Jack Beckman raced to the provisional No. 1 qualifying position in Funny Car Thursday at the 52nd annual O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals presented by Super Start Batteries at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona. Morgan Lucas (Top Fuel, ABOVE) and Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) also were qualifying leaders at the 2012 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season.
Beckman drove his Valvoline NextGen Dodge Charger to the provisional No. 1 spot with a 4.139sec pass at 308.14mph to best the ultra-competitive Funny Car class. If Beckman holds on to the top spot it will be the fifth of his career and second at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.
“The most important thing is if we can go down the track and get good computer data, we can pick away at it from there,” Beckman said. “If you go out there and smoke the tires, you don't know how much you missed it by. We all know that 4.13 is not going to hold, but we feel we have as good a shot of stepping up as any other car out there.”
Courtney Force made her first run under NHRA Funny Car competition in her Traxxas Ford Mustang with a 4.210sec pass at 303.16mph, which was good enough for the provisional sixth spot. Courtney will line up next to her father and Funny Car legend 15-time world champ, John Force, for the second round of qualifying of the NHRA season opener.
Defending Top Fuel event winner Morgan Lucas drove his GEICO/Lucas Oil dragster to the top of the pack with his pass of 3.832sec at 320.28mph during Thursday's qualifying efforts.
“The weather conditions today were pretty similar to what we had in testing, so our team has a lot of confidence in this range,” Lucas said. “Hopefully Sunday is the same, but I know we're expecting cooler conditions Saturday, so you never know what's going to happen, but hopefully we can keep running along with the big guys.”
In Pro Stock, Edwards looks to secure his 41st No. 1 of his career and fifth at Auto Club Raceway with his 6.545sec pass at 211.86mph Thursday in his Penhall/K&N/Interstate Pontiac GXP.
“It feels really, really good,” Edwards said. “When you start off a new season, you never know what to expect, and we got off to a great start. It was a great run. My guys did a phenomenal job. We just made one of the nicest runs we've made in Pomona in a long time, so it's a great start for us. Hopefully, we can build on this tomorrow and see what happens.”
Qualifying will continue Friday, afternoon followed by the final two qualifying sessions Saturday, Feb. 11 at 11 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. Eliminations will begin Sunday at 11 a.m.