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Sat, 10 Feb 2007, 08:10 PM

Funny Car Qualifying Notes, Final Session
By Darryl Jackman

POMONA, Calif. - Notes from final, round 4 qualifying in Funny Car at the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, 47th annual CARQUEST Auto Parts Winternationals 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: Grant Downing Runs 5.189/229.20, Now #21; Best prior run: 4.900/315.78, Was #21

4:02 p.m. We open the final session of Funny Car with Hight on the top of the field and Force (John) on the bump. Downing takes the first shot at the champ and falls short. To top it all off Downing has left some 'stuff' on the racing surface and the participants will need to wait for the clean up.

Left Lane: Mike Ashley Runs 4.778/331.61, Now #9; Best prior run: 4.869/318.09, Was #18
Right Lane: Kenny Bernstein Runs 4.847/321.81, Now #17; Best prior run: 10.248/80.09, Was #23

These two are sitting and watching the Safari clean the lane behind Downing. The sun is actually beating down on the track at the moment. Weather conditions: air temperature 76 degrees, relative humidity 27 percent, barometer 29.02 inches, adjusted altitude 2,287 feet, track temperature 87 degrees.

4:08 p.m. We're back in business and the burnouts are complete. Oh this is tough for Bernstein. He gets in the show and gets bumped by Ashley on the same run. This is also making it tough on Force as he is now the #18 qualifier. One shot left to extend his 392 race qualifying streak.

Left Lane: Jeff Arend Runs 4.759/299.86, Now #8; Best prior run: 4.849/323.97, Was #19
Right Lane: Bob Bode Runs 11.579/76.32, Now #23; Best prior run: 5.073/288.03, Was #23

Bode fired and fell silent. Arend on the other hand makes it look easy. As easy as any Funny Car run that ends at 298 mph. He bumps Cruz Pedregon and puts Ashley Force on the bump spot.

Left Lane: John Force Runs 4.709/326.40, Now #2; Best prior run: 4.848/306.46, Was #19
Right Lane: Tony Bartone Runs 4.816/304.25, Now #18; Best prior run: 4.884/302.75, Was #21

Force is facing a real problem here. If he qualifies he will bump his daughter out of her very first event. If he fails the will end his 392 race qualifying streak. Well that part of the drama is certainly over. John has his 393 race qualifying streak and Ashley has one shot left to make the show. I'm certain she's hoping that she's got daddies tune up! That puts family friend Gary Densham on the bump.

Left Lane: Ashley Force Runs 4.790/312.42, Now #13; Best prior run: 4.810/281.19, Was #17
Right Lane: Terry Haddock Runs 5.709/175.02, Now #21; Best prior run: 4.879/311.56, Was #21

Coil says the whole deal with John was he got some 'Magic' tooth picks from Alan Reinhart. On top of all of this we are one car away from the quickest field in Funny Car history. We just might be watching history here. Force is back in the show and it's so tight that her 4.790 puts her in the #13 spot. Haddock came ever so close to crossing the center line at about half track. He appeared to save it, but it was very close.

Left Lane: Del Worsham Runs 4.797/326.56, Now #16; Best prior run: 4.800/327.03, Was #16
Right Lane: Cruz Pedregon Runs 4.784/317.27, Now #12; Best prior run: 4.843/302.01, Was #19

Frey makes it official that this is the quickest Funny Car field in history. Both of these drivers are in and Cruz goes all the way to #12.

Left Lane: Jim Head Runs 4.804/325.45, Now #15; Best prior run: 4.795/316.01, Was #15
Right Lane: Gary Densham No Time, Now #18; Best prior run: 4.802/317.05, Was #18

Head is still in but Ashley Force bumped Densham. OH MY! Densham's 4.776 with be DQd as his Monte Carlo just drifted closer and closer to the center stripe. The worst happed as the car smacked the final marker dead center.

Left Lane: Jack Beckman Runs 4.734/324.28, Now #6; Best prior run: 4.774/325.53, Was #10
Right Lane: Tim Wilkerson Runs 4.723/326.95, Now #3; Best prior run: 4.797/322.65, Was #17

Wilkerson has just been bumped and here he is to get back in. He has the identical ET as Worsham. Big moves by both drivers in this pair. Beckman goes to the top half and will pick his lane now. Wilkerson was even quicker as he goes from #17 to #3.

Left Lane: Tony Pedregon Runs 4.842/309.20, Now #10; Best prior run: 4.749/317.42, Was #10
Right Lane: Bob Gilbertson Runs 4.824/301.54, Now #14; Best prior run: 4.788/312.86, Was #14

This certainly wasn't very pretty. Both cars we unhappy by the time they got to the stripe and both disappeared behind a wall of smoke at the stripe. We were down for several minutes while the Safety Safari did a clean up at the far end. Lots of smoke and no improvement.

Left Lane: Scott Kalitta Runs 10.194/83.91, Now #7; Best prior run: 4.741/317.05, Was #7
Right Lane: Tommy Johnson Jr. Runs 9.352/92.70, Now #9; Best prior run: 4.748/324.98, Was #9

Now I'll admit that I didn't expect that. Both cars rattled the tires and fell silent before half track.

Left Lane: Ron Capps Runs 4.709/331.45, Now #2; Best prior run: 4.727/330.55, Was #5
Right Lane: Eric Medlen Runs 4.958/232.87, Now #8; Best prior run: 4.744/325.22, Was #8

What a run by Capps. He ties J. Force's ET and takes #2 on mph. That breaks up the Force vs Force match that was set for Sunday morning. Medlen slows before the finish and remains #8.

Left Lane: Gary Scelzi Runs 4.692/333.49, Now #1; Best prior run: 4.726/328.54, Was #5
Right Lane: Robert Hight Runs 13.744/75.18, Now #2; Best prior run: 4.693/326.79, Was #1

Holy smoke, Gary Scelzi runs the third fastest speed in the history of the Funny Car class. He also cuts Hight's ET by .001 and shoves him down to #2. That sets up the Sunday round 1 match between he and teammate, A. Force. Hight struck the tires early in the run and could only watch Scelzi set up that situation. What a session this has been. Certainly one of the most exciting and interesting sessions I've watched in the 42 years I've been watching Nitro Cars.

Timing data courtesy of CompuLink

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