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Sat, 11 Nov 2000, 05:04 PM

POMONA-2 - Funny Car Qualifying Notes, Session #3
By Larry Sullivan

POMONA, Calif. - Notes from round 3 qualifying in Funny Car at the 36th annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals 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: Jeff Arend Runs 5.511/232.43, Now #16; Best prior run: 19.805/56.85, Was #29

12:47 PM Arend struggled through the 1,320 to get into the field, but on the bump spot and very vulnerable. The car appeared to have at least one dead cylinder for most of the run, but the run was otherwise straight and smooth.

Left Lane: David Benjamin Runs 10.554/75.80, Now #14; Best prior run: 5.406/239.82, Was #14
Right Lane: Peter Russo Runs 6.023/194.21, Now #22; Best prior run: 14.076/71.59, Was #29

Benjamin dropped a cylinder or two on the left side and moved out toward the wall on the launch, so he gave it up very early. Russo's engine went into self-destruct mode early in the run, getting progressively weaker as he went down the track.

Left Lane: Bob Hallock Runs 5.424/259.81, Now #15; Best prior run: 5.595/196.04, Was #19
Right Lane: Cristen Powell Runs 9.899/76.62, Now #29; Best prior run: 10.558/65.69, Was #29

Cristen lost traction very early in the run. Hallock made a full pass, then had a very late chute.

Left Lane: Dean Skuza Runs 9.102/91.08, Now #2; Best prior run: 4.921/307.86, Was #2
Right Lane: Johnny Gray No Time, Now #27; Best prior run: 8.573/109.67, Was #27

Gray shut off after the burnout. Skuza lost traction after 100 feet or so.

Left Lane: Phil Burkart Runs 5.070/284.56, Now #7; Best prior run: 8.871/95.79, Was #28
Right Lane: Louis Sweet Runs 5.041/296.50, Now #6; Best prior run: 7.864/106.70, Was #25

Two very nice passes by a couple of struggling teams, but Sweet had a wild ride after that, his chutes failing to deploy for a long time - and then only one came out. Sweet got out and was jumping up and down with happiness, "tickled to death" (his words) to have such a good run.

Left Lane: Gary Densham Runs 8.917/99.74, Now #27; Best prior run: 8.028/108.91, Was #27
Right Lane: Tim Wilkerson Runs 15.897/73.48, Now #26; Best prior run: 7.727/111.24, Was #26

Rumors to the contrary, Densham has no plans of retiring after this year. He has a new car in preparation for next season and will compete in at least the first five events with Automobile Club of Southern California sponsorship. Both teams continue to struggle here, however, Wilkerson losing traction very quickly and Densham not long after.

Left Lane: Del Worsham Runs 4.929/306.53, Now #3; Best prior run: 7.284/117.65, Was #25
Right Lane: Ron Capps Runs 4.951/295.14, Now #4; Best prior run: 5.707/168.11, Was #23

Two more good runs, Capps' Camaro trailing tire smoke on the top end of his run while Worsham was clean all the way through the lights. That makes the bump spot Dale Creasy Jr.'s 5.313.

Left Lane: John Lawson Runs 5.176/284.69, Now #12; Best prior run: 5.349/254.76, Was #17
Right Lane: John Force Runs 5.046/282.60, Now #1; Best prior run: 4.908/291.63, Was #1

Force's "Grinch" car is a bit heavier today, lots of racer tape and fiberglass patches under the bodywork to hold the damaged body together. The car took a very crooked path to the finish line, Force drawing on all his accumulated skills to keep it between the lines, showing us both sides of the car between half track and the finish line. Good, clean pass by Lawson to bump Creasy and put Bob Gilbertson in peril at 5.288.

Left Lane: Cruz Pedregon Runs 5.194/242.02, Now #15; Best prior run: 5.575/184.19, Was #22
Right Lane: Scott Weis Runs 5.123/288.89, Now #11; Best prior run: 5.628/238.85, Was #24

Double bump, putting both Gilbertson and Cory Lee out. Weis ate a bunch of engine parts in the lights, but he's in the field - for now, at least. Cruz is a lot more vulnerable, just one spot away from Jim Epler's 5.219, the new bump spot.

Left Lane: Todd Paton Runs 18.442/52.39, Now #23; Best prior run: 5.449/205.85, Was #22
Right Lane: Whit Bazemore Runs 5.188/262.64, Now #15; Best prior run: 5.578/185.97, Was #24

Paton lost traction almost immediately. Bazemore sacrificed an engine to get into the field, car over-revving on the top end. Tire smoke turned to engine smoke and the Safety Safari rolled to put out some flames when the Kendall Camaro came to a smoking stop. That bumps Epler, putting Cruz on the bump spot at 5.194.

Left Lane: Dale Creasy Jr. Runs 11.144/80.35, Now #20; Best prior run: 5.313/281.30, Was #20
Right Lane: Cory Lee Runs 5.755/172.17, Now #18; Best prior run: 5.269/254.28, Was #18

These two were bumped from the field just a few minutes ago. Lee outdid Dean Skuza on his burnout, smoking the tires well past half track. Both have problems and stay outside the field, Creasy losing traction early in the run and Lee spinning the tires hard at half track, the car getting sideways before he gave it up.

Left Lane: Bob Gilbertson Runs 5.010/300.66, Now #6; Best prior run: 5.288/223.54, Was #19
Right Lane: Jim Epler Runs 6.735/129.74, Now #18; Best prior run: 5.219/271.57, Was #17

Two more recent "bumpees." Epler lost traction after 100 feet or so and will remain outside, with just one shot left, but Gilbertson made a very nice run, right down the groove, to not only get in, he's in the top half of the field.

Left Lane: Jerry Toliver Runs 5.045/294.95, Now #10; Best prior run: 5.182/288.46, Was #15
Right Lane: Al Hofmann Runs 5.163/239.14, Now #14; Best prior run: 5.166/270.59, Was #13

Cruz Pedregon was bumped by Gilbertson, putting Bazemore on the bubble at 5.188. Toliver moved away from the bump spot on a gutsy run, the car dropping a cylinder on the top end, making a hard move toward the wall. Toliver drove through it to salvage a good qualifying run. Hofmann was also on a good run, but the car faltered on the top end, popping the burst panel out of the hood around the 1,000-foot marker.

Left Lane: Frank Pedregon No Time, Now #8; Best prior run: 5.034/275.22, Was #8

Left Lane: Tony Pedregon Runs 4.947/299.13, Now #4; Best prior run: 5.070/280.89, Was #12
Right Lane: Frank Pedregon Runs 6.370/129.42, Now #9; Best prior run: 5.034/275.22, Was #8

Pedregons, a pair. Frank is in his backup car after destroying the primary car yesterday. Tony is in the "Dracula" monster-themed car and makes a "monster run." Pedregon made a planned half-track pass to check out the replacement car.

Left Lane: Scotty Cannon Runs 5.246/220.66, Now #8; Best prior run: 5.011/272.89, Was #8
Right Lane: Bruce Sarver Runs 5.315/220.40, Now #6; Best prior run: 5.008/294.88, Was #6

Cannon, the other half of yesterday's fender-bender, is in the backup "Mad Professor" Camaro. Both cars left hard and appeared to be on good runs, but both crossed the finish line with the engines silent after suffering engine woes at mid track.

That wraps up the third qualifying session with John Force still on the pole and Whit Bazemore on the bubble.

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