Seattle: Friday qualifying report

REIGNING DRIVER OF THE YEAR ANDERSON SETS BOTH ENDS OF PACIFIC RACEWAYS TRACK RECORD Dixon, Medlen also overnight qualifying leaders at 18th annual CARQUEST Auto Parts Nationals KENT, Wash. -- Two-time defending POWERade Series Pro Stock...


Dixon, Medlen also overnight qualifying leaders at 18th annual CARQUEST Auto Parts Nationals

KENT, Wash. -- Two-time defending POWERade Series Pro Stock world wchampion Greg Anderson set both ends of the Pacific Raceways track record in early during the first day of qualifying for the 18th annual CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals Friday.

Anderson's Summit Racing Pontiac GTO was the quickest car following the first day of qualifying, crossing the finish line in a track record time of 6.672 seconds at a track record speed of 206.70 mph to earn the provisional No. 1 qualifying position. The final two rounds of qualifying at the $1.4 million race, the 14th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, will be held Saturday.

Track records fell in both of the other professional categories with Larry Dixon and Eric Medlen earning the provisional No. 1 qualifying positions in Top Fuel and Funny Car, respectively.

Rain early in the day pushed the schedule back into the evening which led to nearly perfect weather conditions as the air temperature cooled under partly cloudy skies.

"Conditions were optimum and we were absolutely licking our chops to get on the track," said Anderson, who has won two races in a row here at Pacific Raceways. "When you know you've got a chance to run 6.60s at 205, 206 mph, it's very exciting. If not for the humidity, we would have run world record numbers. That was a great run but by no means was it a perfect run. There's more in there."

Anderson, who lost the points lead a week ago in Denver to Warren Johnson after a second-round loss to Dave Connolly, is looking like a heavy favorite to leapfrog Johnson once again.

"The guys did a great job of hitting the bullseye with this tune-up," said Anderson, who currently trails Johnson by 31 points. "It was a total guess to find the right set-up for this car. Last week (in Denver) we were at 10,000 feet of corrected altitude. This week we're at 1,000 feet. You couldn't get a bigger swing from one race track to another. What a job by my guys. They're the best."

In Top Fuel, Dixon turned in a 4.541-second pass in his Miller Lite dragster in the night session at a track-record speed of 326.40 mph.

"We didn't get down the track in the first round so we really calmed it down to make sure we made (a full run)," Dixon said. "It hooked up and ran nice."

His run came as dusk fell on Pacific Raceways and just before an unexpected oil down caused NHRA officials to end the session with three dragsters left in the staging lanes because of curfew limitations. Cory McClenathan, Morgan Lucas and Jack Beckman were not able to get in their second runs, with Tony Schumacher and his teammate Melnie Troxel pulling out prior to NHRA officials ceasing the action.

In Funny Car, Medlen's night-session pass of 4.735 in his Castrol Syntec Ford Mustang was the quickest ever at Pacific Raceways, although his speed of 323.12 mph wasn't the fastest of the session. That belonged to Gary Scelzi, who reached a track record speed of 325.85 mph in his Mopar/Oakley Dodge Stratus R/T to position himself right behind Medlen after the first two rounds of qualifying.

Medlen's teammate Robert Hight -- who is the first rookie in 16 years to lead the POWERade Funny Car point standings -- had the quickest run in his Auto Club of Southern California Ford Mustang in the afternoon session and appeared poised to earn potentially his sixth No. 1 qualifying position of the year before Medlen's run.

"I think the guys snuck Robert [Hight's] car out of his trailer and stuck it in mine," said Medlen, who's currently eighth in the POWERade point standings. "It's no secret that we've been struggling this year. We had a couple of little wrecks, some fires, things just haven't gone our way at all. Last year's combo was very user-friendly, but once we got to 4.72 that was it. With everyone else running 4.60s, we had to make a change. It's taken time to catch up."

Like nearly every other racer at the track on a day when track records were no match for the cars and the conditions, Medlen was anxious to get out there when he saw the forecast.

"We were having breakfast this morning and the guy there said, 'I hope you guys are ready for the heat. It's supposed to be 75 today.' We all looked at each other, smiled, and said, 'Yeah, we can handle 75 degrees.' I'll tell you, the way the NHRA prepares these tracks we can run record numbers wherever we go if the conditions are right. They were right today and should be all weekend."


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Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Warren Johnson , Tony Schumacher , Gary Scelzi , Greg Anderson , Jack Beckman , Morgan Lucas , Eric Medlen , Robert Hight , Dave Connolly