Sonoma: Saturday qualifying report

ANDERSON POSTS RECORD TIME, HIGHT CONTINUES QUEST FOR WIN AT SONOMA SONOMA, Calif. -- Three-time and reigning NHRA Pro Stock world champion Greg Anderson posted the quickest pass in history -- a 6.631 at 207.82 mph -- to lead all qualifiers at...

ANDERSON POSTS RECORD TIME, HIGHT CONTINUES QUEST FOR WIN AT SONOMA

SONOMA, Calif. -- Three-time and reigning NHRA Pro Stock world champion Greg Anderson posted the quickest pass in history -- a 6.631 at 207.82 mph -- to lead all qualifiers at the 19th annual FRAM-Autolite NHRA Nationals.

Another three-time world champion, Top Fuel's Tony Schumacher, held onto the lead in his category, as did Robert Hight in Funny Car. In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Andrew Hines leads the quickest field ever assembled, which includes a record four riders in the six-second range. Tom Bradford became the fourth member of the NHRA Mickey Thompson 6-Second Pro Stock Bike Saturday afternoon.

Anderson is fighting to regain the POWERade championship lead from his Summit Racing Pontiac GTO teammate Jason Line and could benefit from a 20-point bonus for setting a national record if no one else betters his mark on race day.

"I feel like a stole one from Jason, to be honest," Anderson said. "His hot rod is the best right now and if he had gone straight he would have been quicker than me but we got it done and if it holds I'll get those 20 extra points. I sure do need them because it seems like they've been very hard to come by for me lately.

"If Jason or I manage to win the championship it might be the most rewarding of them all because it's been so tough. I hear Tiger Woods sometimes say that he had to grind it out to get through a round. That's how we feel right now. It's a grind."

Schumacher remained the only Top Fuel driver in the 4.4-second range Saturday, bagging his seventh low qualifier award of the season in his U.S. Army dragster. His top-qualifying 4.486 at 326.48 mph earned him the maximum points a driver can earn in qualifying, helping him continue to inch closer to points leader Doug Kalitta.

"I'd like to say we don't care what Doug does but that would be a lie," Schumacher said. "We watch what he does in qualifying and I'm smiling when he goes out early on race day. It's not personal. I like the guy. We're friends. But my sole purpose in life right now is to win the championship and he's in the way."

Hight's 4.738-second, 325.30 mph run from Friday kept his Auto Club Ford Mustang well ahead of anyone else in the Funny Car category.

"There's no doubt about it; we haven't gotten it done on race day," Hight said. "Especially when we've been No. 1 qualifier. We seem to be okay in the first round but the second round has been a real stumbling block for us lately. I have complete faith in [crew chief] Jimmy Prock and I know our luck is going to change one of these days. Hopefully it's tomorrow."

Cruz Pedregon qualified 15th with a 4.952 but he'll need to pull an all-nighter to prepare for race day after a spectacular fire consumed his Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Monte Carlo during his fourth qualifying run. Pedregon emerged uninjured.

Pro Stock Motorcycle leader Hines stripped the top qualifying spot away from Friday leader Antron Brown with a quick 6.974 at 191.48 mph in Saturday's first session, which took place under thick cloud cover. This is the first time Hines and his Screamin' Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson V-Rod team has qualified No. 1 this year.

"To be the No. 1 guy in the quickest field ever feels great," Hines said. "We haven't been No. 1 since last year in Reading (Pa.) so it's pretty sweet to me. We qualified No. 1 here last year and won the event. We're pretty hungry right now. We got that win in Denver and we'd love to keep it going here."

MB Precision rider Mike Berry anchored the quickest Pro Stock Motorcycle field ever assembled with a 7.096 at 189.18 mph.

Sunday's eliminations begin at noon PT.

-nhra

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Series NHRA
Drivers Antron Brown , Tony Schumacher , Doug Kalitta , Greg Anderson , Mike Berry , Cruz Pedregon , Jason Line , Andrew Hines , Robert Hight , Tom Bradford