Martino Advances to Pro Stock Final in Upset-Filled Day at Seattle Pedregon Drives Q Racing Chevy to Funny Car Semis KENT, Wash., July 23, 2006 - On a day that saw seven of the top 10 drivers in the NHRA Pro Stock points standings fail to...
Martino Advances to Pro Stock Final in Upset-Filled Day at Seattle
Pedregon Drives Q Racing Chevy to Funny Car Semis
KENT, Wash., July 23, 2006 - On a day that saw seven of the top 10 drivers in the NHRA Pro Stock points standings fail to advance to the second round of eliminations at the 19th annual Schuck's Auto Supply NHRA Nationals at Pacific Raceways, Tom Martino came up short in his bid for one last upset. In his first stint behind the wheel of the Skull Gear Pontiac GTO, Martino advanced to his second final round of the season (he won at Gainesville in March) before losing to race-winner Allen Johnson in a Dodge. In the final both drivers left the starting line together but Martino got out of the groove and slowed to an elapsed time of 7.368 seconds at 146.45 mph to Johnson's winning elapsed time of 6.767 seconds at 204.63 mph.
Martino defeated Tom Lee in the Slammers Chevy in Round 1, Ron Krisher in the Valvoline Chevy in Round 2, and Richie Stevens Jr. in Round 3 before facing off with Johnson.
Jason Line came into Seattle as the new Pro Stock points leader and after qualifying his Summit Racing Pontiac GTO No. 1 for today's eliminations, the 2004 Rookie of the Year looked like he might be in position to pad his lead. Despite making the quickest pass of the first round, Line's day ended before it started after a red-light foul against Max Naylor. Line had a reaction time of -0.015, but he still heads to next week's race at Sonoma with a slim 25-point lead over teammate Greg Anderson.
"Any driver out here hates to red light and I'm no exception," said Line. "But there are a couple positives about this weekend that stand out today. One: both Greg's (Anderson) and my Summit Pontiac GTOs ran well the entire weekend. Two: we left here with the points lead and Greg is second. That's awesome. We're both generating good power. I had low elapsed time of the opening round and Greg was second quickest. I can't wait to get to the next race."
Anderson qualified his Summit Racing Pontiac GTO in the No. 4 spot and was hoping to possibly re-take the Pro Stock points lead with a strong performance this weekend. However, in his first-round race Ron Krisher gained an advantage at the starting line and held on for the holeshot win. Krisher had an elapsed time of 6.769 seconds at 204.35 mph to Anderson's quicker but losing 6.744 e.t. at 205.98 mph.
"I honestly don't know what happened," Anderson said. "I felt good going up there and I felt good at the staring line. I was relaxed. The run was pretty good, second of the round if I'm not mistaken. I really didn't think I missed the light. Worst things have happened and the performance of both Summit Pontiac GTOs this weekend sends us to Sonoma with a positive attitude about the remainder of the season."
Last week's Pro Stock winner at Denver, Dave Connolly, was also not immune from the upset bug this weekend at Seattle. He entered today's eliminations third in the Pro Stock points standings but lost to Warren Johnson in Round 1 after his Skull Gear Chevy Cobalt experienced engine trouble. He still holds on to third in points heading to Sonoma, 56 markers in arrears of Line.
"We dropped a valve and blew the motor," said Connolly. "We have to ship it to North Carolina (to engine builder Victor Cagnazzi's shop in Mooresville) and get it fixed. We hate to waste an opportunity to go rounds and make up ground on Jason (Line) and Greg (Anderson)."
In Funny Car, Tony Pedregon advanced to the semifinals in his Q Racing Chevy Monte Carlo before falling to eventual race winner Whit Bazemore. Pedregon defeated fellow Chevy driver Tommy Johnson Jr. in Round 1, No. 1 qualifier Robert Hight in Round 2 before facing off against Bazemore's Dodge. In their semifinal match-up, Pedregon had an elapsed time of 5.129 seconds at 286.13 mph to Bazemore's winning 5.029 e.t. at 307.30 mph. Bazemore defeated points leader Ron Capps in the final.
In the Sportsman classes, it was an all-GM final in Top Alcohol Funny Car as Brian Hough from Junction City, Ore., drove his '02 Pontiac Firebird past Steve Gasparrelli from Stockton, Calif., in his '05 Chevy Monte Carlo to claim the Alcohol Funny Car crown. A trio of Camaros were victorious in Stock Eliminator, Super Stock and Super Street as Tommy Gaynor from Vancouver, Wash., drove his '85 Camaro to the Stock Eliminator title, John Hennessay from Los Angeles was behind the wheel of his '87 Camaro en route to the Super Stock crown, and John Dalrymple from Sunnyside, Wash., won Super Street in his '67 Camaro.
The three-race Western Swing culminates next weekend with the 19th annual Fram-Autolite NHRA Nationals at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., on July 14-16.