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Fri, 30 Sep 2005, 11:53 PM

Schumacher Leads the Way in Top Fuel Qualifying
Courtesy of NHRA Communications
Photo copyright 2005 Auto Imagery, Inc.

Cruz Pedregon Sets Pace in Funny Car, Greg Anderson Posts Best Run in Pro Stock


Tony Schumacher
POWERade Series points leader Tony Schumacher capped off a blistering day of racing with a 4.437-second pass to secure the provisional No. 1 qualifying position in Top Fuel at the Fifth annual Ameriquest Mortgage NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway.

The other top qualifiers at the $1.5 million race, the 20th of 23 events in the $50 million POWERade Series, were Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car) and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock).

Schumacher's pass in his U.S. Army dragster was the third quickest in NHRA Top Fuel history -- the two quickest passes (4.420 and 4.428) also came at Route 66 Raceway and both were run by Doug Kalitta.

If Schumacher backs up the 4.437 with a 4.481 or quicker at any point this weekend, the time will stand as the national record. Schumacher owns the current national record (which requires a second run within 1 percent of the time of the first run) of 4.441 seconds set in Reading, Pa. Oct. 5, 2003.

"There's no reason not to go for it," Schumacher said. "I'd like to think we have six more chances to get it done. Unless it's 90 degrees for the rest of the weekend I think we can do it."

Schumacher leads Larry Dixon by 100 points entering the weekend and Doug Kalitta by 105 points, so with the POWERade Series points race still hanging in the balance, Schumacher isn't shy about looking for the 20-point point bonus that accompanies any national record.

"Twenty points would be huge right now," said Schumacher, who has nine No. 1 qualifiers (including five in a row) this season and could extend his points lead with his 10th this weekend. "Even qualifying No. 1 over the last few races has made a difference. If you can get even one point more than the guy right behind you in the points, it could be the difference at the end of the year. I think it's going to be that close."

Cruz Pedregon
In Funny Car, Pedregon's 4.680-second pass in his Advance Auto Parts Chevy Monte Carlo was the second-quickest Funny Car run in NHRA history and it led the quickest Funny Car field (based on elapsed time of the No. 16 qualifier) in NHRA history. The 4.842-run by Gary Densham in his Racebricks Chevy Monte Carlo was the 16th best Friday and it surpassed the previous best of 4.852 at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals just two events ago.

With a 4.804-second run in the first round of qualifying, Cruz said he and his crew -- knowing they were comfortably in the field -- decided to roll the dice and they proceeded to match the 4.680 run by his brother Tony just a couple rounds earlier.

"I told my wife, 'You'll either see the scoreboard light up or you're going to see a lot of smoke,'" said Cruz Pedregon, who earned the provisional No. 1 qualifying position based on a match of top speeds (330.80 for Cruz vs. 320.36 for Tony). "The (car) pinned me in the seat like I've never been pinned before. I was plastered to the seat."

The matching 4.680's for the brothers Pedregon were the second quickest Funny Car runs in NHRA history, behind only the 4.665-second run by John Force here at Route 66 Raceway in Oct. 2004.

"I'm as excited as if I had won a race," Cruz said. "Our strategy is to get after it and shoot for the stars."

Greg Anderson
In Pro Stock, Anderson's 6.646-second pass in his Summit Racing Pontiac GTO was the second-quickest Pro Stock run in NHRA history and it led the quickest Pro Stock field in NHRA history. The 16th-best time of Dave Howard (6.707) was better than the previous best of 6.709 set at the 2005 Mac Tools U.S. Nationals.

"You look at the weather forecast before you get here and you see how it's supposed to be and you're absolutely drooling," said Anderson, who has a 176-point lead over Kurt Johnson in the POWERade Series standings. "We don't have blowers. We can't manufacture our own air. We have to wait for conditions to be just right before we can even think about these kinds of numbers. Today everything worked out."

Anderson's time was also the quickest ever at Route 66 Raceway and his teammate, Jason Line, turned in a top speed of 208.17 to set the track record for speed.

"We feel very confident right now. We're not over confident, just happy with where the car is at the moment," said Anderson, who has won at every track on the circuit except for Route 66 Raceway. "Chicago is definitely on our to-do list because it's the only track left on the current schedule where we haven't won. At least this shows us that we're off to a good start."

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