CHANDLER AZ - SUMMIT FastNews - Temperatures in the mid-eighties and bright sunshine warmed the record crowd at the conclusion of the 15th annual NHRA Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals presented by Pennzoil as they watched two of the three ...
CHANDLER AZ - SUMMIT FastNews - Temperatures in the mid-eighties and bright sunshine warmed the record crowd at the conclusion of the 15th annual NHRA Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals presented by Pennzoil as they watched two of the three number-one qualifiers take home event wins. Joe Amato, in the Tenneco Top Fuel dragster, and John Force, in the Castrol GTX Mustang Funny Car, demonstrated consistent, dominating performance to advance through four rounds of eliminations and win their respective categories. In Pro Stock, however, number-one qualifier Warren Johnson experienced handling problems early in the event and the task of upholding the family honor fell on his son Kurt's shoulders in the AC Delco Camaro. Like the other two winners, Kurt, responded by demonstrating consistent, dominating performance to climb the winner's rostrum. Amato met friend and golfing partner Kenny Bernstein in the Budweiser King dragster in the final round. Though Bernstein took a slight starting line advantage, Amato quickly made up the difference and then went on to win handily, clocked at 4.565 seconds and 320.66 mph over Bernstein's 4.649 and 316.75. The win was Amato's first of the new season, but more importantly it made up for failing to qualify at the season-opener three weeks ago. That Winternationals qualifying failure was only the second time Amato had failed to qualify in Top Fuel. This win was Amato's 46th, in in 90 final-round appearances. Though Amato took home the winner's laurels, relative newcomer Tony Schumacher took home a milestone, the first driver ever to post a speed above 330 mph. Clocked at 4.540 seconds and 330.23 mph during the first round of eliminations, Schumacher made it all the way to the semifinals, where he lost to Amato.
Mike Dunn retained the Winston Top Fuel points lead, despite losing to Bernstein in the second round of eliminations. However, Bernstein closed to within 29 points of Dunn with his runner-up showing. Like Amato, Force was never seriously challenged all day, his car consistently quick and fast when others were finding the going a bit on the tricky side. In the final round, Force faced Cruz Pedregon in the Interstate Batteries Firebird and reset both ends of the track record book with a 4.843 second, 317.87 mph clocking over Pedregon's tire-spinning 5.095 at 272.67. The win allowed Force to overtake teammate Tony Pedregon to lead the Winston points by 9 points. Johnson only made one completed run out of the sixes all weekend, that run coming in the semifinals, in the heat of the day. Even then, his elapsed time was the quickest of the round and earned all-important lane choice in the finals, against Troy Coughlin. In that final stanza, Johnson recorded an elapsed time of 6.970 seconds at 197.97 mph, while Coughlin had handling problems and slowed. The win gave Johnson the Winston points lead for the first time in his career, by 6 points, over Winternationals winner Jeg Coughlin Jr. Other Final Round Results: Federal-Mogul Dragster -- Darren Nicholson, Laguna Hills CA, Uyehara-BAE, Right lane, (0.409 second reaction time) 5.502 second elapsed time 255.82 mph def. Dale Carlson, Olympia WA, Hadman-BAE, (0.531) 5.559 251.39 Federal-Mogul Funny Car -- Frank Manzo, Morganville NJ, 98 Avenger, Right lane, (0.430) 5.719 252.57 def. Pete Swayne, Orange CA, 98 Firebird, (0.501) 5.708 251.39 Competition Eliminator -- Alan Freese, Monterey CA, 96 Grand Prix, C/EA, Left lane, (0.547) 8.85 second Index 8.370 second elapsed time -0.480 seconds under index, def. John Linton, Tonkawa OK, Fritz-Chev, D/ED, (0.592) 8.18 7.716 -0.464 Super Stock -- Abe Loewen, Regina SK, 98 Grand Am, SS/DM, Left lane, (0.529) 9.47 9.485 0.015, def. Fred Moreno, La Verne CA, 69 Mustang, SS/GA, (0.517) 10.07 10.109 0.039 Stock -- Bernie Cunningham, Riverside CA, 69 Nova, H/SA, Right lane, (0.562) 11.94 11.929 -0.011, def. Chad Loge, Dublin CA, 79 Volare, I/SA, (0.556) 11.95 11.928 -0.022 Super Comp -- Mike Ferderer, Buckley WA, Dragster-GM, Right lane, (0.417) 9.015 0.045, def. Tom Yancer, Chandler AZ, Yancer, (0.428) 8.968 -0.002 Super Gas -- Larry Marshall, Tempe AZ, 55 Chevrolet, Left lane, (0.406) 9.985 0.005, def. Frank Kohutek, Mesquite TX, 27-T Ford, (0.437) 9.947 -0.033 Super Street -- Keith Manogue, Glendale AZ, 63 Nova, Right lane, (0.526) 11.013 0.023, def. Tim Landis, Glendale AZ, (0.512) 10.983 -0.007
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