Pomona II: Thursday summary

Despite injury to hands, Force races to top of Funny Car lineup. Schumacher, Anderson and Treble also qualifying leaders at Auto Club NHRA Finals. POMONA, Calif. -- A bandaged John Force raced to the top of the Funny Car qualifying order...

Despite injury to hands, Force races to top of Funny Car lineup. Schumacher, Anderson and Treble also qualifying leaders at Auto Club NHRA Finals.

POMONA, Calif. -- A bandaged John Force raced to the top of the Funny Car qualifying order Thursday at the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals at Pomona Raceway.

Tony Schumacher, Greg Anderson and Craig Treble also were the qualifying leaders in their respective pro categories at the $1.7 million race, the final of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

Force, still recovering from cuts to his hands he received last week when a crystal trophy shattered while he was moving it, overcame the pain to drive his Castrol GTX High-Mileage Ford Mustang to a leading run of 4.771 seconds at 321.65 mph.

"This is the worst accident I have ever had," said Force, who initially was going to miss the event due to the injury until doctors cleared him to race on Wednesday. "My left hand is worse than the right, but all I have to do is steer with that one, so I can use my fingertips. The worse thing with the left hand is shutting off the fuel. I have to pull the brake with my right hand but it isn't as bad as the left. Qualifying isn't over yet. There's still some racing to go. I can let Tony Pedregon have low E.T. here, 'cause he's already got everything else."

Pedregon, the recently crowned series champion, is third with a 4.832 at 318.77 in his Castrol Syntec Mustang, while Whit Bazemore was second, driving his Matco Tools Dodge Stratus R/T to a 4.802 at 320.58.

Schumacher continued to be the hottest Top Fuel driver in the second half of the season, powering his U.S. Army dragster to a leading time of 4.497 at 329.02.

"I doubt the 4.49 will hold," Schumacher said. "We have to be ready to step on it tomorrow because I know everybody else will."

Top Fuel champ Larry Dixon was second in his Miller Lite dragster, with a 4.539 at 326.87. Legendary Shirley Muldowney, a three-time NHRA Top Fuel champion who will retire following this event, qualified No. 7 in her signature pink dragster with a 4.664 at 320.20.

Newly crowned Pro Stock champ Anderson was quickest in his Vegas General Construction Pontiac Grand Am, clocking a 6.786 at 204.45.

"That was a decent run to start with but there's room for improvement," said Anderson, who with a win this weekend could break the NHRA season record for Pro Stock victories (11) that he currently holds with Darrell Alderman. "I'm just having a ball right now. It's a great time to be Greg Anderson."

Warren Johnson was second with a 6.799 at 204.23 in his GM Performance Parts Pontiac Grand Am, while Bruce Allen was third in his Speedco Truck Lube Grand Am with a 6.802 at 203.25.

Treble led Pro Stock Bike qualifying, recording a 7.119 at 181.91 on his Matco Tools Suzuki. Geno Scali, who can clinch his first POWERade Series championship if he remains qualified, is second with a 7.135 at 187.70 on a Suzuki.

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Shirley Muldowney , Larry Dixon , Warren Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Greg Anderson , Craig Treble , Bruce Allen , Geno Scali