The second to the last race of the 2012 NHRA season would bring us back to Sin City for a weekend of high speed action and drama at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. With only two races to go in the season we would have a much clearer view of the championship picture following this race. Lets get to the pics.

Below, I’m not really sure what Jeff Arend is signaling to me as he sits in the cockpit of his DHL Camry funny car but I am pretty sure he is over exaggerating!

Nikon D800, 70-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/800th, Aperture Priority

The car of funny car driver John Force is silhouetted by the backlit angle I shot from as he does a burnout in the opening qualifying session on Friday.

Nikon D4, 400mm, 400iso, f13, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority

Pro stock motorcycle rider Kieth Burley comes to a stop on the return road following his second round qualifying pass.

Nikon D800, 600mm with 1.4 converter (850mm), 1000iso, f5.6, 1/3200th, Aperture Priority

As is typically the case with the fall Vegas race, a host of delays would have us at the track at sunset. The one good thing about that is it made for a nice orange sky for the below shot of funny car drivers Johnny Gray and Jim Head doing their burnouts.

Nikon D4, 70-200mm, 2000iso, f2.8, 1/400th, Manual

On to Saturday

Below, pro mod driver Leah Pruett does a great burnout in her turbo charged Mustang during qualifying.

Nikon D800, 24-70mm, 25iso, f9, 1/250th, Manual

With a nice background of mountains, top fuel driver Morgan Lucas climbs from his car following an aborted run.

Nikon D800, 600mm, 500iso, f6.3, 1/6400th, Aperture Priority

The funny car of Jack Beckman sits behind its tow vehicle in line in the staging lanes during another day of delays.

Nikon D4, 70-200mm, 200iso, f9, 1/2500th, Aperture Priority

Coming into the race top fuel driver Spencer Massey sat second in points in close striking distance of points leader Antron Brown.

During final qualifying on saturday Massey would blow an engine with a large cloud of smoke that covered the top end like a fog.

Nikon D800, 600mm, 640iso, f4.5, 1/2000th, Manual

Think I’m being dramatic?

Here is Tony Schumacher, who was in other lane and shut off early, driving through the smoke cloud. (Note to my photog friends, check out the drastically different exposure settings I had to change between the shot of Spencer smoking then the below shot of Schumacher driving through. Thats like a 10 stop difference in exposure!)

Nikon D800, 600mm, 125iso, f4.5, 1/6400th, Aperture Priority

Todd Lesenko, a driver very familiar with fire this year, would experience the hot seat again in Q4 qualifying when he would light up his Tap It Brewery car. The fire would quickly go out and Lesenko would be fine.

Nikon D800, 600mm, 800iso, f5.6, 1/2000th, Manual

Mike Neff begins to smoke the tires as he races alongside Johnny Gray in funny car qualifying at The Strip.

Nikon D800, 600mm, 4000iso, f4, 1/800th, Manual

Like Friday, Saturday delays would suck in that it kept me at track a few hours longer than expected. At least there would be a cool sunset.

Cruz Pedregon slows in the shutdown area with a parachute as the sun sets over NHRA qualifying.

Nikon D4, 70-200mm, 2500iso, f5, 1/250th, Aperture Priority

After the pro qualifying session I decided to stick around at the top end for round one of pro mod eliminations.

After a couple cars raced downtrack my 600mm lens I was shooting with decided it was a great time for the focusing motor to blow. With no time to run to car to get a backup long lens I was stuck trying to kick it old school with a little manual focus action.

As pro mod driver Rickie Smith raced down track he would have an explosion at the finish line. In the first shot you can see the explosion just as it starts in the hood scoop. That shot is perfectly in focus, sadly the next two shots are way out of focus.

I haven’t had to manual focus for well over 10 years so you might say I was a bit rusty! #Photogfail

Nikon D4, 600mm, 10000iso, f4, 1/800th, Manual

Lets move on to race day and wrap this blog up.

Below, a detailed view of flames coming from the engine of top fuel dragster driver Cory McClenathan after his round one loss.

Nikon D800, 400mm with 1.4 converter (550mm), 250iso, f7.1, 1/2000th, Manual

Speaking of round one losses, we would have a huge upset amongst the championship points leaders when Antron Brown (who was on the verge of nearly clinching the race in Vegas) would smoke the tires and lose to a fiery run by Khalid Albalooshi.

Nikon D800, 400mm with 1.4 converter (550mm), 250iso, f7.1, 1/2500th, Manual

Courtney Force seemingly locked up the rookie of the year title several races ago but she would continue her great rookie season by making it all the way to the semi finals.

Nikon D4, 400mm, 400iso, f6.3, 1/3200th, Aperture Priority

Ok Vegas done. Only one more NHRA race to go for 2012!

Check out my Facebook page devoted my photography where I routinely share my favorite photos from each shoot as well as favorite photos from the past. Click the below banner to check it out. Be sure to “like” the page so you can be kept up to date on all the events I am doing!

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Check out my Facebook page devoted my photography where I routinely share my favorite photos from each shoot as well as favorite photos from the past. Click the below banner to check it out. Be sure to "like" the page so you can be kept up to date on all the events I am doing!