Columbus Saturday Wrapup

KIRKERSVILLE, Ohio - Gary Scelzi claimed his fourth No. 1 qualifying effort of the season Saturday at the 36th annual Pontiac Excitement Nationals presented by Summit Racing at National Trail Raceway. Jim Epler, Warren Johnson, Tony Mullen and Bob...

KIRKERSVILLE, Ohio - Gary Scelzi claimed his fourth No. 1 qualifying effort of the season Saturday at the 36th annual Pontiac Excitement Nationals presented by Summit Racing at National Trail Raceway. Jim Epler, Warren Johnson, Tony Mullen and Bob Panella are also leaders in their respective categories for the $1.9 million race, the 11th of 23 events in the $45 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series. Scelzi drove his Team Winston dragster to the front of the Top Fuel order, covering the quarter-mile distance in 4.651 seconds at 313.73 mph. The Fresno, Calif. driver will go for a record fourth-straight victory, and fifth of the season, Sunday when he faces drag racing legend Chris Karamesines to kick-off the 11 a.m. eliminations. "There's going to be a lot of cars that have a shot at winning this race tomorrow," said Scelzi, the 1997 winner at this event. "I just hope that the car that wins is that big fast red one that I drive." Epler clocked a track record run of 4.877 at 313.44 in his WWF Racing Chevy Camaro to claim the top spot in Funny Car, his second of the season. He'll face Tim Wilkerson in the first round. In one of the most intriguing match-ups of the day, second-quickest Funny Car qualifier Jerry Toliver will meet John Force in the first round. Force, who qualified 15th, defeated Toliver for a record 86th career victory at the last event. "It should be an exciting race for the fans, that's for sure," said Toliver, a two-time winner this season. "We need to take advantage of this opportunity. We're two-and-a-half rounds back and could make up some ground in the Winston championship chase with a win." Defending event winner Johnson earned the No. 1 position in Pro Stock, covering the distance in a track record time of 6.935 at 197.54 in his GM Goodwrench Pontiac Firebird. Mullen rode his AnythingOvernight.com Suzuki to the front of the Pro Stock Motorcycle order, posting a 7.288 at 183.79. Panella recorded a track record run of 7.578 at 177.49 in a Chevy S-10 to lead Pro Stock Truck qualifying. Federal-Mogul All-Star winners included Rick Santos (F-M Dragster); Tony Bartone (F-M Funny Car); Larry Pritchett (Competition); Dan Fletcher (Super Stock); Jeff Hefler (Stock); Sheldon Gecker (Super Comp); Steve Cohen (Super Gas); and Rudy Matthews (Super Street). NHRA Division 2 (Southeast) earned the Federal-Mogul All-Star team championship.

-NHRA-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Bob Panella , Warren Johnson , Jim Epler , Tony Bartone , John Force , Gary Scelzi , Chris Karamesines , Rick Santos , Tim Wilkerson , Jerry Toliver , Larry Pritchett , Dan Fletcher