KENT — NHRA drivers are used to going fast.
On Friday, they got a huge dose of slow.
Two qualifying sessions for the 26th annual NHRA Northwest Nationals were wiped out by persistent rain with drivers and crews spending hours waiting patiently to see if there would be a sun break long enough to get at least get one run in.
This is the first time since 2007 where an entire qualifying session at Pacific Raceways was unable to get started.
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Two qualifying sessions are scheduled today, at 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. with the eliminations set to start at 11 a.m. on Sunday.
Funny Car points leader Matt Hagan ended up getting a big dose of humility during the delay.
Hagan, the 2011 world champion from Christiansburg, Va., has a practice tree in his hauler to hone his reaction time and a tournament was quickly set up with other drivers and Don Schumacher Racing crew members.
Hagan, who prides himself on his reaction times, was eliminated in the first round by a crew member who works on engines.
“I got my rear end handed to me in the first round,” Hagan said. “I’ve been drilling that tree all year long. It was tweeted out and it’s kind of ruining my reputation.”
Hagan, 30, has a 27-point lead over Ron Capps in the points race, 1,034 to 1,007. Capps knows how critical every point can be. Three points are available for the fastest qualifier for each session and last year Capps finished second in the final points standings to Jack Beckman by two points.
Capps, 48, has finished second in the national points race four times without winning a world championship. He admits he agonized over how close he came last year.
“I thought about it all winter long, how I could have picked up a point here or there,” Capps said. “I had kind of forgotten about it. You could look back anywhere, but you can’t do that. You’d be an old man quick.”
Capps, who lives in Carlsbad, Calif., has won twice at Pacific Raceways. In 1995, he won in Top Fuel and he won in Funny Car in 1998.