Dixon, Pedregon, Edwards, Krawiec pace opening day in Phoenix
Cruz Pedregon raced to the provisional top spot in Funny Car Friday night at the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Firebird Int’l Raceway.
Larry Dixon, Mike Edwards, and Eddie Krawiec were also provisional No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories at the 20th of 22 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series and the fourth of six races in the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship, the six-race playoffs to determine the world championships.
Pedregon took the provisional top spot in the field on the final qualifying session of the evening when he drove his Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry to a 4.215-second run at 296.37 mph. If it stands, it would be his sixth No. 1 qualifier of the season, 45th of his career, and second in Phoenix.
“We were a little nervous going up there because we had kind of missed it a little in the first run, even though we were fourth,” said Pedregon. “The car does it on its own, so we’re just trying to stay out of its way. The track is tricky. It has its own personality. Not all the tracks are the same, but that’s good because otherwise one team could set up its car just one way and dominate.”
Funny Car points leader Matt Hagan sits in the provisional fifth position in the field, and second-place driver in the points Mike Neff is in third. Defending event winner Jack Beckman currently sits in the fourth spot.
Dixon raced his Al-Anabi Racing dragster to the top of the Top Fuel field with a run of 3.919 at 303.84. If it stands, it would be his third No. 1 qualifier of the season, third at Firebird Int’l Raceway, and 51st of his career.
“The track tightened up for all the teams, and that’s why the numbers picked up quite a bit for the fuel cars,” said Dixon. “In the first session, the track was obviously very hot but not hotter than we’ve seen before, like three weeks ago in Dallas. It’s just a matter of making the adjustments for the ambient temperature and water grains, and [crew chief] Jason McCulloch and [assistant crew chief] Ronnie Thompson did a great job. They put a good number on the board, and it stuck.”
Top Fuel points leader Spencer Massey finished the opening day outside the top 12, in 16th, and will enter Saturday needing to make a representative run to make the field. Second-place driver in the points Antron Brown sits in the provisional ninth spot.
In Pro Stock, Edwards powered his Penhall/Interstate Batteries Pontiac GXP to the provisional top spot in Pro Stock with a run of 6.642 at 209.10. Though he posted the same time as points leader Jason Line, Edwards’ faster speed put the 2009 world champion in the provisional No. 1 qualifying position. If it stands, it would be his fourth No. 1 qualifier of the season, 38th of his career, and third straight No. 1 qualifier at Firebird Int’l Raceway.
“We always seem to run better with warmer track conditions,” said Edwards. “I don’t know why that is. We do most of our testing in our home state of Oklahoma, where the weather is usually pretty warm, but I’m not sure that’s the reason. Today’s run was good, but it wasn’t perfect. I think that we left a little bit on the track, and I think several of the other teams did so as well.”
Krawiec rode his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson to the top of the field in Pro Stock Motorcycle with a run of 6.939 at 193.63. If it stands, it would be Krawiec’s fourth No. 1 qualifier of the season and 10th of his career.
“It was important for me to get down the track with two really good laps,” said Krawiec. “We were a little bit nervous coming into this race, in the middle of the Countdown, with very little data for this track at this time of the year. That’s where you have to really rely on data from past years.”