McClenathan, Pedregon, Anderson, Hines On Top
Patience was the order of the day in Friday’s qualifying session as several oildowns and the subsequent cleanup pushed the action well past 9pm.
The wait paid off for Cory McClenathan who took advantage of the cooler track conditions to bounce back for a poor run in the Friday’s first session to post a blistering record-setting run in the evening session to take the provisional pole in Top Fuel.
Coming into the second event in the Countdown to the Championship as the no. 2 man in the Top Fuel points standings behind Larry Dixon, McClenathan paired up with Dixon in the first round, but both drivers rattled the tires midway down the track and shut down.
McClenathan came back in the second round and posted a 3.381 at a track-record shattering top speed of 321.12 mph to bump Antron Brown to second.
Looking to rebound from his disappointing final-round loss to Larry Dixon in the US Nationals in Indianapolis two weeks ago, McClenathan will be looking to gain some ground on Dixon with a third-straight zMax victory on Sunday.
“It ran 321 mph. Big speed. That's a good run,” said McClenathan. “The track just got really good after it started getting cooler out there, but have I told you how much I love zMax Dragway here lately? Seems to go with our flow of things.”
Brown held onto second with a time of 3.832. Brandon Bernstein moved up to third with a 3.839, followed by Dixon, who moved from the bump spot to fourth with a second round run of 3.846. Top Fuel points leader Tony Schumacher held the provisional pole after the first round with a run of 3.866 but fell to fifth following round two.
Troy Buff holds the no. 12 bump spot, while Countdown drivers Shawn Langdon and Morgan Lucas are outside the top-12 and will need to pick it up on Saturday.
Cruz Pedregon proved that even though he missed the Countdown field for 2010, he’s still going to make some noise, topping the Funny Car ladder with a 4.078 to knock points leader John Force off the top spot.
Despite engine problems in both of Friday’s rounds, it was the second-fastest qualifying effort of the season for Pedregon, who hasn’t had a top qualifier position since this event a year ago.
“Even though we're not in the Countdown, I told Dave Rieff from ESPN that we're going to race like we're in the Countdown; the car doesn't know any better,” said Pedregon. “It would be nice to get a couple final rounds and maybe win a race or two before the year is over.”
John Force briefly topped the qualifying charts with a run of 4.222 in Friday’s first round, but following his post-run inspection Force was DQ’d and his run thrown out after officials ruled the body of his Ford Mustang was found to be too low. He bounced back in the second round with a run of 4.081 to take the top spot again before being bumped by Pedregon.
Bob Tasca III was third with a 4.109, followed by Jeff Arend (4.115) and Del Worsham (4.123). Paul Lee holds the bump spot with Matt Hagan, Tony Pedregon, Robert Hight and Tim Wilkerson still not in the show.
Hometown driver Greg Anderson holds the no. 1 spot in Pro Stock with a run of 6.624 to bump Jason Line from the head of the field.
Fifth in points coming into this weekend’s event, Anderson has yet to qualify better than fourth this season after picking up four in 2009 and will be looking for his first victory at his home track.
“I haven’t actually even been in the press room at zMax Dragway,” said Anderson. “It’s great to see the inside of it instead of the outside of it - feel great coming up here finally, but it’s been definitely a dry spell. I’ve struggled a little bit at this racetrack, just never quite found the handle on it. We switched cars and decided to go back to an old car we ran that’s been parked since last year, just trying to shake things up, and the thing’s has just been absolutely working flawlessly here.
“I can’t think of a better place than (zMax), I live here, my shop is here, I love this place, beautiful racetrack. Got a lot of family and friends out here this weekend. It’s been a little embarrassing the last couple years what the way I’ve performed here in front of them, this feels a whole lot better. It may be provisional and I may not be able to get up here tomorrow, or we might hang on, but either way, tonight I feel great.
Mike Edwards ran a 6.631 to move to the number two position, while Line fell to third with a 6.633, followed by Ronnie Humphrey (6.637) and Dave Connolly (6.637). Jeg Coughlin occupies the 12th spot with 10 drivers still looking to get it, including Countdown driver Greg Stanfield.
Following his all-around qualifying performance two weeks ago at Indy, Hines repeated the performance by topping the charts in both rounds, posting a 6.941 and following it up with a 6.913.
Looking for redemption this week after losing in the finals at Indy to L.E. Tonglet, Hines’ second run bumped Tonglet’s 6.917 to the second spot. Eddie Krawiec was third at 192.55, followed by Karen Stoffer (6.953) and Jim Underdahl (6.994).
Matt Smith sits on the bump with Countdown contender David Hope in 14th.
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