Pomona 2: 50th Anniversary Nationals qualifying report

Bazemore, Scelzi Among Top Qualifiers At Pep Boys Nhra 50TH Anniversary Nationals Presented By American Racing Wheels POMONA, Calif. -- Whit Bazemore used a career best performance to lead Funny Car qualifying Friday at the Pep Boys...

Bazemore, Scelzi Among Top Qualifiers At Pep Boys Nhra 50TH Anniversary Nationals Presented By American Racing Wheels

POMONA, Calif. -- Whit Bazemore used a career best performance to lead Funny Car qualifying Friday at the Pep Boys NHRA 50th Anniversary Nationals presented by American Racing Wheels.

Gary Scelzi, Mike Edwards and Angelle Savoie will lead their respective categories into tomorrow's 4 p.m. eliminations. The $2 million race, the first nighttime drag race held in Southern California in more than 20 years, is the 13th of 24 events in the $50 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.

Bazemore covered the Pomona Raceway quarter-mile with a track record run of 4.816 seconds at 313.51 mph in his Matco Tools Pontiac Firebird to take his first No. 1 qualifying effort of the season.

Bazemore gained some extra confidence for eliminations by outrunning his longtime rival John Force in the qualifying lap, who posted a 4.854 at 312.93 which was good enough for third in the 16-car lineup.

"It's especially gratifying for us to go out and run that well because of our rivalry with Force," Bazemore said. "Anytime you can outrun him in his hometown it's really special. The fans love it. It really gives you goosebumps when you come back down the track and the fans are applauding you."

Scelzi scored his third top qualifying effort of the season in Top Fuel, steering his Team Winston dragster to a 4.554 at 318.69. Series points leader Kenny Bernstein was second with a 4.589 at 318.92 in the Budweiser King dragster, followed by Australian native Andrew Cowin, who clocked a 4.601 at 321.12 for third-best.

"We just went for it," said Scelzi, who has yet to claim a victory this season and sits sixth in points. "This has been the biggest slump we've ever been in but we've really hung together as a team. We need to make a move if we're going to have any hopes of repeating the championship. Hopefully we can start tomorrow. The cooler temperatures today allowed us to run quicker. We should run in the 60s (4.6's) tomorrow. It's going to be a great show."

Edwards claimed his fourth No. 1 qualifying position of the season in Pro Stock, clocking a 6.928 at 198.76 in a Chevrolet Cavailer.

Savoie earned her third top qualifying award of the season in Pro Stock Motorcycle by recording a 7.260 at 182.75 on a Suzuki.

Tim Gibson claimed top qualifying honors in the special exhibition nostalgia top fuel category, covering the distance in 6.044 at 247.43. It will be a very busy day for Gibson, who moonlights as an aerodynamicist for Force Racing and is also qualified 14th in Top Fuel.

-NHRA-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Kenny Bernstein , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Gary Scelzi , Andrew Cowin , Tim Gibson , Mike Edwards