding to the final, the 24th of his career, on the strength of holeshot victories in the second and semifinal rounds. After besting Mike Berry, 7.08 to 7.12, in round one, he outreacted world champ Andrew Hines with a 7.066 to 7.056 victory, then aced Steve Johnson by just .001-second in the semifinals, beating the Snap-on rider on a 7.14 to 7.11 score.
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