Englishtown: Final qualifying summary

Dixon, T. Pedregon Take Top Qualifying Honors At Matco Tools Supernationals; W. Johnson wins NHRA Pro Stock Challenge/ ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. -- Larry Dixon continued his impressive performance in Top Fuel by earning the No. 1 qualifying position at...

Dixon, T. Pedregon Take Top Qualifying Honors At Matco Tools Supernationals; W. Johnson wins NHRA Pro Stock Challenge/

ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. -- Larry Dixon continued his impressive performance in Top Fuel by earning the No. 1 qualifying position at the Matco Tools SuperNationals, while Pro Stock legend Warren Johnson put himself in position to earn a $100,000 payday Sunday at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.

Tony Pedregon, Jim Yates and Angelle Savoie also will lead their categories into eliminations at the $2 million race, the eighth of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

In racing completed on Saturday, Johnson earned $50,000 for winning the NHRA Pro Stock Challenge, a special bonus race for Pro Stock competitors. Johnson could earn more than $100,000 for the weekend should he win tomorrow's eliminations, which begin at 11 a.m.

"We'll go out there tomorrow with the same game plan we had today, trying to figure out the race track," Johnson said. "Given the conditions we had today, everybody was kind of searching. We knew the performance was there, but because the air was so good and the track was pretty good, but if you missed (the setup) you'd be like Edwards in the final and just shake the tires because you were too aggressive."

Dixon claimed his fifth No. 1 qualifying effort of the season and 17th of his career, driving his Miller Lite dragster to the top of the lineup with a 4.561 second run at 323.35 mph. Kenny Bernstein was second, just a tick off the leading pace, posting a 4.565 at 323.74 in the Budweiser dragster.

"We were pleasantly surprised to hold on to the top spot," Dixon said. "The conditions were there for someone to go after a national record and there are a few cars here that could have done it. But we ended up on top and we're happy about that. That was a good run for us. It yanked the wheels up and held them there for a couple hundred feet. I was looking off to the side to see where I was for a long time."

Dixon will face No. 16 qualifier Don Sosenka, an upset specialist who surprised Tony Schumacher in the opening round at Atlanta, and advanced to the semifinals where he lost to Doug Herbert.

"We sure aren't taking them lightly," Dixon said. "Sosenka's team is a good example that anything can happen on race day. Those guys went three rounds at the last race. Look at us in Houston when we lost to Mitch King. We're here to win the race, but you have to win every round to get there."

Pedregon scored his 11th top qualifying effort of his career and second of the season with a track record time of 4.777 seconds at 316.45 in a Ford Mustang.

"The performance of our car has been there for the last couple of races," Pedregon said. "I learned a few weeks ago when we qualified No. 1 at Bristol we don't want to get ahead of ourselves. It does give you a little more confidence putting a couple of 70s together. I think our chances are as good as they've ever been."

Yates also posted a track record, covering the distance in 6.774 at 202.39 in a Pontiac Grand Am to lead the 16-car Pro Stock order. It is the 23rd No. 1 effort of Yates' career, and his second of the season.

"The track is in such great shape that a national record is definitely there for the taking tomorrow," said Yates, who will face defending event winner Richie Stevens in the first round. "If you had any horsepower at all today you were running in the 6.70s. It was just incredible out there. You look at the qualifying sheets and see the guys that didn't make it and you'll start to realize just how tough it is out in this class. Being No. 1 doesn't help that much either. It just puts a target on your back."

Savoie claimed her 26th career No. 1 qualifying effort by setting the national record for Pro Stock Motorcycle on a Suzuki, running 7.049 at 189.15.

"It's good to get the record, but I'm not sure it's going to stay there because there are several teams, including us, who have the power to go even quicker tomorrow under the right conditions. Hopefully it will be sunny and warm, with a headwind on the track. If it says cool and overcast like it was today, I think a six-second run is possible. My run today wasn't quite perfect, so there's some more left in it."

-nhra-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert , Larry Dixon , Kenny Bernstein , Warren Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Tony Schumacher , Mitch King