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Sat, 13 Nov 2004, 08:41 PM

Funny Car Qualifying Notes, Final Session
By Darryl Jackman

POMONA, Calif. - Notes from final, round 4 qualifying in Funny Car at the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, 40th 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:
Left Lane: Jerry Toliver Runs 4.929/311.27, Now #19; Best prior run: 10.824/80.53, Was #26
Right Lane: David Benjamin Runs 7.281/119.40, Now #25; Best prior run: 7.010/121.72, Was #24

4:34 p.m. Weather conditions: air temperature 67 degrees, relative humidity 55 percent, barometer 28.88 inches, adjusted altitude 2,100 feet, track temperature 78 degrees.

This is it. This is the final qualifying session of the 2004 Professional season and for some teams it's been a long year. About the only thing left is to figure out who finishes #2 in Funny Car. Is it Gary Scelzi or Del Worsham? At the moment, unofficially, Worsham has a 5 point lead on my scratch paper. Benjamin was off the pedal before half track and clicks it off. Toliver drives the same as he has all season, trying right to the end. The Toyota moves towards the center and almost crossed before the finish. He gets a time, but not one that will make the show. That's two down.

Left Lane: Peter Russo No Time, Now #26; Best prior run: 9.984/83.77, Was #26
Right Lane: Bob Gilbertson Runs 4.922/310.98, Now #19; Best prior run: 5.372/193.96, Was #24

Russo's crew couldn't get the car to catch on nitro. When they cut over to nitro the car died and they had to push him away. Gilbertson came about as close as Toliver but the result is the joy.

Right Lane: Dale Pulde Runs 10.070/95.47, Now #24; Best prior run: 5.242/267.16, Was #24

Pulde struck the tires within 20 feet of the starting line and his weekend is finished.

Left Lane: Frank Pedregon Runs 4.919/311.99, Now #16; Best prior run: 4.877/314.17, Was #16
Right Lane: Terry Haddock Runs 5.059/238.85, Now #22; Best prior run: 5.180/234.94, Was #23

F. Pedregon is still on the bump and looks to rectify the problem. Another 4.9 comes up on the board and the driver and team can only wait out the next few runs. Haddock will fall short but Gray, Arend, Downing at least could put him out.

Left Lane: Tony Bartone Runs 11.486/74.65, Now #15; Best prior run: 4.854/309.63, Was #15
Right Lane: Jack Wyatt Runs 5.257/238.76, Now #23; Best prior run: 5.079/266.32, Was #23

Oops, I forgot Wyatt. Here's another one that could bump Pedregon. Wyatt falls short. He appeared to be on a pretty good pass but the fire went out at about 1000 to 1100 feet. Bartone had problems earlier in the run and shut it down.

Left Lane: Jim Head Runs 4.933/282.30, Now #14; Best prior run: 4.849/313.07, Was #14
Right Lane: Jeff Arend Runs 4.952/310.77, Now #18; Best prior run: 4.896/315.64, Was #18

Arend is the next to take a shot at Frank. He's been close at 4.896 but that was way back in the past on Thursday. Well, 4.9s are cheap. The problem is someone needs to run quicker than 4.877. Arend has run 4.844 as a career best and he could have used that here.

Left Lane: Bob Bode Runs 4.844/303.16, Now #13; Best prior run: 4.829/307.44, Was #13
Right Lane: Johnny Gray Runs 4.837/324.05, Now #14; Best prior run: 4.891/320.36, Was #17

Gray is now the last car that can bump F. Pedregon. Say goodbye to F. Pedregon and hello to the quickest Funny Car field in history. This replaces Chicago-2, 2004 as the quickest. The bump at Chicago was 4.862 and the bump here is now Tony Bartone at 4.854. Just a sidenote but Bartone was on the bump in the Chicago field also. Bode fails to improve.

Left Lane: Gary Scelzi Runs 4.728/326.00, Now #1; Best prior run: 4.780/327.03, Was #9
Right Lane: Phil Burkart Runs 4.759/327.11, Now #5; Best prior run: 4.811/324.44, Was #12

Scelzi gets that 5 points back from qualifying on this hit. Scelzi is the new #1 and Burkart goes into the top half as well. Big MPH on bot of those passes.

Left Lane: Tony Pedregon Runs 4.734/316.01, Now #2; Best prior run: 4.779/321.12, Was #10
Right Lane: Cruz Pedregon Runs 4.772/320.97, Now #10; Best prior run: 4.796/324.51, Was #12

T. Pedregon can't quite catch Scelzi but he will wind up #2 for the moment. It appeared that the chute came out late on the Quaker State car and he just barely nosed the car into the sand box. C. Pedregon got a pretty good lap on the books and moves up two spots.

Left Lane: Tommy Johnson Jr. Runs 4.759/326.79, Now #7; Best prior run: 4.777/323.74, Was #11
Right Lane: Ron Capps Runs 4.921/276.80, Now #12; Best prior run: 4.791/318.92, Was #12

Johnson goes to the top half of the show at this moment. Capps was side by side with TJ but something happened after half track and he clicked it early.

Left Lane: Tim Wilkerson Runs 9.240/89.39, Now #9; Best prior run: 4.764/317.49, Was #9
Right Lane: Whit Bazemore Runs 10.751/72.77, Now #10; Best prior run: 4.769/326.95, Was #10

Tire smoke from both cars and qualifying is over for this pair. Both get to play on Sunday.

Left Lane: Eric Medlen Runs 5.783/159.74, Now #8; Best prior run: 4.764/320.28, Was #8
Right Lane: Gary Densham Runs 4.706/329.75, Now #1; Best prior run: 4.753/325.61, Was #5

Medlen lights one up big time! Right at half track he cut one up and the fire got bigger and bigger the further he got down course. By the time he crossed the stripe there was fire in all four wheel wells and out of the engine cutout. As he rolled to a stop the hatch popped open and he came rolling out. After calmly sliding out of the hatch he stood next to the car and watched it burn. The Safari got there and lifted the body and began spraying everything. The body was on fire and it took a few seconds for the firemen to notice the flames licking at the carbon fiber. Almost unnoticed in the mess was the fact that Gary Densham was the new #1 qualifier in the quickest field in history. They are cleaning Medlen's lane and we're down for a few minutes. Along with the unnoticed #1 was also the fact that Densham had set Top Speed of the event for Funny Car. This is a pretty nice way for Densham to remember his stay with John Force Racing.

Left Lane: John Force Runs 4.698/329.18, Now #1; Best prior run: 4.747/324.12, Was #5
Right Lane: Del Worsham Runs 4.728/329.67, Now #3; Best prior run: 4.737/328.54, Was #4

The Safari is finished and the call is 'Fire the next pair'. This is the final pair of Funny Cars in qualifying for the season and it's appropriate that it's John Force and Del Worsham. Numbers one and two in points in 2004. Force does his own teammate this time. Densham had the length of the cleanup to celebrate his #1 pass before Force unloads the fourth quickest pass in history on him. Perhaps even more important in the points chase is that Worsham's run ties him with Scelzi on ET for qualifying. The tie breaker goes to Worsham on his huge speed and he pushes Scelzi one spot down to #4. Worsham's speed just misses Top Speed for Funny Car. That remains with Densham. That concludes qualifying and we've going to attempt to run some sportsman cars before we call it a day.

Timing data courtesy of CompuLink

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