Bristol Final Qualifying Report

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Bob Vandergriff and John Force were the Top Fuel-Funny Car qualifying leaders for Saturday's inaugural Winston Showdown and will be among 24 drivers in the two categories challenging for the $200,000 winner's share. The $1.1 ...

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Bob Vandergriff and John Force were the Top Fuel-Funny Car qualifying leaders for Saturday's inaugural Winston Showdown and will be among 24 drivers in the two categories challenging for the $200,000 winner's share. The $1.1 million race is NHRA's all-star event, the first to showcase Top Fuel dragsters against Funny Cars. Vandergriff, from Cumming, Ga., covered the new Bristol Dragway quarter-mile in 4.559 seconds at 322.19 mph in his Jerzees dragster to lead the Top Fuel order, while Force ran 4.944 at 305.15 in his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang to top the Funny Car field. "Our goal was to go after the number one spot so we couldn't get bumped from the field," said Vandergriff, who earned $10,000 for the effort. "We didn't expect that kind of number, but we're thrilled with the run." Vandergriff, who earned one of two open qualifying positions available in Top Fuel by claiming the No. 1 position, will face No. 12 Funny Car qualifier Al Hofmann in the first round of eliminations. Vandergriff says this event is important to the Top Fuel fraternity, long regarded as the kings of the sport of drag racing. "We don't want to see a Funny Car driver up there accepting the big paycheck and that trophy come Saturday night," Vandergriff said. "There's definitely some pride at stake here." Force will square off against No. 12 Top Fuel qualifier Cristen Powell. Funny Car competitors will receive a head start of .370 seconds in the head-to-head competition. "We're going to rally the Funny Car guys because there's no reason we can't beat the Top Fuel guys," said Force. "I love it when the odds are stacked against me." Jeg Coughlin, Matt Hines and Brad Jeter are also leaders in their respective pro categories heading into today's 2:30 p.m. eliminations. Coughlin, from Columbus, Ohio, topped the Pro Stock order with a 7.008 at 196.02 in his Jeg's Mail Order Oldsmobile Cutlass. Matt Hines, from Trinidad, Colo., was the No. 1 qualifier in the eight-bike Pro Stock Motorcycle order, riding his Eagle One Suzuki to a 7.373 at 182.28. Greenville, S.C.'s Jeter earned top qualifying honors in Pro Stock Truck, covering the distance in 7.755 at 174.84 in his Karl Chevrolet Chevy S-10. ESPN's live coverage of the Winston Showdown begins at 9:30 p.m. (ET).

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Series NHRA
Drivers Matt Hines , Jeg Coughlin , Brad Jeter , Al Hofmann , John Force , Bob Vandergriff , Cristen Powell