Gainesville: Saturday qualifying report

SCHUMACHER AND ANDERSON REMAIN PERFECT QUALIFIERS, JOIN FORCE AND SCHNITZ AS GATORNATIONALS LEADERS GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Reigning POWERade Series world champions Tony Schumacher and Greg Anderson qualified No. 1 for the third time in as many...

SCHUMACHER AND ANDERSON REMAIN PERFECT QUALIFIERS, JOIN FORCE AND SCHNITZ AS GATORNATIONALS LEADERS

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Reigning POWERade Series world champions Tony Schumacher and Greg Anderson qualified No. 1 for the third time in as many races Saturday to lead the action at the 37th annual ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway.

John Force and Ryan Schnitz also topped their respective categories at the $2 million race, the third of 23 on the POWERade Drag Racing Series.

Schumacher waited until the final time trial to move from the bump spot to Top Fuel's No. 1 position with a 4.515 at 325.96 mph in his U.S. Army dragster. He started the day outside the field of 16 after struggling in Friday's heat.

"I was freaked out," said Schumacher, a three-time series champion (1999, 2004-2005). "I get nervous, believe me. I kept asking the guys if we got bumped. It was like in '99 at Memphis when we didn't make a good pass in round one and then it started raining and raining. Joe Amato would have passed us in the points if we didn't qualify but NHRA gave us all one more chance Sunday morning and we got in. I got no sleep that night."

Anderson led the quickest Pro Stock field of all-time with a near-record 6.637 at 207.51 mph in his Summit Racing Equipment Pontiac GTO for his 43rd low qualifying effort. The current national record for Pro Stock is Anderson's 6.633 from last year's Gatornationals.

"We lick our chops when we come here," Anderson said. "This is a great racetrack and if we get a little bit of cloud cover and the track temperature drops 10 degrees, I guarantee we'll see a national record."

Force relied on his Friday run of 4.751 at 323.62 mph to keep his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang at the top of the qualifying sheet. It marks the 127th time the sport's all-time leader in wins (119) and series championships (13) has earned the No. 1 designation heading into race day.

John isn't the only Force racing this weekend. His second daughter Ashley is competing in Top Alcohol Dragster and his two youngest girls, Brittany and Courtney, are racing in Super Comp.

"This has been an exciting weekend for me," Force said. "All of my girls are here and we're having fun. It's just like the old times but instead of going to the Alehouse at the end of the day we're going to Steak and Shake."

Funny Car points leader Ron Capps lurks mid-pack with a sixth-best 4.808 at 319.03 mph in his Brut Stratus.

Schnitz opened the 15-race Pro Stock Motorcycle season with a career-best 7.012 at 188.63 mph to earn the second low qualifier award of his 30-race career. The young rider is currently seeking a sponsor for his Buell V-Twin.

"We knew coming in it would be to our advantage to get as much attention as possible for our situation," Schnitz said. "It's like we've been training for four months for this one event. We have some deals working but it's all imaginary until it's on paper. I hope something happens."

-nhra

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Series NHRA
Drivers Ron Capps , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Joe Amato , Greg Anderson , Ryan Schnitz