PEDREGON, KALITTA AND STEVENS QUALIFYING LEADERS AT CHECKER SCHUCK'S KRAGEN NHRA NATIONALS CHANDLER, Ariz. -- Tony Pedregon raced to the qualifying lead in Funny Car Friday at the Checker Schuck's Kragen NHRA Nationals at Firebird...
PEDREGON, KALITTA AND STEVENS QUALIFYING LEADERS AT CHECKER SCHUCK'S KRAGEN NHRA NATIONALS
CHANDLER, Ariz. -- Tony Pedregon raced to the qualifying lead in Funny Car Friday at the Checker Schuck's Kragen NHRA Nationals at Firebird International Raceway near Phoenix.
Doug Kalitta and Richie Stevens also were qualifying leaders in their respective pro categories for the $1.8 million race, the second of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
Pedregon powered his Q-Racing Chevy Monte Carlo to a track record time of 4.703 seconds at 325.06 mph to lead the 16-car order. Pedregon's elapsed time was the sixth quickest for a Funny Car in NHRA history.
"We tested here and made a lot of runs so we expected to be in the mid-4.7 second range considering the conditions," Pedregon said. "The 4.70 really validates what we did in Pomona and Dickie (Venables, crew chief) is definitely getting his confidence back, which helps him tune better."
If Pedregon hangs on to the position, it will be his second straight No. 1 qualifying effort to start the season.
"Last season it took (teams) time to adjust to all the (rule) changes," Pedregon said. "Now we're seeing increases across the board. It's an exciting time to be in a Funny Car."
Del Worsham was second with a 4.748 at 324.98 in his Checker Schuck's Kragen Monte Carlo, while John Force was third in his Castrol GTX Start Up Ford Mustang, posting a 4.760 at 323.35.
Kalitta was quickest in Top Fuel, clocking a performance of 4.490 at 327.19 in his Mac Tools dragster.
"I think we all tried a little too hard out there tonight," Kalitta said. "I know my car was tuned up pretty good because it threw the belt off real early in the run and it never does that. Friday nights are like that. You have to just go for it and some times you push too hard. The good news was we had a nice run earlier under the sun."
Tony Schumacher was second in the U.S. Army dragster (4.493, 326.24) and Doug Herbert posted a career-best performance to take third in his Snap-on Tools dragster, covering the distance in 4.499 with a track record speed of 330.63.
Stevens drove his Team Mopar Hemi Dodge Stratus to the top of the order in Pro Stock with a career-best performance, covering the distance with a track record effort of 6.735 at 205.35.
"We tested my car and Jeg (Coughlin's) car earlier this week in Tucson and that really paid off for us," Stevens said. "We switched over to the six-inch clutch everyone is using now and we needed the test time to figure it out. We're obviously going in the right direction with it but we could still use more time."
Stevens, who returned to the series full-time this season with Schumacher Racing after a three-year absence, has one No. 1 qualifying position in his career (Topeka 1999).
"It's so great to be back in Pro Stock and back in such a great car," Stevens added. "It was like riding a bike. I really feel like I picked up right where I left off. Don has given me a great opportunity and I can't thank him enough. To have all of his resources and Bob Glidden tuning our cars is just awesome."
Mike Edwards took second in his Young Life Pontiac Grand Am with a 6.743 at 204.39, while Kurt Johnson was third in his ACDelco Chevy Cavalier, posting a 6.746 at 204.51.
Qualifying continues Saturday at noon, with eliminations set for 11 a.m. Sunday.