Sonoma: Friday qualifying report

SCHUMACHER, PEDREGON, JOHNSON AND HINES ARE QUALIFYING LEADERS AT FRAM AUTOLITE NHRA NATIONALS SONOMA, Calif. -- Tony Schumacher led a record-setting day of qualifying Friday at the FRAM Autolite Nationals at Infineon Raceway. Schumacher ...

SCHUMACHER, PEDREGON, JOHNSON AND HINES ARE QUALIFYING LEADERS AT FRAM AUTOLITE NHRA NATIONALS

SONOMA, Calif. -- Tony Schumacher led a record-setting day of qualifying Friday at the FRAM Autolite Nationals at Infineon Raceway.

Schumacher raced to a track record time of 4.529 seconds at 325.77 mph in his U.S. Army dragster to take the top spot in the qualifying order ahead of championship rival Doug Kalitta, who clocked a 4.549 at 321.88 in the Mac Tools dragster.

"That was a great run with the top two cars in the points, and that's how it should be," Schumacher said. "It's going to be a good race this weekend because the track is great. It's going to be a good old fashioned drag race."

Tony Pedregon, Warren Johnson and Andrew Hines also were qualifying leaders in their categories at the $1.5 million race, the 15th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

Pedregon powered his special Madagascar-themed Q-Racing Chevy Monte Carlo to a track record time of 4.759 at 321.12 to lead Funny Car. Seattle winner Eric Medlen was second in his Castrol Syntec Ford Mustang with a 4.783 at 323.12.

"When you have these conditions it puts a lot of pressure on the driver," Pedregon said. "It's nice to have that kind of performance. This is a good track and at sea level you have optimum conditions and you can unleash all you've got. That run reminded me of earlier this season at Pomona and Phoenix (Pedregon was No. 1 qualifier at both races). But here lately we've gone off course a little and the process tonight was to get back on course and get consistent."

Johnson, who has failed to qualify for this event in two of the last three years, paced the Pro Stock order, powering his GM Performance Parts Pontiac to a track record time of 6.689 at 205.13. Larry Morgan was second in his Team Mopar Dodge Stratus, posting a 6.690 at 205.41.

"We started the session late and the air conditions improved quite a bit," Johnson said. "Pro Stock cars don't do real well with an extreme headwind. You can feel it pushing the car down on the track and when you throw the 'chutes it pulls you pretty good. I didn't even touch my brakes and I barely made the turn-off up there."

Hines raced to the provisional top qualifying position in Pro Stock Motorcycle, covering the distance in 7.049 at 190.48 on his Screamin' Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson.

"The headwind was the major deal out there tonight," Hines said. "The Screamin' Eagle bike has been performing well in qualifying but now we have to transfer that over to Sunday. Tomorrow we should have a little tailwind in the morning, so I would think we might see a few six-second runs."

Qualifying continues Saturday at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Warren Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Tony Schumacher , Doug Kalitta , Larry Morgan , Andrew Hines , Eric Medlen