Atlanta: Final qualifying summary

COMMERCE, Ga. - Jerry Toliver earned the top qualifying position in Funny Car at the Advance Auto Parts NHRA Southern Nationals with a quarter-mile run of 4.843 seconds at 310.98 mph. Toliver's WWF Racing Pontiac Firebird will be on the pole for...

COMMERCE, Ga. - Jerry Toliver earned the top qualifying position in Funny Car at the Advance Auto Parts NHRA Southern Nationals with a quarter-mile run of 4.843 seconds at 310.98 mph. Toliver's WWF Racing Pontiac Firebird will be on the pole for the first time in 2001.

Kenny Bernstein, Greg Anderson, Matt Hines and Bob Panella led their respective divisions at the $2 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing event at Atlanta Dragway.

Toliver has failed to qualify at two events this season, but Saturday's top spot gives him his second career top qualifying position.

"We've done a lot of testing and we've been trying to work through our problems and it seems that we've found it," said Toliver. "Our race day set up is looking really good and we're in a good spot being the No. 1 qualifier. It's a heck of a lot better then it has been, I can tell you that much."

Toliver will face No.16 qualifier Johnny Gray in the first round of Sunday's Funny Car eliminations. Gray's 4.957-second effort was good enough to make this the quickest Funny Car field in NHRA history, the fourth time this season the cut has been lowered.

Bernstein's Budweiser King dragster pass of 4.521 at 318.92 led the top fuel order, equaling the quickest elapsed time under the NHRA's 90-percent nitro-methane rule. Bernstein has qualified number one at the last three national events.

"Tim (Richards, crew chief) and the crew are doing an excellent job and it shows a lot of consistency when you are able to ride three number one qualifying spots in a row," said Bernstein. Since joining Bernstein, Richards has tuned the Budweiser King dragster to three low qualifier efforts in five events.

Anderson earned his first career top qualifying award to lead the Pro Stock division with a run of 6.884 at 199.82 in his Marnell-Black/Humprey Motorsports Pontiac Firebird. Anderson won his first career NHRA national event last week in Bristol and is getting used to his new found success. "I don't mind having the bull's eye on my back," said Anderson, former crew chief for five-time Winston Pro Stock champion Warren Johnson. "I've never had it before, and I look at Warren and he's always had it and doesn't seem to have a problem with it. Hopefully I've learned from him, can act like a professional and just do the job I need to do."

Hines' Eagle One Suzuki led the Pro Stock Motorcycle field with a pass of 7.199 at 187.21 while Panella's Panella Trucking Chevrolet S-10 held the Pro Stock Truck category with a track record 7.471 at 180.69. Final eliminations start Sunday at 11 a.m.

-NHRA

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Series NHRA
Drivers Matt Hines , Bob Panella , Kenny Bernstein , Warren Johnson , Greg Anderson , Johnny Gray , Jerry Toliver