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Sun, 10 Oct 1999, 11:52 AM

MEMPHIS - Funny Car Qualifying Notes, Final Session
By Larry Sullivan

The Track is a Tough Opponent



MILLINGTON, Tenn. - Notes from final, round 2 qualifying in Funny Car at the 12th annual AutoZone Nationals presented by Pennzoil listing lane, driver name, elapsed time/top speed this round, position in order following run, best prior elapsed time/speed, and position in order prior to run:
Left Lane: Ronny Young Runs 7.463/109.77, Now #18; Best prior run: 14.405/72.36, Was #21
Right Lane: Jerry Toliver No Time, Now #22; Best prior run: 18.359/51.50, Was #22

9:54 AM Here we go with the second qualifying session for the floppers. Both these cars blew the tires away instantly on their first effort yesterday. Today Toliver repeats the instant traction loss while Young manages to get the car down the track by pedaling through an early traction loss only to fall prey to mechanical problems at half track when the tires start to spin again, hydraulicing the engine. Toliver coasted down the track so slowly that he didn't get a time.

The bump time, by the way, is Bob Gilbertson's 6.161.

Left Lane: Gary Densham Runs 5.461/191.35, Now #12; Best prior run: 10.044/95.57, Was #21
Right Lane: Frank Pedregon No Time, Now #18; Best prior run: 6.591/137.16, Was #17

Two more of yesterday's less-fortunate drivers. Their misfortune continues here, Pedregon's car heading straight for the 660-foot marker, crossing into Densham's lane and sideswiping Densham's Firebird. Fortunately the two cars met door-to-door and the impact moved Densham sideways but didn't spin him out. He lifted (naturally) but got to the finish line quickly enough to bump Gilbertson. Pedregon's run doesn't count, so he's done for the weekend. That puts Jim Blake on the bubble at 5.819.

Left Lane: Dean Skuza Runs 5.003/280.25, Now #3; Best prior run: 9.529/87.51, Was #21
Right Lane: Bob Gilbertson Runs 5.478/217.28, Now #14; Best prior run: 6.161/175.84, Was #17

Gilbertson gets back in on a good run, but Skuza gets in on a great run, pedaling once about 100 feet off the starting line. That's a double-bump, putting both Blake and Dale Creasy Jr. out and Cory Lee on the bubble at 5.534.

Left Lane: Tim Wilkerson Runs 11.240/84.61, Now #21; Best prior run: 8.377/107.26, Was #21
Right Lane: Jim Blake Runs 10.201/94.93, Now #18; Best prior run: 5.819/234.57, Was #18

Just-bumped Blake and never-in Wilkerson both took wild rides here, both cars chattering the tires and veering right on the launch. Wilkerson pedaled and then abandoned the run. Blake tried to drive out of it and got into a major "tank-slapper," the car swerving left, then back to the right, getting up on the left-side tires before he finally shut it down.

Left Lane: Dale Creasy Jr. Runs 10.120/83.90, Now #17; Best prior run: 5.596/282.60, Was #17
Right Lane: Cory Lee Runs 10.696/91.55, Now #16; Best prior run: 5.534/289.01, Was #16

Creasy needed to better Lee's 5.534 to get back in - instead both smoked the tires hard and coasted through.

Left Lane: Al Hofmann Runs 11.242/75.30, Now #12; Best prior run: 5.404/247.47, Was #12
Right Lane: Cruz Pedregon Runs 13.152/66.44, Now #15; Best prior run: 5.502/231.56, Was #15

Two more cars, same story. Both left chatter marks on the launch pad, looking like bulldozer tracks.

Left Lane: Scott Weis Runs 11.115/78.03, Now #11; Best prior run: 5.271/232.91, Was #11
Right Lane: Tony Pedregon Runs 4.939/308.43, Now #1; Best prior run: 5.246/248.57, Was #9

Just when you think the track is junk, somebody proves you wrong - Tony made an impressive run here, the car firmly planted and right down the groove to take over the pole position. Weis was up in smoke immediately.

Left Lane: Whit Bazemore Runs 5.688/179.88, Now #10; Best prior run: 5.269/298.80, Was #10
Right Lane: Del Worsham Runs 15.061/68.63, Now #8; Best prior run: 5.117/292.84, Was #8

Worsham lost traction early in the run and called it quits. Bazemore launched, did a quick pedal job about 100 feet out, and appeared to be on a good run until the blower belt came off at half track.

Left Lane: Ron Capps Runs 11.376/75.02, Now #9; Best prior run: 5.140/247.52, Was #9
Right Lane: Scotty Cannon Runs 5.012/302.35, Now #5; Best prior run: 5.107/243.94, Was #7

Capps wanted me to include "Hi Shelley" in the notes for this run, so I did.

Two nice burnouts from these two, the tire smoke rolling in like another fog bank (we don't need any more of that!). Capps chattered the tires hard and shut it down early. Cannon made a nice run, right down the groove, the best run that car has made since getting badly singed at Topeka last weekend.

Left Lane: John Force Runs 5.033/293.98, Now #6; Best prior run: 5.019/303.37, Was #6
Right Lane: Cristen Powell Runs 5.028/292.71, Now #7; Best prior run: 5.026/280.95, Was #7

This was a good side-by-side race, both cars starting to chatter the tires and both drivers doing a good job of pedaling their way out of it to make solid runs.

Left Lane: Jim Epler Runs 5.007/293.15, Now #3; Best prior run: 5.001/302.55, Was #3
Right Lane: Tommy Johnson Jr. Runs 10.239/90.30, Now #2; Best prior run: 4.972/305.29, Was #2

Last pair. TJ chatters the tires and calls it off. Epler goes right down Broadway on another nice pass - he looks like he'll be tough when we start eliminations this afternoon.




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