Worsham, Kalitta, Anderson and Ellis Qualifying Leaders Thursday at Auto Club NHRA Finals POMONA, Calif. -- Del Worsham raced to the qualifying lead in Funny Car Thursday at the 40th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals at Pomona Raceway. Doug...
Worsham, Kalitta, Anderson and Ellis Qualifying Leaders Thursday at Auto Club NHRA Finals
POMONA, Calif. -- Del Worsham raced to the qualifying lead in Funny Car Thursday at the 40th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals at Pomona Raceway.
Doug Kalitta, Greg Anderson and Chip Ellis also were qualifying leaders at the $1.7 million race, the final of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
Worsham drove his Checker Schuck's Kragen Chevy Monte Carlo to a 4.737 second run at a track record speed of 328.54 mph to lead the Funny Car order.
"That was an exciting run," Worsham said. "It sure didn't hurt us that the session dragged out a little, although we kept the same tune-up in there. I kept running back to the trailer to check the weather station but I didn't see enough to make me want to change anything. It all worked out."
Worsham is tied with Gary Scezli for second place in the POWERade point standings with $100,000 up for grabs for the position. Scelzi lost traction in his Hemi Oakley Dodge Stratus and qualified 19th.
"We're in a big battle for second," Worsham said. "We came into the race tied in the points so every single one you earn, even in qualifying, is huge. The difference between first and second is big as far as money goes so we want to qualify better than them if we can. They smoked the tires so I know they were going for it."
John Force was second in the Castrol GTX Start Up Ford Mustang with a 4.747 at 324.12, while Auto Club Road to the Future candidate Eric Medlen was third with a 4.764 at 320.28 in the Castrol Syntec Mustang.
Kalitta led Top Fuel with a 4.472 at 328.62 in his Mac Tools dragster.
"Right out of the gate that was a great way to start," Kalitta said. "The car ran well, obviously, and it drove nice and straight down the lane. What a great way to start the weekend. We almost won here last year. We got to the finals and had a great car but didn't get it done.
"I've yet to win at this track so we'd really like to finish the deal this time through. In my family, this race and this track are very important. As far back as I can remember there was talk of going to California and racing at Pomona. There's so much history here and it just makes you want to win that much more."
David Baca posted a career-best performance of 4.487 at 327.43 in his family-owned dragster for second, while season champ Tony Schumacher was third in the U.S. Army dragster with a 4.503 at 318.99.
Anderson moved into the lead in Pro Stock, powering his Summit Racing Pontiac Grand Am to a 6.717 at 205.94. With a No. 1 performance this weekend he would become the NHRA's all-time leader for a top qualifying efforts in a season with 16.
"That run should show just what's going to happen here this weekend," Anderson said. "This should be the quickest field ever and I wouldn't be surprised to see a national record. The conditions are perfect and it's supposed to be like this all weekend. It's exciting and we're all anxious to get back out there.
"That number (6.71) will probably be the bump before we're through. This track always needs a few runs before it totally comes around. Certainly, everyone overestimated it today because I saw a lot of tire spin. By Saturday, everyone will be dialed in. Hopefully, we stay No. 1 because getting that record is our goal."
Fellow Grand Am drivers Mike Edwards (6.728 at 204.76) and Jason Line (6.729 at 204.82) were second and third respectively in the lineup.
Ellis raced to the top spot in Pro Stock Bike, covering the distance in a track record time of 7.063 at 187.36 on his G-Squared S&S Buell.
"The only word that can describe my run is awesome," Ellis said. "George Bryce and Ken Johnson (co-crew chiefs) had the bike tuned just right for the conditions here at Pomona. The bike ran straight, I made the shifts on time, and the result was an awesome opening pass."
Andrew Hines, who at 21 could become the youngest NHRA world champion in history by qualifying for the 16-bike field, was 21st after the first session, as his Screamin' Eagle/Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson slowed near mid-track.
Hines' closest competitor for the championship, Antron Brown, was third on his U.S. Army Suzuki with a 7.118 at 187.31.
Qualifying continues Friday with a professional session at 2 p.m. and two sessions on Saturday at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Eliminations start on Sunday at 11 a.m.