ENNIS, Texas – Funny Car points leader Robert Hight failed to qualify for the O’Reilly Fall Nationals, while Top Fuel driver Doug Herbert also dropped out Saturday to all but end his season title hopes.
Three of Friday’s four qualifying leaders remained intact with J.R. Todd leading Top Fuel with a 4.541-second run, Tim Wilkerson topping Funny Car with a 4.787 and Greg Anderson fronting Pro Stock with a 6.668. The only change among the front-runners was Chip Ellis sneaking around Andrew Hines in Pro Stock Motorcycle with a double-track-record pass of 6.976 seconds at 191.32 mph
Despite his DNQ, Hight remained in the points lead, but could certainly suffer if “Fast Jack” Beckman, Ron Capps or Gary Scelzi do well Sunday. Second in the points, Beckman could do the most damage. He was in the No. 7 spot after a 4.851 in his Dodge Charger R/T. Scelzi was 10th with a 4.863, while Capps was 12th with a 4.884.
The happiest guy in the class was top qualifier Wilkerson, who reeled off his 4.787 at 318.17 mph in the second qualifying session to pace the field for the second time this year in his Chevrolet Impala SS.
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Todd held on for his second low qualifier award of the year on the strength of Friday night’s 4.541 at 318.47 mph. Entering the weekend seventh in the points, Todd has a great chance to make up some ground in the points as fifth-place Herbert failed to qualify.
The big matchup of the first round will pit No. 4 qualifier “Hot Rod” Fuller against No. 13 qualifier Tony Schumacher. Fuller posted a 4.552 to Schumacher’s best of 4.608. The two are first and second in the points, with Schumacher 15 points ahead.
Little changed at the top of the Pro Stock ladder, with Anderson easily staying on top in his Pontiac GTO. His 6.668 at 207.05 mph from Friday night was unchallenged in the heat and awarded him his 11th pole of the season.
Ellis did it again in Pro Stock Motorcycle, racking up his third low qualifying effort in a row and his fourth in the last five races. The S&S Buell V-Twin rider took advantage of the slightly cooler morning session to steal the top spot away from Friday low qualifier and current points leader Andrew Hines. Ellis’ double track record 6.976 at 191.32 mph was a hundredth better than Hines’ improved 6.986, which left him in second place.