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Cruz Pedregon Wins Pole in Atlanta

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, May 17 2015

nhra logoCruz Pedregon secured pole position in Funny Car Saturday as professional pairings in four classes were set for the 35th annual 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 in Commerce, Ga. The race is the seventh of 24 national 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 versus yesterday, and it worked,” said Pedregon, who now has two career No. 1 qualifiers at Atlanta Dragway. “We have no excuses. If we can go out there, race and not have anything goofy happen, we should be a factor.”

Pedregon scored his second pole of the season and 59th of his career. “The Cruzer” is seeking his second win at Atlanta Dragway and first since 1998. A two-time world champion, Pedregon will face Gainesville Raceway finalist John Hale in the first round of Sunday’s eliminations.

John Force, a 16-time Funny Car world champion, qualified second by covering the 1,000-foot distance in 4.031-seconds at 317.64 mph 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 of Don Schumacher Racing qualified third with a pass in 4.033-seconds at 301.13 mph in his Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger R/T. Beckman will open eliminations against 2014 winner Robert Hight of John Force Racing in a pairing of former world champions. Reigning world champ Matt Hagan of DSR will start race day fourth via a 4.040-second pass at 319.37 mph in his Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger R/T. Hagan will battle Dave Richards in Round 1.

In Top Fuel, Brown drove his Matco Tools dragster to his first pole of the season with a 3.758-second pass at 319.82 mph. The 1,000-foot run earned Brown his 38th career No. 1 qualifier. Brown, the 2012 Top Fuel world champ, will look for his fourth Top Fuel win at Atlanta Dragway 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 for race day.”

Brown’s DSR teammate, eight-time/reigning world champion Tony Schumacher, qualified second with a 3.767-second pass at 324.12 mph in his U.S. Army dragster. Schumacher still is searching for his first victory at Atlanta and will face three-time world champion Larry Dixon, who has a category-leading four wins at the facility, in the first round.

Leah Pritchett drove her Gumout/Dote Racing dragster to a 3.792-second pass at 321.81 mph 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 drove his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro to the No. 1 starting spot in Pro Stock with a quarter-mile run in 6.546-seconds at 211.23 mph from Friday’s first session. Line, a two-time world champion, has earned three poles this season in consecutive fashion. This is the 40th top qualifier of his career.

“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.”

Reigning world champion Erica Enders-Stevens posted a lap of 6.546-seconds at 211.06 mph in her Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro to qualify second. The No. 1 qualifier of the 2014 event, Enders-Stevens will race John Gaydosh Jr. in the first round. Her rookie teammate, Drew Skillman, qualified third with a 6.551-second pass at 211.30 mph in his Ray Skillman Chevrolet Camaro. Former world champion Allen Johnson will start fourth while Rodger Brogdon sits fifth.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Stoffer raced to her third career pole with a 6.889-second run at 195.00 mph down the quarter-mile aboard her Suzuki Extended Protection Suzuki. This is the first time she has qualified in the top spot since the 2010 season. Stoffer 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-second pass at 192.22 mph aboard his Suzuki Extended Protection Suzuki and will race Chip Ellis. Hector Arana Jr. qualified third while former world champion Angelle Sampey sits in the fourth spot.

Eliminations are scheduled to begin Sunday at 11 a.m. (EDT). Final round action is set for 3:50 p.m. ESPN2 will carry its delayed coverage from 9-12 p.m. (EDT).

Sunday’s first-round pairings for eliminations at the 35th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway, the seventh of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Pairings based on results in qualifying, which ended Saturday. DNQs listed below pairings.

Top Fuel _ 1. Antron Brown, 3.758-seconds, 320.28 mph vs. 16. Shawn Langdon, 4.025, 303.37; 2. Tony Schumacher, 3.767, 324.12 vs. 15. Larry Dixon, 3.977, 306.33; 3. Leah Pritchett, 3.792, 321.81 vs. 14. Chris Karamesines, 3.962, 306.53; 4. Steve Torrence, 3.796, 321.35 vs. 13. Clay Millican, 3.926, 313.88; 5. Dave Connolly, 3.805, 321.58 vs. 12. Terry McMillen, 3.916, 315.93; 6. J.R. Todd, 3.807, 321.35 vs. 11. Morgan Lucas, 3.915, 289.82; 7. Richie Crampton, 3.852, 316.90 vs. 10. Brittany Force, 3.912, 312.71; 8. Doug Kalitta, 3.863, 319.60 vs. 9. Spencer Massey, 3.891, 318.84.

Did Not Qualify _ 17. Cory McClenathan, 4.026, 293.09; 18. Pat Dakin, 4.109, 300.53.

Funny Car _ 1. Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 4.010, 313.95 vs. 16. John Hale, Dodge Charger, 6.903, 130.87; 2. John Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.031, 317.64 vs. 15. Jeff Diehl, Toyota Solara, 6.383, 112.13; 3. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.033, 310.63 vs. 14. Robert Hight, Chevrolet Camaro, 4.563, 188.78; 4. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.040, 319.37 vs. 13. Dave Richards, Solara, 4.390, 245.90; 5. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.040, 312.86 vs. 12. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 4.147, 288.58; 6. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.048, 313.00 vs. 11. Del Worsham, Camry, 4.139, 307.30; 7. Chad Head, Camry, 4.060, 310.77 vs. 10. Courtney Force, Camaro, 4.079, 319.14; 8. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.064, 303.30 vs. 9. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.068, 315.93.

Pro Stock _ 1. Jason Line, Chevy Camaro, 6.546, 211.59 vs. 16. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Avenger, 6.713, 207.27; 2. Erica Enders-Stevens, Camaro, 6.546, 211.06 vs. 15. John Gaydosh Jr., Pontiac GXP, 6.699, 207.66; 3. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.551, 211.30 vs. 14. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.634, 208.62; 4. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.556, 210.90 vs. 13. V. Gaines, Dart, 6.609, 210.14; 5. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.560, 211.83 vs. 12. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.607, 210.57; 6. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.561, 211.69 vs. 11. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.587, 210.97; 7. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.562, 210.90 vs. 10. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.580, 211.00; 8. Larry Morgan, Camaro, 6.565, 211.89 vs. 9. Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 6.580, 211.30.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ 1. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.875, 195.59 vs. 16. Angie Smith, Victory, 7.047, 188.89; 2. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.880, 195.85 vs. 15. Chip Ellis, Buell, 7.013, 193.54; 3. Hector Arana Jr., Buell, 6.893, 196.73 vs. 14. Matt Smith, Victory, 6.987, 190.78; 4. Angelle Sampey, Buell, 6.893, 194.55 vs. 13. Freddie Camarena, Suzuki, 6.978, 195.56; 5. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.901, 195.36 vs. 12. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 6.952, 192.22; 6. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.906, 193.88 vs. 11. Shawn Gann, Buell, 6.948, 192.41; 7. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.909, 195.62 vs. 10. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.941, 193.10; 8. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.912, 193.90 vs. 9. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.934, 193.40.

Did Not Qualify _17. Chaz Kennedy, 7.051, 189.79; 18. Joe DeSantis, 7.098, 190.73; 19. Mike Berry, 7.120, 188.99; 20. Redell Harris, 7.149, 187.99; 21. Eddie Reed, 7.167, 189.76; 22. Roy Olsen, 7.398, 177.98.

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, May 17 2015
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