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Rare Hole-Shot Loss Stops CSK Racer at O'Reilly Fall Nationals

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Jeff Arend had a great qualifying effort at the O’Reilly Fall Nationals at Texas Motorplex in Dallas, but a momentary lapse of concentration cost him a big first round.

Jeff Arend's Team CSK Crew Jeff Arend's Team CSK Crew
Funny Car Racer Jeff Arend
Funny Car Racer Jeff Arend
he best part of the Motorplex weekend for Arend was another strong qualifying performance in his CSK Impala. He ran three sessions in bright sunshine, with the track temperatures at over 130 degrees. However, every Funny Car competitor knew one session on Friday night was going to be critical.

Jeff Arend uses K&N Premium Performance Gold Oil Filters
Jeff Arend uses K&N Premium Performance Gold Oil Filters
“As soon as we got here we started sweating and we knew the Friday night thing could be the whole ball of wax,” said Arend. “While you need to make your best lap is on that run, it also helped to make the best possible pass on Friday afternoon. That way you could be as far back in the line as possible on Friday night. On that, we totally messed up. We smoked the tires early in the first qualifying session and had to run at the front of the field on Friday night. We did pretty well anyway.”

“The term pretty well is not fitting,” said Team Manager Bob Wilber. “Jeff accomplished 4.788 pass at 320.36 mph and the No. 2 qualifying spot on Friday night. He knew the only way he’d slip from the No. 2 position was if he forfeited his time and went home. We know, with our K&N Engineering Oil Filters on our cars, that we can have confidence in our lubrication system, and that’s critical to success in this high-performance sport.”

With both Saturday runs scheduled for the afternoon, 4.90s were going to represent good laps. Arend was secure in knowing they would run from the front of the line on Sunday.

Arend made a full pass on his first Saturday run, dialing-in a race day set-up with a 4.956, then clicked his car off a little early in the fourth round. Sunday had a different feel, it was overcast and there were morning sprinkles. The conditions were better than the day before. “My object was to go out there and run a very low 4.80, and my guys did their part perfectly,” said Arend. “They gave me a 4.81 race car.”

Arend and Tommy Johnson were the fourth pair in round one. After the burn-outs, both cars pulled forward to stage and both lit the top bulbs nearly simultaneously. Both pulled forward to stage and John’s car rolled slightly farther than normal, not quite taking out the top bulbs in a full roll-in, but instead flicking the top bulbs two or three times before settling in. Arend admits he then made a critical mistake, one he’ll never make again.

“Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the blinking yellow lights and I just looked over there,” said Arend. “It was just an odd thing, something you’re not used to seeing and it caught my attention. Tommy didn’t do anything wrong. I messed up, big time, because as soon as I looked back to the vertical amber lights they flashed. All I could think was, I hope he red lit because I’m in a world of hurt here.”

Johnson did not foul at the start, but left with a solid .065 light. Arend was late with a flicker-induced .153 and the race was nearly over at the start. Arend then streaked to a gigantic 4.813, the second quickest run of the first round, as Johnson clicked through the lights with a strong, but much slower 4.867. Despite Arend’s big E.T. advantage, the win light was on in Johnson’s lane. The math told the story, 4.813 plus .153 equals 4.966, while Johnson’s two numbers combined to equal 4.932. Johnson beat Arend to the finish line by .034 of a second.

“I’m just sick about it because my guys gave me a winning car and I let them down,” said Arend. “I’m going to try to make it up to everyone at Richmond.”

Arend will get that chance when the POWERade tour reconvenes in Virginia in two weeks.

Follow Jeff Arend's progress throughout the racing season at the K&N news site. Find K&N products for your vehicle using the K&N application search then use the K&N dealer search to find a K&N dealer in your part of the world.

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