Las Vegas: GM Racing Saturday summary

GM Racing Competitors Lead NHRA Qualifying at Las Vegas LAS VEGAS, April 3, 2004 - Qualifying for the Fifth annual NHRA Nationals was completed today at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Because of yesterday's rain cancellation, the ...

GM Racing Competitors Lead NHRA Qualifying at Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS, April 3, 2004 - Qualifying for the Fifth annual NHRA Nationals was completed today at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Because of yesterday's rain cancellation, the 16-car fields in the three professional categories were set with just two rounds of time trials, leaving very little, if any room for error.

Pontiac's Greg Anderson captured his fourth low qualifying award of the season and his ninth straight dating back to last September's NHRA Nationals in Joliet, Ill., driving his SC/T Grand Am to both ends of the track record with a run of 6.812 seconds at 202.03 mph. It is the longest consecutive low-qualifying streak since Bob Glidden's three-season stretch of 23 races in 1985-87.

"This Pontiac Grand Am made two very nice runs today," said Anderson. "There's no better place for us to do well than at this event. We've got great equipment, great support, and great people including Rob Downing and Jeff Perley working on the car. Rob and Jeff continue to do a fantastic job giving me an outstanding racecar to drive. This is a great place to race and a great place to be."

Heading into the final round of time trials, Anderson's Vegas General Construction Pontiac was not qualified. During the morning session a piece of debris covered the staging beams in Anderson's lane preventing the timers from starting. Without an e.t. and speed, the run was thrown out.

"I knew we made a good run because I could felt it all the way down the racetrack," explained Anderson. "We know when that happens it's going to be fast We overlaid the first run with Jason's (Line) and it showed that we were four to five hundredths quicker than his car. So it was just a matter of coming back tonight and repeating what we did this afternoon.

"It's not very comforting to be in that position because it's a one-shot deal and anything can happen. These cars do not run by themselves. Everybody has to do their job and every now and then things break. But we're back where we should be and have a fast racecar for tomorrow."

In addition to his low qualifying streak, the defending POWERade Pro Stock champion has won five of the last six races. Anderson is also the defending champion at this event and has won the last two eliminators raced at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. His teammate, Jason Line has his Pontiac Grand Am qualified in the No. 2 position after stopping the timers with a run of 6.835 seconds at 201.49 mph.

"I was really happy for Jason," said Anderson. "He's doing a tremendous job and seems to do extremely well at this track. Obviously both of our Pontiacs like this place. Jason was No. 2 in the fall last year and we're both looking for a big day on Sunday."

Kurt Johnson's ACDelco Chevrolet is the quickest Cavalier in the 16-car field and slotted No. 3 after running 6.857 seconds during the first qualifying session.

"We came out with just two opportunities to qualify and that definitely puts some pressure on you," explained Johnson. "We had a different setup in the car for this race that we tested out at Commerce (Ga.), so we're pretty pleased. The ACDelco Chevrolet made a real nice run tonight, but it hit that bump down at the end of the track and the car just went crazy. It started spinning, shot to the wall and actually got pretty ugly there for a minute.

"Hey, we went 6.85 on the first hit and thought we could improve tonight, but it just didn't like the lane. I think we're ready to do battle. We ended up third, and right now that's a heck of a lot better than 17, I can tell you that."

Warren Johnson is qualified in the No. 4 spot in a Pontiac and Mark Pawuk is in the No. 7 position in a Grand Am.

"We know this team has the potential to run fast," said Pawuk. "But we've been struggling and fighting gremlins all year. It's nice to start out strong with a good run and then come back and follow up with another nice lap. We tried a couple of different things today, made two consistent runs in the Summit Racing Pontiac and we're looking forward to backing it up tomorrow. This is an important race for us. We're qualified seventh and the last time we won here we were qualified seventh. Maybe lightning will strike twice for us on Sunday."

Jeg Coughlin is qualified in the No. 11 spot in a Cavalier and Bruce Allen will start tomorrow's eliminator from the No. 14 position.

In Funny Car, Tony Pedregon captured his 26th career, and first No. 1 qualifying position of the season in a Chevrolet after running 4.747 seconds at 321.88 mph. Pedregon will receive delivery of a new Monte Carlo next week, but until then, he is competing in the GM Racing-designed Chevy Camaro. It marks the second consecutive event in which a Chevrolet has been at the top of the Funny Car ladder.

"This was the result of teamwork and a group of guys coming together to make it happen," said Pedregon. "Myself, Dickie Venables (crew chief), Kurt Elliott and the team that I hired with the intent of being competitive, has made this the end result. We put our hearts and souls into this program.

"With optimum conditions at one of the best facilities on the circuit, this is what we were hoping for. What makes it even more fun is that we had a gameplan for this race. We tested well here in the winter so we relied on our experience and the data we collected from that first test session. It paid off. At halftrack, I felt like I was at home in this car. We were running a five-year-old design with this Camaro and it's still an excellent racecar. I don't know what our last minute adjustments were, but we went up there with low e.t. in mind. Dickie made the right decision and made a great call."

In addition to Pedregon's top qualifying effort, a total of four Chevrolets, including three of the new 2004 Monte Carlos, are positioned in the top half of the 16-car field for raceday.

Ron Capps is qualified third in the Skoal Racing Monte Carlo after running 4.779 seconds with a career-best top speed of 324.75 mph. Tim Wilkerson is qualified fifth in a Monte Carlo after matching his career-best top speed of 323.58 mph, and Cruz Pedregon, competing in a Monte Carlo for the first time this weekend, is in the eighth spot.

"We've been trying to run those fast numbers, but unfortunately we've been battling some bad breaks," said Capps. "Right there you can tell how sleek and fast this new Monte Carlo is. It's moves very smooth through air and ran nicely to the finish line. Again, being able to see like you can through the larger windshield makes it a pleasure to drive. We had the new Chevrolet backed down because we were trying to get in the show. Believe it or not we didn't want to step on it too hard even though it looks like we did. It was a great run and certainly something we needed."

-gm racing-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Ron Capps , Greg Anderson , Bob Glidden , Cruz Pedregon , Jason Line