Pomona II: Friday qualifying report

TROXEL ASSUMES POLE IN HOT CONDITIONS THAT CONFOUND CHAMPIONSHIP CONTENDERS Todd, Line and Krawiec round out provisional pole-sitters POMONA, Calif. -- With air temperatures in the mid-80s and track temperatures exceeding 100 at the ...

TROXEL ASSUMES POLE IN HOT CONDITIONS THAT CONFOUND CHAMPIONSHIP CONTENDERS

Todd, Line and Krawiec round out provisional pole-sitters

POMONA, Calif. -- With air temperatures in the mid-80s and track temperatures exceeding 100 at the season-ending Auto Club NHRA Finals on Friday, first year Funny Car driver Melanie Troxel delivered a stunning 4.105-second pass to assume the provisional pole in Funny Car.

The run was particularly impressive given the soaring heat that kept every one of the five championship contenders in Funny Car from getting his car down the Auto Club Raceway under power. The most notable of the five was points leader Cruz Pedregon, who remained unqualified and will have just two more attempts on Saturday to get in the field and keep his championship hopes alive.

The other provisional No. 1 qualifiers at the sixth and final race in the NHRA Playoffs, the Countdown to 1, were J.R. Todd (Top Fuel), Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle). There will be two more rounds of qualifying on Saturday before the 16-car fields are set for Sunday's race.

Troxel's 4.105 in her R2B2 Racing Dodge Charger matched Mike Neff's 4.105 from Thursday, but she moved around Neff based on her superior 304.25 mph speed (vs. 299.13 for Neff).

"Some days you've got to be good and some days you've got to be lucky and today, getting it on speed, I think we were a little bit of both," Troxel said.

Cruz Pedredon's Advance Auto Parts Toyota Solara team followed up a 4.478 on Thursday with a tire-spinning six-second run on an even steamier Auto Club Raceway drag strip on Friday to set the table for a high stakes Saturday qualifying session.

Last year, Cruz's brother Tony Pedregon just needed to qualify to for all intents and purposes clinch the Funny Car championship and he just eked into the field at No. 16 in a dramatic late-Saturday afternoon qualifying session that may be foreshadowing for the final qualifying session of the 2009 season.

Among the chasers in Funny Car, second-place Tim Wilkerson (trailing Cruz Pedregon by 12 points) slipped from the eighth to 10th qualifying position, third-place Robert Hight (-39) slipped from fourth to seventh, fourth-place Tony Pedregon from third to sixth, and fifth-place Jack Beckman (-64), like Cruz Pedregon, also remained unqualified.

Todd's 3.851 at 308.14 mph from Thursday held up Friday and he remained the provisional No. 1 qualifier in Top Fuel and his Lucas Oil teammate Morgan Lucas remained No. 2, giving the struggling Lucas Oil team a boost.

"If we can go 1-2 on Sunday, that'd make (team owner) Forrest (Lucas) happy. He hasn't had a lot to smile about this year," Todd said. "I think (Saturday) is going to be the run when someone can improve on that 85, but I'm pretty happy that held up (Friday)."

Line assumed the provisional No. 1 from Thursday leader Dave Connolly with a stunning 6.658 at 208.39 in the heat in his Summit Racing Equipment Pontiac GXP.

"I think that's a really good run (for these conditions) because that's what we're going to run (Sunday)," Line said. "But I don't think that will hold up (Saturday), you'll see faster."

Krawiec, who is in second place in the Pro Stock Motorcycle standings (19 points behind defending champion Matt Smith), improved by .004 on his No. 1 time from Thursday with a 7.013-second pass at 188.70 to maintain the provisional No. 1 qualifying position.

"The main focus is to get through qualifying and maintain that No. 1 position," said Krawiec, who rides the Screamin Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson. "I think we left a little something on the table (Thursday) and for us to go out and run as well as we did today gives us a lot of confidence."

-credit: nhra

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Cruz Pedregon , Tim Wilkerson , Melanie Troxel , Morgan Lucas , Jason Line , Robert Hight , J.R. Todd , Dave Connolly , Matt Smith , Eddie Krawiec