They’re Back…Hines wins for Harley at zMax

Carlyle Tools NHRA Carolina Nationals presented by NAPA Auto Parts, Sept. 13-15, 2013 at zMAX Dragway, Concord, NC, USA

story and photos by Tim Hailey with reports from NHRA and others

Andrew Hines completed Harley’s 2 valve comeback with a final round win over redlighting Hector Arana Sr. at zMax

Hector & Harley Flashback Final at zMax

It’s 2012 all over again as Hector Arana Sr. faces Andrew Hines in the Charlotte final

EARLIER: Hines Embraces Blocker Role at zMax

Operating as a hitman to support teammate Eddie Krawiec’s championship bid, Andrew Hines won the Shiny Red Leathers battle against #1 qualifier Matt Smith in E2. Krawiec dropped the ball on his end, losing to Hector Arana Sr.

EARLIER: Smith Survives E1 MSR/Viper Meltdown

Scotty Pollacheck (near lane) nailed a .001 light on Shawn Gann and advanced to E2

NHRA results

EARLIER: Matt Smith Dominating at zMax

Sitting high and back on the top step, Matt Smith hustles to a 6.854 in Q3—over 5/100ths quicker than Michael Ray’s second-quickest-of-the-round 6.908. A lengthy alcohol dragster oil-down delay pushed Pro Stock Motorcycles into a warmer portion of the day than the teams had expected, but Smith still responded with a great lap that held up through the end of qualifying. Smith cut Hector Arana Jr’s points lead from 30 to 13 in qualifying alone.

Michael Ray’s intensity shows in the glare of his shiftlight. Ray would certainly have matched Smith in the final session, and may have contended for #1 overall were it not of a broken faceshield flapping in the wind and a a lean to the left to keep the bike in the groove. The face shield is replaced and tuner George Bryce is cocking the wheel a bit for E1. All-in-all, the Star/Sovereign team finished qualifying strong.

Junior Pippin failed to stretch his comeback weekend into Raceday, but the Pippin Pink PiranaZ breast cancer research shirts are selling by the bunches. You can order the new PiranaZ shirts and help support breast cancer research here

US Nationals winner John Hall, known widely around the pits as “Johnny Balls”, has been quietly getting the job done all weekend. He’s qualified 8th and starts his raceday against hungry Andrew Hines.

Rickie Smith’s nitrous Camaro Pro Mod LOVES to yank the wheels and belch flame

Mushroom clouds of fire!

EARLIER: Matt Smith leads Day 1 at zMax

Matt Smith (near lane) aims to gain on points leader Hector Arana Jr (far lane)

Local favorite Matt Smith, from nearby King N.C., led Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying for the Carlyle Tools NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Concord with a 6.874 at 192.90 mph on his Viper Motorcycle Company Racing Buell. Smith has three No. 1 qualifying positions this year and is second in Pro Stock Motorcycle points. “We’re a round-and-a-half behind [Hector Arana] Jr. and we made a decision to put my good motor in to start this deal,” Smith said. “I thought that maybe I could gain 10 points from qualifying this weekend and close that half a round down just in qualifying. We’ve done everything right so far.”

Arana, Jr. sits qualified 12th on his Lucas Oil Buell., Michael Ray is 2nd.

Two-time Funny Car world champion Cruz Pedregon raced to the qualifying lead in Funny Car with a dominating performance, powering his Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry to an impressive run of 3.980 seconds at 319.22 mph. It was the second quickest run in NHRA Funny Car history and a zMAX Dragway track record. Pedregon will have an opportunity to certify the run as a national record during Saturday’s two qualifying sessions. A national record performance carries a 20-point bonus. “We were trying to run hard, but it’s hard to predict that you’re going to run 3.98,” Pedregon said. “We went out there and said, ‘If we turn this knobs the way we’re turning them and it doesn’t spin or drop a hole, it’s going to go fast.’ We’ll definitely try to back up that run tomorrow and get those 20 points. From what I’m hearing, it’s going to be cooler tomorrow, so we’ll take a poke at it.”

Keeping pace with Pedregon is the No. 1 seed in the Countdown, Matt Hagan. He is currently qualified second with a pass of 3.992 at 320.58 in his Magneti Marelli/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger.

Morgan Lucas, in a new Top Fuel dragster built by the team in their race shop in Brownsburg, Ind., took the qualifying lead with a run of 3.749 at 324.51. The GEICO / Lucas Oil dragster team tested the car at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis early this week but this was the first time the car made a full pass down the track. “To be honest, we didn’t know what to expect,” Lucas said. “It’s nice to have something that came out of our shop run like that. The track just took it. We struggled at the beginning of the year and in qualifying in Indy, so it’s nice to be able to run like this. The team is on cloud nine. Our plan is to sell these chassis, we don’t want to Bogart them.”

Jason Line, who lives in nearby Mooresville, N.C., led Pro Stock qualifying with a run of 6.541 at 211.86 in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro. Line has yet to record a No. 1 position this season and has 33 in his career. His two solid qualifying efforts on Friday earned him five valuable bonus points towards a third Pro Stock world championship title. “If you don’t [go after qualifying points] you will have no chance of winning,” Line said. “Somebody is going to get them so it might as well be me. We’ve got a good hot rod this weekend and we haven’t had one for a while.”

The points leader in Pro Stock, Mike Edwards is qualified third in the competitive field with a run of 6.546 at 210.44 in his Interstate Batteries/I Am Second Chevy Camaro.

Qualifying continues on Saturday at 12:15 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Eliminations begin Sunday at noon.