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Fri, 1 Sep 2000, 10:10 PM

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

CLERMONT, Ind. - Notes from round 1 qualifying in Funny Car at the 46th annual U.S. Nationals listing lane, driver name, elapsed time, top speed, and position in order following run:

Right Lane: Bob Weickgenannt Runs 9.625/84.44, Now #1

7:56 PM Weickgenannt gets the honor of being the first to lose traction after 100 feet or so. He probably won't be the last.

Left Lane: Cruz Pedregon Runs 5.795/171.53, Now #1
Right Lane: John Lawson Runs 8.962/88.58, Now #2

Lawson got almost to half track before losing traction. Pedregon got to about 1,000 feet, then followed suit.

Left Lane: Tommy Johnson Jr. Runs 4.963/301.27, Now #1
Right Lane: Scott Weis Runs 5.464/217.00, Now #2

TJ spit sparklers out the headers all the way down the track for our first complete pass. Couldn't see why Weis slowed on the top end, his run looking pretty good to past half track.

Left Lane: Dale Creasy Jr. No Time, Now #2
Right Lane: Cory Lee Runs 5.013/310.91, Now #3

Cory Lee did a long, smoky burnout, in the style of Dean Skuza. Two nice runs, side-by-side. The timing system failed to record a speed for Creasy, who spotted Lee a couple car lengths at the start, and it's possible Creasy's ET isn't valid, possibly triggered by Lee's header flames at the finish line. Suspicion confirmed - Lee's intermediate times were not consistent with the 4.979 recorded on the timing system.

Left Lane: Cristen Powell Runs 5.168/236.38, Now #4

Cristen's first competitive pass in the Whit Bazemore-owned Firebird was clean and straight, just a bit short, the header flames out well before the finish line - and the Safety Safari goes to work in the left lane, a launch pad to shutdown area trail of oil marking her path down the track.

Left Lane: Gary Densham Runs 5.327/277.37, Now #6
Right Lane: Tim Wilkerson Runs 5.244/249.16, Now #5

Following a quick, extensive cleanup, these two took their first shot at the elusive racing surface. Both made soft launches and got to the other end without smoking the tires, but they will need to be a lot more aggressive to stay in the field through four more qualifying sessions, Wilkerson's "candles" out around the 1,000-foot marker and Densham's close to a full pass..

Left Lane: Bob Gilbertson Runs 9.720/90.42, Now #12
Right Lane: Frank Pedregon Runs 5.010/300.33, Now #3

Gilbertson went about 300 feet, started to rattle the tires, and gave it up. Pedregon made a nice, smooth, clean pass, a good run to tune from.

Left Lane: Al Hofmann Runs 5.993/143.17, Now #11
Right Lane: Bruce Sarver Runs 5.169/283.85, Now #6

Jim Dunn's Firebird sports a familiar bright yellow paint job with Mooneyes superimposed on Indianapolis Motor Speedway-style wings. Should be a popular collectible...both cars lost traction and shut down early, Hofmann before 1,000 feet and Sarver just before the finish line.

Left Lane: Del Worsham Runs 6.712/128.24, Now #12
Right Lane: Whit Bazemore Runs 7.566/106.14, Now #13

Both lost traction, both pedaled at least once before calling it off, the header flames up and down like yoyos.

Left Lane: Dean Skuza No Time, Now #18
Right Lane: Scotty Cannon Runs 6.198/145.55, Now #12

Skuza was lined up beside Cannon, but then the crew pushed him back to run beside Jim Epler and Cannon ran a single. Cannon got about 400 feet down the strip, then lost traction and shut it down.

Left Lane: Dean Skuza Runs 6.227/147.04, Now #14
Right Lane: Jim Epler Runs 6.083/149.96, Now #12

Now Skuza's ready to run. He made a huge burnout, backed up, and then both cars left as one, lost traction at half track as one, and shut off as one.

Left Lane: Ron Capps Runs 5.665/171.49, Now #11
Right Lane: Tony Pedregon Runs 5.152/254.42, Now #5

Both cars got to half track pretty well, but then Capps started turning the tires and shut it off. Pedregon was on a solid run, but around the 1,000 feet marker it appeared the clutch exploded, bright sparks lighting up the inside of the car and a flash fire appearing under the body. The fire went out quickly and Pedregon smoothly brought the car to a stop in the shutdown area. We're waiting for confirmation, but he appeared to be okay.

Left Lane: Jerry Toliver Runs 7.095/121.19, Now #19
Right Lane: John Force Runs 4.976/305.63, Now #2

Happy birthday to Austin Coil today, he's reached the "double nickel." Now he can get the Senior Citizen's special at Denny's. Toliver was right with Force to just past the 330-foot markers, then moved out of the groove and started smoking the tires, the header flames getting very tall and bright as the engine RPMs went up before he shut it off. Nice pass by Force, all eight candles lit all the way through the lights. The Safety Safari did a bit of a cleanup in the left lane, Toliver apparently straining the engine a bit before he could catch it.

That's it for the floppers, TJ the surprise overnight polesitter - and a first-round winner in Super Comp earlier today as well.

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