Pomona: Friday qualifying summary

Millican, Wilkerson and Coughlin lead Winternationals qualifying. POMONA, Calif. - The Pro Stock category kept the No. 1 qualifying position in the family Friday at the 43rd annual K&N Filters Winternationals at Pomona Raceway. Jeg Coughlin...

Millican, Wilkerson and Coughlin lead Winternationals qualifying.

POMONA, Calif. - The Pro Stock category kept the No. 1 qualifying position in the family Friday at the 43rd annual K&N Filters Winternationals at Pomona Raceway.

Jeg Coughlin took over as the No. 1 qualifier after the second of four sessions, bumping his brother Troy out of the top spot. Jeg Coughlin made a 6.790-second pass at 203.22 mph in his Jeg's Mail Order Chevy Cavalier to lead the category.

Clay Millican and Tim Wilkerson also led their respective categories at the $2 million race, the first of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

If Coughlin can keep the No. 1 qualifying position, it will be the seventh top qualifier of his career. Coughlin, the 2002 Pro Stock champion, did not qualify for the season opener last year. He is the first champion in NHRA to start the season with a DNQ before moving on to the championship title.

"Our goal is to get both cars running well because this category has zero tolerance for sub-par cars," Coughlin said.

Millican turned in career-best numbers, driving his Werner Enterprises dragster to a 4.522 run at 326.79. Millican is looking to earn the first No. 1 qualifier of his NHRA career.

"That was definitely the ride I have been waiting for," Millican said. "I've been wanting a run like that for a very long time. This is a brand new car and it has only 17 runs in its history which is very promising."

Brandon Bernstein is also aiming for his first No. 1 qualifying spot of his career. The rookie Top Fuel driver turned in the second-best time of the qualifying session, a 4.566 at 320.28 in his Budweiser dragster. Bernstein replaced his father, Kenny Bernstein, who retired at the end of the 2002 season. Friday's run was the first, full-power run for the rookie in pro competition.

"That was an awesome run and it was fun to drive," Bernstein said. "We're solidly in the show, which means we can pour on the performance for the Budweiser Shootout on Saturday. I'm loving every minute of this."

The Budweiser Shootout, held over because of rain from the Finals, will feature the top eight qualified Top Fuel drivers in 2002. The bonus event is worth $100,000 to the winner. Bernstein will be competing against 2002 Top Fuel champion Larry Dixon, Darrell Russell, Doug Herbert, Doug Kalitta, Andrew Cowin, Cory McClenathan and Tony Schumacher. The Shootout will be held at noon, 2 and 4 p.m.

Tim Wilkerson stayed at the top of the Funny Car category. His 4.759 at 318.32 in a Pontiac Firebird held from Thursday as the best time.

Qualifying continues Saturday with two sessions at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday.

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert , Clay Millican , Jeg Coughlin , Larry Dixon , Kenny Bernstein , Doug Kalitta , Andrew Cowin , Cory McClenathan , Tim Wilkerson , Brandon Bernstein