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
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
"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
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
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
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
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
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.