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Sun, 09 Feb 2014, 15:35 PM

Funny Car Round 1 Eliminations
By David Gerard

POMONA, Calif. - Results of round 1 eliminations in Funny Car at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, 54th annual Circle K NHRA Winternationals:

    5 Robert Hight                           10 Tim Wilkerson                
E1   ****WINNER****  0.090  3.986 318.69                     0.082  6.520 111.15
 Qualified:             #2  3.996 317.94                       #15  4.150 316.23
11:52 a.m. Weather conditions: air temperature 60 degrees, relative humidity 65 percent, barometer 29.07 inches, adjusted altitude 1,560 feet, track temperature 66 degrees.

Robert Hight has won this race three times and only John Force (6) and Don Prudhomme (4) have more in the Funny Car class...Tim Wilkerson has winning record (14-13) against Robert and they are 4-4 in opening round matches.

These two have each won four races against each other in round one. Wilkerson is 14 - 13 against Hight in prior events.

Another career best ET for Hight, as he runs straight and true right to the finish line unopposed. Nice.

Wilkerson had a good leave and sixty foot time, but kicked the tires right after that.

Robert Hight's incremental times: 60ft-0.890 sec., 330ft-2.289, 660ft-3.224/275.67 mph.

  170 Jeff Arend                             28 Ron Capps                    
E1                   0.076  4.092 309.06     ****WINNER****  0.081  4.035 317.79
 Qualified:            #12  4.097 308.00                        #5  4.014 304.67
Capps has a 10 -3 win ratio over Arend in the first round and is 13 - 5 against Arend in prior events. Arend is running the Moon Eyes tribute car.

Arend gets a small starting line advantage, but Capps is out in front by 60 feet. He slowly pulls steadily ahead for the win. Big MPH too.

Arend runs a little better than he qualified.

Ron Capps' incremental margins (negative if behind): 60ft(0.008), 330 ft(0.026), 660ft(0.036). MOV: 0.0529 seconds (approximately 24 feet).

Jeff Arend's incremental times: 60ft-0.903 sec., 330ft-2.331, 660ft-3.304/265.22 mph.
Ron Capps' incremental times: 60ft-0.890 sec., 330ft-2.300, 660ft-3.263/268.44 mph.

   77 Bob Tasca III                           4 Cruz Pedregon                
E1   ****WINNER****  0.076  4.076 316.30                     0.019  4.832 156.12
 Qualified:            #13  4.132 311.20                        #4  4.001 311.49
This is Cruz Pedregon's 23rd Winternationals. He won the race in 1995.

Pedregon has owned Tasca in the first round with an eight to one win advantage. Pedregon is 16 - 6 against Tasca III in prior events.

Pedregon is off the line first and pulls steadily ahead to hear the 660 ft light. He pumps the pedal and then has the engine goes BANG, big time. Lots of damage to the top of the engine, windshield, etc. The body is damaged so bad that the Safety Safari can't get the body latches to release for a long time. Pedregon was out of the car quickly through the roof hatch and is OK.

Tasca has struggled through qualifying, but lays down a big number here for the easy win. He will give up lane choice to Capps in round two though.

Bob Tasca III's incremental margins (negative if behind): 60ft(-0.043), 330 ft(-0.069), 660ft(0.124). MOV: 0.6997 seconds (more than 100 feet).

Bob Tasca III's incremental times: 60ft-0.914 sec., 330ft-2.347, 660ft-3.305/270.32 mph.
Cruz Pedregon's incremental times: 60ft-0.928 sec., 330ft-2.335, 660ft-3.486/188.38 mph.

11:58 p.m. Lots of cleanup on the top end.

  116 Paul Lee                                1 John Force                   
E1                         No Time           ****WINNER****  0.092  3.989 319.90
 Qualified:            #16  4.162 271.41                        #1  3.966 324.12
12:12 p.m. Back to racing...

Going into eliminations John Force has the national record. Only twice in the long history of the Winternationals has a Funny Car driver set the record and won the race. Don Prudhomme did it in 1976 and Kenny Bernstein did it in 1987..This is the 10th time John has been number one at the Winternationals and he has two wins from that top spot (1997 & 2002) Force has a 4-2 win advantage over Lee in first round match ups and is 5 - 2 against Lee in all prior events.

It's all over before they stage, as there are problems with Lee's car after the burnout and they can't fix it in time.

Another brilliant Force pass and big numbers.

John Force's incremental times: 60ft-0.879 sec., 330ft-2.268, 660ft-3.219/269.73 mph.

  771 Alexis DeJoria                        782 Gary Densham                 
E1                   0.104  6.074 136.26     ****WINNER****  0.101  4.826 234.41
 Qualified:             #3  3.997 318.32                       #14  4.147 300.00
Alexis DeJoria became the eighth Funny Car driver to make a 3-second pass. She starts today from the #3 spot and that is the best starting position of her career. This is the first time DeJoria and Densham have faced each other in eliminations.

Upset alert! They leave just 0.003 apart at the green and DeJoria starts to pull ahead until about 100 feet out, where the tires are smoking. Densham's tires spin too and the the Ol' Teacher show how pedaling should work.

Gary Densham's incremental margins (negative if behind): 60ft(-0.018), 330 ft(0.138), 660ft(0.636). MOV: 1.2518 seconds (more than 100 feet).

  750 Del Worsham                          3111 Chad Head                    
E1   ****WINNER****  0.111  4.024 320.36                     0.128  5.350 142.54
 Qualified:             #6  4.040 317.27                       #11  4.079 303.23
Worsham is 2-1 in first round matchups against Head. Worsham and Head have each won 2 times against the other in prior events.

It's Worsham from start to finish, as Head strikes the tires before the 330 lights. He will have lane choice over Densham next round.

Del Worsham's incremental times: 60ft-0.902 sec., 330ft-2.307, 660ft-3.261/271.95 mph.

    7 Courtney Force                          2 Matt Hagan                   
E1                   0.094  4.083 320.89     ****WINNER****  0.062  4.036 322.73
 Qualified:             #7  4.046 320.13                       #10  4.077 316.01
Hagan is 2-1 in first round matchups against Force. Courtney Force in the defending event champion. This is a big early-season showdown with Matt Hagan. She beat Matt in the second round last year on her way to the event win. Force is 5 - 4 against Hagan in prior events.

Great drag race, as Hagan gets a starting line advantage and makes his best run of the weekend for a decisive win.

Things get a little busy after that, as only one chute deploys and Hagan runs off the end of the track and into the sand. No obvious major damage though. They remove the body and push the engine/chassis back on to the asphalt. A little sandbox straightening and we will go back to racing. Hight will have lane choice in the next round.

Matt Hagan's incremental margins: 60ft(0.031), 330 ft(0.068), 660ft(0.077). MOV: 0.0797 seconds (approximately 38 feet).

Courtney Force's incremental times: 60ft-0.901 sec., 330ft-2.345, 660ft-3.316/269.62 mph.
Matt Hagan's incremental times: 60ft-0.902 sec., 330ft-2.309, 660ft-3.271/269.35 mph.

   33 Tommy Johnson Jr.                       3 Jack Beckman                 
E1   ****WINNER****  0.074  4.048 320.81                     0.062  4.071 309.56
 Qualified:             #9  4.069 316.82                        #8  4.049 312.86
12:27 p.m. Clean up done and the call goes out to start the engines.

Tommy Johnson returns to the Funny Car ranks and this will be his 212th race in the class and his 9th at the Winternationals, a race he won in 2005.

Beckman has a four to one advantage over TJ in round one. Beckman is 5 - 2 against Johnson Jr. in prior events.

Team DSR can't lose on this one! Beckman is away first and has the better numbers down low. He stays in front until after the 660 lights, where the top end power of the Make-A-Wish engine pulls Johnson ahead for the really close win. Welcome back TJ!

Tommy Johnson Jr.'s incremental margins (negative if behind): 60ft(-0.028), 330 ft(-0.038), 660ft(-0.015). MOV: 0.0116 seconds (approximately 5 feet).

Tommy Johnson Jr.'s incremental times: 60ft-0.919 sec., 330ft-2.331, 660ft-3.283/272.23 mph.
Jack Beckman's incremental times: 60ft-0.903 sec., 330ft-2.305, 660ft-3.280/262.90 mph.

12:31 p.m. Force will have lane choice in round two.

Timing data courtesy of CompuLink

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