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Champs Dominate At Pomona

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Thursday, February 11 2010
Cory McClenathan lights up the night during Thursday qualifying at the NHRA Winternationals in Pomona. (Photo courtesy of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series)

Cory McClenathan lights up the night during Thursday qualifying at the NHRA Winternationals in Pomona. (Photo courtesy of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series)

RacinToday.com

Defending champions Robert Hight and Mike Edwards picked up right where they left off with pace-setting runs on the first day of qualifying at the season-opening Kragen O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals presented by Valvoline on Thursday.

Joining Hight (Funny Car) and Edwards (Pro Stock) was Cory McClenathan, who rounded out the provisional qualifying leaders through the first of four rounds of qualifying at the historic 50th running of the Winternationals.

The Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona is the first of 17 races in NHRA’s regular season, the Countdown to 10.

In Top Fuel, McClenathan claimed the provisional pole in his FRAM dragster with a 3.809-second pass at 320.05 mph. McClenathan had to wait out the final pass of the day that saw six-time defending champion Tony Schumacher’s U.S. Army dragster go up in flames and 2009 runner-up Larry Dixon smoke the tires on his Al-Anabi dragster.

“I can guarantee you one thing: It won’t stick,” said McClenathan, seeking his 34th career No. 1. “But it’s nice to come out, we made a commitment to come here with a better power package than we left here (at the season-ending Auto Club Finals in November) and we were 282 at half-track, so that feels good.”

McClenathan, who finished fourth last year and second in points four other times in his career, says he’s ready to mount a challenge for the title this year from the start in his Don Schumacher Racing-owned car.

“We plan on making noise early,” McClenathan said. “I’m tired of waiting, lurking; we’re going to try to go toe-to-toe with these guys from day one.”

In Funny Car, defending champion Robert Hight set the pace in his Auto Club Ford Mustang with a 4.059-second pass at a track-record 312.86 mph. If that holds through Saturday’s qualifying, it would be the 33rd No. 1 of his career and second straight at the Winternationals.

“It’s definitely good to get off on a nice foot,” Hight said. “I figured it would run an oh-five (4.05). That’s what we ran in Phoenix (in testing) and we didn’t change anything.”

Hight was in the last pair of the session with teammate Ashley Force Hood and his pace-setting run moved him around Del Worsham and the Al-Anabi Toyota team.

“Definitely feel bad for my buddy, Del Worsham, on his 40th birthday, bumping him,” Hight said.

In Pro Stock, defending champion Edwards set the early pace in his brand new Interstate Batteries Pontiac with a 6.580 at 210.47. This would be Edwards’ 10th straight No. 1 dating back to 2009 when he finished the season with nine-straight No. 1s.

“We did start off good, that’s for sure,” Edwards said. “We’re happy with our start, we’re ready to start the new season and hopefully we can build on this first run and get better as the weekend progresses.”

Qualifying resumes with Round 2 on Friday and Rounds 3 and 4 on Saturday before the fields are set for Sunday’s final eliminations.

Results Thursday after the first of four rounds of qualifying for the 50th annual Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals presented by Valvoline at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, first of 23 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.  Qualifying will continue Friday and Saturday for Sunday’s final eliminations.

Top Fuel – 1. Cory McClenathan, 3.809 seconds, 320.05 mph; 2. Shawn Langdon, 3.847, 309.98; 3. Thomas Nataas, 3.880, 306.33; 4. Troy Buff, 3.950, 286.01; 5. David Grubnic, 3.954, 258.52; 6. Chris Karamesines, 3.997, 308.00; 7. Tony Schumacher, 4.056, 206.99; 8. Doug Kalitta, 4.254, 265.95; 9. Steve Torrence, 6.124, 105.23; 10. Larry Dixon, 7.439, 112.87; 11. Mike Strasburg, 7.688, 85.52; 12. Antron Brown, 8.361, 76.03.  Not Qualified: 13. Morgan Lucas, 8.580, 59.18; 14. Terry McMillen, 8.674, 80.00; 15. Brandon Bernstein, 9.402, 76.45; 16. Andy Carter, 10.485, 72.63; 17. Steven Chrisman, 11.936, 75.25.

Funny Car – 1. Robert Hight, Ford Mustang, 4.059, 312.86; 2. Del Worsham, Toyota Solara, 4.062, 312.35; 3. Ashley Force Hood, Mustang, 4.093, 310.70; 4. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 4.101, 310.91; 5. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.109, 305.01; 6. Jim Head, Solara, 4.166, 304.74; 7. Gary Densham, Chevy Impala, 4.167, 293.60; 8. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.182, 294.43; 9. Bob Bode, Chevy Impala SS, 4.184, 264.49; 10. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.190, 299.26; 11. Melanie Troxel, Charger, 4.296, 285.95; 12. Tony Pedregon, Chevy Monte Carlo, 4.377, 270.81.  Not Qualified: 13. Jeff Arend, 4.712, 175.02; 14. Cruz Pedregon, 5.508, 138.80; 15. Ron Capps, 8.725, 75.85; 16. Terry Haddock, 11.554, 73.27; 17. Paul Lee, broke; 18. John Force, broke.

Pro Stock – 1. Mike Edwards, Pontiac GXP, 6.580, 210.47; 2. Jeg Coughlin, Chevy Cobalt, 6.591, 209.59; 3. Ron Krisher, Cobalt, 6.595, 209.75; 4. Rodger Brogdon, GXP, 6.603, 209.23; 5. Allen Johnson, Dodge Avenger, 6.611, 209.39; 6. Vinnie Deceglie, Avenger, 6.613, 209.23; 7. Greg Stanfield, GXP, 6.617, 209.23; 8. Steve Spiess, Cobalt, 6.631, 208.26; 9. Shane Gray, GXP, 6.642, 208.23; 10. Ronnie Humphrey, GXP, 6.644, 209.26; 11. V. Gaines, Avenger, 6.647, 207.82; 12. John Nobile, Ford Mustang, 6.660, 207.82.  Not Qualified: 13. Warren Johnson, 6.662, 208.10; 14. Bob Yonke, 6.676, 205.91; 15. Danny Gruninger, 6.697, 207.18; 16. Larry Morgan, 6.707, 207.72; 17. Kurt Johnson, 6.730, 207.50; 18. Gordie Rivera, 6.730, 204.54; 19. Jason Line, 7.235, 149.03; 20. Johnny Gray, 9.483, 163.57; 21. Rickie Jones, 12.807, 69.23; 22. Greg Anderson, 13.511, 64.16; 23. Justin Humphreys, 24.106, 34.75.

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Thursday, February 11 2010
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