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Sat, 23 Oct 1999, 08:22 PM

DALLAS - Funny Car Qualifying Notes, Final Session
By Ed Dykes

You Had To Be Here

ENNIS, Texas - Notes from final, round 4 qualifying in Funny Car at the 14th annual O'Reilly Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec listing lane, driver name, elapsed time/top speed this round, position in order following run, best prior elapsed time/speed, and position in order prior to run:
Right Lane: Kenny Sayers Runs 9.733/84.20, Now #20; Best prior run: 7.055/122.16, Was #20

Looks like this won't be the weekend that the Sayers & Margaretich team might have hoped for, as the car goes up in smoke on the last qualifying try, but they certainly made a respectable effort this weekend.

Left Lane: Tim Wilkerson Runs 5.419/241.93, Now #19; Best prior run: 8.632/105.20, Was #21
Right Lane: Ronny Young Runs 5.311/248.07, Now #17; Best prior run: 6.111/155.87, Was #19

Young fails to make the show but that's the least of his worries as the Wizard entry is engulfed in flames as he crosses the finish line. The engine expired at about the 900' mark, and from that point on Young is driving blind, the car totally engulfed in flames and smoke. He got the parachute out and that helped a lot, but he still scraped the wall just past the finish and the car swerved once more before stopping in the center of the lane. The flames continued as the car stopped but the Safety Safari was on the scene quickly and assisted Young as he emerged thru the roof escape hatch. After a quick check by the medical team, Young is on the the Winston Vision telling the crowd, "I'm too old to know any better, I'll probably climb back in one of these cars again." It was a nasty fire, but the safety equipment worked as advertised and Young emerges basically unscathed.

Left Lane: Scott Weis Runs 5.150/305.60, Now #14; Best prior run: 5.569/193.46, Was #20
Right Lane: Del Worsham Runs 5.250/228.36, Now #18; Best prior run: 5.388/203.29, Was #18

Weis runs his career-best speed to qualify for the race, bumping Dean Skuza. From the top end, we hear him tell the crowd, "Any other time I would have given up, it really shook my brains out, but this was a do-or-die situation." Unfortunately it didn't turn out so well for Worsham, as he failed to deliver and will not be in the show tomorrow.

Left Lane: Dean Skuza Runs 4.935/312.28, Now #5; Best prior run: 5.237/260.41, Was #17
Right Lane: Bob Gilbertson Runs 10.509/85.65, Now #17; Best prior run: 5.217/270.75, Was #16

Skuza comes thru bigtime, pedalling twice to keep his Avenger planted to the concrete, bumping a tire-smoking Bob Gilbertson in the other lane.

Left Lane: Al Hofmann Runs 5.209/298.21, Now #16; Best prior run: 5.206/274.55, Was #16
Right Lane: Cruz Pedregon Runs 10.894/75.70, Now #11; Best prior run: 5.019/308.11, Was #11

Hofmann makes a solid run, just 0.003 slower than his first round pass that put him in the show, and there are no more unqualified cars left in line so he's safe for the show tomorrow. Pedregon was too aggressive, smoking the tires right off the bat.

Left Lane: Gary Densham Runs 4.954/299.40, Now #7; Best prior run: 5.060/297.52, Was #14
Right Lane: Tony Pedregon Runs 5.386/213.32, Now #11; Best prior run: 5.016/292.68, Was #10

Densham makes a career-best run to move to the top half of the ladder, and the NEC crew is ecstatic, hopping and jumping (except for Al Liebmann, who can't get off the ground) and passing high fives all around. Pedregon didn't fare as well, as evidenced by the procession of Safety Safari trucks lining up in the right lane, preparing to clean up the remains of his engine, spread from about 100' all the way to the finish line.

Left Lane: Cory Lee Runs 5.156/301.50, Now #14; Best prior run: 5.030/306.74, Was #14
Right Lane: Scotty Cannon Runs 5.072/257.58, Now #8; Best prior run: 4.981/299.30, Was #8

Cory Lee did a masterful job saving this run, pedalling the car at least once, maybe twice, then it hooked up and motored to the finish -- compare the e.t. to the top speed, after all. Cannon was on a great pass, well ahead of the Pioneer car for much of the run, until the engine gave up in a big cloud of white aluminum smoke about 300' before the finish.

Left Lane: Jim Epler Runs 4.971/305.91, Now #8; Best prior run: 5.015/292.87, Was #10
Right Lane: Jerry Toliver Runs 5.049/304.56, Now #6; Best prior run: 4.939/310.02, Was #6

Nice, straight runs in both lanes, and the WWF cars both advance to The Big Show tomorrow with lane choice in round one.

Left Lane: Whit Bazemore Runs 11.611/66.69, Now #3; Best prior run: 4.904/303.43, Was #3
Right Lane: Ron Capps Runs 4.946/293.44, Now #4; Best prior run: 4.908/295.76, Was #4

It's Camaro vs. Camaro this time, and Capps takes his one, although crew chief Dale Armstrong says that they expected the car to run a little quicker on this lap. From the top end, Capps admits to clicking it a little early, but doesn't offer an explanation as to why. Bazemore smoked the tires, the team a little too aggressive this time.

Left Lane: John Force Runs 4.844/317.12, Now #1; Best prior run: 4.874/305.81, Was #2
Right Lane: Tommy Johnson Jr. Runs 12.981/76.73, Now #2; Best prior run: 4.857/316.45, Was #1

With a flair for the dramatic, saving the best for last, Force moves into the top spot in the final nitro qualifying run of the day. That pits Force against Al Hofmann in round one tomorrow, and moves Tommy Johnson down to face Scott Weis. Should be a great drag race from the Motorplex!

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