BAYTOWN, Texas. - Mike Dunn stole the show Friday at the NHRA's O'Reilly Nationals presented by Pennzoil with a first-round qualifying pass of 331.61 mph, the fastest in NHRA history. Gary Scelzi, Del Worsham, Mike Edwards, Antron Brown and Bob...
BAYTOWN, Texas. - Mike Dunn stole the show Friday at the NHRA's O'Reilly Nationals presented by Pennzoil with a first-round qualifying pass of 331.61 mph, the fastest in NHRA history.
Gary Scelzi, Del Worsham, Mike Edwards, Antron Brown and Bob Panella led their respective divisions at the $1.8 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing event at Houston Raceway Park.
Dunn's Yankees dragster eclipsed Tony Schumacher's speed of 330.23 mph established in 1999. "The car just kept picking up, said Dunn. "We ran 328 mph in Phoenix, and 326 mph last weekend in Gainesville and that's after dropping a cylinder at four seconds.
Dunn quickly alleviated any doubts that his dragster was capable of surpassing the 330 mph. mark "We knew the thing was capable of running 330 if we could get everything right," Dunn said. "We put it up on the computer and the G-meter was higher from half-track on than the 328 run and the rpm was higher. Regardless, it ran faster than the 328 run."
Scelzi led Top Fuel qualifying with a quarter-mile run of 4.546 seconds at 323.27 mph in his Team Winston dragster. Doug Kalitta recorded the same elapsed time as Scelzi early but Scelzi captured the top spot because his speed was faster than Kalitta's 319.98 mph.
"We really went after it and tried to run some big speeds on that run," said Scelzi, the defending NHRA Winston Top Fuel champion. "What it did was actually spun the tires harder from half track all the way to the finish line. It ate the centers right out of the tires." Worsham had a run of 4.810 in 313.22 in his Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird Funny Car. If Worsham can stay at the top spot after Saturday's qualifying sessions, it will be his first number one qualifying position since Brainerd 1991.
Worsham failed to qualify at the 2000 Matco Tools Supernationals in October at HRP but was determined to make a better showing in his return. "We had a run like that in Gainesville going but we had a $100 part broke and cost us the run," said Worsham, The 1991 NHRA Winston Rookie of the Year. "We came here, bought new parts for it, she stayed together and everybody saw what happened."
Edwards topped the Pro Stock division with a pass of 6.843 at 200.68 in his Young Life Chevrolet Cavalier. If Edwards can hold off the rest of the Pro Stock field it will be his second number one qualifying position this season.
Brown led the quickest Pro Stock Motorcycle field in NHRA history with a pass of 7.167 at 186.41. After qualifying at the top of the order at last week's Mac Tools Gatornationals in Gainesville, Brown will start Sunday's eliminations if his elapsed time remains the quickest of the 26 motorcycles competing this weekend.
Panella set both ends of the NHRA Pro Stock Truck national record with a run of 7.420 at 182.11 to capture his first pole of the 2001 NHRA Winston Drag Racing season. Panella qualified number one eight times in 2000 including the O'Reilly Nationals last year.
Professional qualifying will continue Saturday at 11 a.m.