Pomona III: Saturday final qualifying report

POMONA, Calif. - Larry Dixon drove his Miller Lite Dragster to a win in the 17th annual Budweiser Shootout on Saturday during the 37th annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals at Pomona Raceway. Dixon beat Doug Kalitta with a...

POMONA, Calif. - Larry Dixon drove his Miller Lite Dragster to a win in the 17th annual Budweiser Shootout on Saturday during the 37th annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals at Pomona Raceway.

Dixon beat Doug Kalitta with a run of 4.514 seconds at 323.19 mph to Kalitta's 4.557 pass at 321.73, earning a $100,000 bonus. The Budweiser Shootout featured the quickest eight Top Fuel drivers of the season. Dixon beat Tony Schumacher and Mike Dunn en route to the special event win.

Kenny Bernstein, Whit Bazemore, Jim Yates, Angelle Savoie and John Lingenfelter are the top qualifiers in their respective categories at the $2 million race, the final of 24 events in the $50 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.

This is the second time Dixon has captured the Budweiser Shootout victory, also winning during his rookie season of 1995.

"It feels awesome," Dixon said. "It's just as good as the first time. (Crew chief) Dick LaHaie is awesome. Each round we picked up a little more. We had a great car today and hopefully it will rub off for (final eliminations)."

Bernstein turned in a 4.498 run at 327.59 in his Budweiser King Dragster to earn his ninth No. 1 qualifying spot of the Top Fuel season.

"The 4.49 was a great run, but the conditions for the first three rounds tomorrow, which are so critical for us, will be much different," Bernstein said.

Bernstein is in the hunt for his sixth career Winston championship. Bernstein must advance to the final round to clinch the title over Dixon. To win his first Winston championship, Dixon must win the race and hope that Bernstein loses in the first or second round.

Bazemore set both ends of the track record in his Matco Tools Pontiac Firebird on Friday for his ninth No. 1 effort of the season. The 4.741 run at 324.67 to set the pace for the quickest Funny Car field in NHRA history.

"The car has been really quick and consistent," Bazemore said. "But this Matco Tools team was actually hoping for something more tonight."

Yates' qualifying effort of 6.850 at 201.22 in his Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Grand Am was the best in the Pro Stock category. This is the fourth No. 1 qualifying award of the year for Yates.

Savoie grabbed her sixth No. 1 qualifying spot of the season with a 7.186 pass at 184.07 on her Team Winston Suzuki GSXR to lead the Pro Stock Motorcycles.

Lingenfelter set both ends of the track record as well as the national speed record with a 7.399 pass at 182.75 in his Summit Racing GMC Sonoma to lead the Pro Stock Truck category. This is the second consecutive race that Lingenfelter has gone into final eliminations with a No. 1 qualifying spot.

Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday.

-nhra-

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