Topeka: Saturday qualifying report

DIXON, BARTONE, AND CONNOLLY KEEP TOP QUALIFYING SPOTS IN TOPEKA TOPEKA, Kan. -- Larry Dixon, Tony Bartone, and Dave Connolly were able to hold on to the top spots in their respective categories Saturday at the O'Reilly NHRA Summer ...

DIXON, BARTONE, AND CONNOLLY KEEP TOP QUALIFYING SPOTS IN TOPEKA

TOPEKA, Kan. -- Larry Dixon, Tony Bartone, and Dave Connolly were able to hold on to the top spots in their respective categories Saturday at the O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals.

Despite the heat and humidity at Heartland Park Topeka the three drivers' Friday night qualifying runs were enough for them to maintain the No. 1 qualifying positions in their respective categories.

Dixon's run Friday night of 4.527 seconds at 325.30 mph in his U.S. Smokeless Tobacco dragster was strong enough to keep the top spot in Top Fuel. It's Dixon's first No. 1 qualifier of the season, 28th of his career, and third at Heartland Park Topeka.

"You still have to go out there and stand on the gas," said Dixon, who will run unopposed in his first round due to a shortened 15-car field in Top Fuel. "You're racing for lane choice. Your racing for what pair you're going to be second round. There are a lot of things that come in to play."

Five-time world champion Tony Schumacher qualified seventh for the race while defending event winner Brandon Bernstein took the eighth spot in the field.

Bartone kept his Canidae Pet Food Chevy Monte Carlo in the top spot in Funny Car, thanks to his Friday night run of 4.881 at 301.81. It's Bartone's second career No. 1 qualifier.

"You have to take advantage of the atmospheric conditions and the track conditions and we felt that, given what we had before us, we couldn't run better than a 4.88 and we had our fingers crossed that no one else could as well," said Bartone, who, along with team owner Jim Dunn, decided to sit out both rounds of Saturday qualifying. "I had my fingers crossed, toes crossed, knees, everything crossed and it held up so we're glad we put this performance up for all our sponsors."

Funny Car points leader Tim Wilkerson sits 14th after two rounds of qualifying, while defending world champion Tony Pedregon is in the 15th spot.

In Pro Stock Connolly's run in his Charter Communications Chevy Cobalt of 6.720 at 204.51 from Friday was enough to keep him in the top spot. It's Connolly's first No. 1 qualifier of the season and sixth of his career.

"Topeka has definitely always been a good track for us," said Connolly, who has had three consecutive final round appearances at Heartland Park. "We know we've got a good car. It's been the best that it's been since we've had it out. We just keep plugging away at it and it keeps responding to the changes we throw at it."

Points leader and defending event winner Greg Anderson qualified in the 14th spot, while defending world champion Jeg Coughlin sits 13th in the field.

Sunday's eliminations begin at 11 a.m. and will be televised on ESPN2 HD.

-credit: nhra

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Larry Dixon , Tony Pedregon , Tony Bartone , Tony Schumacher , Greg Anderson , Tim Wilkerson , Brandon Bernstein , Dave Connolly