COMMERCE, Ga. — official series release — NHRA photo —
Cruz Pedregon secured the No. 1 qualifier in Funny Car on Saturday at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway.
Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Jason Line (Pro Stock), and Karen Stoffer (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories at Atlanta Dragway. The race is the seventh of 24 events during the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.
Pedregon’s 4.010-second pass at 313.95 mph in his Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry on Friday went unmatched through Saturday’s final two sessions, earning him the top starting spot.
“It’s amazing how much we had to touch on the car to make it down the track today vs. yesterday, and it worked,” said Pedregon, who now has two No. 1 qualifiers in Atlanta. “We have no excuses. If we can go out there, race, and not have anything goofy happen, we should be a factor.”
This is Pedregon’s second No. 1 qualifier of the season and 59th of his career. He is seeking his second win at Atlanta Dragway and first since 1998. Pedregon, a two-time world champ, will face Gainesville finalist John Hale in the first round of Sunday’s eliminations.
John Force, a 16-time Funny Car world champion, qualified second by racing to a 4.031 at 317.64 in his Peak Antifreeze Chevy Camaro SS. Force, who holds the Funny Car record for most victories at Atlanta Dragway with seven, will face Jeff Diehl in Sunday’s opening round.
Jack Beckman qualified third with a 4.033 at 301.13 in his Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger R/T and will open eliminations against 2014 winner Robert Hight. The defending world champ, Matt Hagan, will start race day fourth with a 4.040, 319.37 in his Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger R/T. Hagan will battle Dave Richards on Sunday morning.
In Top Fuel, Brown drove his Matco Tools dragster to his first No. 1 qualifier of the season with a 3.758 pass at 319.82. The run gave Brown a 38th career No. 1 qualifier. Brown, the 2012 Top Fuel world champ, will look for his fourth Top Fuel win in Atlanta on Sunday.
“We just try to go out there and run what we think the track can hold,” Brown said. “We can’t be happier with the way our car is working right now. It’s doing everything we want it to do. We just hope we can keep it that way tomorrow for race day. ”
Brown’s Don Schumacher Racing teammate and defending world champion, Tony Schumacher, qualified second with a 3.767 at 324.12 in his U.S. Army dragster. The eight-time world champion is still searching for his first victory in Atlanta and will face Larry Dixon, who has a category-leading four wins in Atlanta, in the first round.
Leah Pritchett drove her Gumout/Dote Racing dragster to a 3.792 at 321.81 to qualify third. Steve Torrence enters race day as the No. 4 qualifier and is followed by Dave Connolly in fifth. Spencer Massey, the defending event winner in Top Fuel, qualified ninth.
Line raced his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro to the No. 1 starting spot with his 6.546 at 211.23 from Friday’s first session. He’s earned three No.1 qualifiers this season in consecutive fashion. This is the 40th top qualifier of his career.
“We tested a couple things, and considering we tested some things, I still thought we ran reasonably well,” said Line, who will face Alan Prusiensky in Sunday’s first round. “We learned a few things, I can’t say they were positive, but we did learn some things, so all-in-all it was a pretty good day. There’s a lot of really good cars out there, and the difference between being No. 1 and No. 3 really comes down to thousandths and doing everything perfect.”
Defending world champ Erica Enders ran a 6.546 at 211.06 in her Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro to a No. 2 qualification. The No. 1 qualifier of the 2014 event will race John Gaydosh Jr. in the first round of race day. Enders’ teammate, Drew Skillman, qualified third with a 6.551 at 211.30 in his Ray Skillman Chevrolet Chevy Camaro. Allen Johnson will start fourth, and Rodger Brogdon sits fifth.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Stoffer raced to her third career No. 1 qualifier with a 6.889 at 195.00 on her Suzuki Extended Protection Suzuki. This is the first time she has qualified in the top spot since the 2010 season. She will face Angie Smith in the first round.
“I don’t know if I’m back to where I was a couple of years ago, but I do feel very comfortable,” Stoffer said. “Maybe I came back an even better rider. No matter what, I do feel like we are competitive right now, and that’s the important thing. We’re having fun. I have to pinch myself a lot right now.”
Jim Underdahl qualified second with a 6.880 at 192.22 on his Suzuki Extended Protection Suzuki and will race Chip Ellis. Hector Arana Jr. qualified third, and Angelle Sampey sits in the fourth spot.
Eliminations for the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals begin Sunday at 11 a.m. Final round action is scheduled for 3:50 p.m.
CREDIT: National Hot Rod Association