POMONA, Calif. - Notes from round 1 qualifying in Funny Car at the 36th annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals listing lane, driver name, elapsed time, top speed, and position in order following run:
Left Lane: David Benjamin Runs 5.406/239.82, Now #1
Right Lane: Peter Russo Runs 14.076/71.59, Now #2
4:03 PM Russo was up in smoke at the poke. Benjamin was over towards the guardrail by half track and the fire went out on the Mustang around 1000 feet. This promises to be a very large qualifying session as the sheet says that twenty nine cars have passed tech and could present for the first qualifying session.
Left Lane: Bob Hallock Runs 5.595/196.04, Now #2
Right Lane: Louis Sweet Runs 21.097/34.19, Now #4
Sweet was up in smoke right off the line. Hallock's mount was under powered and he shutoff before 900 feet.
Left Lane: John Lawson Runs 5.349/254.76, Now #1
Right Lane: Johnny Gray Runs 9.808/87.45, Now #4
Gray hasn't been around much this season but he's had something for the gang most every time he's tried to qualify. Lawson was on and off the pedal as you could see the header flames rise and fall. He stayed with it all the way to the finish but doesn't get much to show for it. Gray was side by side with Lawson but was doing it while shaking and skating all over the lane. He decided to try again tomorrow.
Left Lane: Phil Burkart Runs 10.048/82.37, Now #6
Right Lane: Cory Lee Runs 6.286/141.80, Now #4
A pair of smokers this time. Burkart was smoking the Goodyears before 300 feet. Lee had the same problem around half track.
Left Lane: Dale Creasy Jr. Runs 12.224/62.43, Now #7
Right Lane: Scott Weis Runs 13.581/74.86, Now #8
The Flops are having a problem with this session. Most every car has been up in smoke and those that wern't were way down on power. This pair was no exception. Weis made it to about 400 feet before the tires began to spin. Creasy appeared to have something else go wrong with the Mad Magazine Firebird as he clicked it at about 100 feet with no outside problems to be seen.
Left Lane: Cruz Pedregon Runs 6.345/145.74, Now #5
Right Lane: Cristen Powell Runs 18.362/43.50, Now #11
Cruz tried pedaling at least three times before hitting the mag switch. Powell smoked the tires at the hit and added insult to injury by oiling the track from the starting line to about 700 feet out.
By the way one name you won't see here this weekend it Tommy Johnson Jr as Helen
Hofmann has decided not to enter her vehicle.
Left Lane: Todd Paton Runs 8.755/93.14, Now #6
Right Lane: Tim Wilkerson Runs 10.470/83.51, Now #9
That was a fast clean up as only about five minutes have elapsed between the time the oil call was made and the call went out to 'fire the next pair'. Both cars in this pair smoke the hides before 200 feet.
Left Lane: Gary Densham Runs 9.713/92.81, Now #7
Right Lane: Al Hofmann Runs 14.445/81.87, Now #14
This will be the last event for long time funny car racer Gary Densham. He told me yesterday that he is looking for a new sponsor for 2001 but nothing is on the table at this point. Both cars strike the tires and the engines got silent.
Left Lane: Bob Gilbertson Runs 9.781/93.92, Now #9
Right Lane: Frank Pedregon Runs 5.446/191.32, Now #3
Frank Pedregon gets to about half track under power when the tires began to haze. He stayed on the power and their was a big cloud of smoke in his lane. It was hard to see if it was engine or tires as the sun has set and the windows are very darkly tinted. Must have been tires as after about 30 seconds the call goes out for the next pair. Gilbertson could not get a hold of the track in the other lane.
Left Lane: Dean Skuza Runs 4.921/307.86, Now #1
Right Lane: Bruce Sarver Runs 10.105/82.06, Now #13
Skuza does his usual first turnout burnout and this time it really pays off. Skuza's Matco Tools car left hard, and even after a slap at half track, he sets low ET and top speed for the Funny Cars, to this point. Sarver had the smoke problem.
Left Lane: Del Worsham Runs 9.884/83.41, Now #12
Right Lane: Whit Bazemore Runs 10.059/84.83, Now #14
Tire smoke ballet. Both cars smoke the tires after giving the pedal a slap at about 100 feet.
Left Lane: Scotty Cannon Runs 5.096/277.26, Now #2
Right Lane: Jim Epler Runs 5.953/160.42, Now #7
Cannon has the car set up soft and makes most of a complete pass. The fire appeared to go out just before the finish. Epler got the WWF car off the line but it began to spin the tires around half track.
Left Lane: Tony Pedregon Runs 5.200/240.55, Now #3
Right Lane: Ron Capps Runs 16.606/70.14, Now #24
Pedregon leaves hard but has to lift abut 400 feet out. He got back on the pedal and ran almost to the lights before there was a big flash of green fire under the car. The fire went out immediately but there was a cloud of smoke and the cleaning crew has to roll. Capps had to shut off just off the line.
Left Lane: Jerry Toliver Runs 9.596/82.67, Now #13
Right Lane: John Force Runs 4.908/291.63, Now #1
The final pair of Funny Cars comes out from under the bridge and we have Toliver and Force to finish off the session. Well the Grinch didn't steal Force's Christmas...yet. John debuts the new 'Grinch' body in honor of the new movie coming out this weekend. Force left hard and managed the tough middle part of the right lane. The flames went out just before the finish and when the smoke cleared Force's sleigh was on the pole. Toliver? Tire smoke.
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