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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

Dixon, Pedregon and Coughlin Claim Top
Qualifying Spots at Bristol Dragway

By NHRA Communications

BRISTOL, Tenn. - Larry Dixon is one step closer to bouncing back from a rare first-round loss in Houston two weeks ago. The Top Fuel points leader earned his fourth No. 1 qualifying position of the season Saturday at the second annual Mac Tools Thunder Valley NHRA Nationals at Bristol Dragway.

Dixon drove his Miller Lite Dragster to a 4.583-second run at 323.19 mph to top the category after two days of qualifying.

Tony Pedregon and Troy Coughlin led their respective categories at the $1.8 million race, the sixth of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

Dixon had raced in 30 consecutive events without a first round loss before being ousted early in Houston.

"We had a mechanical problem in Houston," Dixon said. "It wasn't a bad call on the setup, it wasn't driver error, it was just a mechanical problem. It wasn't anyone's fault. But we just want to quit talking about Houston and start talking about Bristol."

Dixon is in the top spot of the point standing, with Kenny Bernstein and Tony Schumacher rounding out the top three, respectively. Dixon said there are more than just a few cars on the track that can take the victory.

"Being the quickest in both sessions (Saturday) was a bonus because we race during the day on Sundays," Dixon said. "There are four or five cars that you could easily worry about out there, like the Cory McClenathan or Doug Kalitta teams. But right now, I am only concerned about (first round opponent) Roger Dean.

"We just have to approach the race one car at a time."

Pedregon drove his Castrol Syntec Ford Mustang to a track record pass of 4.844 at 322.34 to pace the Funny Car category. It is his first No. 1 qualifier of the season and the 11th of Pedregon's career.

"I thought the conditions in the first round were real marginal and I knew our time would hold as the top spot," Pedregon said. "There were a few cars that were capable, but they just didn't get it done. The weather always plays a big role with these cars."

Last season, Pedregon did not even qualify for the Bristol event - something he remembers vividly.

"This is a lot of redemption for us," Pedregon said. "(Not qualifying here) was the low point of our season last year. There is no better way to rebound then to come back and grab the top spot."

Aiming for a first round victory, Pedregon is going to need to go through his teammate, Gary Densham, first.

"I am a little bummed out that we get Gary Densham in the first round," Pedregon said. "You hate to pair up with your teammate, but you have to treat them like any other customer.

"I don't know about him, but I know I am pulling for me. Our approach is to be aggressive and I think we have an advantage over the other teams because our car has already performed well."

Coughlin set a track record in elapsed time with a 6.853 pass at 200.74 to lead the Pro Stock class in Jeg's Mail Order Chevy Cavalier.

"The track conditions changed pretty drastically from (Friday's) night session," Coughlin said. "But I think we still have a pretty good handle on how to get down this track." Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday.

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- First-round pairings for professional eliminations Sunday for the Second annual Mac Tools Thunder Valley NHRA Nationals at Bristol Dragway, the sixth of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. Pairings based on results in qualifying, which ended Saturday.

Top Fuel -- 1. Larry Dixon, 4.583 seconds, 323.19 mph vs. 16. Roger Dean, 5.210, 281.77; 2. Kenny Bernstein, 4.599, 323.27 vs. 15. Bruce Litton, 4.879, 301.87; 3. Doug Kalitta, 4.609, 319.45 vs. 14. John Smith, 4.842, 303.84; 4. Cory McClenathan, 4.609, 313.66 vs. 13. Scott Weis, 4.813, 288.46; 5. Rhonda Hartman-Smith, 4.682, 300.26 vs. 12. Tony Schumacher, 4.801, 302.75; 6. Darrell Russell, 4.685, 308.64 vs. 11. Andrew Cowin, 4.795, 312.35; 7. David Grubnic, 4.689, 307.30 vs. 10. Doug Herbert, 4.765, 306.88; 8. Shirley Muldowney, 4.738, 316.38 vs. 9. Melanie Troxel, 4.755, 306.33.

Funny Car -- 1. Tony Pedregon, Ford Mustang, 4.844, 322.34 vs. 16. Gary Densham, Mustang, 5.041, 289.07; 2. Tim Wilkerson, Pontiac Firebird, 4.895, 311.49 vs. 15. Johnny Gray, Firebird, 5.036, 301.94; 3. John Force, Mustang, 4.896, 310.20 vs. 14. Tommy Johnson Jr., Chevy Camaro, 5.020, 300.80; 4. Ron Capps, Camaro, 4.907, 308.21 vs. 13. Todd Paton, Camaro, 5.016, 296.50; 5. Dean Skuza, Dodge Stratus R/T, 4.909, 300.73 vs. 12. Bob Gilbertson, Firebird, 5.011, 303.71; 6. Whit Bazemore, Firebird, 4.910, 312.42 vs. 11. Dale Creasy Jr., Firebird, 4.971, 302.28; 7. Del Worsham, Firebird, 4.921, 311.85 vs. 10. Bob Bode, Dodge Avenger, 4.966, 297.75; 8. Cruz Pedregon, Firebird, 4.946, 306.88 vs. 9. Scotty Cannon, Firebird, 4.957, 309.91.

Pro Stock -- 1. Troy Coughlin, Chevy Cavalier, 6.853, 200.74 vs. 16. Kurt Johnson, Cavalier, 6.916, 200.62; 2. Jim Yates, Pontiac Grand Am, 6.857, 201.46 vs. 15. George Marnell, Grand Am, 6.902, 198.90; 3. V. Gaines, Cavalier, 6.868, 201.01 vs. 14. Larry Nance, Oldsmobile Cutlass, 6.901, 199.23; 4. Greg Anderson, Cavalier, 6.873, 200.86 vs. 13. Richie Stevens, Grand Am, 6.900, 199.26; 5. Ron Krisher, Cavalier, 6.881, 201.58 vs. 12. Darrell Alderman, Dodge Neon R/T, 6.899, 200.38; 6. Jeg Coughlin, Cavalier, 6.886, 199.61 vs. 11. Tom Lee, Neon R/T, 6.897, 199.64; 7. Warren Johnson, Grand Am, 6.887, 201.10 vs. 10. Gene Wilson, Neon R/T, 6.897, 200.47; 8. JR Carr, Pontiac Firebird, 6.888, 200.02 vs. 9. Mike Edwards, Cavalier, 6.896, 199.43.

NHRA Communications


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