Baytown: Friday qualifying report

ODESSA'S BRADSHAW CLAIMS TOP FUEL'S PROVISIONAL TOP SPOT AT 21ST ANNUAL O'REILLY NHRA SPRING NATIONALS Cruz Pedregon, Kurt Johnson and Matt Smith round out the first day's provisional No. 1's BAYTOWN, Tex. -- Odessa, Tex.-native Alan Bradshaw...

ODESSA'S BRADSHAW CLAIMS TOP FUEL'S PROVISIONAL TOP SPOT AT 21ST ANNUAL O'REILLY NHRA SPRING NATIONALS

Cruz Pedregon, Kurt Johnson and Matt Smith round out the first day's provisional No. 1's

BAYTOWN, Tex. -- Odessa, Tex.-native Alan Bradshaw raced to the provisional No. 1 qualifying position in Top Fuel during the first day of qualifying at the 21st annual O'Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals presented by Pennzoil Friday at Houston Raceway Park.

Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car), Kurt Johnson (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) rounded out the provisional No. 1 qualifiers through the first two of four rounds of qualifying at the fourth of 24 races on the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

Bradshaw powered his Vis Viva dragster to a 4.526-second pass at 323.50 mph to put himself in an excellent position to prove that his first career No. 1 qualifier, earned just one race earlier at the ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals, was no fluke.

"I've got my family and a bunch of friends from West Texas here with me ... we're just getting warmed up, Texas style," said Bradshaw, who had the best run in both qualifying rounds on Friday and thinks his dragster may have more yet to prove on Saturday. "If the cloud cover comes that they're telling us is coming, we should run even better."

Cruz Pedregon, who's already reached a final round and is third in POWERade Series points this season, delivered a 4.834 at 314.97 in his Advance Auto Parts Chevy Impala SS to put himself in excellent position to claim his second straight No. 1 qualifier at this race and 34th of his career.

"I'm happy ...it's been a good season. I'm smiling," said Pedregon, who ran a 5.01 in the first round of qualifying Friday and talked about crew chief Rahn Tobler's challenge when good weather conditions descended on Houston Raceway Park. "It's kind of a double-edged sword. You want to go for it, but (you don't want to go for it too hard and not get a qualified run)."

"It's a good morale-boost for the team," he added.

Kurt Johnson capped a wild Pro Stock round when he powered his ACDelco Chevy Cobalt to a category-topping 6.638-second pass at 208.42 mph that came on the same qualifying pass that saw his father, Pro Stock legend Warren Johnson, tag the wall for only the third time in his 37-year career.

The senior Johnson, whose 96 career wins are second-best all-time, left a trail of smoke behind his GM Performance Parts Pontiac GXP as he crossed the finish line and soon thereafter his car veered right and as he regained control it nicked the wall before coming to rest. Johnson emerged unhurt.

"We threw everything at our ACDelco Cobalt for the second session that we thought would make it go fast, and it did," Kurt said. "It stuck and made an absolutely flawless run. Unfortunately all the action was in the other lane with Dad. I looked over and saw smoke coming out from his front and rear wheel wells, and at first thought he had just blown a motor and made a lot of extra work for us.

"But then I saw he was having trouble slowing down, and that his car was filling up with smoke, so I knew he couldn't see where he was going. At that point, I did everything I could to get my car stopped. Just as I did, he came over into my lane and tagged the wall. I was able to pull up right next to him at the top end afterwards and saw that he was all right, except for a little smoke inhalation.

"It's an unfortunate situation, but it could have been a lot worse."

Earlier in Pro Stock qualifying, Baytown's Vernon Swindoll, making his first career POWERade Series pass and in front of his hometown fans, couldn't bring his car safely to a stop and it careened into the sand pit and was finally brought to a stop by the protective net. He was unhurt.

Smith led the two-wheelers with a 6.929-second pass at 191.38 mph.

"Today we had a good tail wind. My run was pretty stout and I don't know if anyone can beat it," the defending POWERade Series world champion said.

-credit: nhra

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Cruz Pedregon , Alan Bradshaw , Matthew Smith , Vernon Swindoll