Cruz Pedregon raced to the qualifying lead in Funny Car with a track record performance Friday at the Dollar General NHRA Summernationals at Heartland Park Topeka. Antron Brown (Top Fuel) and Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) also were qualifying leaders at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event.
Pedregon powered his Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry to a leading performance of 4.046 seconds at 315.56mph, bettering both ends of the Funny Car track record, to hold off Bob Tasca III for the top spot. Tasca was second with a 4.062 at 315.56 in a Motorcraft/Quick Lane Shelby Ford Mustang. The two-time world champion is very pleased with the performance of his new Toyota Camry body.
“We definitely have one of the quicker cars out there,” said Pedregon, a four-time winner at HPT and a two-time No. 1 qualifier this season. “So we just have to continue to do our job and not beat ourselves on Sunday.”
Pedregon was quickest in both sessions, but his final run of the day continued the recent trend of his Snap-on team pulling out an impressive performance during a Friday evening qualifying session.
“To be honest with you, we don't swing for the fence,” Pedregon said. “We try to race the track and be smart. We had 16 rounds in a row before we smoked the tires at our last race. That's a credit to our thought process. The track was excellent, so there were a lot of good runs.”
In Top Fuel, Brown paced the Top Fuel division with a 3.797 at 324.98 in his Matco Tools dragster to move around recent first-time winner Steve Torrence, who ended up second overall with a 3.801 at 320.51 in his Capco Contractors dragster.
“It's been a while since our Matco Tools boys have been No. 1,” said Brown, whose last No. 1 came last season at Reading, Pa. “It's not for lack of work. The class keeps getting tougher, so we have to keep digging deeper. It feels great any time you can take a swing and land it. You have to make some power to get through that clutch. We went out there trying to get after it. Brian [Corradi, crew chief] told me it was a little lazy coming off the starting line. We ran a .79, but the car did it from 150 feet through halftrack where it ran strong.”
Johnson, a past winner at this track who has earned two No. 1 qualifying positions this season and raced to one victory, led Pro Stock with a performance of 6.618 at 207.85 in his Team Mopar Dodge Avenger.
“We've got a great consistent car now with the Mopar Dodge Avenger,” Johnson said. “We've finally climbed that mountain and have gotten settled on the top. We tested earlier in St. Louis and managed in similar conditions, and that helped us a bit this weekend. We're trying to be close to the edge all the time now. You've got to do that to beat the Summit cars, Vincent [Nobile], and Mike [Edwards]. But we're staying on this side of the edge so that we can maintain being consistent.”
Series leader Greg Anderson was second in the Summit Racing Pontiac with a 6.624 at 208.55, while defending world champ Jason Line was third with a 6.630 at 207.11 in his Summit Pontiac.
Qualifying continues Saturday with sessions at noon and 2:30 p.m. Sunday's eliminations start at 11 a.m.