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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

Dixon, Densham, Krisher and Hines Are No. 1
Going Into Eliminations at Gatornationals

By NHRA Communications

Jimmy Prock certainly found what he was looking for as Gary Densham hit the only FC 4.80 to lead qualifying. Photo by Phil Elliott
Jimmy Prock certainly found what he was looking for as Gary Densham hit the only FC 4.80 to lead qualifying. Photo by Phil Elliott

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - For the first time this season, someone beside John Force qualified in the No. 1 spot for the Funny Car category. Gary Densham earned his second No. 1 qualifying position of his career Saturday during the 33rd annual Mac Tools Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway.

Densham, a member of the three-car John Force Racing team, drove his Automobile Club of Southern California Ford Mustang to a 4.885-second run at 320.36 mph to top the 16-car field.

"It's dynamite to get the No. 1 qualifier," Densham said. "We are all learning about the new tire and (crew chief) Jimmy Prock has been a magician. He told me before we ran that he thought we could take over No. 1. I thought he was kidding, then we laid down that number."

Larry Dixon, Ron Krisher and Matt Hines grabbed the No. 1 spot in their respective categories at the $1.9 million race, the third of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

One problem several teams have had over the weekend has been the weather. The track has been hot during most of the runs.

"This is a beautiful facility, but it has been hot," Densham said. "We've had our trouble with that just like everyone else."

Force may not have gotten the top spot, but he still has some goals for Sunday. Force has 99 career victories, and is looking to earn No. 100.

"I want to get that win for Ford and Castrol," Force said. "I want to get it so we can get back to work and focus just on racing. But this 100th win will mean just as much as Densham's first win (last season). They are equally important."

Del Worsham, second in the points behind Force, failed to qualify for the first time in 28 events. The last time Worsham did not make the final 16 was at the Houston event in October 2000. In the first two races of the season, Worsham advanced to the final round in both races, earning one victory.

"We all have a long road ahead of us," Force said. "Del is going to be (in the points chase) in the end. They have some good hot rods on that team."

Dixon earned the 14th No. 1 qualifying spot of his career after turning in a 4.604 pass at 321.96 in his Miller Lite Dragster Top Fuel car.

Dixon is the defending champion of the Gatornationals.

"I think we were real fortunate to keep the No. 1 spot," Dixon said. "The track was a little warmer than we anticipated. I think you are going to have to hit the 4.60's every run (during eliminations) to win the race. Someone might even get sent home running in the 60's."

In the first two races of the season, Dixon has earned one top qualifier, and one event victory. He said the momentum of the 2001 season has carried over into the 2002 season. Dixon finished second to Kenny Bernstein, as the title was decided at the last race of the season.

"I think our success (now) goes back to last season," Dixon said. "We finished second to Kenny, and I congratulated him on that because he had a better season. But that made us work that much harder in the offseason."

Legendary driver Shirley Muldowney, racing at Gainesville Raceway for the first time since 1987, qualified in the No. 9 spot in her Action Collectibles/Mac Tools Dragster with a time of 4.790 pass at 249.81. Muldowney's former rival, "Big Daddy" Don Garlits, however, failed to make the field. Driving his Matco Tools Swamp Rat XXXIV, Garlits was No. 18 with a 5.095 pass at 289.32.

Krisher earned his eighth low qualifying position with a 6.821 run at 203.25 in his Eagle One Chevy Cavalier to top the Pro Stock class. This is the third straight race that Krisher has taken the No. 1 position.

"We are real excited," Krisher said. "We have a tremendous race car, but I think that we are going to be a bit more conservative on race day. It really is anybody's race."

Former NBA player Tom Hammonds will start in the No. 2 spot - a career best. Hammonds drove his Winnebago Chevy Cavalier to a 6.845 pass at 201.82.

Hines grabbed the 40th No. 1 qualifying position of his career with a 7.156 pass at 193.85 on a Vance & Hines/Eagle Once Suzuki to pace the Pro Stock Motorcycle category. This is the first of 14 professional events for the two-wheel class.

"It feels great to get the No. 1 at this race," Hines, a three-time Pro Stock Motorcycle champion, said. "The bike is almost flawless. We are 150 percent focused on getting a championship season together."

Hines' father, Byron Hines, has been distracted throughout the offseason. Hines was instrumental in putting a Harley-Davidson entry into competition this season. The Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidson motorcycle, driven by GT Tonglet, failed to qualify for Sunday's elimination round. Tonglet turned in a time of 7.596 at 171.51 to finish outside the top 16.

"My dad has been working on the Harley program for about a year," Matt Hines said. "It's nice to see that program running because that was a big distraction for us. That Harley has a lot of promise. That bike has only about 10 runs on it and I think it is going to qualify as soon as Houston."

Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- First-round pairings for professional eliminations Sunday for the 33rd annual MAC Tools NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway, the third 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, 4.604 seconds, 321.96 mph vs. 16. Andrew Cowin, 4.995, 277.26; 2. Cory McClenathan, 4.691, 315.93 vs. 15. John Smith, 4.908, 284.27; 3. Kenny Bernstein, 4.694, 315.64 vs. 14. Bruce Litton, 4.888, 299.80; 4. Doug Kalitta, 4.702, 313.07 vs. 13. Darrell Russell, 4.884, 297.75; 5. Doug Herbert, 4.710, 306.33 vs. 12. Paul Romine, 4.862, 292.33; 6. Tony Schumacher, 4.717, 321.73 vs. 11. Scott Weis, 4.808, 270.92; 7. Clay Millican, 4.759, 310.41 vs. 10. David Grubnic, 4.801, 305.70; 8. Rhonda Hartman-Smith, 4.783, 277.15 vs. 9. Shirley Muldowney, 4.790, 249.81.

Funny Car -- 1. Gary Densham, Ford Mustang, 4.885, 320.36 vs. 16. Bob Gilbertson, Pontiac Firebird, 5.210, 233.12; 2. Whit Bazemore, Firebird, 4.916, 313.00 vs. 15. Bob Bode, Dodge Avenger, 5.158, 277.32; 3. Scotty Cannon, Firebird, 4.957, 313.07 vs. 14. Johnny Gray, Firebird, 5.072, 287.05; 4. Tim Wilkerson, Firebird, 4.962, 310.55 vs. 13. Gary Scelzi, Toyota Celica, 5.059, 299.13; 5. Cruz Pedregon, Firebird, 4.992, 301.00 vs. 12. John Lawson, Firebird, 5.057, 296.50; 6. John Force, Mustang, 5.005, 314.97 vs. 11. Dean Skuza, Dodge Stratus R/T, 5.049, 302.82; 7. Tony Pedregon, Mustang, 5.006, 314.31 vs. 10. Al Hofmann, Firebird, 5.046, 297.16; 8. Ron Capps, Chevy Camaro, 5.006, 296.57 vs. 9. Tommy Johnson Jr., Camaro, 5.021, 291.82.

Pro Stock -- 1. Ron Krisher, Chevy Cavalier, 6.821, 203.37 vs. 16. Mark Whisnant, Cavalier, 6.880, 201.55; 2. Tom Hammonds, Cavalier, 6.845, 201.82 vs. 15. Tom Martino, Pontiac Grand Am, 6.879, 200.80; 3. George Marnell, Grand Am, 6.857, 201.07 vs. 14. Bruce Allen, Grand Am, 6.876, 201.31; 4. Jeg Coughlin, Cavalier, 6.861, 201.85 vs. 13. Mark Pawuk, Grand Am, 6.875, 201.07; 5. Jim Yates, Grand Am, 6.862, 201.88 vs. 12. Troy Coughlin, Cavalier, 6.874, 201.31; 6. J.R. Carr, Pontiac Firebird, 6.867, 201.37 vs. 11. Warren Johnson, Grand Am, 6.874, 202.06; 7. Steve Schmidt, Grand Am, 6.867, 201.28 vs. 10. Darrell Alderman, Dodge Neon R/T, 6.873, 201.01; 8. V. Gaines, Cavalier, 6.868, 201.94 vs. 9. Kurt Johnson, Cavalier, 6.868, 202.15.

Pro Stock Motorcycle -- 1. Matt Hines, Suzuki, 7.156, 193.85 vs. 16. Chris Reuter, Suzuki, 7.396, 181.81; 2. Angelle Savoie, Suzuki, 7.175, 186.67 vs. 15. Joe DeSantis, Suzuki, 7.391, 184.62; 3. Shawn Gann, Suzuki, 7.182, 187.21 vs. 14. Michael Phillips, Suzuki, 7.391, 184.60; 4. Craig Treble, Suzuki, 7.249, 185.28 vs. 13. Greg Underdahl, Suzuki, 7.380, 181.06; 5. Antron Brown, Suzuki, 7.257, 182.43 vs. 12. John Smith, 7.350, 182.50; 6. Chris Bostick, Suzuki, 7.261, 182.11 vs. 11. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 7.346, 181.45; 7. Mike Berry, Suzuki, 7.278, 185.69 vs. 10. Terry Kizer, Suzuki, 7.322, 178.40; 8. Reggie Showers, Suzuki, 7.292, 183.89 vs. 9. Geno Scali, Kawasaki, 7.300, 181.35.

NHRA Communications


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