COMMERCE, Ga. - After a lengthy rain delay, Warren Johnson proved there
was such a thing as a home track advantage. Johnson grabbed the
provisional No. 1 qualifying position for Pro Stock at the 22nd annual
Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway on
Johnson, from nearby Buford, set both ends of the track record with a
6.863-second run at 201.46 mph to lead the category in his GM Performance
Pontiac Grand Am.
Cory McClenathan, Gary Densham, and Angelle Savoie led their respective
categories at the $1.8 million race, the seventh of 23 events in the $50
million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
Johnson said he has spent some quality time testing at his home track.
While the rain delayed the first qualifying round, he said the conditions
only helped the car get down the track quickly.
"We went up there and really walked the whole track to see what
kind of condition it was in, and felt pretty confident it would hold about
anything we threw at it," Johnson said. "We were really not
overly aggressive. We could've used a little more RPM on the starting line
but our approach was to get down the track and get qualified - we didn't
need a home run, just an infield hit. It worked out pretty good."
If Johnson can hold the No. 1 spot through both qualifying sessions on
Saturday, it will be his 126th No. 1 qualifier. He knew Friday's session
was important, seeing how the rain had already eliminated at least one
qualifying pass this weekend.
"Everyone went out there with the mindset of 'let's just get down
the track'," Johnson said. "We didn't want to try and get every
last inch of performance out of the car because that edge is so fine that
if you shake the tires it's all over - you're a little soft in the clutch
and you're a little low on RPM. This was the session where you didn't want
to shoot yourself in the foot."
McClenathan is the provisional Top Fuel leader after he turned in a
4.588 pass at 324.90 in his Centennial Batteries Dragster. This will be
his 27th No. 1 qualifier if it stands.
"You wait that long (because of the rain delay) to make a run and
you really want to get after it," McClenathan said. "We saw the
Funny Cars making some really good runs and Wes (Cerny, crew chief) said
we were going to go for it. I was ready and had to pedal the car once and
it reacted really well. When you make a run like that it's a lot of fun.
I'm really excited for this team. We've come up a little short of No. 1 a
couple of times this season, but tonight we went for it. "Hopefully
it will hold tomorrow, but you never know because this is a really good
track. There's some teams out here capable of running low 50s. The two
beer cars can run low 50s on gravel, so we'll have to wait and see what
Densham set the elapsed time track record with a 4.833 run in his
Automobile Club of Southern California Ford Mustang. No speed was recorded
for his run. "My legs were shaking before that run after the trouble
we had qualifying at Bristol," Densham said. "You never know
when you are going to get on a streak like that when you have trouble
qualifying. That run was perfect, we couldn't have had a better tune-up. I
would have liked to known what the speed was, because it was fast."
The scoreboard had Densham's speed at 355 - an obvious error. Crew
chief Jimmy Prock said he downloaded the data from the qualifying pass.
The estimated speed was between 326-327 - which would have erased the
track record speed of 318.58 set by Cruz Pedregon in April of 1998.
"We'll take that 355, but it might be a little tough to back
up," Densham joked. "I don't know what happened down there,
nothing came off of my car or (opposing lane) John (Force's) car. This is
the nicest track we have raced on since Pomona."
Savoie used a 7.240 pass at 189.76 on her CVEC Suzuki to pace the Pro
Stock Motorcycle class. Before her run, Savoie announced her new sponsor.
In the first two races of the season, Savoie raced without a primary
backer and still managed to stay in second place of the point standings.
"This is almost a dream come true for me to get a new sponsor, new
colors, new logo, new product with all of the principal CVEC people in
attendance, watching us grab the No. 1 qualifying spot," Savoie said.
"I was a little nervous because we had the leathers, helmet and a few
other things that we needed shipped to us this morning. With the weather
being the way it was, we were worried the planes would be delayed. But UPS
got it to us and it could not have turned out better."
Qualifying continues at 10:30 a.m. and 2:15 p.m. on Saturday. Final
eliminations are 11 a.m. on Sunday.
COMMERCE, Ga. -- Results Friday after qualifying for the 22nd annual
Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals presented by Pontiac at
Atlanta Dragway, seventh of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade
Drag Racing Series. Qualifying will continue Saturday for Sunday's final
Top Fuel -- 1. Cory McClenathan, 4.588 seconds, 324.90 mph; 2. Larry
Dixon, 4.600, 322.96; 3. Tony Schumacher, 4.650, no speed; 4. David
Grubnic, 4.665, 305.15; 5. Rhonda Hartman-Smith, 4.727, 287.90; 6. Kenny
Bernstein, 4.745, no speed; 7. Doug Herbert, 4.757, 316.60; 8. Andrew
Cowin, 4.862, 236.92; 9. Luigi Novelli, 5.077, 290.57; 10. Scott Weis,
5.933, 164.79; 11. John Smith, 6.804, 121.34; 12. Doug Kalitta, 9.098,
100.59; 13. Darrell Russell, 9.317, 82.95; 14. Fred Farndon, 10.664,
Funny Car -- 1. Gary Densham, Ford Mustang, 4.833, no speed; 2. Tim
Wilkerson, Pontiac Firebird, 4.849, 289.57; 3. Frank Pedregon, Firebird,
4.916, 311.77; 4. John Force, Mustang, 4.952, 314.53; 5. Dean Skuza, Dodge
Stratus R/T, 4.960, 310.84; 6. Cruz Pedregon, Firebird, 4.969, 305.49; 7.
Tony Pedregon, Mustang, 5.043, 271.08; 8. Dale Creasy Jr., Firebird,
5.226, 221.42; 9. Todd Paton, Chevy Camaro, 5.227, 219.40; 10. Scotty
Cannon, Firebird, 5.312, 281.95; 11. Johnny Gray, Firebird, 5.449, 270.32;
12. Del Worsham, Firebird, 6.086, 234.94; 13. Gary Scelzi, Toyota Celica,
6.194, 150.77; 14. Whit Bazemore, Firebird, 6.417, 146.70; 15. Tommy
Johnson Jr., Camaro, 7.222, 141.89; 16. John Lawson, Firebird, 8.590,
Pro Stock -- 1. Warren Johnson, Pontiac Grand Am, 6.863, 201.46; 2.
Greg Anderson, Chevy Cavalier, 6.890, 200.56; 3. Ron Krisher, Cavalier,
6.899, 200.92; 4. Darrell Alderman, Dodge Neon R/T, 6.904, 200.02; 5. Jeg
Coughlin, Cavalier, 6.906, 198.79; 6. Bruce Allen, Grand Am, 6.909,
199.14; 7. George Marnell, Grand Am, 6.916, 198.96; 8. Mark Osborne, Grand
Am, 6.918, 198.73; 9. Kurt Johnson, Cavalier, 6.924, 199.52; 10. Troy
Coughlin, Cavalier, 6.926, 198.41; 11. Mark Pawuk, Grand Am, 6.932,
198.26; 12. Jim Yates, Grand Am, 6.935, 198.99; 13. Tom Lee, Neon R/T,
6.943, 198.61; 14. Allen Johnson, Neon R/T, 6.953, 199.55; 15. Charlie
Greco, Cavalier, 6.964, 198.41; 16. Larry Morgan, Neon R/T, 6.976, 198.29.
Pro Stock Motorcycle -- 1. Angelle Savoie, Suzuki, 7.240, 189.76; 2.
Craig Treble, Suzuki, 7.275, 178.02; 3. Shawn Gann, Suzuki, 7.283, 184.12;
4. Matt Hines, Suzuki, 7.286, 188.67; 5. Antron Brown, Suzuki, 7.292,
180.98; 6. Thomas Miceli, Suzuki, 7.336, 179.21; 7. Mike Berry, Suzuki,
7.377, 181.37; 8. Reggie Showers, Suzuki, 7.384, 180.02; 9. Terry Kizer,
Suzuki, 7.388, 183.69; 10. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 7.404, 180.21; 11. John
Smith, Suzuki, 7.410, 185.10; 12. Michael Phillips, Suzuki, 7.483, 177.46;
13. Chris Bostick, Suzuki, 7.523, 176.49; 14. Sam Hurwitz, Suzuki, 7.532,
175.50; 15. Chris Reuter, Suzuki, 7.540, 181.25; 16. Tommy Grimes Jr,
Suzuki, 7.560, 173.01.