LAS VEGAS - Notes from final, round 4 qualifying in Top Fuel at the Inaugural AC Delco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals listing lane, driver name, elapsed time/top speed this round, position in order following run, best prior elapsed time/speed, and position in order prior to run:
Left Lane: Garth Widdison Runs 4.955/258.22, Now #19; Best prior run: 5.580/179.59, Was #23
Right Lane: Don Sosenka Runs 5.566/259.96, Now #22; Best prior run: 5.402/265.90, Was #21
4:32 PM The final session opens with Brady Kalivoda on the bubble at 4.861. Widdison improved a bunch, but his engine expired short of the finish line, leaving a haze of oil behind the car. Sosenka's car was also out of power well before the finish line, but showed no obvious signs of damage.
Left Lane: Tim Gibson Runs 4.841/244.07, Now #17; Best prior run: 5.379/179.30, Was #21
Right Lane: Joe Hartley Runs 4.639/317.12, Now #7; Best prior run: 4.937/238.01, Was #18
Both cars were on good runs to 1,000 feet, then Gibson slowed, the reason not obvious from here. Gibson beat Kalivoda's bump time, but so did Hartley, by enough to bump Gibson back out the field. Hartley popped the blower at the finish line, but is solidly in the field after fighting all kinds of other problems on earlier runs.
Left Lane: Doug Herbert Runs 4.730/311.63, Now #15; Best prior run: 4.707/311.05, Was #15
Right Lane: Chris Karamesines Runs 4.869/291.95, Now #19; Best prior run: 4.878/272.34, Was #19
Karamesines was shooting at Wyatt Radke's 4.818, but came up short. Herbert came close to matching his earlier run, but is still a tenth off his usual pace.
Left Lane: Scott Weis Runs 9.753/85.45, Now #12; Best prior run: 4.673/319.22, Was #12
Right Lane: Brady Kalivoda Runs 4.781/304.87, Now #16; Best prior run: 4.861/301.07, Was #18
Kalivoda was the last driver with a shot at bumping Radke. He stepped up with a career-best run, both elapsed time and speed, to bump Radke, replacing him on the bubble. Weis lost traction after 200 feet or so.
Left Lane: Clay Millican Runs 4.708/309.34, Now #12; Best prior run: 4.667/318.02, Was #11
Right Lane: Darrell Russell Runs 4.576/322.11, Now #4; Best prior run: 4.703/307.58, Was #14
Apparently Radke isn't in line to try to get back in, so the field is set and now we're running to determine pairings. Millican is still looking for his low sixty, the car not quite as quick in the first half of the run as it should be. No problems for Russell, stepping up to make it seven cars in the fifties.
Left Lane: Rhonda Hartman-Smith Runs 4.775/300.33, Now #11; Best prior run: 4.655/310.27, Was #11
Right Lane: Tony Schumacher Runs 8.797/85.04, Now #10; Best prior run: 4.653/320.74, Was #10
Smith made a solid run, but Schumacher once again slowed before half track, having just one complete pass in four attempts so far this weekend.
Left Lane: Doug Kalitta Runs 4.733/305.22, Now #6; Best prior run: 4.594/317.87, Was #6
Right Lane: Andrew Cowin Runs 7.010/110.83, Now #7; Best prior run: 4.596/318.32, Was #7
Kalitta makes another full pass, but his runs have been getting progressively slower, the header flames getting very weak on the top end. Cowin lost traction before half track.
Left Lane: Mike Dunn Runs 4.648/316.67, Now #5; Best prior run: 4.593/321.12, Was #5
Right Lane: Gary Scelzi Runs 4.573/313.29, Now #3; Best prior run: 4.549/319.67, Was #3
Dunn has crossed the finish line under power on all three prior attempts, Scelzi on just one. Make that four and two, Scelzi with two quick runs today and Dunn with two slightly slower runs today, both with a shot at the event title tomorrow. It looked like Scelzi started to smoke the tires just off the starting line, but then it cleared up - the Safety Safari is cleaning something up on the first 300 feet of his lane, so most likely there was something spraying out behind the car.
Left Lane: Kenny Bernstein Runs 6.583/120.51, Now #2; Best prior run: 4.543/326.08, Was #2
Right Lane: Larry Dixon Runs 4.509/323.19, Now #1; Best prior run: 4.527/323.04, Was #1
Another round in the beer wars, and this one also goes to Miller. Bernstein was right with Dixon early in the run, just a hundredth behind at 330 feet, but then Bernstein's header flames went out - couldn't see why - and Dixon streaked away to reset the track elapsed time record. If they line up against each other again this weekend, it will be in the final round because they are qualified 1-2 once again.