Las Vegas II: Friday qualifying summary

Schumacher, Pedregon, Anderson and Savoie lead qualifying in Las Vegas LAS VEGAS - Tony Pedregon has the provisional No. 1 qualifying spot in Funny Car, moving one step closer to the NHRA POWERade championship. Pedregon went to the top of the ...

Schumacher, Pedregon, Anderson and Savoie lead qualifying in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS - Tony Pedregon has the provisional No. 1 qualifying spot in Funny Car, moving one step closer to the NHRA POWERade championship. Pedregon went to the top of the qualifying order Friday during the ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Tony Schumacher, Greg Anderson and Angelle Savoie also led the way after the second of four qualifying sessions in their respective categories at the $1.6 million race, the 22nd of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

Pedregon leads the category and can clinch the Funny Car championship if he can advance two rounds further than second-place Whit Bazemore. Pedregon used a 4.753-second run at 322.88 mph in his Castrol Syntec Ford Mustang to lead the first day of qualifying.

"I felt the pressure of being at the top of the standings early in the year and it has been constant," Pedregon said. "It's not the most pleasant thing but it is what drives people and it is what tests your character."

Pedregon has earned the No. 1 qualifying position six times this season before coming into Las Vegas. He said the run was especially good considering the team has not qualified in the top spot since the Columbus event in June.

Now the pressure is on to finish the weekend with his first NHRA POWERade Funny Car championship.

"We haven't run quite as well as we are capable of, but we got off to a good enough start to be able to withstand the four first round losses (in five races during the summer)," Pedregon said. "Having a good run like that is important to us. I'm happy the car responded the way it did. I told (crew chief John) Medlen to not even tell me what they did.

"My friends keep telling me that they want me to clinch the championship (in two weeks at the season finale in Pomona, Calif.) because it is so close to everyone. But to be honest, I would rather clinch it here, this weekend."

Schumacher led the Top Fuel field with a 4.520 at 331.45 in his U.S. Army dragster. If Schumacher can hang on to the top spot, it will be his fourth of the year and third consecutive No. 1 qualifier.

"There is less air here than there was at the last two events (Dallas and Reading, Pa.) and you are going to run a little slower and you really need to run late at night when it is cooler to get similar results," Schumacher said. "We have a brand new car, a Hadman. We're trying to work out the details with that, so it's good that we can run that kind of number with a new car. Now we can go out tomorrow and test some tuneups that we can use for Sunday."

Anderson clinched his first NHRA POWERade Pro Stock championship two weeks ago and came right back to lead the category after two sessions. He led the field in his Vegas General Construction Pontiac Grand Am, going 6.891 at 200.44.

"I love racing here at The Strip in Las Vegas," Anderson said. "I'm starting to feel like it is my home track with all the fan support we received coming down the return road. That's really something.

"It's great to give (Vegas business owner) our team owner, Ken Black, this kind of performance for all the support he and his company give this team. It's neat for him to have the No. 1 car."

Savoie went to the top of the Pro Stock Bike order with a 7.272 at 188.15 on her U.S. Army Suzuki. Savoie signed on with her current sponsor in July and has yet to win a race since the deal closed.

"I want to win really bad because this is the longest I have gone with a new sponsor without giving them a victory," Savoie said. "We have a lot left on the bike. Hopefully it will hold and we can stay No. 1."

Qualifying continues at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Saturday before final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday.

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Whit Bazemore , Tony Schumacher , Greg Anderson , Ken Black