POMONA CA - SUMMIT FastNews - The weather finally cooperated with the running of the 39th annual NHRA AutoZone Winternationals Saturday and the professional categories responded by rewriting the track record book. ...
POMONA CA - SUMMIT FastNews - The weather finally cooperated with the running of the 39th annual NHRA AutoZone Winternationals Saturday and the professional categories responded by rewriting the track record book. Mike Dunn leapfrogged over Eddie Hill in the order by running the quickest elapsed time ever, 4.503 seconds at 312.35 mph, to take over the number-one spot on the Top Fuel ladder in the Mopar dragster. Said Dunn, "Wow! A 4.503! I can't say enough about what a great job Ken (Veney, his crew chief), Larry (Meyer, co-crew chief), and the crew guys have done with this Mopar dragster. We ran a 4.63 last night and knew that we had the combination to run in the 4.5s. Having such a solid qualifying position allows you to really step on it and that is exactly what we tried to do today."
Five-time Top Fuel champion Joe Amato surprisingly failed to qualify for the event, the first time he's missed the field since the Fram Nationals in Atlanta in 1996. John Force established a track elapsed time record for Funny Car on Friday, running 4.831 at 313.73 in the Castrol GTX Mustang. Force attributed some of the improved performance to having lost 15 pounds over the off-season, combined with his team finding another 40 pounds of unnecessary weight in the chassis and body of his car. Cruz Pedregon, the only Funny Car champion in the 90s other than Force, failed to make the field when his supercharger exploded during his final qualifying attempt. Ironically, Pedregon also failed to qualify at this event last year. Warren Johnson's track record 6.888 second, 200.95 mph qualifying run in the first session Saturday secured the top spot on the Pro Stock ladder for his GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac, the 103rd time he has qualified number 1. Johnson exceeded 200 mph on all three of his qualifying runs, raising his career total for 200-plus runs to 28. Only Warren's son Kurt, who qualified second, has more than one 200 mph run to his credit, running his second (200.02 mph) in Winternationals qualifying. Tim Freeman qualified number one on the Pro Stock Truck ladder with a track record 7.591 second, 176.35 mph run, but 1998 Winston champion Larry Kopp stole Freeman's thunder by resetting the national ET record at 7.586 during first-round eliminations Saturday. Both drive Chevrolet S-10 trucks. Two incidents during the day required medical attention. John Weaver was checked out and released after crashing at the end of his final qualifying run. Weaver's braking chutes did not deploy and he went into the sand trap and catch fence hard enough to cause major damage to his car. Ironically, Weaver's 5.718-second elapsed time was quick enough to move him to the top of the Federal-Mogul Funny Car ladder. In the other incident, also in Federal-Mogul Funny Car, came when James Bartoli's car experienced severe tire shake. Bartoli was dazed by the severe vibrations and was transported to Pomona Valley Medical Center for observation. Final eliminations Sunday will narrow all the fields down to one survivor by the end of the day, officially kicking off the 1999 NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.
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