Gainesville: Friday qualifying report

DIXON, TASCA, EDWARDS AND SMITH RACE TO QUALIFYING LEAD AT 40th ANNUAL ACDELCO NHRA GATORNATIONALS GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Larry Dixon led the Top Fuel pack on Friday at the ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals by racing to the qualifying lead for...


GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Larry Dixon led the Top Fuel pack on Friday at the ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals by racing to the qualifying lead for the second consecutive race.

Dixon, who had a rough start to the season after failing to qualify at the season-opener in Pomona, qualified with the quickest run on Friday, a performance of 3.902 seconds at 310.20 mph in his Al-Anabi Racing dragster.

Bob Tasca, Mike Edwards and Matt Smith also were qualifying leaders in their respective categories at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Event. Qualifying continues Saturday at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. for Sunday's 11 a.m. eliminations.

Dixon, also the top qualifier at Phoenix, appears to be adjusting well to his new Alan Johnson-led team.

"It was real close to get that .90 on the board and at least get us qualified in the top 12," Dixon said. "That's always important.

"I think from the first two events we went to, the air is quite a bit better here, but because of the track temperature, you have a lot less grip. I would assume that most of the teams that got down the track had to calm the car down to let it get down the track. I wouldn't think [the number will hold], I think cars should run better the more they get adapted. It seems like in years past here at Gainesville the first day is a little bit slower than the second day. I don't know why, obviously the heat and we haven't run here in a year, but the second day everything normally picks up and the team seems to adapt better to it and you have more shots to fire at it. I think you'll see 80s tomorrow. I wouldn't expect a .90 flat to hold up."

Brandon Bernstein was second in his Budweiser/Lucas Oil dragster with a 3.922 at 312.64, while Cory McClenathan was third in his FRAM dragster with a 3.930 at 309.63.

Tasca raced to the Funny Car lead with a 4.124 at 296.76 in his Motorcraft Quicklane Ford Shelby Mustang. If his time holds through Saturday's qualifying it will be his first No. 1 qualifying effort of his career.

"The weather is going to be great all weekend," Tasca said. "It really comes around with the cloud cover. It really doesn't matter what the temperature is, track temperature is what's critical. We're hoping it'll hold up but hey, we could improve. The good thing about running a 4.12 is you have the data and you can look at it. There were a lot of things in that run that we could have improved upon. It was a real safe 4.12. If the conditions come our way tomorrow, we'll try to improve it."

John Force was second in his Castrol Edge Ford Mustang with a 4.153 at 288.52 and Force's teammate, Mike Neff, posted a 4.154 at 300.93 in his Ford Dive One Mustang for third place.

Mike Edwards led Pro Stock in his Young Life/Penhall Pontiac GXP with a 6.582 at 209.20. Edwards is going for his second-consecutive No. 1 qualifying award.

"I'm not really used to this to be honest with you," said Edwards. "It's very rewarding to have these kind of results after the effort our team put in last season and over the winter. I'm just really appreciative of everything. Kathy and Derek Steinbach from A.R.T. are here today and what a great way to show them off here in their home state [of] Florida. They've been on our car for eight years, and I'm real tickled for them and to have them on board. We made up the whole car for them this weekend because we wanted to do something real special for all the dedication they've given us, and it turned out real nice for them.

"There will be some faster times tomorrow. I don't know if we can get any better than that tomorrow but we're going to try. It depends on the weather but I think the first session tomorrow is going to be real good."

Greg Anderson was second in his Summit Racing Pontiac GXP with a 6.596 at 209.59. Allen Johnson took third with a 6.600 at 208.97 in his Team Mopar/ J&J Racing Dodge Stratus.

Matt Smith raced to the qualifying lead in Pro Stock Motorcycle's debut race of the season on his NitroFish Wear Suzuki with a 6.945 at 189.44.

"That's a good start to the season and if we can continue like that tomorrow we'll be good," said Smith, who made just seven runs on the bike before the race during testing. "We left three- or four-hundredths on the table on that first run, so if the conditions are similar tomorrow morning, we could run a 6.90 or .91. This NitroFish Suzuki that Don Schumacher has put together is pretty awesome, so I have to thank everyone on the team for giving me a chance to do this.

"The Buell is like a tractor in that it vibrates and makes no rpm -- we run like 9,000 rpm -- while the Suzuki will turn 13,500 nice and smooth, so it's totally different. The clutch is different, the throttle is different, so it's a big adjustment."

Hector Arana qualified second on his Lucas Oil Buell with a 6.957 at 191.40, followed by Karen Stoffer in third on her Geico Suzuki 6.963 at 190.43.

Qualifying continues Saturday with sessions at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday.

-credit: nhra

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , John Force , Greg Anderson , Cory McClenathan , Karen Stoffer , Brandon Bernstein , Allen Johnson , Matthew Smith , Don Schumacher , Mike Edwards , Mike Neff