Phoenix: Friday qualifying wrap up

CHANDLER, Ariz. - Mike Dunn led all Top Fuel competitors Friday after the first day of qualifying at the 17th annual Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals at Firebird International Raceway, the second race of the NHRA's 50th Anniversary season. ...

CHANDLER, Ariz. - Mike Dunn led all Top Fuel competitors Friday after the first day of qualifying at the 17th annual Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals at Firebird International Raceway, the second race of the NHRA's 50th Anniversary season. Whit Bazemore and Mike Edwards also were leaders in their respective categories at the $1.8 million race, the second of 24 events in the $50 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series. Dunn made the second fastest pass in NHRA history, and the quickest run since the implementation of the 90-percent nitro-methane rule, when he drove his Yankees dragster down the track in 4.521 seconds at 328.22 mph to lead all Top Fuel competitors.

"That car has so much potential," said Dunn. "I knew the pass was fast but I can't tell the difference between a speed 322 or 328. Anyone that tells you they can are lying. (Yankee owner George Steinbrenner) will forget about qualifying if we don't win on Sunday. The car has been getting better and better every race. We are getting a handle on the consistency and we're still learning. We will keep getting better." Dunn competed in only three races in 2000 yet he recorded the three quickest elapsed times of the year. He has already recorded a runner-up finish in 2001, and has established his dragster as one of the most powerful in the category.

"We had nine months to think about running on 90-percent," said Dunn. "All these other guys had to think about racing and we were able to test and adjust the tune up. We're upset that we had had to sit out for a year so we want to make everybody pay for it." Bazemore sped down the quarter-mile in 4.848 at 312.06 in his Chevy Camaro to lead the first four-second Funny Car field in NHRA history. "It's more than the track that contributed to the quick field," said Bazemore. "It's the state of the class right now. It is just so strong. He depth of talent and the resources have made the Funny Car class ultra-competitive. It's really exciting to be a part of it and be with a good team. We are tremendously underrated and we decided to keep our mouths shut and let our hot rod do the talking." Bazemore's effort catapulted him past his former boss Chuck Etchells for the top spot. "I watched Chuck's run and he was all over the lane," said Indianapolis' Bazemore. "By comparison, our Pontiac is so smooth and easy to drive, it feels slow. Chuck did an outstanding job driving the car. He has a car that is a lot harder to drive than the car I am driving right now." Edwards drove his Young Life Pontiac Firebird to a pass of 6.886 at 199.88 to lead the Pro Stock category. During the days first qualifying session, AutoZone Winternationals winner Kurt Johnson and runner-up Darrell Alderman were disqualified with three other drivers for having a vehicle that was too light. Qualifying continues Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

-NHRA-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Dunn , Kurt Johnson , Whit Bazemore , Chuck Etchells , Mike Edwards