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Thu, 7 Nov 2002, 09:07 PM

Funny Car Qualifying Notes, Session #1
By Darryl Jackman

POMONA, Calif. - Notes from round 1 qualifying in Funny Car at the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, 38th annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals listing lane, driver name, elapsed time, top speed, and position in order following run:

Right Lane: Stephen Neese Runs 6.716/136.87, Now #1

Rain delays and all we've come to the first session for the Funny Cars. It's just about full dark outside and the lights have been on for a while. Neese was right down the middle of the lane with not a trace of smoke. As he approached half track the flames went out and Neese coasted the rest of the way.

Left Lane: Peter Russo Runs 14.575/49.94, Now #3
Right Lane: Keith Jackson Runs 10.202/85.57, Now #2

Russo is out making a final attempt at qualifying at an NHRA national event. I'm not certain when he plans on returning to Australia. Russo doesn't get fifteen feet before the tires were smoking. In the other lane Jackson gets into some heavy shake and clicked it off.

Left Lane: Phil Burkart Runs 9.623/87.40, Now #2
Right Lane: Louis Sweet Runs 11.212/76.12, Now #4

Both cars are up in smoke early in the run, and both shut it off. The racing surface may be getting as cool as the air.

Left Lane: Cory Lee Runs 4.920/309.84, Now #1
Right Lane: Terry Haddock Runs 5.121/263.62, Now #2

Cory Lee is out for the final event of the season in the CSK Black Firebird. That looked strange. Looking out of the tinted windows all I could see were the header flames and they appeared to get closer and closer together as they approached the stripe. The flames went out on Haddock's racer first as it appeared that he was closer to the center than Lee. Lee appears to be the first Funny Car to finish under power.

Left Lane: Bob Bode Runs 9.917/78.71, Now #5
Right Lane: Todd Paton Runs 10.047/87.03, Now #6

Tandem tire shake leads to a tandem shut off for Bode and Paton. Neither car got past 200 feet with header flames.

Left Lane: Dale Creasy Jr. Runs 9.123/98.32, Now #5
Right Lane: Frank Pedregon Runs 5.878/160.69, Now #3

Creasy was on and off the pedal before he gave up. Pedregon left hard but the car drove him right to the center line and he's forced to lift as well. So far Cory Lee is the only driver to finish under power.

Left Lane: Cruz Pedregon Runs 5.212/231.64, Now #3
Right Lane: Bob Gilbertson Runs 8.333/110.98, Now #6

We're back under way following some down time for rain. It never rained hard but just enough to shut us down. Gilbertson was smoking the tires before 330 and will have to wait for the next session. Cruz was very soft and does manage almost a full pass. He was running 236.63 at half track and went through the lights slower than that.

Left Lane: Tim Wilkerson Runs 4.873/310.55, Now #2
Right Lane: Bruce Sarver Runs 4.859/308.71, Now #1

These two got it right. Strong header flames all the way to the finish and good mph for both drivers. That makes fifteen cars that have recorded ET's in the session. The next pair will establish a bump.

Left Lane: Johnny Gray Runs 8.736/115.28, Now #10
Right Lane: Dean Skuza Runs 4.833/302.69, Now #1

Gray is up in smoke before 330 but it's Skuza taking out a lot of frustration in the right lane. Really pretty pass for the Mopar, and he's currently the top qualifier. Dean's racer recorded a mph of 256.70 at half track.

Left Lane: Tommy Johnson Jr. Runs 9.078/103.98, Now #11
Right Lane: Scotty Cannon Runs 11.405/73.73, Now #18

No one would want a win this weekend more than Cannon. This is his last event as a Funny Car driver and he remains winless in the class. It won't happen here. Both cars smoke the tires and shut off very early.

Left Lane: Ron Capps Runs 4.873/313.80, Now #3
Right Lane: Whit Bazemore Runs 4.905/309.20, Now #5

Bazemore appeared to edge towards the center line all the way down on his pass. Capps was closer to the middle of the lane and edges Baze out in ET. At half track the pair was .015 a part on the clocks and .012 at 1000 feet.

Left Lane: Gary Densham Runs 4.849/313.51, Now #2
Right Lane: Del Worsham Runs 6.106/181.13, Now #11

Worsham was in and out of the pedal as the rear tires started smoking by 330. Densham gets a really pretty pass on the books and takes over the #2 spot behind Skuza. Worsham and Densham are in a battle for number three in the points and Gary lands the first jab.

Left Lane: Tony Pedregon Runs 7.328/285.59, Now #14
Right Lane: John Force Runs 4.762/324.05, Now #1

Here comes the battle for the POWERade Championship. Tony comes into the event thirty one points behind John Force. Less than two rounds. This won't be easy for Pedregon but it is possible. Well, the boss isn't going to roll over and play dead. Tony smokes the tires and he plays with the pedal several times before finally shutting off. In the other lane the Force goes right into the 4.7's and sets the second fastest speed of the weekend in both Funny CAr and Top Fuel. Larry Dixon went 324.98 in his session. That's all for tonight for the Pros.

Timing data courtesy of CompuLink

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