Pomona: Saturday final qualifying report

POMONA, Calif. - Gary Densham became the fastest Funny Car driver in NHRA history during a record-setting day Saturday at the K&N Filters Winternationals at Pomona Raceway. Densham set the national record with a speed of 326.87 mph in a ...

POMONA, Calif. - Gary Densham became the fastest Funny Car driver in NHRA history during a record-setting day Saturday at the K&N Filters Winternationals at Pomona Raceway.

Densham set the national record with a speed of 326.87 mph in a Ford Mustang while Top Fuel driver Tony Schumacher set a track record for speed after driving his U.S. Army Dragster at 330.88 mph. Neither run was quick enough to take the No. 1 qualifying positions as both drivers will start in the No. 3 spot in each category.

Andrew Cowin, John Force and Ron Krisher led their respective categories at the $1.9 million race, the first of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

This is the first time Densham has held a national record.

"No doubt about it, that car was flying," Densham said. "(Crew chief) Jimmy Prock makes a ton of horsepower. I am very happy to be a part of this. It's a good record for the entire John Force Racing team. Now John Force Racing holds both ends of the national Funny Car record."

Densham's team owner, Force, holds the national elapsed time record (4.731) set in October in Reading, Pa. The third driver of John Force

Racing, Tony Pedregon, qualified in the No. 4 spot. Whit Bazemore disrupted the qualifying sweep by grabbing the No. 2 position after he drove his Matco Tools Pontiac Firebird to a 4.762-second run at 325.05m mph.

"I am very happy for Gary," Force said. "I would like our team to be No. 1, 2 and 3, but Bazemore bumped our team by one. It's good that we are not going to be racing each other because I don't want to race Tony or Gary. They always take me out. We have three good hot rods out there."

Force earned the 107th low qualifying position of his career. Force went 4.749 at 296.57 in a Ford Mustang to pace the Funny Car category.

"The last 15 years don't count and the last 11 championships don't count. We have to focus on this race and that is the bottom line," Force said. "We are just trying to win a drag race."

Cowin earned the first No. 1 qualifying spot of his career after turning in a 4.490 pass at 324.98 in his Yankee Dragster Top Fuel car.

"We can go to bed tonight knowing that we were the quickest hot rod in qualifying," Cowin said. "But we need to send the car down four times Sunday and be consistent."

This is the first event that Cowin has been behind the wheel of the Darrell Gwynn-owned dragster.

"This is a kick in the pants for me," the 22-year old said. "We have 22 races to go after this and I think we are doing pretty good so far."

Krisher earned his sixth low qualifying position with a 6.815 pass at 202.94 in a Chevy Cavalier to top the Pro Stock class.

"The Eagle One Cavalier has performed a little better than it has in the past," Krisher said. "Whoever does their job on the tree tomorrow will win the race. Lane choice here can be crucial, and the left side seems to have a lot more cars that have qualified in it but we haven't been able to run as well over there."

Final eliminations begin at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Andrew Cowin , Ron Krisher , Gary Densham , Darrell Gwynn