Pomona: Winternationals qualifying summary

Cowin, Force And Krisher Top Their Pro Categories At K&N Filters Winternationals POMONA, Calif. - Top Fuel driver Andrew Cowin made the best run of his career Friday at Pomona Raceway, jumping to the top of the 16-car qualifying ladder at the...

Cowin, Force And Krisher Top Their Pro Categories At K&N Filters Winternationals

POMONA, Calif. - Top Fuel driver Andrew Cowin made the best run of his career Friday at Pomona Raceway, jumping to the top of the 16-car qualifying ladder at the K&N Filters Winternationals.

Cowin drove his Yankee Dragster to an elapsed time track record 4.490-second run at 324.98 mph to earn the early No. 1 qualifying spot.

John Force and Ron Krisher led their respective categories at the $1.9 million race, the first of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

The run was the first time Cowin made a full pass in the Yankee car. He joined the team shortly before the season started, replacing veteran driver Mike Dunn.

"It was absolutely fantastic," Cowin, an Australian native, said. "What can I say? I have an excellent hot rod to drive and I am just a happy-go-lucky Aussie kid. (Crew chief) Todd Smith is doing a fantastic job and I think we are looking to get this car to go 330 mph tomorrow."

Cowin is only the sixth driver in NHRA history to record a sub-4.5-second pass. He said the performance was made despite some mechanical problems.

"I think we can run better (Saturday) because we dropped two cylinders, one at 3.8 seconds and another at 4.2 seconds," Cowin said. "That's the fastest six cylinder car out there."

Team owner Darrell Gwynn was on the starting line, watching the first full pass from his new driver. Dunn had been driving for Gwynn's team since 1993.

"Mike Dunn, Ken Veney and I all parted amicably," Gwynn said. "But life goes on. I thought the run was amazing. We had a lot of changes in the wintertime and it is very refreshing to see the car do as well as it did.

"It's a new team, new driver and new crew chief. If you ask me the likelihood of that car winning a championship, I wouldn't know what to say. If you ask me the likelihood of that car being competitive, I would say it was very likely."

Cowin, 22, said he has pinched himself several times to make sure the new driving job wasn't just a dream. He and his father, Graeme Cowin, raced part-time in the last three years with a family-owned and operated Top Fuel car.

Gwynn said he knew what he was getting with a young driver.

"I did not know Andrew personally very well," Gwynn said. "I knew he could drive well and that he had youth and great personality on the race track. He reminds me of myself, but at 22, he is a little more mature than I was."

Force kept his No. 1 qualifier status from Thursday, with an even quicker run. Force went 4.749 at 296.57 in his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang to lead the Funny Car category. Mid-way through the run the car drifted left out of the groove and nearly went into the wall.

"(Crew chief Austin) Coil was yelling at me to get off the wall," Force said. "But she trucked down there all right."

Force said he will have a new car at the track for Saturday's qualifying sessions.

"We have a new car coming that is lighter," Force said. "It is going to make weight, but it is going to be a newer, lighter, Mustang body."

Krisher set both ends of the track record with a 6.815 pass at 202.94 in an Eagle One Chevy Cavalier to lead Pro Stock.

"It's awesome what this Eagle One team did," Krisher said. "We don't have a leader on this team. We all participate and we all work together to get this done. If the weather holds up, we anticipate a better time."

Pro qualifying continues Saturday with two sessions at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Final eliminations begin at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday.

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Dunn , John Force , Andrew Cowin , Ron Krisher , Darrell Gwynn , Todd Smith