Houston Saturday''s O''Reilly Nationals Presented by Pennzoil

FORCE, BERNSTEIN, YATES AND PANELLA ALL EARN TOP QUALIFYING HONORS AT O'REILLY NATIONALS BAYTOWN, Texas - John Force earned his 93rd career No. 1 qualifying position Saturday at the 13th annual O'Reilly Nationals presented by Pennzoil at Houston...


BAYTOWN, Texas - John Force earned his 93rd career No. 1 qualifying position Saturday at the 13th annual O'Reilly Nationals presented by Pennzoil at Houston Raceway Park. The nine-time Winston champion Force, from Yorba Linda, Calif., sped down the quarter-mile in his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang in 4.839 seconds at 319.98 mph to lead all Funny Car competitors. It was Force's third No. 1 qualifying effort of the season and he will meet Bob Gilbertson in the first round of eliminations. Force has 82 career national event wins and is closing in on Bob Glidden's all-time record of 85. Warren Johnson is a close third with 80 career wins. "I'll get the record," said Force. "Whether I'll beat Warren or not, I don't know. And is it really about beating Glidden, no it's not. The record will motivate you to drive on. It gives the fans and the media something. I want to break the record but I don't let it get in my head because every time you start thinking about it, it doesn't happen. Every time I have broke a national record it took me by surprise. You just never expect it. If you go to bed thinking about any individual it will just cost you the ballgame. Focus on yourself, that is the key. You just have to stay consistent. Consistency will win you a championship." Kenny Bernstein, Jim Yates and Bob Panella were also the leaders in their respective categories at the $1.8 million race, the fifth of 23 events in the $45 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series. Lake Forest, Calif.'s, Bernstein continued his strong performance in April as he powered his Budweiser King Top Fuel dragster to his second straight No. 1 qualifying position and the 52nd of his career with his run of 4.566 at 318.17. Bernstein will have a first round bye since there was only 15 competitors in the field. "It's great to have a bye," said the five-time Winston champion Bernstein. "I hate to have it like that for the fans because we need a full field, but I'm happy we have the bye because somebody was going to get it. It gives you one run to really get ready for the next round and it's worth 20 points. In this game 20 points is very important but the main thing it does is gives us a run in the morning to maybe tune the Bud King dragster up a little bit and get ready for the next round. We don't have to worry about making a mistake and getting knocked out in the first round." Two-time Winston champion Yates, from Alexandria, Va., covered the distance in 6.888 at 199.58 in his Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird to lead the 16-car Pro Stock field. It was Yates' second No. 1 qualifying spot of the year and the 18th of his career. Yates will line up against his son, Jamie, in the first round of eliminations. Defending NHRA Winston champion Bob Panella drove his Panella Trucking Chevy S-10 to the top spot in the Pro Stock Truck category with his pass of 7.494 at 179.21. Panella will square off against fellow Chevy racer Lou Ficco in the first round. Elimination rounds begin Sunday at 10 a.m.

BAYTOWN, Texas - Sunday's first-round pairings for the 13th annual O'Reily Nationals presented by Pennzoil at Houston Raceway Park, the fifth of 23 events in the $45-million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.

TOP FUEL 1. Kenny Bernstein, Lake Forest, Calif., 4.566 seconds, 320.97 mph vs. Bye; 2. Gary Scelzi, Fresno, Calif., 4.595, 319.14 vs. 15. Joe Hartley, Omaha, Neb., 9.381, 82.55; 3. Cory McClenathan, Anaheim, Calif., 4.611, 315.71 vs. 14. Mike Smith, Fish Creek, Wis., 9.072, 87.80; 4. Larry Dixon, Indianapolis, 4.626, 316.82 vs. 13. Bruce Litton, Indianapolis, 4.776, 291.19; 5. Joe Amato, Exeter, Pa., 4.640, 315.42 vs. 12. Don Lampus, Garland, Texas, 4.750, 308.43; 6. Tony Schumacher, Park Ridge, Ill., 4.659, 313.29 vs. 11. David Grubnic, Ennis, Mont., 4.708, 314.24; 7. Doug Kalitta, Ypsilanti, Mich., 4.665, 309.13 vs. 10. Bob Vandergriff, Cumming, Ga., 4.682, 312.50; 8. Doug Herbert, Cherryville, N.C., 4.667, 317.05 vs. 9. Rhonda Hartman-Smith, Williamston, S.C., 4.668, 312.35.

FUNNY CAR 1. John Force, Yorba Linda, Calif., Ford Mustang, 4.839, 319.98 vs. 16. Bob Gilbertson, Gastonia, N.C., Pontiac Firebird, 5.126, 303.30; 2. Jerry Toliver, Huntington Beach, Calif., Chevrolet Camaro, 4.863, 316.75 vs. 15. Cristen Powell, Portland, Ore., Firebird, 5.123, 293.15; 3. Whit Bazemore, Indianapolis, Camaro, 4.884, 311.27 vs. 14. Bob Weickgenannt, Columbia, Md., Camaro, 5.083, 304.94; 4. Del Worsham, Laguna Hills, Calif., Firebird, 4.894, 301.00 vs. 13. Ron Capps, Carlsbad, Calif., Camaro, 5.069, 225.45; 5. Dean Skuza, Brecksville, Ohio, Dodge Avenger, 4.906, 311.41 vs. 12. Gary Densham, Bellflower, Calif., Firebird, 4.999, 304.05; 6. Al Hofmann, Umatilla, Fla., Firebird, 4.918, 299.73 vs. 11. Tony Pedregon, Chino Hills, Calif., Mustang, 4.994, 305.91; 7. Frank Pedregon, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., Firebird, 4.922, 311.05 vs. 10. Scotty Cannon, Lyman, S.C., Camaro, 4.985, 306.46; 8. Todd Paton, Paris, Ont., Firebird, 4.932, 313.66 vs. 9. Jim Epler, Phoenix, Camaro, 4.944, 304.67.

PRO STOCK 1. Jim Yates, Alexandria, Va., Pontiac Firebird, 6.888, 199.58 vs. 16. Jamie Yates, Alexandria, Va., Firebird, 6.933, 198.50; 2. Jeg Coughlin, Columbus, Ohio, Oldsmobile Cutlass, 6.889, 199.67 vs. 15. Mike Thomas, Knoxville, Tenn., Firebird, 6.929, 197.77; 3. Rickie Smith, King, N.C., Chevy Camaro, 6.892, 198.70 vs. 14. Brad Jeter, Greenville, S.C., Firebird, 6.925, 198.12; 4. Richie Stevens, New Orleans, Firebird, 6.897, 198.06 vs. 13. Warren Johnson, Buford, Ga., Firebird, 6.919, 200.68; 5. Mark Pawuk, Akron, Ohio, Firebird, 6.898, 199.02 vs. 12. Tom Martino, Farmingdale, N.J., Firebird, 6.916, 199.49; 6. Troy Coughlin, Columbus, Ohio, Cutlass, 6.900, 198.35 vs. 11. Darrell Alderman, Morehead, Ky., Dodge Avenger, 6.913, 199.02; 7. Kurt Johnson, Lawrenceville, Ga., Camaro, 6.901, 200.32 vs. 10. Bruce Allen, Arlington, Texas, Firebird, 6.913, 199.08; 8. Ron Krisher, Warren, Ohio, Firebird, 6.906, 200.17 vs. 9. Robert Patrick, Fredricksburg, Va., Ford Mustang, 6.910, 199.05.

PRO STOCK TRUCK 1. Bob Panella Jr, Stockton, Calif., Chevy S-10, 7.494, 179.21 vs. 16. Lou Ficco, Wheatridge, Colo., S-10, 7.569, 177.58; 2. Randy Daniels, Grantsboro, N.C., S-10, 7.501, 180.02 vs. 15. Larry Seay, Mayfield, Ky., S-10, 7.567, 177.32; 3. Greg Stanfield, Bossier City, La., S-10, 7.525, 178.87 vs. 14. John Lingenfelter, Decatur, Ind., GMC Sonoma, 7.567, 177.81; 4. Steve Johns, Lancaster, Pa., S-10, 7.532, 179.35 vs. 13. Scott Perin, Pen Argyl, Pa., S-10, 7.564, 177.18; 5. Brian Self, Houston, S-10, 7.541, 178.61 vs. 12. Rob Slavinski, Newark, Ohio, S-10, 7.562, 177.98; 6. Jeff Gracia, Ontario, Calif., S-10, 7.546, 178.83 vs. 11. Tim Freeman, Roan Mountain, Tenn., S-10, 7.560, 178.02; 7. Rick Jones, Galesburg, Ill., Sonoma, 7.551, 178.35 vs. 10. Scott Tidwell, Pinson, Ala., S-10, 7.559, 178.38; 8. Taylor Lastor, Austin, Texas, S-10, 7.553, 178.68 vs. 9. Vinny Barone, Dix Hill, N.Y., S-10, 7.554, 177.25.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert , Bruce Litton , Frank Pedregon , Mike Thomas , Jeg Coughlin , Troy Coughlin , Bob Panella , Robert Patrick , Larry Dixon , Darrell Alderman , Kenny Bernstein , Brad Jeter , Mark Pawuk , Jamie Yates , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Bob Gilbertson , Jim Epler , Tony Pedregon , Dean Skuza , Del Worsham , Ron Capps , John Force , Rhonda Hartman-Smith , Tony Schumacher , Joe Amato , Gary Scelzi , Doug Kalitta , Randy Daniels , John Lingenfelter , David Grubnic , Gary Densham , Scotty Cannon , Bob Glidden , Todd Paton , Cory McClenathan , Greg Stanfield , Bruce Allen , Tom Martino , Tim Freeman , Don Lampus , Rickie Smith , Joe Hartley , Brian Self , Jerry Toliver , Bob Vandergriff , Steve J , Cristen Powell , Mike Smit
Teams Williams