Phoenix: Saturday qualifying wrap up

CHANDLER, Ariz. - Mike Dunn earned his 12th career No. 1 qualifying position Saturday at the 17th annual Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals at Firebird Raceway, the second race of the NHRA's 50th Anniversary season. Dean Skuza and Mike Edwards also...

CHANDLER, Ariz. - Mike Dunn earned his 12th career No. 1 qualifying position Saturday at the 17th annual Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals at Firebird Raceway, the second race of the NHRA's 50th Anniversary season. Dean Skuza and Mike Edwards also were No. 1 qualifiers 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 Top Fuel dragster down the track in 4.521 seconds at 328.22 mph to lead all competitors. Dunn's run was made during the second qualifying session on Friday.

"We are going to try and step it up (tomorrow)," said Dunn. "It would be nice to meet (Larry) Dixon in the final since we both ran so good. You never know on race day so we are just going to go out there and try and win rounds and if we race him in the final we'll give it all we got." Dunn will have a first round bye in Sunday's eliminations. No. 16 qualifier Craig Smith was disqualified on his final qualifying attempt when his dragster went out of control and made contact with the wall. Smith was uninjured.

"Normally when you're a No. 1 qualifier, you have a slower car racing you from the 16th spot," said Dunn. "Since we have a single, we are going to try and run a 52 to a 55 and hopefully we will be able to do that." Skuza scored his second career top qualifying spot when he covered the distance in his Mopar Parts Dodge Avenger in an elapsed time track record 4.805 at 308.57 to pace the fastest Funny Car field in NHRA history. While Skuza's career-best run led the field, No. 16 qualifier Gary Densham and his 4.961 run anchored the first all four-second Funny Car field. "The thing that I want to emphasize is that I shut it off early," said Skuza. "I'm thinking we lost four or five hundredths off that run. I predicted before the season started that this track would have the first four-second field. I didn't think it would be this drastic though. There is such a buzz in the Funny Car pits right now. We have always wanted this where a couple of hundredths separate the field. This is the class to be running in right now." Skuza has the top spot after not qualifying at the season-opening AutoZone Winternationals in Pomona, Calif., two weeks ago. "I wasn't worried," said Skuza. "I said 'Trust me, we are going to run good in Phoenix.' We had a couple of mechanical problems we worked out and now we're ready to kick butt." Edwards drove his Pontiac Firebird to a track record run of 6.886 at 199.88 to lead the Pro Stock category for his first career No. 1 qualifying position. Edwards will face John Nobile in his first round matchup. Final eliminations begin Sunday at 11 a.m.

-NHRA-

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Series NHRA
Drivers John Nobile , Mike Dunn , Dean Skuza , Gary Densham , Mike Edwards