DENVER - With the Western Swing under way, Top Fuel driver Spencer Massey has a few goals he wants to accomplish. One of the top goals is to get the Fram dragster locked into the Countdown to the Championship, and that could happen in the first round of Sunday's eliminations at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway.
All Massey has to do is go one round further than either Bob Vandergriff or Clay Millican, and that Countdown spot is his.
"That would be a huge plus to go ahead and get clinched," Massey said. "Right now our main deal is to go rounds. If we get a win, that's great. We just want to beat whoever is in the lane next to us, no matter who it is."
Massey joins Funny Car's Jack Beckman, Pro Stock's Allen Johnson and Pro Stock Motorcycle's Hector Arana Jr. as the No. 1 qualifiers Saturday at Bandimere Speedway.
Massey's best pass came Friday night when he broke off a 3.914-second lap at 318.02 during the weekend's optimal conditions. The guy "in the other lane" in the first round on Sunday will be Steve Chrisman, who had a best lap of 6.006 seconds at 115.33 mph.
"The car showed this weekend that it could handle the heat very well," Massey said. "The last run we made today, we pushed just to see how far we could take it. The car smoked the tires. Now we know we can back it down and hopefully keep going rounds."
Massey will be seeking his fourth victory of the season and second in a row.
Similarly streaking is the Valvoline NexGen Dodger Charger driven by Beckman, who secured his first No. 1 of the season with a best lap of 4.131 seconds at 304.05 mph.
"You can win from anywhere in Funny Car, but if you had a choice you want to start in that top three," Beckman said. "You are typically going to get a more favorable first-round matchup and you get to pick where you get to run in the order.
"That we got down the track three times in the heat is a great sign for us tomorrow."
Beckman faces No. 16 qualifier Todd Simpson, who had a best lap of 4.951 seconds at 229.27 mph in his Simpson Racing Chevy Camaro.
Johnson is looking to put the Mopar Dodge into the finals of the Mile-High Nationals for a sixth straight time and seventh time overall.
"It just shows the strength of this Mopar Dodge team, Mopar parts, everything to go along with this Mopar outfit," Johnson said. "In the heat of the day, the worst air of the whole weekend, and we made our best run. Hat's off to the engine guys, my dad, everybody on the car. We've just got a bad hot rod right now."
Johnson's best run of 6.951 seconds at 198.29 mph tied the track record that Johnson already held. He faces Paul Pittman and the Aerofab Pontiac GXP in the first round. Pittman's best run was in 13.844 at 64.71 mph.
Arana's Lucas Oil Buell was running on a string all weekend long. His best pass of the weekend was in 7.238 seconds at 184.57 mph and his worst effort (7.25 seconds) was better than 14 of the remaining 15 bikes in the field.
"This weekend, the most important thing is to be consistent," Arana Jr. said. "All runs were .23 to .25 in the heat to the cool weather. It's really awesome, and I'm really excited.
"We haven't really made big adjustments, just teeny-tiny little adjustments. As you can see, we've been very consistent. The goal is to do that tomorrow."
Arana faces Angie Smith in the first round on Sunday. Her Matt Smith Racing Buell had a best pass of 7.434 seconds at 178.38 mph.
Eliminations in Denver get under way at 11 a.m. MDT.