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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

Phoenix 2002: Force Going for 100th NHRA Win
From No. 1 Qualifying Position

By NHRA Communications

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 Series.

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 tomorrow."

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 two.

"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, 4.682, 315.93.

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.

NHRA Communications


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