Brainerd: Saturday final qualifying summary

BRAINERD, Minn. -- Whit Bazemore led a parade of track record performances Saturday with a top qualifying effort in Funny Car at the 20th annual Colonel's Truck Accessories NHRA Nationals. Larry Dixon, Warren Johnson and Antron Brown also will...

BRAINERD, Minn. -- Whit Bazemore led a parade of track record performances Saturday with a top qualifying effort in Funny Car at the 20th annual Colonel's Truck Accessories NHRA Nationals.

Larry Dixon, Warren Johnson and Antron Brown also will lead their respective pro categories into tomorrow's 11 a.m. eliminations at the $1.9 million race, the 17th of 24 events in the $50 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.

Bazemore powered his Matco Tools Pontiac Firebird to an event-best 4.849 second time at 310.41 mph to lead the 16-car field at Brainerd International Raceway. Tony Pedregon was second in a Ford Mustang, posting a 4.881 at 312.28.

"That was an exciting session," Bazemore said. "Top Fuel is billed as the kings of the sport, but the Funny Car class has been very exciting this year. I'm glad to be a part of it. Fortunately we were the last to run in that final qualifying session and Lee (Beard, crew chief) kept adjusting on the car in the staging lanes as the other cars were putting down good runs. I think by the time we ran we had a whole new tuneup in the car."

Dixon moved to the top of the order in Top Fuel and scored his first No. 1 effort of the season, driving his Miller Lite dragster to a 4.594 at 314.90 to lead the 16-car field. Mike Dunn qualified second in the Yankees dragster, posting a 4.621-second run with a track record speed of 326.63.

"A lot of times to get the (No. 1 qualifying position) you've got to really fire a shot," said Dixon, who will face Tony Schumacher in the opening round. "Dick (LaHaie, crew chief) is not the gambling type. In the big scheme of things it only gives you a few points over the competition. The real deal is to win the race. That's where you gain ground for the Winston championship. That's what we want to do tomorrow."

Johnson claimed his third top qualifying effort of the year in Pro Stock, clocking a track-record 6.932 at 198.96 in his GM Goodwrench Pontiac Grand Am. Local favorite Tom Hammonds, forward for the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves, qualified ninth in a Chevy Cavalier with a season-best performance of 6.970 at 197.54.

Brown earned his sixth No. 1 qualifying position of the season in Pro Stock Motorcycle, riding his Team 23 Suzuki to a track record 7.262 at 183.54. With the top qualifying position, Brown earned the top seed for the Holley Pro Stock Dominator Duel, a special event for bikes contested during the upcoming Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis.

-Nhra

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Series NHRA
Drivers Antron Brown , Larry Dixon , Mike Dunn , Warren Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Whit Bazemore , Tony Schumacher , Tom Hammonds