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Sun, 07 Oct 2012, 14:23 PM

Funny Car Round 1 Eliminations
By Jim Samuel

MOHNTON, Pa. - Results of round 1 eliminations in Funny Car at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series, 28th annual Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals:

  771 Alexis DeJoria                        388 Jim Head                     
E1                   0.096  7.780 149.71     ****WINNER****  0.125  7.171 205.26
 Qualified:             #6  4.032 319.07                       #11  4.063 305.77
1:35 p.m. - Weather conditions: air temperature 57 degrees, relative humidity 62 percent, barometer 29.49 inches, adjusted altitude 851 feet, track temperature 68 degrees.

DeJoria and Head had never raced before this round. Head was runner up here in 2003 in Top Fuel. His best finish here in a Funny Car was a semi-final loss to Matt Hagan in 2010. This is DeJoria's first time here at Maple Grove in Funny Car competition. Her best finish to date was a final round loss to Ron Capps at Bristol this year.

This one was ugly. Both cars launched and both shook the tires hard and stopped. Head got back on the throttle first, DeJoria did the same just a bit later. They both struck the tires again, both pedaled again. Repeat. Repeat. Head moved hard toward the center line, DeJoria moved toward the center line too. Finally, Head got his car straightened out and pedaled his way to the win.

  746 Courtney Force                          1 Matt Hagan                   
E1                   0.086 14.636  30.03     ****WINNER****  0.048  4.057 311.20
 Qualified:             #5  4.028 317.19                       #12  4.074 311.92
Force and Hagan have raced each other three times before this, with Force winning two of those races. Her first national event win came against Hagan at Seattle this year. Hagan was runner up here in 2010, losing to Cruz Pedregon.

Force launched and the rear tires on her car immediately went up in smoke. Hagan's car was set up right for this track as he went straight down his lane to take the win, losing the engine as he crossed the finish line.

   72 Tony Pedregon                           5 Mike Neff                    
E1                   0.077  4.781 194.10     ****WINNER****  0.107  4.032 316.82
 Qualified:            #14  4.116 306.05                        #3  4.017 318.84
Neff had 13 wins and eight losses against Pedregon coming into this race. He has three national event wins this season, including Indianapolis. He was runner up here to Tasca in 2009. Pedregon won here in 2002, 2005 and 2007, and was runner up in 1996.

Pedregon's car started losing cylinders right away. He Shook the rear tire, pedaled it and clicked it off at 660 feet. Neff had a clean run to take the win and earn lane choice over Head in round two.

   22 Todd Lesenko                            3 Cruz Pedregon                
E1   ****WINNER****  0.104  4.299 284.75                     0.107  4.733 197.22
 Qualified:            #15  4.125 299.00                        #2  3.997 313.80
The only time that Pedregon and Lesenko have raced each other before this was in the first round at Topeka earlier this year, with Pedregon winning that race. Pedregon won here in 1992 and 2010.

Pedregon drove through a lot of tire shake, with his car bouncing all over as he was on and off the throttle. Lesenko's car lost a cylinder as soon as he launched, but went straight down the lane for the win.

  223 Mike Smith                              2 Jack Beckman                 
E1                   0.101  4.896 174.64     ****WINNER****  0.115  3.986 318.54
 Qualified:            #16  4.203 276.58                        #1  3.989 320.58
Beckman and Smith have never raced each other before this race. Beckman won here in 2008 and has three national event wins this season.

Beckman had the quickest ET of the weekend to set a new national ET record. This was already backed up by his qualifying time. Smith shook the tires and lost cylinders coming off the starting line and was never really in this race.

    7 Bob Tasca III                          31 Johnny Gray                  
E1                   0.080  4.249 247.75     ****WINNER****  0.078  4.138 285.83
 Qualified:            #13  4.091 304.12                        #4  4.028 318.99
Gray has a 5-1 record against Tasca in prior competition. Gray has been to the final round here Pro Stock in 2009 and in Funny Car in 2011. He lost both times. Tasca won here in Funny Car in 2009.

Both cars started off good, then started losing cylinders at 330 feet. Both cars had some fire, with Tasca's fire being more dramatic. Gray got the win, but gave up lane choice to Hagan next time out.

    4 Robert Hight                            9 John Force                   
E1                   0.098  5.222 162.68     ****WINNER****  0.091  4.081 310.41
 Qualified:            #10  4.061 321.81                        #7  4.038 315.19
Hight and Force had raced each other 25 times before this race, with Hight winning 14 of those meetings. This is the first time they have raced each other this season. Force has won this race six times, with his most recent win coming in 2001. Hight won here last year and was was runner up in 2006.

Force came off the starting line just a bit quicker than Hight. Hight's car had some tire shake off the starting line. Hight got off the throttle, got back on, got back off, then back on, then clicked it off. Force took his Mustang down the lane to take the win and earn lane choice over Lesenko in the next round.

    8 Jeff Arend                             28 Ron Capps                    
E1                   0.087  4.480 233.24     ****WINNER****  0.081  4.249 310.48
 Qualified:             #9  4.057 318.09                        #8  4.055 317.64
Capps has 10 wins and five losses in prior competition against Arend. They most recently met in the first round in Atlanta in May, with Capps winning that round. Capps was runner up here in 1999 and 2000. Arend won here in 1996.

Capps launched and struck the tires off the starting line. He backed off the throttle, pedaled it and got out of the groove, trailing Arend at 660 feet. But then Arend's car starting losing parts, letting Capps get by for the win. Capps will race Beckman in round two and Beckman will have lane choice.

Timing data courtesy of CompuLink

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