Phoenix: Saturday qualifying report

WILKERSON COLLECTS SECOND CONSECUTIVE NO. 1 OF 2008; BERNSTEIN, JOHNSON ALSO NO. 1 AT CHECKER SCHUCK'S KRAGEN NHRA NATIONALS CHANDLER, Ariz. -- Funny Car driver Tim Wilkerson raced to his second consecutive No. 1 qualifying position of the ...

WILKERSON COLLECTS SECOND CONSECUTIVE NO. 1 OF 2008; BERNSTEIN, JOHNSON ALSO NO. 1 AT CHECKER SCHUCK'S KRAGEN NHRA NATIONALS

CHANDLER, Ariz. -- Funny Car driver Tim Wilkerson raced to his second consecutive No. 1 qualifying position of the season during Saturday qualifying at the Checker Schuck's Kragen NHRA Nationals at Firebird International Raceway.

Brandon Bernstein and Allen Johnson also were the No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories at the second NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event of the 2008 season.

Wilkerson drove his Levi, Ray & Shoup Chevy Impala SS to a 4.775 second run at 327.03 mph to secure the No. 1 spot in Funny Car, after rain on Friday shortened the qualifying sessions from four to two.

"With only two runs, it was anybody's ball game there," Wilkerson said. "If we'd had more runs you'd probably see somebody else No. 1, but that's ok. We're happy and we'll take our No. 1."

Defending event and world champion Tony Pedregon qualified 10th for the event, while 14-time world champion and 8-time event winner John Force qualified third. Force's daughter and teammate, Ashley, and Funny Car rookie Melanie Troxel were among those who did not qualify for the event.

Bernstein, who earned his 12th No. 1 qualifying award of his career, moved to the top of the field on the last qualifying session. Returning to the site of his first career win in 2003, Bernstein drove his Budweiser/Lucas Oil dragster to the top spot with a run of 4.515 at 330.31.

"You never forget your first, you just don't," Bernstein said, referring to his win in '03 over Larry Dixon. "It was a great run. Right when I pulled the chutes I knew I knew that was real good and pretty quick."

Defending world champion Tony Schumacher drove his U.S. Army dragster to the fourth spot in the field, while two-time defending event winner Rod Fuller will start from the 11th spot in the field on Sunday.

Allen Johnson drove his J&J Racing/Mopar Dodge Stratus to the No. 1 position on the last qualifying run of the day. Johnson's track record-setting run of 6.631 at 208.01 was more than just a fast number for Johnson.

"We said coming back here that this would be a celebration that he's still here with us," Johnson said, referring to the heart attack father and crew chief Roy Johnson had just one year ago at this event. "So this is just a celebration that he's still here with us."

Final eliminations for the Checker Schuck's Kragen NHRA Nationals begin Sunday at 11 a.m.

-credit: nhra

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Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Tony Pedregon , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Tim Wilkerson , Melanie Troxel , Brandon Bernstein , Allen Johnson , Roy Johnson