Pomona Friday Summary

POMONA, Calif. - Jerry Toliver, winner of the NHRA Finals here last season, led Funny Car qualifying Friday at the 40th annual AutoZone Winternationals at Pomona Raceway. Toliver, from Huntington Beach, Calif., covered the quarter-mile track ...

POMONA, Calif. - Jerry Toliver, winner of the NHRA Finals here last season, led Funny Car qualifying Friday at the 40th annual AutoZone Winternationals at Pomona Raceway.

Toliver, from Huntington Beach, Calif., covered the quarter-mile track in 4.916 seconds at 310.05 mph in his WWF Racing Chevy Camaro. Toliver's run bettered a 4.927 second effort by Dean Skuza and yesterday's best of 4.958 by John Force, now third overall.

"I know everyone is talking about how good Force has been running this weekend with Austin Coil, but we've got a pretty good crew chief too," said Toliver. "Dale (Armstrong, crew chief) and the team has got this hot rod running great. I mean, a 4.91 at 310 in the overcast conditions we had today is pretty stout. Just like Force, we're out here for one thing, to win the Winston championship." Gary Scelzi, Jim Yates and Steve Johns also were leaders in their respective pro categories at the $1.7 million race, the first of 23 events in the $45 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series. Two-time NHRA Winston champion Scelzi covered the quarter-mile track in 4.656 seconds at 316.60 mph in his Team Winston dragster. Larry Dixon, 1998 Winternationals winner, was a close second, running 4.657 at 311.92 in his Miller Lite dragster.

"This has been a long time coming," said Scelzi. "We had a tough time qualifying here last year at the Finals so it's good to get off to a good start this season."

Drivers incurring $500 fines for oiling the racing surface included Melanie Troxel and Cory McClenathan in Top Fuel and Larry Huff and Tony Pedregon in Funny Car. New NHRA rules mandate fines and point penalties for Top Fuel and Funny Car teams that oildown the racing surface during competition. Monies collected from the fines will be directed to further research and experimentation with technology to resolve issues related to oildowns, safety and quality of show. Two-time Winston champion Yates powered his Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird to the top of the order, posting an event record time of 6.878 at 199.58. Johns, also a Finals winner last November, drove his Castrol Chevy S-10 to the front of the pack in Pro Stock Truck, covering the distance in 7.527 at a track record speed of 178.99. Qualifying continues Saturday with sessions at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Tony Pedregon , Dean Skuza , John Force , Gary Scelzi , Cory McClenathan , Jerry Toliver , Austin Coil , Steve J