• August 11, 2020

DRAG RACING: Singleton's run highlights first night of Funny Car Chaos - Odessa American: Sports

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DRAG RACING: Singleton's run highlights first night of Funny Car Chaos

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Posted: Saturday, June 20, 2020 6:36 pm

PENWELL Fast is good.

Quick is better.

Ken Singleton was both during the first two rounds of qualifying for the Funny Car Chaos event Friday at Penwell Knights Raceway at Caprock Motorplex.

Singleton, the series’ defending world champion, clicked off a run of 3.85 seconds, at 199.29 miles per hour, over one-eighth mile to top the qualifying ladder, with one final round of qualifying and eliminations set for Saturday.

“It was a good run,” said Singleton, of Chickasha, Okla. “They done a lot of work on the track and it was in great shape.

“That gives us a good idea of what we can do with the car the rest of the way.”

Chuck Loftin had the second-quickest run at 4.09 seconds, while Ray Stringer posted the second-fastest speed at 178.50 mph.

Singleton’s run, which was 4/1000ths from the track record he set in November, came on his first pass of the night, while the track was still covered in sunlight.

His second attempt, well after the sun had set and the track temperature had dropped significantly, resulted in self-induced overpowering at the starting line, forcing Singleton to get out of the throttle and coast the rest of the way.

“Trying to get the track record,” he said with a smile. “Conditions were right and we just tried too much.

“We know that the car will run 3.8s in the heat, so we’ll back it down and then during eliminations, start doing little things to try and make it quicker.”

This is the second time the series has come to the Permian Basin, but the first time the drivers are racing for points.

Chris Graves, president of Funny Car Chaos, brought the cars to the track for an exhibition in November and liked what he saw so much that he put Penwell Knights Raceway on the schedule for the 2020 season.

This, after the series just finished another event outside San Antonio last week. Singleton won that race, setting a new speed record for his car at 214 mph.

Back-to-back events are far from the norm for the series.

“We have nine races on the schedule in Texas, Iowa, Missouri and Michigan,” Graves said. “And these are all regular guys like you and me that go to work on Monday and then leave on Thursday or Friday to get to the next race.

“We came here in November and knew that this was a track that we needed to have on the schedule. They’ve done a great job here.”

One difference racing fans will notice is the way the elimination rounds are run.

Normally, with 16 cars entered, the top qualifier would meet the 16th qualifier and then down through the ladder.

With Funny Car Chaos, after three rounds of qualifying, the top eight cars go to the “A” ladder, while the next eight compete in the “B” ladder, a format dirt-track aficionados understand.

Even though the field is split into a pair of brackets, the drivers are racing for the same amount of points.

Only the payouts at the end of the night are different.

“Points are the same for everyone,” Graves said. “Both ladders are going to be competitive.”

Singleton expects the same each time he puts his car in the staging lanes.

He knows which cars are running well and which drivers he needs to be wary of on a round-by-round basis.

“There are a lot of stout cars our here,” he said. “There were a couple other cars on 3.8 runs that clicked early.

“You have to be ready because the smallest mistake will get you beat.”

Odessa, TX

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