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Thu, 3 Nov 2005, 07:43 PM

Funny Car Qualifying Notes, Session #1
By Larry Sullivan

POMONA, Calif. - Notes from round 1 qualifying in Funny Car at the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, 41st annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals listing lane, driver name, elapsed time, top speed, and position in order following run:
Left Lane: Grant Downing Runs 9.465/84.27, Now #2
Right Lane: David Benjamin Runs 7.228/126.25, Now #1

6:44 p.m. Weather conditions: air temperature 70 degrees, relative humidity 39 percent, barometer 29.39 inches, adjusted altitude 1,525 feet, track temperature 92 degrees.

Both cars were up in smoke before going 100 feet. Benjamin coasted a bit, then got back in the throttle and promptly lost traction again, getting very close to the centerline.

Left Lane: Dale Pulde Runs 5.009/302.08, Now #1
Right Lane: Bob Bode Runs 5.590/175.75, Now #2

It looked like Bode lost a blower belt at half track. Pulde lost a lot of ground to Bode early in the run, the reason not obvious.

Left Lane: Dale Creasy Jr. Runs 5.381/220.62, Now #2
Right Lane: Terry Haddock No Time, Now #6

Both appeared to be on good runs, both ended up coasting across the finish line after problems around half track. Haddock's car started smoking the tires and made a hard move toward the centerline, crossing it briefly, and Creasy may have lifted when he saw him headed his way.

Left Lane: Jim Head Runs 4.822/323.89, Now #1

Head made a very nice solo pass to take over the top spot - for now, anyway.

Left Lane: Frank Pedregon Runs 4.816/278.23, Now #1
Right Lane: Gary Densham Runs 4.821/318.24, Now #2

Almost two clean runs, a puff of raw fuel from Pedregon's car coming well before the line, killing his speed - maybe a blower belt. Prior to that, he was running 0.05 seconds and about 5 mph ahead of Densham. After the run, however, the scrubber went to work on the first 100 feet of Pedregon's lane and the sweeper truck made a couple laps on the top end in Densham's lane.

Left Lane: Bob Gilbertson Runs 5.392/191.67, Now #6
Right Lane: Tony Bartone Runs 11.214/73.34, Now #11

Bartone was up in smoke early in the run. Gilbertson's run looked pretty good until around half track, then he, too, lost traction and coasted across the line.

Left Lane: Phil Burkart No Time, Now #14
Right Lane: Tim Wilkerson No Time, Now #12

Oh-for-two here, Burkart losing a 4.792/318.24 when his car took out the finish line reflectors and stopping the timing in Wilkerson's lane. Wilkerson was way back at the time, clocked at 4.553 seconds at half track after smoking the tires.

Left Lane: Cruz Pedregon Runs 4.760/324.12, Now #1
Right Lane: Tony Pedregon Runs 4.778/322.58, Now #2

Nice side-by-side show by the Pedregon brothers, then Cruz went long, into the infamous Pomona sand trap. There were some strange flames from Tony's car in the lights, but the safety crew checked the track and it was clean.

Left Lane: Whit Bazemore Runs 4.800/323.27, Now #4
Right Lane: Del Worsham Runs 4.782/328.54, Now #3

Bazemore's car made a move toward the wall about 300 feet out and bazemore did a good job of driving to finish the run with a respectable time.

Left Lane: Tommy Johnson Jr. Runs 4.795/321.81, Now #5
Right Lane: Eric Medlen Runs 4.773/324.51, Now #2

Nice runs, a pair.

Left Lane: Robert Hight Runs 4.745/323.66, Now #1
Right Lane: John Force Runs 9.959/67.68, Now #18

Force's team has gone to extremes to lighten his car, the strategy being to set a national ET record to make up the more-than-one-round deficit he has against Gary Scelzi and Ron Capps, going to such extremes as running an unpainted carbon-fibre body with a titanium "tree" instead of steel and even weighing the stack of decals before putting them on. They accomplished their goal, the car was ten pounds under the minimum weight when they weighed it this morning. Conditions were not perfect, but the 4.665 second ET record seemed in reach until Force lost traction about 200 feet out. Meanwhile, Hight went right to the top of the list, with no visible problems.

Left Lane: Ron Capps Runs 4.768/326.63, Now #3
Right Lane: Gary Scelzi Runs 4.778/320.66, Now #6

Both Schumacher cars made very nice, smooth runs, putting themselves well into the field, putting even more pressure on Force to take a shot at a national record in his pursuit of his 15th Funny Car championship.

Timing data courtesy of CompuLink

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