BROWN, HIGHT AND ANDERSON EARN TOP QUALIFYING POSITIONS AT KRAGEN O'REILLY NHRA WINTERNATIONALS POMONA, Calif. - Antron Brown raced to the No. 1 qualifying position in Top Fuel Saturday at the Kragen O'Reilly NHRA Winternationals. After...
BROWN, HIGHT AND ANDERSON EARN TOP QUALIFYING POSITIONS AT KRAGEN O'REILLY NHRA WINTERNATIONALS
POMONA, Calif. - Antron Brown raced to the No. 1 qualifying position in Top Fuel Saturday at the Kragen O'Reilly NHRA Winternationals.
After waiting out two days of rain delays, race teams were able to complete a round of qualifying at historic Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. Rain showers late in the day kept the final qualifying order to a single session.
Robert Hight and Greg Anderson also will lead their respective categories into Sunday's 11 a.m. eliminations at the first of 24 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.
Brown claimed the No. 1 position in Top Fuel in his Matco Tools dragster. While the scoreboards revealed a 3.708-second time after his run, NHRA officials determined after analysis of the complete data of the run that his time was invalid due to a malfunction in the wiring system. Brown and No. 2 Joe Hartley retained their positions in the 16-car order but their elapsed times will not officially be recorded. No qualifying points will be issued in Top Fuel at this event.
"It was a phenomenal run," said Brown. "This feels good for our team after what we went through in the offseason [the team was sold twice and new crew chiefs Corradi and Oswald brought it] and me not qualify at the [2008 season finale]. It feels great to start the season the way we have. The car went A to B on our first pass down the racetrack [in pre-season testing] and got progressively better as we went along, so we had high hopes coming into here. Personally, I just wanted to go A to B on this run and get in the show anywhere after not qualifying here [in the fall]. I've been getting geared up for this all winter because I wanted to make a real run at this championship."
Defending champ Tony Schumacher was fifth in his U.S. Army dragster with a 3.897 at 311.99. Last season's No. 2 points finisher, Larry Dixon, failed to qualify for the first time since the 2006 season in his Alan Johnson-Al Anabi Racing dragster.
Dixon, who had high expectations for his first race with his new team, said his car's tires shook and then the ignition broke, shutting the car off.
"To say we're disappointed might be the biggest understatement ever," Dixon said. " Sheik Khalid was here, and we really wanted to put on a good show for him. We came to Pomona with the same high expectations as everyone else, but sometimes parts break; there's nothing we could have done differently. It's unfortunate, but NHRA awards the same number of points at Phoenix, and we'll be ready to go."
Hight was quickest in Funny Car, covering the distance in 4.037 seconds in his Auto Club Ford Mustang.
"I'll tell you, it's so much pressure on the whole team and the driver when you know you're going to have rain-shortened sessions and maybe only get one shot," said Hight. "My crew chief, Jimmy Prock, shoots for the moon every time, and that worries me sometimes, and especially with this run here. [After the Phoenix test], Jimmy Prock went back to Indy and got on our clutch dyno and just worked night and day and came here with a new setup, something that we've never run before. That's really tough to do because there's a learning curve with any kind of changes that you make with these cars, and to go out there and go to the top spot is unbelievable. It doesn't give you a lot of confidence going into tomorrow, though, because, like Austin Coil says, it takes 20 to 25 runs before you have a setup that you know works.
"It's just a great way to start, and tomorrow's just going to be exciting."
Del Worsham was second in his Alan Johnson-Al Anabi Racing Toyota Solara with a 4.038, and defending world champ Cruz Pedregon was ninth in his Advance Auto Parts Solara with a 4.205 at 305.91. Tim Wilkerson, who led the points standings for most of last season, posted his first DNQ since the 2007 season in his Levi Ray & Shoup Ford Mustang.
Anderson claimed his fourth straight No. 1 qualifying position at this event and the 70th of his career by clocking a track record performance of 6.588 at 209.59 in his Summit Racing Pontiac GXP.
"It's not been easy on us [waiting out the rain] because, after a winter of working so hard we want to get on this racetrack and see what you've got and see how you stack up, but I've had a good feeling all weekend," said Anderson. "We thought we'd have a good product when we got here but you never know until you get on that racetrack what everyone else has got. It looks like we've made some gains from last year and we've got a great hot rod, but I'm not thinking that everyone else is as far back as they showed today. I just think I did a little better job on a green racetrack, and it certainly helped to be the last pair out."
Anderson's teammate Jason Line was second in his Summit GXP with a 6.616 at 209.43, while defending series champ Jeg Coughlin Jr. was sixth in his JEGs Chevy Cobalt, who posted a 6.629 at 208.23.