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Sun, 17 Nov 2019, 15:11 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, 55th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals:

  700 Steven Densham                          5 Tim Wilkerson                
E1   ****WINNER****  0.085  5.380 135.29                     0.114  7.949 129.11
 Qualified:            #14  4.129 289.57                        #3  3.876 327.43
11:28 a.m. Weather conditions: air temperature 81 degrees, relative humidity 19 percent, barometer 28.86 inches, adjusted altitude 3,031 feet, track temperature 103 degrees.

Wilkerson was able to take advantage of an opportunity in qualifying to put his efforts toward testing a new development in engine technology. Obviously, successful, it cannot be used in competition this weekend. This will be Steve Densham, son of legendary driver Gary Densham, second national event. He has several years of success in the Nostalgia Funny Car ranks. This is the first time Densham and Wilkerson have faced each other in eliminations.

Densham gets away first and loses a hole right at the 330 light, as the tires come loose. He gets the Mustang waaay sideway and goes from center line to near the wall before gathering it up for his first professional win.

Wilkerson's "Old" motor is too strong for the track and he is up in smoke almost immediately.

  170 Jeff Arend                            333 Shawn Langdon                
E1                   0.055  5.410 142.29     ****WINNER****  0.006  4.013 322.27
 Qualified:            #13  4.099 278.69                        #4  3.893 330.80
Shawn Langdon won this race twice in the TF class. This is the 247th race for Jeff Arend and his 17th at this event. Arend is 1 - 0 against Langdon in prior events.

Magic 0.006 light for Langdon and a decisive win, as Arend is up in smoke about 100 feet out!

Shawn Langdon's incremental times: 60ft-0.890 sec., 330ft-2.290, 660ft-3.249/271.08 mph.

  496 John Hale                               7 Jack Beckman                 
E1                   0.151 13.434  39.58     ****WINNER****  0.082  3.946 321.65
 Qualified:            #15  4.345 221.05                        #2  3.876 332.43
Jack Beckman has to go two rounds further than Hight to win the championship. He is 26 - 9 in round 1, when starting from the #2 spot in the field. This is the first race for John Hale since the Dallas event in 2018. It is his 47th start overall. Beckman is 4 - 0 against Hale in prior events.

Hale strikes the tires hard at the green and is done for the year.

Strong pass for Beckman and and easy win with the first three second pass of the session.

Jack Beckman's incremental times: 60ft-0.873 sec., 330ft-2.255, 660ft-3.190/276.58 mph.

  801 Jonnie Lindberg                      2814 Matt Hagan                   
E1                   0.094  4.998 162.98     ****WINNER****  0.078  4.114 275.11
 Qualified:            #16  4.394 304.12                        #1  3.872 333.58
11:48 a.m. Back to racing after the Safety Safari does a little clean up of oil in Hall's lane. That will cost him $500!

Hagan has made a late season charge to the Championship with a win at the last race in Las Vegas and a dominate showing in qualifying this weekend. He has to go two rounds further than Hight to win the championship. This is Lindberg's 78th round of eliminations with a 33% win record. This is a rematch of the final round at LVMS! Hagan is 6 - 3 against Lindberg in prior events.

Hagan gets a big starting line advantage and powers on down the track until after the 660 lights. The slicks start to come loose and the engine drops cylinders. Right after that the blower goes bang with a little fire from the engine. He gets the car stopped fine for the easy win.

Lindberg's Mustang kicked the tires loose right after the 60 foot lights.

Matt Hagan's incremental times: 60ft-0.888 sec., 330ft-2.280, 660ft-3.255/252.52 mph.

  256 Blake Alexander                        77 Bob Tasca III                
E1   ****WINNER****  0.064  3.981 318.69                     0.097  4.056 294.43
 Qualified:            #11  3.998 317.19                        #6  3.902 327.43
Tasca qualified eighth and can be a blocker, if he makes it to later rounds. Alexander is making his 49th first round appearance and has a 42% win record. Tasca III is 4 - 1 against Alexander in prior events.

Alexander gets away first and stays in front for the upset win. He will have lane choice over Densham in round two.

Tasca was starting to catch him up, but fell back again after the 660 lights.

Blake Alexander's incremental times: 60ft-0.890 sec., 330ft-2.283, 660ft-3.223/275.62 mph.
Bob Tasca III's incremental times: 60ft-0.883 sec., 330ft-2.261, 660ft-3.227/255.00 mph.

    9 John Force                              2 Robert Hight                 
E1                   0.105  5.234 141.97     ****WINNER****  0.078  3.945 327.82
 Qualified:            #12  4.039 319.22                        #5  3.895 330.55
The Fuel Gods didn't smile on JFR this weekend. Usually dominant at or near the top of the field, Hight was only able to qualify #5 and Force number 12. That pairs them up in round one with serious Championship implications. Hight was number two in 2018 and has a small advantage in round one. He is 28-24 against Force and has won four of six meetings this season. He has to make it to the final round to ensure a Championship. He won here in 2007 and is 10 - 4 in the first round at this race. John Force has 8 wins here. He is 28 - 8 in the first round at this race. This is the first time these two have met in round 1 at this, their home track and only the 14th time overall that they have squared off in round 1 (John leads 7 - 6 in rd. 1 matchups). Hight is 28 - 24 against Force in prior events.

Force is uncharacteristically late and then has the tires shake loose right at the 330 lights and he slows.

Hight powers right on down the track to keep his Championship hopes alive with the quickest run of the session. He will have lane choice over Langdon in round two.

Robert Hight's incremental times: 60ft-0.882 sec., 330ft-2.269, 660ft-3.198/278.63 mph.

    1 J.R. Todd                               3 Tommy Johnson Jr.            
E1   ****WINNER****  0.062  3.974 323.19                     0.067  4.101 258.02
 Qualified:            #10  3.972 324.20                        #7  3.918 323.97
2018 FC Champion, Todd, was only able to secure the #10 qualifying position and is no longer able to take the 2019 Championship. Like Todd, Johnson is out of the running for 2019 too. Tommy Johnson has been to the final round in each of the last 3 years here and he won it in 2016 & 2017. Todd is 6 - 5 against Johnson Jr. in prior events.

They leave just 0.005 apart and Todd stays out in front to keep his repeat championship hopes going. Johnson's Charger started to catch him by the 330 lights, but faded after that.

Beckman will have lane choice later.

J.R. Todd's incremental times: 60ft-0.885 sec., 330ft-2.280, 660ft-3.219/277.03 mph.
Tommy Johnson Jr.'s incremental times: 60ft-0.893 sec., 330ft-2.281, 660ft-3.232/261.12 mph.

   71 Cruz Pedregon                          28 Ron Capps                    
E1                   0.053  3.982 321.58     ****WINNER****  0.066  3.949 326.00
 Qualified:             #9  3.967 320.28                        #8  3.940 328.06
Cruz Pedregon won here in 2008 & 2012. He is making his 551st round one appearance with a 56% win record. Ron Capps only final round at this race came in 2008 when he lost to Cruz in the final round. This is the 72nd meeting between these two and that is the 4th most head-to-head matchups between any two Funny Car drivers in history. Capps is 44 - 27 against Pedregon in prior events.

A great ol' drag race to end the session. Pedregon gets away first. but Capps just sneaks on by before the 60 foot lights and they stay side by side after that.

Capps will have lane choice over Hagan next round. That should be "interesting"!

Ron Capps' incremental margins (negative if behind): 60ft(0.005), 330 ft(0.012), 660ft(0.013). MOV: 0.0204 seconds (approximately 10 feet).

Cruz Pedregon's incremental times: 60ft-0.910 sec., 330ft-2.285, 660ft-3.223/274.83 mph.
Ron Capps' incremental times: 60ft-0.892 sec., 330ft-2.260, 660ft-3.197/274.78 mph.

12:05 p.m.

Timing data courtesy of CompuLink

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