[NHRA] - Final qualifying


Team Owner
Sep 16, 2001
Boston, MA

Qualifying is over and the race is for the title of 48th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals will begin in earnest Monday morning in all four professional categories. The top players used this final day of qualifying to prep for eliminations, while some furious shuffling went on in the bottom sections of the fields.

Nitro frontrunners Cory McClenathan and Tony Pedregon stayed atop the Top Fuel and Funny Car ladders, respectively, for the third day in a row. Cory Mac was the quickest of four dragsters in the 4.5-second range, while Pedregon had the only 4.7-second flopper pass.

In Pro Stock, Ron Krisher's 6.819 at 201.31 mph kept him on top, while Pro Stock Bike's Angelle Savoie reigned supreme once again with her low qualifying effort of 7.152 at 185.64 mph.

The "Stars and Stripes" of McClenathan's special-edition Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster stayed at the top of the pole as no one could match Cory Mac's 4.553 at 322.34 mph. This is the 27th career low qualifier honor for McClenathan but his first of the year. The extra effort is worth $4,000 in Budweiser money for the cash-strapped Henkelman & Baca team.

Cory McClenathan

"I admit I'm a little nervous," McClenathan said, "because we really only made one good run. We ended up smoking the tires in two of the three other sessions and we didn't run last night. I still think that was a good idea because it wasn't race conditions and we do have to save money over here. It's just an odd feeling and a difficult situation all the way around.

"We're definitely all thinking about a win. The extra money this race is worth will really help, plus Darrell Russell and Tony Schumacher are right on our heels in the POWERade points so we need some breathing room. I'd like to solidify third place."

Mac Tools teammates Doug Kalitta (4.572 at 311.92 mph), Larry Dixon (4.597 at 321.73 mph), and Andrew Cowin (4.598 at 319.75 mph) rounded out the top four and closed the book on this weekend's 4.5-second club.

Japanese part-time racer Yuichi Oyama had the thrill of his life in the last qualifying session when he went from outside the field to the No. 16 position, bumping out legend "Big Daddy" Don Garlits by three-thousandths of a second with a 4.760 at 292.39 mph. Garlits had to take solace in his last-gasp 4.763 at 318.54 mph, the fastest pass of his career. Top Fuel results

Pedregon and Force kept the first and second spots for Team Castrol with Pedregon's 4.797 at 317.34 mph slightly better than Force's 4.800 at 318.84 mph. The dynamic duo, first and second in the POWERade points, will now try to erase the memory of their first-round ousters in Sunday's Budweiser Shootout.

Tony Pedregon

"It was very important for us to make that afternoon run to re-establish ourselves," said Pedregon, who was quickest of all cars in the final session. "I was hoping it would get a little warmer than it actually was today. The conditions we run in tomorrow during the first round will most be likely be cool enough for us to be able to negotiate that. In the second round we might be staring at some warmer conditions and I think we wanted to establish a pass under those conditions. From that perspective, the fact that we were able to run quicker than any other car in that session was a big lift for us and we will not make the same mistake we did in the Budweiser Shootout. I think we just backed it up too much. The only thing that is going to be important tomorrow is our ability and the depth that we have. For the other drivers to beat us they are going to have to outrun us."

Checker-Schuck's-Kragen driver Cory Lee, the team's new designated blocker, did his job once again, making the 16-car cut in the last session with a 4.948 at 310.70 mph, which anchored the field. Lee now has the monumental task of eliminating Pedregon in the opening round. Force, meanwhile, draws Mac Tools pro John Lawson.

Snake Racing's Ron Capps took a huge step towards resurrecting his season with a big win over Dean Skuza in the $100,000 Budweiser Shootout. Capps, a three-time Budweiser Shootout winner, is now eligible for a $50,000 "double-up bonus" should he win the race Monday. Ironically, he opens Monday's action against Skuza.

Defending event champion Whit Bazemore was bumped out of the field in the last session. His best pass of 4.951 at 293.54 mph wasn't good enough for his Matco Tools machine to make the cut. The DNQ snapped a two-year, 45-race streak of successful qualifying efforts for Bazemore. Funny Car results

Krisher has now earned the Pro Stock pole seven times, including at the last two races in a row. Yet he still has just one win on the season, a fact the Eagle One Chevrolet Cavalier driver hopes to change Monday.

Ron Krisher

"Last year would have been an easy race to win," said Krisher, who was the No. 4 qualifier one year ago but lost in the second round. "You just needed to stay in the left lane and let your horsepower do the talking. But the transmission shifted itself and it cost us big time.

"This racetrack owes me. I've run fast here. I've had good opportunities here, but I've never been able to finish the job. It's time to get over that bump. This race is the most important, to me, to win. Everyone can tell you who won Indy but they have to think about everything else."

Despite a sizable (for the class) five hundredths of a second edge over first-round opponent Mark "Cowboy" Pawuk, Krisher will still have to work to beat the Summit Racing pro, who posted a best pass of 6.871 at 199.35 mph.

RW Performance pro Mark Whisnant was the closest to Krisher, positing a 6.824 at 201.13 mph. POWERade points leader Greg Anderson was next in the Vegas General Construction Chevrolet Cavalier with a 6.841, while fellow title contenders Jim Yates, Jeg Coughlin, and Warren Johnson finished in seventh, ninth, and fifth place, respectively. Pro Stock results

Pro Stock Bike points leader Savoie will begin her quest for her fourth victory of the season and second in a row at this race from the No. 1 position. This is the seventh time this year the B&M Million Dollar Drag Race-sponsored rider has earned the $1,000 K&N Filters low qualifier bonus.

Angelle Savoie

Savoie will now try to erase the forgettable .597-second reaction time she had in the first round of Saturday's K&N Pro Bike Klash and ride her superior bike to IRP's winner's circle.

"Ever since they made us use [the NHRA AutoStart system] that starts the seven-second timer when one of the bikes stages, I've let myself get rushed and it's totally thrown me off," Savoie said. "That's what happened in the Klash. I went in before I was ready and I wasn't focused on cutting a good light.

"The best thing to do, and what I've decided to do now, is go through my pre-race routine before I ever even turn on the first [pre-stage] light because I probably take a little longer than most people to get ready. I didn't do that before because I didn't want people to think I was playing dirty. Now I've decided I don't care. I've been racing long enough that people know I don't play games."

The 32-year-old Savoie will open against Greg Underdahl, who kept his Fast Lane Sports bike in the 16th spot with a 7.363 at 182.11 mph.

Matt Hines was impressive Sunday, shrugging off the heat and setting a track speed record under less-than-desirable conditions. His 7.219-second, 190.51-mph pass also moved the Eagle One pro into second place on the final ladder. Hines will start race day opposite Fred Camarena of the Race Girl camp.

No. 5 qualifier Craig Treble, who won $15,000 in the K&N Pro Bike Klash Saturday, will try to earn a $10,000 double-up bonus by winning the U.S. Nationals in the same weekend.
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