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Schumacher sets speed record on day of delays

Tony Schumacher set a national record for speed in Top Fuel on Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but if records were kept for the longest day of racing without rain, then the NHRA Las Vegas Nationals probably could claim another milestone.

More than 10 engine explosions that sent oil onto the track delayed the first sessions of Top Fuel and Funny Car by two hours. The evening session was delayed by another two hours, most of which was for cleaning up a major Funny Car crash by Jeff Diehl, who was not injured, and the ensuing oil spill.

Cool track temperatures in the evening and an event-record 26 Top Fuelers contributed to the long day of professional qualifying that was supposed to end by 5 p.m. but continued until 9:30.

The peak crowd was about 20,000, and a couple of hundred loyal fans remained when the last pair ran.

“It was a long day,” said Schumacher, whose speed record was set at 325.14 mph as he also won the pole for today’s championship eliminations that are scheduled to start at 11 a.m.

“No one wants to oil down the track. The conditions were cold. It was down to 68 degrees.”

The last category to race was Nitro Funny Cars, where Ashley Force Hood’s quick time of 4.032 seconds from Friday was not topped to give her the pole.

In Pro Stock, Allen Johnson held onto the No. 1 qualifying spot he earned Friday for his third straight pole and seventh of the year.

The top two contenders for the Pro Stock season championship, Mike Edwards and points leader Greg Anderson, qualified ninth and 11th.

Hector Arana will start Pro Stock Motorcycle eliminations in the top position.

■ NOTES — The numerous delays led NHRA officials to reschedule the first rounds of Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car from Saturday to 9:15 a.m. today. Boulder City’s Duane Shield qualified 14th in the 16-car dragster field. … Racing is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. with Stock, Super Gas, Super Stock and Competition categories.

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

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