CHANDLER, Ariz. -- John Force is chasing history at the Checker
Schuck's Kragen Nationals at Firebird International Raceway.
Larry Dixon and Ron Krisher also will lead their respective pro
categories into tomorrow's 11 a.m. eliminations for the $1.8 million race,
the second of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing
Force scored the 108th No. 1 qualifying position of his career and
second of the season to lead the Funny Car category.
With a victory, Force, who has won seven of the last eight events at
FIR, could become the first driver in NHRA history to post 100 wins.
"Getting 100 wins is a goal," Force said. "It is
special. It's for the history books."
Force, who will face rival Whit Bazemore in the opening round, posted a
track record performance of 4.797 at 318.17 to earn the top spot. Several
drivers, including Scotty Cannon, Tommy Johnson Jr. and Phil Burkart,
raised eyebrows with quick efforts on Saturday, when conditions were
overcast and cooler than Friday.
"The kids started catching us there today," said Force, who
watched his qualifying lead dwindle somewhat in two sessions. "But
Austin (Coil, crew chief) was pleased. After our last run, he said, ‘Excellent,
now we know what the car won't do.' That's important. Now we know how to
get it right for tomorrow."
He'll need a fast setup to defeat Bazemore, one of his toughest
challengers late last season. Bazemore qualified 16th with a 5.011 at
309.84, but with Lee Beard tuning the Matco Tools Pontiac Firebird, Force
knows the car has the potential to put up a fast number.
"Bazemore is kind of struggling right now, but they know how to
race, they'll fix it and be right there," Force added. "It's
going to be exciting for the fans to have us going at each other in the
first round. We'll be up for it. I have to get a good light and get
aggressive, but we have to make sure the car goes from point A to B."
Said Bazemore of the marquee first-round match: "It's always
important to control your own destiny and if there's a silver lining in
this black cloud that we have hanging over our heads, it's that we get the
opportunity to race Force in the first round. We've got our work cut out
for us. We're going to work on this Matco Tools car and we'll be ready for
Force teammate Gary Densham was second with a 4.833 at 321.19 in a Ford
Mustang, while Cannon was third, covering the distance in 4.848 at 317.57
in his Oakley Pontiac Firebird.
Dixon claimed his 13th career No. 1 qualifying position as no one ran
quicker than the 4.555-second effort he posted Friday in his Miller
Lite-Arizona Diamondbacks special edition dragster. He will face John
Smith in the first round as he tries to increase his season win total to
"The conditions were there for someone to run a high-40
today," Dixon said. "We didn't do it and fortunately no one else
did either. We got lucky there. The track was tight. Overall, I am happy
because we ended up being quick both sessions. Usually when we are quick
in both sessions on Saturday we're pretty good on race day."
Kenny Bernstein was second in his Budweiser King dragster, clocking a
4.567 at 325.85. Tony Schumacher posted the top speed at 329.26 in the
U.S. Army dragster and anchors the third position with a time of 4.588.
In Pro Stock, Krisher earned his second No. 1 qualifying position of
the season and seventh of his career, driving his Eagle One Chevy Cavalier
to a track record performance of 6.866 at 201.97.
CHANDLER, Ariz. -- First-round pairings for professional eliminations
Sunday for the 18th annual Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals at Firebird
International Raceway, the second 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, 4.555 seconds, 321.50 mph vs. 16. John
Smith, 4.855, 230.61; 2. Kenny Bernstein, 4.567, 325.85 vs. 15. Doug
Herbert, 4.804, 302.14; 3. Tony Schumacher, 4.588, 329.26 vs. 14. Paul
Romine, 4.800, 296.63; 4. David Grubnic, 4.600, 314.90 vs. 13. Ken Zeal,
4.790, 299.26; 5. Doug Kalitta, 4.605, 324.44 vs. 12. Darrell Russell,
4.735, 302.08; 6. Don Lampus, 4.617, 315.64 vs. 11. Yuichi Oyama, 4.718,
309.06; 7. Andrew Cowin, 4.642, 318.47 vs. 10. Clay Millican, 4.695,
312.57; 8. Rhonda Hartman-Smith, 4.644, 298.07 vs. 9. Cory McClenathan,
Funny Car -- 1. John Force, Ford Mustang, 4.797, 318.17 vs. 16. Whit
Bazemore, Pontiac Firebird, 5.011, 309.84; 2. Gary Densham, Mustang,
4.833, 321.19 vs. 15. Dale Creasy Jr., Firebird, 4.999, 276.24; 3. Scotty
Cannon, Firebird, 4.848, 317.57 vs. 14. John Lawson, Firebird, 4.985,
299.40; 4. Tommy Johnson Jr., Chevy Camaro, 4.867, 306.53 vs. 13. Al
Hofmann, Firebird, 4.972, 304.60; 5. Phil Burkart, Camaro, 4.868, 312.50
vs. 12. Cruz Pedregon, Firebird, 4.962, 278.06; 6. Tony Pedregon, Mustang,
4.885, 314.17 vs. 11. Johnny Gray, Firebird, 4.952, 312.06; 7. Gary
Scelzi, Toyota Celica, 4.886, 312.35 vs. 10. Del Worsham, Firebird, 4.929,
314.53; 8. Bob Gilbertson, Firebird, 4.903, 311.13 vs. 9. Ron Capps,
Camaro, 4.908, 312.06.
Pro Stock -- 1. Ron Krisher, Chevy Cavalier, 6.866, 201.97 vs. 16. Jeg
Coughlin, Cavalier, 6.925, 199.46; 2. Bruce Allen, Pontiac Grand Am,
6.877, 200.35 vs. 15. Greg Anderson, Cavalier, 6.922, 200.26; 3. Jim
Yates, Grand Am, 6.879, 200.77 vs. 14. V. Gaines, Cavalier, 6.919, 200.62;
4. Tom Hammonds, Cavalier, 6.889, 200.65 vs. 13. Mark Pawuk, Grand Am,
6.914, 199.64; 5. Warren Johnson, Grand Am, 6.890, 201.52 vs. 12. J.R.
Carr, Pontiac Firebird, 6.914, 199.94; 6. Mike Edwards, Cavalier, 6.890,
200.05 vs. 11. Darrell Alderman, Dodge Neon R/T, 6.909, 200.23; 7. George
Marnell, Grand Am, 6.899, 199.70 vs. 10. Mark Osborne, Neon R/T, 6.905,
200.59; 8. Kurt Johnson, Cavalier, 6.903, 200.71 vs. 9. Larry Morgan, Neon
R/T, 6.905, 200.83.