Sonoma Saturday Wrap Up

SONOMA, Calif. -- Whit Bazemore set a track record for elapsed time at the NHRA Autolite Nationals Saturday in his Kendall Chevrolet Camaro to earn his second No. 1 qualifying effort of the season. Bob Vandergriff Jr. and Kurt Johnson also will...

SONOMA, Calif. -- Whit Bazemore set a track record for elapsed time at the NHRA Autolite Nationals Saturday in his Kendall Chevrolet Camaro to earn his second No. 1 qualifying effort of the season. Bob Vandergriff Jr. and Kurt Johnson also will lead their categories into Sunday's 11 a.m. eliminations at the $1.2 million race, the 14th of 22 events in the $40 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.

Bazemore, from Indianapolis, covered the Sears Point Raceway quarter-mile in 4.931 seconds at 305.77 mph, edging John Force for the top spot in Funny Car. Force ran 4.949 at 307.86 in his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang for second-best in the 16-car order.

"This track has really surprised some people this weekend," Bazemore said. "We didn't expect the kind of numbers we're running here. This track We've made some consistent runs this weekend and now we just have to get the job done on the track and get a win."

Bazemore was happy to out-qualify his rival.

"Anytime you can beat John Force out here for anything, you feel good about it ," said Bazemore, who ran beside Force in both qualifying attempts Saturday. "During that first run we were both hooked up pretty good and we squeezed by him. I guess he thought he had it and we snuck by him there at the last second."

Bazemore, runner-up three times this season, including the last two events, will face Cruz Pedregon in the first round of eliminations.

"That's going to be a war in the first round," Bazemore said. "We have a lot of respect for Cruz and the Pedregon family, but we're pretty intense out there on the track. It should be a good race."

Vandergriff, from Alpharetta, Ga., earned his second No. 1 qualifying position of the season in his Jerzees dragster, as no one improved on his qualifying effort from Friday (4.552 at 317.49).

"This feels good," Vandergriff said. "To come in here and run as consistently as we have says a lot about how our team is clicking right now. Ray Alley (crew chief) and the guys are doing a great job with the car. Now we want to get a win. It's going to be a chess match out there tomorrow and the team that can best judge the weather and changing track conditions is going to be the team that wins this one. We're going to give it our best shot."

Johnson, from Lawrenceville, Ga., claimed his fourth top qualifying effort of the year in Pro Stock, driving his AC Delco Chevrolet Camaro to a track record 6.898 at 199.91. Warren Johnson, who failed to make the 16-car lineup during his first three attempts, made good on his last run down the track to earn the second spot in the lineup, covering the distance in 6.925 at 200.77, a track speed record.

NHRA Communications

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Series NHRA
Drivers Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Cruz Pedregon , Bob Vandergriff