Madison: Friday qualifying summary

MADISON, Ill. - Jim Head earned the provisional No. 1 qualifying position in the Top Fuel category Friday at the seventh annual Sears Craftsman NHRA Nationals at Gateway International Raceway. Head drove his dragster down the quarter-mile in 4.667...

MADISON, Ill. - Jim Head earned the provisional No. 1 qualifying position in the Top Fuel category Friday at the seventh annual Sears Craftsman NHRA Nationals at Gateway International Raceway. Head drove his dragster down the quarter-mile in 4.667 seconds at 315.34 mph to lead the Top Fuel category after two sessions. If he stays in the No. 1 spot, it will be his second career No. 1 qualifier. Qualifying continues with two sessions Saturday at 5:15 and 8:15 p.m. Gary Densham, Warren Johnson and Shawn Gann led their respective categories at the $1.8 million race, the 12th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. Densham drove his Auto Club Ford Mustang to a 4.889 at a track record speed of 316.97 mph to lead the Funny Car category.

"What we are really are trying to do is become more consistent in all kinds of conditions," Densham said. "We have always been really fast in perfect conditions, but now (crew chief) Jimmy Prock is working on making this car work with lots of power no matter what the conditions are. What we are trying to do is be able to be more consistent which will allow us to win more races and that is what we really want." Densham said he doesn't think his Friday time will hold as the quickest pass.

"The No. 1 qualifier will run a quicker number Saturday night," Densham said. "The real trick this weekend is going to be the first round on Sunday. We will be running in a little warmer conditions and that could be the key to winning the race." Johnson set the track record in time with a 6.808 pass at 202.12 to pace the Pro Stock category in his GM Performance Parts Pontiac Grand Am. Greg Anderson set the track record for speed with a 6.815 at 202.85 in his Vegas General Construction Pontiac Grand Am. "That was a very good run, but certainly not perfect," Johnson said. "Hitting the set-up is always a guesstimate at best, due to variances in the track conditions from afternoon to night. For example, the track was about 25 to 30 degrees cooler tonight than it was this afternoon. We could have gotten greedy and tried to run a 6.77 or 6.78, but then it could have gone over the line, shook the tires and gone 9.77."

Gann set the elapsed time track record with a time of 7.136 at 187.31 on his Mac Tools Suzuki to lead the Pro Stock Bike category. If he stays on top of the Pro Stock Bike ladder, it will be the second of the season and fourth of his career. "We have changed the weight program on our bike," Gann said. "I lost some weight and that allowed us to be able to shift weight around and add more weight on the front of the bike. We have always had the power but shifting the weight around has really helped improve our 60-foot times and we are becoming more consistent every week."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jim Head , Greg Anderson , Shawn Gann , Gary Densham