Denver: Saturday qualifying summary

Dixon, Wilkerson, Anderson and Tonglet earn top spots at Denver MORRISON, Colo. - Larry Dixon raced to his second top qualifying position of the season Saturday at the Mopar Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway. Tim Wilkerson, Greg...

Dixon, Wilkerson, Anderson and Tonglet earn top spots at Denver

MORRISON, Colo. - Larry Dixon raced to his second top qualifying position of the season Saturday at the Mopar Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway.

Tim Wilkerson, Greg Anderson and GT Tonglet also will lead their respective categories into Sunday's eliminations at the $1.8 million race, the 13th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

Dixon earned his 21st career No. 1 qualifying spot when he blasted his Miller Lite dragster to a pass of 4.790 seconds at 308.64 mph during the final Top Fuel qualifying session. Dixon, the current Top Fuel points leader, will look to earn his sixth victory of the season Sunday.

"We're the only car that made three good runs in qualifying, so I'm thrilled with that," said Dixon. "Our crew chief Dick LaHaie seems to have a handle on things, so I'm cautiously optimistic."

Cory McClenathan will start from the No. 2 position after he piloted his N.Y. Yankees/Berryman dragster to a pass of 4.798 at 308.50, while Doug Kalitta, who sits second in the Top Fuel points standings, qualified third.

Wilkerson grabbed his second top qualifying position of the season when he drove his Levi, Ray & Shoup Pontiac Firebird to a run of 5.007 at 297.16 to pace the Funny Car order. Wilkerson also qualified No. 1 at the season-opening K&N Filters Winternationals at Pomona (Calif.) Raceway.

"We are not giving up on our dreams of winning races and contending in the points," said Wilkerson. "This thing will not beat us. You know, I look at this year and we really have had a good, solid car. It is our first year running full-time and we have run into a lot of situations where people beat us by a fraction. But, I know from watching this sport over the years that eventually, if you stick to the game plan, you start winning those close ones."

Funny Car points leader Tony Pedregon will start from the second position, while Whit Bazemore, who trails Pedregon by 143 points in the Funny Car points standings, starts from the third spot.

Anderson earned his seventh No. 1 qualifying position of the season when he powered his Vegas General Construction Pontiac Grand Am to a track record elapsed time of 7.205 at 191.26 to lead the 16-car Pro Stock field. Anderson also set the track speed record at 191.38 mph during qualifying.

"I'm not surprised we ran so well this weekend," said Anderson. "We tested really well here and the car has been flawless all weekend. Every run, the car has gotten better."

Kurt Johnson, who trails Anderson by 70 points in the Pro Stock points chase, qualified No. 2, while Ron Krisher, who won his first event of the season three weeks ago in St. Louis, will start from the third spot.

Tonglet became the first Pro Stock Bike rider to pilot a Harley-Davidson to the No. 1 qualifying position in NHRA history when he rode his Vance & Hines Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidson V-Rod to a track record elapsed time of 7.534 at 175.96. It was the first top qualifying spot of Tonglet's career.

"This is awesome," said Tonglet. "I've never been been No. 1 in my career before. Hopefully we can repeat St. Louis a few weeks ago when we made our first final round with the Harley. We'd like to get our first win shortly."

Tonglet's teammate, Andrew Hines, qualified his Harley-Davidson in the No. 2 position, while Fred Collis, who won his first career NHRA event at National Trail Raceway outside of Columbus, Ohio, earlier this year, finished in the third spot.

Final eliminations begin Sunday at 12:30 p.m.

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Kurt Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Whit Bazemore , Doug Kalitta , Greg Anderson , Ron Krisher , Cory McClenathan , Dick LaHaie , Tim Wilkerson , Fred Collis , Andrew Hines , GT Tonglet