Cowin, T. Pedregon And W. Johnson
Top Honors At O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals
By NHRA Communications
Tenn. - Andrew Cowin earned his third career Top Fuel No. 1 qualifying
position Saturday at the O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals at Memphis
Tony Pedregon and Warren
Johnson also were the top qualifiers of their respective categories at
the $1.8 million race, the 19th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA
POWERade Drag Racing Series.
Cowin's Yankees dragster sped
down the track in 4.594 seconds at 319.75 during Friday's evening
session to lead the Top Fuel field heading into eliminations. After
qualifying No. 1 at the season-opener this year, Cowin suffered through
nine straight first round losses, persuading team-owner Darrell Gwynn to
bring on Mike Green and Tommy Delgado to tune the car.
"Ever since Mike and Tommy have come on board this thing's been a
rocket ship," said Cowin. "We had a pretty tough first half of
the season. We had a car that, when it stuck, could rotate the earth.
But it wasn't as consistent as it needed to be. Mike and Tommy got us
consistent and now, in the last three or four races, they've gotten us
Cowin's top qualifying effort
gives the team another boost of confidence after advancing to the second
round twice and the semifinals three times in the last five events,
moving Cowin into eighth place in the NHRA POWERade Top Fuel standings.
"We'd like to win a
couple of these things before we're through this year. If you're not
having fun there's no point in doing something and we're really having
some fun now. Drag racing's funny because it all comes around full
circle. If you have a bad stretch you know you just have to work through
it because the good times are right around the bend. I think we're
getting there now."
Current point leader Larry
Dixon qualified No.3 in his Miller Lite dragster and will face Chris
Karamesines in the opening round while rival Kenny Bernstein scored the
No. 2 position and will face Mitch King.
Pedregon's performance in his Castrol Syntec Ford Mustang of 4.879 at
316.23 from Friday held up to lead all Funny Car competitors, earning
him his fifth top qualifying spot of the year and 15th of his career.
Pedregon qualified two spots ahead of points leader and team-owner John
Force and three spots ahead of teammate Gary Densham, giving Force
Racing's Ford Mustangs three of the top four spots in the ladder.
Pedregon trailed Force by 122 points entering the race.
"Any opportunity we have to gain (points) on John, it's a good
thing," said Pedregon. "I can't remember the last time any
team was this close to him this late in the season. Guys have shown
flashes of being able to hang with him but no one has done it week in
and week out. Of course we'd like to gain another round or two on him
tomorrow. If that happens then there's definitely some blood in the
"Of course it could go the other way. We could lose early and he
could go rounds. I don't see that happening, but it could.
Pedregon will meet Todd Paton
in the opening round of competition. Paton eliminated Force in the first
round at Reading, Pa., last week as Pedregon scored the win and cut into
Force's lead in the POWERade standings.
"The competition is there no matter how you slice it. Anyone that
qualifies can beat you, and that goes for John too. I'd like to say the
pressure is on John, but nobody's been there more than him and we all
know he thrives on pressure. Still, come Sunday night, we might have
another twist in this story."
Johnson secured his 126th
career Pro Stock No. 1 qualifying position and first of the season when
he stopped the clocks in 6.840 at 201.31 in his GM Goodwrench Pontiac
Grand Am and will line up against Allen Johnson (no relation) in the
Johnson's vehicle was damaged en route to Memphis Motorsports Park and
it suffered damage to the front end when it came loose in the trailer it
was being transported in.
"I've been beat up worse than that," Johnson said of his car's
damage. "There was no structural damage at all, just flesh wounds.
It really looks a lot worse than it is. I've never been paid to be
pretty so why should this weekend be any different?
"We've picked up our performance because we've finally had a chance
to work on our own stuff. We've spent so much time this year on new
bodies and the DRCE 3 and DRCE 4 cylinder heads that we haven't had the
time to work on and develop our own stuff. It's all about cubic hours
and we haven't had enough cubes lately."
Current points leader Jim Yates qualified fourth while Greg Anderson,
who is second in the standings, struggled and made the field in the No.
15 spot. In a significant first round matchup, Anderson will meet No. 2
qualifier Jeg Coughlin who is third in the NHRA POWERade Pro Stock
Eliminations begin Sunday at 11 a.m.
MILLINGTON, Tenn. -- First-round pairings for Sunday's eliminations for
the 15th annual O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals at Memphis Motorsports
Park, the 19th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing
1. Andrew Cowin, 4.594 seconds, 319.75 mph vs. 16. Paul Romine,
5.064, 252.33; 2. Kenny Bernstein, 4.595, 318.09 vs. 15. Mitch
King, 4.977, 289.82; 3. Larry Dixon, 4.612, 318.69 vs. 14. Chris
Karamesines, 4.938, 291.45; 4. Cory McClenathan, 4.623, 319.52 vs.
13. Mike Smith, 4.837, 300.26; 5. Tony Schumacher, 4.641, 312.13
vs. 12. Darrell Russell, 4.822, 296.18; 6. Rhonda Hartman-Smith, 4.658,
312.86 vs. 11. Bruce Litton, 4.803, 312.06; 7. John Smith, 4.677,
315.64 vs. 10. Doug Kalitta, 4.799, 297.02; 8. Doug Herbert,
4.745, 312.42 vs. 9. Scott Weis, 4.775, 277.20.
1. Tony Pedregon, Ford Mustang, 4.879, 316.23 vs. 16. Todd Paton,
Chevy Camaro, 5.768, 175.73; 2. Del Worsham, Pontiac Firebird, 4.903,
313.07 vs. 15. Scotty Cannon, Firebird, 5.285, 259.86; 3. John
Force, Mustang, 4.909, 315.78 vs. 14. Cruz Pedregon, Firebird,
5.152, 287.29; 4. Gary Densham, Mustang, 4.917, 295.34 vs. 13. Bob
Gilbertson, Firebird, 5.149, 294.56; 5. Tim Wilkerson, Firebird, 4.934,
300.26 vs. 12. Bruce Sarver, Toyota Celica, 5.074, 295.14; 6. Ron
Capps, Camaro, 4.958, 300.93 vs. 11. Dale Creasy Jr., Firebird,
5.053, 296.24; 7. Johnny Gray, Firebird, 4.971, 304.46 vs. 10.
Tommy Johnson Jr., Camaro, 5.034, 301.87; 8. Dean Skuza, Dodge Stratus
R/T, 4.986, 298.54 vs. 9. Bob Bode, Firebird, 5.002, 299.93.
1. Warren Johnson, Pontiac Grand Am, 6.840, 201.31 vs. 16. Allen
Johnson, Dodge Neon R/T, 6.872, 201.10; 2. Jeg Coughlin, Chevy Cavalier,
6.842, 200.41 vs. 15. Greg Anderson, Cavalier, 6.869, 200.35; 3.
Greg Stanfield, Neon R/T, 6.847, 200.29 vs. 14. Bruce Allen, Grand
Am, 6.868, 200.20; 4. Jim Yates, Grand Am, 6.848, 200.20 vs. 13.
Ron Krisher, Cavalier, 6.868, 201.01; 5. Gene Wilson, Neon R/T, 6.850,
200.02 vs. 12. Robert Patrick, Ford Mustang, 6.866, 199.61; 6.
Kenny Koretsky, Cavalier, 6.854, 199.73 vs. 11. Troy Coughlin,
Cavalier, 6.866, 200.14; 7. Kurt Johnson, Cavalier, 6.856, 200.35
vs. 10. Mark Whisnant, Cavalier, 6.866, 200.77; 8. Tom Hammonds,
Cavalier, 6.859, 200.17 vs. 9. Mike Edwards, Cavalier, 6.864,