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Sun, 7 Oct 2001, 04:13 PM

READING - Funny Car Round 1 Eliminations
By Jim Samuel

MOHNTON, Pa. - Results of round 1 eliminations in Funny Car at the 17th annual Pep Boys NHRA Nationals presented by Greased Lightning:

  10 Scotty Cannon       4.887 303.84  Q    7 Ron Capps           4.803 307.30
 *****WINNER***** 0.548  7.498 199.67  E1                  0.507 No Time
11:31 AM Ron Capps and Scotty Cannon have not met this year. So far this season, Cannon has only made it out of round one four times and has not advanced to the third round. Capps has made it to the final round four times this season, winning two and losing two. Capps pulled the front wheels in the air and popped the blower as he left the starting line. Cannon almost blew the single run when he smoked the tires and as he got back on the throttle, came within inches of crossing the center line.

  12 Johnny Gray         4.906 303.91  Q    5 Gary Densham        4.790 319.37
 *****WINNER***** 0.508  6.159 254.52  E1                  0.531 26.660  22.55
This round is the first time in their careers that Johnny Gray and Gary Densham have faced each other. Densham qualified here with a personal best ET of 4.790 seconds. Densham won at Memphis, Tenn.. last month. Gray's best finish this year came at the Pontiac Excitement Nationals in Columbus, Ohio when he lost to John Force in the third round. Both cars smoked their tires as they came off the line. Densham shut down and coasted the rest of the way. Gray got back into it for the win and will meet either Tony Pedregon or Check Etchells in round two.

  14 Frank Pedregon      4.918 309.34  Q    3 Del Worsham         4.778 310.34
 *****WINNER***** 0.534  4.877 309.20  E1                  0.463 No Time
Frank Pedregon sat outside the field until the final round of qualifying yesterday. He and Del Worsham have faced each other four times this season with Worsham winning three of those meetings. Worsham's car blew the blower at the start and blew the body right off the car. Meanwhile, Pedregon made a good run and will move into round two against Sarver or Epler.

  15 Al Hofmann          4.920 297.94  Q    2 Whit Bazemore       4.762 324.67
                  0.511  6.096 147.81  E1 *****WINNER***** 0.498  4.788 317.12
Al Hofmann and Whit Bazemore have faced each other five times this season, with Bazemore winning four of those rounds. Hofmann's lone win against Bazemore came in the second round of the Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol, Tenn. In that race, Hofmann made it to the finals but lost to Ron Capps. Bazemore shook the tires a bit but drove through it for the win. Hofmann was quicker to 300 feet, but broke the blower belt to end his day.

  16 Bob Gilbertson      4.927 295.79  Q    1 John Force          4.731 325.14
                  0.464  5.014 296.44  E1 *****WINNER***** 0.512  4.747 321.42
This is the thirteenth time Force and Gilbertson have faced each other in NHRA competition, with Force leading the series 11-1. The last time the two met was earlier this year at the 2001 Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway when Force beat Gilbertson in the final round. Gilbertson's only victory against Force came last year in the O'Reilly Nationals at Houston, TX. Coming into this event, Force has competed in 997 rounds or eliminations. If he makes it through to the semifinals today, he will become the first NHRA driver to compete in 1,000 rounds. In qualifying, Force recorded the quickest run in NHRA Funny Car history at 4.731 seconds. He needs to run 4.778 seconds or quicker to back up that time and set a new national record. Gilbertson was not here yesterday and instead was attending a Stewart & Stevenson picnic that had been scheduled prior to the postponement of this race. He made a good run but Force was even better. Force's run was the second quickest run ever and backs up yesterday's 4.731 second run to set a national record.

  13 Chuck Etchells      4.915 302.48  Q    4 Tony Pedregon       4.783 294.43
                  0.530  7.759 115.87  E1 *****WINNER***** 0.540  4.761 324.51
Tony Pedregon has gone to the semifinals at Maple Grove for the past three years but has never won here at Maple Grove. He was the runner-up here in 1996. Etchells and Pedregon have faced each other only once before during this season with Pedregon winning in the third round of the AutoZone Winternationals at Pomona raceway. Etchells smoked the tires at 60 feet and had to back off. Pedregon swerved and bucked the whole way down but recorded one of the worst looking 4.76 second runs ever.

  11 Jim Epler           4.891 306.46  Q    6 Bruce Sarver        4.801 317.19
 *****WINNER***** 0.549  4.813 314.24  E1                  0.520  8.608  96.15
Bruce Sarver and Jim Epler have met twice this year -- in the first round of the 50th Anniversary Nationals at Pomona and in the first round in the Truck Accessories Nationals at Brainerd, Minn. Sarver won both times. This time it was different as Sarver lost power at 330 feet and Epler went on to take the win. Epler won lane choice over Frank Pedregon in round two.

   9 Dean Skuza          4.851 313.95  Q    8 Tommy Johnson Jr.   4.843 311.05
 *****WINNER***** 0.499  4.854 310.77  E1                  0.511  9.126  91.79
Tommy Johnson Jr. beat Dean Skuza in the only time they've met this year during the Summit Nationals at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Johnson shook the tires and pulled hard to the right. He had to back off to avoid hitting the wall. In the left lane, Skuza had a good run to move on to round two but he lost lane choice to John Force.

Timing data courtesy of CompuLink

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