The rain was so bad on Saturday, teams and fans spent almost 20 consecutive hours at Houston Raceway Park without a single car making its way onto the track,” said CSK Team Manager Bob Wilber. “The thick clouds, heavy rains, massive thunder and lightning show kept us from seeing the sunrise, and the wet stuff kept the cars off the track. The dew point was so high it was impossible to keep anything dry.”
It was so wet the NHRA called it a day and the planned pair of afternoon qualifying runs was cancelled. The fields were set based on Friday’s qualifying as it stood and locked Arend into the 8th spot.
On Sunday the rain went away around 2 p.m. and the steam began to rise from the Houston pavement as the first pair of Top Fuel dragsters took the track. Arend sat at the end of the Funny Car line, where he would face No.9 qualifier Bob Gilbertson as the last pair in round one.
In the world of razor-thin losses, Arend left the line starting well, with a solid .084 reaction time. Bob Gilbertson had a great .060 on the board and the race was on. Both cars tore down the track in a rare show of side-by-side racing and it was too close to call, until the win light went on in Gilbertson’s lane. Arend clocked in with a 4.908 while Gilberston recorded a 4.907.
“I didn’t cut a bad light, by any means,” said Arend. “But he is very quick at the line, and he got on me by just a little. The K&N car ran well, we didn’t bobble or smoke the tires and a lot of people were having problems out there. To beat him, I would have needed something like an .058 light, which is something I can do but that’s a little quicker than what I’d call normal. I don’t go up there trying to slay the tree, because that takes you out of your routine and you can end up beating yourself up doing that.”
It was “that close” but it went the other way, said Wilber.
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