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Sat, 27 Oct 2001, 09:22 PM

LAS VEGAS 2 - Funny Car Qualifying Notes, Final Session
By Darryl Jackman

LAS VEGAS - Notes from final, round 4 qualifying in Funny Car at the Inaugural AC Delco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals 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:

Left Lane: Louis Sweet Runs 5.183/274.05, Now #14; Best prior run: 8.346/96.40, Was #23
Right Lane: Chuck Beal Runs 5.891/154.58, Now #22; Best prior run: 5.932/191.19, Was #22

5:15 PM Big finish for the Top Fuel cars with Larry Dixon setting a new track record. The sun is behind the grandstands so the track is almost in full shadow. The surface temperature has fallen from 100 degrees to 92 in the last few minutes. Oh boy. We have fire under both of the cars as they coast to a stop. As they lift the body on Sweets car the fuel tank looks like some one set a bomb off inside of it. It appears the tank is distended in all directions. The Safety Safari manages to put out the fuel fire and all appears to be well. In the other lane Beal has a problem about 900 feet down range. He shuts off early and lots of sparks are coming out from underneath. Perhaps from the clutch can or the clutch it's self. Both racers are towed from the track and we're down for a short clean up. Sweet does make the field in the #14 spot.

Left Lane: Del Worsham Runs 4.973/309.49, Now #11; Best prior run: 5.586/198.67, Was #20
Right Lane: Gary Densham Runs 6.550/137.51, Now #23; Best prior run: 5.925/156.88, Was #23

I guess that the Force team has decided that the body may be partly to blame for Densham's woes this weekend. They've taken one of the white and black Force bodies and put it on Densham's car. Del Worsham lines up next to Densham. Strange to see these two reduced to one final shot to qualify. If they both get in they'll bump Burkart and Bode. Instead of changing the body on Densham's ride they should have changed the blower belt. Off it came at about half track. Worsham makes the field in grand style.

Left Lane: Bob Bode Runs 5.047/300.86, Now #15; Best prior run: 5.279/220.98, Was #17
Right Lane: Jerry Toliver Runs 5.098/307.51, Now #16; Best prior run: 5.812/168.94, Was #21

Bode was just bumped by Worsham so Glen Mikres will need to find a tune up to get him back into the field. Toliver really needs some luck at this point. Toliver has a full pedal at about 300 feet but makes the show on the bump. Bode also makes the filed just one spot above Toliver. That bumped Sweet and Burkart.

Right Lane: Terry Haddock Runs 7.091/135.69, Now #21; Best prior run: 5.390/278.86, Was #21

Haddock has made two out of the three sessions but still can manage only the #21 spot. This is a tough weekend for the independent racers. Haddock launches fairly hard but the car begins to move around the lane pretty hard. By 400 feet the car is close to the wall and he is forced to click it off.

Right Lane: Dale Creasy Jr. Runs 6.610/135.47, Now #20; Best prior run: 5.386/205.35, Was #20

Creasy is one of three cars that can bump Toliver. The others that could get him is Burkart and Benjamin. Creasy gets to the same point as Haddock and also has to shut it off as the numbers were just not adding up to a spot in the field.

Left Lane: Phil Burkart Runs 8.333/100.13, Now #18; Best prior run: 5.194/256.75, Was #18
Right Lane: David Benjamin Runs 9.709/94.05, Now #19; Best prior run: 5.348/282.84, Was #19

Burkart and Benjamin both have a shot at Toliver. Burkart has come the closest to the 5.09 it takes but he still needs a tenth. Benjamin smokes the tires and that ends his weekend. At about the same time Burkart shuts off to end his run. This means that Toliver can stop holding his breath and begin getting ready for Sunday.

Left Lane: John Lawson Runs 4.982/306.67, Now #14; Best prior run: 5.044/304.67, Was #14
Right Lane: Bruce Sarver Runs 4.908/306.88, Now #10; Best prior run: 4.974/301.81, Was #12

Two really good passes here. Lawson gets into the fours but still can't move up on the ladder. Sarver moves up two spots to #10.

Left Lane: Al Hofmann Runs 5.076/246.39, Now #13; Best prior run: 4.975/294.05, Was #13
Right Lane: Bob Gilbertson Runs 4.933/307.90, Now #11; Best prior run: 4.912/310.34, Was #11

Hofmann is back to the Mooneyes body for this session. Must have put the K&N away for another day. No help for either driver. Hofmann was looking pretty good with a .907 short time but as he neared the lights the fire goes out and he coasts the rest of the way. Gilbertson shows that he can make two in a row so the session was good for him.

Left Lane: Scotty Cannon Runs 4.856/317.72, Now #6; Best prior run: 4.899/318.47, Was #9
Right Lane: Ron Capps Runs 11.241/73.60, Now #8; Best prior run: 4.866/310.91, Was #7

Here's another two drivers looking to repeat. Cannon gets his third good pass in a row. The final session moves him into the top half of the field in the #6 spot. Capps was side by with Cannon until the fire goes out about 400 feet.

Right Lane: Dean Skuza Runs 9.653/85.34, Now #5; Best prior run: 4.855/315.64, Was #5

Skuza gets no help from the final session. He launches fairly hard with a .918 sixty foot time. By 300 feet the Goodyears were spinning and smoking so Dean shuts it down.

Left Lane: Tony Pedregon Runs 4.837/300.00, Now #3; Best prior run: 4.836/315.19, Was #3
Right Lane: Tim Wilkerson Runs 4.863/314.61, Now #4; Best prior run: 4.838/316.52, Was #4

We're down to the final four. This is the Pedregon vs. Wilkerson match race and will be followed by the Bazemore vs. Force grudge match. Two out of three falls. No time limit. This pair produces a fine side by side. Both drivers have now had three out of four good runs. Pedregon got to the stripe first but the Mustang appeared to nose over and he clicked it a bit early. Wilkerson also appears to be ready for Sunday.

Left Lane: John Force Runs 4.818/317.87, Now #2; Best prior run: 4.790/317.94, Was #2
Right Lane: Whit Bazemore Runs 4.845/317.72, Now #1; Best prior run: 4.748/323.04, Was #1

This is the final round in the sandbox for these two. Again we go through the staging duel and again it's Force that stages first. At the hit it was Force with the slight lead and he holds it all the way to the finish. The final score in qualifying was two wins for Force and two for Bazemore. The tie breaker could be Sunday in the final round. It's still fun folks.

Timing data courtesy of CompuLink

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