Gainesville: Saturday qualifying report

ANDERSON AND SAMPEY SPEED TO NATIONAL RECORD PERFORMANCES TO CLAIM TOP QUALIFYING SPOTS AT ACDELCO GATORNATIONALS Dixon and Hight also claim No. 1 qualifying positions at POWERade Drag Racing Series event GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Greg Anderson and...

ANDERSON AND SAMPEY SPEED TO NATIONAL RECORD PERFORMANCES TO CLAIM TOP QUALIFYING SPOTS AT ACDELCO GATORNATIONALS

Dixon and Hight also claim No. 1 qualifying positions at POWERade Drag Racing Series event

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Greg Anderson and Angelle Sampey used world record performances to qualify on top in their respective categories in front of a standing-room only crowd Saturday at the ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals at historic Gainesville Raceway.

Larry Dixon and Robert Hight also earned No. 1 qualifying positions at the third of 23 events in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship. Sunday's eliminations start at 11 a.m.

Anderson posted the first Pro Stock run in excess of 210 mph when he blasted to 211.20 mph in his Summit Racing Pontiac GTO, while Sampey claimed the Pro Stock Motorcycle national record with her 6.911-second elapsed time on her U.S. Army Suzuki.

Anderson thrilled the fans with his track record 6.566 at a national record speed of 211.20 mph, but the Summit Racing Pontiac GTO pilot wasn't exactly pleased with his own performance, which netted him his 53rd career No. 1 qualifying award.

"We're all running career-best numbers but I bet not very many of us would say we're making good runs," Anderson said. "The conditions got so good overnight it was like the horsepower fairy came by and sprinkled 50 extra horsepower on every engine. We've got no experience with that. No one does. It makes it very tough."

Anderson's teammate Jason Line, the defending POWERade Series world champ, waited until the last session to make the field with a fifth-best 6.597 at 211.03 mph. There were several notable DNQs in Pro Stock, including Phoenix winner Kurt Johnson, two-time series champ Jim Yates and defending event winner Tom Martino.

Both of Sampey's Saturday runs put 6.91s on the scoreboard in what finished as the quickest 16-bike field in NHRA history. Sampey's first run -- a 6.919 -- gave her the national record. She then lowered the mark to a 6.911 on her final attempt.

"This is a beautiful way to start the season," Sampey said of her 40th No. 1 qualifying effort, most for a female in NHRA history. "To be No. 1 in the quickest field ever with a potential national record already in the books and to have my teammate [Antron Brown] right behind me in third is awesome for us. There aren't as many Suzukis as there used to be but we're still here."

Two-time Top Fuel world champ Dixon powered his SkyTel dragster to a 4.510 at 331.53 to earn his 27th career No. 1 qualifying position, and first since July 2005.

"I'm absolutely thrilled for Donnie (Bender, crew chief)," Dixon said of his second-year tuner. "This is his first pole and he really earned it. The car is finally reacting to what he's doing."

Friday leader "Hot Rod" Fuller, currently leading the POWERade Series points, posted a 4.535 at 323.66 mph for second place in the starting lineup.

Brandon Bernstein failed to qualify for the Top Fuel field for the first time in his 80-race career.

Hight's effort in his Auto Club Ford Mustang, a performance of 4.686 at 331.94 mph, was the quickest and fastest Funny Car run in track history.

"We've run 4.60s at all three racetracks we've been to this year and that's exciting," Hight said. "I'm very fortunate to have such a fast racecar. It took Jimmy [Prock, crew chief] a few years to figure out Funny Cars but now he's one of the best. To see Austin Coil, the best crew chief ever, come over and ask his opinion on stuff is really cool to see."

John Force ended up 10th with a 4.802 in his Castrol GTX High-Mileage Ford Mustang, while rookie daughter Ashley qualified 13th with a 4.822 in her Castrol GTX Mustang. Kenny Bernstein also qualified for the first time in his comeback tour, posting a 4.840 at 314.39 in his Monster/Lucas Oil Dodge Charger.

-credit: nhra

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Antron Brown , Larry Dixon , Kenny Bernstein , Kurt Johnson , John Force , Greg Anderson , Tom Martino , Brandon Bernstein , Jason Line , Robert Hight , Angelle Sampey , Austin Coil