San Antonio: Saturday qualifying report

Largest Crowd in San Antonio Raceway History Witnesses Thrilling Day of Racing Cruz Pedregon, Doug Foley, Maintain No. 1 Qualifying Spots NORWALK, Ohio (March 25, 2006) -- The capacity crowd at San Antonio Raceway, the biggest attendance in...

Largest Crowd in San Antonio Raceway History Witnesses Thrilling Day of Racing

Cruz Pedregon, Doug Foley, Maintain No. 1 Qualifying Spots

NORWALK, Ohio (March 25, 2006) -- The capacity crowd at San Antonio Raceway, the biggest attendance in the facility's history, got all it bargained for as the Torco Racing Fuels Pro Nitro Funny Car class shaped up to be a family feud at the first stop on the eMax Drag Racing Tour, the Amalie Oil Texas Nationals presented by Ancira Cars, Trucks and RVs and the San Antonio Express-News.

Camarillo, Calif.-resident Cruz Pedregon, who drove his Advance Auto Parts-sponsored entry to a 4.765 elapsed time during Friday qualifying, held on to the pole position when all was said and done Saturday. Pedregon's brother, Frank (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.), could not top that mark in two Saturday hits and had to settle for the #2 qualifying position. This is the first time in history two brothers have finished 1-2 in qualifying for an IHRA professional class.

Gary Densham (Bellflower, Calif.) and Paul Lee (Gaithersburg, Md.) rounded out the top half of the bracket.

Things remained the same in Torco Racing Fuels Pro Nitro Top Fuel as no drivers were able to move into the field Saturday evening. Teammates Doug Foley (Sewell, N.J.) and Rick Cooper (Boise, Id.) grabbed the #1 and #3 qualifying spots respectively for the Foley/Stevens Racing team. Friday Foley was able to post a 4.610/315.56 to take the pole as it held up all day Saturday. Bruce Litton (Indianapolis, Ind.) ran a 4.655/310.34 Friday to move into the #2 spot, where he stayed after Saturday's action.

Bobby Lagana, Jr. (Scarsdale, NY) spent Friday night on the bump and improved to #5 after final qualifying was over. Andrew Cowin (Wilmington, N.C.) ended up in the #8 spot.

In Torco Pro Stock, pretty much the only suspense was if Brian Gahm (Lucasville, Ohio) could back up his provisional IHRA World Record run of 6.354 set Friday. Saturday night, as one of the final pair, Gahm shook the tires and the run got out of sort. He needed a 6.417 to back up the record, but will have to settle for the #1 qualifier position instead. Gahm will face #9 seed Rick Jones (Galesburg, Ill.) in the first round of eliminations Sunday afternoon.

Defending Torco Pro Stock World Champion Steve Spiess (Manhattan, Ill.) drove his '05 Cobalt to the #3 position, right behind chassis builder Jerry Haas (Fenton, Mo.). Elijah Morton (Jacksonville, N.C.) sweated things out on the bump spot for a few runs, but his 6.457 held up.

The Alcohol Funny Car qualifying sessions Saturday did not produce much change from the order set Friday. Tom Carter (Cuero, Texas) moved from the #5 spot to #3, but other than that the field pretty much remained the same. Defending Amalie Oil Texas Nationals champion Rob Atchison (London, Ont.) grabbed the pole Friday and did not give it up after Saturday's two qualifying rounds. His 5.813/246.71 stood up to give him the top slot heading into Sunday's elimination rounds. Ohio farmer Mark Thomas (Louisville, Ohio) in his ethanol-powered Avenger stayed in the #2 slot.

The final Torco Pro Modified qualifying session ended with a tense moment as Scotty Cannon, Jr. (Lyman, S.C.) barrel-rolled his '06 GTO at the top end of the track after his final qualifying hit. Cannon, Jr. was reportedly walking around under his own power after the accident, but the spectacular crash had the crowd holding its breath for awhile. Cannon will be unable to make the call for Saturday's elimination sessions.

Rick DiStefano (Calgary, Alberta) remained in the #1 qualifying position when the final session concluded Saturday night, but the real story is who is on the outside of the field, looking in. Dennis Radford (Baker City, Or.) did not improve enough over his Friday times to move into the field. Steve Bareman (Elma, N.Y.) also failed to make the show as did the #2 finisher in 2005 points standings, Shannon "The Iceman" Jenkins (Tuscaloosa, Ala.). Harold Martin (West Bloomfield, Mich.) was on the bump spot heading into the final qualifying session, and ended up not holding on to #16. Defending event champion Ed Hoover (Gilbert, S.C.) also failed to run the number to get into the show.

After nitrous-powered cars finished 1-2 in the world championship points standings in '05, the blower engines made a small statement as nine of the 16 qualified entries run superchargers. DiStefano, however, claimed the #1 qualifying spot with a nitrous-powered '53 Corvette.

-ihra-

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Series Drag
Drivers Mark Thomas , Bruce Litton , Andrew Cowin , Gary Densham , Scotty Cannon , Ed Hoover , Cruz Pedregon , Paul Lee , Jerry Haas , Doug Foley , Harold Martin , Rick DiStefano , Steve Spiess