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Fri, 22 Oct 1999, 04:54 PM

DALLAS - Funny Car Qualifying Notes, Session #1
By Larry Sullivan

Bada Bing, Bada Boom

ENNIS, Texas - Notes from round 1 qualifying in Funny Car at the 14th annual O'Reilly Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec listing lane, driver name, elapsed time, top speed, and position in order following run:
Right Lane: Kenny Sayers Runs 7.055/122.16, Now #1

2:57 PM We open the first fuel qualifying session with a new driver, on a solo pass. This is the Margeretich Motorsports entry, getting tuning help from Paul Smith. The car went out to half track with a couple dead cylinders and he shut it off as it neared the centerline.

Left Lane: Scott Weis Runs 5.569/193.46, Now #1
Right Lane: Ronny Young Runs 12.615/76.23, Now #3

Since he can no longer campaign an A-Fuel Funny Car in "the other sanctioning body's races," Weis is racing blown fuel now. He ran quicker and faster than this without the blower! It looked like the car dropped the clutch at half track. Young's car launched, chattered the tires hard, then shut down. The Safety Safari first checked Weis' car, then removed a few stray parts from the track near the finish line.

Left Lane: Dale Creasy Jr. Runs 6.633/136.69, Now #3
Right Lane: Bob Gilbertson Runs 5.312/240.77, Now #1

Creasy's car smoked the tires and fishtailed a few times before he shut it off prior to half track. Gilbertson was on a good pass, but started dropping cylinders on the top end and the engine erupted in flames as he neared the finish line. Between the Safety Safari and the onboard fire system, the flames were extinguished before the car was severely damaged. Gilbertson appeared to be okay - we don't have top-end video yet, but he was out of the car and walking around.

Left Lane: Gary Densham Runs 5.298/284.45, Now #1
Right Lane: Cruz Pedregon Runs 5.745/176.26, Now #4

Ron Swearingen is no longer tuning Pedregon's car - Bob Brandt is now turning the screws. Cruz's run looked pretty good to half track, then the rear tires started smoking a bit and the candles went out. Didn't see a broken blower belt come out, but that's what it looked like. Densham made a full pass, nothing special, but nothing amiss.

Left Lane: Tim Wilkerson No Time, Now #9
Right Lane: Tommy Johnson Jr. Runs 6.623/134.08, Now #5

As soon as Wilkerson hit the throttle there was a big blower explosion and the body almost flipped back off the chassis, then fell back down, slightly askew. Wilkerson wasn't hurt, though his ears had to be ringing after the concussion. TJ made a clean run to half track, then the flames went out - couldn't see the problem, whatever it was it didn't leave any oil or other fluids behind.

Left Lane: Al Hofmann Runs 5.206/274.55, Now #2
Right Lane: Jerry Toliver Runs 5.005/308.32, Now #1

Two good runs here, no false steps and two solid baseline passes to tune from.

Left Lane: Cory Lee Runs 5.030/306.74, Now #2
Right Lane: Scotty Cannon Runs 5.157/293.35, Now #3

Dale Pulde isn't here with Cannon's team - Cannon wants to try tuning the car himself for a couple races. Two more good passes, clean and straight, and two solid baselines to tune from - now we'll see what Scotty can do with the information when they return tonight.

Left Lane: Jim Epler Runs 5.015/292.87, Now #2
Right Lane: Ron Capps Runs 6.367/134.79, Now #10

Epler made a full pass, the header flames mixing it up from 1,000 feet on. Capps was also on a good pass, but the rear tires started smoking at half track and then he totally lost traction and had to abandon the run.

Left Lane: Dean Skuza Runs 6.538/133.53, Now #11
Right Lane: Del Worsham Runs 16.335/59.18, Now #16

Worsham boiled the tires before moving 20 feet. Skuza went out to around the 330-foot mark and did the same.

Left Lane: Whit Bazemore Runs 5.122/232.79, Now #5
Right Lane: Frank Pedregon Runs 5.005/302.62, Now #2

This looked like it was going to be two good runs, but Bazemore's car started to turn the tires on the top end and then the header flames went out. Pedregon was right down the groove.

Left Lane: John Force Runs 12.330/69.61, Now #18
Right Lane: Tony Pedregon Runs 5.302/216.29, Now #9

This looked like it was going to be exciting - but then Force started chattering the tires and shut it off before going 100 feet, the car trying to cross the centerline. Tony's car stormed down the right lane, on a very good pass, but then the blower exploded and the pressure relief hatch in the hood went sailing high in the air before he reached the finish line.

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