Brainerd: Saturday summary

Dixon, Scelzi, Johnson and Showers lead qualifying at Lucas Oil Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway BRAINERD, Minn. - Larry Dixon raced to his fourth No. 1 qualifying position of the season Saturday at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals ...

Dixon, Scelzi, Johnson and Showers lead qualifying at Lucas Oil Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway

BRAINERD, Minn. - Larry Dixon raced to his fourth No. 1 qualifying position of the season Saturday at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway and is in position to win his fourth consecutive race Gary Scelzi, Kurt Johnson and Reggie Showers also led their respective categories at the $1.9 million race, the 16th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Dixon paced the Top Fuel field when he blasted his Miller Lite dragster to his 23rd career No. 1 qualifying position with a run of 4.638 seconds at 321.42 mph. Dixon, who swept the recent Western Swing (Denver, Seattle and Sonoma, Calif.), can become the third Top Fuel driver in NHRA history to earn four consecutive victories (Scott Kalitta,1994 and Cory McClenathan, 1997)

"The conditions were there in the final session," said Dixon. "There was just enough cloud cover and the temperature was cool enough, so the potential was there to run better than yesterday.

"I'm not thinking about winning four straight. Maybe if we get to the final round then I'll think about it. We've got to win three rounds first. It's going to take a lot of hard work."

Doug Kalitta, who is second in the Top Fuel points standings and trails Dixon by 310 points, qualified second, while defending event champion Kenny Bernstein will start from the third position.

Scelzi clocked a pass of 4.940 at 311.63 in his Oakley Dodge Stratus to claim his second No. 1 qualifying position in the last three events and 35th of his career. Scelzi, who earned his first career Funny Car victory two weeks ago in Sonoma, captured his first No. 1 qualifying position in Funny Car competition at Pacific Raceways near Seattle in July.

"I feel really good," said Scelzi. "I'm glad we got down the track this afternoon. You don't like to go out and only get down the track on one out of four runs. We're ready for Sunday. Everybody is upbeat and excited. Coming off that win, we need to make a move in the POWERade points. We can't slip up."

Funny Car points leader Tony Pedregon, who is coming off three consecutive first round losses, will start from the eighth position. Whit Bazemore, who trails Pedregon by 44 points, qualified in the No. 3 position. Pedregon's teammate John Force, who is currently third in the points standings, qualified second.

Johnson led Pro Stock qualifying for the first time this season and 22nd of his career by driving his ACDelco Chevy Cavalier to a run of 6.876 at 200.23. Johnson also set the track speed record at 201.01 during qualifying. It is Johnson's first No. 1 qualifying spot since Oct. 2002.

"Greg (Anderson) has been in the way all year," said Johnson. "I played with the carburetors this weekend. We had some problems with the motor at Sonoma and Seattle. We finally got it hitting on all eight cylinders here and it ran good."

Pro Stock points leader Greg Anderson qualified second, while Taylor Lastor will start from the third slot. Jeg Coughlin, who earned his first victory of the season at Infineon Raceway two weeks ago, qualified fourth.

Showers earned his first career No. 1 qualifying position when he rode his PDI Suzuki to a run of 7.231 at 185.03 to lead the Pro Stock Bike order. Showers previous qualifying best was the third position two weeks ago at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma.

"I used to qualify No. 1 in IDBA all the time," said Showers. "This is a whole different ballgame over here. This is the toughest the Pro Stock Bike field has ever been. Everyone has their programs together. Last night, I wrote a list of wants and one of those wants was to qualify No. 1. Now, I want to win rounds and races. We're feeling good right now."

Category points leader Geno Scali, who has three victories this season, qualified in the No. 5 position, while second place rider Angelle Savoie will start from the third spot.

Final eliminations begin Sunday at 11 a.m.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Larry Dixon , Kenny Bernstein , Kurt Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Gary Scelzi , Doug Kalitta , Greg Anderson , Reggie Showers , Scott Kalitta , Geno Scali