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Sat, 9 Oct 1999, 08:12 PM

MEMPHIS - Funny Car Qualifying Notes, Session #1
By Larry Sullivan

First Session Actually Completed



MILLINGTON, Tenn. - Notes from round 1 qualifying in Funny Car at the 12th annual AutoZone Nationals presented by Pennzoil listing lane, driver name, elapsed time, top speed, and position in order following run:
Left Lane: Jim Blake Runs 5.819/234.57, Now #1
Right Lane: Ronny Young Runs 14.405/72.36, Now #2

6:24 PM It's been a long day already, and promises to be a lot longer - we'll be at this for at least one more complete round of Pro qualifying, maybe two. The flopper come last in the rotation this session, next time around the Top Fuel cars will lead off, followed by Funny Car, then Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle, that session probably starting somewhere around 8:30 PM.

Both cars lost traction almost immediately. Young abandoned the run. Blake pedaled and continued, the pressure relief panel in the hood coming loose and laying diagonally in the open hole in the hood for the rest of the run.

Left Lane: Cristen Powell Runs 5.026/280.95, Now #1
Right Lane: Scott Weis Runs 5.271/232.91, Now #2

Both cars were on good runs, but there was a flash of sparks from under Weis's car, possibly a clutch problem, around the 1,000-foot marker, and the header flames went out on Powell's car a bit before the finish line.

Left Lane: Bob Gilbertson Runs 6.161/175.84, Now #5
Right Lane: Dale Creasy Jr. Runs 5.596/282.60, Now #3

A bit of a contrast here, Creasy in the wildly painted "Mad Magazine" car and Gilbertson in the mostly-white "Trick Tank" entry. They left together, both lost traction at about the same time, both pedaled and continued, Creasy all the way to the finish line, Gilbertson just to half track.

Left Lane: Tommy Johnson Jr. Runs 4.972/305.29, Now #1
Right Lane: Gary Densham Runs 10.044/95.57, Now #7

This was a bit wild. Densham lost traction almost immediately and called it off - that wasn't the wild part. TJ made a nice run, solid and clean, and then in the shutdown area something broke in the clutch area, a huge shower of titanium sparks behind and under the car, looking like a fireworks shell went off under the car. He stopped and got out okay, but the crew will have some work to do to turn the car around for the second session.

Left Lane: Cruz Pedregon Runs 5.502/231.56, Now #5
Right Lane: Al Hofmann Runs 5.404/247.47, Now #4

Both cars launched, Hofmann's started to smoke the tires and he quickly pedaled and caught it, then both shut off a bit early.

Left Lane: Scotty Cannon Runs 5.107/243.94, Now #3
Right Lane: Tim Wilkerson Runs 8.377/107.26, Now #10

Cannon was on a very good run, but like so many this round the header flames went out well before the finish line. Wilkerson spun the tires and shut it off in the first 100 feet.

Left Lane: Jerry Toliver Runs 18.359/51.50, Now #14
Right Lane: Ron Capps Runs 5.140/247.52, Now #4

From the top end Cannon explains that he saw the header flames turn green and he clicked it off to prevent any damage or fire.

Toliver lost traction immediately, the car fishtailing violently. Capps started to shake the tires, pedaled and caught it, then shut it off at 1,000 feet per crew chief Dale Armstrong's instructions.

Left Lane: Cory Lee Runs 5.534/289.01, Now #9
Right Lane: Jim Epler Runs 5.001/302.55, Now #2

Lee did a good job of taming the tire smoke by pedaling it, twice. Nice pass by Epler, right down the groove with a big top speed.

Left Lane: Del Worsham Runs 5.117/292.84, Now #5
Right Lane: Dean Skuza Runs 9.529/87.51, Now #15

Decent, soft run for Worsham, the header flames fat and strong all the way down the track. Skuza launched, smoked the tires, and shut it down after 200 feet or so.

Left Lane: Frank Pedregon Runs 6.591/137.16, Now #15
Right Lane: Whit Bazemore Runs 5.269/298.80, Now #7

Pedregon was busy on this run, pedaling at least twice, the second time to get the car away from the centerline, then he shut it off. Bazemore was on a good run, but had to get completely out of the throttle early in the run, killing the ET.

Left Lane: Tony Pedregon Runs 5.246/248.57, Now #8
Right Lane: John Force Runs 5.019/303.37, Now #3

The 21st and 22nd cars of the round, Force and Tony left together, pedaled together, and continued. Tony shut it off a bit early, Force drove it out the back door.

That's it, TJ is on the pole and Bob Gilbertson on the bubble.




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