Richmond; John Force, Joe Amato - taking it all..

DINWIDDIE, Va. - John Force earned his fourth No. 1 qualifying award of the season Saturday at the sixth annual Moto1.net NHRA Nationals presented by Chevrolet. Joe Amato, Warren Johnson and Bob Panella Jr. also were qualifying leaders in their...

DINWIDDIE, Va. - John Force earned his fourth No. 1 qualifying award of the season Saturday at the sixth annual Moto1.net NHRA Nationals presented by Chevrolet.

Joe Amato, Warren Johnson and Bob Panella Jr. also were qualifying leaders in their respective pro categories at the $1.8 million race, the sixth of 23 events in the $45 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.

Force, 50, covered the Virginia Motorsports Park quarter-mile with a track record run of 4.826 seconds at 317.72 mph in his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang. He'll face Bob Gilbertson to start Sunday's 11 a.m. eliminations. Gilbertson defeated Force two weeks ago in the first round at Houston and went on to win the first race of his career.

"We're worried about Gilbertson, that's where our focus is," said Force, who has earned three of his 82 career victories at VMP. "He's a good kid and we'll just have to make sure we've got everything right when we race tomorrow. I think we're in good shape. We've shown that we can run in both lanes, so I think we'll be fine."

Amato, 55, drove his Dynomax dragster to his second top qualifying award of the year, covering the distance in 4.563 at 311.99. The run was the quickest for the 6,000 horsepower category since NHRA mandated the 90-percent nitromethane rule at the beginning of the season.

"I was really surprised that we ran the quickest pass of the season with the sun out like it was," Amato said. "That's a feather in our cap, but it doesn't win you any races. We get $4,000 of Budweiser's money and get to race the No. 16 guy tomorrow, but that's about it. We want to win the race and stay in the hunt for the championship."

Amato says the extension of the track's concrete starting pad to 675-feet should help with traction during eliminations. The 50-time Top Fuel winner will face Steve Smith in the first round.

"The track is better since they added the concrete, but you may see some guys smoke the tires in the first round tomorrow anyway if the sun is out," Amato added.

Johnson, 56, took his second top qualifying position of the season and paced the quickest field ever in Pro Stock, covering the distance in a track record time of 6.838, with a speed of 201.28 in his GM Goodwrench Pontiac Firebird.

Panella, 28, earned his third No. 1 qualifying position, clocking a national record 7.463 at 179.23 in his Chevy S-10 to lead the quickest Pro Stock Truck field in NHRA history.

First-round pairings for Sunday's eliminations at the sixth annual Moto1.net NHRA Nationals presented by Chevrolet at Virginia Motorsports Park. The $1.8 million race is the sixth of 23 events in the $45 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series. Pairings based on results in qualifying, which ended Saturday.

Top Fuel -- 1. Joe Amato, 4.563 seconds, 311.99 mph vs. 16. Steve Smith, 8.791, 89.90; 2. Kenny Bernstein, 4.593, 313.07 vs. 15. Rit Pustari, 8.762, 82.19; 3. Gary Scelzi, 4.604, 315.86 vs. 14. Rhonda Hartman-Smith, 5.408, 187.39; 4. Larry Dixon, 4.637, 314.90 vs. 13. Jim Bailey, 4.778, 295.66; 5. Doug Kalitta, 4.648, 307.23 vs. 12. Paul Romine, 4.760, 307.30; 6. Cory McClenathan, 4.652, 288.15 vs. 11. David Grubnic, 4.759, 309.27; 7. Tony Schumacher, 4.664, 306.95 vs. 10. Bob Vandergriff, 4.706, 312.06; 8. Don Lampus, 4.674, 313.29 vs. 9. Doug Herbert, 4.697, 316.23.

Funny Car -- 1. John Force, Ford Mustang, 4.826, 317.72 vs. 16. Bob Gilbertson, Pontiac Firebird, 5.224, 290.88; 2. Jerry Toliver, Firebird, 4.883, 307.44 vs. 15. Del Worsham, Firebird, 5.113, 295.34; 3. Jim Epler, Chevy Camaro, 4.887, 312.35 vs. 14. Dean Skuza, Dodge Avenger, 5.071, 302.82; 4. Whit Bazemore, Camaro, 4.910, 308.21 vs. 13. Bruce Sarver, Firebird, 5.031, 302.01; 5. Scotty Cannon, Camaro, 4.922, 289.45 vs. 12. Scott Weis, Chevy Corvette, 5.030, 285.35; 6. Ron Capps, Camaro, 4.934, 299.93 vs. 11. Gary Densham, Firebird, 5.010, 287.66; 7. Tony Pedregon, Mustang, 4.990, 308.57 vs. 10. Frank Pedregon, Firebird, 5.007, 301.74; 8. Todd Paton, Firebird, 4.992, 300.40 vs. 9. Al Hofmann, Firebird, 5.000, 296.24.

Pro Stock -- 1. Warren Johnson, Pontiac Firebird, 6.838, 201.28 vs. 16. Rickie Smith, Chevy Camaro, 6.905, 199.02; 2. Kurt Johnson, Camaro, 6.839, 200.80 vs. 15. Mark Osborne, Pont Firebird, 6.901, 198.32; 3. Jeg Coughlin, Oldsmobile Cutlass, 6.849, 200.35 vs. 14. Scott Geoffrion, Dodge Avenger, 6.895, 199.02; 4. Jim Yates, Firebird, 6.859, 200.44 vs. 13. Robert Patrick, Ford Mustang, 6.892, 199.97; 5. Jamie Yates, Firebird, 6.868, 199.02 vs. 12. Mike Thomas, Firebird, 6.891, 198.52; 6. Troy Coughlin, Cutlass, 6.869, 199.82 vs. 11. Bruce Allen, Firebird, 6.888, 199.88; 7. Tom Martino, Firebird, 6.870, 200.41 vs. 10. Ron Krisher, Firebird, 6.888, 200.59; 8. Mark Pawuk, Firebird, 6.884, 198.99 vs. 9. Richie Stevens, Firebird, 6.886, 198.32.

Pro Stock Truck -- 1. Bob Panella Jr, Chevrolet S-10, 7.463, 179.23 vs. 16. Scott Perin, S-10, 7.544, 177.49; 2. Randy Daniels, S-10, 7.472, 180.16 vs. 15. Lou Ficco, S-10, 7.539, 177.91; 3. Greg Stanfield, S-10, 7.482, 178.28 vs. 14. John Lingenfelter, GMC Sonoma, 7.537, 177.84; 4. Steve Johns, S-10, 7.492, 179.04 vs. 13. Brian Self, S-10, 7.531, 178.78; 5. Mike Coughlin, S-10, 7.496, 179.25 vs. 12. Rick Jones, Sonoma, 7.530, 178.07; 6. John Coughlin, S-10, 7.504, 179.68 vs. 11. Taylor Lastor, S-10, 7.526, 178.50; 7. Larry Seay, S-10, 7.513, 178.14 vs. 10. Tim Freeman, S-10, 7.523, 178.24; 8. Scott Tidwell, S-10, 7.513, 178.50 vs. 9. Jeff Gracia, S-10, 7.520, 178.54.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Paul Romine , Doug Herbert , Bruce Sarver , Frank Pedregon , Mike Thomas , Jeg Coughlin , Troy Coughlin , Bob Panella , Robert Patrick , Larry Dixon , Kenny Bernstein , Mark Pawuk , Jamie Yates , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Scott Weis , Bob Gilbertson , Jim Epler , Tony Pedregon , Al Hofmann , Dean Skuza , Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , Ron Capps , John Force , Rhonda Hartman-Smith , Joe Amato , Gary Scelzi , Doug Kalitta , Ron Krisher , Jeff Gracia , Randy Daniels , Mike Coughlin , John Lingenfelter , Steve Smith , David Grubnic , Scotty Cannon , Todd Paton , Greg Stanfield , Bruce Allen , Tom Martino , Scott Geoffrion , Tim Freeman , Brian Self , Jerry Toliver , Bob Vandergriff , Steve J