NHRA: Schumacher sets Bristol track record in Top Fuel

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Eight-time Top Fuel world champ Tony Schumacher powered to a Bristol (Tenn.) Dragway track record Friday to highlight the first of two days of qualifying for the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals.

Schumacher covered the track in 3.768 seconds at 323.58 mph to earn the provisional No. 1 qualifying spot, while Tim Wilkerson was the early front-runner in Funny Car, as was Chris McGaha in Pro Stock.

“We talk about what needs to happen each run,” Schumacher said in a NHRA media release. “[Crew chiefs] Mike [Green] and Neal [Strausbaugh] gave me a really good car. I just go out there and use it properly.”

Schumacher is coming off a No. 1 starting spot and victory last weekend at Epping, N.H.

Three-time Top Fuel world champion Larry Dixon (3.769 seconds at 326.24 mph) was second-quickest, followed by Spencer Massey (3.778 at 326.63).

Wilkerson took the lead in Funny Car with a run of 4.027 seconds at 318.32 mph.

“The thing is running way too easy,” Wilkerson said. “That’s a little concerning but as long as I keep that in my head and not try to be ‘Guerilla Tim, I’ll be OK.”

Del Worsham, a two-time Bristol winner, provisionally qualified No. 2 (4.034 seconds at 319.07 mph), while two-time and defending world champ Matt Hagan qualified third (4.035 at 318.09).

In Pro Stock, McGaha (6.647 seconds at 206.67 mph) took top honors heading into Saturday’s final two rounds of qualifying.

“I was expecting everyone to turn the wick up,” said McGaha, who was No. 1 qualifier last weekend in New Hampshire. “But they didn’t so here we are. We are trying not to jinx ourselves by being No. 1 but here we are.”

Defending world champ and defending event winner Erica Enders qualified No. 2 (6.655 at 206.10) while four-time world champ and three-time 2015 winner Greg Anderson qualified third (6.656 at 206.73).

The final two rounds of qualifying take place Saturday at 12:30 pm and 3 pm ET. Sunday’s final eliminations begin at Noon ET.

FRIDAY’S RESULTS:

Top Fuel: 1. Tony Schumacher, 3.768 seconds, 323.58 mph; 2. Larry Dixon, 3.769, 326.24; 3. Spencer Massey, 3.778, 326.63; 4. J.R. Todd, 3.790, 318.62; 5. Antron Brown, 3.805, 312.21; 6. Dave Connolly, 3.807, 314.02; 7. Clay Millican, 3.812, 318.17; 8. Richie Crampton, 3.845, 318.47; 9. Brittany Force, 3.856, 309.27; 10. Doug Kalitta, 3.856, 313.44; 11. Leah Pritchett, 3.861, 319.60; 12. Terry McMillen, 3.897, 315.86.  Not Qualified: 13. Pat Dakin, 3.958, 310.91; 14. Chris Karamesines, 4.037, 300.53; 15. Shawn Langdon, 4.097, 277.77; 16. Steve Torrence, 4.483, 173.16; 17. Troy Buff, 4.594, 173.05; 18. Cory McClenathan, 4.938, 149.58.

Funny Car: 1. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.027, 318.32; 2. Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 4.034, 319.07; 3. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 4.035, 318.09; 4. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.038, 313.80; 5. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.048, 317.49; 6. Robert Hight, Chevrolet Camaro, 4.053, 318.02; 7. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.054, 311.20; 8. Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.072, 308.99; 9. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.117, 303.16; 10. Chad Head, Camry, 4.121, 303.23; 11. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.149, 289.51; 12. John Force, Camaro, 4.163, 310.27.  Not Qualified: 13. John Hale, 4.190, 294.31; 14. Paul Lee, 4.208, 273.83; 15. Tony Pedregon, 4.321, 226.35; 16. Jeff Diehl, 4.322, 263.77.

Pro Stock: 1. Chris McGaha, Chevy Camaro, 6.647, 206.67; 2. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.655, 206.86; 3. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.656, 206.83; 4. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.658, 206.83; 5. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.660, 206.86; 6. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.661, 206.45; 7. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.662, 206.45; 8. Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 6.674, 205.85; 9. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.683, 206.99; 10. Richie Stevens, Dart, 6.685, 206.16; 11. Larry Morgan, Camaro, 6.686, 206.64; 12. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.689, 206.35.  Not Qualified: 13. Bo Butner, 6.694, 205.32; 14. Kenny Delco, 6.716, 204.17; 15. John Gaydosh Jr, 6.748, 203.52; 16. Dave River, 6.826, 202.06; 17. Alan Prusiensky, 6.828, 201.55; 18. V. Gaines, 7.938, 127.16.

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Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).