PEDREGON, SCHUMACHER AND YATES ARE TOP QUALIFIERS AT CARQUEST NHRA WINTERNATIONALS POMONA, Calif. -- Tony Pedregon raced to the second-quickest Funny Car run in NHRA history just before his Q-Racing Chevy Monte Carlo went out of control and...
PEDREGON, SCHUMACHER AND YATES ARE TOP QUALIFIERS AT CARQUEST NHRA WINTERNATIONALS
POMONA, Calif. -- Tony Pedregon raced to the second-quickest Funny Car run in NHRA history just before his Q-Racing Chevy Monte Carlo went out of control and crashed in the shutdown area at the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals Saturday at Pomona Raceway.
Pedregon powered to his 29th career No. 1 qualifying position with a performance of 4.681 seconds at 323.35 mph, however the parachutes that help slow the car failed to deploy after the run and his car plowed into the sand traps at the end of the track. Pedregon, the 2003 Funny Car world champion, was not injured.
"I was really disappointed until they told me the run was a 4.68," said Pedregon, who joins John Force as the only Funny Car drivers to post a run quicker than 4.7 seconds. "That kind of performance makes it a little better, but we still have a lot of work to do. I know I have hired the right people to fix the car; we are just going to have to work pretty late and get it ready to go for tomorrow morning."
Tony Schumacher and Jim Yates also earned No. 1 qualifying positions at the $2 million race, the first of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
Schumacher, the defending series and event champion, raced to his 12th career No. 1 qualifying position in Top Fuel with a track record performance of 4.447 at 334.65 in his U.S. Army dragster.
The performance was the second-quickest in Top Fuel, but Schumacher felt it could've been better.
"I pulled the chutes and as soon as I did I knew it was just a bit early," Schumacher said. "They came out right at the timing traps and you can see that in the speed. We had a 4.447 and the record is 4.441, so me being a sissy cost us."
The 16-car lineup, which includes seven drivers in the 4.4-second range and a bump spot of 4.597 seconds, is the quickest in NHRA history.
"The field is stout top to bottom," Schumacher added. "We run Andrew Cowin in round one and he ran a 4.59, which is pretty darn good. There are no easy rounds in this class and it's going to be a battle every round of every race."
In Pro Stock, Yates claimed his 29th No. 1 qualifying position and first since 2002 at Reading, Pa., by covering the distance in a track record time of 6.699 at 205.16 in his Yates Racing Pontiac Grand Am.
The Alexandria, Va. resident has one of the best career records in the category, but has endured disappointing efforts the last two seasons.
"We've had some great successes in the past, but I'll be the first to admit the last two years have been a giant struggle," Yates said. "We put a lot of energy and effort into figuring out what we were going to do this past offseason. One of the decisions we made was to use Steve Schmidt engines. Steve promised us horsepower and obviously he delivered."
Yates, who earned Pro Stock world championships in 1996 and '97 and finished second in points in '01 and '02, will race veteran Bruce Allen in the opening round.
"I think it's an incredible feat to come out here with a new racecar that probably has less runs on it than any other car out here and run our career-best," Yates said. "We've questioned ourselves at times over the last two years but we stayed with it and now we feel great. I can't wait for tomorrow."
Defending series champion and 2004 Driver of the Year Greg Anderson qualified seventh with a 6.728 at 205.01 in his Summit Racing Pontiac Grand Am. It is the lowest Anderson has qualified since the 2003 Winternationals when he started ninth.