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Schumacher hits national-record 325 mph in Top Fuel qualifying

Tony Schumacher sounds as if he’s conceding the Top Fuel championship to points leader Larry Dixon, but Schumacher apparently hasn’t told his engine.

On Friday, Schumacher, who has won the last six championships, recorded the fastest speed in the NHRA since racing in the two top categories was shortened 320 feet to 1,000 feet in 2008.

Schumacher reached 325.14 mph before an estimated crowd of 18,000 in the day’s final qualifying session of the NHRA Las Vegas Nationals at Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s dragstrip. He has the No. 1 qualifying position at 3.812 seconds.

“A national record would be real good if it came with 20 (bonus) points,” said Schumacher, who will claim his second pole of the year and 60th of his career if his run holds up after today’s final two qualifying sessions.

The NHRA awards the bonus for elapsed-time records but not for speed records.

“We just want to win some races and not let Larry win all the money,” Schumacher said.

Dixon has won 12 titles this year to Schumacher’s five, the second most in the NHRA Full Throttle series.

Schumacher trails Dixon by 150 points and is third behind Cory McClenathan, who qualified seventh.

Only eight rounds of racing remain, including the season finale in Pomona, Calif., in two weeks. Each round win pays 20 points.

In Funny Car, Ashley Force Hood is the top qualifier but is also a distant third in season points, trailing leader Matt Hagan by 135.

Her run Friday evening of 4.032 seconds is the 10th best in her class at the shortened distance.

It was a big comeback for Hood after engine explosions destroyed two Funny Car bodies at the last NHRA event three weeks ago near Reading, Pa. But the new one she used Friday worked just fine.

“Everything hit the fan that weekend,” she said.

In Pro Stock, Allen Johnson claimed the provisional pole with a run of 6.60 seconds (207.46 mph) in the second session. If the time holds, it would be his seventh pole of the season.

He is a nearly insurmountable 168 points behind leader Greg Anderson, who is qualified fifth.

Anderson’s closest pursuer is Mike Edwards, who won at Las Vegas in April for one of his eight titles this year. Edwards is qualified second and cut Anderson’s lead to 35 points.

Contact reporter Jeff Wolf at jwolf@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0247.

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