Pomona: Thursday qualifying report

SCHUMACHER, KALITTA AND ANDERSON LEAD QUALIFYING AT CARQUEST AUTO PARTS NHRA WINTERNATIONALS POMONA, Calif. - Defending Top Fuel champion Tony Schumacher raced to the qualifying lead Thursday at the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals at ...

SCHUMACHER, KALITTA AND ANDERSON LEAD QUALIFYING AT CARQUEST AUTO PARTS NHRA WINTERNATIONALS

POMONA, Calif. - Defending Top Fuel champion Tony Schumacher raced to the qualifying lead Thursday at the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals at historic Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.

Scott Kalitta and Greg Anderson also were qualifying leaders in their respective categories at the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event, the first of 24 races in the 2008 season.

Schumacher picked up where he left off last season by clocking the quickest run of the day in his class -- a 4.513 second effort at 331.53 mph in his U.S. Army dragster.

"That was a pretty decent run on a great track," Schumacher said. "The computer showed that there's a lot left in (the tune-up). We have an outstanding race car and we're hoping to get off to a better start this season. Alan (Johnson, crew chief) seemed happy with the run, so that's good."

Former Pro Stock Motorcycle racer Antron Brown made his Top Fuel debut and posted a 10th place effort. He covered the quarter-mile distance in 4.560 seconds at 326.16 mph in his Matco Tools dragster.

Kalitta was quickest in Funny Car, posting a 4.818 at 322.65 in his DHL Toyota Solara. However, Kalitta didn't get to savor his category-leading performance for long because one of the two parachutes that help slow the car following a run failed to open after he crossed the finish line. Unable to stop, his car went out of control and plowed into the safety sand traps at the top end of the track. Kalitta was not injured, but the Solara body on his car will need extensive repairs before Friday's 2 p.m. qualifying session.

"The car is OK, but the body will need to be repaired," said Kalitta, who noted that his parachutes failed because a last-minute body change didn't leave him with enough time to properly adjust the levers that control the parachutes' operation. "They'll probably put a new front clip on it.

"We're happy with the run but there's still three more rounds of qualifying left, so that run probably won't stay number one," Kalitta continued. "I am just happy that it went down the track."

Defending Funny Car champion Tony Pedregon is third with a 4.845 at 325.45 in his Q-Horsepower Chevy Impala, while 14-time champ John Force was 14th in his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang after making a comeback from a serious crash last season at Dallas that sidelined him with multiple injuries.

Former Top Fuel racer Melanie Troxel will try to become the 14th competitor in NHRA history to win in both nitro categories. She opened her Funny Car career with a 4.900 second run at 316.45 mph in her ProCare Rx Dodge Charger, good enough for eighth overall.

Anderson, who has had great success at this event during his Pro Stock career including three victories and three No. 1 qualifying performances, powered his Summit Racing Pontiac GXP to a leading performance of 6.635 at 208.91.

"This is a magic place for me," Anderson said. "I love coming here. I love the facility and the race track and the people around here. I've got a lot of special memories here."

Defending champ Jeg Coughlin was third with a 6.651 at 207.98 in his JEGS.com Chevy Cobalt.

-credit: nhra

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Antron Brown , Jeg Coughlin , Tony Pedregon , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Greg Anderson , Scott Kalitta , Melanie Troxel