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MOTOR RACING

Schumacher edges closer

November 13, 2010|Larry Stewart

Tony Schumacher inched up on Larry Dixon in the race for the National Hot Rod Assn.'s Full Throttle Series top-fuel championship during the second day of qualifying Friday at the Auto Club NHRA Finals at Pomona.

But Dixon remains in the driver's seat.

Schumacher had the second-fastest qualifying time of the day -- 3.855 seconds with a top speed of 307.72 mph -- to earn two points.

Dixon's car lost traction during his run and finished back in the pack. Dixon said it was a case of too much power too soon.

The two points moved Schumacher to within 84 of Dixon. The magic number is 80. If Schumacher can't pick up four more points during Saturday's qualifying session, he would have to set a national record to have a shot at the title.

Last year, it was a tight battle between Schumacher and Dixon, and Schumacher ended up winning the title by two points when Dixon lost in the semifinals on the final day at Pomona.

This year, it appears it will be a different scenario.

"I'm not worried about the two points, not at all," the 44-year-old Van Nuys High graduate said. He then laughed and added, "Not yet."

He also put a positive spin on his faulty run Friday.

"I'm thrilled it happened today and not Sunday," he said. "We'll make some adjustments and go tomorrow. Don't play defense, play offense."

In funny-car qualifying Friday, John Force picked up a point on leader Matt Hagan by turning in the third-fastest time of the day -- 4.085 seconds with a speed of 310.34 mph. Force's daughter Ashley Force Hood had the fastest time of the day and the fastest of the two days of qualifying -- 4.076 seconds and 309.98 mph. Force's son-in-law Robert Hight was next at 4.080 and 312.35 mph.

Hagan, who also lost traction in his qualifying run Friday, has a 39-point lead going into Saturday's qualifying.

Another female driver who may get be getting attention in the funny-car class next season is Alexis DeJoria, the 33-year-old daughter of John Paul DeJoria, cofounder of the Paul Mitchell hair care empire.

Alexis DeJoria is competing in the lower-level alcohol funny-car division at Pomona but recently was licensed to move up to the elite nitro class.

She survived a horrific crash last year in Englishtown, N.J., when her parachutes ripped away when they opened.

"That showed she is tough," Force Hood said, "and she also has a lot of ability."

DeJoria said she was attracted to drag racing because as a child she wanted to be a fighter jet pilot.

"This is the next-best thing," she said.

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sports@latimes.com

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