Gainesville: Series Saturday qualifying report

DIXON, TASCA, EDWARDS AND SMITH EARN NO. 1 QUALIFYING POSITIONS AT ACDELCO NHRA GATORNATIONALS GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Larry Dixon raced to his second consecutive No. 1 qualifying performance of the season in Top Fuel Saturday at the ACDelco NHRA...

DIXON, TASCA, EDWARDS AND SMITH EARN NO. 1 QUALIFYING POSITIONS AT ACDELCO NHRA GATORNATIONALS

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Larry Dixon raced to his second consecutive No. 1 qualifying performance of the season in Top Fuel Saturday at the ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals.

Bob Tasca, Mike Edwards and Matt Smith also will lead their categories into Sunday's 11 a.m. eliminations at the third of 24 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. ESPN will provide three hours of television coverage of the race starting at 3 p.m. (ET) Sunday.

Dixon covered the race distance in 3.886 seconds at 308.28 mph in his Al-Anabi Racing dragster to earn the 33rd top qualifying effort of his career and second at Gainesville Raceway. Dixon, also No. 1 at Phoenix three weeks ago, will face Winternationals winner Doug Kalitta in the opening round.

In Saturday's two sessions Dixon was able to improve on his quick time from Friday, a 3.90-second effort.

"We've been trying to run an .80 the last two or three runs," Dixon said. "I'm glad they found it. I thought it would take an .80-something to stay on the pole and I'm just glad it came from us. Even when Pro Stock Bikes and cars are running really good, and we know the air is there it's always a matter of whether the fuel cars can grip the track. For tomorrow we're going to have to wait and see if there's cloud cover or no cover and adjust for those conditions and hope it's right. I'm not hoping for anything other than four win lights."

Second-year driver Tasca earned his first career No. 1 qualifying position in Funny Car, powering his Motorcraft Quicklane Ford Mustang to a 4.124 at 296.76. He will face veteran Jim Head in the first round.

Tasca held on to the top spot with his time from Friday, and dodged a late run by Ashley Force Hood, who produced the day's quickest pass and moved to second overall with a 4.126 at 301.00 in her Castrol GTX Mustang.

"It was a little nerve-wracking because you want to be No. 1," said Tasca, who becomes 89th driver to earn a No. 1 qualifying position in the history of the category. "It's all kind of ceremonial because come tomorrow you need to run your own race. Chris (Cunningham, crew chief) told me [before his 4.16 on his last pass] that he was only trying to run a .15 because he didn't think anyone could beat the .12 and he needed to get a handle on his tune-up for tomorrow. He was pacing back and forth but told me he was staying with the .15. We didn't come here to get sunburned; we came here to win. It's real satisfying to work as hard as we've worked and, at the end of the day, I owe so much to Chris Cunningham. He's built an amazing team for us and works tirelessly on this hot rod."

In Pro Stock, Edwards raced to his second consecutive No. 1 qualifying position of the season and eighth of his career, with a 6.582 at 209.95 in his Penhall/Young Life Pontiac GXP. He will face V. Gaines in the first round.

"We've just been trying to race the track," Edwards said. "We're not making any changes that we didn't know anything about. We're just adjusting the car to the track and the tune-up to the air that we have. The car is just making phenomenal runs; it's just so smooth out there. If we can keep doing that tomorrow, hopefully we can have a good day. It's a long season, but we're sure excited about how we've started it. We've just got to keep the wheels on the car and keep being consistent at every racetrack."

Smith earned his 15th No. 1 qualifying position in Pro Stock Motorcycle and first at Gainesville Raceway by posting a 6.945 at 189.44 on his Nitro Fish Ultimate Gear Suzuki. He will face Kawasaki rider Ryan Schnitz in the first round.

"We have a good bike and team this year, and I think you're going to see a lot of us this year," said Smith, the 2007 world champ who is riding for Don Schumacher Racing this season. [All of the makes] are close. It's just how you ride, how good the tune-up is, and who makes the best lap in the best session, and we did that yesterday."

-credit: nhra

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jim Head , Larry Dixon , Doug Kalitta , Ashley Force , Don Schumacher , Matt Smith , Mike Edwards