Millington: Friday summary

Cowin, T. Pedregon and W. Johnson lead qualifying at O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals. MILLINGTON, Tenn. - Andrew Cowin led Top Fuel qualifying Friday at the rain-delayed O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals at Memphis Motorsports Park with a solid ...

Cowin, T. Pedregon and W. Johnson lead qualifying at O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals.

MILLINGTON, Tenn. - Andrew Cowin led Top Fuel qualifying Friday at the rain-delayed O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals at Memphis Motorsports Park with a solid performance during the only qualifying session of the day.

Tony Pedregon and Warren Johnson also led their respective categories at the $1.8 million race, the 19th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

Cowin blasted his Yankees dragster down the quarter-mile distance in 4.594 seconds at 319.75 mph to set the pace for the 16-car field with two sessions of qualifying remaining. The first session was canceled due to persistent rain throughout the day.

"The starting line was much better than people thought it would be," said the 22-year-old Cowin. "But tomorrow is a completely different ball game with the sun out on the track all day. The last three races we have been running consistently in the 50s. (Crew chief) Mike Green and the rest of the team are doing a great job. They've turned this hot rod around and it should start winning races soon."

Current points leader Larry Dixon qualified his Miller Lite dragster in the No.5 spot with a 4.651 run, while rival Kenny Bernstein drove his Budweiser dragster to the No. 2 position with a 4.595 run. Dixon entered the event with a 65-point advantage in the NHRA POWERade standings.

Pedregon sped down the track in 4.879 at 316.23 in his Castrol Syntec Ford Mustang to lead all Funny Car competitors as many teams had difficulties making a complete pass.

"The conditions don't seem like they were as bad as the other cars made them look like they were," said Pedregon, who has a career-high four wins this year. "There may be a spot in the track at about 150 to 200 feet from the starting line that might be marginal, but it is one of the areas that my crew chief John Medlen was able to address on that run. At any point during that run I was prepared to get out of the throttle, or whatever, to save the run. I was like on a hair-trigger waiting for the unexpected and it never came. That was the icing on the cake."

Pedregon was followed by team-owner John Force and teammate Gary Densham in the qualifying order to give Force Racing the top three spots in the ladder with two qualifying sessions remaining. Only five Funny Car drivers were able to make it down the track in less than five seconds.

Johnson sped to the finish line in his GM Goodwrench Pontiac Grand Am in 6.865 at 200.14 to lead the Pro Stock category.

Qualifying continues Saturday at 10 a.m.

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Kenny Bernstein , Warren Johnson , Tony Pedregon , John Force , Andrew Cowin , Gary Densham , John Medlen