While it may seem as a common feat to some, there are many drivers who never get to experience the major accomplishment of landing the number one qualifying position at an NHRA National event in the ultra-competitive Pro Stock class. Until the NHRA rolled into Royal Purple Raceway in Baytown, Texas for the Spring Nationals, Jacksonville, North Carolina's Ronnie Humphrey was still looking to scratch that off his "to-do" list.
Summit Racing/Hot Rod Hardware Pro Stock Pontiac GXP
Ronnie Humphrey wins NHRA Spring Nationals at Royal Purple Raceway
"It was a dream that was unexpected," admitted Humphrey of his career first pole. "My goal is just to be good on Sunday in any position, but to be able to get the number one was a great accomplishment."
Humphrey is part of the KB Racing Pro Stock team and with his qualifying triumph in Houston can now understand the excitement that his Summit Racing/Hot Rod Hardware teammates, Greg Anderson and Jason Line have experienced so many times before.
It's not the norm for the very first qualifying session to have the best air conditions of the weekend, as was the case at Houston. Humphrey sailed to the number one spot posting a 6.571 at 211.16 MPH with Rodger Brogdon on his tail and an identical 6.571 only losing out on the number one with his ever-so-slightly slower 210.93 MPH.
Ronnie Humphrey at Royal Purple Raceway in Baytown, Texas
Although Humphrey himself may not have a lot of Pro Stock laps down the track at Houston, there is no lack of information that is shared between the three KB Racing teams. "We were right there neck and neck," said Humphrey of he and Brogdon during session one. "Our team just made the right pass at the right time."
The weather and track conditions, while still decent, for the remainder of the three sessions Friday and into Saturday were never quite as good to the teams as session one. Humphrey was unable to improve on his first pass of the event, but he did manage to post the second best ET's of the class during sessions two and four and hung on for the very first NHRA Pro Stock number one qualifier right along with the K&N Horsepower Challenge $3,000 Low Qualifier Bonus.
"It was just all so exciting," he said. "We have great equipment, great crew chiefs and we just have a good driver that's gotta get better. Hopefully we can repeat this, but as we all know NHRA Pro Stock is extremely competitive."
With only a handful of events remaining to qualify for the 2011 K&N Horsepower Challenge, to be held at Norwalk in June, Humphrey currently sits on the outside with little chance of getting in, other than the fan pick. But for Humphrey, he is already setting the stage to be ready to go for the 2012 Challenge and a shot at the $50,000 payday.
"I just went into this event with a different mind approach," he admitted. "The first two races of the season we were being challenged by the car, the last two races we were running pretty well. But I had been putting a lot of peer pressure on myself to try to make those perfect runs. All I did was stop thinking and just make it happen."
"Actually, I made six good runs," he continued. "When I say good runs, you know where the shift points need to be and that type of thing. I just need to go to the next step, as far as the driver side of it and quit thinking about the starting line and just go make it happen."
The teams have the weekend off for Mother's Day and will return in full force when the NHRA Full Throttle Series rolls into Commerce, Georgia for the Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway May 13-15.
Teams are looking to secure their spot in the 2011 K&N Horsepower Challenge. Current standings shown an extremely close competition throughout the pack and it starts right at the top with Jason Line and Allen Johnson who are tied with 2,380 points, K&N's Mike Edwards trails the pair by a 80 points and Greg Anderson, Ron Krisher, Rodger Brogdon and V. Gaines wrap up the top seven.
While the field may very well still have some bumps and moves over the next several events before it is set, fans can still vote for their favorite NHRA Pro Stock Driver that will fill the eighth and final spot. Also as part of the popular K&N Horsepower Challenge Sweepstake, eight finalists will win a trip to this year's Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, where they will be randomly paired with one of the drivers in this year's 2011 K&N Horsepower Challenge . The lucky finalist whose Pro Stock driver wins the Challenge will be awarded an '11 Explorer courtesy of K&N Engineering and Ford.
To enter and/or vote, visit the K&N Horsepower Challenge People's Choice Entry Form.
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.